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 Oct. 26, 2006 / 4 Mar-Cheshvan, 5767

Saints, sinners and bigots

By Suzanne Fields

Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | When my mother died at the grand old age of 91 she left behind a long letter to her children, filled with loving reflections and one exhortation. "I think if I had one wish for all of you other than a long and healthy life," she wrote, "it would be that you give the grandchildren a little religion. Something that has lasted for over 6,000 years has to have something going for it."

She knew that her assimilated Jewish family was tempted by the secular culture. At the end of her long life she was puzzled by how difficult it had become for the generation following hers to integrate religious faith into their lives.

Whether Jewish or Christian, organized religion has fallen on hard times. Millions of Americans attend synagogue, church and cathedral services every week, but even among the devout, G-d is less integrated into daily life than in earlier generations.

The Founding Fathers, tutored intellectually and sometimes theologically in the Judeo-Christian tradition, counted on the wall separating church and state to insulate religion. This would allow the faithful to go about their business of spreading their good news freely. Skeptics would always assert their prejudices in the public square, but intolerance would be exposed as bigotry.

References to G-d — such as "In G-d We Trust" — are commonplace in our history, indeed right on the money. What astonishes me is that people of faith rarely sneer at nonbelievers, but scientifically oriented cosmopolites rarely hesitate to mock believers. Evangelical Christians are routinely scapegoated with impunity, as if they're troglodyte know-nothings unified in a cabal to promote ignorance.

George W. Bush is ridiculed as chaplain-in-chief because he openly speaks of his faith. Does anyone doubt his sincerity? Kevin Phillips, betraying an ignorance of American history, writes in The Washington Post that under George W.'s leadership, "The Republican Party has become the first religious party in U.S. history." Gerhard Schroeder, the former chancellor of Germany, writes in his memoir that what bothered him about the president "and in a certain way made me suspicious despite the relaxed atmosphere, was again and again in our discussions how much this president described himself as 'G-d-fearing.'" (Would that an earlier generation of Germans nourished a little fear of G-d.)

Critics of evangelical Christians usually lump evangelicals together as if they all walk in lockstep with Jerry Falwell, James Dobson and Pat Robertson. The evangelicals I know are an independent lot who take pride in their ornery resistance to taking orders from anybody, and hold varying views on gun control, capital punishment, stem cell research, evolution and just everything else except, as one Baptist friend says, "deep-water baptism" and the right to do as conscience pleases.

Andrew Sullivan, author of "The Conservative Soul," is a lump-'em-all-together" critic, snidely referring to the evangelicals as "Christianists" as if they're looking for an office tower to ram a jetliner into. David Brooks, reviewing the Sullivan book, writes: "When a writer uses quotations from Jerry Falwell, James Dobson and the 'Left Behind' series to capture the religious and political currents in modern America, then I know I can put that piece of writing down, because the author either doesn't know what he is talking about or is arguing in bad faith."

Evangelical Christians are attacked with the derision critics would never apply to Catholics, Jews or atheists. Conservative Protestants and other Christians voted overwhelmingly for the president when their only alternative was John Kerry, but their values, though nurtured by faith, are hardly synonymous with religion.

Belief in G-d begets a great variety in the thinking of thinking men and often acts as a check on behavior. So does conscience. After the Enlightenment emphasized reason as a guide, reason was nevertheless linked to religion. Woodrow Wilson, a preacher's son, a professor and the president of Princeton, was one of our most intellectual presidents, and observed that the Bible "reveals every man to himself as a distinct moral agent, responsible not to men, not even to those men whom he has put over him in authority, but responsibility through his own conscience to his Lord and Maker." He was a Presbyterian and, like the Methodist George Bush, saw his religious belief as inspiration and sustenance for his political decisions.

Religion, like reason, has its inconsistencies. Harry Truman, a church-going Baptist, was fond of contradictory references. He often quoted the prophets — Isaiah for stressing the need to beat swords into ploughshares and Joel for emphasizing the need to beat ploughshares into swords. Conditions, he said, determined which policy to use.

That sounds about right to most of us. George Bush, like Harry Truman, should be judged on his policies and not on what inspired them. The devil, after all, is in the details.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment on JWR contributor Suzanne Fields' column by clicking here.


Suzanne Fields Archives

© 2006, Creators Syndicate, Suzanne Fields