Frances Kissling may be my least favorite co-religionist. She has made a career vaunting her credentials as a courageous woman, challenging the hierarchy of the Church, seemingly unaware that in a culture that is already fiercely anti-authoritarian and which champions dissent in any form, her stance is not precisely one that merits the adjective courageous. The fact that her moral views track so neatly with the ambient secular culture's views suggests that any claim to a prophetic stance is also beyond her reach. She has become, to borrow a phrase from Cardinal George, a chaplain to the status quo.
This morning, at the corner store, I noticed phone cards for sale, one of which read: "CABAL - CentroAmerica."
"Cabal" is a uniquely British word. It started as an acronym for a group of British Lords who were determined to bring down the government of the Earl of Clarendon. Clifford (a Sir, not a Lord), Ashley, Buckingham (a Duke), Arlington and Lauderdale were the leaders and lent the first letter of their names to the word we now use to suggest any secretive conspiracy...or Central American phone cards.
I have been warning this would happen. Over the weekend, the Rev. Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas and a leading light in the Southern Baptist Convention, disparaged former Gov. Mitt Romney on account of his religion, saying that Mormonism is a cult and that Christians should vote for fellow Christians instead of for Mormons. Jeffress made his remarks after introducing his buddy, Texas Gov. Rick Perry at the Values Voter Summit, which was organized by Tony Perkins and his Family Research Council.
FreedomWorks, the Tea Party group that supported a series of challenges to incumbent GOP senators in 2010, has disclosed that intends to back the campaign of Richard Mourdock against incumbent GOP Senator Dick Lugar. Lugar ran afoul of the Tea Party because of his votes to confirm Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan as well as his decision to vote for the TARP legislation that President Bush proposed as the financial crisis hit.
Yesterday, Politico reported that GOP Congressman Denny Rehberg thinks the "Super Committee" charged with closing the federal budget deficit should cut two provisions of the Affordable Care Act in order to meet their savings' goal. Rehberg suggested that Medicaid not be extended to cover more people and that the committee nix the subsidies to help poor people buy insurance.
Jean Bethke Elshtain is one of the most gifted thinkers and writers in America today and on no topic do her skills shine forth more than when she is writing about Augustine. At the American Conservative, she has a lucid review of Gary Wills' book on The Confessions. I commend it to anyone who likes Elshtain, Wills or Augustine.
All week, events have conspired to pluck the mystic chords of memory, and each pluck reminds me of how unreal is the cultural and political sensibility that values only human autonomy, celebrates “self-made men,” and enjoys re-reading Ayn Rand. I use Cardinal Newman’s favorite derogatory expression, “unreal,” because it seems so apt: This hyper-individualism of our day does not bear any resemblance to the actual lives we live.
Everything that E.J. Dionne wrote in this morning's Washington Post is smart and spot-on. But this sentence especially jumped out at me: "Over the past several weeks, talk about the deficit and spending has receded, replaced by a new dialogue on job creation, fairer taxes and the abuses by financiers that got the country into economic difficulty in the first place."
Professor Stephen Schneck of Catholic University has a well done appreciation of Faithful Citizenship posted at the Washington Post's "On Faith" blog. You can read it here.
George Will thinks that Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic candidate for Senate in Massachusetts, misunderstands the social contract. He quotes her fine words about the social responsibilities of the wealthy, and he even allows that yes, human flourishing happens within a social context. But, then he adds: "This does not, however, entail a collectivist political agenda."