Saturday, September 26, 2015

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, September 26

by David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch


POPE IN AMERICA:  Laura Goldstein is the religion reporter for the 'NYTimes.' For a decade the gist of her reporting has been progressive modern Catholics working against the entrenched and corrupt old-guard patriarchy. But in this description of the Church at the time of Pope Francis' visit, she properly shows the huge thriving parishes of the West, an immigrant church going to confession,  and the empty but still beautiful churches of old urban Catholics. No solutions, but not a bad drawing of the Catholic Church in the USA. On the other hand, a more penetrating analysis of the deep divide affecting both Church and nation is Catholics and Americans in cultural crisis by Patrick Buchanan.

GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER: A strange guest list that the Obama Administration constructs for the Pope's Dinner at the White House.

THE POPE'S SPEECH - THE REAL ONE: The Pope's speech to Congress began with a high view of politics and the common life of a nation. When you read about the politcized Pope, actually read what he says about politics. He says a lot and his categories are much more helpful than the partisanship of parties. Why are Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorna doing so well? People hunger for politics - men of the city and country. We are tired by careerists of the parties.

Here is Pope Francis speaking to Congress on politics:
You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics. Yours is a work which makes me reflect in two ways on the figure of Moses. On the one hand, the patriarch and lawgiver of the people of Israel symbolizes the need of peoples to keep alive their sense of unity by means of just legislation. On the other, the figure of Moses leads us directly to God and thus to the transcendent dignity of the human being. Moses provides us with a good synthesis of your work: you are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face.

Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life.
He then employed the Catholic practice of teaching by biography: "Four representatives of the American people."

Three sons and a daughter of this land, four individuals and four dreams: Lincoln, liberty; Martin Luther King, liberty in plurality and non-exclusion; Dorothy Day, social justice and the rights of persons; and Thomas Merton, the capacity for dialogue and openness to God.

When he introduced Lincoln in this 150th year from his assassination he emphasized:
President Abraham Lincoln, the guardian of liberty, who labored tirelessly that “this nation, under God, [might] have a new birth of freedom”.
Finally, before he closed with "God bless America," he outlined his understanding of national greatness:
A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to “dream” of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton.
As the pope visits America in the context of the world conference on the family and coming synod on the family, he expressed his "concern for the family" in his speech:
Yet I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without. Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family.
Francis' speech was hard to listen to. The Pope is much more natural and colloquial in his speeches in Spanish and Italian. However, it is best to read his speech to learn from it. Do not trust the headlines, such as "Pope Priorities: Poverty and Climate Change."

We suggest the best way to understand this pope is to read the biography by Austin Ivereigh. Here is our review of The Great Reformer


THREE "PEOPLE" ON A PARIS TRAIN: The President met with three American men who saved a Paris train from a heavily armed hijacker. The President lauded them and they relished the visit. He thanked them "for making America look so good." Well done. He said here "are the kind of young people that make me optimistic about America…" If they had been three women do you think he would have left their gender out in speaking of them? Does it matter in his praise? Did it matter in their action?

THE MILITARY AND MEN - ALL ABOUT THE MALE GROUP: Gregory Newbold has written a short trenchant: What tempers the steel of an infantry unit?

Lieutenant General Gregory Newbold (U.S. Marine Corps, ret.) is a former infantryman, having commanded units from the platoon through the 1st Marine Division. His last assignment was as Director of Operations, the Joint Staff.

When your allies are homosexual predators and your President appoints gay Army leaders, it is hard to develop the moral high ground from which men fight.


SAVING SYRIA: OLD COLD WARRIOR SEES AN ALLY IN RUSSIA: Pat Buchanan has had this right for several years.

SAUDIS AGAINST THE SHIA OF YEMEN, MEN, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN: As human rights groups complain, the Saudis wage a PR campaign.

STONING THE DEVIL - 700 DEAD MUSLIMS: The Saudis are in charge of the holy sites and keeping pilgrims safe. This disaster happened during the last day of ritual of stoning the devil. It is a dramatic liturgical act which keeps the Liar's presence before us.


KASICH AND RUBIO ON POLICY: John Kasich on marriage and abortion. Rubio on opposing Russia.


FROM THE WEST CAME THE MAN FROM THE EAST: Xi Jingping landed in America days after the pope; he came from the west, for Seattle has a significance of Chinese coming to America. He brings his Dream of China - the post-Communist attempt to articulate the spiritual nature of the Chinese nation with a special bow to Confucius. Liberty and Order - a lesson from China for us all.

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