I am catching up from a busy weekend and just read Dana Milbank's brilliant takedown of Glenn Beck in yesterday's Outlook section. It is a must-read.
Welcome to Distinctly Catholic, a blog by Michael Sean Winters that examines politics, religion and the estuary where the two meet, all from a distinctively Catholic point of view. The blog is small "c" catholic as well as big "C" Catholic, examining a wide range of issues but always from the perspective of Catholic history and theology.
In this morning's Washington Post, E. J. Dionne tells of some Democrats who are - finally - not running from the health care issue but embracing it. In the upcoming issue of the print edition of NCR, I will have an article about another Democrat, Tom Perriello, who is also defending his vote in favor of health care reform.
The White House gets a big, fat "F" for not making sure that every American knows the name of a child who was unable to get health insurance because of a pre-existing condition but who, now, because of the health care reform is able to get such coverage.
Remember Ryan White? He became the face of AIDS sufferers and the opposition to increased funding on AIDS research, and care for those struicken with the disease, evaporated.
As I never tire of pointing out, the polls indicate there could be a GOP tsunami, but they also indicate that the electorate has not made up its mind.
If the White House will get out the old bully pulpit, and Democratic candidates don't lose their nerve, they can limit the losses in November.
As mentioned, this week at Q & A we will be looking at the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI to mark the publication of a new book, Pope Benedict XVI: Essays and Reflections on His Papacy, published by the USCCB.
Our first interviewee, Fr. Robert Imbelli, is a professor of theology at Boston College and he was good enough to send his thoughts on Pope Benedict's pastoral-theological approach.
The question: What is one of Pope Benedict's most significant contributions to the life of the Church?
Father Imbelli: Since he was a young student of theology, Pope Benedict found in John Henry Newman a theological and pastoral sensibility akin to his own. Newman’s concern to help believers “realize,” make more fully real for themselves, the meaning of their faith is very much Benedict’s own pressing desire.
Sharron Angle, it turns out, is not only facing Harry Reid in the Nevada Senate race. There is also another Tea Party candidate, Scott Ashjian, who is getting a small slice of voters according to polls. As the Angle-Reid race is tight, even a few votes for Mr. Ashjian could hurt her chances.
NCR has already published the text of Archbishop J. Augustine DiNoia’s homily at yesterday’s Red Mass. I hope readers will consult it, especially preachers, because it is rare that we get such a specimen of fine preaching.
There were many fine passages. In speaking of the central dogma of our faith, the Trinity, the archbishop made clear, what is too often forgotten, that our Catholic faith makes a large claim: “Christ teaches and the Church proclaims that God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, desires to share the communion of trinitarian life with creaturely persons, that—in the famous formulation of St. Irenaeus—God who is without need of anyone gives communion with himself to those who need him.” It is easy to forget, when the Church is beset by self-induced scandals and in an age that treats religion as an artifact of an earlier and simpler time, that at the heart of our faith is an invitation to join the divine life.
The USCCB has issued a new book about the Holy Father, Pope Benedict: Essays and Reflections on His Papacy, edited by Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, the director of media relations for the Conference. It is a splendid book not least because it will make a perfect Christmas gift for my Dad. (Oops – there goes the surprise!)
My Dad would not read a book of theology. But he loves the Pope. He loves this Pope. He loved Pope John Paul II, in part because of ethnic pride: Our family name was Wojtczuk before they anglicanized it. He loved Pope John Paul I, as did we all, in the few weeks he was given to us. He loved Pope Paul VI. You get the picture.
The Catholic Key Blog attacks Senate Democrats, and especially Majority Leader Harry Reid, for the failure of the DREAM Act. They believe that Reid was wrong to attach the bill to a Defense Authorization bill that also included a provision regarding the repeal of "Don't Ask; Don't Tell." Of course, the actual vote last week - which every Senator voted against - would have permitted Senators to vote separately on the two provisions. Every Republican voted against bringing the bill to the floor. And that is Harry Reid's fault?
I do not know if CNN's Rick Sanchez will get fired because of his anti-Semitic remarks. But, I don't really care why he is fired. I care that he is fired. He is dreadful. Self-referential. A bad interviewer. An ambulance chaser. Incapabale of simply dealing with the techological challenges of being a host and, instead, constantly sharing with his viewers whatever his producer is whispering into his ear. On top of all that, now we know he is a bigot. Good riddance.
Say what you want about Rahm Emanuel's tenure as White House Chief of Staff, he was singularly effective. Although you would not know it from most of the ads being run by Democrats in Congress, the last two years have seen major legislative accomplishments, most notably health care reform, a goal that has long eluded previous Democratic administrations. The Stimulus Bill may not have saved or created as many jobs as hoped, but it stopped the free-fall the economy was in at the time. The financial overhaul lays the groundwork for a rebounding economy that will be less prone to the kinds of shenanigans that brought on the economic collapse of 2008. Emanuel played a central role in getting each of these tasks accomplished. People may not miss his brusque style, but the White House may well miss his ability to get things done.
In the article linked on "Morning Briefing," everyone agrees that the highly disturbing comments and behavior of a Michigan Assistant Attorney General, Andrew Shirvell, are reprehensible, but the ACLU evidently supports Attorney General Mike Cox's decision not to fire Shirvell. An official said, "As offensive and as despicable as Mr. Shirvell's comments are, they are protected expression under the First Amendment when they are not used as a direct threat," she said. "Without making specific threats against others, this is just another example of speech that society must tolerate, even though it is profoundly disturbing and stirs many to anger." This misses the point.