Yesterday I received hundreds of emails and some phone calls. I’m working through them, but it will take a few days, since the normal duties of classes and meetings still go on. I also see that several Catholic publications and websites have responded to my op-ed, and I’ll be sure to respond as soon as I can and as appropriate to each venue.
For today, I have time only for some quick notes, and then I’ll work on longer responses for later.
The Headline: As those involved in print journalism know, contributors don’t write the headlines. That only happens in blogs, as far as I’m aware.
“Wafer Watch”: This is not a phrase I invented, which was called “crude” and “frivolous” by my critic from Mirror of Justice, Michael Moreland. As someone who follows religion and politics carefully in the media, and has taught courses and convened conferences on it, I had mistakenly presumed that this was a well-known phrase. It began in 2004 as a shorthand for the now normal election-year tradition of some bishops declaring certain Catholic politicians in the Democratic party as unwelcome at the altar rail — and the subsequent tradition of journalists watching them at Mass to see if they present themselves for Holy Communion. The phrase was shorthand meant not to denigrate the Eucharist but, quite the contrary, to mock the politicization of the Eucharist.
Condescension: The condescension directed my way was colorful. From First Things and Mirror of Justice, two blogs which I enjoy reading, I received the following: “ruse”; “so darn clever”; “an embarrassment”; “the argument refutes itself”; “a sad failure”; not “coherent”; “folk political observations along the way”; “crude, frivolous”; “profoundly misstates Catholic doctrine.” Whew!
Evangelium Vitae 73: This is related to the condescension category. I was chastised for not “hav[ing] bothered to take account” of EV 73. Now we all know that a block quote from an encyclical was not going to become part of the small word count for an op-ed. I am happy to discuss my take on this text, along with Faithful Citizenship, in a longer post later. In short, I’m not persuaded that the Romney-Ryan “policy” qualifies as a “proposal[s] aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality.” I stand by my judgment that the so-called policy is “expedient political rhetoric.” The “policy” is not realistic. It’s not actually a policy at all. It’s not going to happen. It won’t work. Read the rest of this entry »