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The Daily Show and Colbert on Palin

Warning: The language in the first is a bit, well, edgy.

About the Author

Cathleen Kaveny is the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor in the Theology Department and Law School at Boston College.



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So, I'm just askin'...WHAT is John McCain staring at in the clips of him standing next to Gov. Palin?

These were very funny. I sent them to my sister Theresa who lives in Phoenix. I have never lived in Phoenix but I often go there to visit her. My sister Theresa is a Democrat and her husband is a Republican. In San Francisco where I live, this type of a mix marriage would be very unusual. Most people who live in San Francisco are Democrats.

Joe: He's staring into the abyss. These pieces are brilliant, and the Palin pick shows why Stewart and Colbert are successful--only satire can get at the truth!

David "by" golly, I think you may be close to the truth. Perhaps he is dwelling on Aristotle's Posterior Analytics.

David--You have it right! Thank God for Daily and Colbert--they absolutely have it right, and McCain gets more unbelievable everyday, because everything is a political ploy for him. Who will be ready on day one???? I'm beginning to wonder?!

I love her honesty and lack of arrogance.

It seemed to me that, in expansively talking about women and the glass ceiling, she almost smacked him in the face--he seemed to duck a couple of times.I found that most entertaining.

David:"These pieces are brilliant, and the Palin pick shows why Stewart and Colbert are successfulonly satire can get at the truth!"The truth? It is a partial truth there are very many truths. Her accomplishments (although I will admit not vast in politics) should not be minimized nor her convictions. That too is truth.Aside from listenting to Sirius Left I heard very little of the black community criticism of Barack Obama. I heard from a black community organizer who said early on that none of his friends were voting for him. He was perceived as a yuppy and opportunist. He stayed away from black issues (according to him).There was a lot more that I won't get into as it isn't important now. But it was alos 'true'. But it is equally true that he is black and married to a black woman. Raised by a white mom.I am not saying that political satire doesn't have its place but at this stage it is being used by Demcorat operatives to start painting the counter-narrative. We'll see which one sticks. Obviously Cathleen has her preference.

True enough, George D. But I also regularly post Daily Show and Colbert Report commentary, because I think they show something about how the younger demographic will be shown things.I'm also hoping that Stephen Colbert has a Catholic relative who reads dotcommonweal who will get me a ticket. But with my luck, all his relatives read First Things or Inside Catholic!

George D: You ought to check out the Comedy Central website. They have some very funny Obama videos that might brighten your day.

Cathleen, as a professor of Theology and Law at Notre Dame, what do you think about the fact that Sarah Palin is pro-Life?

George D, now that the tickets have been selected, I am anxiously awaiting's generally even-handed satire of both parties. The 2004 "This Land is My Land" is a classic...

I think it's great that she's pro-life. It does not, however, qualify her to be leader of the free world.

Cathleen, in your view, what would qualify someone to be the leader of the free world? As a Catholic, I feel the bit on the video that makes a mockery of Sarah Palin's pro-Life view disconcerting. I am wondering why you did not cut that bit out of the video?

Did you find that bit "entertaining" as well?

Nancy, I think a sharp intellect, a good education, experience, judgment, extensive knowledge of foreign affairs and economics, are all necessary. The Daily Show is satire. The Daily Show clip began by showing Palin as suggesting that a vote for her would be a good move for women who supported Hilary, since it would break the glass ceiling that Hilary had merely cracked. Samantha Bee was mocking the view that women would vote for a woman candidate no matter what her stance on the issues.Would YOU vote for a woman candidate just because she was a woman? Would YOU vote for a pro-choice woman, just because she's a woman? Of course you wouldn't. Then why would you expect a pro-choice woman to vote for a pro-life woman just because she's a woman? They wouldn't. Issues matter to women, and all women don't have the same stance on the issues. So the idea that Hilary supporters, many of whom are strongly pro-choice, are going to support pro-life Palin simply because she's a woman is actually insulting to women. That's the point of the satire. I thought it was well-taken.The part of the video that I found funny--just slapstick funny--was the way he had to duck to get out of the way of her hand gestures.

Actually Cathleen, I would never vote for a pro-choice woman just because she is a woman, I would not vote for a pro-choice woman because she is pro-choice.

I am wondering, Cathleen, are you pro-choice?

My position on abortion and the law is very much the same as that which Mary Ann Glendon advocated in Abortion and Divorce in Western Law. I strongly suggest you read her book. I think you'd really like it. AS you know, she's ambassador to the Vatican, and very highly regarded by both JPII and B16.

Actually, I do not know much about her. I was wondering only if you were pro-choice and quite frankly, hoping that you are not.

Nancy, why don't you get Glendon's book--and read it--and tell me what you think. Google her and find out the responsibilities and roles she's been given at the Vatican. I don't believe the blogosphere operates --or ought to be expected to operate--as if there is no world of books and learning and expertise outside it. At least not this blog.

Thanks, Cathleen, I will.

Jean:The jib jab pieces are good and even handed. Here is the difference. They come out after the candidates have had time to convey their messages as they choose to convey. They play on certain stereotypes and perceptions that are fixed in the consciousness of the people. They are not creating those perceptions. That is what makes it funny.What Jon Stewart is doing is actively taking a role in SHAPING a counter-perception. Clearly he is taking the uspoken cue from the Obama campaign and working strictly as an entertainer. David's glib comments about brightening my day by seeing Obama videos is a bit patronizing or maybe he really believes that this was simple satire and I am being defensive. That is what makes the piece un-funny.I think that I can demonstrate my case that this was a deliberate strategy to paint her as an ideological Trojan horse for Hillary voters. First, in her very few public appearances on the national media she has spoken about corruption in government and energy policy specifically the natural gas pipeline (which she says Biden voted against but would pump all kinds of domestic natural gas to the USA) and drilling in ANWR which she supports. She has not articulated her public policy positions with respect to abortion aside from being strongly pro-life and perhaps somewhere agreeing that there should be restrictions. But here is the central point. When she took public office for those two years that was not even near the top of her agenda. Corruption, taking on oil companies (whatever that means in real terms), and energy policy and rebates were. So why are we discussing her views on abortion when these havent been raised by the campaign and she has had an opportunity to speak to them.Clearly this is an attempt to charicature her. Thats partisan politics. That is what Jon Stewart was doing. Obviously.Now in the interest of fair play, I thought when Palin described herself as a hockey mom that was pure pandering. I didnt like it. It came out as forced. Youre a regular person we get it. Now lets get to the public policy issues that drove you as governor. And those were what I mentioned not abortion.The point is lets not feign that this was just a joke and they do the same to Obama as David suggested. They dont.

Very funny. Thanks Cathleen. I'm a little worried though that all this satire is eventually going to cause her to break into tears, and then... Well, it worked once... (Let's not say nothing has been learned through these endless primaries.)

George, I appreciate the larger discussion on political satire and its influence on the political process. Some thoughts about the nature of satire that might be interesting to kick around:I don't think satire is ever "just a joke." Look at Twain, look at Swift, look at Ambrose Bierce. Satire isn't just funny; it's bitter and it makes a moral judgment. Jibjab, I'd argue, while it doesn't line up with Dems or the GOP, is perhaps the bitterest of all in that the moral judgment is that "they're all fools." As for shaping opinion, I think that bears a second look.As a Democrat, the Daily Show's treatment of Sarah Palin hasn't shaped any opinion that hadn't already occurred to me when I watched her accept McCain's nomination on PBS--that she was selected more as a symbol than as someone who had any real national leadership ability. So if the show doesn't shape my opinions as a partisan Democrat, nor your opinions, whose opinions DOES it shape?Perhaps we might agree that more insidious than anything on the Daily Show, which is on Comedy Central after all, are sloppy and incomplete reports one hears in so-called legitimate news venues.

Jean:"she was selected more as a symbol"As was Obama. Biden even said as much when he said something to the effect that you have an articulate, black clean cut guy. I mean its a storybook man. "than as someone who had any real national leadership ability." Leadership ability is something that needs to be tested. Obama did indeed pass the test of leadership ability obviously. Palin did in her state as well (which is important all politics is local!!!) But she is going to have to perform and I promise to give as fair an assessment as possible. I dont think you can say that she doesnt have leadership ability. She did afterall decline the bridge to nowhere and has advocated for drilling in ANWR (hardly a popular position although apparently in Alaska it it). Again, I dont live in the US but it seems to me that energy policy would be right up at the top given Californias rolling blackouts, gas prices, environmental issues, etc. Of course, here positions are debatable but she has engaged on these, adopted clear position, and taken concrete action in an executive position. That is real leadership at least in a operational sense. "whose opinions DOES it shape?"Oh it shapes young peoples no question. In fact I recall reading a study about 8 years ago that stated that young people aged 19 30 (or somewhere in there) by overwhelming margins obtained most of their news from the Daly Show. It has a hip, with it, ironic, feel to it that is attractive to young people wanting to be perceived as in the know and all of that.Perhaps we might agree that more insidious than anything on the Daily Show, which is on Comedy Central after all, are sloppy and incomplete reports one hears in so-called legitimate news venues."sloppy and incomplete reports one hears in so-called legitimate news venues."I know your background is in journalism and I do respect that craft. There used to be a program in Canada called the Fifth Estate which referred to journalism as an institution unto itself. I strongly agree with that. I think it truly should be a civil vocation. I dont think we should go the way of the UK (and Canada to a degree) with media clearly part of one party or another. After watching for awhile you really can see the ones who aim for balance and fairness. I watched the DNC on CNN. The one, for me, that exemplified balance and straight up reporting was John King.Good examples with print media too.

George, wasn't my intention to re-argue earlier thread on Palin's fitness as a candidate, but to look at what political satire does.Re young people, yes, my students were telling me they got most of their news on the Daily Show before I even knew what the Daily Show was. After I saw it, I asked them how they could understand the satire on the Daily Show if that was their main source of info. They said they read news online.So I'd like to see more evidence about how satire shapes opinion.Journalists are getting sloppier in many areas. They're not challenging PR sources enough, and they often use Web resources to stitch stories together rather than using that info to provide useful background in ferreting out new information. The fact that so much media is now part of conglomerate America, however, troubles me. I frankly think that a venerable periodical or newspaper with its political or religious slant clearly stated (The National Review comes to mind) is often more credible than so-called non-partisan media. I also have concerns with TV news, but especially CNN, which thrives on "bringing it to you as it happens!" Often events are presented without context or without taking the time to check things out. Visual media also has a tendency to sensationalize-find the most dramatic pictures or seek out the most colorful commentators. I also can't stand the busy-ness on the CNN screen and the repetitive nature of its coverage. And I loathe "The Situation Room," especially when there really isn't much of a "situation" to report. It elevates a minor story to something of national import.But I confess I only see CNN (and the Daily Show) in the cafeteria, at the neighbor's and in the doctor's office because I won't shuck out the $$ for cable.

George D., I think you're right that this helps the democrats--and was intended by Stewart to do so. But how does satire work? I think it gives you courage. People think, "Am I the only one who thinks this is crazy (this being whatever is being mocked) . . . maybe I'm crazy." When you see the satire, you conclude that it's the world that's crazy, and you and Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are three people who see things as they truly are.

Cathleen--I agree that satire gives the audience courage, and an outlet for their frustrations with the mainstream media. I expected the pundits to have a "field day" with the Palin choice, and all I saw instead were mild mannered non-commital opinions because the pundits feared for their own jobs. Why were they so vocal about a qualified candidate like Hillary, and now "they" are tongue-tied? The credibility of McCain has plummeted, in my mind, because of his arrogant disregard for what will happen if he dies. At least Obama gave it thoughtful consideration, and chose someone we can place our confidence.

In the United States the discussion about abortion is about one side accusing the other side of not respecting life and the other side accusing the other side of not respecting women. Both sides are lying. We have coffee after Mass where I go to church (monastery) on Sundays. Everybody I talked to is voting for Obama and Biden. I need to add that I go to Mass in Berkeley, California. Michael

I think satire is also connected to demotholygizing. It has to be funny which means that it has to draw on the audiences sense of irony. Stewart, in this example, demythologized the historical import of this pick. But he also appealed to an innate suspicion that this was a ruse from McCain. Effective.My point is that humour of this type is effective on the right as well but the right has nowhere near the access that the left does in terms of comedy.Colbert satirizies conservative punditry which is a bit different. He is pretty effective as well. Denise:"Why were they so vocal about a qualified candidate like Hillary, and now they are tongue-tied?"HIllary was a known commodity. Palin came out of nowhere. It is wise not to make a judgment until we have all the information which is happening in real time.I don't think that they feared for their own jobs - they are processing just like everyone else. Personally I don't see how the pick withstands a critical rational analysis. Yet, there is something compelling about it. I would just offer this individual male perspective.Speaking of Jon Stewart I had to look at the piece posted by Cathleen on You Tube and came across another segment dealing with Palin where he compared her visually to some television actresses and then finally some soft core porn actress which brought the house down. I even had to chuckle at that and then it occurred to me that under the surface there is dynamic sexual force (in the broadest sense of the word) with this pick. Watching Palin, notwithstanding her record, her bearing is very present, she is in the moment in her whole being which is as a woman. Thus she tends to project her inner core in interviews while being appropriately disciplined and articulate. But because her inner core is female, that aspect of her sex is projected. As a male listener, I respond. The issue suddenly becomes interesting and I am engaged. With Hillary, aesthetically, she is certainly as attractive as Palin, yet she doesnt seem (at least to me) to project that same passion from her being. Thus the response is different. People are still processing Palin for the reasons above and politically as well.As a purely sociological phenomenon this is going to be interesting as you now have a presidential campaign with the (mostly) implicit and unspoken subtext of race and the mostly) implicit and unspoken subtext of sex. Ironically it is a great opportunity to focus on concrete issues as the candidates will now have the full attention of the public.

I suppose satire can give you courage.IMHO, the point of satire is to make you feel ashamed--Mark Twain's war prayer, Swift's "Modest Proposal," pretty much any episode of "The Simpsons."

"My point is that humour of this type is effective on the right as well but the right has nowhere near the access that the left does in terms of comedy."Yes they do. Fox News.

Cathleen, rather than read Maryanne Glendon's views on abortion, I decided to google and see what you had to say in regards to this issue. From Commonweal, May 4, 2007: "But it would nod towards both sets of core values. It would highlight the humanity of unborn life while recognizing that secular law would not require a woman to sacrifice her fundamental physical integrity to carry her baby to term. Maybe that's a step towards a workable compromise, but I am not holding my breath."I find this statement to be somewhat muddled but more consistent with one who is pro-choice.Here are some things I believe you should consider since you are both a professor of Theology and Law at the University of Notre Dame.1.It is God, not Caeser, who creates Life.2.The Catholic Church teaches and modern Science confirms that Human Life begins at Conception, when a unique individual person, with unique DNA, consistent with that of a Human person, separate from that of it's Mother, exists.3. Children are not property.4. Christ was never known to compromise as the Word of God. The Word is still the same for all, rich, poor,etc., although he did say that for whom much has been given, much will be expected. ( He was not just refering to economics here.) Regarding the bit that a woman should not be required to" sacrifice her fundamental physical integrity", go spend an hour with a two year old and then tell me what you think.

Are there any analyses of the audiences of these two shows? How many watch? What age groups? Political party affiliations? Likely to vote? Etc.

Nancy, I'm talking about Carhart and its reception in American law there. I think Carhart exacerbated the polarization on abortion in this country.But thank you for your five pointers. I can't resist asking: How do you decide what words to capitalize? Why did you capitalize "Life"? or Mother? It's not standard English usage. Were you raised speaking German? I note with chagrin that "somewhat muddled" is my contribution to the Commonweal lexicon. I guess it's incorrect. I'm not sure something can be somewhat muddled. If it's muddled, it's muddled.Joe, here you go. I would ask your absolution for pointing you to wikipedia, but if you click, you're complicit, and can't absolve me.

Jean, I guess satire makes the object ashamed (McCain and the Republican sides). But don't you think it makes the audience (probably not, as has been pointed out, sympathetic to McCain and Palin) more brazen about their views. They're not only right, they're hip?

Im interested in the discussion about humor. Satire, according to my dictionary, is aimed at exposing wickedness or folly. I think folly is the target here. Not all humor is satire, of course. For what it is worth, I saw several forms of humor at work in these videos. The goggle-eyed mad scramble of the news commentator played by Colbert (OK, heres my talking points fax) was information-age slapstick. The collage of similar hairdos was a visual joke. Assuming Palin to be McCains third wife was burlesque. The clip of Palin avowing she didnt know what the VP does all day was irony. But the Samantha Bee interview was true satire, intended to expose the folly of expecting supporters of Hillary Clinton to rally round Sarah Palin, just because she is a woman. The point is well taken, and couldnt have been clearer.I dont know that satire is always bitter, or necessarily cruel. (Certainly this was far less cruel than McCains infamous joke about Chelsea Clinton, which was a combination of derision and innuendo.) But satire does have a point to make, and whether it makes one squirm or chortle depends on how you feel about the point. If you are complicit in the folly being exposed, it wont be comfortable for you. If you feel oppressed or victimized by whatever folly is being satirized, you may delight in the opportunity to see it lampooned. It also empowers you to resist the awful compulsion of having to see things through the eyes of whoever is in power. It is no accident that some of our greatest comedians and comics have been Jews and blacks. Nor that when people are in power they quickly lose their sense of irony.

Of course, who was a better Satirist than Erasmus. Whereas Cicero came out and named names. Here is Erasmus on the hierarchy. Was he thinking with the church?ORATION: LIGHTS OF THE WORLD The Lights of the World Reduced to a mere Wallet Nor are princes by themselves in their manner of life, since popes, cardinals, and bishops have so diligently followed their steps that they've almost got the start of them. For if any of them would consider what their alb should put them in mind of, to wit, a blameless life; what is meant by their forked miters, whose each point is held in by the same knot, we'll suppose it a perfect knowledge of the Old and New Testaments; what those gloves on their hands, but a sincere administration of the Sacraments, and free from all touch of worldly business; what their crosier, but a careful looking after the flock committed to their charge; what the cross born before them, but victory over all earthly affections- these, I say, and many of the like kind should anyone truly consider, would he not live a sad and troublesome life? Whereas now they do well enough while they feed themselves only, and for the care of their flock either put it over to Christ or lay it all on their suffragans, as they call them, or some poor vicars. Nor do they so much as remember their name, or what the word bishop signifies, to wit, labor, care, and trouble. But in racking to gather money they truly act the part of bishops, and herein acquit themselves to be no blind seers. In like manner cardinals, if they thought themselves the successors of the apostles, they would likewise imagine that the same things the other did are required of them, and that they are not lords but dispensers of spiritual things of which they must shortly give an exact account. But if they also would a little philosophize on their habit and think with themselves what's the meaning of their linen rochet, is it not a remarkable and singular integrity of life? What that inner purple; is it not an earnest and fervent love of God? Or what that outward, whose loose plaits and long train fall round his Reverence's mule and are large enough to cover a camel; is it not charity that spreads itself so wide to the succor of all men? that is, to instruct, exhort, comfort, reprehend, admonish, compose wars, resist wicked princes, and willingly expend not only their wealth but their very lives for the flock of Christ: though yet what need at all of wealth to them that supply the room of the poor apostles? These things, I say, did they but duly consider, they would not be so ambitious of that dignity; or, if they were, they would willingly leave it and live a laborious, careful life, such as was that of the ancient apostles. And for popes, that supply the place of Christ, if they should endeavor to imitate His life, to wit His poverty, labor, doctrine, cross, and contempt of life, or should they consider what the name pope, that is father, or holiness, imports, who would live more disconsolate than themselves? or who would purchase that chair with all his substance? or defend it, so purchased, with swords, poisons, and all force imaginable? so great a profit would the access of wisdom deprive him of- wisdom did I say? nay, the least corn of that salt which Christ speaks of: so much wealth, so much honor, so much riches, so many victories, so many offices, so many dispensations, so much tribute, so many pardons; such horses, such mules, such guards, and so much pleasure would it lose them. You see how much I have comprehended in a little: instead of which it would bring in watchings, fastings, tears, prayers, sermons, good endeavors, sighs, and a thousand the like troublesome exercises. Nor is this least considerable: so many scribes, so many copying clerks, so many notaries, so many advocates, so many promoters, so many secretaries, so many muleteers, so many grooms, so many bankers: in short, that vast multitude of men that overcharge the Roman See- I mistook, I meant honor- might beg their bread. A most inhuman and abominable thing, and more to be execrated, that those great princes of the Church and true lights of the world should be reduced to a staff and a wallet. Whereas now, if there be anything that requires their pains, they leave that to Peter and Paul that have leisure enough; but if there be anything of honor or pleasure, they take that to themselves. By which means it is, yet by my courtesy, that scarce any kind of men live more voluptuously or with less trouble; as believing that Christ will be well enough pleased if in their mystical and almost mimical pontificality, ceremonies, titles of holiness and the like, and blessing and cursing, they play the parts of bishops. To work miracles is old and antiquated, and not in fashion now; to instruct the people, troublesome; to interpret the Scripture, pedantic; to pray, a sign one has little else to do; to shed tears, silly and womanish; to be poor, base; to be vanquished, dishonorable and little becoming him that scarce admits even kings to kiss his slipper; and lastly, to die, uncouth; and to be stretched on a cross, infamous. Theirs are only those weapons and sweet blessings which Paul mentions, and of these truly they are bountiful enough: as interdictions, hangings, heavy burdens, reproofs anathemas, executions in effigy, and that terrible thunderbolt of excommunication, with the very sight of which they sink men's souls beneath the bottom of hell: which yet these most holy fathers in Christ and His vicars hurl with more fierceness against none than against such as, by the instigation of the devil, attempt to lessen or rob them of Peter's patrimony. When, though those words in the Gospel, "We have left all, and followed Thee," were his, yet they call his patrimony lands, cities, tribute, imposts, riches; for which, being enflamed with the love of Christ, they contend with fire and sword, and not without loss of much Christian blood, and believe they have then most apostolically defended the Church, the spouse of Christ, when the enemy, as they call them, are valiantly routed. As if the Church had any deadlier enemies than wicked prelates, who not only suffer Christ to run out of request for want of preaching him, but hinder his spreading by their multitudes of laws merely contrived for their own profit, corrupt him by their forced expositions, and murder him by the evil example of their pestilent life. Nay, further, whereas the Church of Christ was founded in blood, confirmed by blood, and augmented by blood, now, as if Christ, who after his wonted manner defends his people, were lost, they govern all by the word. And whereas war is so savage a thing that it rather befit beasts than men, so outrageous that the very poets feigned it came from the Furies, so pestilent that it corrupts all men's manners, so unjust that it is best executed by the worst of men, so wicked that it has no agreement with Christ; and yet, omitting all the other, they make this their only business. Here you'll see decrepit old fellows acting the parts of young men, neither troubled at their costs, nor wearied with their labors, nor discouraged at anything, so they may have the liberty of turning laws, religion, peace, and all things else quite topsy-turvy. Nor are they destitute of their learned flatterers that call that palpable madness zeal, piety, and valor, having found out a new way by which man may kill his brother without the least breach of that charity which, by the command of Christ, one Christian owes another. And here, in troth, I'm a little at a stand whether the ecclesiastical German electors gave them this example, or rather took it from them; who, laying aside their habit, benedictions, and all the like ceremonies, so act the part of commanders that they think it a mean thing, and least beseeming a bishop, to show the least courage to Godward unless it be in a battle. And as to the common herd of priests, they account it a crime to degenerate from the sanctity of their prelates. Heidah! How soldier-like they bustle about the jus divinum of titles, and how quick-sighted they are to pick the least thing out of the writings of the ancients wherewith they may fright the common people and convince them, if possible, that more than a tenth is due! Yet in the meantime it least comes in their heads how many things are everywhere extant concerning that duty which they owe the people. Nor does their shorn crown in the least admonish them that a priest should be free from all worldly desires and think of nothing but heavenly things. Whereas on the contrary, these jolly fellows say they have sufficiently discharged their offices if they but anyhow mumble over a few odd prayers, which, so help me, Hercules! I wonder if any god either bear or understand, since they do neither themselves, especially when they thunder them out in that manner they are wont. But this they have in common with those of the heathens, that they are vigilant enough to the harvest of their profit, nor is there any of them that is not better read in those laws than the Scripture. Whereas if there be anything burdensome, they prudently lay that on other men's shoulders and shift it from one to the other, as men toss a ball from hand to hand, following herein the example of lay princes who commit the government of their kingdoms to their grand ministers, and they again to others, and leave all study of piety to the common people. In like manner the common people put it over to those they call ecclesiastics, as if themselves were no part of the Church, or that their vow in baptism had lost its obligation. Again, the priests that call themselves secular, as if they were initiated to the world, not to Christ, lay the burden on the regulars; the regulars on the monks; the monks that have more liberty on those that have less; and all of them on the mendicants; the mendicants on the Carthusians, among whom, if anywhere, this piety lies buried, but yet so close that scarce anyone can perceive it. In like manner the popes, the most diligent of all others in gathering in the harvest of money, refer all their apostolical work to the bishops, the bishops to the parsons, the parsons to the vicars, the vicars to their brother mendicants, and they again throw back the care of the flock on those that take the wool. But it is not my business to sift too narrowly the lives of prelates and priests for fear I seem to have intended rather a satire than an oration, and be thought to tax good princes while I praise the bad. And therefore, what I slightly taught before has been to no other end but that it might appear that there's no man can live pleasantly unless he be initiated to my rites and have me propitious to him.

Cathleen said: I guess satire makes the object ashamed (McCain and the Republican sides). But dont you think it makes the audience (probably not, as has been pointed out, sympathetic to McCain and Palin) more brazen about their views. Theyre not only right, theyre hip?Jean replies: Yes, it can, and I may be on the thin ice of the intentional fallacy in trying to make pronouncements about the aims of the satirist.So let me back off to a reader response approach: I rarely miss an episode of "The Simpsons," and I think it's hilarious. But it never ceases to make me feel ashamed of some of the aspects of American culture it satirizes. Rita, thanks for the thoughtful post. Off to the family pic-a-nic, so will think more about this during the week.

Cathleen, a statement that is somewhat muddled would be a statement that begins by saying one thing and then ends by being muddled. A muddled statement is a statement that is entirely muddled.I was born and raised in Long Island, New York.

Nancy, do you think it is morally wrong for Catholics to criticize the Magisterium--or bishops or the pope on any point --or to say anything critical of the pro-life movement at all?

Cathleen, do you believe that Christ Has revealed Himself to His Church in the Trinitarian relationship of Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and the teaching of the Magisterium? Do you believe The Deposit of Faith? Are you in communion with the Catholic Church? Why would I criticize the Magisterium since the Magisterium is the teaching authority of the Church? Why would I criticize the Pope unless it was regarding something other than The Deposit of Faith? There are some bishops, priests, nuns, laity, etc. that have made statements that are not consistent with the Deposit of Faith and are thus not in communion with the Church.Why would I criticize the pro-Life movement? The Catholic Church, through Catholic Charities etc., does a great job of providing assistance to the needy and will continue this work out of respect for the Dignity of life at all stages, from beginning to end.

I do have a criticism of Pope Benedict, but it involves something that he wrote before he was actually the Pope. He left the Filioque out of Dominus Iesus. I am surprised that many who criticized this document, failed to recognize that the Filioque was left out.

Yes, yes, yes, and yes.But it's good to know where you stand. Nancy, you are calling for a kind of undifferentiated submission to the church and to affiliated political movements--that even the Church doesn't itself call for. You don't make differentiations that the Church itself makes between different levels of teaching. You don't see the difference between criticizing a prudential judgment of the Magisterium, and criticizing an aspect of the deposit of faith. You don't see the difference between a moral teaching (e.g., intentional killing is always wrong) and an application of that teaching to contingent circumstances (e.g, the Harvard brain death criteria tell us when we're dealing with a dead person, not a live person). All of that would understandable, and tolerable. But you consistently call into question the good faith, the Catholicism, the loyalty to the church of people you don't agree with. And it never once seems to occur to you that maybe the matter is more complicated than you think --like with Benedict on the filioque clause.

Cathleen, when you believe, you are suppose to act on that belief. that is what Faith and Good works is all about.If intentional killing is always wrong than intentional killing is always wrong. You are not trying to make the argument that a child in a Mother's womb is brain-dead, are you Cathleen?

No. Nancy, after looking back at your posts, I have come to the conclusion that you're trying to conduct your own Inquisition on the Commowneal blog. And I want no part of it--and I will not tolerate it on any of my threads.

Cathleen, what have I said that is not consistent with the teaching of the Catholic Church? I have no problem if you feel the need to correct me.

One is put in mind of Chesterton's comment in Orthodoxy:"A small circle is quite as infinite as a large circle, but, though it is quite as infinite, it is not so large. In the same way, the insane explanation is quite as complete as the sane one, but it is not so large. A bullet is quite as round as the world, but it is not the world. There is such a thing as a narrow universality; there is such a thing as a small and cramped eternity... if you or I were dealing with a mind that was growing morbid, we should be chiefly concerned not so much to give it arguments as to give it air..."

or perhaps this comment, also by Chesterton:"If we want reform, we must adhere to orthodoxy."

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