Wednesday, January 28, 2009

George Weigel on the 2008 election

Today I heard G. Weigel talk at the Boston College Law School about the 2008 election. It was a great talk and here are some of the points that he made. This is not exhaustive but some of the things that I noted.

1. He discussed how the "Bush Derangement Syndrome" (BDS) was behind the basic dynamics of the campaign. BDS started when the Supreme Court in 2000 decided in Bush's favor. The left was incensed over this and much of the hatred directed against Bush was rooted in their belief that he unfairly "won" the election.
But even before that, Weigel said, the impeachment process against Clinton in 1998-99 was a key factor. The real issue in that case was about the rule of law concerning perjury. The Republicans asked how could a man serve as chief executive when hundreds of other Americans were in jail for doing precisely what he had done. But Maureen Dowd in the NY Times and other liberal columnists successfully reframed the issue as a sexual one, instead of being about the rule of law. Those who supported the sexual revolution were not about to back away from their "gains" from the 1960s and came to the support of Clinton. They won. Clinton was acquitted. Still, it left them angry that Clinton had been impeached at all.

Also, the secular humanists among the anti-Bush cadre saw his evangelical Christianity as a threat to their worldview. They painted him as a bumbling idiot.

2. Post-modern rhetoric
In this interesting part of his talk, Weigel talked about the prevalent idea that there is no objective, real truth that is the same for all people. Instead, we talk about "your truth" and "my truth." This is relativism, rooted in epistemological skepticism--the idea that we can't know anything for sure. Pope Benedict has strongly opposed this form of relativism.
As a result of this, narrative is what dominates today. Weigel said our elections are like American Idol. Instead of debating substantive issues, people swoon over the most attractive candidate--who happened to be Obama. Narrative, not substance, is the order of the day.

3. The media in the tank for Obama
Weigel also said that the mainstream media were shamelessly promoting Obama instead of doing their job: to inform the American people about the candidates and the issues. Books could be written on this and probably will be. Obama has been presented as a sort of political messiah. The media, for example, did not seriously investigate Obama's ties with Bill Ayers and other radicals. But you can be sure that if McCain had had a similar relationship with a right-wing radical like Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma city bomber, the media would have been all over it. Or if McCain had had a relationship with a right-wing version of the Rev Jeremiah Wright, the media would not have given him a pass about it.

4. On the life issues, Weigel said that the efforts of some people to paint Obama as the pro-life candidate were "an exercise in sophistry that was breathtaking even by today's [lack of] standards." Weigel noted that these are serious issues and the radicalism on the left threatens the civil liberties of those who disagree with them on these issues. If you doubt that, think about what happened in California when Proposition 8 was defeated: the targeting of Mormon places of worship, violence against a little old lady holding a sign, blacklisting those who contributed to defeat Prop. 8, etc. But again, the mainstream media did not widely report these things.

In the question and answer session, Weigel added that the great tragedy of post-Roe political life has been the transformation of life issues into partisan issues. He was referring to the fact that the Democrat party is now identified with the pro-abortionists to such an extent that pro-life Democrats, though a few may exist, are an oxymoron.

Weigel also alluded to other factors involved in the election, such as the Iraq war, the race factor, Republican scandals, an electorate tired of the Bush administration, etc., etc., and of course, above all, the economy and McCain's fumbling response when that news broke.
The talk was not an attack on Obama but an effort to understand why the election turned out the way it did: a Senator with very little experience and a hard-left voting record is now President of a country that largely remains a center-right country.

Let's pray for our country. It is at a critical moment and we certainly need God's guidance.

Happy feast of St Thomas Aquinas!

Today is the feastday of St. Thomas Aquinas. Originally it was March 7, the anniversary of his death, but it usually fell in Lent. So it was transferred to today, which marks the anniversary of the transfer of his relics to Toulouse, where they still are today.

One of the sisters sent me a message saying that in the homily this morning, the priest quoted St Thomas: "It is just as much of a sin not to feast on a feast day as it is not to fast on a fast day!" I don't know the exact source of the quote, but it certainly sounds like something Thomas would say. So it's a great day to feast!

Another Thomas quote: "Not to go along the way of God is to go back."

Sunday, January 25, 2009

John C. Wright

Sr Anna tipped me off about the writer John C. Wright. He has some interesting science fiction books and a great blog here.

Friday, January 23, 2009


President Obama's Reversal of Mexico City Policy 'Very Disappointing,'
Says Pro-Life Committee Chair

WASHINGTON—The decision by President Barack Obama to reverse the Mexico City Policy is "very disappointing," said Cardinal Justin Rigali, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
He made the statement January 23, after President Obama issued the executive order restoring U.S. funding to organizations that perform and promote abortion in developing nations. Cardinal Rigali's statement follows.
"It is very disappointing that President Obama has reversed the Mexico City Policy, which prevents U.S. funding of organizations that perform and promote abortion as a family planning method in developing nations. An Administration that wants to reduce abortions should not divert U.S. funds to groups that promote abortions.
"Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote to President-elect Obama last week urging him to retain this policy. As Cardinal George said in his letter:
"'The Mexico City Policy, first established in 1984, has wrongly been attacked as a restriction on foreign aid for family planning. In fact, it has not reduced such aid at all, but has ensured that family planning funds are not diverted to organizations dedicated to performing and promoting abortions instead of reducing them. Once the clear line between family planning and abortion is erased, the idea of using family planning to reduce abortions becomes meaningless, and abortion tends to replace contraception as the means for reducing family size. A shift toward promoting abortion in developing nations would also increase distrust of the United States in these nations, whose values and culture often reject abortion, at a time when we need their trust and respect

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Theology of the body on You Tube

Tonight for the first time I watched the theology of the body class that our sisters in Chicago have been hosting. Fr Thomas Loya is the teacher; it's been going on for a while. But you can jump right in. It's the second Wednesday of each month.

It was a fabulous class. He has an amazing way of explaining not only TOB, but the beauty of the Catholic faith. TOB is amazing because it totally contradicts the false ideas people often have about the Church and sexuality. For example, Father was saying that if we look at someone and see the person lust won't be such a problem. This is true even if the person is scantily dressed. He used the example of "soft porn" which is all around us and can hardly be avoided--on billboards, TV commercials, etc. The way to deal with it is to see the "body" being depicted for what is really there--a real person. Pornography thrives by turning people into things, objects for lust. Instead, if we see people as persons, it's harder to view them with lust. A great quote from him: "The way we see comes out of who we are." Then he said recall what Jesus said in the Gospel about eating unclean food--that doesn't make us unclean, but evil thoughts that come out of our own hearts and minds can make us unclean.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

St. Clement of Rome

Recently I was reading St. Clement's letter to the Corinthians. Clement was the Pope and wrote to Corinth to try and settle some problems there. This is a beautiful thing that he said about the blood of Christ:

"Let us fix our gaze upon the Blood of Christ and understand how precious it is to the Father, because, poured out for our salvation, it brought to the whole world the grace of conversion."

(Quoted from the Ancient Christian Writers series.)

Friday, January 02, 2009

A practical spiritual goal for 2009

Happy new year to you! I hope it will bring abundant graces and blessings!

Rather than new year's resolutions, I like to think more in terms of new year's goals. My reason is that the word "resolution" makes me think of something already accomplished. For example, if I make a resolution to avoid eating sweets, I feel like it's something I have to do from the moment I make the resolution. Then when I eat that piece of chocolate cake, I've already broken the resolution! Making resolutions is like going on the fast track to a guilt trip.

I see goals, instead, as something more positive. For example, I could set a goal to take better care of my health. That could include healthier eating, which is a goal to work toward. It doesn't mean that all of a sudden I eat a perfectly healthy diet. It will take some time to develop some kind of healthy eating plan and follow it.

New Year's is a good time to look at how our spiritual life has been going, and then setting a goal to either keep it on track or get it on track. Take prayer, for example. A goal like "I will have a deep prayer life" is OK but it needs to be specified a little more concretely. That could be the general goal, but then it can be broken down into smaller, more specific goals. Depending on my life situation and family responsibilities, the goal might involve going to daily Mass, making a holy hour once a week, taking 20 minutes each morning for meditation on Scripture, etc.