Religion

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.

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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.

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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.

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On Brit Hume

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:

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William Butler Yeats and the avatars

Ross Douthat, the best man on the New York Times op-ed page, has a good piece this week about the movie “Avatar,” the blockbuster hit that is about to set the new zeitgeist. There is some worry in his essay, as he correctly points out that this film by James Cameron is an anthem to pantheism, a faith in opposition to the “literal mindedness of the monotheistic religions” that equates God with nature, “and calls humanity into religious communion with the natural world.”

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The Vatican wants to believe

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.

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Obama in Afghanistan: An unprecedented show of uncertainty

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?

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The girl who cried wolf

It was all too easy, after hearing the initial stories about Rifqa Bary, to determine that some crazy fanatical Islamic extremists were going to try to kill their own daughter because of her conversion.

We’ve almost been taught to believe that Muslims’ understanding of God is naturally warped; that they’re just aching for a chance to kill what they term infidels, even those in their own family. Fortunately, being human allows for constant re-examination of our beliefs about other faiths, and it is time to recognize that this girl, whether due to confusion or malicious intent, has slandered and sullied her parents’ good name.

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Mitt Romney, After the Storm

Before the storm, said Louisiana resident James Madison, he had Mormons knock on his door, just like everybody else, and the object was to try to get rid of them as fast as possible; go away, not interested, don’t want to hear what you have to say. After the storm, he said, it’s “a little bit different now. They’re part of my family now. Always will be. They got into my heart. They’ll never stand on my doorstep again without being invited into my house.”

They were hearing stories of troops coming in and heard helicopters were flying over, he said — they even heard that the president was flying over. But no one was there on the ground with them except the Mormons in their yellow T-shirts to help them clean up.
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Requiem for the Walrus — John Lennon Remembered

Is it not written in your law you are gods?
— John 10:34

John Lennon was gunned down and killed in New York City 28 years ago next Monday. This event goes largely unnoticed in the press today, but in 1969, at the peak of the war in Vietnam, John Lennon was the most important man in the world.

The high point of his art and work had come a couple years before, when he used the expression "I am he" at the beginning of one of his most important and entertaining songs at the height of the hippie days. Lennon was, in his time, a generational shaman. He awakened his own generation between childhood and adulthood. But today he resonates in the world as a pure force all his own.
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