Sunday, March 7, 2010
Robert George in his post yesterday observes that, “As Hadley Arkes has remarked, Kennedy evidently regarded his religion as so private a matter that he refused to impose it even on himself.” George comments that this remark applies not only to John Kennedy, but also to Kennedy’s brother Ted and his father Joseph.
I do not believe that cheap humor about the role of religion in people’s lives is amusing or charitable. But it does lead me to recommend two works that discuss the role of religion in the Kennedy family.
The first (which I have recommended before on this site) is a moving essay by Kerry Kennedy (the daughter of Robert and Ethel Kennedy) in Being Catholic Now (itself, a wonderful collection of essays by Catholics and ex-Catholics).
The second is Ted Kennedy’s heartfelt biography True Compass. The book lays out in fascinating detail Kennedy’s commitment to family (with great stories and insights about the family’s members as seen by the youngest of nine children), his perseverance in the face of one tragedy after another, and his interactions with a variety of political figures in pursuing his commitment to social justice.
And Kennedy makes clear throughout that his commitments were rooted in his faith. He observes that both of his parents were deeply religious and that the family prayed together daily.The center of his belief was Matthew, Chapter 25, particularly that calling to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, visit the imprisoned. He says that, “To me, this perspective on my faith has almost literally been a lifesaver. It has given me strength and purpose during the greatest challenges I have faced, the roughest roads I have traveled.” And, he says, “My faith, and the love of following its rituals, has always been my foundation and my inspiration. Those foundations have been shaken by tragedy and misfortune, but faith remains fixed in my heart as it has since my childhood days. It is the most positive force in my life and the cause of eternal optimism. I have fallen short in my life, but my faith has always brought me home.”
cross-posted at religiousleftlaw.com