A cry for leadership

Full disclosure: I'm not Catholic, practicing or otherwise. This South Carolinian from the Bible Belt was raised more along Protestant lines.

But Catholic and Protestant alike believe in and serve a living God. Still, I am well aware of the major importance and influence the Catholic Church wields in this country, and the role it must and should play as this nation plunges headlong into the 21st century.


Endangered Jews

Helen Thomas is either willfully ignorant or just an out-and-out bigot.

Facts are facts. The Jewish people have inhabited the land of Israel since before the birth of Jesus. There are 6 billion people in the world and fewer than 13 million Jews left. If there had been no Holocaust, there would be 100 million Jews in the world. Now there are fewer than 6 million left in their historic homeland — the Land of Israel.

Will we do more to save the spotted owl than we will the last remaining Jews in their natural habitat?! The Jews are an endangered species who deserve the world's protection and not their persecution. To hear Iran, Hamas or many other groups tell their side of the story, the Jews would have been wiped from this earth a long time ago.


What is a Jewish state?

My recent Pundits Blog essays on Moshe Feiglin and Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) as a rising political phenomenon in Israel have brought much interesting mail and commentary. To the neurosis that has crippled forward progress in an Americanized Israel at least since 1993, highlighted now by the Gaza incident, a singular soldier with a moral compass like Feiglin’s brings clarity. He calls for Israel to be a religious state: “a Jewish state” instead of “a state for Jews.”


Whither the Protestant elite

For the first time in our nation’s history — should Elena Kagan get confirmed by the United States Senate — not one Supreme Court justice will be a mainline Protestant (or any kind of Protestant, for that matter).

This is historically significant.

The first Catholic Supreme Court justice was Roger Taney, who served on the court from 1836 to 1864. The second Catholic Supreme Court justice was Edward White, who was sworn in 30 years later.


Maybe Howard Dean needs a Tea Party

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.


Secrets of the Catholic Church

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). 


Temple Mount: Next year in Jerusalem

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.


Imagine there’s no Easter

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.


Arrested for praying

“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.


Brit Hume’s loss of context

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.