Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bully Pulpit (Tuesday LINKS)

I recently heard an interesting quip about religion that I will paraphrase here:

"Religion is like a public pool.  All the noise is in the shallow end."

Presidential candidate Rick Santorum, for good or bad, has had us thinking a lot about religion recently.  During his Sunday Talk Show circuit, he repeatedly expressed his concern (with various references to upchuck) that those with religious views are being arbitrarily removed from the "public square" in favor of those with secular views.  I heard this while he was on Meet the Press and thought to myself "Huh, that's actually a good point."  But the more I thought about it, the more I began to think that this is just more of the "victimization narrative" that seems to be bubbling over during these past four years. 

Religion is very much in the public square, but it is mostly noise from the shallow end.  Opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage, and stem cell research seems to be all you hear from those taking a religious perspective. Not feeding the poor.  Not comforting the sick.  Not visiting and uplifting the underrepresented.  I find it odd that a religion such as Christianity, which is premised on loving thy neighbor, has so rarely been invoked in the public square to do the same or that those who profess its tenets would allow these messages to be drowned out by the less central (sometimes obscure) citations of religion as a "code of conduct" in pursuit of a greater truth (rather than the conduct being an end in itself). 

Comedian Stephen Colbert has an internet meme of sorts addressing the curious contradiction of religion in public discourse:

“If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don't want to do it.”

That is religious commentary in the public square.  It makes us uncomfortable.  But it also expresses, in semi-mocking tones, the uncertainty of what it means to be a "Christian Nation" as opposed to a secular one.

I consider myself to be a religious person.  I represent my views freely in the public square.  That seems to be acceptable, until I counter another religious view.  Then I am being "radically secular."  Might it just be that no one wants to discuss religion in the public square, especially the religious? 


The very sad story of Pam Myers murder may be coming to some sort of closure with the conviction of Richard Rondola for second degree murder.  Ms. Myers was set on fire by her boyfriend Mr. Rondola in the midst of an alcohol induced argument.  The accounts of this event are very disturbing.  Rondola took lighter fluid, poured it on Ms. Myers twice, took out his lighter, and set her on fire.  She lived another few weeks before succumbing to her injuries.

Plans to move the Howard County Courthouse to a temporary location in the Ascend One building have been halted after administrative Judge Leonore Gelfman concluded that the temporary facilities would not provide an adequate level of security.

Mayor SRB is relaunching a second attempt to raise the bottle tax in Baltimore City.  It is going as expected.

The Annapolis City Council's attempts to removed a sitting alderman, subsequent to learning that he is effectively homeless, will take a unanimous vote.  This is an offensive attempt to impose a political caste system and squash a very positive story in local government.  I hope it fails and is an embarrassment for all those working towards its passage.

It appears that Baltimore City will be the subject of numerous cuts under President Obama's budget, including funds that had been counted on for waste-water treatment in the City.

Featured Blog Post of the Day: HowChow notes that R&R Taqueria (i.e., gas station tacos) was on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives last night.  Hopefully you tried those tacos before they were on TV, but if not, I find that the 1 pm - 2 pm hour on Saturdays to be a good time to go.

That's all for today.  I am going to the Heavy Seas Beer Dinner at Victoria tonight, which motivated me through a rather painful Monday.  Hopefully I will see some of you there.

Have a great Tuesday doing what you love!