I would have no objection if Texas wanted to hold a “state day of prayer” but here in northern New England we pray different or not at all and we consider that to be a sublime spiritual path; what Emerson, Bronson Alcott and Theodore Parker called “natural religion.” So it is good for us that U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb didn’t demand that Rick Perry sit through a Tibetan chant up here or that Howard Dean hold hands during that cry that comes pure from the heart of Free Church Appalachian, by ruling this week that The National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional.
The plague of the predatory pedophile priests in the Catholic Church worldwide has reached the Vatican. Litigation dealing with child molestation by priests already has bankrupted many American dioceses. The world press has recently reported scandals in Germany, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Austria, and Ireland. Disclosure of over sixty cases in Switzerland has prompted the Swiss Conference of Bishops to finally address the problem. In Germany, the Pope’s brother has been connected to choir boy abuses. The current Pope himself has been charged with keeping abuses confidential and sheltering abusive priests when he was a Cardinal, permitting a “wall of silence” to avoid prosecutions (the Vatican denies his role in any cover-up of the abuses).
Just when you think it’s all wrapped up, something happens and it all changes. Like when the glorious arrival of the millennium was officially declared at Barack Obama’s Democratic nomination, biblically staged at Mile High stadium. Then barely 12 hours later Sarah Palin showed up and ruined everything. We may face another such turning, but on a quantum scale, if and when Israelis begin to rebuild the Temple Mount.
On Holy Thursday, a political site I go to, feeling the turn in the season but not wanting to draw on any specific religion, offered a version of John Lennon’s “Imagine.”
It infuriated viewers, not because it was considered bad religion, but because they saw it as “communist.” Possibly it was politicized because we Americans can no longer think in other terms. More a Taoist or Tolstoyan meditation — themes Lennon drew on in the later parts of his creative arc.
“The main sticking point remained the Temple Mount, known to Arabs as Haram al-Sharif. Mr. Arafat has been saying since the Camp David talks, when the question of sovereignty over the site was raised, that the Temple does not exist, a senior administration official said.” — Sept. 8, 2000, news article in The New York Times on the Middle East, (“Summit in New York”) when the White House had begun to sense that “a solution is slipping away.”
Say what you like about the invasion of Iraq, and I have said the worst, but whether it was about oil (Cheney, Greenspan) or Israel (Kristol, Krauthammer), it cannot be denied that Israel is in a better place on the ground today than it was in 1979 when the Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in Iran.
The firestorm over Brit Hume’s Christian conversion recommendation to Tiger Woods was predictable. Liberal commentators mocked his clumsy dismissal of Buddhism, while conservative commentators defended Hume’s commentary as a perfectly legitimate and deeply personal appeal for Christian conversion. The opposing views suggested that either religion never had a place in public, or that proselytizing was acceptable in any circumstances. Both views lack a more nuanced understanding of what religion’s proper role in the in public discourse should be.
The lefty blogs lit up after former Fox News anchor Brit Hume said a few days ago that Tiger Woods should turn to Christianity, as it offers forgiveness and redemption. It would help him make a total recovery, Hume said.
And I ask a simple question: Since when does one need to apologize for being a Christian? Especially in this country? A few stats for you:
The questions of life’s origins and of whether life exists elsewhere in the universe deserve serious consideration, says the Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, director of the Vatican Observation.
Fox Mulder couldn’t have said it better. Has Father Funes been watching “The X Files”? The Vatican is calling in experts to study the possibility of extraterrestrial alien life and its implications for the Catholic Church.
At the end of Ramadan last week, Muslims wanted to pray at Rome's Piazza Vittoria. The Italian government said no, they had to pray in mosques. Despite the ban, thousands left their shoes by the side of the road and laid down their prayer rugs to participate in the Eid al-Fitr ceremonies.
A church, mosque, temple or synagogue is a container. Praying in a public piazza marks — territorializes — the common territory. But what were the Italians going to do, arrest people for praying?