You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Religion’ category.

CGI2013Livni“Our habits of thought forbid our entry into the most habitable regions in which we are most truly at home and ourselves.” Gabriel Marcel

Hopefully a Herzog/Livni victory will help Jews of Israel become their best self. But for that to really happen they need “a movement of return, a return to the body and broken moorings—created by withdrawal and self-origination”—then through participation, not self-affirmation, will they find true peace and fulfillment.

Photograph: Stephen Wise

 

HolocaustRemembranceDay“I mean, I can’t even make any sense out of my relationship with my father…how am I supposed to make any sense out of Auschwitz?…of the Holocaust?” Art Spiegelman, Maus II

Analysis: Those who would use the Holocaust as a justification for the Modern State of Israel fail to recognize (or care) that the Modern Sate of Israel is self-idolatry, an offense against God (the Father), leading people astray rather than to salvation. For the remnant of Israel, salvation is from the Son of Man not the Man of Steel.

“And it shall come to pass in that day that the remnant of Israel, and they shall escape the house of Jacob, shall lean no more on him that striketh them; but they shall lean upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant shall be converted, the remnant, I say, of Jacob, to the mighty God.” Isaiah 10:20-21

MarioCuomoFuneralFormer New York Governor Mario Cuomo (1932-2015) was buried from St. Ignatius of Loyola Church in NYC today.

The pastor of St. Ignatius Church, Rev. George Witt S,J., in remarks heard from speakers outside the church on Park Avenue, said that Mario Cuomo had been a “humble man…a man of great faith in God,” and the “Cuomo family life was rooted in Christ, Catholic education, and faith.”

Analysis: The public policies of both Mario Cuomo and son Andrew (current Governor of New York) regarding abortion, were and are in fact anathema to Christianity and the well being of individuals and society. One can only hope that the elder Cuomo had a conversion and sincere confession before he died.

Increasingly today we see ministers of the Church spreading illusion rather than truth, and society suffers.

Progress-SorelToday New Yorkers are faced with voting for the incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) or his Republican challenger, Rob Astorino. Both are proud of their Italian heritage as is the Catholic Bishop of Brooklyn and Queens, Nicolas Dimarzio, who commented on the election in his recent Tablet column saying that his grandfather, who wanted to give him a voting lesson, said “Go into the booth, when you see an Italian name pull down on the lever.”

For voters who seek leaders guided by truth and the common good, rather than ideology and special interests, this election is especially problematic. Governor Cuomo has said that New Yorkers who oppose abortion and same-sex marriage ought to move out of the state. And, if elected, Rob Astorino said he would support fracking.

In his column, the Bishop suggested that corruption in government is directly attributable to low voter turn-out — and therefore encouraged Catholics to vote.

The Bishop failed to address the fact that the candidates in this election, with misguided views on progress, are both Catholic, and perhaps symptomatic of the failure of the Catholic hierarchy in the U.S. over the years to properly form their flock for true progress.

‘Progress’ Artwork: Edward Sorel, 1976

 

CalvaryCemetery2014CalvaryCemetery2014cCalvaryCemetery2014uCalvaryCemetery2014gOur memory of the past should help us live better in the present, while we yearn for eternity.

Photographs: Stephen Wise

 

India-TimesSquare2Truth in her dress finds facts too tight.
In fiction she moves with ease.
–Tagore

Photograph: Stephen Wise

UNPrayerService2014jUNPrayerService2014eOn a day that saw the U.S. continuing to act as the self-proclaimed leader of the ‘free’ world, with unilateral strikes in Iraq, members of the United Nations gathered for a Prayer Service — ahead of the opening of the 69th Session of the General Assembly.

The annual service, held 9/15 at the Church of the Holy Family in NYC, included His Excellency Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, and His Excellency Sam Kutesa (top photo), President-elect of the Sixty-Ninth Session of the General Assembly.

With the UN project increasingly in tatters, undermined by the disordered aspirations of key member states along with a worldwide ‘rights’ revolution that is frequently unhinged from truth, Mr. Ban is turning to various faith communities (not the faithless faithful but the truly faithful of all religions), as the last best hope to save the world.

Sadly many in the Christian community, including clergy, have bowed to Americanism and are among the faithless faithful (mob) rather than the truly faithful (flock).

Would that we could hear the words of the Savior: “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7:50

Photographs: Stephen Wise

Seagull2014aRockawayBeach2014cThe bird represents the wayfarer of the sky, and at the same time it represents a being who belongs to the earth and is capable of dwelling in the skies. The former explanation of the bird represents the idea of a soul whose dwelling place is Heaven, and the latter represents the dweller on earth being able to move about in the higher spheres, and both these explanations give the idea that the spiritual man dwelling on the earth, is from Heaven; they explain also that the spiritual man is the inhabitant of the Heavens and is dwelling on earth for a while. Inayat Khan, The Unity of Religious Ideals

Photographs: Stephen Wise

Timessquare072819

AllWalls-Chaudry (2)Woe to those who plot evil, who lie in bed planning mischief! No sooner is it drawn than they do it—their hands have the strength for it. Seizing the fields that they covet, they take over houses as well, owner and house they confiscate together, they take both man and inheritance. So the Lord says this: Now it is I who plot such mischief against this breed as your necks will not escape; nor will you be able to walk proudly, so evil will the time be. On that day they will make a satire of you…Therefore you will have no one to measure out a share in the community of the Lord. Micah 2:1-5

The leaders of the Modern State of Israel, with their hopes in Iron Dome, are acting like the Jews of Old who were banished from the land for their sins. They are impostors — heading for eternal hellfire.

The remnant of Israel — People of the New Covenant, are home when united with the Lord in truth and love — as living stones building up a living Temple.

Artwork: Bushra Chaudry

 

Hadassah-EisenArnold Eisen, Chancellor of The Jewish Theology Seminary and a self-proclaimed religious, cultural and political Zionist, addressed the Hadassah community last evening on the subject of what Zionism/Judaism means in the 21st century.

“I don’t think Judaism survives without Jews and I don’t think Jews survive and flourish without the Jewish State…This is a great time to be a Jew, the resources we have at our disposal are truly mind-boggling. The question is whether we are going to have the intelligence to use the resources wisely.” Arnold Eisen

The view, and hope, of Mr. Eisen, and other religious Zionists, is that the modern state of Israel will help to revive Judaism around the world. He said that antisemitism is at a historic low level in the U.S. — with “assimilation and indifference” being the bigger problems.

TempleEmanu-ElAnalysis: Rather than providing a home for Judaism, the Zionist project is making Jews more homeless and alienated than ever — from their Creator (“lost sheep of the House of Israel”). Perhaps the tendency of the diaspora to abandon Zionism is more truthful than Zionism itself — which, in spite of the religious rhetoric, is a highly material and individualistic undertaking.

The better way is to make a home built with “living stones which rest upon the living corner-stone, which is Christ, and are built together into a holy temple, far surpassing any temple built by hands, into a habitation of God in the Spirit.” Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corpus Christi

 

ManaPalestinianWomenArtistsShavuot (Feast of the Weeks), celebrated by Jews seven weeks after Passover, commemorates Moses receiving the Torah on Mount Sinai.

In Rabbi Sidney L. Markowitz’s book: What You Should Know About Jewish Religion, History, Ethics and Culture (1955), the essence of the Torah according to Hillel, “who, when challenged to state the essence of the Torah in one sentance, expressed it thus: ‘Do not do unto your neighbor that which is abhorrent or unpleasant to yourself.’ The rest of the Torah he maintained, was merely commentary.”

Photograph: Stephen Wise

 

Palestine1948 (2)“And he said unto me: ‘Thou art My servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.’ Isaiah 49:3

From the Balfour Declaration: “His Majesty’s Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a National Home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine…” British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, James Balfour to Lord Rothchild, November 2, 1917, whom Dr. Weizmann had suggested as addressee

Given their superior position, the Jewish failure to work out an equitable solution, with the Palestinians, manifests an impoverishment of spirit.

GeorgeGrosz1939The question is “are contemporary Jews (traditionalists & secularists) fit for the House of Israel (People of God)”?

“They have chosen their own ways, And their soul delighteth in their abominations…Because when I called, none did answer; When I spoke they did not hear, But they did what was evil in Mine eyes, And chose that in which I delighted not.” Isaiah 66:3-4

The real House of Israel is being erected by the Son of Man, not the Man of Steel.

On this the 66th anniversary of the proclamation of the State of Israel, we hope and pray that Jews recognize that their true identity, redemption and freedom come from being united with, and serving, their Creator and fellow man (not from self-serving nationalism or socialism), so that God may be all in all.

Artwork: George Grosz

5Pointz041414The Bible is filled with stories of people being saved from oppression—passing from death to life; old to new. Today’s exile is often self-inflicted, caused by egoism. The only exodus from egoism is to overcome ourselves, be filled with the spirit and live.

LeahKoenigJTSNoted food writer and author Leah Koenig provided a cooking demo at the Jewish Theology Seminary, as part of the new JTS Ethics program — which includes food ethics. Her Modern Jewish Cookbook will be released in 2015.

Ms. Koenig’s Chocolate-Caramel Matzo Clusters and Chocolate-Dipped Figs are likely new classics for the Passover table.

 

 

Tikvah“A common refrain in evangelical churches goes something like: ‘America will be fine so long as we don’t go against the Jews’.” Robert W. Nicholson

“There is this vast opportunity that I believe remains untapped.” Dan Senor

Speaking at a TIKVAH event last evening, Dan Senor talked about mobilizing Christian Evangelicals to be a “grass-roots army,” for Israel in the US. Which doesn’t bode well for Palestinians, Syrians and Iranians.

In his book: Why I AM Not Christian, Bertrand Russell says “Jews and Protestants are mutually indistinguishable.” Perhaps by that he meant their individualism leads them to worship matter over essences (Church over God), thereby becoming blind and hardhearted to the bigger picture of the human community.

With a hysterical (security first!) mindset, along with a notion of being “extraordinary men with the right to commit any crime” (Dostoyevsky), many American Evangelicals and Jewish Zionists are a threat to the U.S. and the world. The good news is there are some Evangelicals and Jews with a more healthful way of being — a more Christ-like approach to their neighbor. “The best way to take care of our self is to take care of our neighbor.”

“From the beginning, Christian Revelation has viewed the spiritual history of man as including, in some way, all religions, thereby demonstrating the unity of humankind with regard to the eternal ultimate destiny of man.” John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, (Knopf, 1994)

RabbiSacksCardinalEganJonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations in the UK, spoke at NYU’s Catholic Center on March 24, in a program titled: Communities of Faith and the Public Intellectual Argument. He was joined by Edward Egan, Cardinal-Archbishop Emeritus of New York.

“I believe that life is God’s question, and our existence is the only humble answer we can give.” Rabbi Sacks

Photograph: Stephen Wise

EdwardJacobson (2)“We told them (the British statesmen): ‘The Jews will go to Palestine anyhow, whether you want it or not. There is no power on earth that can stop the Jews from getting to Palestine. You gentlemen can make it easy for them; you can make it difficult. In making it easy you will derive considerable advantages for yourself. Help us and it will help you.'” Chaim Weizmann, 1919

The Jewish obsession for Palestine has led to the corruption of numerous U.S. presidents, from Woodrow Wilson up to and including President Obama — as well as Congress. Today Syria is suffering because of that obsession and corruption.

“Lloyd George, the wartime Prime Minister of Great Britain (WWI), testified many years later, in 1936, before one of the Royal commissions appointed to ‘inquire into the Palestine problem’ that the publication of the Balfour Declaration at that particular time was dictated by ‘propagandistic reasons.’ Lloyd George stated that the ‘Zionist leaders gave a definite promise that, if the Allies committed themselves to giving facilities for the establishment of a National Home for the Jews in Palestine, they would do their best to rally Jewish sentiment and support throughout the world to the Allies’ cause. They kept their word.'” Pictorial History of Israel (Thomas Yoseloff, 1958)

In return for getting Wilson and the U.S. into World War I, the Zionists received a commitment from Great Britain for Palestine.

Had the U.S. stayed out of the Great War, it most likely would have ended sooner (Germany sought peace in 1916 but England resisted knowing the U.S. was getting in). Hitler wouldn’t have emerged. WWII, the Holocaust, and the Cold War could have been avoided.

Photograph: Edward Jacobson leaving the White House on June 26, 1946, after urging President Truman to support a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

ChagallExodus1“We want to further a kind of Judaism that respects and learns from other religions, values the insights of the arts and social sciences, insists that Jewish wisdom be brought to bear on every aspect of contemporary society—and that it be enriched and corrected by other sources of knowledge and truth.” from: “Educating for Human Wholeness,” by Arnold Eisen, Chancellor, The Jewish Theological Seminary

Mr. Eisen’s insistence “that Jewish wisdom be brought to bear on every aspect of contemporary society” is curious and even alarming — given that wisdom comes from one’s relationship with God, and Jews are essentially revolting from, and in rebellion against, their Creator. Zionism is a project of self-adoration, not Divine worship/gift.

If Mr. Eisen is serious about being enriched and corrected by other sources of knowledge and truth, may we suggest that he and all Jews embrace Jesus Christ as the way of true freedom, redemption and identity (renewal based on the New Covenant).

“In the dens where dragons dwelt before, shall rise up the verdure of the reed and the bulrush. And a path and a way shall be there, and it shall be called the holy way; the unclean shall not pass over it, and this shall be unto you a straight way, so that fools shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor shall any mischievous beast go up by it, nor be found there; but they shall walk there that shall be delivered.

And the redeemed of the Lord shall re-turn, and shall come into Zion with praise, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.” Isaiah 35: 7-10

Artwork: Marc Chagall

JTS2014d (2)Did Christianity, Modernity and Zionism make Judaism obsolete? Does God still dialogue with Jews — even though they rejected His Son as their Savior? Are Jews seeking the living God? What would they say if God asked them: “Who are you?”

Last evening at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), in New York, Rabbi Shai Held presented his book, Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Call of Transcendence (Indiana University Press, 2013).

Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1971) was a prominent Jewish theologian, activist, and poet who, according Rabbi Held, focused on “the idea of transcendence—or the movement from self-centeredness to God-centeredness.” In his book, Rabbi Held critiques Heschel in relationship with contemporary Jewish thinkers, Christian theologians, devotional writers, and philosophers of religion.

“‘To pray,’ Heschel writes, ‘means to bring God back into the world, to establish his kingship, to let His glory prevail,’ Once again, the Creator is not only transcendent, but also vulnerable and dependent. The majestic God depends for His very majesty on an act of man.

Like countless modern theologians, Heschel begins with the subject and proceeds to emphasize the human capacity to know God, intuitively and immediately…One of Heschel’s most consistent laments is that revelation is an answer to a question that human beings have stopped asking.

JTS2014eOur humanity, as we have seen, is constituted by our capacity to rise above our selfish ego. So, Heschel reminds us, is our freedom.”

Rabbis Heschel and Held provide a wake-up call for self-centered Jews, Christians and secularists.

Photograph: Stephen Wise

manayigalozeri“You have developed among you a dangerous Messianic spirit…I have learnt from my own experience that the sword alone offers no solution…Israel will not survive as a democratic state if she continues being a society that occupies another nation.” Ariel Sharon, Knesset 23 October 2004

The question now is “what are the goals of the ‘new’ (badass) Jews?” And “how will that affect the trajectory of the U.S., Israel, and the world?”

“Jewish history consists of a unique series of events—accidental or purposeful—which have had the practical effect of preserving the Jews as Jews in an “exile” to fulfill their avowed mission of ushering in the brotherhood of man…What the Jews themselves have thought of their destiny has shaped their history more profoundly than did events.” Max Dimont, The Indestructible Jews (The New American Library, 1973)

FDNY2014b“The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light; and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death, a light has arisen.” Matthew 4:16

The FDNY is fine, but to be led out of exile, and to get home, we need to be with the Savior of the world.

Sometimes it’s the ‘believers’ who are in the greatest need of being saved.

Photograph: Stephen Wise

OHolyNight2013O Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining; It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!”

Christmas2013a

ManLongIslandCity“The wrestling of Jacob (with the angel) was the wrestling of the soul with the ego. The awakened soul looks about and asks: ‘Who is my enemy?’ And while the ignorant soul thinks: ‘It is my neighbor, my relation, who is my enemy.’ The awakened soul says: ‘It is myself; my ignorant ego is my enemy; and it is the struggle with this enemy that will bring me light…” Inayat Khan

EID2013cA Muslim mother and daughter in Jackson Heights, NY prepare for Eid Al-Adha, The Feast of Sacrifice, celebrated October 15, 2013 in the US. Eid-Mubarak!

CardinalDolan&BanKiMoonThe traditional prayer service, hosted by the Archdiocese of New York, ahead of the opening of the United Nations General Assembly, was held this evening at the Church of The Holy Family in NYC. Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, and Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, were joined by numerous diplomats, religious leaders and members of the community.

“The world’s religions share the common values of peace and human dignity for all. These are also the goals of the United Nations. I count on people of faith to be bridges—from one religion to another, from one community to another, and from the present to the future—we want. I count on you to help us narrow the gaps between the world as it is and the world as we know it can be. That is our privilege and obligation, yours and mine together.” Ban Ki-Moon September 16, 2013

PrayerServiceVucJeremic“We are praying together…for peace in Syria, and we are praying for all those who understand that peace can not come about from more war, that their voices will be heard loud and clear from the United Nations all the way to the land that is so holy.” Vuc Jeremic, President of the Sixty-Seventh Session of the General Assembly

Analysis: For some government leaders, guided by selfish interests, peace and stability are not really the goal. Instead, a world in constant conflict, where might equals right, presents a greater opportunity.

Often times revolutionaries, rebels and innovators are at odds with nature. The challenge is to move them to seek the truth and embrace the common good, freely, before they do any more harm to society.

The UN’s goals for a prosperous and sustainable world, and defense of human rights, can be undermined by member’s misguided activism. If religious leaders are faithful—to truth and love—they can be indispensable guides (and bridges) for sustainable living.

Photographs: Stephen Wise

StephenWiseFreeSynagogue0913 (2)“Awake you sleepers, from your sleep! Rouse yourselves, you slumberers, out of your slumber! Examine your deeds, and turn to God in repentance. Remember your Creator, you who are caught up in the daily round, losing sight of eternal truth; you who are wasting your years in vain pursuits that neither profit nor save. Look closely at yourselves; improve your ways and your deeds. abandon your evil ways, your unworthy schemes, everyone of you.” Jewish Prayer Book

On Yom Kippur, Ido Aharoni, Counsul General of Israel in New York, spoke at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in NYC.

Analysis: Today, Jews are taking their cues from the State of Israel on how to be Jewish, which has often meant setting aside the Torah (and refuge in God), in pursuit of a man-made utopia that sees itself as a miracle — with the “mightiest military force in the region,” the “#1 source of inspiration in the world,” and the “#1 destination for gay tourism,” according to Mr. Aharoni.

The People of Israel seem to have forgotten that it’s the meek and the humble, not the aggressive and violent, who will inherit the land forever.

24. PML 129355, fol. 3vThe central role of the Eucharist in the religious and civic life of the Middle Ages is explored in a new exhibition at the Morgan Library and Museum in NYC, through September 2, 2013.

For Catholics today the Eucharist is still the sacrament of sacraments — ‘the source and summit of all Christian life.’ Its worship is directed towards God the Father through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit.

“If our Eucharistic worship is authentic, it must make us grow in awareness of the dignity of each person. The awareness of that dignity becomes the deepest motive of our relationship with our neighbor.

We must also become particularly sensitive to all human suffering and misery, to all injustice and wrong, and seek the way to redress them effectively. Let us learn to discover with respect the truth about the inner self that becomes the dwelling place of God present in the Eucharist.” John Paul II, The Mystery and Worship of the Eucharist (1980)

The Eucharist is a ‘continuous invitation,’ from the ‘son of man,’ to participate in divine life, but sadly many excuse themselves from accepting the invitation — opting for other gods.

superman75Today the man of steel seems to be attracting more followers, even among Christians, than the Son of Man — with catastrophic consequences for the world.

EasterWW1 (2)On Easter Sunday a World War I monument in Queens, New York was festooned with Easter rabbits and eggs. Many American Christians have the view that the U.S. military is the guarantor of the nation’s security, freedom and way of life. Many Jews have the same view in Israel. And now the government of North Korea shares that view, saying that their nuclear weapons are their ‘treasure” and “the life of the nation.”

Jesus Christ came into the world offering the way of peace and fullness of life. Sadly, many of his own people rejected the invitation — opting for nukes over the Spirit, the Man of Steel over the Son of Man, and death over life.

PopeFrancisI031413If the Church is broken and out of touch with reality, it is only because her members have been unfaithful the Gospel, and joined the egoism of a crumbling society.

Hopefully Pope Francis will inspire Christians to be ‘practitioners’ of the Gospel message — united in truth and charity.

SpringBreakArtShowIn conjunctions with Armory Arts Week in NYC, the Spring/Break Art Show is being held in the former St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral School — a Catholic elementary school in existence for 188 years, and now closed. The show’s theme is “New Mysticism.”

The light and life of the Spirit are trying to get in. But many in the U.S., including Catholic leaders, are blocking it — which will have eternal consequences.

Photographs: Stephen Wise

SpringBreakIAM

EternalBummer2 (2)

KempnerMadness (2)Jim Kempner, a Jew, might be enjoying the troubles of the Catholic Church, or perhaps he is lamenting the suffering of the Body of Christ — and feels part of it.

“Perhaps a Jew can never genuinely close the door on transcendence, as the Christian radicals are trying to do.” William Hamilton

Yes, it (“God”) is the most heavy-laden of all human words. None has become so soiled, so mutilated. Just for this reason I may not abandon it. Generations of men have laid the burden of their anxious lives upon this word and weighed it to the ground; it lies in the dust and bears their whole burden…We cannot cleanse the word “God” and we cannot make it whole; but defiled and mutilated as it is, we can raise it from the ground and set it over an hour of great care. Martin Buber, Eclipse of God

Photograph: Jim Kempner Fine Art

NYUSexton2013The Catholic Center at New York University held a symposium, 2/4, exploring the thinking of John Henry Newman and the question — What positive contribution can religion make to the ongoing life of the contemporary university?

“Newman reminds us today, that as unlikely and outlandish as it might seem, theology and the speculative contemplation of which it gives rise to is about the only thing that can save the university from its total functionalization and commodification. For theology reminds all the other disciplines that the greatest freedom comes with the contemplation and communication of the transcendent truth of God.” Reinhard Huetter, Duke Divinity School

“For you, also, we have a message, and it is this: Continue to search, tirelessly, never despairing of the truth! Recall the words of one of your great friends, St. Augustine: ‘We seek with a desire to find, and we find with a desire to seek further.’ Happy are those who, possessing truth, seek it, in order to renew it, to deepen it, and give it to others. Happy are those who, not having found it, go toward it sincere in heart; may they seek tomorrow’s light in today’s, till they come to the fullness of light.”Pope Paul VI

Temple9“The reason we are so unhappy is that we have killed God the Father.” Sigmund Freud paraphrasing St. Paul

“You will not admit that you murdered God…We did the same thing, to be sure, but we have admitted it and since then we have been absolved.” Freud describing Christian critique of Jews

God is the source of all truth and we are called to live in the truth. Rebelling against truth is not freedom. “Real living faith is a permanent battle with our “I,” which has shifted from the position of “god” at the moment of our conversion, but nevertheless constantly endeavors to regain that position.” Tomas Halik, Night of the Confessor (Image, 2012)

Photograph: Stephen Wise

Christmas2012a (2)“Tonight eternity alone is near: The sea, the sunset, and the darkening blue: Within their shelter is no space for fear, Only the wonder that such things are true.” Thomas S. Jones, Dusk at Sea

TomasHalikTomas Halik (right), author of Patience With God, spoke this evening at the Czech Center in Manhattan. Fr. Halik worked as a psychotherapist during the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia and at the same time was secretly ordained as a Catholic priest and active in the underground church. In his book Night Of The Confessor (Image Books 2012), Fr. Halik  writes: “I would like to share how the present period — this world and its extrinsic and intrinsic aspects — is viewed by someone who is accustomed to listening to others as they acknowledge their faults and shortcomings, as they confide their conflicts, weaknesses and doubts, but also their longing for forgiveness, reconciliation, and inner healing — for a fresh start.”

Photograph: Stephen Wise

JudaismThe virulent actions of the government and people of Israel towards the Palestinians makes one wonder what has happened to Judaism?

“Judaism aims to establish a relationship of devotion between man and God; but, in addition, it also seeks, and that with even greater emphasis, to establish a just and humane relationship between man and his neighbor.”

The ethics of Judaism, as we have seen, enjoin love and sympathy for our fellow-men, indeed for all our fellow creatures. One who is guided by this code places himself in perfect harmony with mankind. He regards his fellow-man not as a hinderance to his own well-being, but as a brother, as one who too is entitled to comfort and happiness, to opportunity for the expression of his personality. The application of its rules must render the individual who practices them righteous and loving and considerate; it moulds him more and more according to the pattern and attributes that are conceived as resident in God.

The preservation of Judaism and the preservation of the Jew are interlinked problems. Judaism without the Jew can only be an abstraction; the Jew without Judaism must gradually dissolve as a people.” Judaism, Rabbi Morris Lichtenstein, 1934

Photograph: Stephen Wise

George Weigel, prominent American Catholic theologian and outspoken critic of secularism and nihilism in Western society, spoke at the American Bible Society in NYC this evening. The title of his talk was: “The Fall of the Empty Shrine” The failure of secularism and the role of faith and reason in renewing the foundations of democracy.

Weigel examined the crisis of what he called “the western secular project” and tried to expose the root causes of today’s political, economic and financial crises by engaging the deeper and philosophical questions of the nature and scope of reason and the metaphysical foundations of freedom and democracy.

He called for a “revival of the biblical image of humanity and rediscovery of reason and truth as necessary conditions for democratic societies.” Mr. Weigel emphasized that the defense of religious freedom is a moral obligation for the U.S. and the world.

Commentary: While listening to George Weigel pontificate on truth and the metaphysical foundations of democracy, one couldn’t help but lament that he has been a strong advocate of American foreign policy, including the 2003 Iraq war. If Weigel were more faithful to the Gospel, he might be using his religious freedom and position (Distinguished Fellow of Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center) to speak out against the insanity and wickedness of American foreign policy. Instead he’s acting like Cardinal Innitzer, the Austrian Prelate, who in 1938 told Adolf Hitler that so long as the Church retained her liberties Austrian Catholics would become the “truest sons of the great Reich.”

Photograph: Stephen Wise

Appeal of Conscience Foundation honored Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, with its World Statesman Award last evening at the Waldorf in New York City. Also honored were Vikram Pandit CEO, Citigroup and Virginia M. Rometty President & CEO, IBM.

The Dinner Chairman was Louis Chenevert CEO, United Technologies Corporation. Henry Kissinger and Stephen Schwarzman were presenters.

From the program guide: The Appeal of Conscience Foundation (ACF), founded by Rabbi Arthur Schneier in 1965, has worked on behalf of religious freedom and human rights throughout the world. The interfaith coalition of business, religious and foreign policy leaders promotes peace, tolerance and ethnic conflict resolution. It also provides a voice of conscience to protect minorities at a time of increasing ethnic conflict in many regions of the world…To uphold the principle of “live and let live” is the ACF’s continuing goal.

Mr. Harper’s award comes several weeks after Canada severed ties with Iran. During his remarks the Prime Minister spoke sharply about Iran saying that “acting in concert with our partners for the wider interest of humanity is not the same as trying to court every dictator with a vote at the United Nations.” He said, “I believe that the appeal of our conscience requires us to speak against what the Iranian regime stands for.” With respect to Israel, Mr. Harper added: “Whatever Israel’s shortcomings, neither its existence nor its policies are the cause of the pathologies in the region.”

Commentary: The Appeal of Conscience Foundation is more of a juggernaut for the promotion of an Israeli/Superman agenda, than an interfaith coalition for peace. While listening to the speakers, one couldn’t help but think that Stephen Harper had been roped-in to that agenda — as so many American leaders have since Woodrow Wilson.

It’s worth noting that on this day twelve years ago, September 28, 2000, Ariel Sharon visited Jerusalem’s Temple Mount — causing a violent backlash that undermined the peace process. Perhaps that was his intention. After becoming Prime Minister in 2001, Sharon said: “We (Israel) have the right and capability to defend ourselves by ourselves.” The result continues to be a warrior mindset that views security as emanating from walls, weapons, and one’s own power — rather than from being organically united to one’s neighbor and God. In his autobiography, Warrior (2001), Sharon writes: “When it comes to practicing Judaism, there is much I do not know.”

Photograph: Stephen Wise

“O Lord God of Israel, thou art just: for we remain yet to be saved as at this day. Behold we are before thee in our sin, for there can be no standing before thee in this matter.” 1 Ezra 9:15

Photograph: Stephen Wise

Archives