- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Religious politics

“[Sen. Barack] Obama is such a down-the-line partisan that, according to Congressional Quarterly, he voted more often with the Democrats than did the party’s majority leader, Harry Reid.

“This is the record that appeals to Ted and Caroline Kennedy and the aging MoveOn.org boomers who have long nursed hopes for a renewal of Camelot. But now as then, a charismatic political personality carries more dangers than benefits. The ‘politics of meaning,’ which emerged from the Kennedy years and has now resurfaced with Obama as its empty vessel of hope, is doomed to disappoint because it asks more from politics than politics can deliver.

“In symbolic confirmation that Obama’s candidacy is as much about the liberal past as about the country’s future, the Grateful Dead, which disbanded years ago, has announced that it will reunite to perform a concert for him.”

Fred Siegel, writing on “Bizarre Bedfellows for Barack,” at the City Journal blog Eye on the News, on Feb. 4

Religious sex

“[Author Phil] Lawler adds: ‘Homosexual influence within the American clergy was not in itself the cause of the sex abuse crisis. The corruption wrought by that influence was a more important factor.’

“He very gingerly addresses a theory proposed by a number of commentators on the crisis; namely, that bishops engaged in cover-ups and other deceptions because they were threatened with homosexual blackmail. He cites a number of instances in which this appears to be the case and bishops were permitted to resign when their misdeeds could no longer be denied.

“ ’The blackmail hypothesis,’ he writes, ‘provides a logical explanation for behavior that is otherwise inexplicable: the bishops’ willingness to risk the welfare of the faithful and their own reputations in order to protect abusive priests.’ ”

The Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, writing on “Paved with the Skulls of Bishops,” at the First Things blog “On the Square” on Feb. 1

Religious money

“Many were skeptical of the impish ‘giggling guru’ who was by this time known for conducting his frequent evangelical tours in a Rolls-Royce. Private Eye ridiculed the mystic with a character named ‘Veririchi Lottsa Money Yogi Bear.’

“Matters came to a head the following year in what was dubbed the ‘Indian Summer,’ when the Maharishi [Mahesh Yogi, who died Feb. 5] played host to the Fab Four and other celebrities, including Mia Farrow, Donovan and Jane Asher, at his International Academy of Meditation at Rishikesh in the Himalayan foothills of India [in 1968].

“At the spiritual retreat — or ‘Butlins of Bliss,’ as [John] Lennon called it — things went awry after the arrival of Alexis Mardas, head of the Beatles’ Apple Electronics, who declared: ‘An ashram with four-poster beds? Masseurs, and servants bringing water, houses with facilities, an accountant — I never saw a holy man with a bookkeeper!’ ”

Times of London, on “Maharashi Mahesh Yogi,” on Feb. 7

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