Skip to comments.Some personal thoughts on the months ahead
Posted on 08/16/2017 12:46:40 AM PDT by Arthur McGowan
My column this week is a collection of personal comments. Read it as thoughts from a brother in the faith, not as teachings from an archbishop.
Presidential campaigns typically hit full stride after Labor Day in an election year. But 2016 is a year in which two prominent Catholics a sitting vice president, and the next vice presidential nominee of his party both seem to publicly ignore or invent the content of their Catholic faith as they go along. And meanwhile, both candidates for the nations top residence, the White House, have astonishing flaws.
This is depressing and liberating at the same time. Depressing, because its proof of how polarized the nation has become. Liberating, because for the honest voter, its much easier this year to ignore the routine tribal loyalty chants of both the Democratic and Republican camps.
Ive been a registered independent for a long time and never more happily so than in this election season. Both major candidates are whats the right word? so problematic that neither is clearly better than the other.
As Forbes magazine pointed out some months ago, the Republican candidate is worth roughly $4.5 billion. The Democratic candidate is worth roughly $45 million. Compare that with the average American household, which is worth about $144,000. The median U.S. income is about $56,000. Neither major candidate lives anywhere near the solar system where most Americans live, work and raise families. Nonetheless, were asked to trust them.
Thats a big ask. One candidate in the view of a lot of people is an eccentric businessman of defective ethics whose bombast and buffoonery make him inconceivable as president. And the other in the view of a lot of people should be under criminal indictment. The fact that shes not again, in the view of a lot of people proves Orwells Animal Farm principle that all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.
So what are we to do this election cycle as Catholic voters? Note that by Catholic, I mean people who take their faith seriously; people who actually believe what the Catholic faith holds to be true; people who place it first in their loyalty, thoughts and actions; people who submit their lives to Jesus Christ, to Scripture and to the guidance of the community of belief we know as the Church.
Anyone else who claims the Catholic label is simply fooling himself or herself and even more importantly, misleading others.
The American bishops offer valuable counsel in their document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship (available from the USCCB), and this year especially, they ask us to pray before we vote. This is hardly new news. Prayer is always important. In a year when each Catholic voter must choose between deeply flawed options, prayer is essential. And prayer involves more than mumbling a Hail Mary before we pull the voting booth lever for someone we see as the lesser of two evils. Prayer is a conversation, an engagement of the soul with God. It involves listening for Gods voice and educating our consciences.
Its absurd in fact, its blasphemous to assume that God prefers any political party in any election year. But God, by his nature, is always concerned with good and evil and the choices we make between the two. For Catholics, no political or social issue stands in isolation. But neither are all pressing issues equal in foundational importance or gravity. The right to life undergirds all other rights and all genuine social progress. It cannot be set aside or contextualized in the name of other rights or priorities without prostituting the whole idea of human dignity.
God created us with good brains. It follows that he will hold us accountable to think deeply and clearly, rightly ordering the factors that guide us, before we act politically. And yet modern American life, from its pervasive social media that too often resemble a mobocracy, to the relentless catechesis of consumption on our TVs, seems designed to do the opposite. It seems bent on turning us into opinionated and distracted cattle unable to gain mastery over our own appetites and thoughts. Thinking and praying require silence, and the only way we can get silence is by deciding to step back and unplug.
This year, a lot of good people will skip voting for president but vote for the down ticket names on their partys ballot; or vote for a third party presidential candidate; or not vote at all; or find some mysterious calculus that will allow them to vote for one or the other of the major candidates. I dont yet know which course Ill personally choose. Its a matter properly reserved for every citizens informed conscience.
But I do know a few of the things Ill be reading between now and November. The list is not exclusive or comprehensive. But this year these particular titles seem especially urgent:
Living the Gospel of Life. This 1998 pastoral letter of the U.S. bishops remains the best brief guide to American Catholic political reflection yet produced.
Resurrecting the Idea of a Christian Society by R.R. Reno (Regnery) and Its Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and Its Enemies by Mary Eberstadt (HarperCollins). Both of these books are new, important, a key to understanding the current moment in our national life, and deeply engaging. They need to be discussed and shared widely.
And finally two essays by the late, great Czech writer, Václav Havel, Politics and Conscience and The Power of the Powerless. Both are collected in Open Letters: Selected Writings, 1965-1990 (Vintage Books). Havel was not (to my knowledge) a religious believer, and he wrote as a dissident during an era of Soviet Bloc repression. But his commitment to what he called living in the truth, and his understanding and critique of the weaknesses in Western societies like our own not just Marxist ones were remarkable. They remain relevant right now, today.
The next few months will determine the next decade and more of our nations life. We need to be awake, we need to clear our heads of media noise, and we need to think quietly and carefully before we vote. None of us can afford to live the coming weeks on autopilot.
Translation: "Please allow me to abuse the megaphone my office affords me to spread my personal ruminations."
This column should never be forgotten. In it, Archbishop Chaput announces that he cannot distinguish between a pro-life candidate and the most fanatical abortionist ever to run for the White House.
Chaput is no friend of the Clintons. Many Christians and conservatives had misgivings about Donald Trump’s past politics and erratic behavior, but voted for him anyway.
I found it appalling and disgusting that he equated Trump’s personal flaws with the monstrous crimes Hillary was PROMISING to commit, let alone the crimes she has been committing for decades.
I see a division going on in the world, and it is none of the divisions being proclaimed and spewed over by the political class. It is a division that is not about race, class, gender, ethnicity, Left or Right, or any other division we think of.
Many are being easily fooled and deceived and the more they are the angrier they are becoming with anyone not going along with the deceptions.
It only looks political and somewhat religious. It is spiritual.
Look how God is setting this up. Do you think the media will support President Ryan when he says President Trump and his supporters just had to be removed for the good of the country?
Thirty six more days! Hang on! It is going to get crazier!
Yes, it is a spiritual war. The Holy Spirit says to overcome.
Stay vigilant! Keep that gear primed, and praise the Lord for what He has done, is doing, and will do. :)
What’s in 36 days?
I see Trump stepping up when there was literally not one man in the entire U.S. willing and able to stand up and speak the truth about the Marxist, demonic, abortionist culture of death that is seeking to wipe out borders, property, marriage, and family.
How alone is he? Well, the Pope and all bishops who want power are on the side of the Marxist abortionists. (And now, Bergoglio is totally out of the closet, having condemned [through sock puppets] even the pro-life movement as part of “an ecumenism of hate.”
I posted this Chaput column because it shows that Chaput wants to straddle the fence. It was already too late for that a year ago.
Steve Deace, Robby George, Chaput, and a host of others, tried to discourage people from voting for Trump. They pretended that if Hillary were elected, there would be another election four years later. The very kindest, most positive thing one could say about them is that they were totally unserious human beings.