Pundit Wire

The ironic ma nishtana

passover If you’ve been to a seder, you know that the Four Questions are about things like why do we eat matzah instead of bread, and what’s up with this biting into a horseradish; they also prompt the telling of the Exodus story, which is the purpose of the holiday: to pass the once-we-were-slaves-in-Egypt legacy to the next generation.

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Discrimination isn’t part of religious freedom. Never was. Still isn’t.

JanBrewer_PresObama The “Religious Right” may characterize this as a matter of religious freedom. But where in any religion, especially Christianity, does it even suggest that treating some people as less than others is okay?

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Iran No-Spoiler Alert

iranSo where are we in the Iran narrative?

I mean no disrespect to the victims of Iran’s terrorist clients, or the existential fears of Israelis and world Jewry, or U.S. security interests in the Middle East by calling it a narrative. Real events do happen in the real world, but people can’t help trying to fit them into larger stories.  We love to connect the dots.  Storytelling isn’t some atavistic remnant of our pre-scientific past; it’s how our brains are hardwired.

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The Tea Party Luddites

dont tread Ask Tea Party adherents what inspires them most and many will say their reverence of history. Indeed it’s not unusual at Tea Party rallies to see bands of self-referential patriots dressed up in Revolutionary War garb, wearing tricorn hats and carrying their defiant Don’t Tread on Me flags.

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Kissing the Lepers?

Pope Francis How much significance is the world to attach to Pope Francis’ extraordinary statement on Monday that it was not for him “to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord?” And then, “You can’t marginalize these people.”

The pope was responding to a reporters’ questions on gays in the ranks of Catholic clergy. Traditionalists and critics alike were quick to point out that at the same time, the pope reaffirmed church teaching by calling homosexual acts a sin. But the fact remains that this is the first time in history that a pope has spoken out in defense of gay priests. To me, it is an event so dramatic as—well—as to recall St. Francis of Assisi kissing lepers.

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Wagner’s Dead Elephant

Richard Wagner Richard Wagner, the great German composer, was born two hundred years ago on May 22, 1813. Wagner was one of the most stupendous musical geniuses who ever lived. He was also a notorious anti-Semite. Even on his two hundredth birthday, there is no ignoring the dead elephant in his living room.

At the same time, to say that Wagner was an anti-Semite, and to say no more than that, is too simple. It is too simple because Wagner was very much a self-contradictory genius, and his contradictions extended to his attitude toward Jewish people.

In other words, Wagner was an anti-Semite, but… And the but was not inconsequential.

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“Thou shalt not disapprove of gay marriage…”

GayMarriage_thumb “How a minority, reaching majority, seizing authority, hates a minority!”
— Leonard H. Robbins

A florist in Washington State won’t provide floral arrangements for a gay wedding, citing her “relationship with Jesus Christ.” In response, the state’s attorney general has slapped a $2000 consumer protection lawsuit against the lady, alleging a violation of the state’s antidiscrimination laws. And the American Civil Liberties Union has threatened to weigh in with lawsuit on behalf of the gay couple that was refused service.

A simple case of discrimination? Think again.

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Revealing Heaven

sky_thumb “If a man die, shall he live again?”– Job 14:14

How seriously should we take so-called “near-death” experiences?

Very seriously indeed, says Fr. John Price, an Episcopal priest who has talked to more than 200 “returnees” over the past forty years, and has researched the stories of many more. Fr. Price, whom I am privileged to know personally, has distilled his findings into a startling new book called, Revealing Heaven: The Christian Case for Near-Death Experiences.

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