Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Faith in America

I record Meet the Press every Sunday and watch it when I get home from Church while reading the Sunday paper.

I love the theme song - composed by John Williams.

My wife and children think I'm weird.

Maybe I am.

Most the time, if all I'm hearing are carefully constructed talking points and sound bites, I'll just erase it without watching the whole thing.

But not this past week.

On Easter Sunday, Meet the Press featured a full hour on the topic "Faith in America." The link below will take you to the transcipt of the conversations featuring an ecumenical panel. You can also go to msnbc.com, follow the links to Meet the Press and watch the show through their video viewer.

A couple of comments of note. I'm a huge fan of Joan Chittister, and have been for years. She is a Benedictine nun and, in my judgment, gets it. Her life and example set a bar high for me to aspire to reach. Watch the dynamic at play between Father Richard John Neuhaus and her. It's telling.

Also, watch or read the contributions of Joel Osteen and the rest of the panel. The depth of his theological contributions in the vast ocean of theological conversation is about a teaspoon deep, and that's being kind.

The other is a comment exerpted from John Meachem's new book "American Gospel." Given our current climate on issues of church, state, politics and religion - it is as cogent a comment on the nature of the American enterprise that you'll find.

Look these over, and offer comments for the sake of conversation and mutual edification.

“As it was in the beginning, so it has been since: an American acknowledgement of God in the public sphere, with men of good will struggling to be reverent yet tolerant and ecumenical. That the Founding Fathers debated whether to open the American saga with prayer is wonderfully fitting, for their conflicts are our conflicts, their dilemmas our dilemmas. Largely faithful, they knew religious wars had long been a destructive force in the lives of nations, and they had no wish to repeat the mistakes of the world they were rebelling against. And yet they bowed their heads.
“More than two centuries on, as millions of Americans observe Passover and commemorate Easter, the role of faith in public life is a subject of particularly pitched debate. From stem cells and science to the Supreme Court, from foreign policy and the 2008 presidential campaign to evangelical “Justice Sundays,” the questions of God and politics generates much heat but little light. Some Americans think the country has strayed too far from God; others fear that religious zealots (from the White House to the school board) are waging holy war on American liberty; and many, if not most, seem to believe that we are a nation hopelessly divided between believers and secularists.
“History suggests, though, that there is hope, for we have been fighting these battles from our earliest days and yet the American experiment endures.”

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