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A Protestant response. Jimmy Carter the good. Un-defanging the Bible. Plus much more.

4.11.05

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REREFORMATION
Re: Wlady Pleszczynski's Everyone's Pope and Patrick O'Hannigan's The Question of Motivation:

I was surprised at the disgusting Catholic chauvinism, witnessed in the Spectator recently, apparently brought on by the death of John Paul II. Since there has been some speculation on what Protestants think, I'll throw in my two cents.

I was amused by the assertion by Wlady P, "Among Christian religions, only one is the genuine article, and it's known as Roman Catholicism." The Pope that sat by and let children be sexually abused in an attempt to either avoid institutional embarrassment or mitigate his priest shortage is not a person who I would associate with the genuine article. Your average Protestant church would have solved this problem in short order and the solution would have involved the police not a series of out-of-court settlements. The person I associate with the genuine article is Jesus Christ. He had some interesting comments on those that abuse little ones. Will the "good" Catholics that enabled this abuse for the sake of their church meet the same fate? The Roman Catholic church looks like a typical human institution highlighted by the corruptions of power and wealth. When the institution is worshipped and not what it imperfectly represents the corruption is complete.

Concerning the free country that I was blessed to be born into, I trace the history of that freedom to a country that divorced itself of Catholicism. Our "founding fathers" seem obviously to be informed by Protestant Christianity. If Catholicism wants to associate itself with political government it would be better to associate itself with divine right monarchies and the corrupt patron governments of Central and South America. I suppose you could make the case that eventually those things would evolve into representative democracies but in the 1900s not the 1600s. I believe that Protestants won this race because they never tried to imagine infallible men other than Jesus.

My explanation of why the pope bravely confronted communism is not that he was a Catholic but that he was a Pole. He seemed less interested in Iraqi's for instance. Recognize him for his accomplishments but please don't try to deify him to me. He had great responsibilities and came up very short in many of them.

Finally we Protestants don't have Pope envy. A study of the history of Popes will inform you that you may soon have something to fret over again because I believe you could do far worse that your last Pope.
-- Clif Briner

DEFANGED ENLIGHTENMENT
Re: Mark Goldblatt's Fear and Fanaticism at the Times:

Your characterization of the Jewish thought has having been "defanged" by the enlightenment is historically inaccurate. It rests on the ignorant assumption that Jewish law and tradition are accurately reflected in literalist and tendentious Christian interpretations of the written Torah. These interpretations derive from Christian polemics and post-Enlightenment American Jewish ignorance of our own traditions. The Christians like to highlight the imaginary distinction between a merciful tender New Testament Christianity and a legalistic, tribal and vengeful God of the "Old Testament." The Jews just don't know any better.

As any one minimally familiar with Jewish history and law will know, in ancient Judah, in pre-Christian and pre-Roman times, Jewish authorities rarely imposed the death penalty for any crime. A Sanhedrin (court) that executed one man in seventy years was disapprovingly characterized in the Talmud as the "bloody" Sanhedrin. Rabbi Akiba declared that had he served on that Sanhedrin, not even that one would have been executed. With respect to the death penalty for homosexuality or anything else, the Enlightenment came more than 2,000 years after the fact and gets no credit whatsoever.

I would have expected Mark Goldblatt to know this, were I not sadly familiar with the pathetic state of Jewish education today.
-- Joe Vass
Maplewood, Minnesota

Mr. Goldblatt is mistaken about his assessment that the Enlightenment has somehow "de-fanged" the Bible so that it is no longer taken literally. It is the New Testament not the Enlightenment that reorganizes the truths of the Old Testament and sends these truths to the nations as the gospel. The New Testament denounces homosexuality (Romans 1) but removes the power of death from the Church (Romans 13). The New Testament Church has spiritual authority and can excommunicate (1 Corinthians 5), but does not have the authority of the state to execute. Instead the Church is commanded in the Great Commission to convert the nations -- not kill them. And these New Testament truths are to be taken "literally." In fact it could be argued that the Enlightenment has worked its man-centered ideas out in our culture through liberalism, not the Church.
-- Jim Whittle
Douglasville, Georgia

The article "Fear and Fanaticism at the Times" by Mark Goldblatt betrays an astonishing lack of historical information. It is not the case that homosexuals are no longer put to death "because Jews and Christians have incorporated the Enlightenment into their understanding of their respective religious traditions. The Bible might be the alpha and omega of their moral selves, but fatal literalism of the kind that would kill homosexuals is off the table.... The Enlightenment has, in effect, defanged the Bible."

In fact, sodomy has rarely, if ever, been capitally punished in any Christian society. Although recognized as a mortal sin, which excludes the sinner from heaven (1 Corinthians 6:9-10), this vice is to be corrected by repentance. For example, Richard the Lionhearted twice underwent public penance (whipping) for sodomy in the 12th century.

Mr. Goldblatt would do better to credit Christianity with having, in his graceless words, "defanged the Bible." Christian doctrine is that God intended the severity of many aspects of the Old Law to be pedagogic, to inculcate the awareness in fallen humanity that moral conduct matters gravely; the coming of the Redeemer brought mitigation of this severity as an encouragement to acceptance of the proffered grace "for my yoke is easy and my burden light" (Matthew 11:30).
-- G.W. McKenna

"Enlightened" Mark Goldblatt's article is flawed in so many ways that it is possible to completely miss its principal failing. That is, that his article conspires in the unequal treatment of Terri Schiavo. According to him and his fellow journalists at the NYT, Terri's defenders were only allowed to stand by weeping and wailing while she was besieged to death by an armed force. What concerns the journalists at the NYT, however, is that such violence should not be extended to superior liberals, for then the force of the law would be required to come to the rescue and repel violence with violence. Hence the fact that "enlightened" Judge George Greer was given an armed guard and not an entourage of "defanged Christians."
-- Kevin O'Neill
London, England

SOULFUL
Re: The Prowler's Jimmy Carter Who?:

To "The Prowler": You will never be half the man that Jimmy Carter is. He will always exceed you in intelligence and soul. You write about things that you believe you understand. President Carter continues to work directly with the people you only read and write about. And he uses his own time and resources to change the world for the better.
-- Bill Jennings
P.S. Only cowards don't put their real names on their published materials.

I'm convinced the only reason Carter was snubbed is because unlike Bush, he is a Christian in word and deed. Bush is a Christian in word, when convenient and profitable, and not when he might have to atone for his multifarious sins. It was amazing to me that the late pope did not start spinning at the presence of Bush, whose family profited off the Latin American genocide which, as you may recall, involved the murder of Catholic clergy as well as the mass murder of rural peasants by American sponsored death squads, trained in America, funded by American tax dollars, and in support of American efforts to import drugs to the United States in order to fund the sale of weapons to the GOP's personal friends, the Shiite Muslims of Iran whose hostage holding policy so benefited the late Ronald Reagan's campaign. Shame on you all.
-- unsigned

FALLING ON SWORDS
Re: "Pristine Democrat Pool" letters in Reader Mail's Good Democrat Day and The Prowler's Dirty Democrat Pool:

You're so convinced that everyone who wrote in to point out that your story was a collection of insinuations and half-truths was a Democrat? Are you saying Republicans can't see when the press is fooling itself any more? Apparently not -- to the point that you, the press, couldn't even bother with an apology when a large number of readers wrote emails to point out that you were, indeed, fooling yourselves. Instead, you reiterated your baseless insinuations vis-a-vis the Democrats, without even the pretense of presenting evidence to back it up. (Hint: if you have to phrase your allegation in the form of a question, you have no evidence.) But that's the state of political discourse in the US these days: neither side can see the mistakes of their own partisan talking points.
-- Greg Reid

It is very amusing to see the liberals' reaction to the Martinez staffers admission that he was the author of the memo. There indeed conservatives that take the typical liberal course of doing anything to further their cause, but the difference between the two is that when the truth finally comes out, the conservative will fall on his own sword, whereas the liberal will wave his around defiantly daring anybody to take him down. Liberals have no honor to do the right thing.
-- Greg Goff

Now that Senator Mel Martinez has admitted publicly that one of his aides authored the controversial Terry [sic] Memo are you planning to apologize to the Democratic leadership and to the media for accusing them of fraudulently circulating the memo. I will be waiting.
-- Pat Anderson

You might at least be accurate and honest about SOMETHING, fulfilling the minimum requirement of the doctrine of Truth In Advertising, by changing your name to UnAmerican Spectator, both of which are glaringly true. The "Case of the Origin of the Schiavo Memo" is a glaring example -- at the very LEAST, your were biased spectators because you failed miserably to exercise journalistic responsibility by not doing your homework before blaming, and UnAmerican because, as you should know from 9th grade Civics, responsibility is essential to the exercise of freedom, with the failure to exercise the former resulting inevitably in the destruction of the latter. Now that the esteemed Senator from Florida, Mr. Martinez, has shown the morality and courage to confess, I and we -- the truth-loving American people, wait breathlessly to see whether you do too.
-- Rev. Thomas J. Porter
Hartland, Wisconsin

COMFY IN BLUE
Re: Kelso Sturgeon's letter (under "Reply from the Flownover") in Reader Mail's Good Democrat Day and Andrew Cline's St. John the Ripon:

For an unwashed, backward, yokel, you have showed more sense in your letter than I have heard from those liberal "we'll save the world" phonies period. Living in a blue state which was once ruled once by Howard Dean, I am witnessing the follies of the left wing saviors. You don't have to worry about taking them over, these fools are so self destructive, you won't need to worry about them in the near future anyway. The old term up here "ya cain't git thar from he-yuh" is because they're better at pointing out fault than fixing roads when they're in power.
-- Pete Chagnon

Thank you, Kelso Sturgeon. You have nailed what "real" America is about. God bless you (and I'm not even religious).
-- R. D. Vraa
Mansfield, Texas

MOVING MOUNTAINS
Re: The "Behold Thy Mother" letters in Reader Mail's Good Democrat Day and Patrick O'Hannigan's The Question of Motivation:

Since the deluge of commentary on the late pontiff has been so enormous, I hadn't intended to add to the flood. However, when the only replies to Patrick O'Hannigan's piece ("The Question of Motivation") were negative, I changed my mind.

Mr. O'Hannigan's was the most insightful papal article I encountered in any media -- print, radio, TV or internet, and I have been insatiable on this topic. The people who wrote finding fault with it, since they missed his point entirely, only confirm my opinion.

Bill Sundling wrote "Pope John Paul II's devotion wasn't to Christ, it was to Mary." Nonsense. Catholics, Pope John Paul II included, venerate Mary as the model for human submission to God's will. We do not worship her or mistake her for the Savior.

Dorothy Willis resorts to name-calling and putting words in the O'Hannigan's mouth. "Idiot" does not appear in O'Hannigan's article.

Bruce Thompson posits that "the first Popes were chosen democratically," and pouts that today's Catholic parishes don't even choose their priests. Irrelevant. After several centuries of confronting heresies, the Church realized that the theology of a "democratic" church would be nothing more than a collection of its members' evolving prejudices, rather than a catechism of revealed mysteries instituted by Jesus. Thompson then goes on to drag up the Inquisition. Oh, please. Bruce Almighty casts the first stone at the Church because its ranks include sinners? If Catholics were perfect, they wouldn't have the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession for those of you in Rio Linda).

Mr. O'Hannigan bullseyed the motivation behind the whole of Pope John Paul The Great's pastoral life. Karol Wojtyla moved mountains because of his colossal faith in Christ. Would that we all shared it.
-- Jim Bono
Midlothian, Virginia

BUT HOW?
Re: Doug Bandow's A Long and Blinding Road:

"Encouraging today's delicate democratic sprouts to flourish and eventually replace the barren tyranny that continues to dominate the Mideast poses an enormous challenge to all of us."

Excellent point. Now, your suggestions for overcoming the challenge, please.
-- unsigned

TO BE OR NOT TO BE
Re: Shawn Macomber's Adventures in Harvard America:

This article reminds me of "The Liberal Agenda by The Readers of The American Prospect." Readers were asked, "We're taking suggestions: What does liberalism stand for?" See their own words here.
-- Gordon

COMMAND CENTER
Re: Brandon Crocker's The Limits of "Academic Freedom":

Brandon Crocker says in his article, "The Limits of 'Academic Freedom'":

"Equating the attacks on the World Trade Center with the bombing of a Baghdad air raid shelter -- mistaken for a command and control bunker -- by American planes during the first Gulf War."

In fact that was not a mistake, it was indeed a Command and Control Center that was callously shielded by unknowing civilians by the Iraqi government. The purpose of the Iraqi government was to provide plenty of dead civilians for a photo-op by the MSM.

The White House sets out some of the facts of the issue.

"The bunker was originally constructed as an air raid shelter during the Iran-Iraq War, and later converted into a military command-and-control center. In 1991, it was used as a military communications center, complete with barbed wire, camouflage, and armed guards. Intelligence sources reported senior Iraqi military officials were using it for military communications."

And goes on to say,

"Khidir Hamza, former director general of Iraq's nuclear weapons program, stated in his book, Saddam's Bombmaker, that during the Gulf War:

"We sought refuge several times at the [Amiriyah] shelter.... But it was always filled.... The shelter had television sets, drinking fountains, its own electrical generator, and looked sturdy enough to withstand a hit from conventional weapons. But I stopped trying to get in one night after noticing some long black limousines slithering in and out of an underground gate in the back. I asked around and was told that it was a command center. After considering it more closely, I decided it was probably Saddam's own operational base."

There is plenty of other evidence that this was an operational military target, one that was provided with unknowing and innocent shielding by the immoral dictatorship for the amoral and willingly acquiescent MSM.
-- Bryan Kramer

RIPPLING THROUGH ACADEMIA
Re: George Neumayr's Professors of Stupidity:

Your article "Professors of Stupidity" is just splendid. Kudos!

In my opinion, the situation with our universities is far more depressing than it may look at first sight. These institutions have long been infected with legions of Churchill-like "professors," in fact, complete ignoramuses, blood-sucking ticks and America-haters. They are nothing but a fifth column of subversive agents undermining our nation's solidarity by spreading brazen lies, abetting our enemies and spitting upon everything American patriots hold dear. If these parasites aren't confronted, debunked and finally gotten rid of, they might very soon destroy our motherland from within...

Please keep going! Good luck and God bless you.
-- Vladimir T. Granik
Ph.D., Doctor of Technical Sciences (Structural Mechanics)
UC Berkeley (Ret.)

HEAVY BREATHING
Re: Shawn Macomber's Pounding Away:

I've always believed that if you weighed all Americans on January 1 and then again on December 31, what with everyone dieting and such, there wouldn't be a net loss of 50 pounds for the entire country.
-- Wolf Terner
Fair Lawn, New Jersey

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