Blog to Self

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Origins of the Religious Right

A friend writes:
The following link is quite interesting:

Both the radio segment and the book excerpt are enlightening.

The religious right coalesced not to fight Roe V. Wade but to fight IRS attempts to remove tax exempt status from reactionary schools that discriminated openly on the basis of race.

The link features an extended except from Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America by Randall Balmer. [Didn't listen to the radio segment due to technical difficulties. Arrgh.]

Thomas Merton, Diane Rehm...and Auden. again

I caught part of the 2nd half of the Diane Rehm show today and it makes me want to read some Thomas Merton -- a name I have heard many times; but I never read his books.

The segment is about a new book (and film) about Merton. Here's the link if you want to listen to it:
Morgan Atkinson: "Soul Searching: The Journey of Thomas Merton" (DeChant Hughes)
I hadn't heard of Diane Rehm while living in Albany (though I noticed that WAMC now airs it on their HD2 (digital radio) broadcast. --Gotta get me one of those. Been hearing about it on my new local public radio station, KMUW.)

I do not consider myself a Christian, but I have serious respect for anyone who finds spirituality in religion of any kind (that's an vague turn of phrase but I don't know how else to say it briefly). I was raised as a Christian, and you could say that I try to live according to what I understand to be Christian values and principles. But I have been more inspired in my search for spirituality (meaning or purpose of life, higher truth) by Buddhism, though even in that sphere I fall short of actually calling myself a Buddhist. Neither am I an atheist. I like to call myself an agnostic (the Buddha was an agnostic in regard to the Hindu God(s) of his time), but I if pressed I have been known to admit to a belief in a well, let's call it a higher power. 'God' has too much baggage for me I guess (too much baggage to carry?) But I digress.

I think I had some idea that Merton was interested in Buddhism, but I didn't know that he was --well, a contemporary of W.H. Auden's in that he was also part of an intellectual trend towards Catholicism in the 1930s. (With, I believe, a disillusionment with Communism.) Auden is, I daresay, one of my intellectual heroes. I'm not that interested in his poetry as such. I just like his mind -- the Dyer's Hand esp.* -- but I digress) So this Merton character is pretty fascinating. Apparently, before his embrace of a monastic life, he was kind of a hedonist and ladies' man.

*[1st result of a Google search for "dyer's hand auden"]