Tag: Secularism

Attacks on Religion Are Ramping Up


Would anyone argue that religions of every faith (except perhaps Islam) have been at war with the secular Left, including Marxists and the Woke community? It isn’t a war that the religions have invited or instigated, but their viability and faith practices are being challenged and they must push back. I think you’ll find two stories especially intriguing, because they have both occurred in the last couple of weeks, highlighting attacks on Christianity and Judaism.

The first story is about Gov. Ron DeSantis. We could discern that the most recent attack against him is just one more effort to discredit and demonize his efforts in Florida:

While visiting a private Christian college in southern Michigan that wields influence in national politics, Gov. Ron DeSantis rephrased a biblical passage to deliver a message to conservatives.

If God Exists, Why Does He Do Such a Lousy Job?


When venturing to discuss the nature of G-d, the discussion can get very complicated. And when you add in the component of the dominance of secularism over religion in our times, the conclusions we draw may be all over the map. For that reason, I’ve chosen to discuss briefly many of the expectations that people have of G-d, but I believe there are a few key ones that have driven the secular Left to reject G-d and embrace nihilism. If we are going to have any chance of breaking the hold that secularism has on our society, we have to address not just religion, but the nature of our relationship with God. And we must deal with the deep disillusionment that many on the Left are experiencing, and encourage them to expand their understanding and awareness of G-d.

The OP title suggests that the source of some people rejecting G-d is their disillusionment with Him: what He represents, how He interacts with the world, and His role within the world. But even more devastating for some people is that G-d doesn’t behave the way they think He should: He shouldn’t allow bad things to happen (like hurricanes and tornadoes and earthquakes, rockslides, and especially the Holocaust). He shouldn’t let bad things happen to people (like disease, heartbreak, car accidents, bankruptcy, and severed relationships). He should act even when his actions could compromise our free will (such as our robbing a bank, stealing from a store, using drugs, and ignoring our obligations. He should make sure that people live satisfied lives (such as being happy, living without poverty, disappointment, or stress).

In other words, if we believe that G-d exists, He should exist to make our lives precisely as we would wish them to be.

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This Tuesday, June 23, 2020, Joe Biden held a virtual fundraiser which featured former President Barack Obama. The event included a discussion or conversation between Biden and Obama and, in that conversation, Obama made an assertion that stunned me. Let me post a video which includes the assertion in question. The video is about 2 […]

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Progressive Jews, Secularism and the Future of Judaism


In the last few years, I’ve written about American Jews and their future, especially regarding their allegiance to the Democrat or Republican parties; recently, the numbers haven’t changed much. Most non-traditional Jews (about 70 percent) identify as Democrats and the remainder of Jews, mostly Orthodox, support Republicans.

Rather than look at party affiliation, however, I’ve become increasingly concerned with the growing emergence of the radical Left and the Jewish affiliation with them. In addition, the efforts to make Judaism more “palatable” to Jews who are not Orthodox is slowly tearing at the fabric of the Jewish faith. Ultimately, my concern is that the existence of the faith could be in jeopardy on two fronts: the growth of anti-Semitism, and the disinterest in continuing the Jewish faith in a form that resembles its roots.

The first front, anti-Semitism, has been of growing concern. The main source for data is the Anti-Defamation League, which has become strongly influenced by the Left. In 2017 the League reported an increase in anti-Semitism of 57 percent, ranging from anti-Semitic tweets to bomb threats sent to Jewish institutions. Our federal government also collects information on anti-Semitism here. At the federal government level, we have also seen a reluctance to hold members of Congress accountable for anti-Semitic rhetoric.

Attorney General Barr Speaks up for Religious Liberty


AG BarrOn Friday, 12 October 2019, Attorney General Barr spoke at Notre Dame Law School. Notre Dame Law School advertises itself as America’s oldest Roman Catholic law school:

At the nation’s oldest Roman Catholic law school, students of diverse backgrounds are encouraged to broaden their social, spiritual, and personal lives while honing their intellectual and professional skills to serve the good of all.

Attorney General Barr took them seriously, and used the forum to deliver a call for defense of Christianity in the public square in the face of all-out attacks from militant secularists. I am pleased to see that the whole text of his remarks is posted on the Department of Justice website [emphasis added]:

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I wondered how to structure this post properly, with references, etc. but I am going to dive in off-the-cuff, because I have no reference for the information that I am learning and want to share. I obviously missed key parts of history. So I’m trying to catch up, and now current events are making more […]

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Buddhism, Secularism, and Socialism


Two weeks ago, I decided it was time to give away the meditation mats and cushions that I had originally purchased for the meditation group I led. (As many of you know, I practiced Buddhism for over 20 years, and broke with my teacher several years ago. I also re-discovered my love for Judaism, and that is where I find myself now.)

I remembered that there was a Zen center about an hour away from here, and wrote them an email, asking if they would like my cushions and mats. They were delighted. When the representative came to pick them up, he asked if I knew a fellow at their center. As it happens, this fellow, a very nice man, had practiced at the same center in San Diego where I had practiced. We’ve agreed to have a phone conversation.

In the meantime, that contact stirred up many painful memories about my former teacher and my relationship with her. The teacher/student relationship is an intimate one, and we had known each other for many years. Unfortunately, the deeper I explored my practice and pursued my path to becoming a teacher, the more toxic the relationship became. Ultimately her demands were more than I was willing to meet, and I ended it.

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Until recently, a manageable level of tension has existed between the secularists in Israel, who dominate the population, and the Ultra-Orthodox Jews. Although these tensions may seem completely different from the secular/religious tensions in the United States, I’m suggesting that the Israelis, as they propose a way to bridge the gap between these two groups, […]

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    It was surreal to get a text from a friend that Notre Dame Cathedral was on fire as we were driving to the funeral home. I saw the headline and shut off my phone. My mother-in-law passed in the early morning hours of Monday, April 15th, our last remaining parent. It’s been months […]

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How Secularism gets Tolkien Wrong


I have had to check out of Ricochet for a while because I was assigned to write a book, which is cool but to get anything done on that project I needed to take a break. I came back to the site and started reading posts and sure enough that made it impossible for me not to write up a post myself. A post by @LoisLane really inspired me to write I post I have been thinking about for a very long time you can find her excellent post and fascinating comment thread here

The Lord of the Rings movies differed from the books in many ways, which is to be expected since a movie and a book are very different mediums. For instance at the “Breaking of the Fellowship” I think it was vital to the movie to show Boromir fighting for Merry and Pippin and Aragorn “avenging” Boromir. I saw the Fellowship of the Ring three times in the theater and each time the audience was on the edge of their seats as Boromir redeemed himself and they erupted in applause when Aragorn dispatched the Uruk-hai that killed Boromir.

Women for Progress


There has been much concern over the election about the suburban women vote. Over the course of the last two years, this demographic has waxed and waned in its support for Republicans and Trump. Many cite a growing distaste for Trump’s demeanor as the reason for their displeasure, but this appears to be more of a guess. While its true, women as a whole have increasingly grown disapproving of Trump’s job performance, the NPR/Marist poll that these interpretations are relying on hardly point to Trump’s demeanor for a growing disapproval among suburban women. This is the only poll I have found cited since Rasmussen reported the uptick from the Kavanaugh Affair.

The Suburban Woman Defined

Destroying a Man’s Life


What is the value of a man’s soul? What is the worth of a man’s reputation? Most of us would say that both are priceless: the first is a gift from G-d, the second created by the toil and sweat of the person who lives a productive and honorable life.

But the Left believes the destruction of a reputation and soul is inconsequential if they determine the cause is just.

And thus they have decided to sacrifice Brett Kavanaugh.

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I keep seeing this commercial for “Bring Your Bible to School Day”. It draws my attention with a catchy little tune that I haven’t sung since I was little, called “This Little Light of Mine”.  However, what intrigued me was that, in today’s politically correct and emotionally charged atmosphere, especially at schools and universities, this […]

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How Important Is the Nation-State?


Today I’ve been reading over the first issue of American Affairs, a new intellectual journal that appears to have grown out of the (largely Claremont-based) American Greatness movement. American Affairs seems to understand itself as a possible seed-ground for exploring an intellectual foundation to Trumpism.

I should admit forthrightly that I look on this project as a skeptic, and as one who considers that the founders of this project have taken a large (not to say foolhardy) burden on themselves. I’m not, in general, the sort of person who seeks to shut down ambitious intellectual projects. But to my mind, the trouble with American Greatness was always the extent to which it understood itself in rejectionist terms. The spirit of the thing seemed not to be, “The right could use some fresh ideas around now, so let’s explore,” so much as, “The whole conservative movement is intellectually and (probably) morally bankrupt, so we’re starting over. Sign onto our program or be rendered irrelevant.”

That kind of “convert or die” attitude makes it hard to climb aboard, especially if you think (as I do) that there’s quite a lot of good to be found in the conservative movement from Buckley through the dawn of Trump. I’m in favor of exploring new ideas and making needed adjustments, but I’m also quite opposed to chucking free-market economics and neoconservative geopolitics as though they were groceries past their expiration date. Reading the American Greatness blog, I regularly have the same thought: This is all fine, but apart from the overt belligerence, these arguments could easily have been advanced in the conservative movement of yesteryear. What has your blanket excommunication accomplished, except to insulate yourselves from critique that would likely be quite helpful?

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   I just read this story in the National Review by Dennis Prager who is Jewish, after receiving an e-card from a cousin out west. She said she went to three different stores and no Christmas cards. I ran out this year and had a hard time finding more.   http://www.nationalreview.com/article/443200/christmas-secularism-assault-meaning While Christians come together to celebrate […]

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Why Does it Matter If We Think G-d Loves Us?


imageThe odds of a man deciding that he will jump off a building and try to fly like Superman are much better if the man is convinced that he is, in fact, Superman. In other words, what we attempt to do — regardless of whether we succeed or get scraped off of the sidewalk — is governed by what we think we can do. Our worldview is an essential precondition for the actions we voluntarily undertake.

Our beliefs matter. Even whether or not we have beliefs matters: A person who thinks that G-d loves him and is involved in every facet of his life will act differently than a self-described rational atheist. True, an accountant in a big firm may make the same decisions whether or not he believes that G-d exists. But in other situations, a person’s beliefs can make all the difference in the world. It is the religious person who will take risks that a rational person will not: Perhaps committing to an early marriage, starting a business, or in trying to invent new things. A leap of faith requires faith.

None of this is speculation or even particularly novel: It is merely an observation of what we already know. And I think that, at least at some level, causality is equally as obvious as the correlation. People who blow themselves up to kill random strangers are often driven by a sincerely-held belief that it is the right thing to do. People who do not share those same beliefs about the virtues of suicide bombing do not become suicide bombers.

Standing On Ceremony


shutterstock_168595868As a happy break from writing about crime (gloomy) and marriage (even more gloomy) I’ve lately been writing a paper on liturgical theology, which is intended as a chapter for a forthcoming book designed to foster ecumenical dialogue between Roman Catholics and Latter-Day-Saints. It’s proving to be an enjoyable project, which has turned my thoughts to the role of formal ceremony in American life more generally.

Many of you know that I was raised Mormon and am now Catholic, and as a Catholic I developed a deep love of traditional liturgy. Since I developed that taste primarily in my Catholic life, my initial impulse was to think that Mormons are fairly lacking in any kind of formal liturgy. On further reflection though, that’s not as true as it might seem. Of course, the obvious place to find formal Mormon liturgy is in their temple ceremonies. But even in more ordinary settings, Mormons do have a high appreciation of formality and ceremony, along with a very definite sense of decorum. We both (that is, Catholics and Mormons) run against the grain of so much of our mainstream culture, where people are largely ashamed of anything that seems too formal, too ceremonial, or too “scripted”.

To my mind, the loss of ceremony is something of a tragedy. Ceremony and custom are critical to helping us make sense of moments and experiences in life that are naturally difficult for us to process. Weddings and funerals are two events that should absolutely be steeped in ceremony, because these are the moments in life when we struggle to connect our private experiences to something greater than our subjective emotions. Ceremony helps teach us what these occasions really mean and how we can get perspective on them. Sadly, many or most modern weddings have degenerated into glorified beauty pageants, while funerals often don’t happen at all.

Secular Conservatism, Libertarians, Progressives, and Marriage


I take conservatism to be an appreciation and defense of what has been proven to work, and which benefits society and the individual in a balance.

If that seems overly-broad, let me provide an example.  Morality is effective in curbing largely destructive impulses and reactions, therefore morality is worth defending in principle, with some room for debate on many fronts.  Not all morality is the same, and it is not always helpful in the particulars.  But to hold that morality is not a necessary part of society is anti-conservative in my view, as morality is the most tested method for a society to control its own behavior with respect for the society and the individual in balance. 

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Its not often that I can score a hat trick on a Monday, but sometimes life just frowns on you the right way. Dallas Area Catholic blog comments on a Federalist article by Michael Hanby called What To Do When You’re On The Wrong Side of Religion and in the course of his review of Hanby’s […]

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