But first: The Rev. Richard John Neuhaus died today. He was considered a gifted, articulate voice for what even he might have called conservative Catholic values. Even when I disagreed with Neuhaus, I found his words a compelling read.
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Any civilized community has within its boundaries institutions, architecture and other features that cause its citizens to think about matters beyond what is material, what is simply there.
I'm speaking here about churches, synagogues, mosques, temples. But even beyond such structures, I'm thinking about art and the way a city celebrates its traditions. I'm thinking about those aspects of our lives that cause us at least to ask eternal questions, even if we don't agree with others about the answers and sometimes we don't even agree with ourselves.
My bride and I took a little time off the other evening just to go look at how the closed-for-the-night Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art looks in the evening after sunset. We also stopped at the nearby Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, which was open, to experience some of what modern artists are trying to get us to think about.
I'm posting just three photos here today from our wanderings as an invitation to you to pay attention to your community as you travel about -- pay attention to those aspects that bring to mind spirit and not just material.
These material things can lead us to spiritual insights as we remember that the world is made up of more than just what our senses can detect.
The top photo I shot from the south side of the Nelson looking east.
The photo just above here is also of the Nelson's new Bloch Building, looking toward the east from the south side of the original building.
And this bottom photo shows part of the holiday lights of the Country Club Plaza.
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CAN RELIGION HELP IN GAZA?
As the trouble in Gaza plays out, the role of religion in the conflict has arisen in various places. A British writer suggests religion has an important role to play, and I agree. But the cause of the Palestinians, their legitimate desire for a secure state, is profoundly damaged when anti-Israeli rhetoric turns antisemitic and, frankly, ugly and shocking, as happened in Florida recently. The Israeli government is far from being beyond criticism, but telling Jews to "go back to the oven," as happened in Florida, is an example of the antisemitism that seems fairly common among some (far from all) Muslims today. Such antisemitism can only slow down progress toward a just two-state solutiion in the Middle East. And Muslims everywhere should be speaking out against such rhetorical nonsense and excesses. MEANWHILE, a top Vatican official is criticizing Israel's action by referring to Gaza as "a concentration camp." No doubt that description was chosen with purpose.