Due to a family crisis for one of our young theologians, and a scheduling snafu that was entirely my fault, Q & A will take a breather today and tomorrow, but be back on Thursday with two submissions. My apologies.
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 accepting a humanitarian award at the Emmy’s the other night, actor George Clooney said that while he recognized and applauded the way we Americans, and specifically, the artistic community, responds with open hearts and open wallets to catastrophes around the world, we need to do a better job after the cameras leave and the headlines change. He said something to the effect that we need to do a better job five years and seven years after a catastrophe.
When discussing President Obama’s supposed commitment to Liberation Theology and why this, as opposed to the disinformation campaign conducted by certain conservatives, is the reason so many Americans think the President is not a Christian, it was especially rich to hear Mr. Glenn Beck say this: “People aren’t recognizing his version of Christianity.”
President Obama will give his second address to the nation tonight from the Oval Office. He plans to discuss the end of combat operations by U.S. troops in Iraq and the on-going war effort in Afghanistan. Before the speech, the President will travel to Fort Bliss, Texas, to visit veterans of the war in Iraq.
The President needs to do four things in his speech tonight. First, and foremost, he must commend the 1.5 million troops who served in Iraq. They who bore the burden of the war should never have to bear the burden of the arguments about the war. They were sent to do an impossible task – made more impossible because the tasks were so badly misunderstood by Rumsfeld et al. – and they did it with all the devotion and dedication we have come to expect from the military.
This week, at the RCIA in my parish, I will be discussing the history of the Church in America. Ergo, this week I will use this space to highlight some of my favorite parts of that talk, especially the ones, like this one, which show the contemporary relevance of history:
As we mentioned, Columbus brought the Catholic faith with him and the first bishop to arrive in the Western Hemisphere was the bishop of Puerto Rico, Don Alonso Manso, who took possession of his see in 1513. Most of his cathedral was burned in the nineteenth century but parts of the church date back to the sixteenth century and up the street, the church of San Jose remains in tact. There is an historical notation in the church’s architecture. The church sanctuary and transepts have beautiful stonework, but in the nave there is only stucco. The change represents the change of monarchs in Spain – Charles V was a great patron of the Church and his son Philip II was less generous, so the church had to be finished with the less expensive stucco.
Everyone loves a convert, but I also like it when they shut up for a bit after swimming the Tiber.* Alas, the ever-prolix Mr. New Gingrich, has become a new voice in the Catholic universe and he speaks as if his was the very voice of the magisterium, even those his is the voice of someone who was a Methodist until yesterday.
This week, we are continuing our discussion with young theologians who were involved with the Fordham Conversation Project. Today we hear from Beth Haile who is an instructor at Laboure College.
The question: From your perspective as a young theologian teaching in a Catholic university, how do you view the divisions in the American Catholic Church? Do you see things differently than the previous generation? Are there any signs of hope for healing our divisions?
Beth Haile: I would have to say that I am much more optimistic about the future of the Catholic Church than some of my colleagues. I write this on the feast day of St. Augustine, that great Catholic saint who, when faced with the Donatist controversy, did everything in his power to restore unity with those in disagreement with the Church. For Augustine, the Catholic Church would always remain imperfect while on this earth and would, therefore, have to tolerate sinners in the midst of its saints. St. Augustine reminds us that the true church is always a little-c catholic church.
E.J. Dionne has an important article in this morning’s Washington Post about the need for the President to stop divorcing “politics” and “governance.”
Some of my posts anger the right. Some needle the left. This is one of my favorites, where I get to make both camps upset!
Mr. Glenn Beck, in an interview on Fox News where he was busy backtracking from his charge that the President of the United States is a racist who hates white people, impugned the President for his theological influences, specifically liberation theology. My friend and colleague Father Jim Martin, SJ, came to the defense of liberation theology in a post at America magazine. Alas, the problem with liberation theology and the problem with Beck’s touting of “Judeo-Christian ethics” is the same problem. Both reduce our Christian faith to ethics.
Watching the Glenn Beck rally on the Mall, Mr. Beck has proven true to his word. The rally is not political if by political one means partisan. Every moment, every speech, every song has a feel good, I Love America, quality to it. A phrase, slightly modified from the original, fills my mind: The Banality of Goodness.
Who doesn’t honor our troops? Who doesn’t admire Albert Pujols and his work with Down Syndrome children? Who doesn’t think honor is better than dishonor? Who doesn’t think family is important? Who is opposed to charity? The only thing missing as far as I can tell is the tribute to apple pie.