tMichaelB is the web site for Tom Bengtson, who writes about business, religion, family and politics.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Prager's sensibility

Dennis Prager, the national radio personality, was in town last week and my wife and I joined another couple for seats in the audience of 600 or so. He talked for a little over an hour, touching on a variety of subjects, lacing everything with humor.

While I have great respect for his commentary, I disagree with an assertion he made about marriage. He said long marriages are mostly the result of luck. My sense is that they are more the result of hard work. Now, certainly, there is a measure of luck in the equation. One has to be lucky enough not to get hit by a bus or involved in an airplane crash to live into old age, but setting aside the uncontrollables, I don’t really see luck having much to do with it. Rough spots emerge in every marriage and it is work on the parts of both spouses that typically gets them through, not luck.

He also commented that he is greatly troubled by the level of senseless suffering in the world. Who isn’t? But I think what troubled Prager was an inability to identify any purpose in suffering. Prager, a devout Jew, was in town to participate in a debate over the existence of God at a national convention of atheists. Many atheists deny the existence of God because they look around the world and see all the suffering and ask themselves: “How could a loving God allow all this?” They conclude there must not be a God.

On this issue, I am grateful for my Catholic faith which promises no relief from suffering but does bring meaning to it. Just as Christ suffered to atone for our sins, our suffering can atone for sin, and not just our own sin but the sins of others. We can actually enjoin our suffering with that of the Lord to participate in the world’s salvation. I am not a theologian and can’t explain it much better than that, but I know there is a world of theology behind this topic in Catholicism. Christ embraced His cross and we are to do the same. Suffering is inevitable, true; but pointless? No.

Prager’s strongest point was his last one. He said he worries about our country. He noted that on coins minted by the U.S. government we find three things: “Liberty,” “E Pluribus Unim,” and “In God we Trust.” He observed that all three of those ideas are under attack – not from some hostile nation, but from within.

A growing federal government, he said, is encroaching on our liberties. Furthermore, the Latin phrase means: “from many, one,” but today diversity is the mantra of the cultural elites. And secularism is stronger than ever in this country, forcing God out of every crevice of the public sector.

Prager is on the mark. We need to work to preserve our liberty by resisting needless federalism, we need to celebrate our national identify and we need to acknowledge God as the rightful sovereign over our country.

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