Monthly Archives: October 2008
There are two poles, I think, to Christian attitudes towards the state.
At the one pole is a catacomb mentality. Here Christians think of the state as an unrelievedly secular force, and they seek to render what they must unto Caesar while keeping themselves aloof from its corrupting influence.
At the other pole is what might be termed the New Jerusalem mentality, in which the Christian sees the state as a means to achieve a more just and loving society which will reinforce virtue.
I have always admired Al Smith, the Democrat who was the first Catholic to run for President on a major party ticket in 1928. Each year the Al Smith dinner is held in New York to raise funds for Catholic Charities. It is traditional each Presidential election year for the major party candidates to appear and give humorous speeches. Senators McCain and Obama observed the tradition last night and I thought both their speeches were well done.
As the father of an autistic son, who is one of the lights of my life, I find it hard to convey adequately how much the pro-life witness of the Palins means to me. This video, which discusses Palin’s “special base”, does the job for me.
The quixotically named Catholic blogger Morning’s Minion has a post this morning in which he (yet again) tries to make the case that the pro-life issue is basically a wash between Senators Obama and McCain. Now, I know that many of our readers already agree that MM’s conclusion is wrong, and deeply wrong, but I want to focus on why this particular argument is wrong, because I think it’s an important question for Catholics living in our republic. So I’d like to ask that people avoid basic “I don’t see how any good Catholic could vote for Obama” comments in favor of discussing whether federalism can be a pro-life position, or is simply a passing of the buck.
Basically, neither candidate can be called “pro-life”….
OK, abortion. The starkest difference here is not related to the need to grant legal protection to the unborn child. No, the candidates instead indulged in a quaint little constitutional debate. Obama: “the constitution has a right to privacy in it that shouldn’t be subject to state referendum”. McCain: “I think decisions should rest in the hands of the states. I’m a federalist”. Sorry, but neither position qualifies as pro-life. It is a debate about which level of government has the right to strip legal protection from the unborn child…
While sitting down with a group of friends for an afternoon of games, the issue of pregnancy came up. My friends, which are of a liberal bent, had the following things to say about pregnancy: “the most contracted STD”, supporting a “parasite”, like “having cancer”, and a few other clever remarks we’ve all heard hundreds of times over. When the issue of abortion came up, you can bet they were all in support of a woman’s right to “choose”.
For those of you who were wondering during the debate last night, who the heck is Joe the Plumber?, here is a video of his encounter with Senator Obama.
Here is Joe’s reaction to the encounter:
I have run a small business, my law firm, since 1985. It provides the entire livelihood for my family. The first decade of the business we scraped by. Now it provides a pretty good living, and, God willing, will allow me to pay for college for my kids.
Abortion survivor Gianna Jessen speaks for 45,000,000 plus of our fellow Americans who are unable to vote come election day.
As Weekly Standard notes, Obama lied regarding his motivation for voting against the Illinois born alive infant protection act:
Questioned about his vote against the born-alive infants protection act, Obama said: “There was already a law on the books that required lifesaving treatment, which is why … I voted against it.” Obama and his colleagues never cited this law as a reason for opposing the bill in the Illinois Senate. More importantly, that 1975 law only protected “viable” infants–and left the determination of viability up to the abortionist who had just failed to kill the baby in utero.
I have examined the arguments advanced by Obama’s self-identified pro-life supporters, and they are spectacularly weak. It is nearly unfathomable to me that those advancing them can honestly believe what they are saying. But before proving my claims about Obama’s abortion extremism, let me explain why I have described Obama as ”pro-abortion” rather than ”pro-choice.”
When Father Francis P. Duffy, pastor of Our Savior parish in the Bronx, was appointed chaplain of the 69th Infantry Regiment of the New York National Guard in 1914, he was already an old hand at being a military chaplain, having served as one in 1898 during the Spanish American War, although he never saw duty overseas during that brief conflict.
The enlightenment myth of infinite progress has not yet died. This assertion of mine is based largely on anecdotal evidence and the general impression I get from the cultural and political commentariat. It is commonly held that things are getting better or they will get better in the future. Peter Kreeft calls this the religion of progress; or, the belief in change for change’s sake. I think it’s a fair description of a common mindset of some on both the left and the right.
One reason this mindset is so pervasive is because the of the free economy. (I am using the word free here in a sense that means this: our economic actions are no longer under the control of some state or social organization that limits who we can do business with. Free also means generally free from excessive taxation). The free economy has resulted in the massive creation of wealth which gives us the false impression that humanity has no limits. An important part of conservatism, then, is to remind people that mankind does indeed have limits, and that the idea of a limitless humanity is a dangerous cultural, political, and moral poison.
Perhaps no one expresses this danger better than Wendell Berry, especially in his latest essay on this very subject. It is titled “Faustian economics: Hell Hath no limits”. I think it gives a great outline of the kind of cultural changes that are going to need to occur in the coming years. Continue reading
Some may recall that there was an episode of media hysteria a couple weeks ago over fears that the GOP vice presidential nominee couldn’t read — based upon Governor Palin’s failure (or refusal) in an interview with Katie Couric to name magazines and newspapers that had “formed her worldview”.
Judging by the questions that have been asked during the two presidential and one vice-presidential debates, one might have the impression that all Americans care about are the economy and Iraq. Granting the legitimacy of concerns about both, John J. Pitney Jr. runs through a list of topics thus far absent from discussion.
“Catholic Answers: Two books for voters who take their faith seriously”- Doug Kmiec, who has lately become something of a poster-boy and spokesman for ‘Catholics for Obama’, reviews Archbishop Chaput’s Render unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life (Doubleday, 2008) and A Nation for All How the Catholic Vision of the Common Good Can Save America from the Politics of Division , by Chris Korzen and Alexia Kelley.
As to be expected, Kmiec finds a sympathetic ear in Korzen & Kelley, given their assertion that Catholics have become ‘preoccupied’ with abortion to the subordination of peace, the environment and welfare:
When Sara and I were working through our marriage preparation last fall, Fr. Gallinger warned all of us that we should make sure to have the marriage license ready before the ceremony. After all, there’s nothing like reaching Saturday and finding out that the courthouses are closed. I assume this is a general cautionary for people getting married elsewhere, for he continued in a humorous vein: “Of course, in Wyoming, if you can’t get into the courthouse, you know someone who knows someone who has the keys to let you in.”
In discussion with my more politically progressive Catholic brethren, I’ve had it put to me that the American political party which receives by preference has at its heart a “preferential option for the rich.” Supporting a Democrat such as Obama may mean compromising on the abortion issue (while hoping that the economic miracle that will spontaneously occur when a Democratic posterior inhabits the chair in the oval office may in fact do a better job of “decreasing the incidence of abortion” than actual restrictions) but at least we can be sure that there will be an end to senseless war mongering, a “preferential option for the poor”, health care for all, an end to the cruelty of capital punishment, restriction of those murderous pieces of inanimate metal called “guns”, etc.
This long list provides the “proportionate reasons” to vote for the most pro-abortion presidential candidate in history, not merely with a sense of reluctant necessity, but with a moral righteousness that scorns all others.