Such an important, true and honest statement. Spot on. Especially this sentence. ‘”That way faith loses its independence, Christians become ‘useful idiots’ for one political party or another, and the Christian faith becomes an ideology,” according to the draft.’
It seems to me that political or cultural positions ought to be evaluated as stand-alone propositions, i.e., is the position congruent with truth or is it not? If the position is congruent with the truth, then whether or not one is labeled as a “useful idiot” (Lenin must be turning over in his grave) is irrelevant.
Thanks for that story, Cathleen.
On the local scene, the Lansing alternative paper, The City Pulse, reported in its last issue about the fact that evangelicals are no longer voting as a block. (The Pulse uses an awful lot–pun intended–of newbie reporters, so its reportage/writing is sometimes a bit rough, but I thought this one was interesting.)
Anybody who’s read “Adam Bede” knows that social justice issues were on the evangelical radar long before they percolated up to the “mainstream” hierarchical churches. That evangelical congregations are thinking for themselves and struggling with the hard issues suggests they’re returning to the roots that made them able to respond to social evils so much more nimbly than other denominations.
There is no conservative or liberal view of Truth. Truth is not a matter of opinion nor is it a matter of compromise. Truth is consistent, Yesterday, Today, and Always. As Catholics, we hold that there is a Truth, the Word Made Flesh, our Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the Truth and Way to Love, the Light, the Hope of Salvation. Christ showed us, through His Passion, that the fullness of Love requires desiring Salvation for someone. Out of Charity, Catholic social justice requires the fullness of God’s Truth, the fullness of God’s Love, desiring Salvation for someone.
Truth is complex, constantly being enlarged in its learning , and in faith aquired by risk as it is mysterious.
Folks who often proclaim the Truth, its congruency or underestimate the problem of fully grasping the many ways we keep workin gatarriving at it , not to mention living it, may do more mischief than they think or those they criticize.
Although I sympathize with your struggle to get your head around the complexity and mystery of truth, you should keep in mind that Christ came not only to save Deep Thinkers, but also simpletons such as myself. Christ cannot be that mysterious…
On the larger issue of the life of faith transcending politics, but not morality (the basic thrust of the culture wars), that is still in the process of being developed in our modern democracy.
The relationship of people of faith to politics is tricky and difficult to configure in the modern world. I believe that it was Machiavelli who said that the proper place for saints in the monastery. There is a certain wry and devilish wisdom to that but not entirely…..
The hero of Dostoevsky’s The Idiot is Prince Myshkin whose fatal flaw is that he does not know how to take the measure of things. I suppose that would be the natural virtue of prudence. Politics is the art of the possible and indeed, the interest of the state. That includes forging consensus around issues (abortion should be safe, legal and RARE – but it should be rare and leaders in the Democratic party should not be afraid to say it provided they actually believe it or have any conviction about it at all). But the door on prudence swings both ways. Looking at it dispassionately, and amorally, the US had to go after Iraq to send a message to the radical Islamic world and those who support them that the consequences of their rhetoric leading to attacking the US, on its own soil, will lead to a strong reaction. As a symbol, the US has to set clear boundaries and establish acceptable rules. Period. End of discussion. The point was made, now we can discuss details of democracy, handing over of power, troop withdrawal, etc. in a friendly, cordial manner. That is just the way it is in nature. Even Arafat was smart enough to understand that so is Hillary and so are the American people who are pretty astute politically. Obama appears a bit to dreamy in that regard. I’m afraid and will lose the election by a healthy majority if he is the nominee.
Flannery O’connor was well acquainted with religious zeal and fervour and commented that the Roman Catholic church historically had convents, monasteries and religious houses where religious ‘nuts’ (and I use that term in its complementary, prophetic sense) would have a place to sort out the movement of the spirit in a regularized structure. With Protestantism, there is no such religious structure so they wander in society with no religious boundary to contain them and create all kinds of mischief.
The US, and all of us, would do well to adopt the Russian Orthodox ‘holy fool’ category for people on the margins who often say outlandish things but there is some grain of truth to it. But, in the Catholic tradition, that’s why we have religious orders and a distinct, corporate ecclesial government. We want the faith to be credible and attractive while at the same time not losing its saltiness.
Your post is a lot to digest, and on the whole, I agree. On the whole. But on the issue of abortion you said it should be safe, legal, and rare. This raises at least two questions, both common to the culture wars: safe for who? Certainly not for the unborn infant.
And rare why? Frm a Catholic perspective, is there something wrong with a doctor performing an abortion? If the answer is yes, then why would a Catholic vote to uphold it? If the answer is no, why need it be rare? Your answer is contained in your post. But to me that is something less than a vigorous and fearless Catholicism. It sounds too much like the answer propounded by a group of academics sipping latte’ at the local Starbucks. But the rest of your post is good, and you deserve credit for a clear (if not always correct) expository on the subject.
Please give us a break. Augustine who is the Father of the Church most followed changed his mind a lot. The church even found him too much on predestination and infant salvation without baptism. So where is your truth? What the latest pope or bishop tells you? They have contradicted each other.
Jesus Christ is the truth. Be careful with the rest.
Bob S. et al:
In the world of the hHnchens, Dawkins, Harris etc, gang, the carictature of belief and religion they offer is grounded in the simple minded one frame view of truth often expressed in the”new apologetic” in ou rfaith.
Major issues about our universe, ourselves and our interconnexctedness with our world and each other require deep discussion -informed by a vigorous and searching faith.
I sometimes fear that those who loudly proclaim we’ve got it all in the CCC are our own worst enemies, not only because the new atheists use them to attack religion, but because they do a diservice to our ability to deal with the ever inceeasing problems in our rapid paced technological world
I think it is time to give Christ a break . Stop debating Divine Truth. Be Faithful to His Church. That is all He asks of you. ” If you Love me, you will obey my Commandments.”
Of course but if Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, etc. erect windmills to tilt at, completely out of step with our understanding of the divine and the revelation of Christ, who is not listening to who?
A theistic posture is the natural one. One has to engage in a lot of tortured analysis to deny what is implanted in our hearts and minds.
So the truth (which is not an intellectual formula but an experience) is simple, pure and true. It is love and we can’t forget that as we move through the tangled wits of our minds.
Most already posess it – I happen to think Jesus expressed it very eloquently in both his deeds and words. That expression is carried through the ‘church’ – very broadly defined as those who have had the experience.
So the question for Hitchens, Dawkins and gang is not delving into complex mathematical formula or countering facile broadsides against religion but is instead what is your experience of truth, beauty, the divine and how do you express it.
From a Catholic perspective, is there something wrong with a doctor performing an abortion? If the answer is yes, then why would a Catholic vote to uphold it? If the answer is no, why need it be rare?
The complicating factor in this is that women do not necessarily choose to destroy a living being but to terminate a pregnancy. That may seem to be a distinction without a difference and in some ways it is but it is a cognitive reality for women who find themselves with an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy.
However, few who have had an abortion would say that it is a good thing. It isn’t. Clearly. Just as most people are naturally theists, most people are naturally pro-life at least in principle.
The question is one of prudential tactics and framing it in the public square. I think that you would find consensus in the country around reducing abortions (and imposing certain restrictions such as late term and parental consent for minors) but it remaining legal. That’s the best outcome at the moment but arriving there is going to be far more difficult culturally for the Democrats than it is for the Republicans. Morally grounded Catholic intellectuals, like those on this board advising Obama, who can find ways to engage on this issue without compromising their integrity of faith will help immensely.
One has to be able to take the measure of things or be as wise as a serpent but innocent as a dove.
One has to be able to take the measure of things or be as wise as a serpent but innocent as a dove
The best defense of innocent unborn children is a vigorous and aggressive offense. I believe Christ’s admonition you quoted above is a mis-application of same. Those who crusade to keep the killing going need to be confronted loudly and clearly, as they have been by the pro-life movement. While I respect your position, I try keep in mind Christ’s statement about His bringing not peace, but a sword.
Quick update: Today the Holy father urged all to study their faith more so as to show our beliefis neither anti-intellectual or opposed to fredom.
By the way, who’s debating ‘Divine Truth” here?
I’m a little tired of a few questioning the Catholivity of the folks who post here, most frequently in excellent discussion.
One who does not believe in the Sanctity of Life and the Sanctity of Marriage and the Family to begin with. I assure you that Divine Truth, The Word Made Flesh, The Creator of all that is seen and unseen, is Pro-Life.