- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 9, 2009

Christian nations

”The columnist Cal Thomas was an early figure in the Moral Majority who came to see the Christian American movement as fatally flawed in theological terms. 'No country can be truly “Christian,” ´ Thomas says. 'Only people can. God is above all nations, and, in fact, Isaiah says that “All nations are to him a drop in the bucket and less than nothing.” ´ Thinking back across the decades, Thomas recalls the hope - and the failure.

” 'We were going through organizing like-minded people to “return” America to a time of greater morality. Of course, this was to be done through politicians who had a difficult time imposing morality on themselves!'

”Experience shows that religious authorities can themselves be corrupted by proximity to political power. A quarter-century ago, three scholars who are also evangelical Christians - Mark A. Noll, Nathan O. Hatch and George M. Marsden - published an important but too-little-known book, 'The Search for Christian America.' In it they argued that Christianity's claims transcend any political order. Christians, they wrote, 'should not have illusions about the nature of human governments. Ultimately they belong to what Augustine calls “the city of the world,” in which self-interest rules … all governments can be brutal killers.' ”

- Jon Meacham, writing on “The End of Christian America,” in the April 13 issue of Newsweek

Catholic speakers

”When it comes to issues that bear upon the protection of innocent human life at its earliest stages, issues which, as one [Notre Dame] administrator put it, 'we care so much about,' there just is no bad action on the part of President Obama that was going to count as 'all that bad.' …

”And, in fairness to President Obama, it is not as if he had not made it perfectly clear before the election what he intended to do. So no one can pretend that the administrators of Our Lady's university, who undoubtedly issued their invitation to the President long before Inauguration Day, were ignorant of his intentions. … Yes, the administrators knew all this full well, and they nonetheless chose 'prestige over truth,' to use Bishop [John] D'Arcy's apt words. In fact, choosing prestige over truth seems to have become something of a way of life around here.

“And despite their protestations to the contrary, the administrators of the university have made themselves complicit in the culture of comfort and convenience over against the culture of sacrifice and self-giving; they have made themselves complicit in the culture of fearfulness and quiet despair over against the culture of gratitude to and hope in the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ; they have made themselves complicit in the culture of individual autonomy and individual self-creation over against the culture of faithful and enduring commitment and of shared dependency within a rich communal life - and, sad to say, they have done it under the mantle of the Catholic faith, which they profess with their lips.

“This would be sobering even if we didn't find ourselves at the beginning of Holy Week.”

- Alfred J. Freddoso, University of Notre Dame professor, from a speech at a Palm Sunday rally against President Obama's planned commencement and honorary degree

Jewish players

”For Jewish fans, searching for Jewish players in Major League Baseball is one of the rites of spring and summer. Discoveries bolster ethnic pride - think of the news that Boston Red Sox infielder Kevin Youkilis, nicknamed 'The Greek God of Walks,' is Jewish - but mistakes can lead to embarrassing situations …

”To navigate this tricky territory in his new book, 'The Baseball Talmud: The Definitive Position-by-Position Ranking of Baseball´s Chosen Players,' Howard Megdal employs equal parts seriousness and schmaltz. …

“From the late 19th century through midsummer 2008, there have been 160 Jewish players in the Major Leagues. Megdal ranks Hank Greenberg as the top Jewish player of all time, with Sandy Koufax coming in second. … Megdal takes the big-tent approach to Jewish players, especially when it comes to certain positions. He even includes current player David Newhan, a born Jew who now identifies himself as a messianic Jew. Megdal accepts Newhan as a Jewish player because, he writes, 'we as the Jewish people cannot afford to cast aside middle infielders.' ”

- Peter Ephross, writing on “The Best in Baseball,” in the April 2 issue of Forward

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