Thursday, May 13, 2010

Priorities, people

“If you’re an active Catholic (let alone a papist) you’ve probably noticed or know that it’s First Communion season these days. If you are the Democrats running against Catholic candidate Tom Emmer in Minnesota, however, you don’t have a clue:

” ‘Given their first chance to score points head-on in their primary election battle, DFL [Democrat-Farmer-Labor Party] gubernatorial candidates instead trained their fire Sunday on newly endorsed Republican candidate Tom Emmer in a debate on environmental issues. Emmer was invited but did not show for the event. But former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton and former House leader Matt Entenza, both DFLers, made sure that he wasn’t forgotten. …

“Now what is actually the case is that Tom Emmer was at his son’s First Communion when this green debate was happening. … All I know is, if Emmer were Jewish and were attending his son’s Bar Mitzvah, you can bet that none of these Democrats would have attacked him for his priorities.”

- Thomas Peters, writing on “Dems criticize Catholic gubernatorial candidate for choosing son’s First Communion over Green summit” on May 4 at Catholic Vote Action

Turkey trendsetter

“As Europe’s Muslim population continues to grow, Islamic dress, particularly the controversial burqa, has become a focus for wrenching political disputes. …

“Turkey is officially a secular state; the wearing of veils almost vanished after Mustafa Kemal Ataturk launched his modernization drive in 1923. Headscarves were practically nonexistent in Turkey’s big cities by the 1960s, but this trend reversed thanks to a religious revival in the 1970s.

“Today, all veils are banned in universities and public buildings. The ban was introduced after Turkey’s 1980 military coup; further restrictions were enacted in 1997. In November 2005, the European Court of Human Rights upheld the university headscarf ban against challenges, setting a precedent for current legislative efforts in Europe.”

- Kayvan Farzaneh, writing on “Europe’s Burqa Wars” on May 11 at Foreign Policy


“New Testament scholar Luke Timothy Johnson … lamented the clash between the external, public dimension of religion - doctrine, sacraments, church structures (the ‘exoteric’) - and the private search for a personal relationship with God (the ‘esoteric’). Johnson worries that the exoteric is whipping the esoteric. …

“Nevertheless, we should take to heart Johnson’s point that the exoteric and the esoteric need each other. It reminds me of Charlie Hummel’s 1978 book, Fire in the Fireplace. The metaphor speaks common sense: fire outside the fireplace is dangerous; a fireplace without fire is useless.

“Thus, Johnson writes that ‘Christian mysticism that finds no center in the Eucharist or the Passion of Christ drifts into a form of self-grooming.’ But it is likewise true that when the exoteric fails to acknowledge ‘the life of individual transformation,’ it becomes ‘a system of law’ and ‘an instrument of social control.’ Worse, without the transcendent, the exoteric can produce a barren, this-worldly activism, as happened, Johnson says, in both the social gospel and liberation theology movements.”

- David Neff, writing on “Ardor and Order” in the May issue of Christianity Today

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