Last month’s nuclear deal with Iran has set off a cacophony of pro and con acrimony pitting public officials, academic experts and pundits against one another. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the interim accord a “historic mistake.”
“Just wait. Every few years Rodney King gets in trouble.”
That was my first city editor’s response when I started working at The Sun in San Bernardino and discovered King was a down-and-out resident of Rialto. I too was a resident of the forlorn industrial town wedged between Muscoy and Fontana, and I wanted to write about my most notable neighbor.
One of Rialto’s most well-known residents, Rodney King, was shot sometime around midnight.
San Bernardino Police Lt. Scott Paterson said the details were still fuzzy but that King may have gunshot pellets in his arm and back area. The wounds are not considered life-threatening.
“Early indications are that it very possibly could have been a domestic dispute,” Paterson said.
San Bernardino police are still investigating what exactly happened and where, he said.
Rialto Police Sgt. Tim Lane said police logs showed the incident took place at 5th Street and Meridian Avenue in San Bernardino near the border of Rialto and San Bernardino. Lane said King made it back to his house in the 1100 block of East Jackson Street before calling police.
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Joseph Dearing, 24, of Dallas says you can tell everything you need to know about a person by what he or she thinks of the Bible.
He got a chance to get some answers during Wednesday’s GOP CNN/YouTube debate when his question, No. 20, was asked: Do you believe every word of this book? Specifically, this book that I am holding in my hand, do you believe this book?
One of my favorite memories of living in Los Angeles was seeing David Hasselhoff looking for a seat at church. I attend Bel Air Presbyterian, where ever few months it seems Britney Spears is rumored to have been seen and where I once turned around during the greeting and shook hands with a pre-Newlyweds Jessica Simpson. Al from “Step by Step,” aka Christine Lakin, also joined my college group on a trip to Mammoth and Ryan Starr—OK, not a celebrity—hung around for a little while.
But, really, it’s a little sick to think about church hopping in hopes of another celebrity sighting. Still, in LA there is something for everyone, and Gridskipper has the dish:
1. Christian Science Church of Brentwood
2. Crystal Cathedral (think Evel Knievel)
3. Good Shepherd Catholic Church (beware the Hilton sisters)
4. Sinai Temple (Kirk Douglas, among other Jewish luminaries)
5. St. Monica’s Catholic Church (the governor)
6. St. Nicolas Greek Orthodox Church
7. West Angeles Church of God (Denzel and Stevie)
They left a handful of good celebrity-sighting churches and synagogues off this list. But the list was stupid to begin with, so I’m not going to add to it.
The liberal Protestant cave-in to Prussian militarism and German nationalism in turn triggered a messianic or apocalyptic reaction among religious thinkers in the interwar periodâa period deeply marked, Lilla reminds us, by a thoroughgoing disgust with modernity and a new quest for authenticity among many European intellectuals. Some, like the Jewish thinkers Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig, and the Christian theologians Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, pulled up on the reins before they came to the political brink. But others soon found a vessel for their fantasies in the man whom Winston Churchill once described as âa maniac of ferocious genius, the repository and expression of the most virulent hatreds that have ever corroded the human breastâCorporal Hitler.â
This whole sorry history, Lilla concludes, âserved to confirm Hobbesâs iron law: messianic theology eventually breeds messianic politics.â The Great Separation, to which we owe our very lives as the beneficiaries of liberal democracy, can never be taken for granted; and neither can the liberal-democratic order itself. Lilla formulates the task before us in terms different from those proposed by the new atheists but tacitly in tune with their agenda:
Rousseau was on to something: we seem to be theotropic creatures, yearning to connect our mundane lives, in some way, to the beyond. That urge can be suppressed, new habits learned, but the challenge of political theology will never fully disappear as long as the urge to connect survives.
So we are heirs to the Great Separation only if we wish to be, if we make a conscious effort to separate basic principles of political legitimacy from divine revelation. . . . This means vigilance, but even more it means self-awareness. We must never forget that there was nothing inevitable about our Great Separation, that it was and remains an experiment.
The political and the religious are two independent sources of authority; they have crossed one anotherâs paths more than once, but they never have merged in spite of efforts to fit them together, sometimes to the advantage of one, sometimes to that of the other. Although there has been cooperation between the two, there has never been confusion about which is which.
And if Brague parts company with Lilla on historical grounds, he also parts company on theological and anthropological grounds. Lilla and Brague have very different ideas of God and His revelation, and very different ideas of us; and in each case, the ideas are inextricably intertwined. Lilla urges unending vigilance in public life against the religious fevers that still inflame and infect our minds. Brague, at the end of The Law of God, suggests the conditions for a more modest approach to the âtheoi-political problemâ:
In the Bible and in Christianity . . . the presence of the divine does not comport an immediate demand for obedience. . . . The divine shows itself, or rather gives itself, before asking anything of us and instead of asking. . . . Although God does indeed expect something of his creatures (that we develop according to our own logic), He does not, in fact, demand anything, or rather, He asks nothing more than His gift already asks, thanks to the simple fact that it is given: [namely,] to be received. In the case of man, that reception does not require anything but humanity.
By widening the historical lens, Brague also reminds us that the Western accomplishment of distinguishing in both theory and practice between religious authority and political authority, sacerdotium and regnum, was in fact a Christian accomplishment, which in turn drew on ancient Jewish convictions about the dangers inherent in the idolatry of the political. Without question, both the European wars of religion and the Enlightenment played crucial roles in creating the modern political forms by which we acknowledge the distinction between religious and political authority. But the arguments for such a distinction had been made long before, and in explicitly theological terms, by Augustine, Aquinas, and many others standing in the biblical tradition.
So USC is threatening to leave the crumbling Coliseum for the beautiful Rose Bowl unless they are offered a more favorable deal. I pray the Trojans do not come to call Pasadena home; that is our house, even if we couldn’t beat hapless Notre Dame there. Weighing in on the likelihood of this happening, Bill Plaschke nails it with an apocalyptic analogy:
Hearing USC’s threat to move its football team from the Coliseum to the Rose Bowl is like hearing a well-dressed boardwalk preacher shouting that the world will end at midnight.
You walk past, you shake your head, you know it’s baloney.
But later that night, if only for a moment, you quietly check your watch.
A few weeks ago, I finished reading “Blood Relation,” Eric Konigsberg’s fascinating account of the mobster life of Uncle Heshy. The author’s family was Jewish, so the murdering and racketeering of his uncle, Harold “Kayo” Konigsberg, was sort of frowned upon.
But, then again, Jewish mobsters have always had a taboo appeal—think Murder Inc., Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky.
Barney Frank, a Massachusetts congressman who grew up with Kayo, voices this sentiment.
“We loved the fact that he was one of us. I mean, here’s a guy who had—you know, he wasn’t just an accountant like Meyer Lansky. I remember teasing one of your father’s cousins about him. She’d get upset, but most of the Jewish kids I knew were sort of worshipful of Kayo.”
“Spielberg! You’ve got to get me Spielberg!” Paul Gelb slurred as he bit off the words with the insistence of a Hollywood studio head.
“Spielberg has to come here. If he’s a good Jew, he’ll come here to see me. Do you know if he speaks Yiddish?
“And I need to talk to a rabbi. I’d like that. But a rabbi who speaks Yiddish.
“I need to see both of them before I die, ... and I’m dying.”
But then, Gelb, 83, has been dying since he was 15 and was sent to a series of Nazi concentration camps with his family.
He survived the Holocaust, which is why he is so insistent this day on seeing director Steven Spielberg, who has created an archive of living testimony of survivors in the wake of his Oscar-winning film “Schindler’s List.”
“I’ll bet you,” Gelb says, “that Spielberg doesn’t have a story like mine.”
That’s because to survive in America, Gelb became involved with the Mafia, running New York strip joints and a money-skimming operation that ultimately landed him in a California federal prison in the 1990s.
For Gelb, the ultimate irony was having survived a Nazi concentration camp to wind up half a century later in a minimum-security federal prison camp in California, where he was inmate 10945-054, according to a federal report.
“There were no bars, no fences there, no gas chambers, no ovens,” he says. “Some people tried to compare my experience in a concentration camp and prison, and I told them, `Don’t even try to compare it. One was hell on Earth.’ Prison wasn’t heaven, but I’m not ready to go there yet, anyway!”
Thought Harry Potter was blasphemous? That was kids’ stuff compared to the “His Dark Materials” trilogy, in which God is an imposter, angels are sexually ambiguous and the Church kidnaps, tortures and assassinates to achieve its goals, one of which is stealing children’s souls.
But try as the filmmakers might to take religion out of the equation in the first installment â “The Golden Compass,” due December 7 â Christian groups are gearing up to protest and fans are urging New Line not to water down the provocative material in remaining films.
The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, which most recently protested a picture of Britney Spears sitting provocatively in a priest’s lap â the image appears in her new album, Blackout â takes this issue a little more seriously. The anti-defamation group accuses the film of “selling atheism to kids” and has produced its own booklet in response, “The Golden Compass: Agenda Unmasked,” which it’s been distributing to churches and other Christian groups.
The evangelical-activist group Focus on the Family, which plans to release a statement about the film early next week, says it’s in agreement with Christian leaders and organizations on the issue. Adam Holz, associate editor of Focus on the Family’s Plugged In magazine, told MTV News he fears the movie would “plant seeds” to “ultimately encourage some fans to reject God.”
If the controversy economy remains strong, I might actually end up seeing this flick. The funny thing is that most those criticizing the movie won’t.
Here, Religion News Service talks to a bunch of parents who are afraid the anti-religious movie will kidnap their kids’ minds if not souls, and Bruce Tomaso of the DMN religion blog responds with three thoughts that just as easily could have been in reference to “Harry Potter”:
1. I was struck by the fact that none of the people in the story who criticize the movie have seen it.
2. There is far more crap than wholesome entertainment produced by Hollywood, and one movie, more or less, isn’t going to tip the balance appreciably.
3. I seriously doubt that watching “The Chronicles of Narnia” produced a single new Christian, and I doubt that watching this movie will turn anyone into an atheist.
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