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COOLING THE POLITICAL FIRES

Q: I've been revolted by the level of animosity and anger during this presidential campaign. I'm delighted the election is almost here, but I don't know how to heal the rift at our dinner table between family members voting for President Bush and those voting for Sen. John Kerry. This election has not just torn apart the country; it's torn apart my family. What should I do?

-- R., New York City

A: We agree that this has been a particularly divisive election and that the winner will have a lot of healing to do. We offer these suggestions to voters on both sides of the political fence, whether their candidate wins or loses:

To supporters of Kerry we say:

It's time to pray for President Bush and for the anger in your souls that kept you from appreciating his virtues and cutting him some slack for his limitations. If you've judged him harshly because he's a believing Christian, we hope you can find a more generous part of your soul with which to judge people of faith who lead this country.

Being a person of faith ought not be limited to a private set of convictions, but must also be a mandate for social justice and the protection of all life. Bush's faith is a wellspring of his values. This is not shameful but a proud and glorious thing. Abraham Lincoln, in issuing the proclamation for Thanksgiving, reminded Americans that we have not prospered because we have better machinery. We've prospered because we have a better idea, and that idea is that God is the source of our freedom, not the state.

It's time to let go of the foolish, despicable insults against this good man and join him in making our country one nation under God once again.

To Bush supporters we say:

It's time to pray for Sen. Kerry and for the anger in your souls that kept you from appreciating his virtues and cutting him some slack for his limitations. If you've judged him harshly because he passionately opposed the Vietnam War, we hope you can find a more generous part of your soul with which to judge the many people who shared his despair but have since found a way to view the Vietnam era in a way that its furies and acrimonies might abate.

We urge you to accept and appreciate those who've grown to regret many of the things they said and did in their youth. How many of us could survive a relentless public airing of everything we've ever said or done?

Sen. Kerry is obviously a man of great courage, and we pray that all who are blinded by partisan hatred of him can come to understand that one of the most noble manifestations of courage is the ability to change one's views and come to new and hopefully truer understandings of the nature of our world and its dangers.

It's time to let go of the foolish, despicable insults against this good man and join him in making our country one nation under God once again.

Emotional question
Q: I'm a Protestant who believes heaven is the name of the stage or "place" where the soul returns to its source to continue existence after life's journey on Earth is ended. Many people are angry, hate-filled, or sad in this life, however. What happens to those feelings when they die? Is there anger, hate and sorrow in heaven?

-- C., via e-mail

A: Answering questions about heaven tells us a lot about ourselves but very little about heaven. Because the souls already in heaven are not issued cell phones, we just can't know -- nor are we meant to know -- the precise delights that await us until we after we die and our souls continue their journey unencumbered by our abused and cholesterol-laden bodies.

Heaven questions do teach us about how we view the world and each other. The question of whether people will be cured of their anger and hate in heaven depends upon whether you believe people can be cured of anger and hate here on Earth.

If you believe our spiritually corrosive emotions are just mistakes made by basically pure, kind and gentle souls twisted or broken by life experiences, you probably find it easy to believe that in heaven they'll be able to let go of their fears, heal their broken parts and spend an eternity of joy and bliss with God.

Monsignor Tom Hartman and Rabbi Marc Gellman are happy to try to answer your religious, personal or ethical questions. Contact the God Squad, c/o Telecare, 1200 Glenn Curtiss Blvd., Uniondale, N.Y. 11553 or e-mail godsquad@telecaretv.org.

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