Thursday, December 06, 2007

A Speech in Search of a Moment in History.

Mitt Romney gave his much-hyped "Faith in America" speech today, and to this listener it was a real dud. Rife with mediocre platitudes about religous freedom and the role of religion in public life (interrupted by plenty of gratuitous applause), one was left to ask "just why is he giving this speech?" Has there been a crescendo of panic that he would, if President, take his orders from Salt Lake City? No. Has there been a campaign to discredit Mr. Romney for his beliefs? No. Perhaps the moment in history for which this speech was written awaits us in the future? And if that moment should arrive, this speech will be like so much meat thrown against a wall - blah.

Norm Podhoretz expresses a similar sentiment: "...Who is the audience for this speech, aside from people like me who make their living in part watching them and reading their texts and writing about them?..."

Monday, December 03, 2007

Of Prophets and Teddy Bears.

The AP reports that Gillian Gibbons, a British teacher who allowed here Sudanese students to name their teddy bear after a classmate - named Muhammad - has been pardoned for crimes against Islam.
The AP reporter puts "it's the West's fault" spin on the story:

...The teacher's conviction under Sudan's Islamic Sharia law shocked Britons and many Muslims worldwide. It also inflamed passions among many Sudanese, some of whom called for her execution.

Gibbons escaped harsher punishment that could have included up to 40 lashes, six months in prison and a fine. Her time in jail since her arrest last Sunday counts toward the sentence.

In a written statement released by the presidential palace and read by Warsi to reporters, 54-year-old Gibbons said she was sorry if she caused any "distress."

"I have a great respect for the Islamic religion and would not knowingly offend anyone," Gibbons said in the statement. "I am looking forward to seeing my family and friends, but I am very sorry that I will be unable to return to Sudan."

In Britain, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he was delighted by news.

"Common sense has prevailed," Brown said in a statement.

During her trial, the weeping teacher said she had intended no harm.

Her students, overwhelmingly Muslim, chose the name for the bear, and Muhammad is one of the most common names for men in the Arab world. Muslim scholars generally agree that intent is a key factor in determining if someone has violated Islamic rules against insulting the prophet.

But the case was caught up in the ideology that al-Bashir's Islamic regime has long instilled in Sudan, a mix of anti-colonialism, religious fundamentalism and a sense that the West is besieging Islam...

Or you could look at this incident as a diversion by the Sudanese government from the Darfur crisis.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Advent 2007.

Luke 1:39-45: In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."
(Image: Fra Angelico. Annunciation. The Visitation. c.1432-1434. Tempera on panel. 175 x 180. Museo Diocesano, Cortona, Italy. Courtesty