Generous Orthodoxy  

Monday, November 17, 2008

An interfaith group that might work

I am usually cynical about "interfaith" initiatives, but this charming article from The New York Times gives real hope about how best to proceed with this difficult project. Here is the link:

Finding Similarities Among the Differences
November 11, 2008

A program brings together high school students of different faiths and encourages cooperation on community service projects.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The state of marriage today

Whatever one may think about same-sex unions, a letter to The New York Times (November 7) from Mitch Kohn in LA has got to be a wake-up call. If the churches were half as intentional about strengthening traditional marriage as they are about homosexuality, we would not look so foolish and ineffectual in the eyes of secular society.

Here is the main body of Mitch Kohn's letter:
Straight people are allowed to marry and divorce multiple times. They can get drunk and get married in the middle of the night in Las Vegas by going to a drive-through chapel. They can get on a show like “The Bachelor” and sell themselves on national television to find a spouse.

But somehow my 25-year relationship with my partner is a threat to the “sanctity” of the institution of marriage.

Seems to me I remember a little popular song from the fifties with the line, "One man, one wife, one love, through life..." Is it still possible to hold up this ideal? (My husband and I celebrate our fiftieth anniversary next year -- an occasion for humble thanksgiving.)

The only thing I am presently able to say in public about the various issues concerning homosexual orientation is that we do not yet know the mind of Christ on this, and I have written a lengthy piece which is posted on this site.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Canada in O-mode

It is thrilling to see how the election has captured the Canadian imagination. The papers are full of O-news every day. Here is a saying I hadn't heard before, from The Globe & Mail:

Mike Victor, a 57-year-old African American commodities trader, said, "Rosa sat so Martin could walk, Martin walked so Obama could run, Obaba ran so our children could fly."

And the G & M man in Washington, John Ibbitson, who writes well about America, had this to say:

Americans delivered a message to themselves that the world overheard: The
last eight years were a waste. Our leaders drew the country into a war in Iraq
that should never have been fought; outraged the Constitution with detention
camps and torture, and brought the economy to the edge of the abyss. Our leaders
were wrong, we were wrong, the people decided. We need to start again....

...This is a dawn to savour for everyone who believes that the future of
America is the future of the free world. Its citizens have risen magnificently
to a magnificent occasion, demonstrating that the affliction of race resentments
can be surmounted. Once again we have learned the lesson we keep forgetting:
that entrenched assumptions can be uprooted. Peace can come to Ireland. The Cold
War can end. America's racial wounds can start to heal.

In the best of worlds, it will take half a century to heal them completely. But the nation is now firmly headed in the right direction.

Americans have shown us yet again what a fascinating, frustrating, complicated people they are. They have chosen a young black man with little experience in high office to lead them in a time of danger and complexity.

People of good will everywhere will wish him well.

Friday, November 07, 2008

What O might mean to black boys

More than one Republican I know admits via email that he/she can't help being moved by the outpouring of hope and pride. The view from Canada is: it just may be a truly transformational event in our history. A Canadian told me this morning that she saw a black soldier interviewed on TV who said that until this moment he did not believe that he was created equal, but now--for the first time--he did.

Here's the best article I have seen so far about the possible effect of the epochal election on black children (be sure to read all the way to the end).

For Striving 6th Graders, History Is Now
November 6, 2008

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The idea of America: reactions from overseas

An article in The New York Times today was reported by journalists from 15 countries on four continents. Anyone of any political persuasion has got to be moved by the way that the idea of America continues to be so compelling to people all over the world. Here are a few excerpts:

Dateline Gaza: From far away, this is how it looks: There is a country out there where tens of millions of white Christians, voting freely, select as their leader a black man of modest origin, the son of a Muslim. There is a place on Earth — call it America — where such a thing happens.

Even where the United States is held in special contempt, like here in this benighted Palestinian coastal strip, the “glorious epic of Barack Obama,” as the leftist French editor Jean Daniel calls it, makes America — the idea as much as the actual place — stand again, perhaps only fleetingly, for limitless possibility.

“It allows us all to dream a little,” said Oswaldo Calvo, 58, a Venezuelan political activist in Caracas...

Tristram Hunt, a British historian, put it this way: Mr. Obama “brings the narrative that everyone wants to return to — that America is the land of extraordinary opportunity and possibility, where miracles happen.”

But wonder is almost overwhelmed by relief. Mr. Obama’s election offers most non-Americans a sense that the imperial power capable of doing such good and such harm — a country that, they complain, preached justice but tortured its captives, launched a disastrous war in Iraq, turned its back on the environment and greedily dragged the world into economic chaos — saw the errors of its ways over the past eight years and shifted course...

It would be hard to overstate how fervently vast stretches of the globe wanted the election to turn out as it did....

The world’s view of an Obama presidency presents a paradox. His election embodies what many consider unique about the United States — yet America’s sense of its own specialness, of its destiny and mission, has driven it astray, they say. They want Mr. Obama, the beneficiary and exemplar of American exceptionalism, to act like everyone else, only better, to shift American policy and somehow to project both humility and leadership....

So foreigners are watching closely, hoping that despite what they consider the hypocrisies and inconsistencies, the nation they once imagined would stand as a model for the future will, with greater sensitivity and less force, help solve the world’s problems....

Read the entire article:
For Many Abroad, an Ideal Renewed
Published: November 5, 2008