President Paul?(Reprinted from the issue of June 21, 2007)
Is it possible? Behold, there are signs that Ron Paul is now gaining support. All his many virtues make him a misfit in the Republican Party, which would love to be rid of him: He shames it by quietly and steadfastly practicing the principles it preaches.
Over the years he has made enemies of
This thoughtful, unassuming man has a rare ability to get under peoples skin without trying to. The anger his gentle consistency provokes is something to behold; its not the Democrats who detest him, its the Republicans! He is, in spite of himself, a walking rebuke to hypocrisy.
By rights Paul should be the hero of a Molière comedy, or a Frank Capra film. Politics is mostly hypocrisy, and the man of simple good faith can be a disruptive force, like the driver who observes the speed limit when all the others are flooring it.
My own hope is that Ron will run for president on the Constitution Party ticket, as the two big liberal parties nominate Hillary and Rudy. Its not so much that I want him to win wonderful though that would be as that even if he lost, he could outshine his opponents and change the terms in which American politics is discussed.
Islam at War
A rather chilling article in the
Of course its a gross and unfair mistake to assume that Muslims are unanimous about these questions, let alone uniformly violent and pro-terrorist in their conclusions. Far from it, as anyone with Muslim acquaintances knows. The debates among them are subtle and nuanced, like similar debates in the West.
The very fact that these controversies occur attests to the conscience and civility of these people. I doubt that the Mongols under Genghis Khan agonized over morally permissible tactics.
Such problems arise now in large part because the Muslims have been severely provoked by the Western powers, especially the United States, where certain interests have long agitated for war between the U.S. and the Arab-Muslim world. It ill becomes those who invade a country and kill and sometimes torture its people to get indignant at the methods the defenders adopt and justify.
Having said all that (and much more could be added), I must say that my mind keeps coming back to one point. All this talk of legitimate targets sounds like the way our own modern warrior-intellectuals talk, but what it doesnt at all sound like is the New Testament.
Centuries after the Roman persecutions, when Christians had political power, they did confront the problem of warfare in ways they hadnt had to in the age of the martyrs. And their criteria for just warfare were far more severe than those of todays U.S. government.
But even that is a secondary matter. More important is the fact that so much of the Koran is concerned with war and violence. Never mind whether it is right or defensible. Its simply strange. Im baffled that anyone could think that Islam superseded Christianity, that Mohammed improved on Jesus or even
Try to imagine the epistles to the Corinthians and Ephesians laying down conditions for just revenge and decent polygamy.
Im not suggesting that Muslims are bad people; far from it. I merely feel that Islam itself borrows from, and abridges, the Christian message, while completely missing the essence.
Its rather as if you were to call Gandhi a failed general or social engineer, when he was actually in a different line of work altogether.
The Genius of GKC
Great genius can be permanently amazing, even shocking. Working on a book about Shakespeare for students lately, Ive had prolonged exposure to Hamlet, and I never get over it. How could any writer produce something so inexhaustibly wondrous?
Then, last week, a friend gave me a copy of another book I hadnt read in many years:
I used to suspect Catholics overrated him a bit out of partiality to a distinguished convert. Perish the thought! At his peak (where we often find him) he is one of the greatest, deepest, most eloquent and joyous writers in the English language, not far below Shakespeare, whom in some ways he even excels.
What a gift from God Chesterton is. I pity anyone, especially the young Catholic, who hasnt read him.
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|Copyright © 2007 by The Wanderer,
the National Catholic Weekly founded in 1867
Reprinted with permission
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