Critiques & Controversies: October 2005 Archives

In his usual way, JCecil3 raises some interesting questions about the Bush presidency. I boil his central thesis down to the question in the title--Is Bush a Christian President?

My answer to this is simple. That is between Mr. Bush and God. It is presumptuous of me to do any other. I may take Mr. Bush at his word and assume that he is a good, Church-going believer.

Does his time in office make this a substantive reality in the world today? That is, if one had to go on evidence rather than assertion, would there be enough evidence to convict Bush on a trial for his Christianity? Not that I've seen. Everything in Washington is Politics as usual. There's a bit more of the relgious window-dressing and talking than there had been for a few words. Is it meaningful? Has it changed society for the better?

Honestly, not that I've seen. I don't see any surge forward in people loving one another as Christ commanded. I don't see the dawning age of new solidarity. I don't even see increased Church attendance as a result of the president's seeming endorsement of religion.

If Bush is a Christian President, it is a private matter that finds very little room for substantive expression in action. Yes, there may be prayer meetings in the White House and a nearly constant invocation of the name of God and the battle of Good and Evil. But the harsh reality is, the president is the president. He does as all have done before him if with a good deal less aplomb and a great deal more alienation. (Like any choice at the present time would have been better?)

Bush no more stands for Christianity than does Jacques Chirac, Vladimir Putin, or the President of the Phillippines. Nor is he meant to--and those who would like to see him so do a grave injustice both to the office of president and to the Christian faith. There is a very, very good reason for "separation of Church and State" in the sense of not campaigning on your Chrisitianity--you besmirch the faith and often, assuming you live it, you will end up alienating everyone any way--nothing will get done.

I do not think religion should ever stay out of the public square--the issues it raises and the causes that it supports need to be constantly brought before the eyes of the world. But I do think it poor policy to make faith an issue or mainstay of your reign or rule. Inevitably either the reign will be short and poorly received, or Christianity itself will get another black eye. (Think of His Most Christian Majesty Vlad Tepes--as one among many sterling examples.) The proper role of Christianity is always contra mundum, we are in the world, but not of it. If Christianity loses its power to confront and provoke by being subsumed in the mainstream battle of political discourse, it will have lost much of its meaning. Christianity is a sign of contradiction and a constant call to improve, not a seal of approval or an endorsement.

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Over in the comments box at Disputations, Marion linked to the excerpt below from the New Advent Site posting of the Catholic Encyclopedia. I thought it worth repeating. The truth must always be spoken in love. It is very rarely right to shout out another's errors from the rooftops (exceptions include public safety). God bless Marion and Tom for pointing out these important truths.

from Catholic Encyclopedia article on "Detraction"

Detraction is the unjust damaging of another's good name by the revelation of some fault or crime of which that other is really guilty or at any rate is seriously believed to be guilty by the defamer. An important difference between detraction and calumny is at once apparent. The calumniator says what he knows to be false, whilst the detractor narrates what he at least honestly thinks is true. Detraction in a general sense is a mortal sin, as being a violation of the virtue not only of charity but also of justice. It is obvious, however, that the subject-matter of the accusation may be so inconspicuous or, everything considered, so little capable of doing serious hurt that the guilt is not assumed to be more than venial. The same judgment is to be given when, as not unfrequently happens, there has been little or no advertence to the harm that is being done.

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"and a means of bestowing it." This newsflash comes to us via the person in charge of sacramental preparation. When she asked Samuel what a sacrament was and he gave a simpler version of the answer above she responded with a very curt, "No." It was the only time in the whole evening of maundering answers and lackadaisical responses that she had said an outright no.

I stopped her in her tracks with an, "Excuse me. When did sacraments become something other than this?" When I repeated Sam's answer she backtracked and said she thought he said something different and then, she asked a seven-year-old to explain what this meant. SHE couldn't explain it, but she needed to show up a seven-year old. I'm seething, I'm furious, and I'm calling the diocesan office tomorrow. There is no excuse for this kind of behavior. If it hadn't been for Samuel mentioning it, grace would have received no mention at all. Her definition, a sacrament is an encounter with Jesus. Well that's lovely, but rather vague. Isn't prayer an encounter with Jesus? And yet prayer is not numbered among the seven sacraments. Isn't service an encounter with Jesus?

When the traditionalists complain about the "evils" of Vatican II, it is this kind of nonsense in particular, it would seem to me, that they would find troublesome. This is a perfect example of where the "spirit of Vatican II" teaching just goes off the rails and careens wildly out of control through acres of vague language and arm-waving.

Overall, the session was an excrutiating blend of vague namby-pamby nonsense and group encounter discussion about nothing of any relevance at all. I particular bristle at the fact that this will go on for three more weeks--an hour and a half of saying nothing worth saying each week. Teaching about reconcilation should take about an hour-and-a-half total and that includes memorization of an act of contrition.

I know that this lady is a paid relgious education professional. If she were a volunteer, I'd probably cut her more slack. But this is a monstrous abrogation of her responsibility to the parents and children of this class. If we had not been there, grace would have been left behind in the airy wisdom of "encounter theology."

If you can't tell it, I am furious. This teaching went in direct opposition of nearly everything we've been trying to teach Samuel in home religious eduation. Fortunately he was so tired I doubt that anything sank in at all. At least I pray it is so.

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Reaction to Bush's High Court Nomination - Yahoo! News

Rather than seeing how one interprets the law and sees the constitution, let's crawl inside their psyche and try to predict how they will judge every major decision likely to come before them. The Judicial Hearings with their emphasis on "reproductive rights" are a farce. Ruth Bader Ginsburg can take her seat without answering, but Planned Parenthood demands to know this woman's stand.

Frankly, all I need to hear is a firm commitment to interpret law and not to legislate from the bench. I don't need necessarily a strict constructionist--we live in the twenty-first century. But I'd like to know that the person interpreting the law is doing so in accord with the priciples laid down as the foundation for the law. AND that they are interpreting rather than finding new law.

Like development of doctrine, this can be a very subtle and nuanced thing. The line between the growth of the old and the espousal of the new can be very, very vague--very difficult to define.

As to Ms. Miers, I know nothing of her and cannot find reason for opposition based solely on the fact that she is the President's friend. Not a recommendation for me, but perhaps a heartier recommendation for those who are more enthusiastic fans of the younger Bush.

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WorldNetDaily: ACLU defends polygamy

And so it goes, precisely as Sen. Santorum predicted, from precisely the same cause. Lawrence v. Texas was a poorly decided piece of work which will have ramification for some time to come. (Which should not be read to say that I am in favor of anti-sodomy laws. They strike me as pretexts for the violation of other rights. But by having it struck down under the aegis of privacy, the door just may have been opened to a great many other ills--which people claimed would not happen.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Critiques & Controversies category from October 2005.

Critiques & Controversies: September 2005 is the previous archive.

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