Seriously, this is fitting punishment for my stupidity. Only I would ask the reader not to make the same mistake I did and assume too much bad faith. Here’s what actually happened that fateful day I posted it (long ago, on Tuesday, if fading memory serves).
I start the day feeling extra harried, due to four different looming deadlines.
I plow through my mail from sundry readers. Here’s one saying:
have you SEEN this?
Prayers of the “faithful” demanding “Everybody In, Nobody Out” healthcare…
“We Cry Out to You, Obama!” “Deliver Us, Obama!”
I write an initial post, basically remonstrating with the reader that prayers for adequate health care do not constitute Obama worship, that the catechism in fact calls adequate health care a right and affirms that it is a legitimate duty of the state (whose care is the common good) to see to it that it happens. Being harried, I didn’t bother with the video and took it for granted that the “Deliver us, Obama” stuff was standard hyperbolic boilerplate from my reader. (Stupid mistake #1, don’t comment on stuff based on blind assumptions.)
I post the response. Much bustle in the comboxes complaining about my unfairness and registering a more-than-normal level of offense at my meanness from a reader I’m no accustomed to hear from on that score. So I think, “Crap. I probably should have watched the video. Maybe I was too hasty in dismissing whatever it was the reader was upset about.”
So I watch the video, still harried and pressed for time and the damn deadlines. At this point, I do my next stupid mistake, which is forgetting this phenomenon:
The video helpfully supplied text urging the viewer to interpret the prayers as prayers to Obama. Stupid me, I bought it just as my reader had and spurred by the lash of guilt over having chewed out my reader without hearing the cause of her gripe, I posted the video and removed the post scolding my reader. Justice done, I thought. My sin is atoned for!
But no. My stupidity is richer and more full-bodied than that! It has complexity and dimensionality, like a fine wine! I write Rod Dreher, who shares my perverse enjoyment of the bizarre excesses of American politics and say, “Get a load of this!” Dreher fulfils his divine role in sealing my doom as an Idiot In the Eyes of Commonweal by himself posting the video and giving me full credit. Almost immediately, people who are not harried and hurriedly trying to atone for anything listen, rather than watch, the video and notice an important and salient fact: the editors of the video, whoever they are, are basically filthy liars full of crap who are basically lying through their teeth about the prayers that are being prayed.
Much bustle in Dreher’s comboxes. He listens to it and realizes they’ve got a point. I, driven by the twin lashes of guilt and stupidity, try the experiment of listening without the assistance of the text added by the video editors. I realize, “Shea, you’ve been had. The organizers are not urging the throng to pray to Obama.” I also, upon listening closely, still think I hear voice in the crowd who are saying “Deliver us, Obama”. Sorry, but that’s what it sounds like to me.
So I say as much in an update on the post, nominating myself for a second Brick Award for Stupidity in Blogging. (My reader, you should know, also feels dumb for being so uncritical and writes:
I, too, should do my own heavy lifting and check things out more before I forward them on to people like you, who are already bearing the burden of sifting through so much “stuff” out there.
Sorry for the ginormous haserai caused by all this…I’ll share the brick award, k?
I appreciate that, but nobody put a gun to my head. I should have smelled a rat, but I let hurry and lack of charity call the shots.
The Commonweal blogger seems to think I’m being dishonest or half-hearted in my attempts to right the wrongs. I urge her to remember Mark Twain’s dictum: Never ascribe to malice what can be sufficiently explained by stupidity. There was real malice in this video, not to mention out-and-out lies. But the malice was not mine. The Commonweal blogger finds it incredible that anybody could ever indulge in secular messianic worship of Obama:
This “Lefties think Obama is the messiah!” meme is really getting old. The only people fooled by it are the ones spouting it — just as the only people who call Obama “The One” are people who think they’re being satirical. This was a desperately crude smear that shouldn’t have fooled anyone.
Yeah. Right. Utterly baseless. Who could possibly think that our Chattering Classes have promoted a rather inflated spirituality of politics centered on a wily Chicago pol:
“No one saw him coming, and Christians believe God comes at us from strange angles and places we don’t expect, like Jesus being born in a manger.”
“Many even see in Obama a messiah-like figure, a great soul, and some affectionately call him Mahatma Obama.”
– Dinesh Sharma
“We just like to say his name. We are considering taking it as a mantra.”
– Chicago] Sun-Times
“A Lightworker — An Attuned Being with Powerful Luminosity and High-Vibration Integrity who will actually help usher in a New Way of Being”
– Mark Morford
“What Barack Obama has accomplished is the single most extraordinary event that has occurred in the 232 years of the nation’s political history”
– Jesse Jackson, Jr.
“This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”
– Barack Obama
“Does it not feel as if some special hand is guiding Obama on his journey, I mean, as he has said, the utter improbability of it all?”
– Daily Kos
“He communicates God-like energy…”
– Steve Davis (Charleston, SC)
“Not just an ordinary human being but indeed an Advanced Soul”
– Commentator @ Chicago Sun Times
“I’ll do whatever he says to do. I’ll collect paper cups off the ground to make his pathway clear.”
– Halle Berry
“A quantum leap in American consciousness”
– Deepak Chopra“He is not operating on the same plane as ordinary politicians. . . . the agent of transformation in an age of revolution, as a figure uniquely qualified to open the door to the 21st century.”
– Gary Hart
“Barack Obama is our collective representation of our purest hopes, our highest visions and our deepest knowings . . . He’s our product out of the all-knowing quantum field of intelligence.”
– Eve Konstantine
“This is bigger than Kennedy. . . . This is the New Testament.” “I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don’t have that too often. No, seriously. It’s a dramatic event.”
– Chris Matthews
“[Obama is ] creative imagination which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom . . . [He is] the man for this time.”
– Toni Morrison
“Obama’s finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don’t even really inspire. They elevate. . . . He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh . . . Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves.”
– Ezra Klein
“Obama has the capacity to summon heroic forces from the spiritual depths of ordinary citizens and to unleash therefrom a symphonic chorus of unique creative acts whose common purpose is to tame the soul and alleviate the great challenges facing mankind.”
– Gerald Campbell
“We’re here to evolve to a higher plane . . . he is an evolved leader . . . [he] has an ear for eloquence and a Tongue dipped in the Unvarnished Truth.”
– Oprah Winfrey
“I would characterize the Senate race as being a race where Obama was, let’s say, blessed and highly favored. That’s not routine. There’s something else going on. I think that Obama, his election to the Senate, was divinely ordered. . . . I know that that was God’s plan.”
– Bill Rush
Bottom line: It was stupid, stupid, stupid of me to have posted the video without vetting it. I left the entry up precisely because, as a sort of penance, I wanted to say, “Don’t be stupid like me.” Hence, the Update and the Moral I attached to it. And I was quite sincere in everything I said. But I don’t buy the notion that the secular messianic adoration of Obama is purely a fiction concocted by the Right.
Now the proper response to “I’m sorry” is “I forgive you.” The writer at Commonweal, however, seems to have decided instead to merely seize on a political opportunity by ignoring the whole “forgiveness” thing and instead insisting not only was I stupid, but I was impenitent and malicious and, furthermore, nobody on the Left has ever given so much as the slightest reason for a Catholic to think there is a secular messianic devotion to Obama. I’ll give her “stupid’. I’ll give her “uncharitable” (or I don’t think I would have bought the video). But I won’t give her impenitent or malicious. Nor do I buy her pure as the driven snow notion that secular messianism is only a disease of the Right.