An astonishing thing happened in Baghdad on Saturday: Christians, apparently for the first time in the city's history, publicly celebrated Christmas.
CNN's Jill Dougherty published an article about this extraordinary event at the network's website Sunday which included a video of her interviewing Iraqis of varied religious beliefs at the scene.
However, from what I can tell, this extremely charming report has not been aired yet by CNN television, nor has it gotten much coverage by other outlets here in America (video embedded below the fold, photo courtesy AFP via British Telegraph):
Tomaso noted that Fr. Ron Elliott describes himself as "very pro-life" but that after reviewing the books in question "he didn't find anything objectionable" and will hence return the books to the shelves "in February or March" as Elliott noted, "after the dust kind of settles."
At that point Tomaso couldn't refuse the impulse to add an editorial quip:
In his December 19 blog post, "You too can be a spiritual dilettante," Get Religion contributor Douglas LeBlanc shared his bemusement with self-admitted atheist Sally Quinn's helpful suggestions to Newsweek/Washington Post's "On Faith" readers about interfaith dialogue. LeBlanc noted that Quinn gave her readers this assignment:
Try a new faith (or non-faith) for one day. That exploration can include attending a different place of worship or an event hosted by another faith tradition, discussing faith with someone whose views differ from your own, or inviting someone of a different faith to experience yours.
Then come back to the site and tell us about your experience. What did you learn? What surprised you? What bothered you? What would you like to know more about? How did you experience with another faith impact your understanding of or appreciation for that faith or for your own? Take a picture and share that too.
That's when LeBlanc turned on the snark, lambasting Quinn as out of touch with religious Americans who most certainly are politely engaged in theological conversations with friends, family and neighbors on a regular basis (emphasis mine):
The baby Jesus is missing from many nativity scenes, and ABC’s “Good Morning America” makes fun of a church’s decision to install a GPS on their tiny savior. On Dec. 14, “Good Morning America” featured a story about churches fighting back against thieves who steal the baby Jesus from outdoor nativity scenes. Instead of seriously underscoring a pattern of crime, the network sent out a reporter to pilfer a wise man, and test the satellite tracking system, all while playing “spy” themed music.
When GMA anchors, Kate Snow and Bill Weir teased the upcoming story, they couldn’t contain their giggles. “We can't even say it without laughing,” said Snow. “But they're using GPS to track them down.” she quipped. “Baby Jesus LoJack,” snickered Weir.
You would think even Playboy magazine had limits. It doesn't.
The famous skin magazine found a way to attack Christians and push porn at the same time. The magazine's Mexican copy featured "a model wearing nothing but a white cloth over her head and breasts," according to Reuters Life. "The magazine, which hit newsstands on December 1 as ceremonies began leading to Friday's pilgrimage to the Mexico City shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe," the article continued.
On the cover: "We Love You, Maria" in Spanish. The company printed 100,000 copies of this outlandish Christmastime cover. Another picture inside the magazine apparently features her standing in front of stained glass - just in case you missed the offensive comparison.
The outcry was appropriately swift. Even Playboy can admit something goes too far - afterward.
Update (11:37 a.m. EST): Miller is now on the radio program. She insists she had a radio show scheduling conflict. Ingraham apologized for saying she chickened out.
Update (11:26 a.m. EST): Miller backed out of appearing even solo with Ingraham. Mohler is now talking with Ingraham.
A few minutes from now Newsweek's Lisa Miller will appear on the Laura Ingraham radio program to defend her recent article that insists the Bible can reasonably be interpreted to defend same-sex marriage. Shortly after she goes toe-to-toe with Ingraham, the radio host will feature Baptist theologian Albert Mohler who will offer a full-fledged rebuttal. Apparently she refused to go on the show at the same time as Mohler.
Newsweek is hardly the only MSM publication that is clueless about the Christian faith. The New York Times is also reliably feckless when it comes to reporting on what makes biblically orthodox Christians tick.
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Albert Mohler took the Gray Lady to task last Friday for its reporting on the recnet formation of a new coalition of Anglican churches that have broken off from the liberal Episcopal Church USA over concerns of doctrinal liberalism.
In "It's About Theology, Not Territory," the Baptist theologian and pastor lamented that Laurie Goodstein's December 3 story on the formation of the Anglican Church in North America painted the dispute in a way to portray the liberal ECUSA as an aggrieved victim of dogmatic conservatives. By contrast, Mohler points to a lack of doctrinal clarity in the Anglican Communion being the fertile ground by which liberals were able to erode the boundaries of historic, orthodox Christian teaching and thus threaten the unity of the church around the Gospel of Jesus Christ (emphasis mine):
It could be Christmas approaching, or it could be the Catholic Church's success last month in its support of Proposition 8, the initiative to restore marriage in California. But it's curious to see what's been on the minds of the folks at the Los Angeles Times in the past few weeks:
1. "Pope's new edict on the priesthood" (Mon. Nov. 17, 2008, editorial): The Times finds it "troubling" that the Church employs psychologists to screen candidates for the priesthood. It also goes without saying that the Times does not like the Church's policy of disallowing men with "deep-seated" homosexual tendencies to be priests. In the end, the Times finds the Church's policies "cruel" and "unprofessional."
2. "What would Mary do?" (Sun. Nov. 30, 2008, editorial): Surprise! The Times likes the idea of women priests in the Catholic Church.
Time magazine’s Jeff Israely compared Pope Benedict XVI to Charles Dickens' most famous character in his latest column, which focuses on the “tough line on Church doctrine” the pontiff has taken: “...[T]here is growing proof that the 82-year-old Pope is...quite willing to play the part of Scrooge to defend his often rigid view of Church doctrine.” Israely later put Scrooge’s characteristic anti-Christmas exclamation in the mouth of the Holy Father: “...[O]ne can imagine Benedict flashing that gentle smile, tilting his head ever so slightly and declaring: Bah Humbug!”
The correspondent’s Thursday column on Time.com, titled “The Pope’s Christmas Gift: A Tough Line on Church Doctrine,” began with Israely apparently lamenting that the old nicknames for the Pope are no longer effective tools: “Those nicknames from the past — God's Rottweiler, the Panzercardinal — don't seem to stick anymore. After acquiring a reputation as an aggressive, doctrine-enforcing Cardinal, Pope Benedict XVI has surprised many with his gentle manner and his writings on Christian love.” He then saw it fit to give the Pope the “Scrooge” nickname, just in time for Christmas: “But with the Christmas season upon us, there is growing proof that the 82-year-old Pope is also quite willing to play the part of Scrooge to defend his often rigid view of Church doctrine.”
On Tuesday night’s Campbell Brown show, CNN raised liberal worries about the Bush administration’s plan in the final days to broaden the conscience clause for medical professionals who object to performing abortion and sterilization procedures. But Randi Kaye’s report questioning a Catholic doctor in Virginia for daring to refuse to provide "care" (translation: abortion or contraceptives) to female patients was most notable for its lack of timeliness: the interviews are now more than a year old, first appearing on Anderson Cooper 360 on November 26, 2007. CNN did not disclose to viewers that its story was largely a rerun.
YouTube is promoting as its "citizen news report of the day" a video of an alleged attack on Greenpeace activists at a coal plant in Poland. There are two problems with the news judgment behind this video selection.
First, both the initial report on the video and YouTube's description of it overstate what actually happened. Watch the video for yourself and see. Aside from some unjustifiable shoving, kicking of snow and grabbing of signs, there is no attack.
In one instance, the pushing is to get protesters out of the way of an oncoming bulldozer. Another clip appears to show a coal miner helping up a protester who fell, and the Greenpeace activists eventually are allowed to display their "Quit Coal" banners without interference -- presumably on private property where they had no right to be.
But the bigger problem with the news judgment in this case is the blatant double standard at work. Why is YouTube helping to publicize an obscure, pro-environmental protest in Poland while ignoring citizen journalism reports of recent bad behavior by protesters that are far more noteworthy and much closer to home?
ALL TERRITORY PRE 1967 AND JERUSALEM TOO, TO A THREE WAY SPLIT UNDER INTERNATIONAL AND VATICAN CONTROL IN ORDER TO AVOID WW3!!!
But wait a minute. The Vatican is administered by the Roman Catholic Church, of which Barr is decidedly not a fan. Indeed, she considers the Roman church, along with black voters and Mormons to be an enemy of the Constitution and every gay and lesbian person in California:
"The View" co-host Joy Behar is well on her way to unhinged, if not already there.
Earlier today, NB's Justin McCarthy noted that Behar, in mentioning GOP Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin, said that "we all know that the woman is an airhead."
Michelle Malkin noted this evening that Behar also took an uncalled-for cheap shot at those who are involved in an important and growing alternative not only to the public schools, but also to traditional brick-and-mortar classroom education (video is at link):
Behar show(ed) .... her contempt for both homeschooled students and parents: “A lot of them are demented when they’re homeschooled.”
And the supporters of Proposition 8? Well, their measure - which sought to restore the definition of marriage between only a man and a woman - won in a statewide referendum by a 52 to 48 margin. They simply want judges to respect the vote and uphold its result.
So what does the Los Angeles Times' Tim Rutten have to say about all of this? He says in his November 15 column that "both sides" "are going too far" and "need to cool down."
Frank Rich has apparently figured out that after January 20, it's not going to be as much fun for him. True, the Times columnist will surely disinter W as necessary to explain away Obama's missteps. But the buck for whatever post-inauguration problems the country faces will land ever more resoundingly on the new president's desk.
And so, like a vaudevillian tapping as fast as he can while anticipating the hook, Rich seems determined to spend these last few weeks of the Bush administration dancing on GOP graves and luxuriating in Republicans' perceived pain. You might say Frank is making hatred while the sun shines.
As we discussed last week in Have Fun For Now, Frank, Rich's immediate post-election column was one long poke in the Republican eye. The Timester is back at it again this morning, outdoing himself in sheer vitriol as he pour buckets of salt, generously seasoned with schadenfreude, into Republican wounds.
On his November 10 Huffington Post, Nicholas Graham and nearly every commenter thereafter, purposefully distorted what Governor Palin said about prayer and the 2012 presidential race. The universal misconstruction of Palin's comments was that she was "praying to become president" in 2012 and that somehow God was speaking directly to her. But reality is she did not say that at all.
Graham offhandedly claimed that Palin said that she was waiting "for a sign from God" as to whether she would run in 2012. Further distorting her comments, he claimed she was "confident God would show the way to the White House." But, once again, she said neither of these things. In fact, what she actually said is rhetoric that is pretty much in accord with what even elected presidents have said at one time or another.
Unfortunately, we have arrived at a time when the default position for Democrats as a party is to despise religion even if individually they consider themselves religious. They consider any expression of religious sentiment whatsoever to be an example of "extremism," and "bigotry" against others. Well, at least the second any Republican expresses a religious sentiment, that is. When anyone from their side does it, they wink, nod and assume that their politician is just lying and merely trying to get elected and doesn't really mean it -- which is still an expression of a hatred for religion when all is said and done.
After airing an interview clip of Sarah Palin telling Fox News' Greta Van Susteren that she was looking for guidance from God about running for national office again, an appalled Chris Matthews called it "troubling," when he let loose this rant on Tuesday's "Hardball":
Is, is this commentary about theocracy and going to God for approval? We've been through that with President Bush who said he, "didn't take advice from his father, he got it from another father." And we've been through this sort of Joan of Arc period. Are we gonna get another piece of this where God's leading candidates to run for president? I mean that sort of keeps us out of the conversation doesn't it? I mean, seriously, I mean God is telling her to run? And she's saying it openly on a secular television show? This isn't the religious hour....Talking about God, in a political setting is troubling to a lot of people. If you're talking about a big tent, this looks more like the church tent, not the big tent.
Then a little later in the program, Matthews returned to Palin's expressions of faith and noted that kind of talk can be,"dangerous." And when his guest, former Dick Cheney aide Ron Christie, said he was tired of the media picking on Palin when, in fact, Joe Biden made a lot of blunders, Matthews let this howler fly: "Joe Biden took more hits from the media than anybody for the last 30 years!"
The following exchanges occurred on the November 11 edition of "Hardball":
A lot of liberal media bias boils down to word choice and the loaded connotations they can bring in service of a liberal slant. The headline for a November 11 Baltimore Sun story about the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was no different.
"Bishop denounces U.S. abortion rights" read the loaded headline, which evokes in readers the sense of a stern cleric inveighing against a "woman's right to choose" rather than concerned clergy worried about the loss of life and trauma to pregnant mothers caused by abortion.
The article itself gave a more nuanced portrait than the stark headline announced, reporting that Francis Cardinal George expressed his concern in terms of the incoming Obama administration's record on "social justice" and "universal human rights":
Update/Related Blog: Brian Maloney has a great post at Radio Equalizer, noting that Barr is a liberal radio talk show host, and asking where the outrage is on the Left about her arguably racist rant.
Not content with stopping at her anti-Catholic, anti-Mormon, and anti-Semitic November 6 screed, comedian Roseanne Barr has decided to direct fire against African-Americans for voting in large numbers to pass Proposition 8, the ballot initiative in California which amends the Golden State's constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman.
In a November 10 post to her blog, Barr scolded the 70 percent of California's blacks who voted for Prop 8 that they have conspired to "destroy" the Constitution and have made "a mockery" of marriage.:
They showed themselves every inch as bigoted and ignorant as their white christian right wing counterpartners who voted for mccain-palin and bush-cheney
The Mormon and Catholic churches and Jewish synagogues should be forced to register with the IRS as political action committees because they have "crossed the line between church and state" and "hate our country" and want nothing less than the "complete overthrow of the us [sic] government."
So bellows leftist comedian Roseanne Barr in a November 6 blog post, citing support for Proposition 8, conservative sexual ethics, and support for the state of Israel as her reasons respectively.
First and foremost Barr flamed against the Mormon church in a post urging her readers to rally in protest outside the Mormon temple in Los Angeles:
Seven days before America elects a new leadership team,Newsweek is making a last-ditch attempt to portray GOP vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin as a religious nut.
In her article "Jesus and Witches," Newsweek Religion Editor Lisa Miller suggests Palin believes in witchcraft, thinks the world is coming to a fiery end in her lifetime, and may have a "special sense of destiny" fueled by her "apocalyptic theology" and Alaskan "Last Frontier identity." Miller even hints Palin may be anti-Semitic.
Perhaps it's a bit much too expect from a blog that once dismissively her as a "Crazed, Christ-Loving Re-Virgin," but Gawker sure did take long enough to correct its reporting that attributed fake SAT scores in an anti-Sarah Palin photoshop to be those of blogger and Catholic author Dawn Eden. Last Friday the electronic gossip rag posted the photoshop and asked readers to judge for themselves if it was a fake or not.
In an early morning October 14 post at her Dawn Patrol blog, Eden noted that while Gawker corrected the record in the body of its October 13 blog, a misleading headline remained that insisted that "Sarah Palin's SAT Scores Actually Belong to Born-Again Virgin Dawn Eden." In truth, Eden's scores had been altered (view her actual SAT scores, available online here).
Writing at 12:30 a.m. today, Eden noted that the Gawker contributors that had the authority to change the headline had not yet done so:
CBS News relies on the Associated Press for information on Sarah Palin's use of taxpayer funds for "religious purposes." But before taking into consideration what the AP "reports," one must first take into account what the AP "knows" about American history. You'll find this "knowledge" in the third paragraph of their report:
An Associated Press review of the Republican vice presidential candidate's record as Wasilla mayor and Alaska governor reveals her use of elected office to promote religious causes, sometimes at taxpayer expense and in ways that blur the line between church and state. The U.S. Constitution provides for the separation of church and state.
No. It. Doesn't. Nowhere in the Constitution does it mention such a term.
Time magazine wonders if Sarah Palin has "a Pentecostal problem," but a closer look at Pentecostalism in America finds that while Time magazine may have a problem with Pentecostalism, America certainly doesn't, and there's no reason it should be a problem for Palin the way the race-baiting "G-D America" rantings of Rev. Jeremiah Wright were for Barack Obama.
Time does a fairly good job explaining the Pentecostal wing of American and global Christianity, though it gets some things wrong. (For example, many non-Pentecostal Christians also believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit, though differ in degrees on how it is manifested in the life of the believer. There are many members and leaders, though not all, within the very conservative and decidedly not-Pentecostal Churches of Christ who believe in the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer, for example.)
A couple days ago I had a chat with a friend - a left wing socialist Obama-supporter friend - who warned that Palin's past attendance at an Assemblies of God church would scare off voters the same as Barack Obama's membership in Trinity United Church of Christ became so controversial thanks to the racist anti-American rantings of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Liberal bias found its way into the comic strips on Sunday. "You Can With Beakman & Jax" is an educational strip that runs weekly and features answers to various science questions. The text heavy comic, which has 52 million readers and is syndicated in papers such as the Washington Post, took a shot at both religion and global warming skeptics in the October 5 edition.
Responding to question about how erasers remove pencil marks, strip writer/artist Jok Church cited an 18th century reverend, Joseph Priestley, who discovered that tree sap that could rub away pencil marks. Church wrote, "Back in the 18th century, Priestley was a reverend searching for proof in the natural world as a way of proving his religion. That meant he already knew what he wanted to prove and gathered evidence to support that belief. This is also how some folks now fight against ideas such as global warming."
The San Francisco Bay Times wrote about Church, whose comic was also the basis for the TLC program "Beakman's World," on June 26, 2008. According to writer Tom W. Kelly, "As a gay man and activist, he brings both a sensitivity free of gender pressure to each comic — 'I like to think of myself as an old-time feminist, the kind that did not say person-hole cover' — as well as an appreciation for the universe of possibilities for inquiring minds."
"Does Palin have explaining to do," Chicago Tribune religion blogger Manya Brachear asked in her post-vice presidential debate blog post. Here's how Brachear opened her October 3 entry at her "The Seeker" blog:
Pentecostals have called on the mainstream media to stop mocking their sister Sarah Palin. But when will the Republican vice-presidential candidate answer the questions that swirl every time a new church video surfaces on YouTube? Was Thursday's prime time debate yet another missed opportunity?
By contrast, a review of Brachear's blog entries dealing with Sen. Obama's controversial former pastor,Rev. Jeremiah Wright, show Brachear did not have similar concerns with Obama's relationship with Wright. Indeed, back in June, Brachear asked, "Can a candidate worship in peace?" The Trib staffer was referring to the fact that Obama was leaving Trinity United Church of Christ, blaming media scrutiny for ruining the worship experience for himself and his fellow parishioners:
Bill Maher's new alleged "docu-comedy" came in tenth at the weekend box office. Brent Bozell's culture column noted that the God-mocking HBO star can't seem to scare up a controversy (despite appearances on ABC, CBS, and NBC shows):
The film is called "Religulous" – a lame merger of "religious" and "ridiculous." One reason it’s not urgently mentioned is that while everyone knew "The Passion" was going to be an enormous box-office hit, Maher is hearing the sound of crickets in the fields of controversy, which may match cricket sounds at the box office.
Frank Rich of the New York Times attacked Mel Gibson and "The Passion" with a feverish pitch, but he hasn’t penned a word about Maher. Maher can mock Hasidic Jews as subhuman monkeys in his Internet ads, but Frank Rich is too busy chasing after Sarah Palin with his flamethrower. He has a problem with orthodox Christians, but certainly not with Hollywood atheists who think the Jews are as silly as any other faith community.
America is "dumb" because it remains the most religious country in the western world. This according to Bill Maher, who made such a statement on the September 30 edition of "The View." Appearing to promote his new documentary "Religulous," Maher continued his soapbox rants against organized religion. Elisabeth Hasselbeck set up Maher noting his comparison of President Bush to Osama Bin Laden, and noted that many presidents such as John F. Kennedy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln, spoke publicly of a higher power. Maher likewise replied "of course, it’s, it’s a religious country, unlike every other civilized western democracy in the world, this country is still extremely religious because we’re young and dumb."
After denying judgment in his film, Bill Maher chastised those of faith for lacking "critical thinking." Hasselbeck followed up wondering if he believes those of faith are lacking intelligence. Maher denied he subscribes to such a sentiment, but added intelligent people of faith have a "neurological disorder" who "walled off part of [their] mind."