Religion

Israel’s Ethical Challenges

Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (State Department photo)

A bitter irony of modern Israel is that the Jewish people have historically been at the forefront of tolerance, reason and egalitarianism but now have leaders who demand a Jewish religious state accompanied by the repression of Palestinian Muslims, a dilemma addressed by Winslow Myers.

One ‘Silent Night’ in the Trenches

Trench warfare during World War I.

Dehumanizing the enemy is a key part of modern warfare, bolstered by the modern art of propaganda, often with the blessing of religious leaders. That was why the Christmas Truce of 1914 was so seditious, as Gary G. Kohls explains.

Mandela, MLK and Jesus

Nelson Mandela.

The death of Nelson Mandela offers Christians a chance to reflect on the great protest leader at the center of their religion, the historical Jesus, with his anger at ostentatious wealth and his disdain for social inequality, as Rev. Howard Bess reflects.

Does Christmas Obscure Jesus?

Jesus of Nazareth delivering his Sermon on the Mount as depicted by artist Carl Bloch.

The Christmas season celebrates the regal myth of Jesus – his supposedly miraculous birth and royal lineage as a king of kings – but that loses sight of the historical Jesus and his revolutionary message of justice for the poor and powerless, as Rev. Howard Bess reflects.

Meaning of the War Over Christmas

Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in New York City

From the Archive: The latest Christmas tradition is for Fox News and the Right to work “the base” into a lather over a supposed “War on Christmas,” but there is a larger message in how right-wing propaganda creates “victimhood,” as Robert Parry noted in 2005.

Warring Over the ‘War on Christmas’

The 2012 National Christmas Tree with the White House in the background. (U.S. Government photo)

Despite America’s over-the-top, month-long celebration of baby Jesus – topped off with a government holiday ignoring the Constitution’s separation of church and state – Fox News and the Right have conjured up a “war on Christmas,” now as much a tradition as eggnog, Nat Parry notes.

Israel’s Troubling Walls

A wall erected around the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland in 1941.

The Israeli government is planning to build more and more walls to keep Palestinians and Arabs out of Jewish-held territory, a troubling twist on a dark history when walls were used to lock Jews in, Lawrence Davidson observes.

Jesus’s Idea of God’s Kingdom ‘on Earth’

From the gospel accounts, Jesus was a fierce critic of the economic injustices of his day, demanding – within his Jewish tradition – a radical redistribution of wealth and a recommitment to Israelite teachings about caring for one another. That was his point about God’s kingdom “on earth,” writes Rev. Howard Bess.

Was Jesus a Zealot?

The turning point of Jesus’s fateful week in Jerusalem was his protest at the Temple, which the Jewish priests saw as a challenge to their authority and which led to his trial and execution. But was this disruption violent or non-violent, a question posed by Reza Aslan in Zealot, a book reviewed by Rev. Howard Bess.

Christianity’s Contradictions on War

Though based on the pacifist teachings of Jesus, Christianity has been an accomplice to more wars and genocides than any other religion, a paradox reflected in the contradictory views of 16th Century protestant reformer Martin Luther and 20th Century civil rights martyr Martin Luther King Jr., as Gary G. Kohls explains.