The Unattractive Truth About "Heart-wrenching Decisions"

Thursday, May 28, AD 2009

A guest post at the League or Ordinary Gentlemen provides an interesting critique of pro-choice rhetoric from a doctor who is himself pro-choice:

[quoting a pro-choice advocate covering Obama’s Notre Dame address]

Good, I thought. It will be from the parent of the mentally retarded high school student who was gang raped, the doctor of an 11 year old incest victim, or possibly a woman with four kids already whose husband has just lost his job and medical benefits along with it.
Boy, was I wrong.”

The above desired examples of women (or girls) seeking abortion are precisely the kind of examples that do nothing whatsoever to further the purpose of honest debate about abortion in this country. Women (or girls) in such circumstances are chosen as examples because theirs are the stories most likely to evoke sympathy from most people (even if they do not sway the edicts of the Holy See). That Ms. Burk would cherry-pick them is not surprising, but nor does it speak to her desire to see abortion honestly discussed.

My trouble with her examples stems from my own experience as a doctor in New York City. For a few years, I worked in a clinic that provided free care to adolescents and young adults. I saw many, many young women who had become pregnant unintentionally. Many of them went on to deliver and parent their babies. Many opted to abort. (Before moving forward, I should clarify that our clinic did not provide abortions, but did serve as a point of referral.)

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8 Responses to The Unattractive Truth About "Heart-wrenching Decisions"

  • Please- stop this Third Way stuff. Discussing compromise on these matters. Not. Going. To. Happen. The above physician lists very real issues that the pro-aborts in their Rhetorical and Suppositional Wonderland fail to address. As though it’s a Third Rail issue- along with Social Security. The fact that this physician any states some very harsh truths about a real-live medical office shows that he is moving, gently but firmly…..to the pro-life side. If Bernard Nathanson could repent and jump the fence, many more medical professionals may follow. We can anticipate mass migration just from the horrorshow that is Planned Parenthood. We are not Europe. Our collective consciences have not been completely numb. Watch and pray over the next two years. A regular prayer request in my daily Rosary is the reversion of public feminists such as Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell. Time to add pro-abort medical pros to the list. Without them, no baby-killing.

  • I wasn’t intending my brief remarks at the end to suggest some sort of “third way” policy, so much as to observe that since even many who consider themselves pro-choice are revolted by abortion as it often exists in this country (when they actually come face to face with the realities involved) we should as pro-lifers be able to achieve a great deal in the way of restricting abortion before we find ourselves pushing against the tide of public opinion.

  • The doctor writes in a fantasy world. How many “back-alley” abortions has he come across? Or is he depending in the rhetoric of the abortion movement.

    I note the condescension of his “The young women I saw, profoundly unready to be parents”. So he will recommend a procedure which will affect them for the rest of their lives.

    I have ever found it particularly bizarre that a man would be “pro-choice”. It is like asking a man if he would vote for brothels. No skin off his nose.

  • This doctor does not seem to recognize his own moral responsibility for his patients’ indifference to the destruction of human life. True, his clinic does not actually perform abortions, but it apparently dispenses contraceptives to sexually active young women, and it points them in the direction of the nearest clinic if they choose to abort. It thereby legitimizes recreational sex and treats the creation of new life as an undesirable side effect. In that way, it makes concrete for these young women the amoral theories expressed in the Roe and Casey decisions.

  • I think it’s important to note that MOST Americans believe abortion should be banned except in the case of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. This represents roughly 1% of the cases. So, if the political interests and activist judges would step aside for the democratic process, 99% of abortion could be banned.

    Now, that doesn’t mean we as pro-lifers would be willing to compromise, we would continue to fight until all abortion is banned, but Lord would it be a glorious day when 99% were. The graces that could flow from such a change would be enormous.

  • I think it’s important to note that MOST Americans believe abortion should be banned except in the case of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.

    That isn’t the case.

  • Yes, in point of fact it is.

  • Well, Matt, the ones on the pro-obortion side act as if they believe most Americans believe abortion should be banned in all but rare, icky cases; why else would the pro-aborts distrust the voters so much and run to the courthouses for their abortion-on-demand legislation?

    I too have long been suspicious of all that rhetorical boilerplate about “heart-wrenching decisions” coming from pro-abortion politicians and activists. Such words don’t fit in with their efforts to make abortion acceptable and no big deal.

    As for those cases that supposedly make choosing life soooo hard, let’s ask the pro-aborts to identify just how many there really are and why abortion-on-demand should be the law of the land in order to deal with a miniscule number of tear-jerker cases.

Tortured Credibility

Friday, May 22, AD 2009

It has become an oft repeated trope of Catholics who are on the left or the self-consciously-unclassifiable portions of the American political spectrum that the pro-life movement has suffered a catastrophic loss of credibility because of its association with the Republican Party, and thence with the Iraq War and the use of torture on Al Qaeda detainees. Until the pro-life movement distances itself from the Republican Party and all of the pro-life leadership who have defended the Iraq War and/or the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” on detainees, the argument goes, the pro-life movement will have no moral authority and will be the laughing stock of enlightened Catholics everywhere.

Regardless of what one thinks about the Iraq War and torture (myself, I continue to support the former but oppose the latter) I’m not sure that this claim works very well. Further, I think that those who make it often fail to recognize the extent to which it cuts both ways.

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42 Responses to Tortured Credibility

  • I don’t think being “pro-life” will lose credibility because the position is True, but “pro-lifers” who associate with other violations against human dignity might.

    Personally, I do not understand how a thoughtful Catholic can support the Iraq War. I’ve yet to really hear air tight moral justifications for it, and if memory serves the entire run up to the invasion reeked of jumping the gun while post 9/11 emotions still ran high. Not exactly conditions for sober decision-making.

    The decision was not only an act of aggression, it was unconstitutional and a strategic blunder. It put us on the road to bankruptcy and rather than secure our safety I believe it to be contributing to an environment for further violent conflict. The truth is, almost a decade out from 9/11 and we were given Saddam Hussein on a platter instead of Osama bin Laden.

    The fact of this occurring under a Republican administration is rather irrelevant. If party actually mattered the war funds would have been taken away by the Democratic congress at any time after 2006. Now, half a year into Obama’s tenure and the line on withdraw is “give us three years”.

    The fact that this messy war has tainted other Republican “values” is not surprising. Look at everyone suddenly crying out that capitalism has failed!

    I would expect that if Obama does not end the war in a satisfactory way by the next election, or if there is a new conflict in Pakistan or Africa… leftist values too will begin to be dragged down. Voters will become sick of everything he says, just like Bush. The anti-war left would likely be as deflated and the pro-life right.

    If you ask me its the insanity of tribalism at work. If you take the “us vs. them” two party system and combine it with the general ignorance… well what do you expect? And besides, its not as if people on the genuine left and the genuine right really make it into power, is it?

    The war was never about securing the American people. It was however, about securing the American federal government; it dominance and control. Thats something both center-left and center-right can agree on. Ironically, they are losing both bit by bit, British-style.

    To this day I believe that the path to regain power is within Republican hands: all they have to do is repudiate the war. Maybe change their name, too. 🙂

    As far as the pro-Life movement is concerned… I do indeed think it is in their best interest to grow beyond the party. I think they have to if they are looking to build majorities that can withstand the back-and-forth of American politics.

    Most libertarians seem to be pro-choice, which is mind-boggling. There’s room there to grow a little bit.

    Pro-lifers do not need a majority of Democrats on their side. Just enough to make the larger party think twice when it comes to abortion legislation. They have to consider which piper they are going to pay. If abortion were more often argued in terms of the civil rights movement, perhaps left-leaning politicians could be persuaded.

    I guess, Darwin, my broader point is – none of it matters. Its tit-for-tat politics and none of the influential players are interested in moral consistency, just majority-building. By defending the Republican alignment of values or that the pro-life movement is perfectly at home where it is, you’re playing into the hands of pollsters and politicians.

    Or, perhaps I made no sense, even to myself.

  • Personally, I do not understand how a thoughtful Catholic can support the Iraq War. I’ve yet to really hear air tight moral justifications for it, and if memory serves the entire run up to the invasion reeked of jumping the gun while post 9/11 emotions still ran high. Not exactly conditions for sober decision-making.

    Well, I think I can at least claim to have been sober, in that I’d supported forcibly removing Hussein from power ever since 1991. I considered it profoundly immoral for Bush Sr. to have called on the people of Iraq to rise up against their dictator, with the implicit promise that the US would support them, and then leave them to die in the hundreds of thousands instead. I would have supported an invasion at any time since then, and I considered it to be justified, given that Iraq had never satisfactorily obeyed the 1991 cease fire anyway. If Clinton had been willing to get rid of Hussein at any point during his term, I would have supported that.

    I do think that the WMD justification was poor at best. Yes, there was a general belief (even among Iraq’s military) that they had chemical weapons. But they were not a great threat to us. However, given that I’d been in support of deposing Hussein for over ten years already, I didn’t consider the punitive justification a major obstacle to what seemed long overdue already.

    But, I can certainly understand why other Catholics would believe differently.

    By defending the Republican alignment of values or that the pro-life movement is perfectly at home where it is, you’re playing into the hands of pollsters and politicians.

    I don’t know that I’m so much defending the status who as pointing out that it’s hardly surprising to anyone. There are parts of the GOP platform that I absolutely disagree with (I’d support open borders) but I don’t think anyone does himself any favor by getting all worked up over where the current alignments are. It’s ludicrous to claim that the pro-life movement has lost credibility as a result of being associated with the GOP in a way that immigration reform and opposition to the death penalty haven’t as a result of being associated with the Democrats. All are known to be highly partisan agendas with established bases of support, and pretending that’s news to anyone does not strike me as doing one credit. Even if one would appreciate realignment.

  • “It’s ludicrous to claim that the pro-life movement has lost credibility as a result of being associated with the GOP in a way that immigration reform and opposition to the death penalty haven’t as a result of being associated with the Democrats. ”

    I suppose it would depend on how you see credibility. The movement is philosophically credible by being moral and constitutionally correct. But politically I can see how some would say they’ve lost credibility in terms of their ability to win elections, win court cases and influence legislation. If a movement is going to cast its lot with one party, then its goals are inevitably tied to the success or failure of unrelated issues. Only the thick-headed would exclusively equate political success to intellectual legitimacy.

  • Anthony,

    If a movement is going to cast its lot with one party, then its goals are inevitably tied to the success or failure of unrelated issues

    the movement has no choice but to cast it’s lot with one party since the other party is diametrically opposed to it’s principles and has rejected it outright.

    You’re not proposing some ridiculous third-party option, are you?

    The suggestion that some sort of post facto repudiation of the Iraq war will make even the slightest difference in the next election is living in the past, open your eyes and look forward. Whatever the key issue of 2010 and 2012, it will not be Iraq 2003-2008.

  • The suggestion that some sort of post facto repudiation of the Iraq war will make even the slightest difference in the next election is living in the past, open your eyes and look forward. Whatever the key issue of 2010 and 2012, it will not be Iraq 2003-2008.

    This is due to american historical amnesia, of course.

  • Rather a reaction to the coming Obama Crash. Unless there is a major terrorist attack, and I wouldn’t rule that out, the economy will be the overriding issue in 2010 and 2012 and the signs are not good currently for Obamanomics.

  • Michael I,

    what Donald said. But also, the American people realize that right or wrong the Iraq invasion was a bipartisan decision that most of the people agreed with as well. Their disatisfaction was almost entirely due to the poor state of affairs until it was rectified by the surge which President Bush (R) ordered at the recommendation of General Petreus (R?), and the urging of Senator McCain (R), and the majority of the Republican party. The main thing people will think about with regard to Iraq will be that it was won by the Republicans before Obama took over, or that Obama snapped defeat from the jaws of victory, very unlikely since he kept on the Robert Gates(R) to ensure that it wouldn’t happen.

    Donald is exactly right, the issue of 2010 and 2012 will not be Iraq 2003-2008. If I had to predict, sadly, it will be economic malaise, inflation, crushing federal deficits, massive tax increases, and quite possibly devastating terrorist attacks or other security issues (Russia, Iran, North Korea, take your pick).

  • “the movement has no choice but to cast it’s lot with one party since the other party is diametrically opposed to it’s principles and has rejected it outright.”

    I think the point is not whether or not the choices, in the short-term, of what seemed best for the survival of the movement is correct. After Roe v. Wade, the Democrats became increasingly dominated by pro-choice politicians, supported by the abortion-minded groups, etc. The GOP was very welcoming.

    I think the point of the criticism (right or wrong) is that possibly unforeseen affects are what we’re experiencing now.

    I think he is saying that the pro-life movement by making itself dependent solely on the success of a single party has made its own success contingent on that party. If positions predominantly accepted by that party are, largely down-the-list, against one’s best judgments of what better achieves justice then despite their pro-life convictions, some will feel disenfranchised and/or uncomfortable or even alienated by the rest of pro-lifers, some, not all, of which give a blind stamp of approval to the platform because of the party’s stance on life issues.

    And because this issue has divided itself across party lines, it appears to be a partisan issue when it really should not be.

    I posted a link from a story in the Human Life Review a while back talking about trouble pro-life Democratic candidates had in receiving funds, despite their records, from pro-life groups; other problems included Republican candidates being endorsed over pro-life Democrats with untainted abortion records — though, as far as I know, this hasn’t happened so much on the federal, rather than, state level. It’s why people — rightly or wrongly — say that some pro-life groups might as well be Republican PACs.

    Another problematic case is the fact that pro-life Democrats are so “diaspora” and not collectively organized at the local levels that it makes it rather difficult, even for principled, pro-life Democrats to actually launch a campaign. They don’t have the resources, even for those who are unequivocally pro-life. Some settle and work in the trenches for pro-life groups or other justice causes. Others simply — and I imagine this happened during the Reagan years — became Republicans.

    As a result, it is very very difficult for the pro-life movement to enter the realm of the Left because fellow pro-lifers are suspicious, perhaps with valid reason, to suspect “double talk” or false pro-life credentials.

    However, this very reality, I think makes the pro-life movement a house divided against itself while the pro-choice movements is moving in lock-step and that’s the source of their temporal victories.

    Now, I’m sure no one is saying that a one-party pro-life party is the way to go to. Some are hesitant, I’m sure for valid reasons, that it is difficult, or even counter-productive, to support self-described “pro-life Democrats.” Perhaps they’re right.

    However, here are my criticisms — some valid, perhaps some not. Everyone will have to judge for themselves.

    When Reagan was the president, the pro-life movement gained quite a bit of ground. Yet, the Clinton Administration quickly turned the direction of abortion and bioethical policies the other way. The Bush Administration was eight years of undoing the damage done by the Clinton Administration and restoring and adding new pro-life policies. Now we’re in another reversal.

    This tit-for-tat can keep going, or the other party can be infiltrated from within. There has not been much ground on this made, necessarily, but the organization Republicans for Choice (http://www.republicansforchoice.com/) are all but invisible. After the election, I’ve read a many articles and seen many people claiming that it was the “values-sector” of the party driving out moderates with their alleged extremism and litmus tests. I’m not making their argument; I am simply stating their assertions. The GOP, as seen, has no problem recruiting pro-choice Republicans to run for office (more than likely in liberal districts) to win office. I suppose the thinking is that it’s better to have someone with you 90% of the time then 0%.

    This reality tried to manifest itself in the 2008 GOP presidential primaries. The pro-life movement responded forcefully — not for the best candidate in my view — but responded nonetheless. Yet, I cannot help but wonder: what if?

    What would happen if the GOP with its new RNC Chair, Mr. Steele, so committed to “inclusion” and diversity and non-application of litmus tests went in a different direction? What if, God forbid, at some point, the pro-life movement split between viable candidates and all pro-choice and socially moderate Republicans concerned with fiscal conservatism, not cultural values, line up behind a single, less-than-pro-life candidate?

    I think that’s the bind. What is a pro-life person to do in this situation? Surely, a hypothetical, cynical GOP strategist might ask: would they really go to the other party? If this did occur: what would you do? Some I imagine would put a protest vote and not vote at all. Others would vote for the GOP, take what they can, and work to change the case next time. But it would surely be a source of division and debate: a house divided against itself. It seems that if voting is a moral obligation, then, one can’t simply sit at home and let good pro-life Republicans lose their seats and more pro-choice seats be taken in Congress by the Democratic party. What about pro-life Governors? What about the Presidency? The latter of two who appoint judges (depending on the State) and can realistically set a judicial seat in the pro-choice camp for perhaps a generation. Right now, that’s the scare with Obama’s SC nominee coming. Surely it would be better — and on this no one disagrees — that power can exchange between the parties and there would be little concern over nominee’s abortion positions.

    It seems that the success of the pro-life movement rises and falls with the GOP. I think it’s problematic.

    I don’t think it’s nonsense per se to envision Republican strategists, pure pragmatists, to realize that abortion is a potent electoral tool and not so much a human rights issue. This isn’t to say that there are several candid and sincere pro-life Republicans serving in public office.

    In the last 40 years, there have been only 2 Democratic appointments to the Supreme Court. Reagan chose two nominees that ended up being pro-choice and so did Bush I. Seven of the nine Justices since Roe have been made by Republicans and the pro-life movement has not garnered the votes needed by the court in order to get a 5-4 majority.

    This goes back to the question of pro-life Democrats. I think many Democrats who are pro-life cannot garner the resources or support to make it to office. The Democratic party won’t fund pro-life candidates, but rather would search for pro-choice candidates — anyone — to run in opposition to such candidates in primaries. That’s the key. A pro-life Democrat might do fine in a general elections against a Republican. In recent decades, they usually win. But rather it is the Democratic primary is an incredible challenge because of a lack of resources to compete against their fellow party-members who are singling them out surely over abortion. The GOP doesn’t hesitate to fund it’s pro-choice candidates: primaries are fair game. Let the voters decide.

    The list of pro-life Democrats who had high political ambitions who realized this reality is growing. Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Jesse Jackson, Joe Biden, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Dennis Kucinich, and many more were all at one point pro-life.

    Now certainly there change of conviction is morally incorrect and a reflection of poor character and courage. Many of such candidates do so for political expediency; others remain “pro-life,” but compromise their position and “moderate themselves” to win some base votes that they otherwise cannot win office without. Some later become explicitly pro-choice; others try to uphold the pro-life facade. Surely, the cooperation in evil doesn’t justify such actions. However, I think the fact that this occurs reflects a support that is not there, not just for cowards who will compromise, but for those who genuinely will seek office and never win it because they aren’t willing to sell out their principles.

    Yet, it just makes me wonder, if a pro-life Democrat launched an exploratory committee to seek the presidency and actually made it onto the ballot for the Democratic primary, how many pro-life groups or pro-life Americans, might actually extend help in resources for such a candidate to survive the assaults of NARAL, Emily’s List, and Planned Parenthood which is without a doubt the most organized, financed political movement in the U.S.? I’m skeptical of the number of people who would cross over from the GOP and cast their vote to ensure the pro-life candidate wins. I’m sure they have their reasons for it as well.

    I’m not sure anything I’ve said is valid or just my jumbled, ramblings.

    Perhaps, my most controversial thought is this…

    I won’t say it is a double standard.

    I just will say I dislike the reality. It seems that to be authentically a pro-life Democrat you must support Republican candidates, even with the most strident conviction that these candidates will not work fervently, or even with passion, to curtail the horror of abortion — but are rather giving you lip service. Right or wrong, I believe this to be the case. Yet, if you vote for or support pro-life Democratic candidates, some, again, not all, will see this as a moral compromise and support for “pseudo-pro-life” candidates. To such candidates, much scrutiny is given; but this same critical eye is not extended to the pro-life politicians in the GOP; it seems to me, perhaps, I’m wrong, they get quite a bypass. Nor do such individuals see any sort of necessity in helping such candidates win and defeat pro-choice candidates in a party direly in need of pro-life presence.

    Pro-life Democrats can never achieve leaders seats on committees and roles of leadership if they aren’t greater in number to be a force not to be thrown around.

    So, at the end of the day, pro-life Democrats seem to have a responsibility to ensure that Republican candidates beat pro-choice Democrats; yet, the issue of pushing their party in a more pro-life direction, seems to be an issue that is sort of “their problem” — and I cannot see how this current reality doesn’t lend itself to helping the Republican party politically. It maintains its hold on a crucial voting bloc.

    So, not so surprisingly, I agree, at least, in part with critics that the pro-life movement in some respects behaves like a Republican PAC.

    As it so happens, two parties that are pro-life forces competition, competition produces results. It seems then that pro-life Democrats are a potent tool for pro-life success. Even from 2000 to 2006, not a piece of pro-life legislation could pass through Congress without the remaining pro-life Democrats to neutralize and overcome pro-choice Republican votes.

  • But also, the American people realize that right or wrong the Iraq invasion was a bipartisan decision that most of the people agreed with as well.

    Not true, and also irrelevant.

  • “the movement has no choice but to cast it’s lot with one party since the other party is diametrically opposed to it’s principles and has rejected it outright.

    You’re not proposing some ridiculous third-party option, are you?”

    No, I’m proposing that we patiently persuade… a lost art in the United States.

    There has to also be a way that makes the pro-life cause and Democratic political interests better partners. Recall that after 2004, some Democrats began to wonder aloud (perhaps not seriously, but still) of becoming more friendly to the pro-life side of things. I had hoped the “Blue Dog” Democrats might be a moderating force, but not so it seems..

    Though, a third party would always be welcome in my view, however unlikely. It will never happen until enough disillusioned but still caring individuals decided to organize and work to breakdown election rules.

    “The main thing people will think about with regard to Iraq will be that it was won by the Republicans before Obama took over”

    I don’t agree. I think people will see it as an expensive mess (fiscally and morally) by Republicans that had to be cleaned up with more expenses by Republicans.

    And in the not-to-distant future they will see that Obama is carrying on that proud tradition, just in a lefty, Oprah-y way with nice posters and logos. Whether they have the courage to see past it remains to be seen.

    “The suggestion that some sort of post facto repudiation of the Iraq war will make even the slightest difference in the next election is living in the past, open your eyes and look forward. Whatever the key issue of 2010 and 2012, it will not be Iraq 2003-2008.”

    You’re joking right? If they don’t repudiate it then why would those of us who can remember past last week believe them ever again? I used to be fairly Republican 8 years ago. I’ll never vote for either major party again unless there is fundamental changes in attitude. I don’t care how naive or idealistic it is. We’re Catholic, for pete’s sake. We’re supposed to be better than this.

    The Republicans either lied, were incompetent or made bad judgement. All are good reasons to be kept from power as long as possible. “The Surge” no matter how militarily successful is irrelevant to the underlying issues that got us into the situation in the first place. If “winning” in Iraq looks the same as our perpetual “victories” in Korea, Vietnam, Japan, Germany, etc. then… no thanks.

    Don’t get me wrong… the Democrats are guilty of all that too!

    “Donald is exactly right, the issue of 2010 and 2012 will not be Iraq 2003-2008. If I had to predict, sadly, it will be economic malaise, inflation, crushing federal deficits, massive tax increases, and quite possibly devastating terrorist attacks or other security issues (Russia, Iran, North Korea, take your pick).”

    The Iraq war is not over, so it is not “2003-2008”, its “2003-present”. Its Obama’s War now, just like Afghanistan and his little games in Pakistan.

    I agree that economic issues are going to be the issue. But gee, I wonder what contributed to this mess… perhaps our ludicrously expensive foreign policy based on principled values like bribery or blowing things up.

    Will inflation be the issue? Of course, thanks to the billions spent, borrowed or created at the start of Bush’s term and exponentially increased under Obama.

    If a “security issue” (real, imagined or just for fun) does come up, you can bet that they’ll sell it as beneficial to our economic woes. Which is like saying WWII ended the Great Depression (it didn’t). Or perhaps they’ll say that this war (presuming its Iran) will be cheaper because the troops are already there! The cannons can be adjusted just a few degrees further east!

    I must say… if there is another “devastating” terrorist attack and the U.S. goes into another post-9/11 funk of spending and shooting…I’m not certain the “Republic” can survive in anyway thats worth describing as free.

  • Anthony, I agree. Despite my own previous assumptions, I’m not so sure I’ll be crossing over and helping the GOP in 2010; maybe not in 2012.

    I might have a straight down the line Pope Benedict XVI ballot.

  • “I might have a straight down the line Pope Benedict XVI ballot.”

    My mind is being tragically torn into a million pieces that the very thought of Pope Benedict XVI, Vicar of Christ, Bishop of Rome… and POTUS!

    Thomas Jefferson would be very, VERY disappointed!

  • If you say you won’t support pro-life Republicans in 2010 or 2012 for office against pro-abortion Democrats… what’s the logical conclusion?

    If you say you don’t want the Republicans back in power any time soon, and you’re not insane enough to think that somehow a magical third party will take sweep the congress in 2010 and the presidency in 2012, then the only conclusion is you prefer the RADICALLY pro-abortion Democrats.

    If you don’t see the strategy of supporting the Republican party straight ticket, then vote your conscience on each legitimate candidate on his own merits. That’s the ONLY moral option.

  • I said I’d write in candidates.

  • Michael J. Iafrate,

    Not true, and also irrelevant.

    Of course it’s true, 70% of the population supported the invasion, and both parties with a very few exceptions.

    Relevence? It’s relevent to the point of what will happen in 2010/2012.

    Anthony,

    No, I’m proposing that we patiently persuade… a lost art in the United States.

    I agree, we should patiently pursuade the luke-warm to be on fire for pro-life, and for the pro-abortion to be pro-life or at least luke-warm. THis applies to either party of course. Franly though, you can have a much greater influence on Republican platforms that you like or don’t like than you will on dropping abortion from the Democrat platform. THere is just a lot more tolerence for dissenting views in the Republican party.

    “The main thing people will think about with regard to Iraq will be that it was won by the Republicans before Obama took over”

    I don’t agree. I think people will see it as an expensive mess (fiscally and morally) by Republicans that had to be cleaned up with more expenses by Republicans.

    I don’t think most people really have as short a memory as you do about the invasion (bipartisan and popular support), if their memory is short they’ll probably only remember that we won (unless Obama snatches defeat from the jaws of victory, and that they’ll REALLY remember. Expensive? In 2003-2008 terms perhaps, but it is so small compared to Obama’s spending sprees it will not really factor on the decision.

    You’re joking right? If they don’t repudiate it then why would those of us who can remember past last week believe them ever again? I used to be fairly Republican 8 years ago. I’ll never vote for either major party again unless there is fundamental changes in attitude. I don’t care how naive or idealistic it is. We’re Catholic, for pete’s sake. We’re supposed to be better than this.

    Actually you may not be aware but there are bigger things at stake than a popularly supported invasion in 2003, the Church is pretty clear on this, abortion is a much more serious issue. 40 million murdered innocents and counting… no comparison.

    The Republicans either lied, were incompetent or made bad judgement. All are good reasons to be kept from power as long as possible. “The Surge” no matter how militarily successful is irrelevant to the underlying issues that got us into the situation in the first place. If “winning” in Iraq looks the same as our perpetual “victories” in Korea, Vietnam, Japan, Germany, etc. then… no thanks.

    Shame on you.

    The Iraq war is not over, so it is not “2003-2008?, its “2003-present”. Its Obama’s War now, just like Afghanistan and his little games in Pakistan.

    That’s my point, Iraq war, initiated under popular support, waged by the Republicans (poorly at times, but later brilliantly and successfully) from 2003-2008. The wrap-up is Obama’s to screw-up, it will not help him if he lets the job be finished properly, but it will devastate him if he screws it up.

    I agree that economic issues are going to be the issue. But gee, I wonder what contributed to this mess… perhaps our ludicrously expensive foreign policy based on principled values like bribery or blowing things up.

    Have you actually looked at military spending as % of federal spending or GDP? It’s tiny. Other “foreign policy” spending is money that’s been wasted for decades, nothing new here, I’d drop most of it immediately.

    If a “security issue” (real, imagined or just for fun) does come up, you can bet that they’ll sell it as beneficial to our economic woes. Which is like saying WWII ended the Great Depression (it didn’t). Or perhaps they’ll say that this war (presuming its Iran) will be cheaper because the troops are already there! The cannons can be adjusted just a few degrees further east!

    I must say… if there is another “devastating” terrorist attack and the U.S. goes into another post-9/11 funk of spending and shooting…I’m not certain the “Republic” can survive in anyway thats worth describing as free.

    are you a pacifist? I’m wondering, because you seem to make no distinction between just and unjust wars, ie. real = just, imagined, or just for fun = unjust.

  • Eric Brown,

    I said I’d write in candidates.

    let me get this straight. You consider your objections to the Republican platform to be on such a morally equal level to abortion, even when balanced against the alternative’s incredibly immoral policies… that you would vote AGAINST a viable and authentically pro-life candidate in your congressional district, or for president?

    Think about your position here, it’s untennable. If there is a viable and authentically pro-life candidate you have a moral obligation to support him. In the case of two less than authentically pro-life candidates the Church leaves your conscience to measure the best course, but not when one of them is authentically pro-life.

  • Well, I voted for quite a few Republicans in 2008 and not without a lot of hesitation.

    However, the problem is, that I don’t take at face value that the GOP and Republicans are “authentically” pro-life. Better on abortion than Democrats by far, but not per se…

    And I am not sure if it is a Catholic moral obligation to vote straight ticket Republican.

    I might have reservations to cooperate in the scheme, but I’m not opposed to doing it.

    Read my earlier post.

  • “Actually you may not be aware but there are bigger things at stake than a popularly supported invasion in 2003, the Church is pretty clear on this, abortion is a much more serious issue.”

    Killing is killing. Maybe you’re capable of making value distinctions between innocent, unborn children and innocent Iraqi lives (unless you’re convinced none are innocent), but I’m not.

    The “bigger picture” you refer to is only a numbers game. But the result is the same: death, unintended consequences and damage to human dignity.

    “Shame on you.”

    I’m going to explain myself rather than take that personally. This is the internet after all.

    Our intervention in Japan and Germany is not over. We’re still there, in one capacity or another. And we shouldn’t be, regardless of whether the Germans or the Japanese wish us to be. Here it is 60 years after a terrible and bloody war and American treasure is still being sent abroad to places in which the native peoples are more than capable of taking responsibility for themselves.

    Oh yeah, and dropping two atomic bombs? Morally reprehensible. Nothing to be proud of about that. I can’t imagine Christ doing anything other than weeping.

    So sorry, I’m not going to take The History Channel view of American “victory”.

    “Have you actually looked at military spending as % of federal spending or GDP? It’s tiny. Other “foreign policy” spending is money that’s been wasted for decades, nothing new here, I’d drop most of it immediately.”

    Its a trillion dollar war now, Matt. Plus untold losses on the Iraqi side and an incalculable amount lost in terms of productivity. Who cares about percentages at that point?

    If that money had to be spent, it would have been better but towards meeting our burdensome domestic obligations. The bills are adding up…

    By other “foreign policy” spending… do you mean wasted things like… diplomats?! Linguists?! Negotiators?! You know, the guys that try to resolve problems without killing someone. 🙂

    I’ll give you one thing, if you’d get us out of the U.N. I’d back you up. Thats some prime property here in Manhattan I’d love to see sold off.

    “are you a pacifist? I’m wondering, because you seem to make no distinction between just and unjust wars, ie. real = just, imagined, or just for fun = unjust.”

    I don’t consider myself a pacifist. I do however, believe that the threshold for a just war is extremely high and rarely reached. Additionally, in cases where it is justly reached rarely is it justly executed. I have the same attitude towards the death penalty.

    The American Revolution and The Southern War for Independence to my mind were justified. (I also want to include The Texas Revolution, but my memory is a bit faded on it) Our involvement in WWII was justified, but I think we should have no delusions about the politics that lead up to our entering the war. I also believe portions of how WWII was executed were unjust.

    The Spanish-American War, WWI (a special shout-out here), the Korean War, Vietnam, Gulf War I and II etc. are unjust wars in my view.

    The current war in Afghanistan should have been formally declared after 9-11, with victory clearly defined. My opinion has been that it should have been declared specifically against Al-Qaeda, since they did the same to us in the late 90s. War against the state of Afghanistan should only have been declared if they chose to continue material support to Al-Qaeda.

  • I think the issue is less guilt by association than it is the fact that association can draw you into defending things that really shouldn’t be defended. Over the past month, for example, folks at EWTN, First Things, Inside Catholic and the American Life League have defended the use of torture (or enhanced interrogation, or whatever they’re calling it these days). They didn’t have to do that, and I suspect that if the sides had been reversed (with Dems largely supporting these methods and Repubs opposed) that they wouldn’t have done so. But there’s something about politics that makes people feel that they need to “defend their team” regardless of the system.

    To some extent this may be inherent in the nature of politics (if it weren’t for this political ‘team spirit’ I doubt you could get very many people to participate in the political process or even vote). And it certainly applies on the left as well as on the right. But the danger is real.

  • Blackadder is correct.

  • In the last 40 years, there have been only 2 Democratic appointments to the Supreme Court. Reagan chose two nominees that ended up being pro-choice and so did Bush I. Seven of the nine Justices since Roe have been made by Republicans and the pro-life movement has not garnered the votes needed by the court in order to get a 5-4 majority.

    In the interests of precision it should be that George Bush – pere made just two appointments to the Court, one of which worked out badly. Please also note that Republican presidents have had to maneuver eight of their last 12 court appointments past a legislature controlled by the political opposition. This reality has been salient with regard to the tenure of Anthony Kennedy and David Souter. One might also note the list of registered Democrats who have sat on the Court since 1969 (one of which was nominated by Gen. Eisenhower):

    1. William O. Douglas
    2. William J. Brennan, Jr.
    3. Byron White
    4. Thurgood Marshall
    5. Ruth Bader Ginsburg
    6. Steven Breyer

    Not one of them had to run an obstacle course erected by a Republican Senate. Only one of these (White) ever showed much resistance to enactment by judicial ukase of whatever the prevailing ethos was in Georgetown (and it is doubtful that Mr. Justice White’s most controversial acts of refusal would have been regarded as remarkable either in the legal professoriate or among politicians at the time he was appointed in 1962). Seven of the twelve Republican appointments have been failures, in part because of negligence (Gerald Ford’s and George Bush-pere’s), incompetence (that of Richard Nixon, John Mitchell, and John Dean), and in part because (it is reasonable to surmise) of successful deception by the candidate in question (Sandra Day O’Connor).

    What is a more interesting question is why Mr. Brown would have more than a laconic interest in the competition between the two parties with regard to any other nexus of issues. Both parties are promoters of some version of the mixed economy. The Democratic Party is a reliable ally (the Republicans merely acquiescent) in the promotion of the designs of the social work industry, the organized appetite of academia, the teacher’s colleges, and the public employee unions. Certain subcultures within the population appear to be tribal Democrats). Why should these distinctions excite Mr. Brown’s loyalty?

  • Anthony, I think a lot of it depends on whose ox is being gored. Being partly of Cuban ancestry, I would take issue with your statement that the Spanish American war was unjustified–or at least, that element within it that consisted of Cuban citizens fighting to rout their foreign rulers. And while my Southern creds are impeccable, I confess that I remain deeply divided about the legitimacy of the Wah of Nawthun Agression–particularly the nasty little bit of Confederate adventuring in Charleston Harbor that set off the whole powder keg.

    I am glad to see, however, that you have no false illusions about WWII. Though there is no doubt in my mind that it was justified, I have often reflected recently that the brutality inflicted by all sides–Allies included–in that conflict, makes the sturm und drang about the Iraq War seem doubly ridiculous.

  • Art,

    Then it seems then that more careful vetting would be something GOP presidents should work on and pro-life advocates should strongly affirm that they desire anti-Roe judges and won’t settle for compromises.

    Even in the 1980s, the Democratic party was markedly pro-choice, but there were still a few pro-life Democratic votes in the Senate and I don’t think it was filibuster proof. I’d have to look into that; I’m not so sure if compromise and “moderate” candidates was so necessary.

    Agreed, however, that O’Connor was successful. I must say that I’ve been disappointed with the most recent women firsts — Supreme Court Justice, Secretary of State, Speaker of the House, to be particular. They were all pro-choice…so sad.

    On another note —

    I am a Democrat because I agree predominantly with the party’s platform. And I feel that I simply wouldn’t fit in with the GOP. I practically diverge away on every issue.

    In regard to competition, my only point was that if the Democratic Party had a pro-life plank, the GOP couldn’t half-ass deliver on its promises or fail to give abortion the priority it deserves because pro-life advocates could find a home and place in the Democratic Party. Therefore, competition would increase and the party’s would try to out do each other — but the effect of that is real progress in stopping abortion.

    In other words, the tit-for-tat of pro-choice vs. pro-life means one Administration puts in place pro-abortion policies, another Administration rolls it back, then again, and again. Progress is very slow; if this were not the case, then progress would quicken.

    My feeling on this is that the pro-life movement because of the grave evil of legalized murder doesn’t have the luxury to make up strategy as it goes. I happen to think our current strategy is too tied up in one party. People can disagree; but I think my reasons are valid. Thanks.

  • cminor – Wars for political independence usually to my mind are justified. Or perhaps I just have soft spot for people who wish to be left alone and chart their own course. As I’ve argued over in the past – I believe there is great value behind the principle of secession.

    What I object to in my list of unjust wars is the element of military intervention. Its one thing to philosophically support foreigners, or offer them peaceful-oriented material support (food, medical aide, etc. – mostly for civilians). Violent intervention is a bridge too far. I’m one of those guys who think neutrality is a legitimate and respectable response to foreign wars, especially ones at great geographical distance.

    Eric –

    I’m of the personal view that if the Democrats did have a pro-life bench they would be wildly successful and almost impossible to defeat.

    Granted I’m not a Democrat and never will be. The concerns that their platform addresses I might have heart for, but their solutions more often than not have unintended or misunderstood consequences. LBJ’s Great Society, for example, was anything but. FDR’s social security has contributed ironically to making us less financially secure. These policies, sold to the American public as being in line with liberty, over time make the population dependent – and I would even say pawns or slaves – to the state.

    The Democrats are in essence the party of social and economic intervention. The Republicans are a party of moral intervention and militarism. When politically convenient or necessary, both parties will swap philosophies.

  • Wars for political independence usually to my mind are justified. Or perhaps I just have soft spot for people who wish to be left alone and chart their own course. As I’ve argued over in the past – I believe there is great value behind the principle of secession.

    Interesting. In most ways, I think I would tend to say the exact opposite.

    Indeed, one of the American wars I have more difficulty justifying is the Revolution. And my sympathies in the Civil War are definitely with the North.

  • The Republicans are a party of moral intervention and militarism.

    that’s the talking points anyway. In reality, the Republicans as a policy advocate for intervention in the cause of justice, to protect the lives and rights of the citizens. As to militarism, look again, far more military interventions under Clinton than under Bush or Reagan. Regime change in Iraq was a Democrat policy also.

    Eric,

    I am a Democrat because I agree predominantly with the party’s platform.

    Wow. That’s quite a statement since many of their platform items are contrary to Catholic teaching.

    – abortion
    – contraception
    – secularism
    – limiting the rights of parents to educate their children

  • Matt,

    Last time I checked, party platforms are quite long lists.

    National security policies (which covers an array of issues), foreign policy (again an array of issues), health care, public funding of education, energy, taxes, fighting poverty through private and public sector solutions, and the list goes on.

    If you consider the whole of the platform, I agree with the vast majority of the points.

    Lastly, I don’t think anywhere in the party platform does it state we support “secularism.”

    I’m not saying that many Democrats have a wonderful understanding of the idea of separation of Church and State, but that’s flat out not in the platform.

    I didn’t say I agree with every point of the platform.

    If we had a point list and went down the party platform of each party and I had to respond ‘agree’ or ‘disagree’ — the Democrats would win. Ask me to vote between candidates and probably not.

    Matt, could you really work on not being so overly aggressive and condescending as a commenter? Seriously. It’s not really in this post, but there are more charitable and engaging ways to address people.

    You could have said quoted my comment and asked:

    “Eric, could you clarify what you mean here? A few tenets of the Democratic platform contradict Catholic teaching.”

    That’s very charitable and not so assuming.

    I’m sure we’re all guilty, but we argue on this blog so much about “good” Catholics and “bad” Catholics, let’s strive to actually imitate Jesus.

  • Darwin –

    Perhaps living in Texas will influence your outlook. Certainly myself having been born and raised in Houston I experienced a subculture in America that took pride in its republican sovereignty as a historical footnote. However, Texas by and large is mostly just ‘bark and no bite’ when it comes to independence. Post-Civil War they’ve been properly beaten into submission and made to feel guilty (like the rest of the South) for ever daring to give Washington the screw.

    In the case of both The American Revolution and The Civil War the ultimate goal was not destruction of the enemy but merely her expulsion. If the South succeeded in gaining independence, perhaps the war would have been known as ‘The Southern Revolution’ or ‘The Second American Revolution’. Had both the above conflicts been genuine ‘civil wars’ I would think the endgame would involve usurping power in London and Washington D.C.

    Thats all I’ll say… I’m already too far off topic.

  • The American Revolution and The Civil War the ultimate goal was not destruction of the enemy

    The ‘enemy’ in the first case was the legitimate central government.

    As for the second, I think one can argue that secession was permissible as a matter of positive law. The thing is, both the continued subjection of the slaves and the effort necessary to discontinue that involved the use of force.

  • ****
    that’s the talking points anyway. In reality, the Republicans as a policy advocate for intervention in the cause of justice, to protect the lives and rights of the citizens. As to militarism, look again, far more military interventions under Clinton than under Bush or Reagan. Regime change in Iraq was a Democrat policy also.
    ****

    Matt,

    Maybe I’m being dimwitted, but I think you just responded to my ‘talking points’ with your own set.

    The Republican record is atrocious, especially when it comes to the litmus test of a strict reading of the Constitution and following what I can only presume are Jeffersonian principles. On matters of free speech, spending, declarations of war, states rights and social/government programs they have not lived up to their speeches. They pick and choose which rights and which liberties and which kind of justice just as much as Democrats.

    Our politicians are ‘Cafeteria Constitutionalists’ if I can paraphrase.

    Clinton might indeed have more military interventions (Somalia, Kosovo, Iraq immediately spring to mind), but the cost was no where near that of Bush II. My ‘militarism’ reference is more geared toward the current state of the party and the cultural attitudes attracted to it.

    Like I said above, those described philosophies are also quickly swapped depending on the political weather. Right now, for instance, the Republicans have become much better on a variety of issues. The problem is they have zero credibility.

  • *****
    The ‘enemy’ in the first case was the legitimate central government.

    As for the second, I think one can argue that secession was permissible as a matter of positive law. The thing is, both the continued subjection of the slaves and the effort necessary to discontinue that involved the use of force.
    *****

    I’d love to debate all these points, but it is another topic thread. Unless we have permission to go free-for-all. 🙂

  • Anthony,

    Following the self-indulgent principle of “it’s my thread so I’ll take if off topic if I feel like it”, because this strikes me as an interesting topic:

    I guess the hang-up for me is that as a conservative (and also looking at Church just war teaching) that regional independence (or national self determination, or call it what you will) is not an absolute good. In the case of the American Revolution, it strikes me that the injustices being imposed by the British were arguably very small compared to the evils of a drawn out war. Though the political philosophy of the American founding fathers strikes me as sufficiently far superior to that of the British empire that I an strongly tempted to say it was worth it anyway.

    In the case of the Civil War, I’m mildly sympathetic to states rights, but the stand was only being taken over states rights in order to insist on slavery. In that regard, I would happily have carried a rifle for the Union.

    Still, interesting conversation. I hope you’ll be around next week when I post my review (possibly multi part) of Empires of Trust. That should generate some interesting conversation.

    Blackadder,

    I think you’re right on tribalism. The temptation seems to have been too strong for some pro-life advocates to defend what they should not. Though at the same time — I don’t necessarily see the mistakes of those people as discrediting the movement as a whole. Or at least, it should not do so in the eyes of people who have long been used to swallowing the bitter pill of abortion support in the leaders they look up to on various “social justice” issues.

  • *****
    The ‘enemy’ in the first case was the legitimate central government.
    *****

    I don’t think I’ve heard anyone argue that the British crown was illegitimate, just tyrannical. The grievance, as I remember, was basically that a.) the crown’s actions were unjust and economically destructive, and b.) there was not sufficient representation in Parliament for the American colonies to voluntarily submit if they wanted to.

    Had those matters been better negotiated I would not have seen much cause for political separation. But they weren’t, so in my view it was justifiable to expel the threat to life, liberty and property and replace it with a better suited form of governance. It was time, as they say, to ‘appeal to heaven’.

    With regard to the war between the states its messier and more complicated, but similar to the situation with Britain.

    Let me first say that slavery is as reprehensible as abortion, contrary to any conception of liberty and should be rejected at all times and by all peoples. Were I living in America circa the 1850s, 1860s I would have been anti-slavery, but at peace with Southern secession.

    I often wonder if perhaps by allowing the South to secede, in time slavery could still have been done away with; particularly if Southern states sought to rejoin the Union at a later date. That way we could avoid the half million American deaths and a century of racial and and cultural resentment that is the Civil War’s sad legacy.

    I do not believe that slavery was the exclusive issue at stake in the Civil War. Not every individual fought for the same reason. If truly the war was one of liberation and not one of radically changing our Union’s understanding simultaneously, then permitting secession followed by an invasive mission to free slaves would have made more sense. Abolishing slavery in those states that did not secede would also have been more consistent on the part of the Union. Buying slaves and freeing them would also have made more sense. But both sides dug in… there had to be more to it than the lone moral debate over slavery.

    The South, in my view had a natural and popular desire to dissolve a political arrangement; no matter how imperfect or disgusting their own house could be. (Slavery, if I recall rightly, was enshrined in the CSA Constitution).

    Also I believe there to be legitimate historical and philosophical arguments over Lincoln’s goals at the war’s outset and the role tariffs and taxation played in further aggravating the conflict. Pro-Union historians who concede certain points about Lincoln usually argue that the president grew into being ‘The Great Emancipator’ over the course of the war thus legitimizing the “it was all about slavery” view. But if that is to be allowed then it could also be allowed that for the South what began as a wrong-headed defense of slavery grew into a larger and legitimate cause for political liberty.

    Its a real historical shame that the principle of ‘state’s rights’ – or rather a deference to local government – is tainted by the stench of slavery. Perhaps its only fitting that large, federal government is duly being connected to the stink of abortion, euthanasia, war and economic foolishness.

    *****
    I guess the hang-up for me is that as a conservative (and also looking at Church just war teaching) that regional independence (or national self determination, or call it what you will) is not an absolute good.
    *****

    I’m not certain there is much to say from the Church’s perspective and I only have a few, sketchy thoughts here.

    For one, after life, liberty is a natural and necessary condition in order for mankind to pursue good. I tend to think that if liberty is abridged (either by a state or individual) it further complicates pursuing a moral good via moral means. An individual or a people placed in a desperate situation they’re likely going to react desperately I’d imagine. The slave is legitimate in his revolt against the master, just as the South had legitimacy in its desire to no longer be under Washington’s growing power.

    Second, and perhaps more telling, concerns the general attitude towards ‘the State’. Where as I see the Church as a ‘higher’ form of institution that teaches and loves (however imperfectly some times), the State is considerably lower or lowest in my estimation. Indeed, I find it positively parasitical and unproductive.

    I would note that this does not mean I am not patriotic. I love my country. I love its peoples, my family, my friends, its lands, its culture and even its intellectual traditions. I cannot transfer that love to the State, indeed I find love of state to be dangerous and inescapably competitive with the things I ought to love (my neighbor, my God, etc.).

    Were I to run for office, my platform would likely be to tie the federal government’s hands as much as possible and follow the Constitution to the letter – even when inconvenient.

  • As has been remarked, parliamentary representation in Britain prior to 1832 was quite haphazard – – rotten boroughs, pocket boroughs, dominacy of Lords over Commons, &c. The lack of assignment of representation to the colonies was an aspect of that. (To this day, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, and the residuum of overseas colonies do not have such representation). Why a series of excise taxes should spark a territorial revolt is an interesting question, from a sociological standpoint. Excises on paint and paper and tea may be good or bad policy. Such does not ‘tyranny’ make.

    Lincoln’s original motivations are an historical question. My purpose was to make a rough and ready statement as to why I would conceive of the use of force in that circumstance as legitimate.

    Personally, I think the U.S. Constitution is manifestly defective and should be scrapped.

  • I did not know about the sketchy representation in Parliament. Huh… the more you know!

  • Anthony

    As to Lincoln and the Civil War

    As a Southern one hears that often the Victors write hisotry. However as to the Civil War I often find the losers(we southerners) have often wrote it or “rewrote it” with amazing success. This was whiched one of its climaxes when Woodrow Wilson was elected and suddenly that horrid film he screened became the offical line

    First there is no evidence that Slavery would have gone away. It seemed to be growing by leaps and bounds in Texas. That was once a Catholic NO SLAVE STATE. It is without a doubt that SOuthern Leadership wanted a slave empire. Their constant designs on Cuba and Central America a prime example. In fact a slave Manifest Destiny with desgins on California. I suspect if things had gone differently if DC had been captured and even Philly I am not so sure that areas like New Mexico and Arizona to say the least would have been given back. There was consideravle Confederate action in New Mexico for example and the COnfederate recognized a Arizona Seccesionist Govt

    As to the “growing Federal Power” if you look at the Seccession Declarations of the States SLAVERY was the issue. While a few threw in talk of light houses and the occasional tariff this was the prime concern

    Southerners had used Federal Power quite a bit. They imposed a gag rule on Slavery in Congress, the mails could be censured of anti slavery things. Also what they wanted in the end was a Federal Slave Code. That would have been the largest exapnsion of Federal Power ever. In fact it was largely on this that the SOutherners broke with the Democrat party on that fateful day in Charleston at the Democrat Convention

  • First there is no evidence that Slavery would have gone away.

    Counter-factual speculation is somewhat idle. However, it ought be noted that the abolition of slavery in the United States was appended to the abolition of hereditary subjection all over Europe and Russia over the period running from 1789 through 1864. (Admittedly, serfdom is a qualitatively different institution). Also, I believe that the abolition of slavery in Brazil was enacted just a few years after the close of the American Civil War.

  • Well, the boll weevil would have done in the cotton industry one way or another, so retaining large quantities of slave labor would have become considerably less profitable for one major export at least. Importing new slave labor would also have become increasingly difficult and unprofitable, considering that standard practice on the big plantations in immediately antebellum Georgia and the deep South was to work slaves more or less to death over several years and then replace them. Slave escapes would likely have largely emptied border states (maybe we’d have a wall down the middle of the continent!) There might still be slavery, but not to the same extent as before; likely the system would have gotten extremely draconian before finally starting to fizzle, however.

    Currently I live in a South that, all things considered, is in pretty good shape. If a war (that we started) is what it took to bring the abomination that was slavery to an earlier close and my Confederate forefathers had to lose it so that this corner of the country wouldn’t degenerate into a demagogue-ridden third world state, though they haunt me for saying it, it’s just as well.

    For the record, I got the full Southern version of history in grade school. The victors didn’t write it all.

  • BTW Anthony, what other issues governed the decision to secede to anywhere near the degree of slavery? Please.

  • My favorite history of the Civil War was written by Shelby Foote, and the best study of command in the Civil War, Lee’s Lieutenants, was written by Douglas Southall Freeman. When it comes to the Civil War, the Southern viewpoint has produced myriad first class histories.

  • “BTW Anthony, what other issues governed the decision to secede to anywhere near the degree of slavery? Please.”

    I never said slavery was not part of it. My view has always been that the debate over slavery poured into a lager crisis over the meaning of the Union.

    I merely reject the argument that the Civil War was exclusively over that acute issue. The question of both liberty for slaves, political liberty for the Southern States and the Union’s meaning under the Constitution.

    You can’t disconnect the slave issue from its Constitutional aspects, its economic aspects any more than you can its moral ones. I’d also add that as one who leans rather libertarian the lens through which I’m viewing things is liberty itself. Questions of authority are antithetical. Why can’t one believe that slaves should be free and Southern states free? It seems rather “American” to me.

The Culture of Death and Consumerism

Monday, May 18, AD 2009

Contributor Joe Hargrave posted a link to an interesting new essay of his today on the topic of the Culture of Death and its connections to consumerism. It’s an interesting essay, and I encourage people to read it. I do not pretend to similar length or erudition in this piece, but in formulating some thought about Joe’s essay I realized that it would be very long for a comment, so I’m writing it up as a post here instead.

There are a lot of things I found interesting and wanted to discuss (or dispute) in your essay — perhaps in part because I get the impression that our areas of historical knowledge are somewhat non-overlapping (I know most about 3000 BC to 400 AD, you seem to be most expert on the last two centuries), and the person who imagines himself an expert in anything invariably has all sorts of quibbles with what the “outsider” writes. However, I’m going to try to stick to what I think is my most central critique.

Joe finds at the root of the culture of death the materialistic and individualistic phenomenon of modern consumerism, and about consumerism he says the following, beginning with a quote from Pope John Paul II:

Continue reading...

7 Responses to The Culture of Death and Consumerism

  • Darwin,

    Thanks for taking an interest in my article. I appreciate the time you took to respond to it. Here I will address some statements regarding my positions.

    You write,

    Joe seems to see the evil of consumerism as being that of reducing the human person to its exchangeable value.

    It would be more correct to say that I see that as one of the evils. The very passage you quoted before making this observation shows what I think is perhaps more crucial; consumerism consistently appeals to our ‘lower nature’, to what is base and selfish within us, whether in the form of commercials, entertainment, eating, public events, etc. Our lower natures are easy to ensnare and enslave to addiction, ensuring repeat business. Our higher natures take years of patient guidance to cultivate properly.

    After describing some rather mundane pettiness in modern society, you go on to to say,

    Yet this is not, I think, merely a product of a cash economy or a capitalist society. Rather, it is a sinful tendency which is much deeper in our fallen natures.

    My response is that I would not try to isolate one cause, but to show which cause exerts the most influence at a given time. Our sinful, fallen nature is a constant throughout history. On this you and I will agree. The question is, how will it express itself? Humans have always had selfish tendencies, but in previous forms of society, and in non-Western forms of society, these tendencies have consequences that people want to avoid. Part of the problem of consumerism is that it not only removes consequences for selfishness, but encourages it. That makes a pretty big difference, I’d say.

    The next point I would address is this:

    For instance, modern capitalist society is much less violent, on a daily basis, than many previous societies. Not that wrath itself is necessarily less, but that wrath is less often expressed in physical violence.

    I suppose, in times of relative peace, this is generally true within such societies – though I don’t recall any previous society where school children took a sword to school one day and started slaughtering classmates in a fit of existential angst.

    That said, modern capitalist society is most certainly sustained through violence – in other parts of the world. We’ve been down this road before; cheap third world labor is brutally exploited to make modern capitalist society a reality. Workers are denied their rights to organize, to political protest, to form unions and parties that will advance their interests. Repression means cheap labor which the West has not only taken advantage of but sought to preserve through policy.

    The sanitized world many of us inhabit is an illusion propped up by blood and dirt and violence of every sort. So I do reject this notion of a more peaceful society.

    This is perhaps the more important point to address:

    I don’t necessarily see that people working for a collectively owned firm would be less inclined to treat others as objects than those working for a publicly traded corporation — just as I don’t necessarily see that those who belong to a credit union would be less likely to use their money to buy porn than those who use for-profit banks.

    I don’t think cooperative economics is going to necessarily cause people to stop looking at others as objects. That is more of an end goal to be reached after generations of living and thinking differently. What I do believe, however, is that we have to start somewhere. What cooperative enterprises do is take the individual, isolated atoms and links them together, at first only materially. For it to succeed, everyone must be concerned with everyone else’s performance and well-being. One person’s problem quickly becomes everyone’s problem.

    Over time, these enterprises must cooperate with one another as the people within each one cooperate amongst themselves. And then, these enterprises cooperate with all of the other institutions in the community. A material sub-structure of cooperation is created, and our daily habits have undergone a transformation. A corresponding transformation of thinking and perceiving develops. Combined with a Catholic moral philosophy, ever-present in the life of the community, a new respect for others is developed.

    My main point is that consumerism is as much a complex of unconscious social programming as it is conscious reflection and activity. Our daily routines take on an ideological life of their own and influence the way we think about everything. Our Christian values can serve as a strong buffer against evil influences but values can only go so far. A rearrangement of the daily routine is also required so that our physical brains are in sync with what the mind and heart want.

    I probably should have said all that in the essay. If I decide to include it, I will credit you for it!

  • Original sin.

  • Joe,

    Thank you for your thoughtful and irenic response to my response. As I was writing, and as usual finding myself to run long, I was hoping that I wouldn’t come off as brash or aggressive. I hope I didn’t — but if I did I’m thankful that you took it in your stride.

    Hoping to continue in this vein:

    consumerism consistently appeals to our ‘lower nature’, to what is base and selfish within us, whether in the form of commercials, entertainment, eating, public events, etc. Our lower natures are easy to ensnare and enslave to addiction, ensuring repeat business.

    I agree that in the modern world the satisfaction of our baser instincts becomes a major temptation — specifically that emphasis on consuming which provides the illusion which we can satisfy our deeper human needs by owning or consuming some material thing.

    However, I’m not clear that this is the result of a capitalist economy so much as the natural reaction of our fallen nature to a wealthy society. Throughout history, we see those in a given society who are wealthy acting in much this way. The lure of consumption seems to be a constant in any society with enough material wealth to consume, regardless of its economic system. In this sense, I’m not sure that anything other than becoming significantly more poor would “solve” the problem, and then only via lack of opportunity.

    By this I don’t mean to ignore those teachings which have to do with moral behavior in the business realm, but rather to argue that this doesn’t represent a “move to his economic model and this will fix everying” prescription but rather an attempt by our popes in the last 140 years to provide us with a moving target idea of how to treat our brothers and sisters with the human dignity they deserve in whatever economic conditions we happen to find ourselves in at this time.

    Humans have always had selfish tendencies, but in previous forms of society, and in non-Western forms of society, these tendencies have consequences that people want to avoid. Part of the problem of consumerism is that it not only removes consequences for selfishness, but encourages it. That makes a pretty big difference, I’d say.

    Here I would disagree with you on two points:

    1) I don’t think it’s accurate to characterize previous and non-Western societies as having provided greater negative consequences to prevent selfishness than our modern society — except to the extent that these societies were poorer and lacked welfare and charitable institutions such that one had a greater incentive not to offend those in one’s community enough that they wouldn’t help you in need. However, even just looking at the Bible (parable of Dives and Lazarus, parable of the talents, parable of the treasure in the field, etc.) it seems to me pretty clear that people exercised selfishness to the maximum that they believed they could get away with.

    2) The characterization of our modern economy as encouraging selfishness strikes me as taking a somewhat self-defining view of what free exchange is. One can say that the principle of free exchange means that everyone will be best off if everyone has the maximum of selfishness, but one can just as well (and I would actually argue more accurately) describe the principle of free exchange as meaning that one many not expect to take any benefit from another person without providing that person with a benefit of equal value. In that it’s called “mutually beneficial” exchange, one might as well characterize it as consisting of making sure you always give as much as you get, as making sure that you get as much as you give.

    That said, modern capitalist society is most certainly sustained through violence – in other parts of the world. We’ve been down this road before; cheap third world labor is brutally exploited to make modern capitalist society a reality. Workers are denied their rights to organize, to political protest, to form unions and parties that will advance their interests. Repression means cheap labor which the West has not only taken advantage of but sought to preserve through policy.

    To the extent that this is true (I tend to think that you over-emphasize this element a bit, taking the worst excesses of developing world abuse and extrapolating them as if this was the universal experience of the deloping world), is that necessarily different from other societies. Within the medieval European world that I know a fair amount about, there was a long history of incredibly bloody peasant revolts. And even during “normal” times, the social order was maintained through what we would see as very repressive laws.

    For all that developing world industrial workers are kept from unionizing, feudal serfs could be flogged or worse simply for the offense of trying to leave their land and seek a better living somewhere else. (And never mind the slaves who formed the analogous workforce in much of the ancient world.) And for all that pay is often low in the developing world, serfs often lived on landed estates where not only was the amount of food left for them after the lord to his share small, but if they dared to “steal” the wild fish and game that could be caught on the land, the punishment was anywhere from flogging to hanging.

    Indeed, it seems to me that the primary exit from this kind of societal violence and repression is when a society becomes sufficiently developed that there is plenty of material wealth to go around.

    What cooperative enterprises do is take the individual, isolated atoms and links them together, at first only materially. For it to succeed, everyone must be concerned with everyone else’s performance and well-being. One person’s problem quickly becomes everyone’s problem.

    Over time, these enterprises must cooperate with one another as the people within each one cooperate amongst themselves. And then, these enterprises cooperate with all of the other institutions in the community. A material sub-structure of cooperation is created, and our daily habits have undergone a transformation.

    I know this is something we’ve bumped up against a number of times in the past, but I remain skeptical of this development path because my experience of the business world is that it already requires this kind of cooperation — and while I would certainly say it is possible to follow a path towards holiness in the modern capitalist economy, it doesn’t do the work of guiding us there for us. But I certainly cannot succeed in the absence of my coworkers and those who work for me doing so. Nor can a company succeed without helping those other companies it works with to prosper. It’s good, and pleasant, and that interconnectedness is one of the things that I enjoy about the business world, but I certainly don’t see it as necessarily guiding people towards a personal transformation away from consumerism.

    It strikes me as harder and easier than that — more work for us personally as we seek holiness and right-orderedness, yet less work in that these things do not require a re-ordering of economic institutions from the ground up.

    Not that I object to the employee owned enterprises that you admire (though I do suspect that they must end up running more top down than you imagine on a daily basis — or else they would have to be based on very non-complex business models) it’s just that I don’t necessarily see them as solving the problem that we’re discussing.

  • Darwin,

    Thanks again for responding.

    You write,

    However, I’m not clear that this is the result of a capitalist economy so much as the natural reaction of our fallen nature to a wealthy society.

    I think we should dispose of the phrase ‘capitalist economy’. I don’t think I once used the word ‘capitalism’ in my entire essay, or in my response to you. To me the major conflict in economics is between democracy and oligarchy. Democratic, cooperative firms based upon private property and marketplace competition would by most definitions be called ‘capitalist’.

    Next,

    this doesn’t represent a “move to his economic model and this will fix everying” prescription but rather an attempt by our popes in the last 140 years to provide us with a moving target idea of how to treat our brothers and sisters with the human dignity they deserve in whatever economic conditions we happen to find ourselves in at this time.

    I must say, neither of these are correct. No one is suggesting that ‘everything will be fixed’ – it is not a fair representation of what I believe.

    More importantly, however, the Popes have passed clear moral judgments on both economic liberalism and communism, and more recently on consumerism. Catholic social teaching is not, and cannot be made into, a guide for individuals to cope with unjust social structures. It is a guide for Catholics who do, or seek to, play a role in shaping society in various ways. I truly mean no offense, but I honestly cannot see how one can read a social encyclical or the Compendium and interpret them in the way that you do. Pius XI did not say, ‘when you find yourself in a society gone mad with individualism do a b and c, and when you find yourself in a communist dictatorship, do x, y, z” – he sharply condemned both ideologies, declared that they were unacceptable for Catholics, that they were in error, immoral, out of control.

    Regarding the dispute over past and present societies, it is clear to me that consumerism is a new breed of selfishness. Without disputing the basic idea that people have always been selfish, the point here is that they are now expected and encouraged to be. We are not expected to marry, bear children, participate in civic life, or any number of things that were expected of a person before. These things are now simply one among many choices at the great buffet of life. And now we see with fertility treatments, genetic manipulation, and transhumanism, attempts to reduce every aspect of the reproductive process itself to a consumer act. A nearly 70 year old woman even 100 years ago could not indulge a selfish desire to bear a child, but today she can – it is suicidal madness and a gross injustice if a being can even be born to a woman so old, but they will try because the technology is here.

    As you say people will push the limits, and the deal is that the limits have been pushed, further and further. Technology has made it possible remove natural restrictions on selfishness.

    We will agree to disagree I suppose on the amount of violence it takes to sustain the ‘American way of life’. 1.5 million dead babies a year through abortion is violence enough.

    As for the work situation, I don’t know exactly what kind of work you do, but I do know that the typical American business is not a ‘community of solidarity’ in any meaningful sense of the term. Workers are often interchangible parts in a money-making machine. Unless you are particularly skilled, you are expendable. 80% of Americans work for a wage.

    It should be clear that what I am talking about goes far beyond what passes for cooperation in America today. The culture of death finds a powerful impetus in social atomization – in the belief that one is essentially to be left alone to deal with one’s problems. In yet another contrast with the pre-modern world, this is something new. With the breakdown of family even that refuge is gone. JP II recognizes all of this in Evangelium Vitae – it is not only a tragedy but a moral indictment of this entire civilization.

    We do not see ourselves as our brother’s and sister’s keepers. We see them most of the time as competition. Maybe this has, again, always been true – but never before has it been a cherished and widely accepted dogma, promoted by official propaganda.

    So what the cooperative does is link our fates and fortunes together in a way that necessitates closer cooperation, the Christian ideal of civic friendship. It is not a quick solution to all problems, it is only intended to be the first step in breaking the cycle of consumerism, atomization, demoralization, and mass murder.

  • Joe,

    I must say, neither of these are correct. No one is suggesting that ‘everything will be fixed’ – it is not a fair representation of what I believe.

    More importantly, however, the Popes have passed clear moral judgments on both economic liberalism and communism, and more recently on consumerism. Catholic social teaching is not, and cannot be made into, a guide for individuals to cope with unjust social structures. It is a guide for Catholics who do, or seek to, play a role in shaping society in various ways. I truly mean no offense, but I honestly cannot see how one can read a social encyclical or the Compendium and interpret them in the way that you do.

    Well, I’ll be honest: I’ve never read Quadragesimo Anno. I read Rerum Novarum some years back, and I’ve read a number of John Paul II’s encyclicals as well as Benedict XVI’s two thus far, but that’s about it.

    I have read a number of sections of the Compendium of Social Doctrine, and to be honest (braces for possible condemnations from all sides) it really annoys me as a document. I can see what is being attempted, but when one dives into the footnotes it quickly becomes clear that a lot of observations and comments being made by the pope (mostly John Paul II, of course, his output having been so high) in various addresses, greetings and travels. However, these are served up in a format that strikes me as purposefully similar to the Catechism, thus often giving the impression that observations or judgements regarding a particular time and place (and not necessarily beyond question or with long track records in Christian doctrine) are given the impression of being absolute doctrines of the Church. This strikes me as symptomatic of a particular modern form of political ultramontanism which will pick out a papal statement on a given topic, however passing or predicated on assumptions which may or may not be correct, and pass that statement off as “the Church’s teaching on X”.

    Thus, I’ve been told at various points that, “The Church teaches that global warming is one of the greatest threats in our modern age.” Or “The Church teaches that greed is the primary cause of the financial crisis.”

    But I digress…

    How’s this for a good faith offer: I’ll commit to reading and systematically blogging through Quadragesimo Anno this summer — though because of existing writing commitments it may not be till around July — and blogging through it as I go. If you’d be interested and have time, we could even do it as a series of co-written posts. If nothing else, I’m sure that I’ll learn something.

    We will agree to disagree I suppose on the amount of violence it takes to sustain the ‘American way of life’. 1.5 million dead babies a year through abortion is violence enough.

    As a toss out thought: I would very much question whether a complete elimination of abortion (and the resulting million plus extra births each year) would actually decrease the US standard of living at all. Indeed, in the long run it might well increase it.

    As for the work situation, I don’t know exactly what kind of work you do, but I do know that the typical American business is not a ‘community of solidarity’ in any meaningful sense of the term. Workers are often interchangible parts in a money-making machine. Unless you are particularly skilled, you are expendable. 80% of Americans work for a wage.

    I certainly wouldn’t consider the massive corporation I work for right now as being a “community of solidarity”, but then, I’m not sure that any organization of much more than a dozen people can have tight solidarity — and by the time you’re in the hundreds it seems quite impossible. And I do work for a wage, though not an hourly one. (Like many skilled US workers, I’m classified as “exempt” which means that so long as I get my allotted work done my employer is not legally able to fuss to much about whether I do it in 45 of 55 hours, and pays me the same regardless.)

    I would, however, describe my team as having a strong sense of solidarity. The one I’ve been on for the last two years consists of ten people. We work together on a daily basis, help each other as needed, know each other personally, and cover for each other when we’re out. Our manager is very open with us in all decision making, and has an open policy that he doesn’t keep track of vacation and sick time so long as we give him a couple days notice and don’t abuse the privilage. (So for instance, two members of the team who have had significant health problems over the last year were both simply covered for rather than having to go on disability.)

    I would see this as being pretty much how things ought to work. And although I recognize that most people are not so lucky in their current situations as I, in many ways I don’t think it’s at all unattainable in our existing economy.

    I do, however, want to see small enterprise grow much larger. Currently there are 20 million small businesses in the US that have no payroll — which means they are one or two person enterprises where all the income goes straight to the owners. They accounted for $970 Billion in sales in 2006, an average of 46k per company. There are another 5 million companies with twenty employees or less, employing 21 million Americans. There’s certainly been a major growth in this small business over the last few decades, but seeing more would of course be better.

  • Ok, quick reply:

    1) On the Church’s social teaching – having read most if not all of the encyclicals that the Compendium references, I think it is a faithful representation of a consistent line of thought, developed in each new historical era by the popes. What some guy tells you is one thing; what the teaching actually says is another. Usually, I don’t reference the Compendium, or if I do, only once – the rest of the time, I go to the source.

    2) Your proposal: I like it – I would only suggest that we then read Mater et Magistra and Laborem Exercens. It can be an ongoing study, however long it takes.

    3) It doesn’t matter. That abortion is an essential requisite for the social mobility of women is an article of faith among feminists and most leftists in America, not to mention the millions of women who get the abortions and the men who also participate. You know you can’t even win the statistic wars when it comes to currently existing phenomenon – forget about it when it comes to projections into the future.

    On the rest: I’ll save it for Laborem Exercens.

  • Even quicker:

    On the Church’s social teaching – having read most if not all of the encyclicals that the Compendium references, I think it is a faithful representation of a consistent line of thought, developed in each new historical era by the popes.

    I’m sure it is accurate on the encyclicals. My beef with it (and maybe this was the particular sections which I read, which as I recall involved living wage, unemployment benefits, welfare and environmental restrictions) was that the footnotes for the concrete policies which I had criticisms of all sourced minor talks and addresses, not encyclicals. I didn’t like that these fairly minor venues were being used to back up very definite policy prescriptions as if they were required by Catholic doctrine. I’d certainly agree they’re compatible with Catholic doctrine, but I don’t think they’re the only policy prescriptions which Catholics can support.

WE ARE AT WAR

Thursday, April 30, AD 2009

bishop-robert-finn

Hattip to Catholic Key BlogBishop Robert W. Finn gave an address at the 2009 Gospel of Life Convention on April 18, 2009 that deserves to be read by every Catholic in this country.  He is blunt, forceful and truthful, qualities that have too often been in short supply among bishops in this country over the last four decades.  Here is the text of his address:

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Irony Alert

Friday, April 24, AD 2009

human-being

Hattip to The Catholic Key BlogComments of President Obama at the Holocaust Memorial in Washington.

“It is the grimmest of ironies that one of the most savage, barbaric acts of evil in history began in one of the most modernized societies of its time, where so many markers of human progress became tools of human depravity: science that can heal used to kill; education that can enlighten used to rationalize away basic moral impulses; the bureaucracy that sustains modern life used as the machinery of mass death — a ruthless, chillingly efficient system where many were responsible for the killing, but few got actual blood on their hands.”

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5 Responses to Irony Alert

  • Good post.

  • Two posts ago (the Colbert Report post) has 0bama lecturing us about losing our moral bearings. This is one sick dude.

  • I don’t know which possibility is scarier: that he may be completely oblivious of the obvious parallel, or that he is perfectly aware of it and doesn’t care.

    The major challenge for Catholics in the next four years will be to mount a credible opposition without allowing it to be characterized as “partisan politics.” Won’t be easy.

  • Great post Donald!

    gary,

    The major challenge for Catholics in the next four years will be to mount a credible opposition without allowing it to be characterized as “partisan politics.” Won’t be easy.

    not with his communications department in bed with pretty much the whole of the media, and liberal Catholics like Kmiec shilling for him.

50 Responses to Notre Shame

  • Mark,

    You crossed the line one too many times with me. I had to delete your comments for the first time ever. I’ve tolerated your obtuseness for far too long.

    Please, if you can’t be constructive don’t comment.

  • Tito,

    You see no presumption and lack of charity in the cartoon you chose?

  • I think Rick Garnett’s take is the best I’ve read so far. In particular, I like the mild tone:

    http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=OTBlNmY2NzM4ODdkNDY0NzRjMzA3OTZlYjg5YzcwYjU=

    Most institutions don’t, in the big picture, really matter. There are workable substitutes available, and lots of other players doing pretty much the same thing in pretty much the same way.

    The University of Notre Dame — which is, obviously, flawed and fallible in many, many ways — does matter. Truth be told, it is the only real hope left for a great university that is meaningfully Catholic. The Church and the world — all of us, Catholic or not, football fans or not — desperately need such an institution.

    This great need imposes a weighty burden. To paraphrase Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben, with Notre Dame’s matter-ing comes a great responsibility to be true to her calling and worthy of her mission. Unfortunately, by honoring President Obama — who has, in recent weeks, taken steps that are glaringly in conflict with his bedrock moral obligation to respect and protect the equal dignity of unborn children — Notre Dame has clouded what should be clear, and deeply disappointed not just her usual critics, but also those of us who want very much for her to succeed (and work hard to help her succeed).

    To say this is not to say that a Catholic university should only invite speakers or engage leaders and thinkers whose views and records are consistent with the Church’s teachings. It is not to question President Obama’s accomplishments or to deny that his election was, in many ways, historic. Certainly, a Catholic university should engage, challenge, learn from, and “dialogue” with, the wider world.

    Still, to do these things, to be what the world needs her to be, Notre Dame has to be distinctive — not weird, “sectarian,” narrow, or nostalgic, but authentic, courageous, integrated, and . . . interesting. Here, I am afraid she failed.

  • I’m not sure I understand the 30 pieces of silver bit. How is Jenkins profiting from having Obama as a commencement speaker?

  • Mark,

    It represents the mood of the country quite well among Catholics.

    John Henry,

    Good article. Yes, she has failed us.

    BA,

    It’s a reference to Judas selling out Jesus for silver, ie, Fr. Jenkins sells out the relatively good name of Notre Dame worldly adulation.

  • It’s a reference to Judas selling out Jesus for silver

    I get that. My question was whether the reference had any basis in reality. I take it the answer is no.

  • BA,

    It can be interpreted any which way you wish.

    Henry,

    This is your last warning.

    Anymore ad hominem’s from you and you will be placed back on moderation. That is my way of dealing with someone who does not practice his Catholic faith by showing a lack of charity in the comm-boxes. The rest of your actions will be left up to God to judge your lies and deceit.

  • I am sure Obama was not invited because of his position on abortion. He was invited because he is president of the United States.

  • “That is my way of dealing with someone who does not practice his Catholic faith by showing a lack of charity in the comm-boxes.

    Tito,

    Where is your charity to Father Jenkins? I would bet my eternal soul that he did not intend his invitation as an endorsement, condonement or acceptance of Obama’s abortion position. And do not hide behind the “mood of Catholics in the country spill, used already above!

  • Tito,

    You compared Notre Dame’s president to Judas. That’s an ad hominem. I think Professor Garnett is right to express some disappointment; but I think some of the commentary has been excessive.

  • Henry Karlson,

    You are now on indefinite moderation.

    Do not ever threaten me again.

    You are a very sad human being.

    May God have mercy on your soul.

  • John Henry,

    I made an analogy, not an ad hominem.

  • ….Jenkins made clear the University is not honoring the president for his stances on these issues, but for his leadership.

    “The invitation of President Obama to be our Commencement speaker should in no way be taken as condoning or endorsing his positions on specific issues regarding the protection of life, such as abortion and embryonic stem cell research,” Jenkins said.

    These “crucial differences” in positions on the protection of life are not being ignored in extending the invitation to the president, Jenkins said, but rather can be used as a catalyst for dialogue.

  • Mark,

    Fr. John Jenkins has repeatedly crossed the line as president at Notre Dame. First with pushing the V-logues on campus and now with the invitation to President Obama.

    If Fr. Jenkins is the president, wouldn’t he have anticipated the uproar that this would cause? If he didn’t then he needs to be fired. If he did, then he is thumbing his nose at God.

    Either way, it was a grave mistake and to come out and say that he doesn’t endorse Obama’s abortion policies is incorrect. He knows full well the contentiousness of abortion in the country, especially as a Catholic priest. He was fully aware what his actions would do, create the scandal that has now hit Notre Dame.

    He bears full responsibility and he has damaged the reputation of Notre Dame and has marginalized himself from Catholic orthodoxy for the forseeable future.

  • John,

    It is certainly creating a lot of ‘dialogue’.

    [ed.] Henry Karlson is besides himself in profane and explicit verbal attacks on anyone who would dare try to protect the lives of the most vulnerable and innocent, the unborn children of God.

    Par for the course for alleged and dissenting Catholics.

  • Henry Karlson,

    Keep digging your hole and I’ll keep deleting your un-Catholic comments.

    You and your fellow dissenting Catholics can bad mouth the Church, Her teachings, and Her followers, but God will have the final say on how you have pushed the agenda of the Culture of Death.

  • Tito,

    As you are well aware, Henry and Mark are not dissenting Catholics. I think Henry’s rhetoric (although it’s been deleted now, so he can’t defend himself) was ill-advised and intemperate. That happens to most people from time to time on comment threads. But he is not a dissenter.

  • John Henry,

    That is where you and I disagree.

    When one leads others away from the faith with lies and deceit, ‘dissenting’ is one of the few kind words I can think of that is allowable in the comm-boxes.

    [ed.]

    And if you consider lies, deceits, and threats to me a form of ‘defense’, then so be it.

  • Tito,

    I am defending abortion in no way, shape or form.

    How do you expect to advance the culture of life, if you do not provide forums to charitably engage with those who have influence, but disagree with you in the public square?

    What if some good comes out of this engagement?

    Perhaps Obama may–albeit ever so slightly–see things with another perspective in mind. He is not pure evil. He is a human being on his way, just like the rest of us, who now has the responsibility of being the leader of the free world. Cannot this be an opportunity?

  • Henry Karlson, [ed.]

    Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits. “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

    — Holy Gospel of St. Matthew 7:15-21

  • Tito,

    For heaven’s sake, calm down.

    And you cannot insult me personally, because I think very little of myself apart from Christ, so don’t waste your energies about my false prohecy deceptive clothing et al. I did not know, for one, that wolves wore T-shirts and dungarees as sheep’s clothing. What if I were wearing my blue blazer and grey flannels? A sweater and khakis? Would that be different?

    Please answer my questions.

  • Jenkins said that Notre Dame was “honored” by the President accepting their invitation. Is there any political position that a President could hold which would cause Jenkins not to be honored by the President accepting such an invitation? Being in favor of the legality of kids being killed in the womb is rather an extreme example I would think. Perhaps if he were in favor of infanticide Jenkins would draw the line? Although considering the fact that Obama raised campaign funds based on his opposition to banning the disguised infanticide known as partial birth abortion I guess that line has been crossed. Perhaps if a President were in favor of cannibalism Jenkins would draw the line?

  • The irony: I’ve been called a “dissenting Catholic” because I said our Lady deserves to be shown respect.

  • Mr. McClarey,

    That is mere social politeness.

  • Greetings,
    Obama deliberately chose the Notre Dame invitation out of dozens of private schools he could have chosen. It is part of his re-election campaign in which he seeks to deceive the ill-informed Catholic voter into believing the rhetoric about “abortion reduction” and him being some sort of “moderate” on abortion. He is using Notre Dame and Jenkins is letting him do it.

    Obama has sized up the Catholic bishops and decided that they are too weak and too cowardly to hurt him. He is basically spitting in their eye to see if he gets any reaction. If he does not get a reaction, he will go further next time. Next up is the removal of conscience rights. Then it will be Catholic hospitals. Eventually it will be FOCA.

    The Catholic bishops need to speak together and Notre Dame needs to lose its right to call itself a Catholic university. If Jenkins had thought that would happen, he never would have invited Obama.

  • No Mr. DeFrancisis, Jenkins extended the invitation to Obama. Obama accepted and Jenkins says Notre Dame is honored by the acceptance. Considering that the invitation was extended in the first place, I take Jenkins at his word. So I repeat my query, what political position would a President have to take before Jenkins would draw the line at inviting him to give the commencement address at Notre Dame and receiving an honorary degree?

  • Just a little thought experiment. Does anyone wish to argue with a straight face that Notre Dame would extend these honors to a President who publicly stated that blacks were an inferior race? I assume that Jenkins would prefer to eat ground glass, and rightly so, before he would honor such a man, President or not. In what way is the moral offense of honoring an overt racist greater than honoring a President who, throughout his career, has fought vigorously for abortion on demand? Could it be because in academia white racism is rightfully regarded as evil, while abortion is regarded as a sacred right? Isn’t the explanation for this decision painfully obvious? The administration at Notre Dame fully subscribes to the beliefs and prejudices predominant in American academia, and opposition to abortion is anathema to these beliefs and prejudices. By inviting Obama they are defending their faith and it has little in common with the Catholic Faith.

  • Mr. McClarey,

    Are you prone to believe in conspiracy theories too?

  • I guess Joseph Cassano wasn’t available to initiate a dialogue on greed and unrestrained speculation.

  • The question (for me, at least) isn’t whether inviting Obama to deliver the commencement is a good idea. I think it was a big mistake. The question is whether comparing Father Jenkins to Judas is a proper way of expressing one’s disapproval of the decision.

    I don’t know Father Jenkins personally, but he was the spiritual director for a friend of mine. She speaks very highly of him.

  • “Are you prone to believe in conspiracy theories too?”

    Mr. DeFrancisis, you can do better than that. Anyone who has dealt with any colleges or universities in the past few decades will readily concede that abortion is viewed as a sacred right, not to say rite, by the powers that be in most of those institutions.

  • If one was serious about thinking Fr. Jenkins to be on a par with Judas because of the decision to invite Obama, I think one would pretty clearly be unhinged. But then, the political cartoon is a genre in which William Jennings Brian was portrayed as a Christ figure for supporting the gold standard (or was it the silver standard?) Overstatement would seem to be the nature of the genre.

    I think it was a very poor decision on ND’s part, but it hardly strikes me as surprising. They’ve had a great deal of difficulty over the years trying to decide how to balance being Catholic with fitting in with the rest of elite academia. And this seems to fit their overall pattern.

    I’d be curious to know why they didn’t invite (or at least didn’t get) Clinton, yet did invite Obama. Was the reasoning for not inviting Clinton anything to do with moral issues, and if so what was seen to be different with Obama?

  • William Jennings Bryan was an advocate of bimetalism often called the “Free silver” policy. The cartoons followed his speech at the 1896 Dem convention where he said “You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.” His rhetorical style was prone to hyperbole.

  • BA,

    I appreciate your genuine concern on the comparison, but Darwin and largebill have expressed my sympathies quite eloquantly on the matter.

    Go in peace.

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  • Christ Himself was given to hyperbole when He felt it appropriate. He had pretty harsh words for the Pharisees whom He called “whitewashed tombs” and “blind fools.” He said things that obviously were not meant to be taken literally, such as “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.” He even had harsh words for His own apostles at times. Yet He can hardly be accused of lacking charity!

    We fallen human beings are going to have a harder time telling the difference between righteous indignation and just plain being insulting. Some of us are going to draw the line in different places that others.

    It is a well known principle of media law that public figures are pretty much fair game for satire, parody and editorial cartooning. Fr. Jenkins, being the president of the nation’s best known Catholic university, should know this. He is not some innocent private citizen being held up to ridicule after being sucked into a controversy not of his own making. He HAD to know this would tick off a lot of people. Since he stands accused of ‘selling out’ one of the most important values his institution is supposed to stand for (right to life from conception to natural death), the comparison to Judas in an editorial cartoon is not, in my opinion, inappropriate. (If it were, you would hear Bill Donohue of the Catholic League screaming about it all the way from NYC.)

  • ” John Henry Says: ….Jenkins made clear the University is not honoring the president for his stances on these issues, but for his leadership.”

    Yeah, promoting the killing of innocent babies not just in the U.S. but globally is a notably excellent leadership quality.

    Heck, might as well hail Hitler for his leadership quality as well given how he raised Germany from the ashes of the first World War — you’ll just have to ignore the fact that he had wanted to exterminate an entire people, which according to some Catholics, unborn babies are not actually.

  • e.,

    That was a quote from the link in the update, not my opinion. I am disappointed by Fr. Jenkin’s decision, but he has at least made it clear that the University does not endorse Obama’s position on abortion on ESCR.

  • Here, apparently, is the cartoon I was thinking of, or at least a similar one:

    http://www.authentichistory.com/postcivilwar/timeline/William_Jennings_Bryan_Cross_of_Gold_Cartoon.jpg

    William Jennings Bryan was an advocate of bimetalism often called the “Free silver” policy.

    Of course, I can never hear of bimetalists without thinking of Evelyn Waugh’s Scott-King’s Modern Europe in which the bimetalists play a memorable (though off stage) role.

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  • Tito,

    You seem to be embarrassing your co-contributors more and more each week. It’s amusing to watch.

    Michael

  • Catholic Anarchist, don’t you have better things to do in the wee hours of a Saturday morning other than to spread bile?

  • Michael,

    You are too old for that type of juvenile taunting.

  • Not taunting at all. Just an observation. Do you disagree?

  • Michael,

    Yes. It’s one thing to have a strong reaction to topics related to abortion; quite another to play the troll (as, I believe, you are). The former is understandable; the latter, to use your phrase, ’embarrassing’.

  • I see. Defend “your own” at all costs. Very american of you.

  • I would have to say it’s a human characteristic, rather than an American characteristic. There seems to be some sort of ridiculous fallacy floating around VN that because a character trait is exhibited by some Americans, it’s unique to Americans or distinctively American.

    As far as whether defending one’s own or a desire to be fair is on display here, that’s for others to judge. As this is not my thread, and we are rather far afield, I will not comment on this any further. I would appreciate it if you did not as well.

  • I think we tend to try to take each case individually, which may or may not be characteristically American — though it does seem to be something Michael can congratulate himself in being quite free from.

    I, for one, am certainly not embarrassed by Tito. He at times makes statements that I disagree with, and when that happens I sometimes ignore it and sometimes tell him so. However far from being embarrassed by him I have a lot of respect for Tito. Among other reasons, because he far surpasses me in the ability to take fraternal criticism honestly and humbly.

  • mong other reasons, because he far surpasses me in the ability to take fraternal criticism honestly and humbly.

    I have seen absolutely no evidence of this.

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To Further Divide Us

Monday, March 9, AD 2009

President Obama has signed an executive order lifting restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, as he promised in his campaign speeches.  For anyone who doesn’t see this as yet one more blow in a long string of anti-life policies, consider the chilling words at the end of the article that people are using to justify the research:

“This was already life that was going to be destroyed… The choice is throw them away or use them for research.”

I wonder how long it would take before we use such arguments on, say, criminals sentenced to life in prison (or who are on death row, even). Or the elderly. Or the sick. Or the mentally deficient. Or…

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27 Responses to To Further Divide Us

  • What you’ll get is everything that FOCA contained but chopped up and passed separately. That way those who voted for him can still claim FOCA didn’t happen.

  • The legacy of Bush, who opened the doors to ESCR…

  • Mark D.,

    No that’s the line over at Vox Nova. Here is my comment from there:

    Henry,
    I believe the funding under President Bush was for stem cell lines already established. The rationale for this is that such line continue to divide and grow and new embryos are not destroyed in their production. From your link:
    “Because stem cell lines divide continuously in culture, these lines can be used by hundreds of individual researchers.? One line alone has already resulted in 136 shipments to researchers.”
    That is significantly different than what Obama has done today.

  • It’s painful to see him undoing everything that was done by the previous administration. I am not keen on this stem cell research….

    http://kellenebishop.wordpress.com

  • Well, Bush is not the president. Barack Obama is and contrary to much of what he said on the campaign trail, he is not really playing any sort of “new” politics.

  • Mark D.,

    Mark DeFrancisis Says:
    Monday, March 9, 2009 A.D. at 3:19 pm

    The legacy of Bush, who opened the doors to ESCR…

    Back at it again? A little more of your partisan and empty rhetoric?

    The NIH could have funded ESCR until he banned it for any new lines, thus, perhaps funding immoral research on already dead embryos, he banned any funding which new research, thus discouraging the destruction of new embryos even more than if he had banned any funding at all.

    Bush did not open any doors, even if he failed to close all of the doors that we might have wanted.

  • My statement stands. Bush’s legacy is ESCR funding.

  • Mark,

    explain your logic?

    oops… I forgot, partisanship and empty rhetoric needs no logic.

  • Bush was the one who closed the door on ESCR funding. Without him and his vetoes we would have had full blown funding long ago. Blaming him for this is Orwellian.

  • Orwellian. Vox Nova. What’s the difference?

  • Okay, trying to score rhetorical points. But it was fun.

    Anyway. Morally I believe the Vatican has pronounced that using STEM CELL LINES is not per se immoral as it does not involve the ONGOING destruction of embryos. From the National Catholic Bioethics Center:

    “What support is there in Church teaching for this position?

    A statement from the Pontifical Academy for Life issued in 2005 holds that one may use these products, despite their distant association with abortion, at least until such time as new vaccines become available”

    Here’s the link to the Vatican document:

    http://www.ncbcenter.org/vaticanresponse.pdf

  • Phillip,

    That is incorrect, the use of vaccine carries a different level of cooperation with evil than the development of same:

    As regards the preparation, distribution and marketing of vaccines produced as a result of the use of biological material whose origin is connected with cells coming from foetuses voluntarily aborted, such a process is stated, as a matter of principle, morally illicit, because it could contribute in encouraging the performance of other voluntary abortions, with the purpose of the production of such vaccines. Nevertheless, it should be recognized that, within the chain of production-distribution-marketing, the various cooperating agents can have different moral responsibilities

    This would be doubly illicit because the embryos are not voluntarily aborted, but typically created for the purpose of destruction. If this research were restricted to “discarded” embryos (which it is not) then it would still be illicit as noted above.

  • The question of Bush’s funding of ESCR I suppose depends on where you’re looking. I don’t like the fact that he permitted any research at all, for the scandal it causes, but at the same time he did put some limitations on the research. I suppose this goes back to the problem of whether or not the perfect is the enemy of the good. In order to claim that ESCR is Bush’s legacy, one must show that his policies increased in the amount of ESCR, which I don’t believe it did (though I’m open to references to the contrary).

    Nevertheless, regardless of scandal, one’s actions are still one’s own. It was Obama who made an executive order lifting restrictions on ESCR, another in a list of nearly daily events that cater to the culture of death and snubs the pro-life crowd.

  • Ryan,

    by way of clarification, Bush did not ban any sort of research, he only banned Federal funding of such.

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  • Matt,

    Thanks. I need to work on being more precise in my posts and comments. The gist of my argument still stands, though, in terms of the effect. Private funding tends to be slightly more discriminating than federal funding, with the effect of the latter providing opportunities for ventures that would not receive private funding. ESCR is one of those areas, especially as it has led to little success and many gruesome results. Cutting the public funding was effectively a ban, but not technically one.

  • Matt,

    I think what Bush allowed funding of was research on already established cell lines and not on continued production of embryos for subsequent destruction to produce new cell lines. Therefore the analogy with vaccines derived from cell lines. I would agree with the potential for scandal even with this policy as Ryan notes. As I asked on Vox Nova, does anyone have a link to what the Vatican said about Bush’s 2001 policy?

  • Phillip,

    I see the connection you’re making, but I think it needs to be recognized that the Vatican response makes a distinction between consuming of the vaccines and producing them, the latter being immoral which would apply to experimenting on the pre-existing lines.

    I don’t believe the Vatican made comment on the Bush 2001 policy, but I think the Church’s position would be that all ESCR should be banned (not just the funding of them).

  • Ryan,

    especially as it has led to little success and many gruesome results. Cutting the public funding was effectively a ban, but not technically one.

    precisely why we need to vastly shrink the size of the federal government… it has had the double effect of crowding out private investment, and wasting taxpayer dollars on boondoggles that no private person would consider investing.

    That the ban was effective, and not technical is not really an issue.

  • Matt,

    I think I cover your point under the sin of scandal. Scandal being defined ccording to St. Thomas (II-II, Q. liii, a. 1) as:

    “a word or action evil in itself, which occasions another’s spiritual ruin. It is a word or action, that is either an external act—for an internal act can have no influence on the conduct of another—or the omission of an external act, because to omit what one should do is equivalent to doing what is forbidden; it must be evil in itself, or in appearance; this is the interpretation of the words of St. Thomas: minus rectum.”

    The Vatican document seems to see this as the sin involved in the production of cell lines in vaccine production. I continue to wonder what the Vatican take on the Bush policy was.

  • Phillip,

    I wasn’t talking about scandal, I was talking about the moral licitness of ESCR even with existing stem cell lines, it’s pretty clear to me, from the Vatican letter that it is immoral, period.

    That said, Bush’s action was not to allow such, but to ban the most offensive forms (which involve the destruction of human life presently, as opposed to in the past). Such an action is morally good. Whether one is culpable for not taking more action, such as an outright ban, or eliminating all funding is a more involved question, especially since Bush is not Catholic.

    Either way, none of this a defense of Obama’s formally evil action.

  • Actually though, that’s the specific sin that the Vatican is addressing in the question of immunizations. Scandal is a specific sin.

  • It seems Obama may have also cut funding for adult stem cell research:

    http://www.lifenews.com/bio2786.html

  • If the debate about ESCR was really about curing diseases like Parkinson’s and diabetes and the like, then the tremendous and overwhelming success that adult stem cells, especially skin cells have had in pursuing goals like these would be widely celebrated. Federal research money for the use of adult stem cells would be poured into research facilities with the kind of reckless abandon.

    Instead, Obama rescinded an executive order President Bush put into place funding adult stem cells and new research with iPS cells. The order was intended to ultimately fund research into alternatives” to destructive embryonic stem cell research such as altered nuclear transfer (ANT), “regression” (reverting differentiated cells into stem cells), and other methods. Bush could be said to have been ahead of his time since regression, also known as direct reprogramming, has taken off and the new induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are the talk of the scientific world. Last November saw that huge advance in stem cell research when scientists announced they had found a way to produce the biological equivalent of embryonic stem cells without creating, using, or destroying any human embryos.

    So given we are able to completely sidestep all of the moral and ethical concerns about destroying human embryos and still have all that “scientific promise” of breakthrough cures, why do people chose to keep on destroying embryos?

  • At least Obama admits it’s life (and surely he knows it is human)…I don’t know if he has admitted this before…when asked by a reporter when life begins, he said he didn’t know…so I guess he knows now.

6 Responses to Congratulations American 'Catholics'

  • Do I see little pentagrams on the altar tablecloth? How appropriate.

  • By the way, Casey cast a pro-life vote in the last week. Perhaps he heeded his Bishop’s advice and repented.

    Just in continuity with my already mentioned (I think) desire to be more optimistic, I think we should spend twice as much time praying fervently for these people than we do criticizing them because the latter involves a huge temptation of succumbing to internal negative energy and focusing on the faults, however grave, of others and doesn’t reap as much good for humanity as the other option.

  • Perfect example of why this blog cannot be taken seriously.

  • Michael,

    Please, if you cannot find anything positive to say, none whatsoever, perhaps you should refrain? What does it gain you? It only manifests as negative energy and people fight and argue, throwing ad hominem attacks and calling each other pseudo-Catholics while we all say we’re so in love with Jesus.

    Resist the temptation. If it’s so horrible, then pray.

    I also think that you should potentially reflect on your words — for if they were true, ask yourself, why then do you frequently visit and feel compelled to not only engage, but occasionally — not always — do so in a manner that is negative, which seems to be something that you’re condemning at the moment.

    I would happily discuss criticisms with you constructively.

  • Eric – I don’t know what you mean. My comment was positive.

  • I agree. They are all Republicrats first. For Brownback, being from Kansas is 2nd. Catholic is so far back in distant 3rd place, it doesn’t register unless it’s election year.

    We’ll know Brownback is running for national office again when he shows up at a pro-life rally.

Road To Tyranny

Monday, February 16, AD 2009

It’s a commonplace of sorts in Catholic and conservative circles that democracy without virtue will quickly become tyranny. At the same time, this is one of those phrases which seems to drive secular commentators to distraction. How could liberal democracy lead to tyranny when it’s clearly those authoritarian religious people who want to be tyrants?

Damon Linker (the “the theocons are coming” chicken little whom First Things once made the mistake of briefly employing in his younger days, thus giving him the claim to know the “theocon conspiracy” from the inside) has a post on The New Republic blog which seems to me to throw this point into sharp relief. Linker, it seems, tired of attacking “neocons” and decided to go after the more quixotic paleocons as his newest batch of crypto-authoritarians. The following section is fascinating in its thought process:

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8 Responses to Road To Tyranny

  • To be fair, Damon more or less retracted that post wholesale, saying he hadn’t thought the matter through well enough:

    On Tuesday of this week, I posted an item in which I drew connections between an essay by Andrew Bacevich and political authoritarianism. Two days later, I posted a follow-up in which I expanded on the argument. In retrospect — and in light of some online reaction to the posts — I’ve concluded that the connections I made in the original item were overdrawn, and that I made things even worse in the second post. Ideas and arguments can take on a logic of their own, and I foolishly followed the logic of mine into a position several steps more radical than one I really want to defend. I trust that future online disputation and debate will provide many opportunities for me to address these and related issues again — and so also to stake out and develop a more moderate, nuanced, and genuinely liberal position.

    http://blogs.tnr.com/tnr/blogs/linker/archive/2009/02/13/lessons-in-blogging.aspx

  • That said, the post was pretty embarrassing. Not as embarrassing as trying to make a career out of attacking people you used to work for by smearing them, but embarrassing nonetheless.

  • Darwin, excellent post. This has always been a bugaboo of mine as well. It’s a trap that conservatives fall into also at times. I’ve made offhand comments about not particularly liking SUVs, and had a friend respond as though I wanted to completely obliterate them from the planet. My personal dislike for them does not indicate that I necessarily want to impose legal sanctions upon ownership. But as a country, we have exalted the concept of choice as almost the ultimate good.

    Another thing Linker talked about hit upon something I was thinking about just yesterday. Many of the things we don’t do as Catholics strike me as good choices even absent religion. No sex outside of marriage: well there are a lot of rational reasons not to. No birth control: ever watch a commercial for the pill and hear them rattle off all the side effects? There are none of those for NFP.

    I don’t mean to say there are simply utilitarian benefits to being a practicing Catholic. But, when you think about it, there happily are such benefits to practicing the faith.

    One last thing – the final paragraph of your post points put the liberaltarian folly, such as it exists. If there is a threat to true liberty, it ain’t coming from the right.

  • “Not as embarrassing as trying to make a career out of attacking people you used to work for by smearing them, but embarrassing nonetheless.”

    Ouch John Henry! I am sure that left a mark on Mr. Linker. Perhaps he will return every dollar he ever received from the evil “theo-cons” ? Nah, that would be an act of high and inconvenient principle, and we all know there is no money in that.

  • To be fair, Damon more or less retracted that post wholesale, saying he hadn’t thought the matter through well enough:

    Ah, I hadn’t seen that one. I’ll drop these things into my “blog fodder” folder and sometimes not notice the follow through.

  • Donald,

    Perhaps I was too unkind. I am sure Mr. Linker is sincere, and his arguments should be evaluated on their merits (such as they are). I think his writing on these topics suffers from a lack of nuance and subtlety, which suggests an inability (or unwillingness) to appreciate his opponent’s arguments. And, well, I think his decision to publish an attack book on his former employer (and so soon after leaving) is ethically dubious.

  • Rather wobbly, but Linker gave it a whirl, didn’t he. The tyranny to come is apt to be a very selective tyranny, rife with the strangest socio-cultural bedfellows, if the past twenty years are any indication. And I think they are.

  • Mr. Linker writes:
    “Except for one thing: It now appears that Bacevich and Deneen aren’t really opposed to a “culture of choice” at all. Rather, they’re opposed to a culture in which people make the wrong choices — in this case, the choice to fornicate instead of the choice to resist their sexual appetites. But here’s what I don’t understand: Why would a free man or woman choose to resist rather than act on his or her sexual appetites? I mean, we’ve invented birth control. Sex is very pleasurable. It’s a way to enjoy emotional and physical intimacy with another human being. Why not choose for fornication? Why, in other words, is it wrong, in itself, to fornicate? Can we even imagine a response to this question that does not make reference to the authoritative teachings of an orthodox religious tradition?”

    He illustrates Medawar’s comment about people being educated beyond their ability to follow an abstract argument. His arguments read the scribblings of a high school student.

7 Responses to Blood and Guts Obama?

  • I fail to see how anyone who listened to what Obama said in debates, interviews, and speeches or who read his website could arrive at the conclusion that he is anti-war. He wants to increase America’s military presence and power in the world!

  • Kyle,
    If he said he wanted to shrink the military and retreat from the world, he never would have been elected. In other words, he lied. His anti-war supporters know this.

  • By the way, the picture accompanying this post is hilarious. Every once in a while I get a fleeting thought that Obama may turn out to be a laughing stock. He is utterly humorless, self-important, and very proud of himself. A previous post regarding American materialism was informative, but I believe that American mockery is an even more potent force.

  • So here’s your Hope and Change, dear liberals. Try Hilary- you used to love her but that love ran cold. Now she might be the face of American foreign policy. Not totally opposed to waterboarding, voted for the Iraqi adventure. In a way, her utter amorality may work well in an increasingly tense world. Not necessarily somebody that say, Crazy Hugo will want to see across a bargaining table. Not to mention the other Clinton Alumni Association members likely to assume positions of importance. Like Eric Holder at Justice. Tom Daschle at HHS. Greg Craig- likely new White House Counsel. Everything old is new again. The 90s are suddenly hip once more. C’mon, libs. Get with the program.

  • daledog,

    What, then, really are the foreign policy views of President-Elect Obama? And how do we know these are his views?

  • Oh, just wait. He’ll bomb the crap out of anything he has a mind to and you won’t hear a thing from Pelosi or Reid. Remember when Clinton set up that nice deal between Serbia and Albania – if Albania didn’t sign the treaty it was OK, but if Serbia didn’t sign it was curtains. No one blinked, though I remember thnking, “Wow, that seems rather unfair.” Then he killed all sorts of people and my squishy liberal friends pretended it wasn’t happening.

  • Kyle,
    He does not know his views. How can we? This man has not worked a day in his life. Soon he will be working 24 hrs. a day. The bulk of his legislative record is one of the most cowardly in modern times (voting ‘present’, etc.)Political expediency will be his political philosophy.

10 Responses to Kulturkampf Time

  • I think Fr. Neuhaus is occasionally more provocative than he needs to be (see, e.g., ‘The End of Democracy’ in 1996), and I think this may be one of those cases. Obama promised to sign FOCA at one point during his campaign, but I do not think he wants to, nor do the House Democrats in red states. HIs point about Catholics needing to be against the culture in many respects is true, but it has been true for a long time.

  • JH- Padre Neuhaus is spot on. A bumpy ride is coming for orthodox Catholics, fundamentalist/evangelical Christians, Orthodox Jews, etc. by bunch of folks who hate what they stand for and want to enforce Big Gummint as state religion. Particularly on Life Issues. Padre says very little that we on most of this site and many others have chatted about since November 4. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Padre sees the weather map- and the storm clouds on the way.

  • We shall see John Henry. Personally, if anything I think Father Neuhaus is too optimistic about the forthcoming Obama administration. There was a bizarre cult-like atmosphere to his campaign and I believe there will be a bizarre cult-like atmosphere to his administration. I hope I am mistaken.

  • “I hope I am mistaken.”

    Me too. Just to clarify, I am skeptical that FOCA would pass, but I agree with the broader point that it is harder for pro-life Catholics to make inroads on the culture when the President and both Houses of Congress are hostile to the pro-life position. This was a point that I tried to make frequently over at Vox Nova; one does not bring the culture in closer alignment with Catholic Social Teaching by voting for people committed to marginalizing pro-life voices. To be fair, no candidate is perfect, but some (like Obama) are worse than others.

  • While I agree with JH regarding how Obama might currently have lukewarm feelings toward signing FOCA immediately (even though he has stated otherwise), I think Donald is right here concerning the Obamists. The bizarre cult-like followers of Obama-ism will undoubtedly push very heavily for FOCA and similar legislation regarding abortion, and I’m afraid that the Obama administration will cave-in.

  • Well said, JH. I think the odds of FOCA passing are better than 50%. However, there are many other means of assaulting life here and abroad that Obama can and will mostly act upon. Oddly enough I’m beginning to think that the assault on life is going to look different than it did pre-election. I’m thinking more along the lines of using a time of crisis to institute radical policies that directed against natural and constitutional liberties – all under the guise of the “common good”. Predicting anything certain is beyond me, I think he is a genuine socialist radical underneath his empty platitudes and crafted image (yes, I’m cynical about him), however, the reality of the office and of politics could serve to temper anything he would have chosen to do. On the other hand, there’s plenty of harm he could accomplish due to the despair of the population, the willing propaganda tool of the MSM, and utterly uncritical thinking of his supporters. We’ve seen these factors before…

  • It’s only going to be a battle if the Church will take part, otherwise, it’ll once again be rolling over for the Democrats.

    If it’s really to be a culture war, a lot of old dogs are going to have to learn some new tricks. Among these will have to be emphasizing the Church’s teaching on life issues, in season and out.

    It was wonderful seeing so many bishops emphasizing this issue these past few months, but they should have been doing so the past four years, if they wanted to prevent a pro-abort victory this year.

  • Unless the lameduck Congress manages to pass FOCA in the next 2 months (not likely), FOCA will probably not be Pres-elect Obama’s first blow in the kulturkampf.

    We should also focus on the very real possibility that Obama will reverse standing executive orders that ban federal funds for 1) ESCR that uses new cell lines, and 2) for foreign orgs. that perform abortions or provide counseling on abortion.

  • Paul,

    I am not disagreeing with you, but they shouldn’t have done it 4 years ago… they should have been doing it for the last 30 years!

    Can you imagine if our bishops were protesting at abortion clinics… I’m not talking about 1 or 2 bishops, but 100s of them in their dioceses….constantly… as if it was a civil rights movement for life?… across our country. This election would not have happened… this culture would not be in the shape it is in.. and this reckless idea of this seamless garment garbage would not be known.

  • I would not be surprised to see him sign FOCA into law fairly quickly as an attempt to quell the rising dissatisfaction of the radical leftist faction that supported him. Then…on to the courts…

Cardinal: Obama "Aggressive … and Apocalyptic"

Monday, November 17, AD 2008

His Eminence the polite and soft-spoken James Francis Cardinal Stafford head of the Supreme Tribunal of james-francis-cardinal-staffordthe Apostolic Penitentiary gave a lecture on November 13 at the Keane Auditorium at Catholic University of America last week titled, “Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II: Being True in Body and Soul“.  In it Cardinal Stafford critiqued President-elect Obama as “aggressive, disruptive and apocalyptic,“ and he further added that Obama ran an “extremist  anti-life platform”.

Here are some highlights of his lecture:

“Because man is a sacred element of secular life,” Stafford remarked, “man should not be held to a supreme power of state, and a person’s life cannot ultimately be controlled by government.”

“For the next few years, Gethsemane will not be marginal. We will know that garden,” Stafford said, comparing America’s future with Obama as president to Jesus’ agony in the garden. “On November 4, 2008, America suffered a cultural earthquake.”

Cardinal Stafford said Catholics must deal with the “hot, angry tears of betrayal” by beginning a new sentiment where one is “with Jesus, sick because of love.”

The lecture, hosted by the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, pertained to Humanae Vitae, a papal encyclical written by Pope Paul VI in 1968 and celebrating its 40 anniversary this year.

Stafford also spoke about the decline of a respect for human life and the need for Catholics to return to the original values of marriage and human dignity.

“If 1968 was the year of America’s ‘suicide attempt,’ 2008 is the year of America’s exhaustion,” said Stafford, an American Cardinal and Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary for the Tribunal of the Holy See. “In the intervening 40 years since Humanae Vitae, the United States has been thrown upon ruins.”

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12 Responses to Cardinal: Obama "Aggressive … and Apocalyptic"

  • Interesting. I wonder if the Pope was sending a sharp message to Obama via Stafford?

  • Message sent loud and clear. One wonders if the first assault by Obamaites will be on all forms of human life protection or packing the FCC to snuff out the Fairness Doctrine. In truth, most of those allegedly terrible talk hosts are pro-life. Thanks to Cardinal Stafford for heads-up from The Boss.

  • Apparently the good Cardinal didn’t get the memo. Obama was the true pro-life choice and that far from being apocalyptic and extremist, he is our great hope for the end to abortion in this country and a great promoter of life. After all, we are told that nobody is really for abortion – leaving aside those who choose to abort their children, the doctors and staff that perform the procedure, those who consider it a right, and those who would prefer their grandchildren be aborted lest their child be “punished” with a child of their own – it’s pretty much true.

  • Pingback: Andrew Sullivan’s Rage Towards Cardinal Stafford’s Lecture « The American Catholic: Politics and Culture from a Catholic perspective
  • Cardinal Stafford is indeed typically soft-spoken… that he would come out *so* strongly speaks volumes.

    And he can’t be dismissed as a wingnut in clerics… he was fairly strong against the invasion of Iraq.

  • Speaks great volumes indeed.

    Something is afoot and I don’t believe that the recent boldness of American bishops along with Obama winning the presidency is pure coincidence (being a Catholic nothing is coincidence).

    I can’t put my finger on it, but we may be experiencing something akin to the tumultous 60’s, but towards a virtuous path, not that demonic path back then.

  • T- methinks you are sniffing out something real. There will be a humdinger of a kerfuffle between Pro-Life and Anti-Life (Obamaites) in the next three years. Time for American Catholics- aka America’s Happy Middle Managers- to do something they are reluctant to attempt in any endeavor. Choose.

  • Should Roman Catholics be single issue voters? Both of these candidates supported issues in conflict with catholic doctrine. Should McCain supporters repent also?

    McCain supports the death penalty for federal crimes. McCain says we should extend use of the death penalty and implement stricter penalties for violent felons. McCain supported legislation to prohibit the use of racial statistics in death penalty appeals and supports banning it for persons under eighteen.

  • Jamel,

    One issue carries more weight than the other and more grievious.

    I can understand the reasoning that you are stating.

    Though “one-issue” Catholics is a straw man argument.

  • Jamel – Catholics are not required to be single-issue voters. Many Catholics, however, feel that the moral significance of abortion outweighs many of the other issues.

    For instance, there are 1.3-1.4 million abortions every year in the U.S., whereas about 55-65 people are executed. It is hard to make the case that these are of equal significance if you believe that abortion takes a human life.

  • Moreover, people often overlook the fact that Democrats are not monolithic on capital punishment. Both Clinton and Obama support capital punishment.

  • Pingback: CNN Wolf Blitzer’s “Diatribe” of Cardinal Stafford « The American Catholic: Politics and Culture from a Catholic perspective

Truth and Consequences

Monday, November 10, AD 2008

Cardinal Ratzinger once said in an interview that the Church may have to shrink, but it would be a purer more faithful Church if this were to happen (1).  I’ve been reflecting on these words since Election Day, especially in reference to the many Catholics that voted for the most unabashedly pro-choice (pro-abortion) candidate in memory.  A vote for Obama by a Catholic says something about the Catholic, meaning they were poorly catechized.  Why then are these Catholics still in the Church if they don’t believe even the basic tenets of faith?

Well it’s a complicated issue to tackle and one that I have been muddling through recently.  But first I want to make it clear to my readers that I don’t want a smaller Church.  Though I do want the majority, if not all, Catholics to love their faith and practice it.  Yet we don’t have that in the American Church.  Whose responsibility, and/or blame, should this be assigned to?  How do we respond to this predicament?

I wish I had the answers and unfortunately I have more questions.  Is it our parents that failed to pass along the faith along with the parish priest and school?  Or does it reside with the bishop?  What I do have is some analysis and commentary, and it isn’t pretty.

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65 Responses to Truth and Consequences

  • Catechizing is one of the most important things we can try to do. I can’t describe how amazing it was to actually learn what the Catholic Church was all about, something that had been absent or dormant in my life for 26 years. I was never properly catechized, and for the most part our CCD lessons were either the stereotypical “cut, color, and draw”, or touchy-feely kumbaya sessions, or simple Bible studies. Nothing about what it really means to be of the Catholic Church.

    Then I stumbled across This Rock magazine from Catholic Answers online by accident. I was actually searching for how people came up with the Bible defining the number pi as 3, and one of the first entries I found was an article by Jimmy Akin about being a little too technical in reading parts of the Bible. I was so fascinated by some of the articles that I saw that I started all the way from the beginning and worked my way through every back issue in order. Then, amazed at what my Church was, I bought myself a Catechism and number of other reading materials, most notably Frank Sheed’s Theology and Sanity. It was eye-opening, to say the least.

    So there’s definitely a problem with catechizing. This is especially so when you have self-proclaimed devout Catholics taking exception to Sarah Palin specifically because she is not pro-choice and not in favor of contraceptive use. This is especially so when you have Catholics who express doubt about original sin and don’t see how that tears apart the faith.

    It is my hope, certainly, that through this blog we can accomplish some amount of catechizing and evangelizing.

  • We definately need to help our fellow Catholics in learning their faith. Since many priests and bishops have been derelict in their duties. At the same time we need to (probably) call out some priests and bishops. Yes, it may see as too critical, but when it is the salvation of souls we’re talking about, we need to step up to the bat.

    Like Katerine said in another column, we may have to be militant like the Macabees to fight off the onslaught of relativism and secularism from within the Church.

  • Maybe if the conservatives (such as many writers here) were not such apologists for the Iraqi War, for example, then American Catholics would not have rejected the Republicans and their ‘values platform’ so handily this year…

    For the record, could I get a score of American Catholic bloggers who were for and against the unjust Iraqi invasion.

  • I was very much in opposition to the war in Iraq.

  • I was against the initial invasion. I’ve been fairly supportive of the U.S. attempts to establish a modicum of stability prior to withdrawal, however. I think you raise a good point – the failures in Iraq explain a large part of the election results this year.

  • A vote for Obama by a Catholic says something about the Catholic, meaning they were poorly catechized.

    Not necessarily. The Catholic vote for Obama can’t so easily be explained as the result of poor catecheses. I’m sure many Obama supporters could pass a test on the Catechism of the Catholic Church and furthermore believe every word of it.

  • “I’m sure many Obama supporters could pass a test on the Catechism of the Catholic Church and furthermore believe every word of it.”

    More’s the pity.

  • “Maybe if the conservatives (such as many writers here) were not such apologists for the Iraqi War, for example, then American Catholics would not have rejected the Republicans and their ‘values platform’ so handily this year…”

    Iraq played no role in the election and that is a shame. Only one in ten voters named it as their chief issue in the exit polls. It was all about the economic meltdown. That and the 600,000,000 spent by Obama are the two chief factors in the outcome of the election.

    I was always in favor of the war, although I regret that the surge was not imlemented in 2005, as urged by McCain, instead of the Spring of 2007. I predict that Obama will keep US troops in Iraq through the 2012 elections, although gradually dreasing the number which is safe enough now since the war appears to have been won.

  • Regrettably, many adults never move beyond the high school mentality of wanting to be in the fashionable crowd. Multiple college degrees, years, and life experiences don’t seem to affect these people. Fashion is a siren song that must be heeded. Obama was fashionable this year. I don’t understand it, but there is no denying it. Faith was a distant second (or third) to fashion. In our affluent society, one can afford to follow any fashion, no matter how insane. It’s sad, but not surpising.

  • I feel it is unfair to place Cardinal Egan and Kmiec in the same breath. You seem to equate them as Obama supporters simply because Cardinal Egan sat next to Obama at that dinner.

    If that is the only evidence you can give, I feel it is slander what you are calling a loyal member of the Magisterium. Cardinal Egan has consistently been on the side of life. He responded sternly to Nancy Pelosi’s remarks on the beginning of life and consistently points out the evils of abortions – even close to the election.
    “It is high time to stop pretending that we do not know what this nation of ours is allowing– and approving– with the killing each year of more than 1,600,000 innocent human beings within their mothers,’ Cardinal Edward Egan of New York wrote in an Oct. 23 archdiocesan newspaper column defending the humanity of the unborn child. ‘One day, please God, when the stranglehold on public opinion in the United States has been released by the extremists for whom abortion is the center of their political and moral life, our nation will, in my judgment, look back on what we have been doing to innocent human beings within their mothers as a crime no less heinous than what was approved by the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott Case in the 19th century, and no less heinous than what was perpetrated by Hitler and Stalin in the 20th.’” – Oct 28, 2008

    He definitely does not sound like Kmiec there.

    Also how can we judge him for sitting next to Obama at a charity event. He may have been trying to engage Obama in exactly what you describe – a discussion of the concerns of Catholic voters and pro-life issues. We do not know and therefore must err on the side of good will toward the Cardinal.

  • Yes, its a very tricky thing to be ‘calling out’ anyone. Much better to look and work closer to home. In our parishes, and parish schools, and parish families.

    My (homeschooled)daughter was devastated Friday night by a (on-line and public) conversation she had with her ‘Catholic school’ highschool friends. They were clear that they felt their ‘opinion’ on things (they were discussing abortion) was AS VALID as what the Church teaches. They have no concept of Truth. Without this most basic understanding, how can we expect them to ‘be Catholic’. They haven’t got a grip on reality.

    How do children who have never gone to public school, always private Catholic school, end up so abysmally ignorant of who they are and who GOD is?

    Families and schools are ill prepared to teach them correctly. They do not have the tools themselves. It requires strong activity at the parish/priest level, and that kind of activity requires a large amount of supportive prayer…and patience. We must do all that we can, but with kindness and patience.

    I also saw that interview with then Cardinal Ratzinger, and I believe it may be true that our numbers will be fewer but truer. Its part of the suffering that can be offered up for all.

  • Blosser and Burgwald are fans of the Iraq War.

  • Um…thanks for the heads up, Michael. I’m sure they’re happy you made their position clear. However, I would like to hear your opinion about the quality of catechesis in our nation, and whether or not that had much to do with the number of Catholics who supported Obama. I’d also listen to your opinion on the quality of catechesis and the number of Catholics who apologize for the Iraq War. Although, if all you’d have to say about that is quoting the Just War Doctrine and how conditions there weren’t met, I’ll be disappointed. I don’t think it is just a difference of opinion of whether the conditions for a just war were in place that has so divided us on this issue; I think it has to be something deeper, something more fundamental. It might just go down to how well we’ve been catechized. So what are your thoughts in that regard?

  • Kyle,

    >>A vote for Obama by a Catholic says something about the Catholic, meaning they were poorly catechized.

    Not necessarily. The Catholic vote for Obama can’t so easily be explained as the result of poor catecheses. I’m sure many Obama supporters could pass a test on the Catechism of the Catholic Church and furthermore believe every word of it.<<

    I may have used a wide stroke, but catechesis goes to the heart of a well formed Catholic. Now if an Obama supporter could pass a catechesis exam doesn’t mean they necessarily agree with their catechesis instruction. Which I believe is an even worse affront to God since they have the knowledge yet fail in their faith to believe in the teachings of the Church.

  • Daledog,

    >>Regrettably, many adults never move beyond the high school mentality of wanting to be in the fashionable crowd. Multiple college degrees, years, and life experiences don’t seem to affect these people. Fashion is a siren song that must be heeded. Obama was fashionable this year. I don’t understand it, but there is no denying it. Faith was a distant second (or third) to fashion. In our affluent society, one can afford to follow any fashion, no matter how insane. It’s sad, but not surpising.<<

    Sadly I agree on many levels on this. Obama will have to mess up pretty bad to not get re-elected in 2012. Style over substance is the order of the day just like Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996. Are we going to need to push someone that looks appealing to the eye like say a Mitt Romney?

  • Christine,

    >>Also how can we judge him for sitting next to Obama at a charity event. He may have been trying to engage Obama in exactly what you describe – a discussion of the concerns of Catholic voters and pro-life issues. We do not know and therefore must err on the side of good will toward the Cardinal.<<

    I share your concerns as well. When I was typing this I wasn’t sure on how to address this, but upon further reflection how much are we suppose to comprimise on the lives of innocent unborn children?

    I don’t want to see 4o years from now when Roe v. Wade is overturned explain to my grandchildren why a ‘good’ Cardinal was sitting next to the grim reaper at a Catholic charity event. Reminds me of those Nazi era bishops giving the Hitler salute in pre-World War 2 Germany.

    No, I’m not saying that Cardinal Egan is in the same league as the discredited Doug Kmiec, but I’m tired of begging for crumbs. Compromise is unacceptable and catechesis needs to be improved. Cardinal Egan’s pronouncements would have been unnecessary if most, if not all, bishops were no derelict in their duty to their diocese in catechizing the laity.

    I’m tired and probably done in being ‘grateful’ for a bishop speaking up. Time for action, maybe it’s time to purge the Church of malcontents.

    Just throwing it out there.

    Though, yes Christine, I do recognize the noble efforts of Cardinal Egan speaking up. Just wish there was more.

    Where are the St. Ambrose’s in the USCCB? St. Ambrose was the bishop of Milan that denied Communion to Emperor Theodosius for the slaughter of 3,000 Thesalonians? Even in modern times, the Blessed Pope John XXIII spoke out in Italian politics saying that no Catholic is allowed to vote for the COmmunist party candidates.

    I want THAT!

  • DeFrancisis,

    Straw man argument.

    Michael I.,

    Unnecessary conjecture and not relevant to the column I posted.

  • However, I would like to hear your opinion about the quality of catechesis in our nation, and whether or not that had much to do with the number of Catholics who supported Obama. I’d also listen to your opinion on the quality of catechesis and the number of Catholics who apologize for the Iraq War.

    The quality of catechesis in this nation is hit or miss. There are obvious problems and particular challenges in the united states and other “First World” nations.

    Catechesis certainly has effects on how Catholics think and act politically, including how they vote. I think Tito’s claim that Catholics who voted for Obama are clearly uncatechized is absurd. Some of them certainly are probably poorly catechized and others well catechized. Same would be true for Catholics who voted for McCain. Although I did not vote McCain, I would never make the absurd claim that only uncatechized Catholics would have voted for him.

    Michael I.,

    Unnecessary conjecture and not relevant to the column I posted.</I

    Someone asked the question and I responded.

  • Michael, so your opinion is that poor catechesis is not a determining factor of support for one party or another. (When I say opinion, I only mean that I don’t think there’s any data at the moment to support one way or another, so opinion is the best we have.) Now, I think the general stance some of us here have (and others can correct me) is that a properly catechized Catholic should view abortion as the paramount issue, trumping economics, foreign policy, and so on. Thus comes the viewpoint that anyone who places economics or foreign policy ahead of abortion must not be properly catechized. (I’m saying this bluntly, I know, and I apologize for the outrage that this statement will rightfully draw. Many of us here, though, are certain that this is, indeed, the Church’s teaching.) I know you must disagree. So, what is your opinion of what specifically makes a Catholic well catechized in regards to prioritizing abortion, economics, foreign policy, and so on when voting for a political candidate?

    And Mark DeFrancisis, I was a supporter of the Iraq War when it was being proposed, but over time I’ve wondered about whether or not it was a just cause. I certainly don’t want to see any other preemptive wars, but then, I’m not privy to all the information out there. I think, regardless of justification, that we are morally obliged to make sure we leave Iraq better than we found it, and thus we should be there until that is met. Perhaps you have something useful to contribute as to how you believe a well-catechized Catholic could never accept the Iraqi War as just?

  • “A vote for Obama by a Catholic says something about the Catholic, meaning they were poorly catechized. Why then are these Catholics still in the Church if they don’t believe even the basic tenets of faith?”

    Tito,

    You are an ignoramus and a slanderer.

  • Mark DeFrancisis,

    There’s no need for that type of commentary.

    By the way, I like the pic of your dog.

  • Michael, so your opinion is that poor catechesis is not a determining factor of support for one party or another. (When I say opinion, I only mean that I don’t think there’s any data at the moment to support one way or another, so opinion is the best we have.)

    No, my view, which is not an opinion in this case, but seems indisputable, is that “catechesis” is not necessarily a determining factor. It might be in some cases, it may not be in other cases.

    Now, I think the general stance some of us here have (and others can correct me) is that a properly catechized Catholic should view abortion as the paramount issue, trumping economics, foreign policy, and so on. Thus comes the viewpoint that anyone who places economics or foreign policy ahead of abortion must not be properly catechized. (I’m saying this bluntly, I know, and I apologize for the outrage that this statement will rightfully draw. Many of us here, though, are certain that this is, indeed, the Church’s teaching.) I know you must disagree.

    Yes, I disagree. Life issues are paramount. THIS is what the Church teaches. “Economics” and “foreign policy” are vague terms and you can’t really consider those as “issues” that compare with abortion. Thus, I would say of course “foreign policy” is “not as important” as abortion, but abortion is a specific action, “foreign policy” is not. Now, unjust war is specific, and I would place that on the same level of abortion because both actions are the unjustified taking of human life.

    So, what is your opinion of what specifically makes a Catholic well catechized in regards to prioritizing abortion, economics, foreign policy, and so on when voting for a political candidate?

    A well catechized Catholic knows that issues that directly relate to the taking of human life are the most important. A well catechized Catholic knows that this is hardly limited to the issue of abortion. A well catechized Catholic knows that he or she may not be pro-choice. A well catechized Catholic knows that abortion is not simply another issue along side other life issues and that these issues are intrinsically related as manifestations of a culture of redemptive violence. A well catechized Catholic knows that he or she must oppose abortion because it he or she must oppose all unjustified violence. A well catechized Catholic knows that the Church’s just war teaching must be taken absolutely seriously and that it is more important than the judgment of the president of the united states. A well catechized Catholic knows that he or she does not need to “prioritize” abortion because for Catholics there are no second class human beings. A well catechized Catholic knows that he or she must oppose abortion but knows that there are many valid ways of doing so, and indeed that there must be a variety of tactics going on at once in order to end abortion in any meaningful sense. A well catechized Catholic knows that the Church does not endorse one u.s. political party over another even in the case of clear party platforms on the issue of abortion because Catholic social teaching does not fit either or any of the political parties. A well catechized Catholic knows that blaming the victory of a democratic presidential candidate on “poor catechesis” is utterly stupid and amounts to nothing other than an arrogant scapegoating tactic.

  • Michael I.,

    >>
    A well catechized Catholic knows that blaming the victory of a democratic presidential candidate on “poor catechesis” is utterly stupid and amounts to nothing other than an arrogant scapegoating tactic.
    <<

    I said that those Catholics that voted for Obama were poorly catechized. Unless of course you are making the assumption that the entire American electorate is Catholic which you state clearly in your retort.

    Your comments such as “stupid” and “arrogant scapegoating” doesn’t help advance constructive dialogue here at the American Catholic website.

    I am stating that Catholics that voted for Obama were poorly catechized. Being catechized means understanding and practicing our Catholic faith.

    Here is Merriam-Websters definition:

    “…to instruct systematically especially by questions, answers, and explanations and corrections ; specifically : to give religious instruction in such a manner…”

    Corrections is part of the catechizing process. Thusly, if a Catholic is properly catechized, they have a properly formed conscious and are able to make the appropriate decision to vote as a properly catechized Catholic.

  • I am stating that Catholics that voted for Obama were poorly catechized.

    That view is tremendously stupid and it amounts to nothing more than arrogant scapegoating.

  • Tito,

    How do you think calling anybody who voted for Obama poorly catechized advances constructive dialogue?

    And do not you know that the bishops allowed us to take into consideration the real commitment and ability to effect change that certain purportedly pro- life politicians actually possess?

    Given the track record of the GOP in the past 30 years, many it concluded that their commitment and ability are not very much. Placing this beside their recent war mongering, torture and pro- death penalty stances, many have concluded that Republicans just love to have abortion always around as a perennial wedge issue, as they could not possibly be really committed the the anctity of human life through and through.

    Did you consider, for instance, that John McCain, for instance, told a certain crowd of pro-choice women this year that he was proud of his votes for the Bill Clinton SC appointees?

  • Michael I.,

    Again, with ad hominems.

    Your comments are not advancing the dialogue.

    This is your last warning.

  • Mark DeFrancisis,

    Your argument that 30 years of GOP governance is a straw man argument.

    Again you and Michael I. are not helping with your poor choice of language.

    I am stating my opinion and writing it any other way would devolve into obfuscation.

  • Tito – It’s not an “ad hominem” to say that what you are “arguing” is stupid.

  • Michael I.,

    Could you use another word besides “stupid”. Others may take it the wrong way and think that this website is an echo chamber of name-calling nanobots.

    Like I said, if those that voted for Obama were properly catechized we may not have him as President-Elect.

    Now if you want to take it as an absolute statement that ALL Catholics were poorly catechized that voted for Obama, then I can see how you may view this as impossible (not stupid). But I didn’t say “all”. I just mentioned Catholics by itself. This can imply ‘all’ Catholics, but it can also imply as a general term, ie, most Catholics, etc.

    I don’t want to devolve into near meaningless discussions on what “is” is.

    I can understand to a certain degree that maybe, just maybe, that you may have taken offense to it. But how can I write my opinion without watering down what I believe is a root cause of the problem. That Catholics are poorly catechized in general.

    I myself am still learning what being a Catholic is all about. I was poorly catechized growing up. I’ve heard many, many, such stories as mine…. We went to a Catholic school and came out agnostic… Upon rediscovering my faith I felt cheated out of the great patrimony that is our beautiful and magnificent Catholic faith. But I’m greatful now that I am aware and embrace it and live it the best way I know how.

    Now the flip side of all this is that I don’t mean to imply as well that if we were properly catechized that we would be the perfect robo-Christians. Automatically making all the correct choices in life as we live it. People make mistakes. Sometimes they realize this immediately afterwards, other times after a period of time and reflection.

    I am not condemning those that are poorly catechized. It is not their fault if that is the case. I am not passing on judgement on those that are poorly catechized as well. I am just pointing out that they are poorly catechized.

    I hope that helps.

  • No if you want to take it as an absolute statement that ALL Catholics were poorly catechized that voted for Obama, then I can see how you may view this as impossible (not stupid). But I didn’t say “all”.

    You didn’t use the word “all” but it is undeniable that you implied it:

    A vote for Obama by a Catholic says something about the Catholic, meaning they were poorly catechized.

    In other words, if a Catholic (any Catholic) voted for Obama, it is because he or she was poorly catechized.

    Why then are these Catholics still in the Church if they don’t believe even the basic tenets of faith?

    If you think that the idea that Catholics may not vote for pro-choice politicians is a “basic tenet” of the Catholic faith, maybe you are the one who needs some catechesis.

    You cite no evidence that Catholics in america are poorly catechized, and no evidence that Catholics who voted democrat are poorly catechized. You merely assert that it is the case. Lay out your argument as to why “proper catechesis” would mean voting in this case for John McCain. Otherwise, this post is what I said it is: CENSORED FOR INAPPROPRIATE LANGUAGE BY AMERICAN CATHOLIC

  • Michael I.,

    Do you want anecdotal evidence? Primary or secondary evidence? Field or lab evidence?

    I am stating my opinion in explaining the issues confronting the Church in this electoral year.

    Your many attempts at slander, obfuscation, and other diversionary tactics are not helping your argument.

    Please refrain from such language or we’re going to moderate your comments.

    God bless you Michael.

  • Nice. Censoring my critique of your unfounded ideas under the guise of censoring particular words I have used in my critique. You’re something else.

    Please, any evidence will do. Evidence of your claims, evidence that you think before you write, anything.

    Otherwise, your posts appear quite silly. Is the word “silly” going to be censored too?

  • Michael I.,

    I personally like it when you comment on the American Catholic website. Most of the time you ask good, inquisitive, and self-examining questions. You help promote the dialogue and offer valuable insight from a unique point of view.

    I think you have a lot to offer, especially with that big brain of yours.

    And no, “silly” is not a bad word.

    I love you man.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,

    Tito

  • Tito,

    My love for you grows and deepens with each passing day.

    Now please, provide some evidence for your claim that Catholics who voted for Obama must have been poorly catechized.

    Feel free to use me as an example, since I voted for Obama and you said in this post that I have been poorly catechized.

  • Michael,

    I’m not a fan of the Iraq War. I was (and am) inclined to think that was just, although I’m open to discussion. More definitively, I thought and think that the arguments offered by many of its opponents are very weak (e.g. “Bush lied, people died!”).

    None of this makes me a “fan”.

  • As to the larger discussion, there seems little doubt that many Catholics are poorly catechized and that many of them are not very faithful (e.g. based on Mass attendance). If you look at the exit polling (and other polls), those Catholics who do *not* attend Mass weekly tended to vote for Obama, although not exclusively (clearly Obama didn’t have the corner on poorly catechized Catholics).

    Based on the evidence we have, is it likely that *many* Catholics who voted for Obama *were* poorly catechized? I think so. Does that mean that if a Catholic voted for Obama they must have been poorly catechized? No.

  • More definitively, I thought and think that the arguments offered by many of its opponents are very weak (e.g. “Bush lied, people died!”).

    “Bush lied, people died” is not an argument, but a protest chant. (Admittedly, a weak chant, and not one that has ever come out of my mouth!) However, it is based on reality. The Bush administration fabricated evidence and a connection between 9/11 and Iraq and continues to exploit these fabrications. Wars justified by falsehoods are, by definition, not just. How do these untruths factor into your reflection on whether or not the war is just?

  • If one does not go to Mass, does that mean one has not been properly catechized? Mass attendance means one has been properly catechized? Huh?

  • There may not be a relationship of causation between Mass attendance & degree of catechetical formation, but I think there’s certainly a relationship of correlation… they tend to go together. I don’t know of many well-catechized Catholics who don’t attend Mass regularly, personally or via studies.

    As to the fabrication of evidence, we’ve discussed this before, but without resolution: the contention that Saddam had WMDs was held by the Clinton administration, the UN and numerous European countries (many of whom nonetheless opposed the war). Did they all *lie* no. Were they and the Bush administration all mistaken? Yes. *That* is my objection to the “Bush lied, people died” chant. (I’d like to come to *some* resolution on this before addressing the 9/11-Iraq issue, if that’s okay.)

  • I don’t know of many well-catechized Catholics who don’t attend Mass regularly, personally or via studies.

    That’s strange. I do. I also know countless Catholics who attend Mass regularly who are also poorly catechized.

    I suppose, though, this all depends on what you and I (and silly but undeniably lovable Tito) mean by “properly catechized.” To Tito, a properly catechized Catholic loves america unapologetically and uncritically. To you, it is conceivable that a “properly catechized” Catholic could approve of the war in Iraq. To me, both of these positions represent a crisis of catechesis.

  • I completely agree that many Mass-attending Catholics are poorly catechized. But how can you be well-catechized and not attend Mass? Perhaps it does depend on our definition of catechesis; I think it’s common to see it merely as intellectual knowledge, in which case I’d agree with you. But the ecclesial documents on catechesis indicate that it’s much more than that, that it’s, in essence, discipleship, and I don’t know how someone could intentionally not attend Mass and be considered a well-formed disciple.

    To you, it is conceivable that a “properly catechized” Catholic could approve of the war in Iraq.

    Yes, because there’s a difference between my opinion and definitive Catholic doctrine, and I know they aren’t the same. 🙂

  • BTW, what about the whole “lie” thing?

  • But the ecclesial documents on catechesis indicate that it’s much more than that, that it’s, in essence, discipleship, and I don’t know how someone could intentionally not attend Mass and be considered a well-formed disciple.

    I agree that catechesis is not mere knowledge but discipleship. I do know plenty of people who are well-formed disciples who are not Catholic and so they do not attend Mass. I know several well-formed disciples who were raised Catholic and for one reason or another are not in the habit of going to Mass. There are countless reasons why this might occur: habit, alienation, etc.

    Surely, though, Tito knows people both online and in real life who are good, Mass-attending Catholics who voted for Barack Obama and who he still insists were/are not “properly catechized.” I want to know what he bases this on, and if he is including all of these Catholics that he personally knows when he makes these sweeping claims. Is he really saying that folks like myself, Katerina, MM, etc. have been “poorly catechized”?

  • Michael,

    This is not an attack.. this is a sincere question.

    Are saying that you do not go to Mass, but are properly catechized?

  • Maybe I’m being overly analytical here, but it seems to be that if we take it that A is a person who does not attend mass then either A is uninformed as to the importance of attending the sacrifice of the mass every Sunday according to Catholic doctrine or A is informed but rejects that doctrine. If the former case, then A is certainly not “well catechized”. If the latter, then I suppose whether A is well catechized is a matter of one’s definition of catechesis, as Burgwald pointed out.

    If catechesis is considered information, then perhaps these people are either well informed but reject the doctrine (in which case I suppose one could call them heretics, from a Catholic point of view) or else they are well informed but choose not to follow it even thought they don’t reject it, in which case I suppose a term such as “disobedient” might apply.

    If catechesis is considered to be the combination of information and active discipleship, it would seem impossible to be both well catechized and not regularly attend mass.

  • Bret – I usually go to Mass twice a week.

    Darwin – Don’t worry, you’re not being overly analytical. In fact, I’d say you’re not being thoughtful enough. Clearly the two options you present are not the only two possibilities. I know some people who know they should go to Mass, but they don’t. They are not uninformed, but neither do they reject the Catholic teaching that weekly Mass attendance is important.

  • Many of you also need to expand your understanding of what “discipleship” means.

  • “I know some people who know they should go to Mass, but they don’t. They are not uninformed, but neither do they reject the Catholic teaching that weekly Mass attendance is important.”

    Since we are all being pedantic and analytical here, it’s fair to note that Darwin’s schema took account of this possibility, labeling it ‘disobedient’.

    For what it is worth, my definition of ‘well-catechized’ includes a combination of intellectual instruction in the Faith, as well as the experience of knowing individuals seriously attempting to live it out. Given the choice between one or the other, I would choose the latter.

  • Thanks, John. I read too quickly. I’m not sure “disobedient” would cover all of the people in that category, or would describe their reasons for not going to Mass, but point taken.

    I hope these thoughts and descriptions we are all contributing will assist Tito in amending his stupid silly assertion that Catholics who voted for Obama are poorly catechized. But he seems to be missing. Maybe he’s busy catechizing some democrats?

  • I would not have put things the way that Tito did, but it does strike me that if Catholics were in fact both well catechized and living out their faith, that they probably would have voted fairly heavily against Obama.

    Basically, there are two possible elements here: One may be ignorant of the Church’s teaching about the human dignity of the unborn and that this dignity should be reflected in positive law — or one may reject or disobey that teaching — or one may accept the teaching, but hold beliefs about the issues at play in the last election such that one holds that there was some other proportionate issue to justify voting for Obama.

    I take it that Michael would fall in this final category.

    However, I do agree with Tito that if the Catholics in this country were uniformly well catechized, they would have voted quite heavily against Obama. Although some who take the Church’s teachings about life issues seriously are persuaded that voting for Obama somehow fits with that — most people aren’t.

  • Akrasia and the divided will are mysteries, are they not? I know I have been personally humbled by them.

    Tito,

    I apologize for the unnecessary name-calling. But please, consider the content of our objections.

  • …or one may accept the teaching, but hold beliefs about the issues at play in the last election such that one holds that there was some other proportionate issue to justify voting for Obama.

    I take it that Michael would fall in this final category.

    Yes, except as I have said repeatedly, it does not come down to any one issue.

    Although some who take the Church’s teachings about life issues seriously are persuaded that voting for Obama somehow fits with that — most people aren’t.

    Well, we shouldn’t expect Catholics to get “overly analytical,” now, should we?

  • Mark DeFrancisis & Michael I.,

    I did consider the content of your objections. My analysis stems from personal observations of friends and acquaintances. My previous comments, in addition to Chris Burgwald’s and Darwin’s comments have answered your objections better than I could have articulated them.

    Again, it is not the fault of the Catholic if he or she is poorly catechized.

    Mark, no offense taken. Thanks for your thoughts. I like reading your comments (as well as Michael’s). They challenge me to learn more about our faith (I’m assuming your Catholic).

  • As to ‘obedience’, the guidance of the Bishops who are in communion with the Pope should not be ignored. Unfortunately, many people who consider themselves ‘catechized’, rely too heavily on their own reading of things, and not enough on the Shepherds guidance. This leads them to believe that whatever conclusion they arrive at concerning things like life issues, is JUST AS VALID as what the Church, through the Bishops , is teaching.

    I would not call that well catechized, any way you define ‘catechized’.

  • My analysis stems from personal observations of friends and acquaintances.

    But you did not “analyze” anything.

    Again, it is not the fault of the Catholic if he or she is poorly catechized.

    Again, you have given no evidence that Catholics who voted for Obama are poorly catechized.

    Are you including MM, Katerina, and myself among the “poorly catechized” Catholics you are pointing to, or not?

  • Michael I.,

    The thrust of my column was on the consequences of bishops either standing up for the faith or not.

    Now it can reasonably be assumed that if one is uninformed one can make an incorrect decision. Hence the reason why I brought up proper catechesis.

    Chris Burgwald made an excellent point that church-going Christians voted more for McCain than Obama and the inverse for non-church going Christians. You have cause and effect.

    Now I don’t know about MM and Katerina. For one reason or another I thought MM was voting for Obama and Kat was not voting for either McCain nor Obama. But I don’t understand why you want to bring them into the discussion since it doesn’t advance your point.

  • Chris Burgwald made an excellent point that church-going Christians voted more for McCain than Obama and the inverse for non-church going Christians. You have cause and effect.

    Dr. Burgwald also refrained from drawing the same stupid silly conclusion that you did, saying that he wouldn’t consider it a simple cause and effect.

    Now I don’t know about MM and Katerina. For one reason or another I thought MM was voting for Obama and Kat was not voting for either McCain nor Obama. But I don’t understand why you want to bring them into the discussion since it doesn’t advance your point.

    Last I heard, both of them voted for Obama. As did I. I didn’t mention them in order to advance a point. I am asking you a direct question, which you don’t seem to have the guts to answer: Are you including MM, Katerina, and myself among the “poorly catechized” Catholics you are pointing to, or not?

  • Michael I.,

    You’re over the line and going hebephrenic.

    Stop it.

  • Tito,

    With all due respect, this post is completely over the line, and you have in no place defended your opening claim remotely adequately.

    In fact, your responses are becoming, dare I say, hebephrenic.

  • Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

    From time to time discussions in the combox can get heated and emotions raw. We at American Catholic want to provide a charitable forum for an exchange of ideas that contribute to the advancement of dialogue in a Christian manner. We encourage those, whether Christian or not, to comment and participate in a positive manner the overall dialogue in order to grow more in faith and charity. Sometimes this can be abused so we ask in advance to reconsider and be prudent in what you are typing in the combox. Recoqnize the dignity in the person you are responding to and treat that person as you would want to be treated. Remember there are those that read the comboxes here and witness the give and take.

    Be prudent and think before clicking the ‘Submit Comment’ tab. Because you never know who is reading your comments that they may be close to conversion. So if they witness something contrary to our Christian faith we will push them further away from Christ.

    Thank you all for contributing to this experiment here at American Catholic. Remember, brick by brick will we bring the kingdom of Heaven ever closer to realization.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,

    Tito Edwards

  • Tito, have you seen what the USCCB is doing? Wasn’t sure if you had heard since it’s pretty recent.

    http://apnews.myway.com/article/20081112/D94D7AHG0.html

    Maybe you can find a St. Ambrose or two here.

  • Christine,

    Yes I did see that.

    I’ve been monitoring the news coming out since yesterday afternoon. I’ve been quite busy and wanted to post a long column on what has been going on last night, but it got to late.

    I’ll be posting something tonight (maybe several) concerning the interesting news coming from the USCCB (maybe other AC contributors might take up this task as well).

    Thanks for the heads up.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,

    Tito

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A Persecuted Church?

Saturday, November 8, AD 2008

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A very liberal friend in California challenged my support of Proposition 8 and homosexual “marriage” by stating that the faithful would still be able to “discriminate” against them in churches. Well, beside the utter ridiculousness of her statement, it looks to me like she was wrong. Los Angeles saw a massive gathering in front of the Mormon Temple on Santa Monica Blvd. From what I saw in the video tape, there were folks trying to scale the gates surrounding the building. Now from World Net Daily comes proof that the most militant of homosexual rights activists are calling for violence against Christians and destruction of our places of worship. One person quoted in the article stated:

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13 Responses to A Persecuted Church?

  • This reminds me of something….

    Get ready… this is coming…

    If we want to save our country and our Western heritage, we need to start taking a stand… and encourage each other to take stands. We need to preach the Gospel in season and out of season. We need not Be Afraid.

    This is our calling.

  • This is also a fear that I have, and it’s why it’s so baffling that Catholics are voting for their own marginalization. I think these centrist Catholics in mostly red states who voted Obama aren’t aware of the kind of intolerance the Left routinely preaches.

  • My lovely alma mater here in the blue state of California recently ran a story in the school paper about student protests following the passage of Prop. 8. Just to give you a flavor of the kind of thinking behind the protesters, here’s a sample comment to the story (my emphasis added):

    It has been speculated that proposition 8 won because of remarks made by San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom, to the effect of “We’re going to allow homosexuals to marry whether you like it or not!” After these remarks, made at a time when the measure was losing in the polls, the support for proposition 8 skyrocketed, and the trend was reversed.

    Why? Because of the Culture War. For those of you not versed in this perverse evangelical undertaking, I encourage you to read about it.

    Words such as Newsom’s frighten and infuriate these dolts, and, quick to anger and prone to exaggeration, they lash out. By protesting the results of this election, we are giving them more fodder. And you know what? If we keep doing this, they’re going to keep winning. Our side isn’t good at demagoguery. It’s not our forte. It’s like trying to run a dirty campaign against a Republican–if you stoop to their level, you will lose.

    Tuesday’s decision greatly upset me. But it made me realize something. When it comes down to it, we’re fighting against the Catholic church, AM Talk Radio, and the Evangelical Superpower, manifested in the Moral Majority. We’re not going to win against these organizations, because they have more funding, their members and adherents are more pliable. Not to mention, as far as they’re concerned, it’s our word against God’s. How the hell are we supposed to beat God?

    (snip)

    By democratic process, proposition 8 passed. But the people who voted yes on 8 did so because their church told them to, and the church is disappearing from our weekly lives, as reason takes over. The era of the Moral Majority is fading on its own.

    We must respond to the vitriol of the pundits with reasoned argument–they simply don’t know how to take it. Ask them to leave their Bible and home and talk to them about the real issues involved, from a legal point of view. They won’t know how to take it.

    The way to fight the hydra of brainwashing churches is through reason. It is their weak point, after all.

  • There is certainly reason for concern. We may be headed toward some dark days.

    But let’s never forget that the darker the days, the greater the abundance of Grace. Things looked pretty bad on a Friday afternoon 2,000 years ago, too.

    I’d expected a lot of saints from the coming generations.

  • “The way to fight the hydra of brainwashing churches is through reason. It is their weak point, after all.”

    Tell that to Saint Thomas Aquinas. I wonder if this person has ever heard of him let alone read any of his works? Pretensions of intellectual snobbery are often held by those who have precious little in that area to be snobbish about.

  • Donald,

    That’s precisely why I sigh when I think about all the lost opportunities during my “education” at this university.

  • Steve,

    I too believe in Sunday… but I believe it might be a very long Friday and Saturday…. so the saints might be martyrs.

    And I pray that some will come from my seed.

  • What’s so twisted about this outcry of Prop 8 passing is that homosexuals are not being persecuted.

    They are still free to stick their wee-wee wherever they want and live in whoever’s house.

    This is ridiculous.

    They still have their rights. The state (thankfully) just voted they believe marriage is defined as man and woman…woopy-do. This kind of fuss in the video is ridiculous and we need to remember to keep it simple in debate – no one is losing any rights!

    CA just simply stated that marriage is defined as man and woman. This does not restrict homosexuals as free individuals to engage in this or that activity. Marriage, even from a biological standpoint, is between man and woman. To say otherwise is a lie.

    Nobody is getting persecuted…except the minds of those that persecute themselves with “victimhood”.

  • Let me clarify the last sentence – nobody is being persecuted because of Prop 8…

    Now let’s just hope nut-cases like these in the video don’t hurt Christians, Mormons, or whoever else they might target as an enemy just because they believe the definition of marriage is between man and a woman.

  • But Prop 8 supporters- just wait until next Supreme Court vacancy. Stevens is closer to 90 than 80. Ginsberg is no spring capon. Health problems may befall others. Allow your Messiah to find one successful candidate who will pull Anthony Kennedy in his direction rather than that for those horrible Roberts/Alito/Scalia/Thomas people. No problem.

  • I’ve talked with several of my friends in California, many of whom are Catholic and oppose prop8. For the life of me, I can’t convince many of them about natural law and why it is in the public interest to have laws that protect natural law. Every reason and argument in opposition to prop8 is emotionally driven. And the equating of same-sex marriage to interracial marriage is the most absurd argument of all.

    There are already three challenges to prop 8 in the form of lawsuits that are submitted before the CA supreme court. I half expect the court to overturn prop8 using the same argument it used to overturn prop 22.

  • “Allow your Messiah to find one successful candidate who will pull Anthony Kennedy in his direction rather than that for those horrible Roberts/Alito/Scalia/Thomas people. No problem.”

    My understanding is that the Court is quite happy to leave this issue to the states. After the prolonged and continuing backlash to Roe, I expect the Court will be reluctant over-rule the states on this issue unless and/or until there is broader public support for gay marriage. Additionally, Kennedy generally adopts a type of opinion-poll approach to deciding controversial cases; for example, in Casey he upheld Roe because it was supported by most of the country, but he voted to uphold the partial-birth abortion ban.

  • So i’m thrilled that Prop 8 has been challenged. I am not gay. However I am good friends with those who are. I simply do not understand just what the big deal is all about gay people having the exact same privileges we have now.

The Root of All Abortion

Thursday, October 16, AD 2008

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”.

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23 Responses to The Root of All Abortion

  • Excellemt commentary.

    There’s a big difference between ‘Christian humanism ‘ and ‘secular humanism’, and that difference is really the ‘big divide’ in the abortion discuassion.

    (In Canada we’re not even allowed to discuss it!)

  • Phenomenal.

    You’ve exploded the lame duck excuses into smitherines. God bless you for it.

  • It makes me almost laugh when someone says they accidently got pregnant. I have always wanted to answer with, “did you have sex?” When you have sex (the purpose of which is both unitive and procreative – not getting into this that is a whole other issue) and do not get pregnant it is more like you accidently did not get pregnant. When you flip on a light switch you do not say I accidently turned on a light — that is the purpose of the switch.

  • Ryan, you need new friends. They say these things in front of you? Maybe you can hand out this fine essay of yours to them as a way of explanation.

  • Ryan,

    Phenomenal.

    J. Christian,

    I’ve always struggled with that once I embraced the full teachings of the Church. In my opinion, and it’s only an opinion, maybe Ryan by his faithful witness to Christ may be able to sway their opinions. Maybe even have them convert!

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,

    Tito

  • Tito,

    There is always the possibility that by his witness Ryan will win them over one day, and I certainly hope this is true. It would take a person made of much stouter stuff than I. To have “friends” who think of children as a disease… Well, Christ be with you, Ryan!

  • J. Christian,

    It is very difficult. Especially when comingling with my secular friends. When certain subjects come up I’m uneasy as to correct my buddies or let it slide.

    It’s never easy.

    Though in these instances one can learn humility and patience well.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,

    Tito

  • I was struggling with the Precious Blood Chaplet, in which you say 33 Our Fathers while reflecting on text from Evangelium Vitae. Sounds good, right?

    But repeating the Our Father that many times got tedious, and I wanted to pray it with my heart (I know, this shouldn’t be a struggle for someone praying the Rosary).

    I feel like this post was the answer to my unspoke prayer. At this time in history, on the cusp of an Obama presidency, we need to pray the Our Father more times than we think we ought. “Thy will be done!” must be our constant refrain as we submit to the rule of Choice, as we watch more of our tax dollars pile into the hands of abortionists, as we watch cloned embryos treated as waste products, as we watch the right to life lobby get beaten to a pulp.

    No, we will not stop our outcry. But God have mercy! Thy Kingdom come~

  • Is comment moderation in effect?

  • Sorry–wasn’t getting through for some reason. Please delete or ignore the above.

    Good post.

    For good pro-life discussion of the rape issue, see
    http://www.feministsforlife.org/Q&A/Q2.htm and the linked articles.

    For a thoughtful scientific response to the “parasitism” analogy, see
    http://www.l4l.org/library/notparas.html
    The author, a biology professor, taught courses in both embryology and parasitology. The library page of the parent site (Libertarians for Life) has links to many well-written articles:
    http://www.l4l.org/library/index.html

    I’d like to add clarification to your remarks on Church teaching. The Catechism states:

    “Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law…” (#2271)

    In other words, an intentional attempt to kill or dislodge the embryo/fetus before it can reasonably be expected to survive independently violates moral law. A medical procedure necessary to save the mother’s life may be used even if fetal demise occurs as an unintended secondary effect. An example would be the removal of a fallopian tube in imminent danger of rupture from an ectopic pregnancy. (Of course, in the given example the baby would have no chance of survival even if the tube were left alone.)

  • Sorry for the above inanity; I think the combox was just refusing my urls. I can email them if anyone is interested, but I suppose Google will do.

    Good post.

    For good pro-life discussion of the rape issue, check out the topics page at Feminists For Life’s website.

    For a thoughtful scientific response to the “parasitism” analogy, go to Libertarians for Life’s website and look up the article, “Why the Human Embryo or Fetus is Not a Parasite.”
    The author, a biology professor, taught courses in both embryology and parasitology.

    I’d like to add clarification to your remarks on Church teaching. The Catechism states:

    “Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law…” (#2271)

    In other words, an intentional attempt to kill or dislodge the embryo/fetus before it can reasonably be expected to survive independently violates moral law. A medical procedure necessary to save the mother’s life may be used even if fetal demise occurs as an unintended secondary effect. An example would be the removal of a fallopian tube in imminent danger of rupture from an ectopic pregnancy. (Of course, in the given example the baby would have no chance of survival even if the tube were left alone.)

  • I|remove the word abortion and consider the human emotions and it is a question we all face. Will we be selfless or will we be selfish? The rest is just chatter.

  • I don’t think it’s wrong to expect justice for oneself.

    The problem is that people don’t expect justice for the unborn!

  • Exactly. What gives those embryos the idea that they have the right to come into this world uninvited? We need to dispense justice on the unthinking potential-humans that unfairly take advantage of people who make love in a certain way!

  • I certainly hope that I will have a positive effect, a good Catholic influence, on my friends. One of them is a homosexual, and has made it clear how grateful he is that I don’t simply condemn him out of hand. He knows that I feel his acting on his sexual preference is sinful, but he also knows that I still offer friendship and support. We sit down and talk amiably about issues of religion and particular viewpoints from time to time, and I don’t know if I’ll have any effect, but at least he’ll be more informed.

  • CMinor,

    Moderation is not in effect.

  • Suzanne,

    No, there’s nothing wrong with expecting justice for oneself. The problem is, we tend to expect preference for ourselves, and to justify it we try to wrap it up as justice. I doubt any one of us really wants what we truly deserve (outside the sacrifice on Calvary, of course).

  • CMinor,

    No we are not moderating, but our spam detection system marked your posting as spam.

    I apologize for this, but I believe that it was because you had a link in your comments. This shouldn’t happen again. Everyone can place a link in their comments, it just takes time for our spam detection system to discern what is and is not spam.

    Comment away CMinor!

  • My apologies–as no message came up when I hit the “Submit” button I figured my comments had evaporated into the ether. Boy, do I feel stupid!
    Would somebody on the site please just delete my multiple post attempts and just leave the last one? There’s no reason anybody should have to plow through my repetitions.

  • CMinor,

    No apologies needed.

    It wasn’t you (I think), it was our spam detection program. It thinks you’re a spammer.

  • A good commentary. I know we talked about it a while ago but I just wanted to mention that it looks like overpopulation theorists (whom I think we all agree contribute to a culture of death) are starting a new fundraising and organizing drive.

    Here is a link.

    http://gpso.wordpress.com/gpso-letter/

    Some of those who signed the letter I recognize like Albert A. Bartlett. This is the same person speaking in a set of youtube videos that a believer of his put online as “The Most IMPORTANT Video You’ll Ever See” in 8 parts.

    The first is in the above link.

    About the Bartlett videos, I watched them all and wrote up a list of the things that were questionable. It ended up being 3 or 4 pages long. Maybe I write using too many words but (in spite of being a math lesson on a specific type of equation) it has many errors (that I’m willing to point out if someone is interested in listening and noting them, and also notice how little he actually talks about ecological damage).

    As Tito may know already, I don’t view those who advocate better care of the environment as foolish or encouraging others to act badly. I think they are trying to deal with a serious topic that should be taken as such.

    But I’m not sure if this misuse (in my opinion) of environmentalism is likely to end soon. And I don’t want to see a movement that is intended to do good turned into a cheerleader for the culture of death-especially when real world attempts to deal with “overpopulation” have resulted in no improvement in environmental conditions (sometimes things have gotten worse) and a sizable number of people dying.

    One last thing makes me curious (and I apologize in advance if this makes me seem ignorant to someone who can explain). Why is it that people like Bill Gates are actively listed among those invited to join?

  • I can’t cite chapter and verse re Gates’s charitable work, Nathaniel, but it seems to me this won’t have been the first time he’s promoted population control through his foundations.