Father James Martin, SJ, is concerned about a lack of civility in discourse among Catholics, judging from a post in America, the Jesuit rag not the country:
I’m disgusted with malicious slandering that passes itself off as thoughtful theology. I’m disgusted with mean-spirited personal attacks that pass themselves off as Christian discourse. I’m disgusted with the facile use of words like “heresy” and “schism” and “apostate,” passing itself off as defenses of the faith. Basically, I’m disgusted with hate being passed off as charity. Needless to say, this is not entirely Mr. Douthat’s doing, or Mr. Reno’s doing, or Mr. Dreher’s doing. And I know that they are good and loyal Catholics (and in Mr. Dreher’s case, formerly-Catholic, now Orthodox). Obviously. But they and others–who are far more culpable–have engaged in enough of that kind of uncharitable behavior to have fostered an atmosphere of hatred and mistrust in our church. Instead of Thomas Merton’s famous “Mercy within mercy within mercy” we get “Hate piled on hate piled on hate.”
That is not theology, and it does not flow from the love of Jesus Christ. It is a malicious desire to wound people and to score points. To “win.” And if you think it’s amusing, then you’re missing Jesus’s point about not calling people names and praying for our “enemies.” And by the way, if you take Jesus as your model, and feel the need to judge people, and call them names as he did, like “hypocrite,” feel free to do so when you are the sinless Son of God. We risk being so Catholic that we forget to be Christian.
So I wholeheartedly support fully anyone’s right to write whatever he or she wants, including Ross Douthat, whom I respect. And, as an educated and faithful Catholic layperson, much of what he writes is thoughtful, insightful and deserving of our full attention. But be sure that whenever you’re reading ad hominem comments, thinly veiled attacks on people’s fidelity to the faith, snide insinuations and malicious twisting of words, you are not reading theology.
Bravo! He needs though to have a good talk with Father James Martin, SJ, at least judging from this post last year by Father Z:
Just in case you were wondering what sort of people were on the other side of the issue, this is a Twitter exchange between the Jesuit James Martin and Massimo Faggioli, a liberal academic in St. Paul:
James P. Hoffa, current boss of the Teamsters’ Union, and son of former boss of the Teamsters, and gangster, Jimmy Hoffa, whose mortal remains no doubt reside in various locations around the country courtesy of his gangland cronies, took the opportunity yesterday to declare his Union members an army for Obama and to spit on the morality of the mothers of those who oppose Obama.
I look forward with eager anticipation to the civility police on the political Left in this country swinging into action and condemning Hoffa’s use of gutter language and apparent confusion of next year’s election with a war.
Obama got the endorsement of the Teamsters in 2008 by suggesting that he was open to less federal oversight of the Teamsters. The federal oversight has been going on since 1991 as part of an ongoing effort by the feds to rid the Teamsters of mob influence. The Teamsters’ Union has long been opposed to the federal oversight, for reasons that I will leave to the perspicacity of my readers.
President Obama, at the rally where Hoffa gave vent to his inner thug, immediately condemned the intemperate remarks and renewed his call for greater civility in politics. Naah! Actually President Obama praised Hoffa. Continue reading
Ah, but Klavan on the Culture, Conservatives, because of their ideas, are by definition always uncivil, while Liberals are always civil, at least according to the Mainstream Media, also known as the Media fewer and fewer people pay attention to. Ed Morrissey at Hot Air took a look at an example of this recently:
“Froma Harrop, a member of The [Providence] Journal’s editorial board and a syndicated columnist, has been named president of the National Conference of Editorial Writers. The NCEW is a 64-year-old professional organization. Its members include editorial writers, editors, broadcasters and online opinion writers. One of its new missions, the Civility Project, endeavors to improve the quality of political discourse.”–Providence Journal, April 15
Morrisey noted the above and then had this example of Harrop being civil in one of her columns:
“Make no mistake: The tea party Republicans have engaged in economic terrorism against the United States–threatening to blow up the economy if they don’t get what they want. And like the al-Qaida bombers, what they want is delusional: the dream of restoring some fantasy caliphate. . . . Americans are not supposed to negotiate with terrorists, but that’s what Obama has been doing. . . . That the Republican leadership couldn’t control a small group of ignoramuses in its ranks has brought disgrace on their party. But oddly, Obama’s passivity made it hard for responsible Republicans to control their destructive children. The GOP extremists would ask Obama for his firstborn, and he’d say, ‘OK.’ So they think, why not ask for his second-born, to which he responds, ‘Let’s talk.’ ”–Froma Harrop syndicated column, Aug. 2
That dig apparently annoyed Harrop, who responded on her own web site yesterday. Her explanation is, to say the least, entirely self-serving, and she twists the definition of “civility” into knots in order to explain her double standard:
I see incivility as not letting other people speak their piece. It’s not about offering strong opinions. If someone’s opinion is fact-based, then it is permissible in civil discourse. Of course, there are matters of delicacy, and I dispensed with all sweet talk in this particular column. And I did stoop to some ad hominem remarks, I’ll admit. Continue reading
All the recent hubub about our political rhetoric led me to re-read a book by Peter Wood called A Bee in the Mouth: Anger in America Now. It was published in 2006, so at the time Wood focused mainly on the angry political rhetoric of the left. He didn’t claim that political anger was solely a phenomenon of the left, but most of the examples of heated rhetoric came from left-wing sources. (This, by the way, is where I got that quote from Paul Krugman that I cited last week.)
At any rate, Wood concentrates on what he terms “new anger.” He acknowledges that there has always been heated political argumentation, but that stylistically much has changed. People worked hard to suppress anger – witness George Washington’s dedicated attempts to control his quick temper. Now anger is celebrated. It has become something of a performance art in our modern society, and we celebrate expressions of righteous anger. As someone who titles his personal blog (tongue-in-cheekly) the Cranky Conservative, I can see the merits of his argument.
Though Wood makes many decent observations, there are two problems with his book. Continue reading
Yesterday Rush Limbaugh said that Democrats should be denied health care. No, no, wrong radio personality! If Rush had said anything that stupid, rest assured that you wouldn’t have had to wait to read about it on this blog to learn of it. The networks would have been shouting the news and condemnatory editorials would have been thundering from newspapers coast to coast. Instead it was just Garrison Keillor, National Public Radio’s Mark Twain wannabe, who decided that there are just too darn many Republicans and by gosh something should be done about it. (As they would doubtless phrase a call for gopcide in Lake Wobegon.) Writing in the Chicago Tribune, Keillor has this charming sentiment:
When an entire major party has excused itself from meaningful debate and a thoughtful U.S. senator like Orrin Hatch no longer finds it important to make sense and an up-and-comer like Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty attacks the president for giving a speech telling schoolchildren to work hard in school and get good grades, one starts to wonder if the country wouldn’t be better off without them and if Republicans should be cut out of the health-care system entirely and simply provided with aspirin and hand sanitizer. Thirty-two percent of the population identifies with the GOP, and if we cut off health care to them, we could probably pay off the deficit in short order.
Denying health care on the basis of political ideology. Nice guy. Of course Keillor was merely joking. He has a long history of hating Republicans, but I am sure he merely jokes, and perhaps fantasizes, about the deaths of those who have the temerity of disagreeing with him politically and in reality he would never harm a fly. At least a Democrat fly.
I am allergic to political cable tv shows, talk radio, and nightly news. I cannot watch or listen to these programs for longer than fifteen minutes without subjecting anyone within earshot to a lengthy rant. And so I won’t pretend to be deeply familiar with Glenn Beck’s work. Instead, I’ll rely on Joe Carter at First Things:
There isn’t much I could add to the criticisms—from the left, right, and center—that have been made against him in the last few weeks. His recent comments have shown that he’s a naked opportunist who will say anything to get attention: If he’s on his television show on Fox he’ll pander to the audience by saying that President Obama is a racist who is ushering in an age of socialism, if not the apocalypse; then, when he is in front of Katie Couric and CBS News, he says that John McCain would have been worse for the country than Obama (which begs the question, “What exactly is worse than the socialist/communist/fascist apocalypse?”).