May 22, 2013

Why is Chelsea Clinton leading a big new religion program at NYU?

"The former first daughter has tackled what the school calls a 'multifaith' role as co-founder and co-chair of its brand-new Of Many Institute. The program is described by the university as aiming to 'develop multifaith dialogue and train multifaith leaders.'"
Back in September, Clinton — who’s married to banker Marc Mezvinsky — told Time of her desire to study faith and education: “With all candor, because my husband is Jewish and I’m Christian, and we’re both practicing, it’s something that’s quite close to home,” she said.

A rep for NYU told us that the Of Many program is not academic, but is a part of the university’s Center for Spiritual Life. NYU’s Web site says the institute has developed a “minor degree in multifaith and spiritual leadership” shared with the Silver School of Social Work and the Wagner School.
I have never associated Chelsea Clinton with religion. She has a Master of Public Health degree from Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health and she's been teaching graduate level classes there.

But maybe the NYU "Of Many" concept of religion really is about "public health." Let's think about the interwoven nature of public health and religion — especially as the Clintons might understand it. When Hillary Clinton first emerged on the national scene, she was associated with religion. I remember a magazine cover — was it Tikkun? — depicting her as "St. Hillary" and lots of talk about "the politics of meaning," which was some politics-and-religion theme back in the 90s. And Hillary segued into public health in a way that we were supposed to understand, but didn't.

So here comes Hillary II, Chelsea Clinton merging health and religion. What does it all mean? How well will this lay the groundwork for a career in politics? I strongly prefer the separation of government and religion, and I don't want government to wield the powers of religion or powers over the human mind that are too much like the power of religion. And though government is going to have some role in public health, its growing and over-intrusive activity is disturbing. A politician who builds a career in health and religion should scare us. This is wedging very deeply into the realm of the individual — mind and body.

Here's some background reading: "All Politics is Cosmic," a 1996 article in The Atlantic by Lee Siegel, reviewing Michael Lerner's book "The Politics of Meaning." Excerpt:

In the beginning there was a hunger for vision. And then came a great need for rhetoric. Soon President and Mrs. Clinton sensed representative vibrations in the quasi-mystical-socio-politico-psychological coat of crazy colors that the author and activist Michael Lerner calls the "politics of meaning." They must have felt that Lerner, with his talk of a universal inner pain and "hunger" for connection, might help them administer verbal balm to an America collectively turning inward amid social and economic disruptions....

Lerner had come sprawling onto the public scene in 1986 with his magazine Tikkun . A licensed psychotherapist, he had spent the previous ten years in Oakland, California, treating patients at a clinic he co-founded called the Institute for Labor and Mental Health. 
Health!
(Lerner has claimed that his vision for America came to him through his encounters with patients.) But problems have beset Tikkun from the start. A former leader of Students for a Democratic Society and co-editor of the ultraleft magazine Ramparts, Lerner seemed to long for the old confrontational days. He began to confront himself. He began to march on his own magazine.
SDS!!
At its best Tikkun has tried to speak with a nonpartisan voice of common decency, outside the crumbling framework of left-right antitheses. But for Lerner, all politics is cosmic. And in his own offerings in the magazine, for page after page he has spluttered on like an old Volkswagen about "pain" and "healing," "misrecognition" of our true selves and "healing," "surplus powerlessness" and "healing," "healing" and . . . well, "healing."
Religion! Leftist politics! Health!

67 comments:

Freeman Hunt said...

Maybe NYU wants to make it clear that it does not take religion seriously.

Rose said...

To assuage the masses.

ricpic said...

I'm Judeo-Christian! Of course, just between us, I don't really believe any of that superstitious stuff but man it's great PR.

Chip S. said...

They've already got the program's motto:

It depends on what the meaning of "God" is.

Brian said...

The effort to find young Chelsea a sinecure that she can't screw up continues apace.

Paddy O said...

For some reason, these folks came to mind.

bpm4532 said...

what better way to further entrench the Church of Liberalism and the catachism of social justice and moral relatism.

She seems totally unqualified for this by virtue of past education or experience. She seems adrift in finding a meaningful career and is merely sucking at the teat of rent-seeking behavior.

AllenS said...

Gag me with a spoon.

Mitchell the Bat said...

Lonesome No More!

Rusty said...

I think Brian nailed it.

carrie said...

It's part of the conspiracy to neutralize the role of religion in society. Minimize the voices of pro-life, pro-marriage, etc. religions and substitute the voice of nondescript spirituality.

carrie said...

It's part of the conspiracy to neutralize the role of religion in society. Minimize the voices of pro-life, pro-marriage, etc. religions and substitute the voice of nondescript spirituality.

Kevin said...

Yes Brian is right. She is the head of a department the same way that Michelle O had that 300,000/year hospital job.

The guy who thought up the title is probably laughing about how nonsensical it is, knowing that they can get away with anything.

gerry said...

Brian did nail it.

Life of Pi postmodern religion conflation syndrome (cf. Church of England).

Haven't the Unitarians already cornered that market?

F said...

What, no mention of Islam? That's coming, no doubt. Gotta find a way to tap into Mid East oil money.

tiger said...

This chick is useless - nothing more than a dilettante.

What makes her qualified to teach?
That she went to school?
What makes her qualified to discuss religion?
That she goes to church once in a while?

She's turning into an attention whore when she really needs to just go away.

traditionalguy said...

The war on religion includes counterfeits of religion being run out to cause confusion and discouragement.

It is a corollary to Orwellian NewSpeak that changes the meaning of words.

Suppose the invading enemy army wore our uniforms and renamed the roadsigns to misdirect us? Oh yeah, that's what the SS Army Group did in Belgium in December 1944. These are the methods of those who also massacre prisoners.

They ARE NOT confused, but they want you confused. And using child like new Clintons as a cover up is more deception.

richard mcenroe said...

A Clinton is about as Christian as a Borgia Pope.

tiger said...

This chick is useless - nothing more than a dilettante.

What makes her qualified to teach?
That she went to school?
What makes her qualified to discuss religion?
That she goes to church once in a while?

She's turning into an attention whore when she really needs to just go away.

SteveR said...

Never in the course of human history has so much been done, by so many, for so few.

edutcher said...

Chelsea needs a job, so maybe she'll have a prayer working for God.

(had to)

Ann Althouse said...

When Hillary Clinton first emerged on the national scene, she was associated with religion. I remember a magazine cover — was it Tikkun? — depicting her as "St. Hillary" and lots of talk about "the politics of meaning," which was some politics-and-religion theme back in the 90s.

Glad to see I'm not the only one having problems with the neurons flaking off.

That was the New York Times Magazine, which did a sappy puff piece, including a cover portraying her as (are you ready?) St Joan of Arc (complete with broadsword (your gag) informing us how Hillary thinks we should all remember the Little People), on her about a year or two into her stint as First Prevaricatress.

I only recall this because Baba Wawa did an equally barf-inducing piece about it the next day on whatever show she was doing at the time.

edutcher said...

PS Freeman, you look like Alyssa Milano in that avatar.

Edgehopper said...

I'm Jewish and my wife was Christian before she converted, having been raised Baptist but attending a Catholic elementary school. Can I get lots of money to run a religion program at NYU?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Good GOD, when will we ever be free of these despicable, greedy, annoying, power mad Clintons? We are not a country of hereditary Lords or Peers. Just because your name is Clinton, Bush, Kennedy, Michelle Obama or anything else it does not qualify you for a fast track to public office.

I am so sick of all of these people being shoved into our faces and forced into office while other more qualified people are shoved aside, shit upon and have their lives and reputations shredded so that the "favored" named ones can continue in power, rule us and send their minions in the IRS and EPA to keep us in line.

We need a revolution. The guillotine is actually looking good right about now.

SGT Ted said...

Multi-faith is prog speak for marginalize Christianity and elevate Islam.

Scott M said...

Crystal. Clear.

The Drill SGT said...

She has a Master of Public Health degree from Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health and she's been teaching graduate level classes

Things must really be headed down hill. Chel is off to another career. In my experience grad students are generally taught by PhDs. Or MS lectures with serious professional experience in the field. \\Beyond, doing a photo op in Africa with dad, or a seat on one of his health initiatives, has Chelsea ever worked in Public Health?

deserve a Celebritney tag

pst314 said...

"At its best Tikkun has tried to speak with a nonpartisan voice of common decency, outside the crumbling framework of left-right antitheses."

Utter B.S.: Tikkun was always leftist. But it's a common tactic of leftists to try to deceive people with a claim that they are "nonpartisan".

Ignorance is Bliss said...

The former first daughter has tackled what the school calls a 'multifaith' role as co-founder and co-chair of its brand-new Of Many Institute.

As the dyslexics say, dog is my co-chair.

David said...

"With all candor . . . . "

She's a Clinton, that's for sure.



LarsPorsena said...

Blogger F said...

What, no mention of Islam? That's coming, no doubt. Gotta find a way to tap into Mid East oil money.

5/22/13, 9:46 AM
_________________________________

You beat me to it.

Kate Danaher said...

It's a British regulatory body! Ofsted, Ofcom, Ofgem, Ofwat, Ofmany

MadisonMan said...

The Of Many Institute. OMI.

From wikipedia: Omi was an ancient Japanese hereditary title denoting rank and political standing (a kabane) that, along with muraji, was reserved for the most powerful clans during the Kofun period.

This seems somehow appropriate.

MadisonMan said...

To be clear: I have no objection to Ms. Clinton taking this job. Good for her!

I think NYU is foolish to offer/create the opportunity for her, and I don't think a student taking a class in this Institute will get their money's worth. But I'm sure all the Womyn's Studies/Latino Studies/Jewish Studies ad. infinitum majors at NYU will for some reason make a course in OMI a prerequisite for the major.

bagoh20 said...

Obscurity is unappreciated these days.

gerry said...

First Prevaricatress

Oooooh. I like that. A lot.

Kelly said...

What's this about her husband being a banker? I thought he gave all that up to become a ski bunny.

B said...

It's about a woman being groomed for future politics, padding the resume, and faith in a short public memory.

When you look at Chelsea's resume so far and don't apply enough common sense to see that it's a mile wide and an inch deep...well, it does LOOK impressive.

This will work as long as the Clinton's conviction that when the time comes they can call in enough favors that the dominant MSM - in whatever form it's taken by then - will present her resume as the record of a brilliant Ivy League educated woman's amazing accomplishments.

For reference see B. Obama.

Mitchell the Bat said...

Why can't Vernon Jordan get Chelsea a job at Revlon?

Unknown said...

Two thoughts answering two different questions.

Q1: Why is Chelsea Clinton heading up this new religious program?
A1: For the same reason Michelle Obama had a $300K/year job at a Chicago hospital.

Q2: Why is Columbia University creating this new multi-faith religious program?
A2: Because the stupid progs saw that "Coexist" is a bumper sticker and had their natural reaction - they added a layer of bureaucracy to it.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

This will work as long as the Clinton's conviction...

Actually, he was acquitted.

Widmerpool said...

Michael Lerner! Now there's a name from the past! All I can say is Christ, no.

AJ Lynch said...

I guess there is no recession for the Elites.

And what should we think about the bounties bestowed on these "celebrities by birth" who have not achieved anything of note in their life?

Bill Harshaw said...

One of the (tongue in cheek on) little-known scandals of Hillary's life was her association in DC as Senator with a group of mostly right religious politicians. It was private, but the Post ran one story on it. I'm forgetting the name.

So it's possible Hillary was/is more religious than we think (assuming Methodism qualifies as a religion)and her child is following in her footsteps. (tongue in cheek off)

Richard Dolan said...

"Let's think about the interwoven nature of public health and religion — especially as the Clintons might understand it."

No one here wants to take you up on that, except to the extent of suggesting that the Clintons' understanding of everything reduces to a question of self-promotion. Ann gets there pretty quickly too ("How well will this lay the groundwork for a career in politics?").

That may dispose of the Clintonian aspect of the question, but leaves the main issue dangling in the wind. So what is "the interwoven nature of public health and religion"? In times past, a question like that would have been answered by, e.g., referring to the charitable acts of many religious organizations (they set up the first hospitals/clinics/hospices, and run many today, make a special mission of helping the helpless, etc.), or by invoking medical miracles (unexplained cures, credited to various spiritual causes), or for those of a more deist bent, discussing the general connection between a healthy body and a healthy mind/spirit. Obamacare is doing a good job of eliminating the first of those understandings; the seoond usually evokes dismissive twitters from all but true believers; and the last usually ends up as a New Age-y joke.

Pity, really, since there is a lot of value in all three.

kcom said...

Won't this cut into the time she has for her reporting assignments?

JohnJ said...

"With all candor…"

Heh!

TerriW said...

The "my husband is Jewish and I'm Christian and we both practice" is all fun and games until you have kids and they start asking you the questions they haven't yet been trained to not ask in polite company, like "Is Daddy going to go to hell?" I wish them discernment and wisdom.

LarsPorsena said...

Blogger TerriW said...

"The "my husband is Jewish and I'm Christian and we both practice" is all fun and games until you have kids..."

The kids will now have to spend Saturday and Sunday in temple/church.

That will churn out atheists for sure.

Geoff Matthews said...

This sounds like a make-work program, to curry favor with influential people.
It goes on a lot in higher Ed, and can explain part of the inflation therein.

Geoff Matthews said...

This sounds like a make-work program, to curry favor with influential people.
It goes on a lot in higher Ed, and can explain part of the inflation therein.

glenn said...

Simple. Her name is Chelsea Clinton.

Aridog said...

B said ...

For reference see B. Obama.

I was about to ask who cares? But you clarified it for me...after B Obama, no one is too trite.

sydney said...

She should be about as good at running a multifaith institute as her mother was at running the State Department.

ErnieG said...

Once she builds up a suitably splendid resume, the next step would be her mother's Secretary of State, or UN Ambassador. I wish I was joking.

damikesc said...

NY is all about star fucking.

Once you realize that, it makes sense.

Chip S. said...

Why is Chelsea Clinton leading a big new religioin program at NYU?

B/c, apparently, anyone can.

And the opportunity cost of her time is lower than most people's.

creeley23 said...

Chelsea Clinton and Michael Lerner are not religious. They are leftists like Obama, who can smell a power base ripe for exploitation.

Michael Lerner's background is all leftist politics, social philosophy, and psychotherapy. His credentials as a rabbi were tacked on late in life via a three-year shortcut through a watered-down seminary.

cubanbob said...

I suppose being a candy-striper was not socially acceptable in her circles.

creeley23 said...

When Michael Lerner was married, the wedding cake was inscribed "Smash Monogamy." He and his bride exchanged rings using metal from downed American fighter planes.

Along with Barack Obama, Bill Ayers, and Angela Davis, Lerner is part of the great leftist "march through the institutions" per Gramsci.

damikesc said...

I bet the parents and kids shelling out big money to send their jelly-brained offspring to expensive NYU are ecstatic that they are giving Chelsea a pity position.

Being a child of a leading Progressive makes failure, literally, impossible.

damikesc said...

When Michael Lerner was married, the wedding cake was inscribed "Smash Monogamy." He and his bride exchanged rings using metal from downed American fighter planes.

Along with Barack Obama, Bill Ayers, and Angela Davis, Lerner is part of the great leftist "march through the institutions" per Gramsci.


I've always been impressed how these "Free Speech Movement" veterans saw a need to stifle free speech in the most draconian way imaginable in this country and that nobody EVER called them on their fucking hypocrisy.

When a college shuts its doors, little is lost.

Sam L. said...

Why? She knows somebody. Somebody owes somebody else a 'favor'.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

MadisonMan,

The Of Many Institute. OMI.

From wikipedia: Omi was an ancient Japanese hereditary title denoting rank and political standing (a kabane) that, along with muraji, was reserved for the most powerful clans during the Kofun period.

This seems somehow appropriate.


Heh. In this household, "OMI" refers only to Old Manuscripts and Incunabula, your one-stop-shopping music facsimile source. Their catalogs are like catnip for musicologists.

Bob Ellison said...

I have never associated Chelsea Clinton with religion.

Neither, probably, has she.

MCD said...

I cannot take this sort of celebrity pandering seriously.
Over time, I hope "elite" schools will try to enhance their reputations by giving the occasional glance to merit when doling out sinecures.

cheddar said...

At the time of her marriage, Chelsea was enrolled in the PhD program at the Wagner School of Public Service at NYU. That didn't work out and she is no longer in that program.