There’s No War on Religion—Yet

Last week, the social-media outrage of the moment focused on Elizabeth Bruenig, a left-wing and devoutly Catholic New York Times columnist who wrote an article discussing her satisfaction with her own decision to have a child at the relatively young age of twenty-five. Examining the angry reaction at Bruenig’s benign personal essay, Ross Douthat reflects on what it says about the growing suspicion—and sometimes outright hostility—toward religion among certain segments of the highly educated elite:

Under current circumstances there are social and professional costs for the public expression or endorsement of a few particularly unpopular, understood-as-bigoted teachings that are common to Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. But those same costs don’t apply to practicing and participating in those traditions, even in their more conservative expressions. Whereas under the emergent, new-progressive circumstances, . . . the costs would increasingly apply more broadly: thus simply to attend Mass, even under the auspices of a liberal Catholic chaplaincy, would become an act of association with bigotry.

But I think it isn’t a coincidence that so many readers (or at least Twitterers) took an essay written by a Catholic woman that conspicuously did not champion specifically Catholic ideas about family and marriage, but merely described a way of being in the world that’s clearly influenced by the author’s faith, and read into it some sort of . . . chauvinism against other women’s choices. I think that kind of reading-into is an expression of the [a] tendency . . . in which you are judged by the progressive reading of your faith tradition’s doctrines, their unacceptable conservatism or misogyny or patriarchy, rather than anything you yourself have explicitly said or done.

Thus a lot of anti-Bruenigism boils down, basically, to this: You say you’re just describing your own experience, but you’re a practicing Catholic so we know what you really think—about this and everything else—and we’re going to punish you for that.

Except that at this point Bruenig’s punishment is—being offered a job at the Atlantic. . . . So whatever is happening around her on the Internet is not the dominant force in elite liberalism as yet. But can trends on Twitter or in the academic hothouse suddenly stage a larger takeover? Yes, we know they can. So does the tendency bear watching? Yes, I think it does.

Read more at Reactions

More about: American Religion, Children, Secularism

Israel Is Courting Saudi Arabia by Confronting Iran

Most likely, it was the Israeli Air Force that attacked eastern Syria Monday night, apparently destroying a convoy carrying Iranian weapons. Yoav Limor comments:

Israel reportedly carried out 32 attacks in Syria in 2022, and since early 2023 it has already struck 25 times in the country—at the very least. . . . The Iranian-Israeli clash stands out in the wake of the dramatic events in the region, chiefly among them is the effort to strike a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and later on with various other Muslim-Sunni states. Iran is trying to torpedo this process and has even publicly warned Saudi Arabia not to “gamble on a losing horse” because Israel’s demise is near. Riyadh is unlikely to heed that demand, for its own reasons.

Despite the thaw in relations between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic—including the exchange of ambassadors—the Saudis remain very suspicious of the Iranians. A strategic manifestation of that is that Riyadh is trying to forge a defense pact with the U.S.; a tactical manifestation took place this week when Saudi soccer players refused to play a match in Iran because of a bust of the former Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Suleimani, [a master terrorist whose militias have wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East, including within Saudi borders].

Of course, Israel is trying to bring Saudi Arabia into its orbit and to create a strong common front against Iran. The attack in Syria is ostensibly unrelated to the normalization process and is meant to prevent the terrorists on Israel’s northern border from laying their hands on sophisticated arms, but it nevertheless serves as a clear reminder for Riyadh that it must not scale back its fight against the constant danger posed by Iran.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, Syria