Thursday, January 10, 2019

You Have Heard It Said

If you hang around Catholics enough, someone will use the phrase, "mystical body of Christ," of course referring to the Church. She is greater than her visible institutional forms, but she is not less. One of the reasons to say "mystical" is to talk about the invisible graces of the Holy Spirit, and therefore, the invisible spiritual bond of all the faithful, "in Heaven, on Earth, and under the earth."

Truthfully, we get used to it, between talking to Mary and St. Joseph, or asking poor St. Anthony to find our keys. We of all people can veer toward the kitschy. I think the liturgy is the rescue for that, as the Mass is the order of true reality.

In one sense, I have heard the stories for many years about people who "didn't hear the gospel" in the Catholic Church, and I am appropriately sad. I wonder what we can do better, et cetera. On the other hand, I am beyond bewildered. It seems like Christ is shouting and singing for joy at me, as are the Father and the Holy Spirit. Literally yelling, much of the time. This is understandable; I won't win the gold star of obedience, unless and until God lets the Blessed Mother do the grading, as it were. At the same time, I ask, "Didn't hear the gospel? How? He just hit us with a 2-by-4."

What are these people talking about?, I have always wondered. I guess separated Christians have a reputation for being direct. Their message is simpler, I'll grant. It's also in many respects wrong, but that's another discussion. Anyway, there are only so many ways to re-tell the basic story of our redemption. To simply know it, or even to confess it, is not enough. We know this from Church teaching, and from that lingering desire, not to go beyond the words of Scripture, but to experience them personally in a new way.

I have to conclude that I'm still at the beginning stage of the spiritual life, because what I'm describing to you are rich consolations that are neither persistent, nor owed to me.

Your Position Is Not Reasonable Just Because You Don't Shout (The Wall Is Immoral)

Admittedly, I'm in a mode where I'm simply expecting you to defend whatever you've already decided is true. And since the erstwhile defenders of immigrants in the Catholic Church are, for example, Fr. Martin and abortion-lovers, it's fairly easy to justify supporting Trump and his wall. As a syllogism, it goes like this:

I'm a good person;
I voted for Trump;
Therefore, Trump is a good person, too. (At least better than the Left)

Any sort of plausibly compassionate reason (like keeping out drug-dealers and killers) seemingly justifies the separation of families, the flagrant disruption of the asylum process, (in violation of international law) and the shutdown, which makes every one of these problems worse.

Meanwhile, what do we actually owe in justice to the people coming to our borders? It would seem that Catholics of a certain political persuasion think we owe them nothing at all. We can hurt them, even kill them, because they don't belong here, or so it goes. Or someone will say, "Don't you care about your own people?" Yes. "You just think we shouldn't have borders!" No. I don't think people become non-people when they commit a misdemeanor. Heck, I don't even think murderers become non-people! Aren't we Christians? We say anyone can receive mercy. Unless you're an illegal immigrant, it seems.

Most of the asylum-seekers are from Central America. The US involvement in Honduras actually helped cause the instability there. That should factor into the US response, one would think.

I might remind you that 2 children have died in custody of US border agents. Of dehydration. At what point are we defending immoral abstractions and twisted analogies? I'd say this is that point.

And speaking also as a political scientist and observer, you're not going to outlast Chuck Schumer. There's no leverage. Trump created the shutdown, took the responsibility, and, if this were a poker hand, he's holding nothing. As per usual.

My bottom line, in terms of principle here: One cannot justly impose conditions of "respect" for the US that the harried immigrant can't possibly meet before he settles here. You can't say, "Don't come here."

I have no idea if President Obama was being genuine in 2014, when he gave a speech on immigration. I watched that, instead of Trump. I'd have to say, I'd have taken that deal. Tortured analogies are apparently preferred to solving problems. You don't need to ask me if I lock my door.