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« Olmert Resigns . . . Sometime | Main | The Importance of Elections »

August 01, 2008


Dr. Chemical

Cling on brother! Speaking of Klingons do the ears remind you of anyone?

Dan Alexander

Mr. Richman,

Though I appreciate some of your sarcasm concerning the popularity of Senator Obama, I hope your criticisms of studied Democratic vagueness are not meant to disparage hope in a fair and just society.

The search for meaningful belief is a basic human need, as old as humanity.

Speaking universally, the drive to seek can become the drive to serve. Speaking in secular terms, persons can "become the change we seek." (Ghandi).

I as an observant Jew believe this need to seek and to believe is God-given, part of our souls. Recognizing that this drive requires limitation and guidance, God gave us Torah, which is a teaching and a path of action and belief - towards a better world. We are the people who leave Mitzrayim to make a new and better home in which to serve God, not the people who give in to cynicism & languish in pessimism, nostalgia for slavery, and power plays.

Rabbi David Hartman in his wonderful book A Living Covenant: The Innovative Spirit in Traditional Judaism notes that biblical & rabbinic texts contain not one, but "two contrasting themes: one that emphasizes the dignity of human responsibility, intellectual adequacy, self-confidence, and covenantal mutuality with God, and another that demands utter silence and resignation before the unscrutable transcendent will of God." (p. 60)

I do not think you belong primarily to the second camp of thought, or you would not be doing what you are doing! I understand this post is primarily a warning against Leftist Messianism.

But I must protest your citation of Kyle-Anne Shiver's critique:

"Obama has arisen from nothingness, from one accomplishment-free political gig to another, propped up by leftists adulators and sycophants, to offer a perfect portrait of socialism's eternal snare. Forget God; put your hope in mankind. Human arrogance and narcissistic pride. From the fall in the Garden to the present, from generation to generation, Satan's delusion holds sway with many."

That's pretty strong stuff!

As you probably know, in Judaism Satan is the Accuser, an angel who acts as God's Prosecuting Angel claiming that humanity doesn't have much claim to holiness. Satan's (minor) role in our holy scripture is evidence that we are not perfect, and certainly both Left and Right have produced horrible dictators. But Satan is just one angel among many - one thought amongst many in God's Mind - and he loses many of his cases on the merits.

Judaism and some Christians part company on the concept of Satan as the Devil, a dualistic rather than monotheistic view of theology.

Both Senator McCain and Senator Obama have offered some ideas on how America can offer its children a good education. Both of them recognize that this is good politics precisely because most people, rightly, want a fair world for our children. Can we have it?

Step by step. We can leave Egypt.

Is it through charter schools & parental choice - with McCain? His campaign avoids specifics on whether private religious schools should receive public, education voucher dollars. He doesn't embrace public charter schools by name on his web site as he heads into the general election, even the best ones, as an innovative strategy for helping our country & our kids.

Obama proposes expanded early childhood education outside the home, so that low-income kids can get loving care & education during the day, in a quality facility from quality staff - while the parents are at work. Is this an effective way to help parents & young kids? Let's have the debate.

Obama seems to say that accountability (negative consequences) for failing public school systems will be reduced under his Presidency. He certainly doesn't embrace charter schools, even the best ones. Hardly a profile in courage.

Let's ask our Presidential candidates to put forward practical ideas for building a better world. That's what they are there to do. That's democracy.

God bless America.

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