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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.