Monday, March 10, 2003

Finally, let's get to Catholic anguish with respect to the Pope and the Catholic hierarchy. I have to say that at least from my casual glances in the direction of Catholic commentary on this conflict, I've found them much superior to what I've read in other places since at least it does seem to carry the recognition that war is sometimes necessary and that Saddam Hussein is an evil dictator. But having said that the Church seems to by and large in the end come down on the anti-war side.

Not being Catholic or religious for that matter I am not as such bothered by this but I can see how Catholic supporters of the war such as Michael Novak of National Review would have a problem.

Religion and I have a love-hate relationship. There are many aspects of many religions that I can respect, for example, their systemic approach to the world, their insistence on treating issues from a moral perspective, the kindness and generosity of many of their practitioners. On the other hand, I have some severe (and ultimately fatal) objections as well, including, the untenability of the idea of God, the irrationality of a belief in miracles, their advocacy of self-sacrifice (altruism) as a virtue and pride as a sin.

But religions can be interpreted in many different ways, and at least in the limited context of this war, with certain qualifications, I am grateful that our current President is religious. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I am grateful for his specific religiousity which is of a distinctively American kind and thus in many ways superior to, for example, the Pope's.

Sooner or later however, due to inherent limitations, something more than relatively good Americanized religion will be required. But that will depend upon wider cultural changes that may not happen for decades.


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