Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Legacy of Thomas Merton

I did not know the man; I wish I had.  Still his impact on my young life was powerful.

I was seventeen when I first read The Seven Storey Mountain and I identified with the story of his conversion – indeed, his life. I wanted to emulate him, I even briefly considered becoming a nun, and lived my life as a staunch Catholic until 9 years of a disastrous marriage cured me of religion and the Catholic Church to which I never returned. 

Little did I know that Merton was undergoing an enlightenment of his own; he was beginning to study the ancient Eastern religions and meet with masters of wisdom in Zen, Buddhism --  the Dalai Lama.  Thomas Merton was “catholic” in the truest sense of the word. Perhaps this new and liberal Pope will follow  his path of inclusiveness.  

Happy 100th birthday, Thomas Merton.      

Friday, January 30, 2015

". . . a cynical political move . . ."

You may have thought at first that these words were uttered by someone on the White House staff in response to Netanyahu’s rude (to be kind), and irresponsible (to be accurate) acceptance of an invitation to speak to our U.S. Congress on March 3. 

You would be wrong.  This excerpt came from Netanyahu’s former hand-picked ambassador to the US, Michael Oren as reported on the Israel website YNET.  Here is the full statement:  

“The behavior over the last few days created the impression of a cynical political move and it could hurt our attempts to act against Iran. It’s advisable to cancel the speech to Congress so as not to cause a rift with the American government. Much responsibility and reasoned political behavior are needed to guard interests in the White House.”

Granted, Mr. Oren recently announced he is running for the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament,  as part of the Kulanu Party led by Moshe Kahlon,  a centrist in Israeli politics; however, he is not alone in his criticism of Netanyahu’s brash and braggadocio behavior on the world stage:

There are many prominent Israeli journalists and politicians who abhor the brazenness of his  move, along with Israeli supporters here in the U.S., who were “sick to their stomachs. . .” when they heard the news – a sentiment shared with Israeli columnist, Chemi Shalev. One of those staunch supporters here in the U. S. was FOX News’ Chris Wallace:

“I’m shocked,” he said.  “For Netanyahu to do something that is going to be seen as a deliberate and really pretty egregious snub of Obama when Obama is going to be in power for the next year and three quarters would seem to be a very risky political strategy.”

There are others too numerous to quote here.  Suffice it to say that Netanyahu is a sly and successful politician, with a history of blatant publicity ploys used to his advantage; in this instance, however, he may have gone too far, considering the backlash over the last week. 

Of course, complicit in this entire fiasco is our own John Boehner.

Speaker John Boehner should, without further ado, withdraw his invitation to Netanyahu until after the Israeli election and the new Prime Minister, whoever she/he is, has a legitimate mandate from the Israeli people -- untainted by the shameful ploys of unworthy politicians. There are many in the race who qualify.   

As to our own illustrious Speaker of the House -- you embarrass me, John Boehner.