Wednesday, October 24, 2018

"I Can't Be Civil To Someone Who Supports...."

"Votes are blunt instruments for expressing voter preference." I still remember this from my undergraduate studies. Voters are actually bands of coalitions, gathered together in the tent of the parties, which are supposed to serve as a heuristic for people who have better things to do. If I tell you that I voted for Bush twice, depending on where you sit, you could draw all sorts of conclusions. Some people would be pleased, and others would be horrified. Yet I can't show my work on that; unless I tell you what I was thinking, my preferences, my beliefs, everything about who I am is hidden to you. What if the heuristic tells you really nothing about me?

Because I also voted for Obama.

I might even say, it could have been a mistake. But it happened, and I don't think I was incorrect about those things in his favor. I still agree with myself on that. But this underlying philosophy that is so omnipresent in our society that we don't notice it--classical liberalism--conspires to leave us with only the heuristic, only the shorthand, as the content of politics. Issues only serve as latch-on points for the incitement of tribal loyalties. There will be as little actual discussion of issues as possible. To the extent that MacIntyre is saying this, he's right. The democratic process cannot bear the weight of the legitimacy it purports to convey, because that legitimacy is social and relational. You can't get solidarity from the democratic process, especially when liberalism's companion--capitalism--completes the work of ripping people from their social bonds and identities, and forges them into allegedly autonomous individuals. We're like fish out of water, and we think marking a piece of paper and accepting the result will heal this giant wound we've given ourselves!

The median voter in each political party--incoherent as their respective philosophies are--has common ground on most, if not all, the issues of the day. We can't access it, because the electoral system itself creates an impasse: It rewards private goods--even a large group of people in a congressional district is a collection of private (that is, individual) goods--but purports to serve the common good. If you actually put the good of everyone, even future generations, ahead of your electoral interests, you're toast. This is why polls show people love their congressman or woman, and hate Congress. Mayhew says the government is deliberately inefficient and frustrating, so that this powerful elected class can cut the red tape, in Fred or Sue's case, and sail to re-election, because Sue told all her friends that Rep. Johnson helped her out with that thing.

One other thing: If we start losing the things that make us whole, e.g. "I am the son/daughter of [Mom] and [Dad]. We are from this town, in this state. I lived with these other neighbors. We worshiped here; we volunteered here" people will, out of a sheer need to cope, create an identity, some community, that fills that role. Democrat. Republican. Other parties. "Gay," "trans," etc. To be direct about it, Mitch McConnell or Ted Cruz or whomever might have really bad idea X, or evil idea Y, but the only reason anyone is denying civility to anyone is because we're asking them to fill needs that they cannot fill, even if they were heroes and saints.

I agree that certain things are beyond the pale, that "agree to disagree" only goes so far. The problem is, the pale keeps moving. A political yard sign is not an affront to my "dignity," because no matter how bad it gets, no ruler on this Earth can take that. Define your terms, because reality isn't something we create. There will always be an aspect of politics where one person or group says to another that what they fear is exaggerated. In healthier times, this could be said. It was often said. If we abandon reason, we truly are animals. Politics looks like a collective primal scream, because that's what scared and wounded animals do.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Why I Do Not Receive The Chalice

The primary reason is our faith. One reason the Council Fathers at the Second Vatican Council were skittish about Communion under both species is that the Council of Trent of happy memory had taught that the whole Christ is substantially present in one. That is, if you receive the Host alone, you have received the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Our Lord. Likewise, the chalice, if for some odd reason one did receive only the chalice.

It is actually confusing for the ministers of Holy Communion to say, "The Body of Christ," and "The Blood of Christ," respectively. This teaches the average person that part of Jesus is in the Host, and part of Jesus is in the chalice. This isn't what Our Lord is telling us to believe! I'm sure you've seen the surveys about what Joe and Sue Catholic believe about the Eucharist. It's not good.

Secondly, spillage and other desecration remains a perennial and valid concern. It is manifest silliness that Communion under both species was a rallying cry for the "Reformers," because nothing truly had been withheld from the people, if we understand the teaching. But notice how heresy affects even how we can see the prudential decisions of the Church. If we stop believing that Jesus speaks through His Church, almost anything becomes an occasion for hostility and separation.

As a person with a disability, I also do not care to touch anything that ought never be dropped. If the priest or his designated helper in the effort of giving Holy Communion to the people gets his finger licked, well, that's your cross today, pal. This is serious business. I can recall being in Denver several years ago, before I decided to receive only the Host. I took the chalice, I received, and the wise and holy minister noticed that the exchange was imperfect, let's say. I did not mind that he spent several moments in my face, making sure Our Lord was not left where He ought not be. I'm pretty high functioning, for a guy with a severe disability. Still, drinking things is always--always--interesting. Don't do it in these most sacred moments, if you don't have to.

We need to stop thinking in terms of privileges denied, and start honestly reflecting upon the generous gift of the Holy Sacrifice and Communion for us.