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Category: Thinking Out Loud
Posted by: an okie gardener
Anybody but me ever wonder how much the nature of the Islamic world is shaped by the fact that for most of the cultures in it, the ideal marriage partner is a first cousin? Think about it. For century after century they have been marrying first cousins.
Category: Thinking Out Loud
Posted by: an okie gardener
I admired John Paul II. I think he was the right pope at the right time. His stand for liberty and against tyranny helped bring about the collapse of the Soviet Union.

I think Benedict XVI is now the right pope at the right time. He is taking an unflinching stand for the truth of Christianity against both the secular relativism so popular in modern Europe, calling that continent back to its Christian roots, and against the claims of Islam.

Here is a report on his recent remarks regarding inter-religious (i.e., between different religions) dialogue. I'll try to remember to link to the official text once it is available on the Vatican website. Hat tip Instapundit.

Here is a snippet:

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict said on Wednesday Christians could not allow their beliefs and identity to be diluted for the sake of dialogue with other religions.

"We have to remember that this identity of ours calls for strength, clarity, and courage in the world in which we live," he told pilgrims and tourists at his weekly general audience.
Category: Thinking Out Loud
Posted by: an okie gardener
I think we need to take a mental shower (or, to use another image, flush ourselves with brain bleach), after this week's sordid political news.

Let's think about God, and reason, and science.

In an earlier post I tried to explain Pope Benedict XVI's remarks that drew so much fire. Here. (includes link to Pope's speech in English) [As a footnote, I should have been more precise and spoken of mainstream Sunni Islam. Shia Islam has tended to view Allah as adhering to justice (by which Shiites usually mean the bloody vindication of their faith against others, especially Sunnis)].

Cardinal George Pell summarizes Benedict's point within this address. The relevant paragraphs are:

Pope John Paul wrote magnificently on faith and reason and on the essential relationship of truth and freedom and I want to say a few words on the equally essential link between love and reason or rationality.

Recently Pope Benedict has been in the news for his academic address at Regensburg his old university and once the seat of the Holy Roman Emperors. His passing references to Islam dominated the media, but most of the speech was about the importance of God for every society, and especially Western societies like ours and to emphasise that rationality, reason is an attribute of God. God is not cranky, or capricious. God is truthful.

The Pope quoted the beginning of John’s gospel. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God,” pointing out that the Greek word “Logos” means both word and reason.

The Holy Father acknowledges that this reverence for reason was taken into Revelation, into John’s gospel from Greek philosophy and this was a providential conjunction. Here lies one of the secrets of European and Western civilization. Here lives the reason for our Catholic schools, for our reverence for education, why Catholics should never be fundamentalists and can never be post moderns who reject the idea of truth.

Here is an address from two months ago by Cardinal George Pell on Christianity and science. Below is a thought-provoking excerpt.

(more below)

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Thinking Out Loud:

1. The majority of college-educated white Americans vote Republican (although a slimmer majority of Americans with graduate degrees vote Democrat); the vast majority of evangelical whites in this country vote Republican.

In a nutshell: Well-educated (presumably intelligent) God-fearing white America votes Republican.

What explains these numbers?

The Republican Party has become the party of common sense. We have approximately 12 million undocumented (illegal) immigrants in our country. We should do something to stop that. Common Sense. Terrorists are trying to kill us. We should try to kill them first. We should treat them roughly and follow them around and listen to what they are saying on their cell phones. Common Sense. America is a good place. That is why so many people are trying to come here. Common Sense. Men should marry women. Common sense. Lower taxes and smaller government good; an intrusive and bloated federal government that sees our collective pocketbook as a blank check is bad. Common Sense. Peace through strength. Common Sense. Guns don't kill people; people kill people. Common Sense. Put criminals in jail, and they will commit fewer crimes. Common Sense. And I could go on.

Moreover, the rhetoric of the Republican Party acknowledges the God that the majority worships and honors expressions of love for the nation, which a majority still believe to be the "last best hope for mankind." During the generation following the Civil War, the Republican Party chastised the Democrats: "Not every Democrat was a traitor, but every traitor was a Democrat." Today, it seems as if not all Democrats are America-haters, but all America-haters are Democrats. It is easy to make the case in the heartland that the Republican Party is for God and country (and the other guys are not so sure).

2. Even with the bloody ugly mess that is Iraq, most college-educated, white evangelicals want to support President Bush. Even with the bloody ugly mess that is the federal budget and current bloated bureaucracy, most college-educated, white evangelicals want to vote Republican this November.

Coming into this weekend, you could start to smell another Republican surprise. The polls were turning around (and the polls never accurately measure Republican strength--so you can always add a few points to what ever Zogby says the GOP total is likely to be). The President was moving up. The generic "Republican Congress" was moving up. Individual races were looking much better.

Why? Americans want to vote Republican despite Republican failures. Americans continue to trust Republicans. Yeah, they make mistakes, but at least they see the world in a realistic way (according to our perspective). George Bush is a guy like me.

3. Then we get Foley. A case of perversion and arrogance. I had never heard of Mark Foley before Friday night, but he was an important person in the GOP hierarchy. And he was also a sexual (homosexual) predator whom the GOP leadership allowed to roam the halls of Congress and solicit underage pages unchecked. Once again, the party of morality faces a moral crisis.

If we were in a mood last week to forgive Republicans for their faults (if only because the alternative was so repulsive), we were shockingly reminded this weekend that the GOP is sick. Washington is sick. Congress is sick. The system is sick. You can feel Republicans losing steam even as we speak.