COMMENTARY: A six-day creation that isn’t “very good” at all

“Now God saw all that had been made, and it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning; the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:31). While many people question the accuracy of the biblical description of creation, there is no doubt a new economic world was recently created in about six days, and no one can truthfully say “and it was very good.” The media and some political leaders are blaming widespread “greed” to explain the economic chaos.

Setting a rich table for the Jewish holidays

c. 2008 Religion News Service (UNDATED) For Jews the world over, Rosh Hashana heralds a time of prayer and hope. Hope for a sweet new year. Hope for peace in the year ahead. Nowhere would such prayers and hope seem more poignant than in Israel, the Jewish homeland.

Setting a rich table for the Jewish holidays

c. 2008 Religion News Service (UNDATED) “Now God saw all that had been made, and it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning; the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:31). While many people may question the literal accuracy of the biblical creation account, there is no doubt a new economic world was recently created in about six days, and no one can truthfully say “it was very good.” During the turbulent days when venerable financial institutions like Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, Merrill Lynch was sold off, and AIG, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were taken over by U.S. taxpayers (even though no one asked for our approval), I kept thinking not only of Genesis, but also of Tom Wolfe’s 1987 novel, “The Bonfire of the Vanities.” In that book, Sherman McCoy, Wolfe’s Wall Street protagonist, is called a “Master of the Universe” because of his alleged financial talent. However, Wolfe makes certain the arrogant McCoy is brought down and humiliated.

White Catholics

The latest CBS/NYT poll, which has Obama ahead 47-42, shows McCain leading among white Catholics 48-41. In 2004, Bush won them over Kerry by almost double that margin, 56-43. In 2000, Bush took white Catholics by seven points, 52-45. Obama’s deficit is now identical to Gore’s. It’s worth noting as well that Obama trails McCain among all white voters by the nearly identical margin of 41-49.

Olympic toilets

Preparing for the 2012 Olympic Games, British planners say a certain percentage of toilets will face away from Mecca, according to the London Telegraph. The Telegraph says Islam forbids Muslims from facing Kiblah, the direction of prayer, when they, um, visit the lavatory. It is not the first time toilets have changed direction to accommodate Muslims, says the newspaper. Last year toilets at Brixton prison in London were changed so as not to offend Islamic law. “Muslim prisoners complained of having to sit sideways on toilets so as to not break code.

Palin’s Jeremiah Wright moment?

We’ve been trying to keep tabs on Sarah Palin’s Pentecostal roots, and asking the questions (if not always finding the answers) about how those beliefs might (or might not) impact her governing decisions should she become the most powerful woman in the world. There’s been chatter about Thomas Muthee, a fiery Kenyan pastor linked to Palin’s church, and now we have the video. From the AP: The video shows Palin standing before Bishop Thomas Muthee in the pulpit of the Wasilla Assembly of God church, holding her hands open as he asked Jesus Christ to keep her safe from “every form of witchcraft.” “Come on, talk to God about this woman. We declare, save her from Satan,” Muthee said as two attendants placed their hands on Palin’s shoulders.

Update on the Jewish Vote

The American Jewish Committee’s annual survey of Jewish opinion, taken Sept. 8-21, has Obama up over McCain 57 percent to 30 percent. Apportioning the undecideds, that’s 65-35–higher than I’m predicting but not by a lot. The survey period includes McCain’s current high water mark; he’d be doing a few points worse if the entire survey were taken in the past few days. As expected, Jewish voters turn out to heartily approve Obama’s choice of Joe Biden (73-15), and disapprove of John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin (54-37).

The Faith of Palin

Max Blumenthal, scourge of the religious right, has come up with a Wasilla Assembly of God video of a Kenyan pastor, Thomas Murthee, laying hands on Sarah Palin prior to her gubernatorial run in 2005, praying that God make a way for her in politics on a number of fronts, including by protecting her from “every from of witchcraft” (which perhaps is more common in Kenya than in metro Anchorage, but who knows?). Blumenthal says he managed to videotape an appearance of Murthee at the church a few days ago, and promises a posting of it shortly. Meanwhile, Kos and Olbermann picked up on the old recording yesterday, and so it looks as though we’re due for another round of speculation about the Faith of Palin. Will Palin permit herself to be engaged in a discussion about her religious beliefs before the election? Such that someone could ask her, for example, whether she shares Pastor Murthee’s wish that America’s schools be filled with “tongue-talking, devil-casting” children rather than little followers of Buddha or Muhammad?

Pastors launch challenge of IRS rules on endorsements

c. 2008 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ Pastor Gus Booth remembers when he used to simply encourage his congregation of 150 in Warroad, Minn., to vote each Election Day. Now, he thinks it’s important to tell them which candidate should get their vote. On Sunday (Sept. 28), as part of the “Pulpit Initiative” organized by an Arizona-based conservative Christian legal group, Booth is set to join dozens of clergy nationwide in challenging Internal Revenue Service rules that prohibit churches from politicking by supporting or opposing candidates.