Saturday, May 18, 2019

I'm "Anti-Choice," Happily And Obediently

The US Catholic Bishops note, "Catholics often face difficult choices about how to vote. This is why it is so important to vote according to a well-formed conscience that perceives the proper relationship among moral goods. A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who favors a policy promoting an intrinsically evil act, such as abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, deliberately subjecting workers or the poor to subhuman living conditions, redefining marriage in ways that violate its essential meaning, or racist behavior, if the voter's intent is to support that position. In such cases, a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil. At the same time, a voter should not use a candidate's opposition to an intrinsic evil to justify indifference or inattentiveness to other important moral issues involving human life and dignity."

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Gimme One Reason

I was going to post about the paragraphs in the universal Catechism about murder and abortion. Those paragraphs (say, 2268-2275) will never be a waste of your time. Yet it seemed more important to say this: One cannot actually reason if one's attempts to do so are nothing more than expressions of disdain for someone else's hypocrisy. It may be startlingly satisfying to make broad statements about one's opponents, and their alleged moral inferiority, but that's not an argument.

Let's get practical: It is either always morally acceptable to obtain an abortion, or it is never morally acceptable to obtain an abortion. Nuance--for the moment--is for sissies, and sophists. I'll grant you that hard cases exist; that's why they're hard. "Abortion" for this discussion means the deliberate killing, by any means, of a human being in his or her mother's body.

Make a choice. If it had to be one or the other, and all the squeamish hem-hawers and "Well..." throat-clearers had something else to do, I know what I'd choose. The rest is just dressing for heinous evil, pretending to be something else.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Anti-Anti-Political Correctness

People say "political correctness" bothers them. You know what bothers me? A lack of care about correctness in general. Moreover, a lack of care about caring. If you want to talk about how the regime of political liberalism rules certain ideas out of bounds in an allegedly pluralistic society, say that. The funny thing about claiming to "tell it like it is" is that you'd better be right. Too many use an alleged opposition to political correctness as an excuse to be jerks. Racists, religious bigots, whatever else.

I still may end up shot against the wall, but these Catholics throwing their lot in with the latest prince (let the reader understand) are a bunch of wimps and cowards. Natural law remains true. It doesn't actually matter how much government-sanctioned disapproval they bring to bear; we've still got the truth, and it's truth that the world wants and needs, even if they make a big show otherwise. I won't sell foreigners and immigrants down the river for a seat at the Christianist table.

I can remember the Super Bowl a couple years ago. There was a Coke commercial where they showed immigrants singing "America The Beautiful" in every possible tongue, including Arabic. Leaving aside the cynical assertion that Coke doesn't actually care about this issue, I found that I really do. I would rather be accused of wanting our nation to be overrun by outsiders than to intentionally be unwelcoming. If you will pardon the crudity here, I said out loud, "Screw you, Donald Trump!"

I will even grant that some people have an agenda to use sensitivity and compassion for immoral ends; this does not grant anyone a license for a lack of empathy. I admit that I view the present iteration of political "conservatism" fundamentally as a profound lack of empathy. It's not easy for me to say this; Jason Kettinger and "Left" just don't really go together. The problem is that today, Jason Kettinger and "Right" don't go together, either. If you've made your peace with it, fine. I'm apt at any time to tell you that you lack philosophical and moral imagination.

I can't give you an exhaustive list of my "prudential" judgments, or issue positions; I only know that the rightist impulse threatens to make "prudential" things that in fact are not. I simply do not trust or honor the moral instincts of people who countenance flagrant immorality and injustice, and then when challenged shout, "But abortion!" In this case, you're not arguing with Nancy Pelosi, you're arguing with me. And we have too quickly forgotten that Speaker Pelosi automatically deserves better than to simply be an avatar of what we loathe and fear.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Thinking About Emotion In Politics

I got to thinking about this because I have noted my own intellectual journey from one rooted in emotion and tribalism, to one more open to reason, and then as one who sees the possible error of ignoring feelings--from oneself or others--in an alleged devotion to "facts" and "logic" that is in fact another form of emotional tribalism.

It's a sobering thing to realize in one's mind, My "enemy" has made an argument, the moral force of which I have yet to take account. The "Left" does this all the time. I had become so adept at expressing outrage against the murder of children in the womb, and the sexual libertinism that leads to it, that in large part I simply ignored whatever a "liberal" said. I sneered at his morality, I seethed at it, I did everything except take his moral claims seriously; that is, as they are offered in good faith. Then I begin to think, "Hey, man, you were just a kid," and yet I answer, "No, I think I was about 34."

That is to say, I might be angry about the overvaluing of spotted owls, or dogs, relative to people, yet the stubborn intellect rouses itself to ask, "What is my position on spotted owls? Or climate change, or subsidized child care?", or dozens of other things. We had become so fond of marinating in our own certitude of rightness that we ourselves had become lazy. Satire in moderation may be useful, and even hilarious, but it's not argument, as such. Have you seen anything in the body politic that isn't contempt, or withering sarcasm?

I push so hard against the "Right" because that was my native land. I'll leave others to break their friends out of "Left" intellectual prisons.

I can't just say, "I'm a man of the Left," because I don't know what that means here today. If you figure out what the common political descriptors actually mean, you'll let me know, won't you? The only thing I know for sure is that I'm a Catholic in a world that couldn't care less, while fitfully yearning for that which it has rejected.

I still don't trust people without hearts. Maybe in that sense I was always a "liberal," in the reductionist parlance. I need to hear a person say, "Of course I agree that treating immigrants inhumanely is wrong," or, "I don't want poison in the air and water," full stop. And then you'd better be prepared to show how you're not advocating for something opposite of what you've said. Most rightists don't do that now, it seems to me. Too many wear a hardness of heart like a badge of honor, as if compassion itself were proof of error. We cannot disagree about prudential means to ends, if we do not agree on the ends. And we'd better be prepared for the fact that a Catholic anthropology is not identical--or perhaps even consonant with--these American political philosophies we've stewed in our whole lives, great as America is, in many ways. We need real leaders, whose vision is clear, and whose hearts are full. We cannot meme or tweet our way to the kind of political life we want. We must give truth when we find it, but we also must receive it, in humility, from our brothers and sisters, no matter how unexpected the timing, or the source. Anger and resentment are understandable, and even just, when injustice is present. But a politics of resentment does not become any people that aspires to be truly free.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Franklin Graham Is Right (Someone Has To Say It)

I saw a couple of news and magazine pieces after his tweet about Mayor Pete’s homosexuality. They all had the same stupid mistake, so let’s address it here: Mayor Pete does not have to repent for “being gay” (whatever that means); he needs to repent for engaging in homosexual sexual acts. I don’t begrudge him at all for attempting to “reclaim” particular issues from the Right, or helping to rebuild an active Christian Left. Well and good.

But the worse sin is to lead people to believe that homosexuality is acceptable, ordinary, and good. Lots of conventionally-attracted “allies” may be surprised by this. Read Romans 1:32 closely.

Many people desperately want to believe that God doesn’t care what we do with our bodies, especially in regard to sex. Curiously, no one makes this error when there is a rampage shooting.

It might as well be Franklin Graham. To say that he is disliked, or that he lacks the diplomatic talent of his father, is probably an understatement. Then again, it might as well be me.

My dislike of other things Graham might say or do doesn’t change the reality of this particular question.

A person might also say, “Mayor Pete believes a lot of other things I like,” and that’s fine. We don’t always see the bad fruit of the things we do. That’s a great mercy to us. What if we could physically see the devastation of adultery or divorce? Or even a “tamer” sin, like fornication? Maybe we wouldn’t do it.

As I was reflecting on this, I thought briefly of a science fiction story called, “Children Of Men.” I haven’t actually seen or read it. Yet there is one woman who is pregnant, in a world where this doesn’t happen. Some people want to kill her and the child, I think. Here is a real-life reductio ad absurdum: Given the premise that people can choose their sex partners, and it’s claimed that it doesn’t matter, what if everyone was homosexual? Literally every single person? We would slowly die, literally. This scenario reveals the natural law truth of men, women, and sexuality. We live in a time where we are accustomed to absolute freedom, but the reality of who and what we are asserts itself, despite our efforts to deny it.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Rejoice? Easter In Grief

I don't have anything profound to say. It's just weird, which is to say, we're used to death, and it is still fundamentally absurd. I just couldn't get past it, which is not to say I had tears. It's deeper than a feeling; it's a gut conviction: You're supposed to be here, and you're not. We all have those people, and the list gets longer and longer as we go through life.

Christianity is not a bunch of sentimental claptrap about being in a better place. It's in fact a contention that this world we know isn't real in some sense at all, that we feel sadness and sorrow at death because our immortal souls know that the separation of our souls from our bodies is just wrong, and that things won't be right again until that separation is reversed. If you don't believe in the resurrection of the body, you're not actually a Christian. Christ rose from the dead to defeat death itself. This is what Easter is about.

Anyway, I had this thought: My resurrection hope has names and faces, more than it did before. As though every tear was a down payment toward joy in the life of the resurrection. This is grieving in hope. I know that it's messy and uneven at times, but then, so am I.

I felt like an idiot today, because I asked a friend how he was doing. I know he has reason to cry; it was a stupid question. But then, how am I doing? I don't even know. I just know that they're all supposed to be here, and they're not. I know this for sure: I want the Father to command the dead to rise, just as surely as He commands that we be delivered from eternal damnation, and counted among the flock of those He has chosen. It's the same reality; You only need forgiveness of sins if you're going to live forever. We're soft on sin, because we forget the stakes. Religion isn't that important to people, if the message is, "Learn to be nice, and good." Pete's sake, Tony Robbins could help you with that, or Oprah. You don't need a priest for all that. We know it, too. I don't blame the "nones," because we make Christianity trivial, and then wonder why people exchange our triviality for the Patriots, or The Real Housewives of Atlanta. I would, too.

I need to see their faces again. Every single person I have lost. The gift of faith is an amazing gift, but I was disposed to receive it, because at bottom, I refused to accept the idea that this life, and a meaning we make ourselves, is all there is. I have seen an inexpressible glory in their eyes, in their faces, and that glory is out of place here. Have you sensed that, too?

Monday, April 08, 2019

Tim McGraw Versus George Strait

Someone has a ridiculous poll on Facebook, like "Who's The Greatest Country Artist?" and it's ridiculous for 2 reasons: 1. It's like being asked to choose between family; and 2. George is better, and Tim would agree.

I actually love Tim McGraw. His music is great, he paid his dues, he's a normal guy who's earned everything he's ever gotten. Hard beginning to life. You can understand that wistful sadness in many songs, knowing his story. I love him. He's the Daryl Hall of country music: We all love him, we know he's underrated, we can't make it up to him, so we just relax and enjoy his gifts.

George Strait is arguably the greatest of all time. He's the Roger Federer of country music: the greatest, and still great. He's had so many number 1 country songs that a new release on such a collection became number 1, and screwed up the count. It's 50-something. They put out a companion album of beloved Strait songs that barely missed number 1, and it had 22 songs on it. People still demanded more. It's utterly impossible to describe what he's meant to American popular music. His was arguably the greatest live concert I've ever seen. No fireworks, no graphics. Strait, and the band.

Let me put it this way: Only 11 artists in any genre in the rock & roll era have sold more records in the US than George Strait. I've seen the legend Garth Brooks himself stand on stage and say, "I'll never do it as good as Strait." Believe it. He tried to retire; we wouldn't let him.

"50 Number Ones" was released in 2004; it's #107 on Billboard's 200 Albums chart (any genre) right now. His latest release, "Honky Tonk Time Machine," has recently been #1. He's #1. The End.

"Strength Has No Gender," But

It's asinine to believe we can change genders, or sexes. It just is. If you are struggling with gender expectations/gender dysphoria/wounds from your family of origin, I'd want to actually help you, not mutilate you, first of all.

I don't care what Brawny paper towels does with their marketing, in a sense. I don't actually know what paper towels I use. But I won't do a boycott, and here's why: I am not principally a consumer or buyer. I don't want to communicate in any sense that the truths about human sexuality are reflections of merely my preferences; I'm not part of an interest group, and I can't be bought off or pacified. Reality asserts itself, even when it's unpopular. If I'm the only one who says it, what else is new?

Maybe I can have a "moment," where the world starts listening to me, as if I have something new. I don't, but our culture is like that. It's actually funny that these unfortunate people keep "discovering" things they've always known, but everyone forgot, or ignored.

I notice in these high-profile transgenderism cases that the individual's expression of gender is highly exaggerated. Bruce Jenner didn't just want to be a woman; he wanted to be his idea of our culture's desirable, "hot" woman. And there are things I've read about how he felt when he was literally the world's greatest male athlete that tell me his models of "male" and "female" are pretty messed up to start.

I've only dabbled in counseling; I'm no expert. On the other hand, we've got legions of experts that are too cowardly to call a man a man. They'll attempt to change every definition in their profession to get along. Meanwhile, the hurting people they've "helped" are all alone, when the madding crowd finds a new cause to champion.

I don't want to be a culture warrior, which might be just my way of saying that I don't need a bloviating vulgarian to protect me from "the Left." Then again, I am allergic to obvious stupidity. Someone will have my reputation, eventually.