Like me, Rod Dreher, of RealClear Religion, was disgusted by the applause at the GOP debate when the subject of capital punishment was mentioned. He explains his reasons for his conversion on the subject and they are, to my eyes, compelling.
Finally, President Barack Obama seems to have understood that sweet reasonableness is not enough. In the face of Republican intransigence, and ten months of fighting on their turf, he turned the focus back to his own agenda last night and challenged the Congress in ways that will force them to act or to bear the consequences. And, there was a flash of fire in his eyes and in his tone that is welcome indeed.
Obama’s speech to Congress last night was arguably his best since the campaign in 2008 in political terms. There was no soaring rhetoric, no turn of phrase that sticks in the mind beyond the repetition of the dull words, “And you should pass it now!” But, he did something – better to say he started to do something – that he has been unable to do all year. He defined a fight with the GOP on his turf not theirs and did so in a way that any obstruction on their part may prove politically costly.
Over at the Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good Forum, they have a fine essay by Father Thomas R. von Behren, CSV, that looks at one of the uglier consquences of 9/11, America's resort to torture and why that decision was wrong, no matter what Dick Cheney says.
Robin Abcarian at the LA Times asks if and how evangelical Christians will warm to the candidacies of the two Mormon candidates for the GOP presidential nod, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman.
Catholics, of course, faced the obnoxious, residual religious bigotry in the presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy, and we must raise our voices clearly and powerfully against any attempts to deny Mr. Romney or Mr. Huntsman their right to be president on account of their faith. Besides, there are plenty of other good reasons to oppose them.
While it may be difficult to discern a clear winner in last night's presidential debate, there was a clear loser: the audience. It was shocking when Brian Williams began a question about the liberal application of the death penalty in the state of Texas. Here is the transcript:
That's right. The audience erupted in applause. It was chilling.
"If they don't believe what the church teaches, they're not really Catholic," incoming Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput told an interviewer when asked about pro-choice politicians receiving communion.
Of course, in a sense, Chaput is right. We are, as Catholics, bound to believe what the Church teaches. But, the either/or way the archbishop speaks about the matter makes no sense of that verse from the Gospel of Mark (9:24) in which the blind man at Bethsaida asked the Master for help with his unbelief. Chaput does not encourage those who struggle with their unbelief, he dismisses them and tells them who they really are. They are not really Catholics. Hah! He showed them.
Last night’s GOP presidential debate from the Reagan Library in California was understandably focused on the two front-runners, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. They were placed at the center of the stage, they were the first to get questions directed to them, and the moderators continually went back to them, providing them more airtime than the others. This morning’s Post headline reads “Perry and Romney spar in GOP debate.”
The GOP contest is not, in fact, a two person race even if the media is trying to turn it into one. You may recall that in 2008, Rudy Giuliani was leading all the national polls and at the end of the day, he garnered precisely one delegate to the GOP convention. Or, on the Democratic side, you may recall an email sent out by the Howard Dean campaign in the weeks before the Iowa caucuses that read (if memory serves) “As we bring this campaign to a successful conclusion…..” Of course, in Iowa, Dean and Dick Gephardt were so unrelentingly negative in their ads attacking each other, that John Kerry stepped over their wreckage and won the caucus, Dean gave his scream, and the rest is history.
We all know that we would not have weekends if it were not for organized labor. We also know that wages, benefits and working conditions for all workers would not be as good as they are but for the efforts of organized labor. Many do not like to admit it, but the truth is that as the percentage of workers in unions has declined, those wages, benefits and working conditions have also.
Ray Abernathy has a post up about the good labor is still doing. Well worth the read.
Yesterday, the Justice Department announced a settlement in its case against Henrico County, Virginia. According to a press release from the Justice Department:
Yes, I know that Sherwood Pictures is the product of a Christian Church that is not Catholic. But, Timothy Dalrymple looks at how one Baptist Church is trying to create culture by making Christian movies. A faith that does not generate culture is a dead faith. And, no one should be more aware of that than us Catholics: Western culture would look pretty slim if you removed the Catholic influences upon it.
So, why is one Baptist Church in Georgia succeeding at producing movies and the Catholic Church in the U.S. with its vast array of Catholic colleges and universities, is not? Because "Catholic Identity" has usually been reduced to banning pro-choice speakers from campuses. Because our ideas about "Catholic Identity" are crimped. Because, for complex historical reasons, we have been so eager to gain access to mainstream culture, our Catholic writers and actors and producers have been willing to leave their catholic sensibilities at the door. Not all, of course. Where would we be without Flannery O'Connor? Who was not moved by "Brideshead Revisited"?