Reality Check

In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 21, 2004 / 2 Tamuz, 5764

One noisy nation, under ?

By Suzanne Fields

Printer Friendly Version

Email this article | It's a lot easier to talk about sex and money at a Washington dinner party than about religion and spiritual matters.

Religion popped into a discussion of Renaissance art at such a dinner party the other night in Washington. I remarked, innocently I thought, that certain paintings, suchas Massacio's Expulsion of Adam and Evefrom Paradise and Raphael's Madonna and Child, as well as Michaelangelo's sculpture of the Pieta, inspired a profound spiritual reflection.

Several guests more accustomed to talking politics than religion seemed shocked to be dining with such a zealot, and argued that many Quatrocento artists who created gorgeous "religious" works merely used religious themes as vehicles for sensual color and line because that's where the money was — in churches and rich papist patrons.

The subject was quickly changed to the safer one of presidential politics, but the next day I received a call from one of the guests who wanted to continue the conversation on the topic of "spiritual reflection." She remarked, sadly, that many Americans with sophistication and education could only talk about religion in "intellectual" terms.

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Pundits mocked George W. Bush when, during the 2000 campaign, he told an interviewer that Christ was the most influential philosopher in his life, though this was not so remarkable to anyone actually conversant with our nation's history. Time magazine notes in a recent cover story, "Faith, G-d and the Oval Office," that Thomas Jefferson said the same thing 200 years ago. Spirituality and adherence to certain religions (like "sophistication" and "education") can be faked by artists, politicians and the rest of us for all kinds of reasons, but public religious expression seems to make those without faith particularly uncomfortable.

As this election season unfolds, it behooves all of us to be particularly judicious and discriminating in the ways we interpret what a person says about his faith. Those who criticize George W.'s religious talk fear that his faith determines policy. But a person's faith (or lack of it) is inevitably a factor in making important decisions, personal and political. Stem-cell research and abortion are issues that atheists as well as the faithful can question because profound and complex issues determine how we value life. Not even a saint has all the answers to every question.

A young Catholic man once told me that he sought out a priest to tell him how to solve a problem that he had to solve for himself. The priest told him, "I know two things for sure," he said. "I know there is a G-d and I know that I'm not Him." Religion doesn't determine who we are; it guides us through the faltering steps of life. An atheist, like a believer, can have a deep ethical core to guide him in determining what's right and wrong.

When religion is used to justify violence and deception, abuse and exploitation, "faith" becomes a weapon of mass destruction. The president is correct when he says that terrorists may "couch their language in religious terms, but that doesn't make them religious people."

Americans are among the most religious people in the world — the nation was founded by men who sought a place to worship freely — and ours is among the most tolerant nations in the world. But the nation's roots are Judeo-Christian, and it's Christianity that most often carries the national ideals into the public square.

This confuses some people who ought to know better. "This is rapidly becoming the most religiously infused political campaign in modern history," says Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Mr. Lynn never seems to hear a public religious expression that doesn't ruin his day. This observation is absurd. The doctrine of separation of church and state has never meant separation of a candidate from his religion, or a society from its spiritual roots. It was meant to be freedom for religion.

Alexis de Tocqueville understood this when he argued that religious mores mitigate and socialize self-interest and that only in America was "the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom" successfully combined, allowing a vital religious life to support public cooperation for the common good.

A candidate's religious references in a political campaign are fair game for debate, and when piety morphs into self-righteousness we should note it. But when we look at a man's religion we must be careful to see the whole man, how he orders his life and not just what he says he believes. We live in dangerous times, and spiritual reflection, whether driven by preacher, painter or politician, should be welcomed. That's what it means to live in "one nation under G-d." .

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© 2004, Suzanne Fields, TMS