Just a word on the blog – a reminder.
Long-time readers will recall that this blog (and previous incarnations of it) used to be a ten-post a day type of blog in which I linked to everything, commented on lots of it, and hosted intense comment-box conversations on the issues – religious and otherwise – of the day.
Obviously, I don’t do that anymore. Six or so years of that was enough for me. Plus, there has been a lot going on these past six months which have really done a number on my writing head, and now with most of the household (Little Michael excepted) gone to school, I need to turn to that again. I’ve got a manuscript due on December 31, after all!

(On the centrality of Christ in Pope Benedict’s writings as Pope – nothing scholarly, simply a popular accounting of it to help folks understand a little better. For Word Among Us, publisher of the Mary book.)
But that doesn’t mean I’m not sitting here reading my eyes out regarding issues, particularly politics. I just think blogging about the many, many ways in which religion and politics are intersecting these days takes some responsible blogging – well-thought out posts and participation in ensuing discussions. Plus, to be honest, my stance in the current political season veers pretty constantly between slack-jawed amazement and blind fury, neither of which is probably good for that, er, responsible blogging.
I also – and perhaps this can be a starting point for discussion on this post – am sort of befuddled and frustrated by the level and shape of political discourse this season, particularly among Catholics. And no, it’s not about civility. I’m all for no-holds barred conversations, saying exactly what you think and if you have to say it strongly, so be it. Civility is code word for “Don’t state your views too strongly, please. And don’t challenge the presumptions of your opponents. Speak in platitudes. That would be nice.”
No, what I see is this:
Political conversations among Catholics are stuck. Just stuck. Anyone who has been reading the politically-oriented Catholic blogs or websites sees this pretty quickly. Every single conversation – every bloody one – goes like this:
A: Obama’s positions are unacceptable to faithful Catholics because…
B. Oh, yeah? What about McCain’s positions. They’re unacceptable because….
A: But Obama’s unacceptable positions touch on more serious issues.
B. Oh really? The bishops say…
A. Oh really? But the bishops say…
I’ve sort of racked my brain trying to figure out an alternative paradigm. I’ve failed so far. One of the things that seems to be missing is cold hard reality. No, not the reality of balancing goods – that’s on full display and everyone seems to tap into that – but on the reality of politics and politicians and who they are, what drives and funds politics , what the end game is and what a president is for. I’m not trying to be cynical here, (well) ..but what was it someone once said? Put not your hope in princes? Something like that. It’s in some book I read once.
Update: Thanks for the great…discussion..so far! A trip in the car for a school pick-up and a trip to the library clarified something – by seeking a way to get pass this impasse in conversation, I don’t mean to say that the way we know we’re out of the impasse is when we all agree politically. That wasn’t my point, although I can see how it would seem that way. No, my point is simply about the nature, quality and contour of the conversation. It always goes down the same predictable road, reaching the same predictable impasses. Is there another road? Leading to even another, more interesting, less predictable impasse? I kid. Sort of.
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