Editor's Notes: Father Jonathan will appear on the FOX Report on Saturday, September, 16 at 3:30pm ET to discuss the Muslim response to the Pope Benedict's words.
Father Jonathan also appeared on FOX News Live to discuss the Pope's visit to Germany. • Watch video
September 14, 2006
New Yorkers, contrary to what many think, are warm — they're just steeled and a bit calloused, because they've seen it all.
That's why an e-mailer yesterday — who, being from New York, has two good reasons to be steely — caught my attention and moved me.
Father Jonathan, The public is under an extraordinary amount of stress and pressure lately. We are at war, finances can be shaky, there are healthcare troubles, depression is skyrocketing and families are sacrificing with loved ones over seas. Marriages are in trouble. People work too much and don't have time for nurturing friendships and family relationships.
It is clear people are having a hard time knowing where to turn and who to talk to....
As this blog grows, it is morphing into a forum to meet this need, a place to ask the tough questions and to get straight answers during perilous times. I can't promise I'll always have the right one, but when I think I do, I'll give it, and let you decide.
Now here's a sneak peek into my inbox, for some responses to Monday's posting: “Fast Forward to 2051.”
God bless, Father Jonathan
Amazing post! You are making me rethink my earlier response to you about God at home and abroad, private vs. public. I didn't expect you to remember it, but I was wrong. I am glad you didn't use it for anything. I am not a politico by any means, and my own shortcomings in this arena are made blatantly clear to me on a daily basis. Thanks again for the good work you do. I hope things are going well for you and that you are reaching many people. — Jeff
RESPONSE: I can't say I remember your previous note, but it sounds like it was critical of my take on religious symbols in the public square (link to first article). You sound like a pretty humble guy. Have I ever admitted I was wrong on this blog? Surely not enough!
Is the internal battle for the American soul, as you say, a code for "convert everyone to Christianity?" Are the necessary teachers and wise men a code for "Christians who promote their beliefs as appropriate and necessary for others?" I suspect your dire predictions about the denial of this country's (as well as others') “Christian roots” are really a call to affirm a de facto state religion. — John
RESPONSE: No, John, no codes here, but I can understand your fear. As I wrote in the article, I think rejuvenating the American soul requires a culture that respects the inviolable dignity of every person and the rights and obligations that flow from that dignity. This respect creates civic freedom, which in turn allows citizens to find transcendent freedom — spiritual freedom — on their own.
Father Jonathan: Fascinating and compelling article! What can we do? — Lisa in Indiana
RESPONSE: Oh, gosh. You're right, that's the question. I think we can do a lot, Lisa. The first step is taking time to reflect on, "How I am using the time and talents I have received? Am I investing them in what really matters? If I am in a position of leadership, at home, at work, or in the community, am I promoting goodness?" I like the ideas of my colleague in the note above: am I nurturing friendships and relationships? What's the state of my marriage? Am I working too much?"
Greetings Father, Even though I am not Catholic, I read your column regularly. I grew up going to a small little country Christian church. I am proud to say that I served this great country for 12 years in the United States Air Force and believed the whole time I was fighting for our freedom.
Your 2051 letter in your column this week really caught my attention because it was just last night that I was telling my wife that I felt like the "bad guys" were winning the war on terrorism. I went on to explain to her that no matter how many bombs are dropped or how many terrorists are captured or killed, the real loss is that their continued attacks cause each and every citizen in this country…to give up.
I have 3 wonderful children ages 4, 7, and 19, and I really hope that we as a nation never allow what you show in your column to happen. However I do fear if we don't wake up to what we have already given up in the last five years, we may not be able to stop a future like you described in your column. — Scott
RESPONSE: Scott, you're right. That's why they call it terror: it makes us afraid and unable to live in peace. I am sure you are educating your three children to be the kind of leaders their generation will need. Congratulations.
Father Jonathan, I found your 9/11 column with your future prediction very disturbing. I do not argue with you that our future may be a bleak one. However, I have a definite problem with your reasoning. Correct me if I am wrong, but what you are saying is that if America and the rest of the world move away from associating itself primarily with Christianity it will lose all morals and destroy itself. I pose to you another suggestion...perhaps religion is one of the causes of the world's strife. We were attacked by religious extremists. Our country is divided in a large part DUE to religion. Religion has failed us, Father. Sincerely, CONCERNED CITIZEN
RESPONSE: Thanks for writing. I would say WE have failed religion. Here's what I mean: If America and the rest of the world lived up to the 10 Commandments, are future would be bright. In other words, I think it is very difficult, if not impossible, to base a moral code on anything other than the divine. It can work for a while, but when push comes to shove, if there is no God and there is no eternity, being good gets old.
I don't consider myself a Christian, but having been raised in the South, I do embrace many of the Christian values. I believe man is a spiritual being and is more than the "sum of his parts". I have not found God yet, but I continue to be open to his existence — I pray for his existence.
Your short story "Fast Forward to 2051" was enjoyable and scary. I also believe that if evil is not confronted and fought, evil grows stronger. I worry sometimes whether America has the resolve to stay in the fight.
I will prognosticate that 9/11/2051 will be VT Day (victory over terrorism) and you will be Pope John. My sincerest regards, Joseph
RESPONSE: Your prediction is scarier than mine. Thanks for the good laugh, Joseph.
Amen, Brother! I am one of the 'honest and reflective' non-religious folks you mentioned in your article and I agree with you 110%. I may be a somewhat rabid atheist, but that doesn't mean I don't believe in the strength, power, and importance of the human soul and spirit. I understand your religious arguments, Father, and they are good ones. But it's really not about the spiritual sense of a soul or spirit. It's about the American spirit. We are Americans, and we FIGHT BACK! Simple as that!
RESPONSE: A great note. Thank you! You probably know I would argue that the American spirit you refer to will lose its nobility and force if we don't have clearly defined values to defend.
Father Jonathan, The problem with moral absolutes is they allow the believer to turn off their brains and do just what “God” wants them to do because their Imam, Priest, Preacher, Prophet, or Medium told them so…
At the end of the day we're all just people fumbling around trying to make sense of our lives. It would be nice if everyone could look at each other and acknowledge my system is no more or less perfect/ridiculous than yours. They're all equally valid /reprehensible. Short of that, what happens is the fairly straightforward leap of, “Your belief is WRONG because my leader says so. Therefore you're less than human and I may treat you as such.” Just my thoughts, Cas
RESPONSE: Cas, I agree we often fumble around to make sense of our lives. I heartily disagree, however, all systems and beliefs are equal. The leap you refer to of deeming others less human than ourselves, is the result not of true religious belief, but of extremism, where people choose to put selfishness and pride over humbly obeying universal principles of right reason.
Father Jonathan, a beautiful column. Your words sing to the heavens, and your message comes straight from the prophets of old. Many thanks for sharing your wisdom. God bless.
RESPONSE: Are you calling me old? I surely ain't no prophet. Thanks for the note.
Father Jonathan, That was one of the most powerful and profound things I have ever read. I can see a jail cell in my future as well, because no one seems to care. Please do whatever you can to get this on the air. Spark something. I will pass this along to as many as I can. Thank you. — Stacey, Fifth Grade Teacher
RESPONSE: Stacey, you are probably doing more good with those kids than I could ever do with some words on the internet. Thank you.
Father Jonathan, I am a conservative Protestant pastor who finds there are many issues with I am able to stand shoulder to shoulder with my Christian brothers in the Roman Catholic church. American has not lost it's soul as much as the body of Christ has lost it's conviction's and therefore it's courage. The great lie of separation of church and state has driven the church from positions of leadership on a local and national level. It was never the intent of our founding fathers to leave their faith and their God outside upon the steps of Congress, the Supreme Court or Oval Office.
Keep speaking the truth, I pray that others will hear and take action at the polls. — Pastor Larry
RESPONSE: Pastor Larry, we are of one mind and heart on this. Thank you.
Father Jonathan, Nicely done! You hit the nail on the head. Keep up the good work. — Tim V. (Evangelical pastor from Fleetwood, PA)
RESPONSE: Tim, who says Christians don't get along? Thank you for your kindness.
Father Jonathan, This is fantastic!! I want my children to read this. I hope you don't mind that I'm going to email it to a few friends. Everybody needs to read this! Thank you for taking a stand. — Valerie, FL
Father Jonathan, I was watching FOX this afternoon, September 12, when a quick segment on the Pope's visit in Germany caught my attention. A follow-up on a statement/quote that Pope Benedict made in Germany was discussed. You were explaining the Pope's comments and positon on the "Violence of Islam", and the reporting priest read from a very old quote originally made by a former emperor in history.
The segment was SO brief and I want very much to share this information with a friend who missed it. Is there either a way to obtain a brief transcript of this report and/or a copy of the original Emperor's quote that Benedict used? Thank you so very much for your assistance. Sincerely, Elizabeth K., Rochester, NY
RESPONSE: Elizabeth, yes that was me. Pope Benedict's words were crystal clear, and need to be heard. I didn't do justice to his intellectual and spiritual comments, but here's the link to my segment anyway. • Watch video