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World Without End, Amen

Every night before bed, Eleanor Roosevelt—first lady, feminist, and the spirit Hillary Clinton most wants to contact in the Great Beyond—knelt beside her bed and prayed her improvised prayer: 

Our Father, who has set a restlessness in our hearts and made us all seekers after that which we can never fully find, forbid us to be satisfied with what we make of life.  Draw us from base content and set our eyes on far-off goals . . . 

It continues, but that excerpt should be enough for you to get the idea.  Franklin Roosevelt, less of a theologian, was rumored to have prayed “Dear God, please make Eleanor tired,” according to Mary Ann Glendon, Harvard law professor, in this attempt at vindicating of Mrs. Roosevelt and her grand achievement, the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  A less sympathetic biographer might have included the popular, more pointed dismissal: “If he could stand up, he’d knock her down.”

The genesis of this book, Glendon writes, was the misinterpretation, misunderstanding, misuse, and abuse that she thinks the declaration has fallen prey to since it was approved, with no dissenting votes, by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948.  Multiculturalists and the parties of resentment from Third World countries charge that it represents the unjustified imposition of Western...

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