Friday, October 09, 2020

You're Not Going To Die If The Democrats Win The Elections

I guess I'll tell you my gripes with Crisis magazine: the whole thing sounds like a Rod Dreher fever dream. You would think that armies of drag queens were kidnapping children to take them to the infamous Story Hour, in some kind of right-wing dystopian novel that is the reverse of The Handmaid's Tale.

Come on, man.

In other news, I would like to congratulate the Democrats, on seemingly finding some semblance of an economic message. You know, I'm old enough to remember when they actually were the party of the working class; it seemed like there for a while, they were the party of debt-ridden upper-class English majors, complaining because their slice of the pie lacks cherry sauce. [Wait, aren't they still those people?--ed.] Too soon.

Anyway, I am what they used to call a "social conservative". And to be clear, I am not a social conservative for the sake of winning an election; I really believe and try to do the things that I say in this regard. Someone, however, forgot that party politics is made up of coalitions, and a fairly decent chunk of those people are just about ready to vote for a heavy dose of Normal. I suppose I salute the constancy of those running to the barricades, firmly believing that Biden's vice president is a female version of Che Guevara. In the end though, I would like to believe that nobody really believes this. I would like to think that they're just following through on the team cues, because a major sense of belonging, a certain protection against anxiety and aloneness, is wrapped up in the electoral fortunes of the GOP as currently constituted.

This is not to say that the late Henry Hyde won't be at least threatening to turn over, but personally, I don't think that the old glad-hander Joe Biden has the stomach for revolution.

As it turned out, we needed a firm hand, like a Bush or an Eisenhower, and we got an empty-headed, malevolent Wink Martindale. Camille Paglia called Trump a carnival barker. The problem is, people's lives and the social context in which they live them, are so much more important than a few hours of diversion on a lazy Saturday. These are serious times, for everyone. Petty arguments might be at least tolerable and entertaining at Thanksgiving dinner, but that ought to be beneath the president of the United States.

So goes Alexander Vindman, so goes the country. And "conservative Catholics"--whatever that's supposed to mean--will just have to deal with it.

Thursday, October 08, 2020

Behold The Lamb Of God

 I was praying with the Scriptures yesterday, and I'm going to tell you something that hasn't even made it in my prayer journal yet. But I was hanging out with John, in the first chapter of his Gospel. I started from the top, figuring that God and I would talk about something majestic in the prologue. There's a lot in there; it stands to reason that you could spend some time meditating on anything in there. But no, the Holy Spirit didn't want to talk about the prologue. I kept reading, and then I came to this: "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" John the Baptist sees Jesus here, and points Him out to his own disciples. It's often right to understand that "behold" in the Scriptures as something like we would say, "Look!" This stopped me in my tracks this time, because Jesus was saying, "Don't you understand? I am still for you." Christ walking around, Christ healing people, Christ teaching his disciples. The offer is still good. The offer culminates in the cross, and it's still good.

There are so many people who still think that if they've made a mess of things that they can't go back to Jesus. All the talk of free grace, and people still act like it's no longer free, when they sin, and finally embarrass themselves. We've all been there, so I won't gloat over you. Yet Heaven help me, destroying my own self-image seems to move me more than hurting Jesus seems to do. If Jesus finally brings us to glory, he still considers it worthwhile, and I'm glad for that.

It reminded me of a time that I talked to a pastor, and I was confessing sins, and getting advice. He said to me, "The blood of Christ is still fresh for you." What a revelation, if you'll pardon the term. Faith is not one time; trust is not one time. It's forever, and again, if necessary.

Let us realize that the life and death of Christ for us is not trapped in the past as a distant memory of what he has done for us. Everywhere that we encounter Jesus is a reminder that he is always the same one who offered and is offering Himself to us. It is us who forget what we promise; it is us who are flighty, who can barely carry through with what we say. Who is Jesus? Has this ever described Jesus?

When you are able to answer those final questions correctly, then you will run to the fount of mercy.

Sunday, October 04, 2020

"Brother Lacon Will Reluctantly Scramble To The Top Of The Heap"

 John le Carre is becoming one of my favorite authors. His character George Smiley--memorably portrayed by Sir Alec Guinness in two celebrated miniseries for the BBC--is supposed to be a more realistic version of a British spy, in contrast to Ian Fleming's James Bond. Sir Oliver Lacon is an assistant to the Cabinet minister in charge of national intelligence. Lacon is the bureaucrat no one in the intelligence service likes, because his job is to keep an eye on especially domestic political implications of intelligence. He usually limits what the pros want to do, for some political consideration. He's amiable, but unprincipled, and ambitious. I think what le Carre loves to do is have his protagonists wrestle between their idealism, their patriotism, and pragmatism. Tonight, I fell asleep in Lacon's living room, so to speak. When I woke up, everyone was still in Sir Oliver's living room!

I love these Cold War stories. My sympathy for the West is undimmed, despite my ambivalence--at best--toward liberalism and capitalism. These stories are as much about people, as they are about espionage. Both Smiley and Lacon have unfaithful wives. Most of the spies carry on affairs. The adversaries, respectively, attempt to use these facts against their counterparts. 

We are continually challenged to think about virtue and vice, even as citizens of nations. What would we be prepared to do, to defend our way of life? What might be done, that would fundamentally alter the national character, or that of the free West?

Pope Francis Has The Floor

 The papal encyclical, "Fratelli tutti", or, "On the Fraternity and Social Friendship," was promulgated today, and may be accessed here. I'll read it completely, before offering any comments.