'With age, my Catholicism holds more uncertainty'

My current, critical reading about religion and my growing disenchantment with the Catholic Church do not proceed without some pronounced unease. I feel driven to question beliefs I once held with assured confidence. But am I needlessly cutting off a strong spiritual lifeline by going so rarely to my local church? Am I wallowing in intellectual smugness and neglecting an insistent Catholic tie that goes beyond logic?

It is difficult to stay loyal to a church whose members once unleashed cruel forms of the Inquisition on presumably evil non-believers and whose clergy so recently and secretly protected pedophilic priests. But I am more disillusioned by dogmatic bans on birth control that afflict poor women in developing countries and that too often obscure the core message of Christ’s call for compassion.

'Personally, I Donít Want Me in the White House!'

The Sarah Palin phenomenon owes much to a perception of her as “One of Us” – the folksy mantra and the down-home strategy of recent election campaigns.

Think back to the photos of George Bush clearing brush from his Texas ranch, a regular guy in a plaid work shirt, doing a real man’s work. Contrast that image with 2004 photo of John Kerry windsurfing: which guy could you identify with?

The ideal, ordinary candidate is often captured in the cliché: “someone you would like to have a beer with.” The political vocabulary of this script is filled with words like “genuine,” “real,” “plain spoken,” “down-to-earth.”

And the logic follows this thinking: ordinary, front-porch people know plenty about raising families, juggling jobs, stretching that meat loaf over one more night, and balancing checkbooks around the kitchen table (now the most famous piece of furniture in the American home).

These honest folks built our country with their rolled-up sleeves and sweat, so therefore, we should have an ordinary person run the country, That person could be a PTA mom, hockey mom, a guy clearing brush or one going to NASCAR races.