Friday, July 30, 2004

Religious News Roundup for Friday, July 30

Busy day here at RNR. Started off the day with a seminar on geriatric dementia (stop your joke right there), followed by a haircut. It wouldn't be so bad, if they'd just give me the damn lollipop.

Anyway, Mrs. Pastor and I are going to see John Kerry in Harrisburg tonight. At least I am: she says she's going for Ben Affleck.

Ah, you may have heard that John Kerry gave a speech last night? I thought it went pretty well. About halfway through, I realized that Kerry didn't need to give me the warm fuzzies; that's what Edwards is for. Kerry projected an aura of competence, and since he's trying to replace one of the looniest, least competent administrations in memory, that's about all he needed to do.

My favorite part of the speech, natch, was this:

I don't want to claim that God is on our side.

As Abraham Lincoln told us, I want to pray humbly that we are on God's side.

And whatever our faith -- whatever our faith, one belief should bind us all: The measure of our character is our willingness to give of ourselves for others and for our country.

He upbraids the Bushies on their hijacking of the Christian faith, citing Lincoln, no less. Then he puts out an inspiring political message echoing scripture (no one who was paying attention could have missed its reference to Max Cleland citation of John 15:13: "there is no greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends"). And he did it all without beating anyone over the head with it. That's good speech.

Inevitably, some folks are less than satisfied with Kerry's use of faith in the campaign. John Feurherd of the National Catholic Reporter has some tart, but not unjustified, commentary on Kerry's faith outreach or lack thereof. Catholic News Service has a generally more conservative take on the "loneliness" of Pro-Life Democrats. Their last three paragraphs redeems the story though. Describing Bart Stupak, a Democratic Congressman from Michigan's 1st district:

Stupak told of attending a Catholic celebration in Michigan and being introduced to a visiting cardinal as the local Democratic member of Congress.

"He turned his back on me," Stupak said of the cardinal, whom he declined to identify. The priest making the introduction hastened to add for the cardinal's benefit: "He's pro-life, he's one of the good ones."

"The cardinal said, 'There are no good Democrats,'" and refused to shake his hand, Stupak said.

The smallmindedness hardly goes one way on this issue. Scroll down Feurherd's page for some equally incisive reporting.

BeliefNet, meanwhile, has a handy "God-O-Meter" that keeps track of the presidential candidates' use of religion on the campaign trail. The scale runs from "secularist" to "theocrat." Guess where the Bushistas end up.

Jeanne at Body and Soul is sick of the way religion in the candidates' speeches is being talked about, even by her fellow bloggers. As she points out, faith is more than a political tool, and it's hypocritical for any candidate to throw it out there as if it were.

Bartholomew's Notes on Religion passes on a Chicago Tribune article examining Barack Obama's religious practice. Turns out he's a member of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, the UCC's largest congregation and one of the handful black churches in the US to be officially welcoming to gays & lesbians.

New Hampshirites (Hampshireans?) are starting to join the Episcopal church after Gene Robinson's consecration as bishop. So far, the evidence is anecdotal, but any movement in, rather than out, is welcome news.

The Washington Times is reporting that Barney Frank has been articulating the gay agenda again. Funny, it doesn't sound so bad to me:

There is a "gay agenda," and it includes equal access to the military, jobs and schools without fear of being persecuted for being homosexual, he said.

"And we even believe that when two people are in love -- and they are willing to be morally and legally committed to each other, and financially responsible for each other -- that if they are prepared to get married, it's a good thing for the stability for society," Mr. Frank declared as the enthusiastic audience waved placards for the National Stonewall Democrats, the grass-roots group that represents homosexual, bisexual and transgender Democrats.

But then who am I to say? Only a humble country pastor.

Two theological statements from the World Council of Churches worth passing on. One, "The Poor Are On God's Mind, describes the "'Let Justice Roll: Faith and Community Voices Against Poverty' campaign, a joint effort of the National Council of Churches USA and the Center for Community Change in collaboration with other national, regional and local anti-poverty and religious organizations." Coming soon to a city near you. The other statement, "Call to Costly Acceptance" turns out to be a wonderful, brief statement on the WCC's philosophy of world security.

The BBC is reporting that 60% of Muslims in the US live in "fear for the future of their families." Nearly one-quarter have been insulted because of their race or religion.  What's that say on the Statue of Liberty? "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses--but not your A-rabs"?

I'm creating a new category for the RNR: WTDO? Or, in plain English, "What the Dilly-o?" Harry Belafonte has been named a "goodwill ambassador" for the upcoming bicentennial of Hans Christian Anderson's birth. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but when I think of HCA, Harry Belafonte is not usually the first that comes to mind. The AP helpfully reports that he will be joining such luminaries as Suzanne Vega, Harvey Keitel, Susan Sarandon, Pele, Yao Ming and Gilberto Gil.

Harvey Keitel? WTDO?

Reuters is reporting that a Malawian priest and nun were recently convicted of disorderly conduct after being caught having sex in a car at an airport. You can't make this stuff up:

Passers by alerted police at Lilongwe International Airport after the parked Toyota Corolla, which had tinted windows, began shaking in what police described as "a funny manner".

The local diocese isn't commenting.

On Religion and Animation: Davey & Goliath are coming back in a series of children's books. This follows a move by the ELCA to begin production of new D&G videos. I've already seen the bobble-head dolls. They're fantastic. And if that doesn't satisfy you, try Martin Luther, from "A Prairie Home Companion," no less! And if you're still not satisfied, try Jesus and Mary.

Last but certainly not least, Simpsons' producer Al Jean let word slip at the San Diego Comics Convention that, well, you read it:

"We have a show where, to raise money, Springfield legalises gay marriage," Mr Jean told comic book fans. "Homer becomes a minister by going on the internet and filling out a form. A long-time character comes out of the closet, but I'm not saying who."

And not a moment too soon for us at RNR.


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