Friday, November 14, 2008

When Personal History Collides With Current Reality

I thought I was being a little tongue in cheek when I wrote that the bishops were probably spending time on issuing self excommunication guidelines for those of us who voted for Obama, also known as the 'party of death.' Maybe it wasn't a joke:

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A South Carolina Roman Catholic priest has told his parishioners that they should refrain from receiving Holy Communion if they voted for Barack Obama because the Democratic president-elect supports abortion, and supporting him "constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil." ( I surely hope our true believers can separate the man Obama, from the notion of intrinsic evil. I'm not sure that's going to be easy to do given the McCain campaign's purposeful attempt to confuse Obama with every other form of evil.)

The Rev. Jay Scott Newman said in a letter distributed Sunday to parishioners at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenville that they are putting their souls at risk if they take Holy Communion before doing penance for their vote.

"Our nation has chosen for its chief executive the most radical pro-abortion politician ever to serve in the United States Senate or to run for president," Newman wrote, referring to Obama by his full name, including his middle name of Hussein. (Do I detect an attempt to reinforce the notion that Barack Obama, the man, is evil?)

"Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exists constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ's Church and under the judgment of divine law. Persons in this condition should not receive Holy Communion until and unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance, lest they eat and drink their own condemnation."

(There we are! Self excommunication! The winds of Baltimore are howling in South Carolina. Oh, wait a minute. Isn't this the same state which is about to have a senate runoff race? Will voting for Saxby Chambliss keep one on the good side of Jesus?)

"It was not an attempt to make a partisan point," Newman said in a telephone interview Thursday. "In fact, in this election, for the sake of argument, if the Republican candidate had been pro-abortion, and the Democratic candidate had been pro-life, everything that I wrote would have been exactly the same." (Fr Newman, if you were going to be truly consistent and non partisan, you should have sent Republican voters to the sin bin as well. After all, McCain is a supporter of another 'intrinsic' evil, stem cell research. Non partisan consistency would require you to condemn all Catholic Americans who voted for either major party because both parties supported some form of intrinsic evil. Not to mention that some of us think the methods used by Republicans in the campaign bordered on intrinsically evil.)


That nasty cynical part of me, which I can only control by slamming my head on my desk, thinks this sermon might just be another electioneering attempt by a Roman Catholic cleric. Saxby Chambliss, that paragon of Republican class, is in a runoff race for his senate seat. Losing it would give the 'party of death' one more seat in their march to that filibuster proof number of 60 seats.

McCain was in South Carolina yesterday, campaigning for Saxby Chambliss. Saxby makes a lot of senators cringe, given the tactics he used to defeat Max Cleland in 2002. In fact, McCain had this to say about those tactics: "I'd never seen anything like that ad. Putting pictures of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden next to the picture of a man who left three limbs on the battlefield -- it's worse than disgraceful. It's reprehensible."

Correction: McCain used to think it was reprehensible to call into question the patriotism of a man who lost three limbs on a battle field in Viet Nam. Six years later he seems to think backing the same reprehensible senator is OK. I guess I know why I now find McCain's integrity quotient hovering slightly above zero.

The truth is, that's about where I find the integrity quotient of our bishops and priests like Fr. Newman. When one party is defined as the 'party of death' and the other the 'party of life' over one issue, the repeal of one law, this is blatant partisanship, and it's beyond myopic.

I honestly never expected to see the day in the United States, where my church would send me to hell for voting my conscience. That this threat is even uttered, this threat of hell, is very indicative of the level at which our teaching authority is functioning. They are 'teaching' to the education level of 5th graders, just as if they are the authority figures on some big playground attached to some mythical parochial school. This isn't surprising given that most of them probably did learn their attitudes toward Catholicism in parochial schools with authoritarian figures in religious clothing ruling the playgrounds. But the Church isn't a playground and it's laity are no longer in 5th grade. It's time for a reality check. Past time.


  1. Colleen, I find this amazing, that the Church has been hijacked by right wing fundamentalist medievalist. I just posted to Thomas in his new Forum topic and the last time I posted such a long post the NCRcafe system went down. I am hoping that what I have to say will knock some sense into these people that want to focus on the womb and things that are not even born or real persons. They are really pathologically disordered and they've allied themselves with the party that is for pre-emptive war and unjust wars, torture, hatred for LGBTers, hatred for anyone who does not believe in their doctrine. It's sad. Very sad. It shows they are desperate to hold onto their various 5th grade states of consciousness with adult-got bigotry and ignorance towards their neighbors.

    Each time they come out with such nonsense to deny communion to certain people over certain issues, or to excommunicate priest or nuns, they are shooting themselves in the foot and actually digging a deep hole that they will inevitably trip and fall into and have to live in.

  2. Take hope butterfly, the times they are a changin'. I have no problem with giving some exposure to folks like Fr. Newman.

    The message itself is so non sensical to most Catholics that they are actually a boon to the opposition they purport to damn.

    It's really all about choice as much as it is life, because that's how God set this whole game up.

  3. I'll take the hope, Colleen, and can't help chuckling a good laugh when I read about the hysteria from the right wing quarters of the hierarchy. They think we're stupid and were born yesterday. I find that hilarious!

    Thank God, the times they are a changin'. Alleluia!!

  4. Good points, all. I thinksome of these bishops and priests are going beyond the pale and I can no longer take them seriously.

    One correction: Saxby Chambliss is a senator from Georgia.


  5. Butterfly, if you want to see how many people are being touched by the posts in NCR alone, take a look at the number of reads. My what if has almost 1000 reads, my post on Cardinal has nearly 400 already. Bills open letter had over 900.

    What do you suppose the impact is of all of the "the bishops lied to us" that have been punctuating my posts lately. People will read those, and may or may not be moved now, but that thought will be permanently etched in their minds, and they will be unconsciously looking for and finding proof every day for the rest of their lives. Never underestimate the power of a well placed word or comment.

    It only takes one voice to change the world.

  6. Carl, the pen is mightier than the sword, for sure. Your comments have been very good and very clear. I'll have to check out the number of readers. I haven't noticed it before.

    I've been thinking about just what you have stated about the possible affect of my own two cents and wondering if I am getting through somehow, or if I am wasting my time. I have been letting the truth fly. It belongs out in the open for all to see. If I am wrong about something, I am sure someone will correct me. I really miss the rating system because it was a good gauge in seeing if I was on target or not.

    The more I think about the abortion issue and how some are so stuck in that one issue and letting all other issues rot by the wayside, and winding up siding with other hate-mongers, I realize what extreme fanaticism is. The danger of fanatics is that they teach fanaticism and they teach that focusing on one issue is healthy, but it is never healthy to focus on one issue constantly and only. One loses perspective and their view becomes flat and narrow, and that is what they've wound up doing. They've narrowed themselves, limited their growth as people and have a sour disposition. I've responded, I believe, in rather blunt terms to these fanatics due to the excessive amount of time and focus on this single issue, but with perspective that I hope will get them to think outside the confines of their narrowness. The ones who seem to be most fanatical about abortion are men.

    For example, there was one poster who wants to say that Obama is for letting infants who were born alive just die. This is quite incredible and such a damn lie, but this person insists. Their image of him is fixed in their mind, and he is a figment of their imagination. We know the real Obama, but they know only what propaganda and lies have been said and that's it. They refuse to see the real person. That I would say is that they have dehumanized him. They've attempted to do that to us as well, but they really can't dehumanize those who are human. Am I making any sense?

  7. Butterfly

    It is imperative that we remember that the souls that we touch will probably not be the ones we are bantering with in the cafe, but will be the ones in the backgroung, the ones who are reading quietly, the ones who thought they were alone, who now know that they are part of the majority. These are the ones we serve with our writing.

    Those we banter with are most likely lost causes for the moment, but even so, they are still being used by the Holy Spirit as tools to help spread Christs message to the true faithful, those who listen to the message and teachings of Christ, not to the legalistic ramblings of sexually frustrated half senile geriartic men in dresses and ruby slippers.

  8. "not to the legalistic ramblings of sexually frustrated half senile geriartic men in dresses and ruby slippers."

    You forgot to mention willfully blind. Carl, you'll love today's photo.

    dad: mea culpa, mea culpa, I am like suitabely embarrassed. I should have been drinking expresso when I was writing.

  9. Good point Carl. I am mindful that there is a wider audience beyond the one to whom we're commenting to and/or bantering to. I sense their presence very strongly when I am writing as well as the presence of a spirit that is much bigger than me. I think that there are priests that are reading the comments too. There are Catholics, like myself, who have felt the sting of guilt most of our lives for having the gift of intelligence or audacity to think and believe beyond the narrowness. The Church always plays on the notion that they are "the authority." They like to play the authority card because it makes them feel as if they are in control. But that is the problem. Jesus Christ is the authority. The more we confront this "authority" that is not really authority, we break through the illusion of its authority and give the authority back to Jesus Christ and to God, where it belongs.

    I think that one voice can make a difference, but it is not just one voice that makes the entire difference - it is the multiple voices that play like a powerful symphony that makes a difference.

    It is really extraordinary that so many commented from a progressive standpoint on NCR leading up to the election and on the announcement of excommunication to Fr. Roy. The fanatics are really much fewer in number and a great number of people have found a place to voice their concerns and the truth.

    The thing about Thomas on NCRCafe is that he is very much like my father was for most of his life in his views. And, my father's name is Thomas. I understand him more than he understands himself.
    But, I don't believe that he can stay where he is without making himself sick and killing himself in negative thoughts. I actually care about him. I actually thought the other day that he might even one day see the light, a blinding one like Saul was pierced with. I have faith that God will see to it that he see the light of the glory of God's love for all His children. I pray that more people will not turn to Leviticus for the answers as to who the true God of love is, but to the NT. I loved Colleen's comment about the wasting of so many trees on printing the New Testament. It's really time the pages are read and the living word lives in the world. Words like "love one another" come to mind every day as needing more contemplation and action on those words, bringing them to life.

  10. Butterfly:

    Many people take selective passages out of Leviticus to justify their belief systems. The way to effectively debunk that is to go to Leviticus and to bring all of Leviticus to the table. Out of the 600+ Levitical laws, how many do you suppose those who quote Leviticus actually follow.

    Remember, Jesus said he came not to change the laws. Leviticus was the law he was talking about.

    Leviticus prohibits eating pork and seafood. How many "thomas's" are following the food laws. How many of our Magisterial Leadership to you suppose regularly violate that law?

    There are laws on hygiene that are quite specific. How many are following the rules for being unclean.

    Therefore, if they are not totally following ALL of the laws in Leviticus, then they are commiting sin against the most high and are unclean.

    They will most likely argue that the laws they do not want to following have been rescinded. Then there can be the discussion on whose authority are they picking and choosing? Which "man" chose to change Gods law? If Jesus didnt change them, then who are "they" to change it?

    You will probably never convince them that they are in error, but you can set up the conditions for others to see how foolish their arguments really are.

    As far as I'm concerned, the thomas's for the moment are lost causes. Whether they will understand in the future is a coin toss. And frankly, it doesnt matter.

    Jesus gave us 2 laws, only 2 to follow. Nothing in those two referenced back to Leviticus or any other OT scripture.

    Enough verbosity for one night. Namaste.