Category Archives: Religion

For God So Loved the 1 Percent … – NYTimes.com

For God So Loved the 1 Percent … – NYTimes.com.

January 17, 2012, 9:00 pm

For God So Loved the 1 Percent …

Princeton, N.J.

IN recent weeks Mitt Romney has become the poster child for unchecked capitalism, a role he seems to embrace with relish. Concerns about economic equality, he told Matt Lauer of NBC, were really about class warfare.

“When you have a president encouraging the idea of dividing America based on the 99 percent versus 1 percent,” he said, “you have opened up a whole new wave of approach in this country which is entirely inconsistent with the concept of one nation under God.”

Mr. Romney was on to something, though perhaps not what he intended.

The concept of “one nation under God” has a noble lineage, originating in Abraham Lincoln’s hope at Gettysburg that “this nation, under God, shall not perish from the earth.” After Lincoln, however, the phrase disappeared from political discourse for decades. But it re-emerged in the mid-20th century, under a much different guise: corporate leaders and conservative clergymen deployed it to discredit Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.

During the Great Depression, the prestige of big business sank along with stock prices. Corporate leaders worked frantically to restore their public image and simultaneously roll back the “creeping socialism” of the welfare state. Notably, the American Liberty League, financed by corporations like DuPont and General Motors, made an aggressive case for capitalism. Most, however, dismissed its efforts as self-interested propaganda. (A Democratic Party official joked that the organization should have been called “the American Cellophane League” because “first, it’s a DuPont product and, second, you can see right through it.”)

Realizing that they needed to rely on others, these businessmen took a new tack: using generous financing to enlist sympathetic clergymen as their champions. After all, according to one tycoon, polls showed that, “of all the groups in America, ministers had more to do with molding public opinion” than any other.

The Rev. James W. Fifield, pastor of the elite First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, led the way in championing a new union of faith and free enterprise. “The blessings of capitalism come from God,” he wrote. “A system that provides so much for the common good and happiness must flourish under the favor of the Almighty.”

[…]

Read the full article here: The New York Times

Leave a comment

Filed under (big) business, history, inequality, Religion, society, USA

Sir Christopher Meyer: God and the American Elections

Sir Christopher Meyer: God and the American Elections.

Former British Ambassador to the United States and Germany, former Chairman of the Press Complaints

God and the American Elections

Posted: 9/1/12 00:00 GMT

In 1849 a Scottish traveller to the United States, Alex Mackay, observed that “English names are plentiful around you, and many objects within view have an English look about them. Yet, when the Englishman steps ashore, it is on a foreign, though a friendly land.”

This was an insight of fundamental importance, which we Brits have to learn and learn again. I love America. But it is foreign, more foreign than a common language, shared history and the ‘special relationship’ would suggest.

[…]

When I first went to live in the US in 1988, I had my Alex Mackay moment.

[…] in the large picture, it is God who makes the big difference between the two sides of the Atlantic. British politics, like most European politics, is irredeemably secular, as Santorum has disapprovingly noted. God does not even get a walk-on part in our elections. In America he is centre-stage, wherever you place yourself in the political spectrum, to be invoked as much by Barack Obama as Texas Governor Rick Perry, who has apparently been told by God to stay in the Republican primary race.

[…]

Read the full article here: The Huffington Post

Leave a comment

Filed under Britain, elections, Religion, society, USA

Santa Claus killings: Does the holiday season make people violent? – Slate Magazine

Santa Claus killings: Does the holiday season make people violent? – Slate Magazine.

Beware the Mistletoe

Does the holiday season drive people to violence?

A man dressed as Santa Claus is alleged to have shot and killed six members of his family and then himself on Christmas morning in a suburb of Dallas, Texas. Films such as Die Hard, Black Christmas and Silent Night, Bloody Night depict Christmas violence, and there’s a widespread (though unfounded) belief that people become emotionally disturbed over the holidays. Is the Christmas season really that dangerous a time?

No. In fact, December turns out to be one of the least violent months of the year.
[…]
Read the full story here: Slate Magazine

Leave a comment

Filed under Christmas, crime, Holidays, Religion, society, USA, violence

Israeli Girl at Center of Tension Over Religious Extremism – NYTimes.com

Israeli Girl at Center of Tension Over Religious Extremism – NYTimes.com.

Israeli Girl, 8, at Center of Tension Over Religious Extremism

BEIT SHEMESH, Israel — The latest battleground in Israel’s struggle over religious extremism covers little more than a square mile of this Jewish city situated between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and it has the unexpected public face of a blond, bespectacled second-grade girl.

She is Naama Margolese, 8, the daughter of American immigrants who are observant modern Orthodox Jews. An Israeli weekend television program told the story of how Naama had become terrified of walking to her elementary school here after ultra-Orthodox men spit on her, insulted her and called her a prostitute because her modest dress did not adhere exactly to their more rigorous dress code.

The country was outraged. Naama’s picture has appeared on the front pages of all the major Israeli newspapers. While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted Sunday that “Israel is a democratic, Western, liberal state” and pledged that “the public sphere in Israel will be open and safe for all,” there have been days of confrontation at focal points of friction here.

[…]

For many Israelis, this is not a fight over one little girl’s walk to school. It is a struggle that could shape the future character and soul of the country, against ultra-Orthodox zealots who have been increasingly encroaching on the public sphere with their strict interpretation of modesty rules, enforcing gender segregation and the exclusion of women.

[…]

Read the full story here: The New York Times

Leave a comment

Filed under Israel, Judaism, Religion, World Affairs

Religion in America: The faith and doubts of our fathers | The Economist

Religion in America: The faith and doubts of our fathers | The Economist.

Religion in America
The faith (and doubts) of our fathers

What did the makers of America believe about God and religion? The subject is stirring the very rancour they wanted to avoid

Leave a comment

Filed under 1st Amendment, Constitution, establishment clause, history, Religion, USA

The Book of Books – What Literature Owes the Bible – NYTimes.com

The Book of Books – What Literature Owes the Bible – NYTimes.com.

The Book of Books: What Literature Owes the Bible

The Bible is the model for and subject of more art and thought than those of us who live within its influence, consciously or unconsciously, will ever know.

Literatures are self-referential by nature, and even when references to Scripture in contemporary fiction and poetry are no more than ornamental or rhetorical — indeed, even when they are unintentional — they are still a natural consequence of the persistence of a powerful literary tradition. Biblical allusions can suggest a degree of seriousness or significance their context in a modern fiction does not always support. This is no cause for alarm. Every fiction is a leap in the dark, and a failed grasp at seriousness is to be respected for what it attempts. In any case, these references demonstrate that in the culture there is a well of special meaning to be drawn upon that can make an obscure death a martyrdom and a gesture of forgiveness an act of grace. Whatever the state of belief of a writer or reader, such resonances have meaning that is more than ornamental, since they acknowledge complexity of experience of a kind that is the substance of fiction.

[…]

Read the full story here: The New York Times

Leave a comment

Filed under Religion

Take care of your neighbours and the world will look after itself – Telegraph

Take care of your neighbours and the world will look after itself – Telegraph.

Take care of your neighbours and the world will look after itself

We need some order and autonomy, and Christmas is a beacon for both.

7:11PM GMT 23 Dec 2011

There is an interesting article about “the illusion” of free will in this week’s New Statesman. The author contends that since every “choice” we make can be viewed as a function of our genetic, evolutionary and cultural history, they are not choices at all, but predetermined; or rather, predeterminable.

Predeterminable by whom, I wondered, as I bounced around my BA flat-bed on a turbulence-struck flight across the Atlantic. A transatlantic flight is an existential void: there is no choice you can make once the plane has taken off that will determine your outcome. Whatever illusion of free will BA permits you (“Gin and tonic, sir?”), none of them makes any real difference. Perhaps that’s why I hate flying so much.

The author of the piece – a neuroscientist called Sam Harris – went on to make some fairly adolescent political points, which he thinks follow from his insight: Conservatism is flawed, he says, because it ignores luck; it fetishises the exercise of choice. But that Tories understand the random paths into human existence, and our near-powerlessness to overcome them, has always struck me as one of our essential differences to utopians: it’s why liberals find us so gloomy.

I say “adolescent”, because this insight, that humans never really understand what drives our pseudo-choices, came to me in my teenage wonderings about God. There may well be a cosmic algebra whose equations govern our lives, as a function of everything else in Creation: but only God, looking down from outside the Universe, could ever understand how to resolve those equations, and so know what would happen next.

[…]

Read the full story here: The Telegraph

Leave a comment

Filed under Philosophy, Religion, Science & Technology

Is Americans’ Religious Freedom Under Threat? – Room for Debate – NYTimes.com

Is Americans’ Religious Freedom Under Threat? – Room for Debate – NYTimes.com.

Updated December 22, 2011 4:52 PM

Is Americans’ Religious Freedom Under Threat?

Companies have pulled their ads from a TV show that portrays Muslims as benign. Religious groups may be required to offer insurance that covers drugs that can induce abortions. A federal judge rejected a ballot initiative on same-sex marriage partly because of its religious arguments. Are these just bubbles in the American melting pot, or signs that religious freedom is under threat?

Thomas Farr and Timothy Shah, of the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, organized this discussion.

[…]

Read the full debate here: The New York Times, Room for Debate

Leave a comment

Filed under 1st Amendment, Constitution, establishment clause, Religion, society

The American Spectator : Christmas — Amidst Despair, Great Hope

The American Spectator : Christmas — Amidst Despair, Great Hope.

Christmas — Amidst Despair, Great Hope

Small redemptions, promised and fulfilled.

[…]

Nearly a century ago, miles and miles of entrenched soldiers gave us one answer. Many of us are familiar with the story of the “Christmas truce” during World War I. The story is true. Without direction from their superior officers, and indeed against the wishes of some of those officers, soldiers on both sides of the horrible trench lines near Flanders stopped firing their weapons, crossed the barren no-man’s land, sang carols, exchanged cakes, tobacco, even cognac, and in some places even played soccer. Imagine breaking bread and playing games with foreign warriors who, in just a few short days, might well become your executioners. The spirit of Christmas works wonders.

[…]

Read the full article here: The American Spectator

Leave a comment

Filed under Christianity, Religion

Five myths about Christmas – The Washington Post

Five myths about Christmas – The Washington Post.

Five Myths
Challenging everything you think you know

Five myths about Christmas

No matter your religious beliefs — whether you’re devout, doubtful or downright atheist — you’re probably familiar with the Christmas story. From carols streaming through shopper-clogged malls to families trimming their trees to pundits debating whether there’s a “war on Christmas,” the holiday is ever-present at this time of year. But its history, significance and traditions are sometimes misunderstood. Let’s clarify what the yuletide is all about.

[…]

If Christmas is the season opener, Easter is the Super Bowl.

[…]

Read the full story here: The Washington Post

Leave a comment

Filed under Christianity, Religion