Together at the Foot of the Mountain

Authored By: John Mallon

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 course....

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.

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