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Friday, August 24, 2012

It's really very simple: If the living product of a sexual union is a person, you can't make an exception for when it's OK to kill them. Even in horrible situations like rape, we need to remember that this person did not choose how to come into being. None of us did. Shall we take life away, because of the evil of someone else?

It seems astonishing to me that we spend so much time talking about 'reproductive rights' and not about that most fundamental right we all have: the right to life itself. What are we? Are we defined by what we are able to accomplish, or by an inherent dignity that no others can deny or destroy, and that misfortune and accident can only obscure, but never eliminate?

Tell me why a political party who presumably exists to promote economic fairness among those weakest among us: the racially marginalized, the disabled, the forgotten, has forgotten its first duty-- to defend the weakest among us. Who needs more help than a child?

Some people would have you believe that grown adults and people on the cusp of adulthood have reproductive freedom only when faced with the moral choice of whether to take the life of a child. But if freedom means anything, it is that liberty of self-determination. We are not determined beings, driven irrevocably to carry out biological imperatives over which we have no control. Even if we decline to imbue this with religious significance, we must understand that a human person has the power to create life itself. And only the foolish among us fail to recognize that the glory of that life is more than ordinary.

What those who oppose us are saying is that the State has the power to take away the very life it exists to defend, and to exonerate those who take it from others. But in truth, the State itself is bound to a higher law, given by the Giver of Life himself. If its officers decline to participate in unlawful taking of human life under the pretense of freedom, they aren't being extreme; they are merely recognizing reality too long obscured by uncritical political passion and lesser interests at odds with our highest duties.

I applaud the Republican Party's pro-life plank, because it should be the most obvious of things to stand for. The right to life. If a party doesn't get this right, who cares what it says about anything else?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

That guy was a jerk-face. All I did was say that Todd Akin is a good man who made a mistake. Unfortunately, it might mean that Senator McCaskill will win re-election. I said I would pray she picked up an economics textbook (among other things) should she be fortunate enough to win. Well, this guy didn't like that at all. I may have speculated that she would switch parties if she did that. Whereupon this guy pointed out that Akin voted against raising the debt ceiling, as if that was the equivalent of putting puppies in blenders. I said maybe we need a default to wake up our whole political class. At which point, he consigned me to whatever mental holding-tank he has for storing his subhuman political opponents. He said, "I don't think you have any idea what a sovereign default would entail, so I can see why you feel right at home with the Republican party, where knowledge is weakness." I added the period for the aid of my readers and for him, since he was so full of sputtering rage that he couldn't finish his sentence. But I wanted to tell my friend Cole Williams, Professor of Philosophy at Moberly Area Community College, that your friend Jory Hansen is a real gem.

I know that Cole is kinda liberal, and I'm kinda not, but we became friendly acquaintances years ago, and we've kept in touch through Facebook. I love that he teaches philosophy, because he has the mental equipment not only to reason through things, but to reason about reasoning. I'm not a philosopher, but I'm trying to pick it up here and there. Since Cole is a spiritual man--though less defined than I would like--we can always talk theology if the politics gets too heated.

If you show me a flash of humanity amidst the fracas of politics as an elected official, I'll probably like you, even if you're not on my side. Russ Feingold used to be the Democratic Senator from Wisconsin. I've always sorta liked him. Why, you ask? Because he was a real progressive, all the time. Not when it was advantageous or popular. He wasn't a liberal for sport; he was a liberal by conviction. Same with Paul Wellstone, may he rest in peace. I liked Feingold when he had the guts to ask now-Justice Alito about the morality of the death penalty, in light of what we know about wrongful convictions and the like. He asked it because he wanted to know what Alito thought, and he wanted to raise the awareness of the national audience during a confirmation hearing about an issue where liberals are 1000 percent right. And it's not cool to be an anti-death penalty crusader.

It may well be that our friends at the Innocence Project are the commiest commies ever to live, but they do good work. So other than letting you know that I may not be warm and fuzzy with all of Cole's friends, I wanted to add that I am a pro-legal reform, anti-death penalty Republican.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I need to talk about a couple of things. First, the Gospel for the 20th. The rich young man. Meets Jesus. Asks Jesus what he needs to do still. Also says he's kept all the commandments. Jesus says to be perfect, sell your stuff and follow him. But he's rich, and he went away sad.

Now, when I was Reformed, we said 2 things about this and related texts: First, there's no way he actually kept the commandments; that's impossible. We need grace, and we are wretched sinners with no good of our own, but that God loves us. Second, this man wasn't saved. If you meet Jesus, and he asks you to give up some small thing like stuff to follow him, we can only hope we understand what's being offered. But he didn't. Ergo, unsaved.

Catholic theology reads this text very differently. Jesus said, "if you want to be perfect..." not saved. And we take him at his word that he kept the commandments, in some real fashion. We distinguish between venial and mortal sins (and imperfections) precisely to give this guy the benefit of the doubt. He's not one of the Pharisees, and least not in the manner of being a vocal opponent of Jesus, and official hypocrite of the New Testament. So there was indeed a legalism inherent in what the leadership understood the faith of Israel to be, as Paul tells us in Romans 9, but there is no reason to say that the OT faith was legalistic by nature. We can't read that chapter through Calvinistic lenses, precisely because we could not, and cannot, satisfactorily explain why Jesus holds them responsible for what they do (and gets pretty angry about it) if we understand predestination in that way. Luke 19:44, for instance, makes no sense if it was all pre-arranged for the glory of God. Man is not morally (or at least personally) responsible for acts that he cannot avoid doing. Ought implies can. I admire consistent Calvinists willing to bite the bullet on determinism, but most of you are trying to have it both ways, while denying that you are doing any such thing. I digress.

Love fulfills the law. Or, in the Catholic parlance, "charity". So the presence of supernatural agape in the soul really does make this dude a law-keeper, despite his imperfections and whatnot. Now, we don't know about whether he had it, but Jesus doesn't give any indication that he thinks the guy is lying. You're reading it in there to say that Jesus would have found his claim preposterous. The Catholic way of reading this and everything else makes the text more plain, which is not only ironic because Mother Church doesn't say we should be "just reading the Bible," (or, that is, she doesn't claim her authority from the Scriptures alone) and because the Church's interlocutors among the Protestants make a big fuss about reading the whole Bible and taking it for all it's worth. The point about faith formed by love could be wrong, but I said even before I was Catholic that exegetically, both readings re: justification/faith have plausibility. As Mr. Cross is fond of putting it, "You don't slice up the Body of Christ on a 'maybe.'" So, without the corruption of the time, this highly tenuous scriptural case loses its real passion and energy. And you've gotta ask again, "If it's about the corruption, why not just fix the immorality?" There is no possible way to see the relation between sin and new dogma. Is it possible to live a holy life honoring to Jesus Christ in accord with the teachings of Trent? Absolutely. Therefore, the corruption of the time has no bearing on the question of the truth or falsehood of the Council itself. Why this small point is not blindingly obvious is a mystery to me.

The long and the short of it is, I told God that I wanted to continue exploring the mystery of how to approach this text. Which is good. I can say I'm legitimately someone's friend if we talk theology.