Bush: Thanksgiving reminds Americans to always trust in God
As the nation recovers from the terrible tragedies of September 11, President George Bush said in his official Thanksgiving Proclamation, that the holiday is an opportunity for "Americans of every belief and heritage to give thanks to God for the many blessings we enjoy as a free, faithful, and fair-minded land."

The traditional address this year focuses on using Thanksgiving to find "particular assurance" during extraordinary times. The holiday, Bush said, "reminds us that we, as a people and individually, always have reason to hope and trust in God, despite great adversity."

Several Thanksgivings of the past, he said, were likewise celebrated in the "throes of great difficulty:"

In 1621 in New England, the Pilgrims gave thanks to God, in whom they placed their hope, even though a bitter winter had taken many of their brethren. In the winter of 1777, General George Washington and his army, having just suffered great misfortune, stopped near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, to give thanks to God. And there, in the throes of great difficulty, they found the hope they needed to persevere. That hope in freedom eventually inspired them to victory.

In another holiday tradition, Bush pardoned the official White House turkey. At the event, Bush told a crowd of children that, "Thanksgiving reminds us that the greatest gifts don't come from the hands of man, but from the Maker of Heaven and Earth."

He also joked that the White House has two Thanksgiving turkeys, but one was not available because "he's in a secure and undisclosed location."

Ramadan at the White House
Thanksgiving is not the only holiday this week at the White House. On Monday night, Bush became the first president to host a traditional Ramadan dinner, or iftar.

The event was attended by representatives of 53 Muslim countries and senior U.S. officials. The Pentagon and State Department plan Ramadan meals for next week.

Continuing the interfaith message that Bush has repeated since the start of the war on terrorism, Bush told attendees that Ramadan, Christmas, and Hanukkah are opportunities for nations to celebrate together and understand one another better.

"America respects people of all faiths and America seeks peace with people of all faiths," the president said at Monday's dinner. "I thank you for your friendship and I wish you a blessed Ramadan."

Clueless "moral lethargists"
Why did our cultural institutions seem so impossibly clueless after September 11? ask Kay S. Hymowitz and Harry Stein in the Autumn 2001 number of City Journal. Answer: The non-judgmentalism of multiculturalism, the hazy spirituality of the New Age, and the self-focus of the therapeutic culture have created a generation of "moral lethargists."

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The cultural institutions Hymowitz and Stein focus on in "Earth to Ivory Tower: Get Real!" are our universities, the mainstream press, the entertainment industry, and "liberal churches." Their best reporting of egregious inability to perceive moral evil is from the near self-parodies of academic voices. One sample: Eric Foner, last year's president of the American Historical Association, who asserted, "I'm not sure which is more frightening: the horror that engulfed New York City or the apocalyptic rhetoric emanating daily from the White House."

Hymowitz and Stein paint the "liberal churches" with a broad brush, citing only a service held at Manhattan's landmark Riverside Church, starring Thich Nhat Hanh and Judy Collins (they asked the congregation to "disintegrate hatred"), and a proclamation issued by the National Council of Churches (which seemed unable to tell the difference between "vengeance" and "waging war on those who would destroy our civilization").

Too bad the authors didn't glean as many examples from the religious community as they did from the "clueless academics … living on the dregs of the sixties." The article would have been much more entertaining.

Will the Dead Sea Scrolls be in the Macy's parade?
In tribute to its resilience in the face of the September 11 terrorist attacks, New York City has been given a Dead Sea Scroll. Professor Emmanuel Tov, professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, dedicated the "Thanksgiving Scroll" to the city last week. The scroll includes a Hebrew song of thanksgiving and praise:

Rejoice with everlasting joy / [Un]ceasingly, worship in the common assembly. Bless the one who /Wonderfully does majestic deeds, and makes known his strong hand.

The tribute was made at the same time that Tov, editor-in-chief of the international committee working with the scrolls, announced that after more than half a century of research, the publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls is nearly complete. The last volumes of "Discoveries in the Judean Desert" are now in the final stages of preparation.

"After 54 years of excitement, expectation, tribulation, much criticism, and a little praise, the publication has been finalized," Tov told The Jerusalem Post News. "These 2,000-year-old scrolls give us an excellent picture of the literature of ancient Israel."

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Shelter Now workers:


  • Islamic growth trend predicted in Britain | Muslims in Great Britain who regularly attend mosque will outnumber worshiping Anglicans within years (Los Angeles Times)
  • Prayer amid the tension | As Ramadan begins, dedication to Islam is getting Muslims through what many view as the most difficult period in their years in the Conejo Valley (Los Angeles Times)
  • Face-off | The bombing of Afghanistan is hardening Muslim attitudes toward the U.S. But in Southeast Asia, a new class of moderate Muslims able to reconcile the West with Islam is emerging. Can they prevail? (AsiaWeek)
Interfaith relations:

Faith and Business:

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Kidnapped Italian Priest:

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