Tag Archives: politics

Can we ever run away from politics?

June 16, 2016

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I scoff at myself after each presidential election cycle and vow to be a good little clergyman next time: I will embrace sentiment behind the first line of a March interview with my favorite Catholic priest, Father James Martin, S.J.: “I try to stay as far away from political commentary as possible.” I’ll do it. It’ll […]

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Religious Leaders: End the Shutdown

October 16, 2013

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“… we must point out that the ongoing shutdown of the federal government deprives many pregnant women of the WIC vouchers that ensure they get enough milk, protein, vegetables, and fruit to ensure the health of their unborn children. And cancer patients—many of whom are children—have been blocked from receiving time-sensitive and potentially life-saving care at National Institutes of Health facilities.”

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The Challenge of Pope Francis: Halt the tide of “Savage Capitalism”

August 24, 2013

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Michael Stafford writes about how the new pope’s critique of “savage capitalism” has yet to root itself in the American psyche.  It’s time we open our minds.  Stafford powerfully and passionately describes how the greed-is-good wave propels America toward third-world status, with plutocracy and a top-heavy economy strangling our national life.   Two key paragraphs: […]

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De-mangling political religion, Part One

November 25, 2012

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We’re beyond the mere need for civil discourse. Our minds are askew. We actually believe our own rhetoric as an article of faith. We no longer know how to talk because we no longer know how to think. We’re thrusting religious categories onto politics, and that’s true of both pious and secular fundamentalists. Classical politicians are pragmatists in their heart of hearts. They’ve wended their way through local and state governments, where the grand debates center around zoning regulations, potholes, sewer lines, schools and budgets. Old school city pols made sure Mrs. O’Leary got her groceries and medicine. It was practical vs. impractical and useful vs. unworkable, all under the umbrella of the law and agreed-upon values. We’ll compromise with our opposing “friends” because the people elected them as well. Sure we have ideals, and we’ll salute Old Glory with relish, but that’s because Old Glory symbolizes our practical approach. Political ideals serve people, not vice versa.

No longer. We’ve forgotten something subtle and yet crucial, articulated well by Dutch theologian/statesman Abraham Kuyper: Politics and religion occupy two distinct, although sometimes overlapping, spheres. Our religion can and should inform our political beliefs (remember Gandhi, Aung San Suu Kyi and Martin Luther King: “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state.”), but the two categories cannot be confused. They’re linked but not enmeshed. Otherwise, we view fundamentally practical questions (should we repair that bridge?) through a spiritual grid. Everything is moral vs. immoral and evil vs. good. We demand Messiahs, not effective representatives and administrators. We insist our presidents become pastors.

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A Relativistic World = A Con Artist’s Dream

March 24, 2012

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Cue the off-key organ grinder monkey music. The postmodern circus has come to town, with Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich enrolled as the unlikely ring leaders. Step right up and watch them assert “traditional values” while twisting and bending the truth until it snaps. The political Left tries to join the circus but is no good at it, and journalists, truth’s supposed watch dogs, sleep at the door.

Postmodernism is a vague, multi-layered worldview born in the rubble of World War 2 and nurtured in the iconoclasm of the 1960’s. Many of its adherents shun labels – including “postmodernism” – before arguing that our cultural and personal biases so cloud our vision that we cannot see reality. Our concept of “logic” is tethered to a Western-centered saga, or “meta-narrative,” and is really an excuse for our quest for world domination. Objective truth, if it exists at all, is unknowable. We grope with psychological and cultural cataracts. We’re like Clint Eastwood wandering through Alice’s Wonderland while reading the script for The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. We can’t even interpret our interpretations – so please, let’s do away with religion’s moral absolutes. As Stanley Fish once said, “The trouble with principle is, first, it does not exist, and second, that nowadays many bad things are done in its name.”

Apparently, principled leaders like Frederick Douglass, Winston Churchill, Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Desmond Tutu don’t count.

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The price of convenient falsehood

September 6, 2010

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When will we Bible-believing Christians see the depth of our demise? We’re no longer the clean-cut sheriff guarding the B-Western’s lonely town. We’re the snake-oil poison’s grizzled peddler.

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The Antidote For Our Cultural Poison

July 15, 2010

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Alan Simpson sees the acid running in our culture’s veins: “No one forgives anyone for anything anymore. People get angry just for disagreeing with them.” He tossed in AA wisdom during a Newsweek interview in April: “If you can’t forgive a person, it’s like letting them live in your head rent-free.”

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Singing the praises of stubborn mules who carried rifles that looked like clarinets

July 2, 2010

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Puritans are now viewed as grim, witch-burning anti-intellectuals ready to leap from the bushes and pin scarlet letters on innocent hikers. So you can imagine my plight: I want to look past their foibles. I want to celebrate their heritage on this July 4th and see their contributions, fully aware of the skeletons rattling in their closets.

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Enfield: When The Attack Dogs Come To Town, Part 2

July 1, 2010

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I’ve met Peter Wolfgang, the Executive Director of The Family Institute of Connecticut, and I can’t help but like him, but … except … well … but … But … I’m falling back on typical language used in reference to the FIC: We support the FIC, but … We agree with the FIC, but … We endorse the FIC full hog, but … but … but … but … But the FIC scatters exclamation points on its web site like peanut shells in a zoo’s elephant cage; but Peter Wolfgang forever hyperventilates; but he cannot see that today’s adversary might be tomorrow’s friend; but Peter sees no gray areas, only black and white – and those suggesting gray fail to see that gray is a shade of black.

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When Language Smothers Conversation

June 17, 2010

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The coal mine’s canary is hacking, spitting, gasping, and turning blue – so yell at it. Question its motives. Tell it the fumes are imaginary. Drop hints that it’s wheezing a heretical wheeze.

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