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Roy Moore, Redidivus

Roy Moore, Redidivus

Louis A. Ruprecht, Jr., Huff Post Religion…..
On one extreme, we meet Tea Party activists who recognize virtually no legitimate role for centralized federal government (apart from the Pentagon and the definition of marriage); de-regulation, states’ rights, and local control of government institutions is their mantra. On the other, slightly more fictional extreme, we meet French-style statists who think the vast majority of social networks are best handled in a centralized and top-down manner; centralization and government regulation is their rallying cry.

ROY MOORE, REDIVIVUS

ROY MOORE, REDIVIVUS

Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University….
One of the dangers in reporting on the Republican presidential primaries, and now the looming presidential election season, is that national issues and agendas drown out any real connection to more local issues and concerns. I was reminded of this again last week as I drove through heavily wooded back roads of Alabama, and saw signage on trees relating to the primary election they held in back mid-March. Over and over again, I saw the name: Roy Moore.

Not All Choice is Free: Why demand religious exemption for contraception, but not the death penalty, torture, or unjust war?

Not All Choice is Free: Why demand religious exemption for contraception, but not the death penalty, torture, or unjust war?

By Louis A. Ruprecht, Religion Dispatches….
On November 2, 1984, Velma Barfield became the first woman to be executed in the U.S. since 1962, and the first to be executed in the State of North Carolina after the nationwide moratorium on the death penalty was lifted in 1976. She was 52 years old. For those of us who had worked on her clemency petition, it was a devastating blow. Then-Governor Jim Hunt was running for a seat in the US Senate against arch-conservative Jesse Helms. Inexplicably, Barfield’s clemency hearing had been scheduled just six days prior to the election. Helms made it a campaign issue, of course, suggesting that, were the Governor to grant Barfield clemency, then his true liberal stripes would be clear to everyone.

LINSANITY IN NEW YORK

LINSANITY IN NEW YORK

By Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University….
Enter David Brooks who, in a column drafted after the Knicks’ VaLINtine victory, curiously referred to “the Jeremy Lin Problem”. Brooks refers to “a religious person in professional sports” as an “anomaly,” which seems rather odd to anyone who has witnessed the prayer circles before and after most professional football games, or the finger-to-the-sky salute after most home runs in baseball, but let that lie. It is the reasons Brooks finds the marriage of religion and sport “anomalous” that are worthy of consideration. For Brooks, there is an inescapable moral tension between what he calls “the ethos of sport” and “the ethos of faith.”

No Sport For Old Men

No Sport For Old Men

Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University….
The Super Bowl continues to be one of the most visible and influential cultural events in the United States. For that very reason, it always warrants a closer look. This year was no exception, but what the look reveals is unexpected. Two years ago, the big story was not about the game, but rather about the advertising. The family of Tim Tebow was alleged to be involved in an anti-abortion advertisement that would suggest that they had considered aborting Tebow, in order to put a face on the loss of potential represented by abortion. The ad proved to be pretty benign, but the controversy lingered. The whole debate was shot through with religion.

Duty Down Under

Duty Down Under

Louis A. Ruprecht, Jr., Georgia State University….
I suppose it was inevitable. Since nature and the military both abhor a vacuum, the recent announcement of the military draw-down in Iraq almost inevitably meant that we’d soon be re-deploying our military forces somewhere else. Still, the northern coast of Australia came as something of a surprise. President Obama announced yesterday that 250 US Marines will soon be shipping off for rotating six-month tours at an Australian military base on the north central coast of the island, near a city called Darwin. Their numbers are expected to escalate to 2500 in fairly short order, along with military equipment and long-range aircraft.

RICK PERRY: THE REPUBLICAN JUDAS?

RICK PERRY: THE REPUBLICAN JUDAS?

By Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University….
In an essay I recently published at “Religion Dispatches,” I used Gary Laderman’s fascinating concept of “Republicanicity” as the launch-pad for the suggestion that what separates developments in the Republican Party from anything happening among the Democrats is simply this: the Republican Party is undergoing a battle to define its orthodoxy, a battle that has no direct parallel to arguments and power-struggles taking place on the political left. In short, a plurality of voices, sharing little more than a name in common, is currently in the process of sorting out a platform to which all bearers of the name might reasonably agree.

IS WHO A CHRISTIAN?

IS WHO A CHRISTIAN?

By Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University….
I suppose it was inevitable that the evangelical push-back within the Republican Party would eventually make Mormonism an issue, no matter how hard the Republican establishment tries to make it go away. And now it’s come at last–an entire week of Republican presidential hopefuls being asked point-blank if they think a Mormon (read: Mitt Romney) is a Christian. Only the fierce insistence that last night’s debate be limited to economic questions kept this pot from boiling over again (though Jon Huntsman couldn’t resist one quick snipe at Rick Perry, who appeared befuddled all night anyway, and Michelle Bachman couldn’t resist the suggestion that Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan, if turned upside down, becomes the number of the Beast).

TROY DAVIS, AFTER

TROY DAVIS, AFTER

By Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University…..
At the same time that the US Supreme Court issued a second stay of execution in one week in the state of Texas, it permitted the execution of Troy Davis to go forward in the state of Georgia. And at 11:08pm on Wednesday, September 21st, some four hours after his scheduled 7:00pm execution time, Troy Davis was indeed killed by a state-administered lethal injection. The range of emotions and the swirl of debates generated by this confusing juxtaposition are layered and complex: a white Army recruiter accused of rape and murder is spared, at least for now, while a black man accused of killing a police officer is not. Both men insisted on their innocence throughout their circuit of appeals.

The Lion of Saint Mark and This Most Serene Republic

The Lion of Saint Mark and This Most Serene Republic

By Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University….
You don’t have to be a Marxist to notice the often astonishing overlap between big money and big religion. Nor to be somewhat shocked by the bigness of the whole affair. Consider the Basilica of San Marco in Venice, one of the most popular and most-densely populated tourist destinations in Italy, nearly rivaling its much larger cousin in Rome. It is a striking monument in every way, not least for the bizarre mish-mash of architectural elements and artistic styles that define this most funky profile.

What Makes The Saintly?

What Makes The Saintly?

Louis A. Ruprecht, Jr…..
What makes a saint a saint? This may seem like an odd question with an obvious answer, but really it is not. It’s no easier to capture the saintliness of the saint than it is to capture the secret magic of the magician, the inspiring musical power of the muse, or the prophetic power of the prophet. But it’s worth the attempt. The question bears extra weight just now, as Pope Benedict XVI has initiated the process whereby his immediate predecessor, Pope John Paul II, will be recognized one day as a saint. The previous Pope’s beatification on May 1st was celebrated with great pomp and circumstance, reminiscent of the more somber ritual attached to his death in 2004.

It’s Elemental

It’s Elemental

Louis A. Ruprecht Jr…..
An important set of referenda was offered to the consideration of the Italian people on June 12th; the results were fascinating, and potentially instructive. The referendum invited the populaJune ce to reflect on three seemingly unrelated matters: 1) whether to pursue nuclear power as a new energy source; 2) whether to privatize the water management in the country; and 3) whether to undo the several legislative protections that Silvio Berlasconi had set in place to protect himself from what he deemed punitive and politically motivated legal proceedings directed at an administration that seems now merely to limp helplessly along from scandal to scandal.

Savage Beauty

Savage Beauty

By Louis A. Ruprecht, Jr…..
On the day after Osama bin Laden’s unexpected death was announced by the US President, a fascinating new exhibition was previewed at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Entitled “Savage Beauty,” it bore more than a casual relevance to the city’s attempt to grasp the right tone in the twinned face of this assassination and the upcoming decennial commemoration of the September 11th attacks. Naturally, that strange-sounding juxtaposition needs some explanation. It has something to do with the sacred. That is to say, it has something to do with an important aesthetic and religious category very popular among the Romantics: the Sublime.

Pondering The Face Of Ground Zero

Pondering The Face Of Ground Zero

Louis A Ruprecht, Jr., Georgia State University….
God knows it’s understandable, the tumultuous range of sentiments. I felt it too, uncertain how to feel exactly, and unsure what I’d come expecting to find. The havoc created here was beyond describing, and the grief of shattered human lives multiplied by the tens of thousands brings us very close to the sacred place where language fails to capture the essences. Tears have been more eloquent in the past, and now, perhaps, a raised fist or two. As I picked up to leave, one image on the screen suddenly caught the attention: It was the Statue of Liberty, but this goddess was not holding the flame of liberty aloft; she was holding Osama bin Laden’s severed head.