TOGETHER AT THE FOOT OF THE MOUNTAIN
by John Mallon
A Jewish newspaper columnist serves as a feisty spokesman for
Catholic moral principles
After reading Don Feder for the first time, a Catholic comes away with the
same feeling that can come from a conversation with a new neighbor over a
backyard fence finding with a certain delight and surprise that you hold
so many views in common. But in this case your new friend also expresses
his ideas so well--so concisely and at times so hilariously--that you wish
you could have put it the same way.
Feder is a columnist for the "Boston Herald," and one is almost surprised
to find someone in the secular media who goes so boldly and brashly
against the current orthodoxy of "political correctness" (PC). The book
serves as a reminder of just how much religious Jews and orthodox
Christians have in common in an increasingly Godless culture.
There is also a sad irony that the author's Jewishness is so essential to
this book. In a culture where the weight of a man's arguments increasingly
take a back seat to his resume of victimhood, a Jew cannot be painted with
the PC brush that would declare him an "oppressor." An interesting
illustration of this point occurred when the homosexual group ACT-UP and
its "abortion rights" allies stormed Boston's Cathedral of the Holy Cross
in June of 1990 to disrupt the ordination services of the archdiocese. The
group that gained widespread public attention for its protests against
this outrage against the Catholic community was the Jewish Anti-Defamation
League. The Jewish community knew real religious hatred when they saw it;
they were not swayed by the meager rhetoric of pseudo-oppression aimed at
the Church, which so many media figures lapped up.
Feder's main strengths are truth and common sense. The boldness of his
prose is backed up by a fiery righteous indignation with the widespread
and lugubrious assault on simple decency. It is concern for the welfare of
persons that drives a prophet to call a lie by its true name. His zingers
may sting, but they do not harm--rather, they heal, by exposing the
various social poisons he confronts to the light of common sense,
undercutting their credibility and rendering them laughable.
The issues he tackles are of the utmost seriousness. But as a newspaper
columnist working in a strictly limited space he has a great gift for
stating the complex issues bluntly and in layman's terms, at the same time
being very entertaining. Despite the seriousness and complexity of his
subject matter, this is not "heavy" reading. His bite-sized observations
are crystal clear, and can be read with profit in a dentist's waiting room
as easily as in a library.
In Don Feder, Catholics loyal to Rome have a great friend and ally on,
such issues as abortion, homosexuality, marriage, family life, morality,
sexuality, media, pornography, feminism, paganism, and contraception. In
his own introduction he states:
"Taken together, these columns and articles, published between
1984 and 1992, constitute the first social conservative
statement from a Jewish perspective--other than Leviticus, of
My conservatism is God-centered, premised on a passion to
nurture the best in human nature, which flows from our
acceptance of divine injunctions. It is based on the ethical
world- view of the patriarchs and prophets in the heritage of a
people who first taught humanity to think in moral terms.
Conservative Protestants and Catholics loyal to Rome will feel
completely at home in this perspective. After all our values
derive from the same source. We learned them together at the
foot of a mountain in the Sinai peninsula. I want Christians to
know there are Jews (not Jews by birth, but Jews by conviction)
who are every bit as anguished as they are over the moral
decline of this nation.
The thoughts expressed herein were controversial when first
published. They will be no less so in the present format. I
expect this book to be reviled by reviewers, its facts disputed,
analysis rejected, and motivation questioned."
This alone makes this book attractive reading for the concerned Catholic.
Feder is sincere and sensitive, as well as incisive. He reads like a Frank
Capra hero for the 1990s.
This article was taken from the February 1994 issue of THE CATHOLIC WORLD
REPORT, P.O. Box 6718, Syracuse, NY 13217-7912, 800-825-0061.