“No” and “Yes”

The independent Catholic journalist Rocco Palmo offers comments on this week's elections that might well apply to the Congress as well as to the Vatican.

A very
sensible reflection on
the religious significance of this week’s election
results, from the independent Catholic journalist Rocco Palmo of The
Tablet
(and of one of my favourite blogs on the internal politics of
the Catholic Church, Whispers in the Loggia).

 

Echoing many of the sentiments that have
been expressed here on FaithfulDemocrats.com, Palmo quite sensibly points out
that Christianity (and his words apply to any number of Protestant
denominations as well as to his and my Catholicism) should be more than a
weapon in political discourse.  As he
puts it:

 

Think of it this
way: the inheritance we’ve received in our beliefs is like a priceless work of
art that draws the masses wherever it appears. 
But if you throw it at someone or handle it improperly, it breaks.  It wasn’t crafted to be a weapon, no amount
of Culture War Krazy Glue can put it back together and the crowds of
prospective admirers scatter, the treasure they’ve sought to behold never
meeting their sight.

 

For Democrats now in control of the House
and the Senate, comments like Palmo’s have a particular import.  For one thing, we need to demonstrate that
the values and faith commitments which animated so many of our candidates this
election cycle were not merely the tools that cynical strategists used to win
over a Christian electorate which had come to doubt the allegiance between the
Republican Party and God.  One of the
lessons we learned in 2004 was that the appearance of opportunism, of being
willing to change our values in response to new challenges, plays particularly
badly.  (Not that it plays particularly
better with God, I might add.)

 

But on a completely different,
non-party-political level, Democrats in power in Congress now have the
opportunity to demonstrate to America
and indeed to the entire world what it can look like when Christian faith
informs progressive politics.  As a
party, we have the opportunity to show that Christianity is not a religion that
only says “no,” but instead one that says “yes”: yes to things like the minimum
wage, reductions in the interest rates for student loans, and a sensible
strategy for restoring the peace while drawing down our troop numbers in Iraq.  Indeed, as Palmo reports, even the Pope might
be on board for that one:

 

In a July
interview, even Pope Benedict aired his exasperation with the messages coming
from the church he leads: “We've heard so much about what is not allowed that
now it's time to say: we have a positive idea to offer.”

 

Ditto for the US Congress.


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