Rosalind Helderman, in this morning's Post, looks at the battle over the role of faith in politics. The article focuses on some of the things Rick Santorum has said on the campaign trail that are sure to raise eyebrows, but have only come to light now that the spotlight has shown on him more closely. One thing is obvious, although no one in the GOP can bring themselves to admit it: It is true that American society and culture are more deeply religious than other Western democracies, but it is also true that our constitutional system is decidedly secular. And, Mr. Santorum is never going to acknowledge that these twin poles of religioisty and secularity have co-existed as well as they have only because in America, religion is viewed in a distinctly Protestant way, as an essentially private matter, between the individual and God.
Yesterday, Ruth Marcus had a great op-ed about the political, and cultural, divergence between Democratic activists inside the Beltway and Democratic voters outside the Beltway. It is clearly part of this White House's calculation that they must side with the inside-the-Beltway crowd if only to guarantee strong fundraising numbers but that, at times, as in the recent controversy over religious liberty, that calculation hits a bump.
And, this morning, E.J. Dionne has a great op-ed on the continuing slander thrown at President Obama that he is somehow un-American. This abuse, sadly, often comes from religious leaders, most recently Rev. Franklin Graham. Even those religious leaders who oppose certain policies the president has proposed should be mindful of their rhetoric lest they feed this hatefulness that is itself quite un-American.
The way we Americans conduct our presidential campaigns leaves much to be desired. We sell candidates with TV ads the way we sell Doritos, except that the company that makes Doritos takes out ads proclaiming the deliciousness of its product, not attacking the Lays potato chips as cancer-causing, un-tasty snacks. We sit through debates that often focus on soundbites and stupidities. And, our mainstream media, needing to convey complex issues in “TV time” (in “TV time” five minutes is an eternity), abets the superficiality with which the contemporary candidates are forced to confront issues.
For many, today is George Washington's Birthday. But, for a smaller number of us, today is the day on which Don Luigi Giussani was called home to God. I have never formally been a member of Communione e Liberazione, but I can say of Giussani's books what I can say of precious few other books - they changed my life, opening a window into our Catholic faith that I had not known of previously and through which I have since viewed our Church. Just today, someone said to me, "You are so CL!" which I took as a great compliment. I am not a person given to regrets, but I do regret that I never had the chance to meet this man who has so profoundly touched the life of the Church and so many of the flock.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him.
In this morning's Washington Post, Melinda Henneberger looks at the shifting sands in the contraception debate and how that debate is being put to good fundraising use by the Democrats and women's groups. There is this strange symbiotic relationship that has developed between pro-choice and pro-life groups and you can see it on the cable shows and in the fundraising appeals. Most voters are focused on jobs and the economy. Most candidates, especially the Republicans, desperately want to talk about anything but contraception. But, they have no one to blame but themselves for te narrative that has emerged and the USCCB must tread carefully lest it appear to be over-playing its hand and tying its wagon to any particular partisan horse.
Over at Vox Nova, Morning's Minion suggests that it is Sen. Santorum who has the "phony theology" when it comes to the environment, not President Obama.
So often, debates and discussions within the Church turn ugly because it is so difficult to set aside our pre-conceived narratives and look at the issues of the day wish freshness, openness, and a willingness to be proven wrong. It is so much more fun to be proven right!
Lent has become the most counter-cultural liturgical season. Prayer, almsgiving, and fasting each, in different ways, challenge our self-assertive, hyper-consumerist culture. America celebrates the successful entrepreneur, the self-made man, the “power couple,” the indie artist whose work may be dreadful but is commended for “pushing the envelope,” the demagogue who, without anything resembling learning, pontificates on issues with more fervor than facts. We wallow in a plethora of consumer choices, each designed to help us sketch in, and alert others, to our lifestyle and its wonderfulness.
Mark Silk puts Bishop Bill Lori's parable of the kosher deli under the kashrut lens and finds it wanting: There is no prohibition in Jewish law against selling pork to others. But, just because the analogy didn't work, doesn't mean that Catholics cannot entertain and hold ideas, such as material cooperation with evil, that prohibit us from doing facilitating the actions of non-Catholics who, in the event, have chosen to work at or attend a Catholic institution and know they are signing up for no meat on Friday, some measure of episcopal and, ultimately papal, oversight, and no contraception coverage included in your health care package.
Newsweek asked me to do this week's "Person of Interest" column on Cardinal Timothy Dolan. Here it is.