|HEAD OF CHRIST, REMBRANDT|
VOTE FOR HIM!
My response was to think, "Well let's see, if there were a runoff between Hitler and Goebbels and Hitler were promoting some rudimentary kind of national health care, I suppose, if I had to vote, I could consider voting for Hitler. So I said, 'Well, I guess I might' "--the point being that Goebbels and Hitler were so close in basic philosophy, goals and world view as to be virtually interchangeable. And the other point being that when people are violent with us--and jabbing your finger in someone face is violent--we tend to want to be violent, sarcasm being another form of violence, ourselves.
Anyway, the sender then went on to say:
"I can understand being against abortion, but I can't understand not helping people have knowledge and tools to keep themselves from getting pregnant. I know several young women who keep a condom in their wallets, so that they can say, I'm not having sex with you unless you use a condom, and they can be in charge."
Now this I found telling. This points up exactly why I avoid identifying as either politically right or politically left: namely, that if one or the other candidate happens to land on the “right” side of a particular issue, it’s by accident—it’s not because of Christ. Because the image of a 14-year-old girl carrying condoms in her purse strikes me the same way as an image I recently came across of an attractive young blond in camo fatigues wearing an expression of what was apparently meant to be wholesome blood lust and cradling a giant gun in her lap: namely, the unpleasant, nerve-jangling shock you get when unexpectedly coming across an image of the rawest, rankest porn.
I took the time to write a long reply to the sender of the email, among other things thanking the person for reminding me of my own huge capacity for violence. I never heard back and am thinking, on the eve of the election, to reprint some of my (slightly amplified) response here.
The long answer, for now, is that from the Catholic viewpoint, the pregnancies that are prevented by all forms of birth control, esp. BC pills, essentially an abortificient, are themselves kind of holocaust, just as war is always its own form of holocaust. Birth control--itself a form of violence--is not the way to prevent abortion, another form a violence. For a teenage girl to keep a condom in her purse so she can be "in control" for when she has casual, uncommitted sex--and the very fact that the sex is outside the protective, nurturing, sacrament of marriage and not open to children means it is prima facie casual and uncommitted--to me is not a triumph, or a solution, or in any way a move toward Christ-like love...it is a lie and the furtherance of a lie (I know first-hand because I lived that lie for many years), and it is just the kind of shortcut/end run, aimed toward power, fleeting pleasure, the objectification of ourselves and the other, and an utter disregard for the spiritual and emotional consequences of our actions upon which our culture and politics is founded. All that is, or should be, most precious in us, most inviolable, is in essence, killed...
Basically our thought is: It's too hard to love our enemy, so let's maintain that waterboarding isn't torture, spend $100 billion more in the next four years on 'defense', and kill him. It's too hard to treasure ourselves and to teach our children to treasure themselves, so let's give them condoms. I think this is part of why Christ said, "You have heard it said, "You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!' shall be liable to the hell of fire" [Mt 5:21-22]...The point is not that God is peering into our every action and thought, waiting to pounce when we're wrong. The point is that politics concerns itself with imposing from without while Christianity concerns itself with the conversion from within of the individual human heart. I am quite sure that if we treated ourselves, our capacity for love, our sexuality, our neighbor, and our world as Christ taught us to that the global population would regulate itself in a way that is never going to happen, and has not happened, when we try it "our" way.
This all sounds very sterile and that is one reason I dislike the whole framework of politics as a venue for discussing or working out faith. The sublime wonder of Christianity is that we are never going to be brought to our full joy, our full flower, our full capacity to give and receive love, except by abandoning ourselves to this strange and paradoxical God. That is why Christ was so dangerous. Not because he was anti-politics but because he was anti-lie. That is way more dangerous to the powers-that-be--inside and outside ourselves--than treason...
Politics are all about power, control, and being "in charge." Religion is all about abandonment, surrender, and obedience to the Man who said, "I give you a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you." And that is why, to me, to try to mix one with the other does a disservice to both.
To that end, the best thing I heard at the Magnificat Day of Faith was a quote from French playwright Jean Anouilh (1910-1987): "Beauty is one of the rare things that does not lead to doubt about God."
And this Henri Nouwen quote, just in from my brother Ross: “Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly.” Which the Lord knows is all of us.