Being born is a right

So in the daily sweep of news stories, sometimes certain headlines or blog post titles grab attention more than others. Sometimes it’s only a matter of better headline writing, rather than story content.

But you’re in this news business long enough, and inevitably there comes a day, now and then, when what seems cutting edge to some news site just hits you as jarringly basic.

There are many examples. Like this WaPo blog post on faith and the question of whether religion should play a role in the abortion and family planning debate.

Really?

‘God In Action’

That’s the title of a new book out by Francis Cardinal George. It’s also a recurring theme turning up in news and human interest stories, whether overtly or not…

Here are just a few, which happened in short order.

Listening to a BBC World Service interview on satellite radio in my car, I’m following the plight of European farmers at this time of intense drought. Their personal accounts are both serious and moving, and one French farmer revealed the depth of despair over their dwindling options by saying he had even thought of ‘the final option’, of ending his life to end his dire plight. But, he quickly added, one shouldn’t think that way, so he was still hanging on.

I thought of things I’d read recently or people I’ve interviewed, speaking of the vacuum left in a life that has no recourse to God…

Soon I turned the dial to look for any other news channel with an interesting dialogue, and hit upon one about a Christian Hollywood producer whose strong faith and personal appeal catapulted him in the filmmaking business. DeVon Franklin was saying that he prayed to hear God’s will in his life, and he was sure that ‘whatever I’m doing, that is the Big Thing I’m meant to do.’ He left listeners, especially young people he said, with the message ‘Don’t look at faith or church as an obstacle to your dreams because it’s not.’ Faith is what keeps you strong and keeps you going when you don’t feel strong and helps you find your way.

So within that hour, I wound up opening Cardinal George’s book to at least begin reading, and what he says in the Introduction alone is compelling, and timely.

God’s activity has faded from popular consciousness in societies organized publicly as if God did not exist…God, even in some theological reflection, becomes a force or an inspiration in the deep background of life rather than an agent who shapes human affairs.

How true.

What God is prevented from doing in this philosophic scenario is truly acting, for action by God would interfere with human freedom. Individuals can freely choose to relate to God in a personal way, but such “religion” is private and can have no normative value for another or for public life. It is a matter of our choice, not God’s, how wemight rlate to a hypothetical “Supreme Being.” Eventually, since nature does not disclose who God is in himself, he becomes an unnecessary factor in public intellectual life, and the result is practical atheism; we live together as if God did not exist.

Understanding the problem is the beginning of finding the solution.

Teed off

Though it was much-anticipated and rather heavily promoted in the media, I made no note of the Tiger Woods press conference scheduled to televise his first public statement since his scandalous affairs broke last November. But then happened upon it simply by turning on the news that Friday morning, just as it was beginning. Asked about it a few days later on radio, I said little except that we can’t judge the heart or intentions of anyone. But actions are visible, and he did seem kind of peeved that he had to be out there talking about this….

A lot of folks in the media did not hold back their opinion of the televised event, of the timing and location and wording Tiger Woods and/or his handlers chose for this occasion. It was everywhere.

So the next evening, my son and I are having this lively conversation and jokingly turn the television that was on in the background to something serene and calm to have on the screen in the background, but muted so it won’t distract our attention. Laughing, he said ‘The Golf Channel works well’, and so we did. But an interesting thing happened…..

Tournament coverage was followed by a studio panel discussion of the Woods press conference, and it seemed serious and engaging, so we listened. It was some of the best insight I’ve heard yet. Especially the comments emerging from golf pros about what they’ve put up with for a long time…..Tiger Woods fell out of grace with his colleagues and the press that covered him (in more ways than one) a long time ago. He has behaved badly and angrily on the course time and again, throwing clubs and swearing angrily and breaking a sort of code of honor of the sport that was maintained with decorum by other golf greats before him. One of the broadcasters said he didn’t uphold or even recognize the basic level of respectful human discourse expected in the game and certainly at that level when he faced the media after tournaments.

Wow. Good lessons here for everyone. Where was this conversation before the fall?

Anyway….here’s a Golf Channel sample of reactions. Including the Dalai Lama’s.

And here’s an interesting handling over at GetReligion. I didn’t go further than the second comment, but thought this was interesting:

When Tiger talked about returning to Buddhism, he talked about realizing he had been looking outside himself too much. This is very different from a Christian come-to-Jesus apology where someone would admit to thinking too highly of oneself and realizing they need to look outwardly to Jesus. So, perhaps the “control-freak” aspect of this apology boils down somewhat to religious differences about where “redemption” is located.

Another good point.