A WORD FROM THE POPE ON TIBET
Pope Benedict XVI has been trying to improve the Vatican's relations with the Chinese government as well as with Catholic churches in China that have been operating with independence from Vatican oversight. So he was slow to respond publicly to the crisis in Tibet. But Wednesday he spoke out. Geo-political-religious relations always seem to require some compromise. But that's because the world is complicated and doesn't operate in only black and white, as lots of folks seem to wish.
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THE FOUNDERS AND RELIGION
Over the years there's been lots of debate about whether the United States is now or ever was a "Christian nation" and about what the religious beliefs and intentions of the nation's founders were.
Among the good recent books about this subject, I recommend Forrest Church's So Help Me God. (I mentioned Forrest the other day here on the blog.) But Steven Waldman, the founder of Beliefnet.com, has just come out with one I haven't yet read but that looks good -- and, it has the added advantage of being tied to a whole new archive of material on a Beliefnet site by and about the founders that you can reach by clicking here.
The archive is not exhaustive but it appears to be extensive enough to give you a good feel for what lots of different people said on different topics. And you can search either by author or by topic.
Click on Thomas Jefferson, for instance, and you'll get 23 entries. Or click on John Adams and you'll turn up 18 results.
Two things bother me about many discussions having to do with the founders and religion. One is that many people want to dismiss the importance of religion to them. A second is that many people don't want to acknowledge that the nation has evolved through various laws, constitutional amendments and case law to be different in many ways from the country the Pilgrims thought they were starting to create.
At any rate, Waldman's collection should give all of us some help when trying to nail down what various members of our nation's founders thought about religious matters.
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P.S.: I've written a special extra column today examining the controversy over Barack Obama's former pastor.
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YOUR HELP NEEDED
Former Kansas City Star reporter Karen Blakeman and others who teach journalism at the University of Kansas are doing a survey of people who read blogs connected to newspapers. If you participate, which I hope you will, you'll even have a chance to win $50. To read about it and do the survey, click here. The idea is to help scholars understand the way poeple use blogs connected to newspapers, and there's been precious little academic research into that subject. So, if you can, lend these KU J-School folks a hand -- even if, like me, you're a Missouri grad.
To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here.
Today's religious holidays: Maundy Thursday (Christianity); Mawlid an Nabi (Islam); Ostara (Wicca; Northern Hemisphere); Mabon (Wicca; Southern Hemisphere).