,,,as Michael the Little called it.
No, not a baseball post.
A brief broadside, offered before two longer posts later today, about the continued lack of seriousness marking Catholic political “discourse” this season.
When I say “serious,” I mean a willingness to go beyond slogans, fears and emotions, beyond party loyalty and to really engage issues, acknowledging their complexity, admitting our inability to grasp the whole picture, no matter how much we may know, and understanding that proposed solutions are incomplete, both because they cannot, because of human limitations, take in all aspects of an issue and also because they cannot provide for all contingencies and unintended consequences.
The one exception is the abortion issue. The conversations about this are, for the most part, serious, although I will say that the pro-Obama Catholics fade in seriousness with each passing day as hardly any of them actually engage the totality of the issue and the reality of their candidates’ position, preferring instead to put their hands over their ears and sing “La-la-la!” in melodious, highly degreed voices when Obama’s own record and promises on the issue are raised. Those who are arguing against the Obama candidacy in part because of his abortion promises are, for the most part, taking the other side’s claims seriously, exploring the issue of social and economic conditions that are said to lead to choosing abortion and so on. But from the proponents, not much except vagueness, assurances that Obama will not, in fact, follow through on his own rhetoric on the score, and disengenous characerizations of the pro-life movement, the Catholc bishops and Catholic teaching itself.
I don’t care how many degrees you have or where you teach, if you cannot engage with the other party’s argument in a way that thoughtfully explores the claims of the other side..you are not serious.
And what about the economy? Granted, it is a massive issue, complex, daunting and frankly, sort of depressing, so who wants to talk about it – but where are the discussions of the matter in our Catholic circles that (once again) get beyond vague assertions about “what Catholic social teaching requires.”
Health care. Education. Constitutional issues that have been raised in the last couple of days. Freedom of speech and religion. Honesty within the political process itself, for heaven’s sake. The forthrightness of our candidates.
It has been said several times over the past few years that this is a Catholic moment of sorts – as American Christians seek to deepen their philosophical chops, to debate and discuss matters of ethics and policy, the Catholic tradition provides a grounding for serious discourse that is helpful to all believers, a grounding that might have been absent from Protestantism, especially those forms rooted in sola Scriptura.
But is it? Really? Where is that happening right now in 2008 apart from the abortion issue?
This is why the Scriptures tell us to not put our trust in princes. This is why it is not a bad thing to feel homeless in the American political climate.
Because when you feel too much at home in a stranger’s house, you just might forget who your real Father is and lose the capacity to remember, period.