Friday, October 04, 2019

I'm Pro-Life. Now What?

I recently had a chance to participate in a fundraising gala for a pro-life organization I really believe in. Several friends and I really enjoyed it, were inspired, and gave what seemed right, as we were able.

At the same time, you note I'm sure my disaffection with the current forms of even mainstream "conservative" ideology. I'll never be "the Left," as it were. There is no David Brock-like conversion coming. Yours truly might make a big change over the course of years or a decade, but I'm a writer and an extrovert; I'm gonna telegraph it, if so. I digress. The point being, personhood won't change. No sob story rooted in consequentialism would make even one abortion acceptable. No other heart-wrenching identity crisis makes any anti-human (thus, anti-Catholic) ideology tolerable. Yet I'm reminded of something Archbishop Sheen said, in paraphrase: If a person listens to the Church, he can believe dozens of foolish things besides, without fault. On the other hand, many people use that freedom to enforce of kind of vincible ignorance concerning our social doctrine.

(Sorry, Tony Esolen.)

So I'll just get to it: I'm not a one-issue voter.

In fact, all options are on the table, in terms of voting.

And yet, I cannot disregard the present state of the Democratic Party with respect to abortion. It needs to be said in words: Until major leaders and voters and platform writers understand the basic scaffolding of the pro-life position, and make room for it, and stop denigrating it, they don't deserve to be a majority party that wins elections.

(Nor do their putative opponents deserve to win anything, but that's another post.)

You know, I wasn't too comfortable with the pro-Trump sentiment in the room that night. I don't think it's morally acceptable to treat any immigrants of any kind with the kind of blatant hostility that this administration has. Add to that the violations of international law with respect to seekers of asylum, and too many other things, and yeah, voting against this xenophobia, this flagrant racism, tolerance for violence against the innocent, is a live option for any reasonable person. (And that doesn't even touch general unfitness!)

And yet, I know Joe Biden's or Liz Warren's HHS wouldn't help this pro-life organization like this HHS has. Quite the opposite. I know that none of the Democrats would keep the Supreme Court as an aid to the rising pro-life momentum. This is not news, or it shouldn't be.

To put a point on it, I might say--and have said--"You won't be buying me off with judges!" but that doesn't mean I want progressive judges. If I act against Trump, I must consider the ways that even unintentionally, I would be acting against the things I say I want.

And let us dispense with the false notion that anyone in the so-called "New Pro-Life Movement" is being persecuted for being pro-life in a different way. Weiss and others deserve criticism, if and to the extent that their actual opposition to abortion and willingness to face public criticism for it, is not at all clear. I could agree to turn America into a democratic socialist paradise, but if I don't sign my name at some point to measures actually making abortion less accessible, my opposition deserves to be put into question. The present state of things--in which many politicians oppose any restrictions at all--is morally unacceptable. One is not permissibly working incrementally by standing still.

So here we are. Until I run for office, I feel a bit stuck. How about you?

Caedmon's Call

I can tell you this: It's pretty hard to get your hands on the eponymous major label debut from this band. But Darth Bezos can get you anything. The music isn't as old as I thought, but the original songs appear to have been composed between 1994-1997.

I just had flashbacks to my early days as a Christian in the late '90's, and their music was resonating well into the early aughts. Sorrow and struggle, sin and wandering, changes the tenor of everything we hear from them. It still has that pretentious charm of a Serious Band Doing Serious And Real Jesus Songs. It's like they would wink and smile at the prospect of not being played on Christian radio. That's kind of the point.

I have had some negative and probably uncharitable reactions to Derek Webb and some of his songs, but I'm still a fan. He's an intriguing vocalist, and has apparently never lacked for something to say. The political and cultural fault-lines being what they are, it's inevitable that he'd be derided as a "liberal" and a "social justice warrior." But listen guys: You've done this to yourselves. "Evangelical" just isn't big enough to answer the pleas for justice--no, the demands--and it never was. All your artist types are nearly destined to be enraged, graceless mutterers, especially if they don't stay close to grace. And of course, one big problem is Sola Scriptura, and the lack of agreement in the Protestant world on major issues of dogma and morality. And please spare me the "Catholics are divided, too!" objection. The major riposte to that is this: The "right" answer on anything is knowable, and freely available, probably believed and taught for centuries.

"Bus Driver" is still my favorite song on the record, even if it was never as deep as we thought at the time. "Standing Up For Nothing" is the other. And "Center Aisle" is worth it, even if it is exactly what it is: a window into someone else's deep grief, something I think I shouldn't be hearing. Then again, in sharing it, they invite us as friends into that grief.

Once again, I apologize for being a musical ignoramus generally, in terms of the music. But what can you do? With pop music, probably ignorance is bliss. It's still a great listen.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Oh, There's The Cross Again!

At the risk of glib bitterness, I knew there was too much happiness the last couple of months. We know how this goes. There must be a holy way of waiting for the other shoe to drop. If you find it, let me know.

I've taken joy in the cross before, so I'd have to suppose I will again. Not right now. It seems like a sick joke. Death is horrific, wrong, and sad, but there are definitely sorrows worse than death. When our loved ones die, most times, they don't mean to leave. Death is a thing that snatches us, sometimes without warning. This thing is different. What do you do when someone you love says, "I don't want to be close to you anymore"? There is no way to feel anything other than broken, or defective. We men, we want to fix it. What should I change? Did I somehow become a pale imitation of myself?

It seems like what I have given is lost, never to return. This is where our heroic notions of giving without expecting anything in return seem to die. It's not that I wouldn't do it all again; it's just that part of me went in the distance. Who am I without this part of myself?

If I don't say I feel abandoned and cast aside, I do not truly name my sorrow. If Christ had not been abandoned, I would have given up already. There is a sense in which saying, "We should unite our sufferings with the sufferings of Christ" can be just claptrap that we say to ourselves, and to each other. Yet there is a way in which it is not, and I'll try to explain.

When I was about to receive Holy Communion after the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, I said to Jesus, "All that I have is sorrow." He took it as if to say, "It is enough." I didn't have to take it far, for Jesus was waiting for me in my sorrow! I don't pretend to understand, but Jesus was waiting. He said, "I will never leave you, or forsake you." I knew he told the truth. I cried freely, as if he had given me a permission I could not give myself. I don't understand why this has happened. I cannot make sense of the explanations of my supposed failures. I still wait for some healing and purpose that may never come.

I live, but I do not enjoy. My favorite chicken, or the triumph of my beloved baseball Cardinals, are but the bare signs of things I used to enjoy. My world right now is in black and gray. All the color has gone elsewhere.

I don't have a profundity to wrap like a bow around these words. But I can say this: Better to live and to die than to never have lived. Or loved and lost. Whichever you prefer. I somehow owe it to the memory of my earlier living self to endure, and to persist. I do not understand, but I believe.