Archive for June, 2011

‘Might and Muscle’ and Marriage

This morning as Governor Cuomo, Mayor Bloomberg, and their allies celebrate their victory in winning the legalization of same-gender marriage in New York, our own thoughts are with the losers — that is, with the religious communities in the city and state. They fought for their beliefs with dignity and courage, and this newspaper, for one, has come to believe that, while there are many fine people on both sides, religious New Yorkers had the better part of valor in this fight. There is no doubt that they are the losers in this exchange.

It is true that many on the conservative side, ourselves included, have long asserted that the right venue in which to sort this question out is not the courts but the legislature. Neither is there doubt that the governor led a brilliant campaign to sway the Senate in Albany. The story was partly about “shifting public sentiment and individual lawmakers moved by emotional appeals from gay couples who wish to be wed,” as Michael Barbaro reported in a dispatch in the New York Times.

“But, behind the scenes,” Mr. Barbaro went on to write, “it was really about a Republican Party reckoning with a profoundly changing power dynamic, where Wall Street donors and gay-rights advocates demonstrated more might and muscle than a Roman Catholic hierarchy and an ineffective opposition,” as well as, we would add, the Orthodox Jewish institutions. Mr. Barbaro reported that of a group of hedge fund captains, including at least one who is a one-time backer of the Sun and a friend, poured millions of dollars into the campaign to pass Mr. Cuomo’s bill.

It was also about a Democratic Party that was prepared to engage in ugly tactics, accusing the religious camp of bigotry. The Times itself, in an editorial belittling the defenders of traditional marriage, once bruited the language of a Massachusetts court suggesting the ban on same-gender marriage was “simply about prejudice” and likening religious law to the odious statues against inter-racial marriage that were struck down in Loving v. Virginia. Yet, we pointed out in an editorial, the prohibitions against interracial marriage had, despite the jackleg preachers, no basis whatsoever in the laws brought down by Moses.

Governor Andrew Cuomo himself attributed to “stunning homophobia” the statement of religious views on same-gender marriage that his opponent in the 2010 gubernatorial campaign, Carl Paladino, had just shared with the Satmar Chasidim in Williamsburg. More recently Mayor Bloomberg compared the position of the religious camp in the marriage debate to that of those who defended slavery and opposed civil rights. So far as we can tell, no member of the camp advancing same-gender marriage spoke up to defend the religious camp against these libels.

That is a newsworthy default at a time when religion is under assault in the courts and politics of our country by an aggressively secular culture. The Catholic charities could be driven from providing foster care and adoption services in several states. Here in New York, religious guarantees were proffered by Albany only grudgingly and at the last moment. Religious concerns were never fully aired in proper legislative hearings where the various factions could make their cases in the open. At the rate things are going it is possible — hard, but possible — to imagine a day when that the Torah sages could feel unwelcome in a New York to which they once fled for protection.

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We don’t mind saying that we didn’t start out in the editorial line with the aim of picking up the cause of religion. Nor do we begrudge the joy many are feeling today or gainisay entirely the argument that the reach for marriage is an expression of conservative values. But it is shocking to us how the religious camp has been treated in this struggle. Years of newspapering have left us with the view that the laws promulgated in the light of Sinai are more inclusive and humane and, in the end, dispositive than the views of the victors in this struggle. We have little doubt that those who are savoring their triumph today will be treated by the religious camp more graciously and tolerantly than the religious camp has been treated by them.

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Happy Father’s Day!

The Silent Honor

© Joseph D. Jensen
This world has seen many fathers
Who have performed many great and noble things.

Strengthened a nation,
Silenced fears,
Relieved suffering
And changed the course of history.

Yet the most great and noble father I have known
Lives within the walls of my own home.
He performs no extraordinary tasks,
No miraculous feats;
He just does what is right because
It is right.

He needs no adulation,
No praise or glory of men.
He just goes about doing good because
That is how it makes him feel.

But there are those that see his goodness.
They are his children.
Indeed, they may not always see
But they know
That this silent honor is what they will pass on
To their children.

They know that true greatness needs no praise
It is found in the day-to-day living of unwearied goodness
They have seen their father give.
Such goodness is truly a remarkable thing,
Far greater than any glory found in the annals of history.
For one day the child will say:
‘He is my father’
And know it is an honor.

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Happy St. Anthony’s Day!

Saint Anthony of Padua (Italy), lived from 1195-1231. Born in Portugal, he was a Franciscan monk and lived in Morocco before settling in Padua. He was known as an eloquent speaker.

Saint Anthony of Padua is the Patron Saint of Padua, of Portugal, and of San Antonio, Texas. Prayer cards manufactured in Italy identify him as the saint of “miracles,” but to most Catholics, he is the Patron Saint associated with the return of lost articles and missing persons. He is petitioned for help in finding almost everything that is lost, from car keys and misplaced papers to a lost job, a lost lover, or a straying partner. People who are regarded as “lost souls” may also be placed in his care. These widespread invocations to Saint Anthony for finding lost things and restoring missing people relate to an incident in which the saint was invoked to find a missing book and the prayer was efficacious; ever since then Saint Anthony has been the Patron of Lost Things.

Because he traveled widely, Saint Anthony is also appealed to for safe travel, especially when ocean voyages are involved. In Portugal, France, Italy, and Spain, he is much beloved by those who work on the sea, and sailors may keep a statue of him on the mast of their ships. His feast day is June 13th.

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