(Courtesy of Larry Leonard)
Enough is Enough: Let's Take This Country Back
Noticing the PBS program devoted to homosexuality, In the Life, on the night of November 18, 2003, I wondered if there was a program on public broadcasting dedicated to glorifying the life of heterosexuals. Then, it came to me that next PBS should introduce a program sponsored by NAMBLA about the life of people who practice adult-child sexual relationships. And, of course, we'll need a program about the life of people like Larry Flynt, who like to have sex with farm animals.
Have you had enough, yet?
With today's ridiculous Massachusetts Supreme Court decision about homosexual marriages, anything is possible.
Mormons used to have multiple wives. They can probably have them again, I suppose. Moslems already do in places. What if I wanted to marry every unmarried or divorced woman in Oregon? Would my employer have to provide health insurance coverage for all of them? If you can marry somebody of the same sex, what about bisexuals? Could they wed one of each sex at the same time? What if I wanted to marry a burro? Would my employer have to provide veterinary coverage?
Have you had enough, yet?
Back in the 50s I knew a guy who loved his car. I once saw him having sex in it, but never saw him having sex with it. If that happened, I assume he did it in the privacy of his own garage. Some people like having sex with corpses. I don't know how a corpse could say, I do, but the phrase until death do us part would have a certain irony if one of the people getting married was in a casket. Is there a PBS program about living-dead relationships?
Have you had enough, yet?
You younger kids are unlucky, and I apologize for what has happened. I remember a time when most of what passes for culture today in America would have been laughed out of every town, every legislature and every court in the land. That was before the liberal judicial appointees of FDR had evolved into the overlords of this nation's culture and social structure. Liberals say that was a terrible time to be alive.
Here's what it was like. The illegitimacy rate was 15% instead of 75%, you had to work till the middle of January to pay all your taxes, children were safe in the parks, movies didn't glorify free sex and gratuitous violence, the drug of choice was aspirin, beer a Lucky Strike or coffee, a car left on the side of the road wasn't trashed and most people left their front door key under the mat. Don't doubt it for a second. I was there. It was actually like that. There were no such things as driveby shootings, children behaved in school and learned the three R's. The founding fathers were treated with respect in education, boys left highschool and went to college, into the military or got a job, and the elderly were considered valuable members of the community and were treasured for the wisdom of their years.
I miss it. Maybe we should take America back. Depending on the shifting political winds, we are six or seven senators from doing it, you know. Six or seven more in the U.S. Senate and we will have the U.S. Supreme Court. All we need is just enough federal senators to be able to shut down a filibuster, and judges who don't invent new meanings to the U.S. Constitution will fill the benches from the bottom to the top.
It's a war, folks.
Dedicate one hour of every week between now and the next general election to the effort. Two hours, if you can. Let despair turn into action. Say a prayer of promise to your God. This is the time. Victory over this rape of decency and reason is in your grasp. Find a conservative candidate standing for the U.S. Senate and give money and time to help with the campaign. Put up lawn signs. Put a bumper sticker on your car. Most of all, when the time comes, vote. If you know somebody who could use a ride to a polling place, give them that ride.
Give George W. Bush your vote in 2004. Return him to the White House so we will get the kind of judicial nominees the Democrats are filibustering right now. And, help America gain the six or seven more federal senators needed to shut down that filibuster and allow a floor vote on conservative judges. We are that close to the beginning of a return to sanity. If you have had enough of what we have now, the path to madness I have described above, do something about it before the next workday has passed.
If you live in a state like Oregon where even the Republicans don't support conservatives, use your computer to find other conservatives and join together to find one you can run in the primary. A "moderate" Republican is nothing but a Democrat wearing a tie. Find a real conservative, set up a website, start collecting campaign funds, talk to people, locate speaking engagements for your candidates, work, work, work.
You can do it. If you do, a miracle will happen about a year from now. America will change direction.
???? 2003 Oregon Magazine
There is anger in this land directed at the perversity of the Left and its minions who will corrupt this country and kill its spirit if not checked.
2 Macc 6:18-31
Eleazar, one of the foremost scribes,
a man of advanced age and noble appearance,
was being forced to open his mouth to eat pork.
But preferring a glorious death to a life of defilement,
he spat out the meat,
and went forward of his own accord to the instrument of torture,
as people ought to do who have the courage to reject the food
which it is unlawful to taste even for love of life.
Those in charge of that unlawful ritual meal took the man aside privately,
because of their long acquaintance with him,
and urged him to bring meat of his own providing,
such as he could legitimately eat,
and to pretend to be eating some of the meat of the sacrifice
prescribed by the king;
in this way he would escape the death penalty,
and be treated kindly because of their old friendship with him.
But Eleazar made up his mind in a noble manner,
worthy of his years, the dignity of his advanced age,
the merited distinction of his gray hair,
and of the admirable life he had lived from childhood;
and so he declared that above all
he would be loyal to the holy laws given by God.
He told them to send him at once
to the abode of the dead, explaining:
"At our age it would be unbecoming to make such a pretense;
many young people would think the ninety-year-old Eleazar
had gone over to an alien religion.
Should I thus pretend for the sake of a brief moment of life,
they would be led astray by me,
while I would bring shame and dishonor on my old age.
Even if, for the time being, I avoid the punishment of men,
I shall never, whether alive or dead,
escape the hands of the Almighty.
Therefore, by manfully giving up my life now,
I will prove myself worthy of my old age,
and I will leave to the young a noble example
of how to die willingly and generously
for the revered and holy laws."
Eleazar spoke thus,
and went immediately to the instrument of torture.
Those who shortly before had been kindly disposed,
now became hostile toward him because what he had said
seemed to them utter madness.
When he was about to die under the blows,
he groaned and said:
"The Lord in his holy knowledge knows full well that,
although I could have escaped death,
I am not only enduring terrible pain in my body from this scourging,
but also suffering it with joy in my soul
because of my devotion to him."
This is how he died,
leaving in his death a model of courage
and an unforgettable example of virtue
not only for the young but for the whole nation.
Mass. Court Says Gay Marriage Can't Be Denied
Tuesday, November 18, 2003
BOSTON ??? The highest court in Massachusetts ruled Tuesday that the state cannot deny gay couples there the right to marry.
The Supreme Judicial Court (search) ruled that same-sex couples are legally entitled to wed under the state Constitution, but stopped short of immediately allowing marriage licenses to be issued to the couples who challenged the law.
Ps 3:2-3, 4-5, 6-7
R (6b) The Lord upholds me.
O LORD, how many are my adversaries!
Many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
"There is no salvation for him in God."
R The Lord upholds me.
But you, O LORD, are my shield;
my glory, you lift up my head!
When I call out to the LORD,
he answers me from his holy mountain.
R The Lord upholds me.
When I lie down in sleep,
I wake again, for the LORD sustains me.
I fear not the myriads of people
arrayed against me on every side.
R The Lord upholds me
We are being tested by God as a nation. Shall we succumb to the fads and forces of fornication? Or shall we maintain our holy and natural laws and traditions. There is a time when we must say, "NO!" to the laws of men.
Jewish World Review Sept. 11, 2003 / 14 Elul, 5763
What type of world will my children live in?
By Jeff Dunetz
http://www.jewishworldreview.com | Like a lot of parents I often go into my children's room to watch them sleep. These days when I look at my kids sleeping in their beds, looking so innocent, I worry that across the world innocent Jewish children are being de-humanized. How the radicals who control Islam are teaching their children to kill my children. I think about the European and American press portraying Jews using old horrible stereotypes. I see anti-Semitism growing on US Campuses. And just like 70 years ago I see much of the world refusing to acknowledge the scope of the problem or act to prevent it.
A friend once told me that all Jewish holidays are based on the same premise, "they tried to kill us ??? we won ??? lets eat!" It is partially true, some very joyous holidays fit into that category such as Purim and Chanukah???. Then there are the others based on a totally different idea: They tried to kill us THEY won, and few of us survived by the grace of G-d. You know, observances such as Tisha B'Av and the secular Yom HaShoah.
Call me an alarmist but I am scared! Every time I open a newspaper or turn on the TV is becoming increasingly clear to me that we may be facing the early stages of one of those "They tried to kill us" periods.
Just look at what happened in Turkey this past Saturday. Two car bombs outside of two Synagogues, 23 dead over 300 wounded. The carnage was timed for the middle of Sabbath services to kill and maim as many Jews as possible. The terrorist that took credit for the bombing said it was to prevent the oppression of the Muslim people.
Those words should remind you of the comments by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir at Organization of the Islamic Conference. You should also remember that his comments were greeted with cheers by the Minister's attending the conference or the fact that most of the attending nations came out with statements of support for his comments:
Former Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdul-Illah Khatib, whose country has a peace treaty with Israel , wrote in Jordan 's Ad-Dustour daily that Mahathir didn't condemn Jews harshly enough. "This is too little for what should have been said," he said. (Newsday 11/2/03 )
"Nowadays, any criticism against the Jews and the Jewish policy is considered anti-Semitic. This proves how far Israel and its allies have succeeded in sanctifying Israel , preventing any side from criticizing it. Such a common view proves Muhammad's comment on the extent to which the Jewish global influence has reached." Fahmi Huwaidi, an Egyptian political analyst, on Al Jazeera Arabic language satellite network.
Sometimes when I am enjoying the laughter of my children I wonder if they will be able to experience the same joy when they are my age, or will they face mass murder from the children are being taught to hate, even in supposedly moderate counties.
Egypt's ministry of culture launched a literacy project, for this effort they published a series of books under the title "A Festival of Reading for All - the Child, the Youngster and the Family," This series was publicly endorsed by Suzanne Mubarak the Presidents wife (and a mother). Her picture is even on the back cover of the book. Here is just one of many examples of the Anti-Semitic themes taught to the young Egyptian children.
"???a number of institutions and committees were established [by the Jews of America ] for the sake of rescuing the Jews [in Europe , during World War II] and raising the funds needed for this purpose. One of these was the "Emergency Committee"??? However, these committees were criticized and rejected by the Zionist movement???, since the philosophy of the Zionist movement was that Hitler should be allowed to murder the Jews in order to convince the entire world that the only solution for rescuing the Jews was establishing a homeland for them in Palestine." (Source: "Hate Industry in Egypt Under Official Patronage" by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center of the Center for Special Studies, Herzlyia, Israel, edited by Reuven Ehrlich, January 2003)
The children are learning well; last year Saudi TV interviewed a 3 year old girl who was asked her feeling about Jews. She said that she didn't like them because the Koran taught her that Allah calls them apes and pigs. (Daniel Pipes, JewishWorldReview.com, 10/26/03) Don't forget what Muslim clerics are saying here is one example:
"Muhammad said in his Hadith: The hour (resurrection will not come until you fight the Jews. And the rock and the tree will say; Oh Muslim, Oh Servant of Allah there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him." Dr Hassan Khader, founder Al Quds Encyclopedia, PA TV July 13, 2003 Translated by Palestinian Media Watch Not all of Islam is preaching Jew hatred but it is the accepted view. After all when was the last time you read about a group of Muslim Clerics rising up saying that it is wrong to teach hatred? Have you seen broadcasts of Muslim leaders crying out that a once peaceful religion has been corrupted?
Folks, its time to throw away the political correctness and realize the Muslim world doesn't just want Israel out of the west bank ad Gaza ??? they want us Dead. Let that roll around in your mind for a second, if you have young children at home go hug them because the Muslim world is trying to have our children's generation face what our parent's generation faced.
And don't think for a minute that it is just the Muslim world. They just opened the door! Following the lead of their Oil suppliers, much of Europe has returned to the tradition of Jew hated. A study last year conducted by the ADL found that 21% of all Europeans harbor strong anti-Semitic feelings. Here is just a tiny sampling of what is going in Europe :
Last year the Dutch Government banned shechitah, the kosher way to slaughter animals as defined by the Talmud, there are movements in may other countries in Europe, to ban Kosher shechitah, most notably in England where there was a rally against Kosher slaughtering on Yom Kippur of course. It is a fact that most anti-Jewish governments start their persecution by banning practices such as keeping kosher (Ancient Rome and Nazi Germany for Example)
In Italy Anti-Semitic graffiti appeared on the office of the RAI, the Italian state-owned radio and television network, after a journalist of Jewish origin was named director. The graffiti read "RAI for Italians, no to Jews" (ADL, March 2003) an Italian newspaper ran a page one cartoon that had a tank with a Jewish Star pointing its gun at the baby Jesus with the caption, "Surely They don't want to kill me again" Maybe it should say surely we still want to kill the Jews.
In its story "The Kosher Conspiracy", the British Magazine, The New Statesman had a cover illustration of a Jewish Star piercing the union Jack. The article went on to discuss the Jewish communities influence in swaying the British press. A British paper the Independent, ran a cartoon that featured Prime Minister Sharon eating babies, kind of a new spin on the old blood libel. And for those of you who think that you are safe living in the Unitized States; the youth of America is becoming extremely anti -Jewish: ???..nearly one in four young adults - 23 percent - agreed with the statement that Jews were a "threat" to the country's "moral character," a view shared by 15 percent of Americans between ages 45 and 54. And 20 percent of young adults agreed that Jews "care only about themselves," compared with 12 percent of middle-aged Americans (Washington Post, January 27, 2003 )
Anti-Jewish acts and statements across the world are increasing exponentially. And we haven't seen the worst of it. One day those children who are having daily hatred lessons, will be adults and they will be going after my kids and yours.
One thousand years from now, if there is a Jewish Holiday commemorating the early twenty first century what kind will it be; the kind that ends with "lets eat" or the kind that ends with lets cry.
It is up to us as individuals and as a people to do something about it. We cannot remain complacent. Every offense must be challenged. Every statement must be answered. And when someone tries to tip toe around the problem with a little political correctness like Condoleezza Rice did two weeks ago when she said that Anti-Semitism was not prevalent in the Muslim world, challenge that too.
The most important we need to do is ask for help from out creator. Throughout our history, when every time we have called out to G-d as a people he has responded, think about those holiday's Passover, Chanukah, Purim, the solution always starts with a return to G-d and prayer. Prayer is never the whole answer we must act for our selves but let me suggest that if we the Jewish people were to ask our Maker for guidance, a solution to all this hatred would be found. Maybe if we tried to follow one more commandment or recite one more prayer than we did the day before ??? just maybe, G-d will deliver us as he has done so many times before. Nothing can happen unless we ask. The solution begins with faith and prayer???.No mitzvah is too small , no prayer too short, just make it come from the heart. Before you decide what to do, go look in on your kids , watch them sleep, hear them giggle and give then a big hug, because their future depends on it.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes uplifting articles. Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Jeff Dunetz is a 20-year marketing veteran, and a freelance writer. He is married and the father of two kids who ask lots of questions about being Jewish that he can't answer. Jeff has been active in Jewish organizations since his USY days. Presently he is a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Dix Hills (Long Island) Jewish Center. To comment, please click here.
Part of the problem, and a big part, is that our education system has been nearly bereft of integrity..children and young adults are just not learning critical thinking or history. Instead, they are fed half-truths and full lies based on a multi-cultural system of enforced stupidity.
They have no heritage; they have no roots; and tradition is only a series of movies, Abercrombie and Fitch ads, third rate news reporting, and crappy music.
1 Macc1:10-15, 41-43, 54-57, 62-63
[From the descendants of Alexander's officers]
there sprang a sinful offshoot, Antiochus Epiphanes,
son of King Antiochus, once a hostage at Rome.
He became king in the year one hundred and thirty-seven
of the kingdom of the Greeks.
In those days there appeared in Israel
men who were breakers of the law,
and they seduced many people, saying:
"Let us go and make an alliance with the Gentiles all around us;
since we separated from them, many evils have come upon us."
The proposal was agreeable;
some from among the people promptly went to the king,
and he authorized them to introduce the way of living
of the Gentiles.
Thereupon they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem
according to the Gentile custom.
They covered over the mark of their circumcision
and abandoned the holy covenant;
they allied themselves with the Gentiles
and sold themselves to wrongdoing.
Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people,
each abandoning his particular customs.
All the Gentiles conformed to the command of the king,
and many children of Israel were in favor of his religion;
they sacrificed to idols and profaned the sabbath.
On the fifteenth day of the month Chislev,
in the year one hundred and forty-five,
the king erected the horrible abomination
upon the altar of burnt offerings
and in the surrounding cities of Judah they built pagan altars.
They also burned incense at the doors of the houses and in the streets.
Any scrolls of the law which they found they tore up and burnt.
Whoever was found with a scroll of the covenant,
and whoever observed the law,
was condemned to death by royal decree.
But many in Israel were determined
and resolved in their hearts not to eat anything unclean;
they preferred to die rather than to be defiled with unclean food
or to profane the holy covenant; and they did die.
Terrible affliction was upon Israel.
Homily of the Day
Title: Stay Connected or You'll Lose Your Way
Author: Monsignor Dennis Clark, Ph.D.
Date: Monday, November 17, 2003
I Maccabees 1:10-15,41-43,54-57,62-63 / Lk 18:35-43
We have the beginnings of a great tragedy in today's reading from the book of Maccabees. The Greeks had decided to impose their own language and culture on the various parts of their empire. And that meant zero tolerance for the religion of all conquered peoples, including the Jews. The temple at Jerusalem was converted into a gymnasium, and all Jewish religious observances were forbidden under pain of death.
It was decision time for the Jews, young and old, and many of them forgot what it was that made them special, what made them who they were: It was their conscious connection to the Lord. Hoping to win acceptance and advancement from those who held power, many of the Jews turned their backs on their connection to the Lord. And in doing so they lost their identity and lost their way.
It'??s a temptation that presents itself in every age, if not in so dramatic a way. We face it now, the temptation to give in to a culture that in so many ways has considerable appeal, but is simultaneously seriously flawed. It's hard not to fall victim to its subtle allures and distorted values without even noticing we've done so. Only one thing can prevent that from happening, and that is serious time spent with the Lord every day.
Take that time every day. Let Him help you remember who you are and what really matters. Let Him give you the energy to be faithful and true.
We see the evidence of persecution against orthodox Christians and Jews now in this country through the mockery of the media and entertainment forces, the judiciary, in education and even in the legislatures (cf. Kennedy's and Hatch's proposed hate crimes bill modification). One would have to be deaf, dumb and blind to be unaware of the pervasive forces of secularist humanism raging around us.
In those days, I Daniel,
heard this word of the Lord:
"At that time there shall arise
Michael, the great prince,
guardian of your people;
it shall be a time unsurpassed in distress
since nations began until that time.
At that time your people shall escape,
everyone who is found written in the book.
Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake;
some shall live forever,
others shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace.
But the wise shall shine brightly
like the splendor of the firmament,
and those who lead the many to justice
shall be like the stars forever."
The Problem with Christians???
FROM: AMERICAN DAILY
By JB Williams on 11/14/03
Printer friendly version
The problem with many Christians today is that they read the parts in the Bible where Jesus was tolerant, forgiving, inclusive and gentle. They read how he turned the other cheek over and over, and how he loved even the sinner. (Thank God he does, since we are all sinners.) But they have either missed or forgotten other parts of that same Bible which are equally important.
Jesus, despite his tolerant gentle nature, (his purpose), was completely committed to his beliefs, always outspoken about them, and never yielded to those who would speak against him, even as they nailed him to the cross.
Though Jesus came to forgive us for our human frailties, he never over-ruled his father???s commandments, nor did he lift the weight of personal responsibility each of us carry, to be a warrior for good over evil. Some believe in the good of Jesus, but overlook the evil that exists. Others see the evil in this world, but do not feel any personal responsibility to fight those evils.
As a result, Christians find themselves losing the battle to keep their beliefs a part of every day life, in their government, their courts, their schools, or anywhere in the public arena.
They stood silent, as evil removed God from our schools, the place where our children grow up. They remain for the most part silent, as evil removes God from our Justice System, where only God???s divine guidance will keep us a Just people. They sit quiet, as a few obstructionists block Christians from bench appointments, because of their beliefs. Next they will watch as God is hauled from our State Houses, leaving ultimate rule in the hands of men. Then they we grieve as their God is removed from our founding documents, our pledge of allegiance, and our currency. Last, they will only remember what America once was, when it was blessed by the grace of that God, and wonder what happened to that America.
Though more than 80% of our people are Christian, (as were our founding fathers), they turn not their cheek, but their heads as our nation is in a free fall from any moral code of standards. They weep for every aborted child, rather than putting a stop to it at the polls, deceived and confused by immoral justification.
They struggle to save their church, and their collection plates, while sweeping pedophile priest under the carpet, in the name of tolerance and forgiveness. Some have gone as far as to ordain a lifestyle, referred to in their Bible as an abomination, in the name of inclusiveness.
I???m not a preacher or even close, nor am I an accomplished Biblical historian, so if you???re thinking I???m not qualified to say all this, you are probably right. I am just one of the 80% who recognizes that what???s going on in my country is wrong, and I???m willing to take a stand, as I believe Jesus would, were he standing in my shoes. I am a sinner, a mere mortal who is concerned about the future of a nation God has blessed so much. A man who wants his grandchildren to know the America he knew. A man confused by the silence of people who feel the same as I do.
Make no mistake, the separation of church and state promised by some, has never existed in the history of this country. As a young nation, we built churches first, and then held school in those churches. I am concerned about what a Godless America might look like, and I can???t figure out why we would allow it to happen.
We are the majority, and we do have the power, but if we won???t use that power for good, what good is it?
If you believe as I do, that America???s greatness is not of itself, but of a higher purpose, and that our children deserve an America as good, or better than the one our forefathers handed us, then we must be silent no more. We must be deceived no more, tolerant no more, less concerned with inclusiveness and more concerned with where we are headed.
Our opponents have clear intentions of completely removing God from our society and so far, we have provided no real resistance. If nothing else will get you to the polls on Election Day, this should. God help us if it doesn???t!
And then one night, knocks begin on the doors of active Christians by the forces of evil let loose in this country because not enough people truly cared.
All men were by nature foolish who were in ignorance of God,
and who from the good things seen did not succeed in knowing him who is,
and from studying the works did not discern the artisan;
But either fire, or wind, or the swift air,
or the circuit of the stars, or the mighty water,
or the luminaries of heaven, the governors of the world, they considered gods.
Now if out of joy in their beauty they thought them gods,
let them know how far more excellent is the Lord than these;
for the original source of beauty fashioned them.
Or if they were struck by their might and energy,
let them from these things realize how much more powerful is he who made them.
For from the greatness and the beauty of created things
their original author, by analogy, is seen.
But yet, for these the blame is less;
For they indeed have gone astray perhaps,
though they seek God and wish to find him.
For they search busily among his works,
but are distracted by what they see, because the things seen are fair.
But again, not even these are pardonable.
For if they so far succeeded in knowledge
that they could speculate about the world,
how did they not more quickly find its Lord?
--He is close at hand.
In Wisdom is a spirit
intelligent, holy, unique,
Manifold, subtle, agile,
clear, unstained, certain,
Not baneful, loving the good, keen,
unhampered, beneficent, kindly,
Firm, secure, tranquil,
And pervading all spirits,
though they be intelligent, pure and very subtle.
For Wisdom is mobile beyond all motion,
and she penetrates and pervades all things by reason of her purity.
For she is an aura of the might of God
and a pure effusion of the glory of the Almighty;
therefore nought that is sullied enters into her.
For she is the refulgence of eternal light,
the spotless mirror of the power of God,
the image of his goodness.
And she, who is one, can do all things,
and renews everything while herself perduring;
And passing into holy souls from age to age,
she produces friends of God and prophets.
For there is nought God loves, be it not one who dwells with Wisdom.
For she is fairer than the sun
and surpasses every constellation of the stars.
Compared to light, she takes precedence;
for that, indeed, night supplants,
but wickedness prevails not over Wisdom.
Indeed, she reaches from end to end mightily
and governs all things well.
Within the heart of man still shines those divine sparks that make the sun appear small and dark.
Palestrina Was Not in Vogue
The counterculture struck at God himself. How much damage was done?
BY GEORGE SIM JOHNSTON
Thursday, November 13, 2003 12:01 a.m. EST
A few years ago, while visiting college campuses with my son, I witnessed an odd but recurring phenomenon: Our student guide would be showing us around a beautiful New England campus--all arches and spires and ivy--when we would abruptly stop in front of a building of incredible ugliness. Either a science center or a library, it looked like the Death Star about to become fully operational. Or an auto parts warehouse that had escaped from some malevolent industrial park.
"Oh, this," the guide would say with a cringing gesture. "It was built in the early '70s. We try not to notice."
Such moments of cultural dissonance come to mind while reading Mark Oppenheimer's "Knocking on Heaven's Door" (Yale, 284 pages, $30), a study of the effect of the 1960s and early 1970s on our relationship with God. According to Mr. Oppenheimer, most Americans did not respond to that era's cultural upheavals by joining ashrams or doing TM. Rather, they brought the revolution into their churches and synagogues. And the results were striking: radical lesbian Episcopalian priests, Catholic Masses that sounded like Peter, Paul and Mary concerts, and Unitarians channeling whatever the Zeitgeist had to offer.
But was the era of lava lamps, bubble-gum music and appalling architecture a propitious moment for churches and synagogues to open themselves--some might say, surrender--to the secular culture? Did anyone really benefit from this?
Mr. Oppenheimer seems to think so, telling us that the innovations got people "involved." By importing big chunks of the surrounding culture into the previously hushed precincts of the sacred, religion was simply doing its job of selling itself. Much of "Knocking on Heaven's Door" is a chronicle of how this process unfolded. There are well-researched chapters on the pre-emptive surrender of Unitarians to everything from gay rights to ESP, the flight of some Jews into communal isolates where dope was available along with the Torah, and the willingness of Catholics to exchange Palestrina for acoustical guitars.
As a Catholic, I naturally took interest in the chapter "Roman Catholics and the Folk Mass." It is not quite accurate to imply, as Mr. Oppenheimer does, that all the liturgical changes that occurred in the Catholic Church after Vatican II were decreed by the council. Some indeed were, but most, including altar tables facing the congregation and the abolition of polyphony and Gregorian chant, were not. Nor were they asked for by the laity. They were the work of a determined minority of clergy and liturgists who had a horror of anything smacking of the transcendent. "Horizontal" was in; "vertical" was out. As a result, we found ourselves on Sundays singing pop jingles like "On Eagles' Wings," a song that makes "Michael Row the Boat Ashore" sound magisterial.
Mr. Oppenheimer is correct to say that the way we worship deeply affects our notion of God. But he does not really connect the dots. His discussion is glancing, almost annoyingly sociological. Yes, people in various denominations discovered guitars, sandals, hugging and identity politics. But what was really going on here?
At least in the Catholic Church, an increasing number of worshipers began to treat their faith primarily as an exercise in self-esteem, even while doctrinal teachings remained in place, and the church experienced an invasion of the "therapeutic." The model of the human person, as presented by certain theologians and even some catechisms, was of a little god in a universe of "options"--self-affirmed, plotting his comforts, quick to "follow his conscience" when he wanted something he maybe shouldn't. By the late 1960s many Jews and Christians had managed to domesticate God into an affirmer of personal preferences.
None of this registers with Mr. Oppenheimer, who is mostly content to report the surface manifestations of the Me Decade without touching on the deeper issues, such as the validity of supernatural faith and the proper role of religion in public life, and without asking whether a secular culture benefits in the long run from denominations that simply do its bidding.
Undoubtedly, a church or synagogue should update its usages so that it can communicate with the surrounding culture. But shouldn't this be done with caution, along with the conviction that a well-grounded faith has more to teach the surrounding culture than vice versa? When a religion simply signs on for the prevailing aesthetic--which in the period under consideration was dismal--and refuses to be "judgmental" about any behavior not proscribed by fashion, then it is in trouble.
Mr. Oppenheimer does usefully remind us of the good that religion can do when it stands against prevailing notions. The civil-rights movement in the 1950s, for example, was overwhelmingly religious in its leadership. But the question he never raises is whether these countervailing values will be around if religion keeps accommodating itself to the spirit of the age.
Mr. Johnston is a writer in New York.
Yes, yes, I quite agree being subjected now and before to the dumbing down of the Mass. The scriptural translations are horrid, the music is shamefully bad, and homeletics! Homilies are excursions into either banalities or non sequiturs. At St. Peter's in downtown Chicago, they have replaced the candes with little electric lights! Many priests remain simply arrogant in their lack of true knowledge.
From Catholic Exchange
Homily of the Day
Title: You Are More Powerful Than You Think
Author: Monsignor Dennis Clark, Ph.D.
Date: Wednesday, November 12, 2003
Wisdom 6:2-11 / Lk 17:11-19
Today's Old Testament reading is a stern warning to those in positions of authority that they will be held accountable for the power the Lord has put in their hands. But before we relax too much and count ourselves outside that august group, we'd better face the fact that God has put a surprising amount of power into the hands of every one of us.
Even the least of us is possessed of remarkable powers, to encourage or discourage, to stifle life or to revive it, to engender hope or to foster despair. And we do much of that without even noticing or intending it. That realization is both startling and tantalizing: What could we achieve in our own little orbit of friends, neighbors, and relations, if we consciously set out to use those powers that are already in our hands?!
That's the bottom line for today's meditation: You have a chance to make a lasting contribution to the building of God's kingdom here and now. Don't let it pass you by.
Our power is our capacity to love and act.
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