It’s that time again folks, where politics and religion collide! Today marks the beginning of the 2016 Presidential electoral process. The great state of Iowa, the first in the nation, conducts their Iowa caucuses today, to determine who will get Iowa’s electoral votes for the Democratic and Republican parties. Now the race is really on!
Have you been watching the political news? The Republican candidates are cutting each other’s throats with trash-talking and degrading language. One candidate is famous for spouting racial, cultural and gender bias against the citizenry. The Democratic candidates are no holy saints either. They try to set themselves apart from each other with negative “policy” commentary that somehow spills over into personal insult.
What’s the kicker? Read more…
Before I begin, let me just say that in writing this article, I don’t intend to defend or promote any specific candidate or their position. Indeed, I hope to write something that would remain true if it was read fifty years from now. My concern is that many people who are using this argument seem to be unaware of the fact that it can be used to attack other positions as well. Thus the Catholic who uses it to attack a political view they dislike may find himself “hoisted by their own petard” when someone uses the same argument against a moral teaching of the Church. Then this person would end up looking like they support a double standard.
To avoid such problems, we need to be consistent and ethical in how we speak out or blog against something we oppose on moral grounds. If we behave inconsistently, somebody will notice and even if they don’t call us out, they will notice and assume we behave hypocritically.
One of the common attacks that happen when Catholics debate the current slate of people campaigning for nomination is an ad hominem attack. An ad hominem [literally meaning “to the person”] happens where, instead of refuting an argument, the person attacks the individual who makes the argument. There are many different ways one can attack the person who argues, but they all are guilty of the same thing—attacking the individual does not actually refute what was said, even if it succeeds in makes the person look foolish.
If running against men has wearied you,
how will you race against horses?
And if you are safe only on a level stretch,
what will you do in the jungle of the Jordan? [Jeremiah 12:5]
I sometimes think that an election year means that everybody’s IQ suddenly drops 10-20%. People start tolerating behavior in their favored candidates that they would scream in outrage if their opponents used the same tactic. Insults replace reasoned discourse and discerning the truth takes a back seat to making sure “your guy” wins. I find that I really start to feel burned out with all this going on. I feel disgusted when the candidates who stand in opposition to what I stand for attempt to attack all I hold important by grossly distorting it. I feel dismay when I see my co-religionists use the same tactics, making the faith look like a partisan affair. And I grow extremely discouraged when I see people who share my faith say that a candidate who explicitly calls good what the Church condemns being touted as the “most Catholic” candidate. Sometimes I just find myself thinking…
Timmy was waiting by the front window for Grandma to arrive. “Will she remember me?” thought the little four-year old. Timmy remembered Grandma’s sweet perfume, and soft cheeks. He loved her laugh. He was bursting at the seams waiting for her arrival. Then, he saw the car pull up in the driveway. Daddy ran around from the driver’s side and opened the passenger door. There was Grandma! The wait was over!
Timmy ran out the front door and dashed into Grandma’s arms. He hugged her tight, never wanting to let her go. “Grandma, it’s so good to see you,” Timmy said excitedly. “I’ve missed you!” It was only after getting his hug, that Timmy noticed something different about his Grandma. Read more…
So the Pope made a change in the Holy Thursday rite of Washing of Feet and both Progressive and Traditionalist Catholics tend to see it as a harbinger of change in the Church. They only disagree over whether it is a good or a bad thing. I think the assumption that this signifies change to areas of doctrine is false. I think that people are forgetting a few things, and forgetting these things lead to bad conclusions.
The point I would make is that when Our Lord acts, there is a great deal of depth to His actions. It would be foolish of us to limit the meaning of His actions to only one aspect. So the Church can decide to emphasize one aspect of this depth of meaning at one time in her history and another aspect at a different time. In doing this, the Church is not contradicting the other aspects of meaning.
From Saul to Saint Paul
Saint Paul, whose Feast Day is celebrated today, serves as the perfect example of a person who turned away from sin and turned toward God. Before his astounding conversion, Saint Paul was known as Saul. As Saul, he participated in the stoning (and killing) of Saint Stephen, our first Martyr of the Christian faith. Saint Paul is well known as originally starting out as a persecutor of the early Christians, as he was a zealot for the Jewish faith.
In his efforts to remain true to the Jewish faith, Saul departed Jerusalem for Damascus, in search of men and women who had sworn allegiance to Jesus. Saul wanted to bring them back to Jerusalem in chains (Acts 9:1). However, Jesus had other designs… Read more…
Mercy in the City by Kerry Weber:
Mercy flows in abundance during the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. With that in mind, I thought it would be a good time to share with you my review of Kerry Weber’s book, Mercy in the City. Kerry is a young, single woman living in New York City. This book tells her true life story of her attempt to perform all of the Corporal Acts of Mercy within one Lenten season.
In this book, we traverse through the season of Lent with Kerry chronicling her adventures. She shows us how to… Read more…
With the first primaries yet to be held, I’m seeing Catholics debating the worst case scenarios and what should be the best response if certain candidates get nominated. I try not to use this blog for discussion on the merits of candidates, so I don’t plan to discuss why I favor candidate X or deplore candidate Y. That kind of approach tends to turn a discussion into a partisan debate that obscures the Catholic teaching itself. Also, since some people come to this blog to seek an explanation of what the Church holds, I don’t want to give someone the impression that my personal views on what candidate is best/worst is Church teaching.
The reason I write this is that I am seeing three views thrown around where those who promote them give the impression that their view is the only one compatible with Catholic teaching. Now it is not wrong that people who sincerely seek to follow Church teaching reach different views on what is the best (or least odious) way to vote given the candidate choices. The problem that I see is that some of these arguments seem to overlook the consequences of their decision. What I hope this article will do is to encourage people to consider the consequences of their choice in seeking to make the best decision out of those available, by pointing out some of the pitfalls of each decision that one needs to consider.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – A Man of Peace
Martin Luther King Jr. was a man of peace, receiving the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent efforts to bring racial equality to the forefront of American society. He organized peaceful protests, as in the case of Rosa Parks, where he was known to have said:
“We have no alternative but to protest. For many years we have shown an amazing patience. We have sometimes given our white brothers the feeling that we liked the way we were being treated. But we come here tonight to be saved from that patience that makes us patient with anything less than freedom and justice.”1
Martin Luther King Jr.’s rhetorical skills, calm demeanor, and peace loving nature, combined with his theological training,… Read more…
Life is Precious
During the Christmas holiday, I was listening to an old Bishop Fulton Sheen episode that was on television, while working around the house. I heard him make a comment that shot directly to my brain: “All life is worth living.” He made this comment decades ago, as if a foretelling of something that we would need to focus on today. He made this prophetic comment well before abortion became legal, or euthanasia became popular; or before the death penalty became the preferred means for seeking justice. I began reflecting on his comment. I began by asking myself some questions: