Saying Goodbye.

 

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Photo Source: C-SPAN

I am leaving the Oklahoma legislature. Last week was a week of formal goodbyes.

I gave a farewell speech to the House, which you can watch, if you’d like. Go here to see the video. The House Democrats held their annual Sine Die Party, and roasted me and other departing legislators. The Democratic Legislative Assistants prepared a delicious luncheon (Covered dish. All their best cooking. It was to die for.) with a cake with all our names and said another round of good-byes. I even got a small — and lovely — good-bye editorial in the Oklahoman.

We are still in the busiest time of the legislative process. We haven’t shut down. Not at all. That means I’m going to be tres busy until we actually do sine die. (Sine die is the motion we make to adjourn the legislative session.) But I am grateful beyond words to my colleagues for giving me these many avenues of good-bye.

Each of these things is a rite of passage for what has to be a huge transition in my life. Leaving the legislature is a little bit like a soldier, coming home from a war. You are leaving a combative, total environment which engages you on every level and returning to a world that now seems out of kilter by comparison.

Wherever people are for a period of time, that becomes their normal. Normal for me has long ago become the totally unreal world of elected politics.

At the same time, I am way past glad to be leaving. God gave me something like marching orders for the rest of my life a few years ago when I was sitting in the cathedral at Fatima. I’ve dithered since then, occupied and preoccupied by the legislative wars and the many needs of my constituents. If you don’t think that these things are a 24/7 occupation that devours of all your thoughts and passions, then, you my friend, have never been a legislator.

Those of us who legislate or who have legislated know that there are very few jobs that swallow you whole like legislating does. It is difficult to disengage enough to maintain your friendships and family and retain something of your personality.

As for fulfilling the call that God gave me, I found it well nigh impossible. I need more than corners of time in my days to write the things He wants me to write. I’m not going to discuss in detail what I think this is all about. I have a lot of praying to do first.

I do know that I am not going to abandon the political process. I am also not going to stop writing about the intersection of public life and Christianity on this blog. I will, if anything, be a lot more free to talk about these issues now that I’m not bound to protect the privacy of so many people.

That is not to say that I will be talking about closed door conversations with my colleagues or divulging the almost endless private things that my constituents have shared with me through 18 years of elected office.

I have represented, cared for and cared about thousands of people for a very long time. In the course of that, many of them have opened their souls to me. I have never and I will never talk about the people who trusted me to be their voice in government and who honored me by opening their lives and hearts to me in conversations that were in fact and in truth non-sacramental confessions.

All these things I take with me to my grave.

What I will talk about is the intersection of public policy and publicly stated comments, actions, etc. I’ve operated for a long time using the standard that if something is published and circulated publicly, I can talk about it. That won’t change. It will, rather, be enhanced by the fact that I know what’s behind these things. I will be a lot less guarded in my opinions in the future when I do not have the responsibility for many thousands of people on my shoulders.

Christians in America have a mountain in front of us. After more than two hundred years of having things our way, we are faced with a society in which we are beleaguered. We live in post Christian America. Our task is to re-convert our nation to Christ.  Right now, we are not up to that task. We are, in fact, confused, divided and overawed by our opposition.

That’s what I’m going to write about. Because somebody needs to do it. And because I am uniquely qualified for the job.

 

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My favorite Representative Hamilton photo. From Rose Day 2014. 

I tried to remember to thank everyone in this speech, but I somehow forgot to mention — even though I wrote their names down and they were right in front of me — two of the most important people. Louise Scoles, who fought for my election and was my sponsor when I entered the Catholic Church. And George Violette, my brother by another mother, who is family in every way except blood. I love both of you.

The “Tony” I introduce in the video is Tony Lauinger, president of Oklahomans for Life and Vice President of National Right to Life. He is my friend. I know that he will remain my friend after I leave office.

If you want to watch the speech, go here.

 

  • pagansister

    What a hard decision to make and I’m sure you’ll be missed by your colleagues on both sides of the aisle. You have served long and as much as you liked serving those you represent, it is time to do other things. Selfishly, I’m glad you aren’t giving up this blog! Take good care.

    • hamiltonr

      Thanks Pagansister.

  • FW Ken

    You scared me with that title.

    You have done yoe-woman’s work for the people of Oklahoma and deserve to do whatever you think is right. God bless you.

    I’m very glad you aren’t going to stop blogging on public issues, though. I can’t think of anyone who brings your perspective, and it’s valuable.

    • hamiltonr

      Coming from someone with you knowledge that is deeply flattering. Thank you Ken.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    The video didn’t play for me. I don’t know if congratulations are in order, but whatever is the proper way to respond consider it done from me. I want to wish you the best in your future. Hopefully that includes writing up blogs and participating as a citizen in the things you are most interested in. God bless.

  • Pat Gohn

    Very classy. Nice speech! I’m sure God has something special in mind as you continue to serve Him in new ways.

    • hamiltonr

      Thank you Pat.

  • Bill S

    Congratulations on your two tours of duty in the House of Representatives. Was the first tour of duty before your conversion and was the second after your conversion or did your conversion happen during one of them?

    Today, Secretary of State Kerry is speaking at Boston College’s commencement. Pro-life Catholics will be protesting him receiving an honorary degree. They blame him for not voting (as a senator) in accordance with Catholic teaching. I know that you made every effort to vote in accordance with Catholic teaching following your conversion.

    I am against that. I have more respect for Kerry having voted according to his own conscience (or according to the way the people who elected him wanted him to vote) rather than according to the teachings of the Church. Having said that, I do have a lot of respect otherwise for your service. No one can take that away from you.

    • FW Ken

      So Kerry votes his conscience and that’s good, but Rebecca votes her conscience and that’s bad. Do I understand that correctly?

      • Bill S

        Rebecca’s conscience has been altered by her religious beliefs. Her conscience used to lead her in one direction but it now often leads her the opposite way. Furthermore, she willingly defers to the teachings of the Catholic Church, which take precedence over any thought to the contrary. Kerry doesn’t make his decisions based on what the Church teaches. He uses a criteria that is sometimes more beneficial to this country, sometimes less. Either way, I prefer his decision making process to that of people who let the Church tell them how to vote. The Catholic Church never has and never will call the shots in this country.

        • Dave

          Rebecca defers to the teachings of the Church for the same reason that a student defers to the math teacher, because she believes them to be much more reliable than her own imaginings.

          • Bill S

            Yes. And that is wrong. She is more than capable of making tough decisions without deferring to all-inclusive rules that don’t even take anyone’s specific situation into account.

            • Rob B.

              Ahhh, situational morality. What a wonderful way to claim one is ethical when one is merely pragmatic…

            • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

              Specific situation? I’m intrigued that you consider specific situations to be able to justify evil.

              That would explain a lot of what I see as garden variety sin.

              • Bill S

                Life is all about specific situations. That is what you and your moralist contemporaries don’t seem to take into account. You can’t just universally condemn certain actions as sins. You need to know more about the specifics. That’s why we have courts.

                • hamiltonr

                  No name calling Bill.

                • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

                  Making life about specific situations is nothing less than surrender to evil. You can’t have a good world without sin. You can’t even have good. You can only have evil.

                  • Bill S

                    Well I’m sorry Ted. If you can’t understand that we can’t always live by rules that apply to everyone all the time and that we must look at the specific situation to make the right decision, I can’t help you.

                    What is the right decision if a 12 year old girl is raped? Should she take a morning after pill to make sure she doesn’t become pregnant or should she have the baby? Now that you have been given the specifics, do you still consider it evil to give her the pill? I consider not giving it to her to be evil. What do you think about that?

        • Rob B.

          “The Catholic Church never has and never will call the shots in this country.”

          Does the secular atheism you espouse have a better track record, Bill?

        • FW Ken

          Bill, sometimes you are just low-hanging fruit.

          • Bill S

            Ken,

            I found this article represents exactly what you and other serious Catholics must go through. I actually feel kind of sorry for you all.

            http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/ashamed-of-the-gospel?utm_campaign=dailyhtml&utm_medium=email&utm_source=dispatch

            • FW Ken

              I don’t feel sorry for me at all. It may be Good Friday, but Easter Sunday is coming. A little sorrow now, a lot of joy later. Note. I didn’t say “eternal joy”, because those who have really suffered for Christ have terrified to great joy in this life. That’s not a supernatural thing, but the fruit of all who are faithful to what they believe. Of course, those who profess the Faith can speak of eternal joy.

            • Rob B.

              Don’t feel sorry for us, Bill. Your tears would be shed for no purpose. We glory in our burden, for we know it is nothing compared to what Christ bore in our stead. Weep for yourself instead, for a man who believes in nothing transcendent isn’t really a man at all.

              • Bill S

                …a man who believes in nothing transcendent isn’t really a man at all.

                On what evidence do you base this assumption? Men who accept a materialistic/naturalistic worldview are not men at all? That’s interesting.

                • Rob B.

                  Because, Bill, men are made to worship; this is why religion is natural to man and atheism only comes later when he thinks he is “enlightened.” This is the great trap of modernity: the idea that man is perfectible and therefore completely self-reliant.

                  We all worship something: I the One True God, you the material world and human reason. We shall have to see which of us comes out better in the end.

                  • pagansister

                    Why do you think men (and women I assume) were made to worship something? I disagree that we all worship something. I don’t. I don’t worship anything supernatural (in spite of my screen name). I also know many others who do not worship something—-they enjoy their life, and do the best they can, and depend on themselves and their family and friends. What is wrong with human reason? As for worshiping the materialistic world? I’m sure some do, but many, many don’t.
                    As to the “end”? We will all end someday and return to where we all came from—-

                    • Rob B.

                      pagansister — First, yes, I am using “man” in the generic sense of “mankind” as opposed to its gender-specific definition. I’m old-fashioned that way… :)

                      Second, I would like to address the points you raise here, but commencement is upon me (I’m a teacher) and I need time to really compose something. Please watch this space for a few days and I’ll elaborate on what I mean by “worship.” Thank you for your patience.

                    • pagansister

                      Look forward to what you have to say. Since Rebecca took a well deserved week off, this response is just now being posted. (hope commencement went well).

            • Nick_from_Detroit

              Bill S.,
              Thanks, for the link. Gotta love Professor George.
              If it’s any consolation, I, very much, feel sorry for you.
              God Bless!

              • Bill S

                Being an atheist makes for a lonely life if you are surrounded by theists. That doesn’t make the atheist wrong and the theists right.

            • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

              I am not, and refuse to be, ashamed. Other than that, I recognize completely everything this article is saying.

              Thank you. I really needed to look up _The Old Rugged Cross_ on Youtube and listen to it.

              • Bill S

                I found it to be an excellent speech. If I believed in God, I would be Catholic and if I really believed what the Church teaches, I would agree with everything he is saying. But I don’t so I won’t.

        • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

          We need a new name for this type of Catholic Bill has introduced us to. I suggest a Reeses Catholic- Catholic Candy to all appearances, secular atheist on the inside.

    • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

      It’s not like Boston College is Catholic anymore anyway. You’ve proven to me that the Catholicism of the NorthEast United States has become a bit of an empty shell. Kerry is as Catholic as you are- playacting Catholic on the outside, secular atheist on the inside.

      • Rob B.

        So long as BC has Dr. Peter Kreeft, I have hope… :)

        • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

          There is that. But how long can orthodox tenured professors last? It isn’t like they are immortal.

          • Rob B.

            You’re right, of course. All we can hope is that the students they have touched carry the torch onward.. I think we may see “underground universities” by the end of my lifetime.

      • Bill S

        I don’t agree that John Kerry is a secular atheist. I see him as a secular Catholic.

    • Stringtickler

      Bill, are you saying that Kerry’s conscience is informed and guided by the people who elected him? I always felt that our conscience was (and is) formed (and informed and guided) by the sanctifying grace received through our Baptism (in addition to the other graces and charisms received through other applicable Sacraments). Rep Hamilton chooses to serve God; and the teachings of the Catholic Church, vice the whims of man. Kudos to Rep Hamilton; shame on Sec Kerry.

      • Bill S

        Conscience can be formed by a number of ways. Catholic conscience is formed through indoctrination even though some believe it is from a supernatural source. Most people know that.

        • Nick_from_Detroit

          It is not formed by “indoctrination,” Bill S. It’s formed by the Truth, as taught by Christ. By studying and learning why God teaches certain doctrines, Christians learn the error of their ways. That’s called growing.
          Those who reject the teachings of Christ, tend to regress back to man’s fallen, barbaric nature.
          I ask you again, why is it wrong for Catholic politicians to base their decisions on the teachings of the Catholic Church?

          • Bill S

            Those who reject the teachings of Christ, tend to regress back to man’s fallen, barbaric nature.

            I know of plenty of people who reject those teachings and have not regressed to barbarism. Don’t you?

        • Stringtickler

          I guess I’m not one of the “enlightened ones”…darn…maybe one of these days…
          I don’t like to argue much. So I recommend Nick from Detroit’s post.
          In the meantime, I’ll pray for you and yours.
          Hail Mary!
          Blessings to you Bill S.

    • Rob B.

      The trouble with Senator Kerry “voting according to his own conscience” on this issue is that it was basically code for “I’m going to vote to allow an intrinsic evil in order to get and remain elected.” There are matters that Catholics can disagree on in good conscience; the unjust murder of the unborn is not one of them. In the end, his support for abortion rights reveals a ill-formed conscience (at least on this issue).

    • Dave

      the difference between the two is that Rebecca has integrity and Mr. Kerry does not. Catholicism is not a religion that you can accept bits and pieces of it and still consider yourself a Catholic in good standing.

    • Nick_from_Detroit

      ” I have more respect for Kerry having voted according [...] to the way the people who elected him wanted him to vote [...].”

      That is nothing to respect in an elected representative. The segregationist Southern Democrats voted the way the people wanted them to vote, for almost a century. Was that just?

      Also, you seem to be implying that Christians need not apply to run for elected office. Why is it wrong for Catholic politicians to inform their consciences according to the teachings of the Catholic Church?
      I don’t think you understand what it means to be a member of the Catholic Church.
      The Church doesn’t “tell them how to vote,” or, what to believe. The Church has a set of Dogmas and doctrines. You either except them, struggle with some of them (privately), or you reject them. Nobody forces you to be a Catholic.
      When you accept all of the teachings of the Church, you are member in communion with the one, holy, Catholic, apostolic Church. If you publicly reject many of Her teachings, you are either a dissenter, apostate, or heretic (although that term has lost favor in the past couple of centuries).
      Kerry, Pelosi, Biden, et al, lacked the courage to leave the Church publicly. Too many votes to lose, probably. What is there to respect about that?

  • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

    “Those of us who legislate or who have legislated know that there are very few jobs that swallow you whole like legislating does.”

    All the best vocations do, but if you’re called elsewhere, you need to follow that call.

    • hamiltonr

      Excellent point Ted.

      Thank you.

  • CathyLouise

    Oklahoma I’m sure will miss you. I wish you the best of luck as you walk down a new path. And if you’re going to write a book…I’ll be buying it. Reading your blog has given me a lot to think about, and I’m sure it will continue to do so.

    • hamiltonr

      Thank you Cathy Louise.

  • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

    Frankly, my reaction is, OH NO! But you must do what you think right.

    • hamiltonr

      Thank you Fabio.

  • SisterCynthia

    It’s nice to hear your voice–now I will have the “sound” to go with your words when I read your blog. :)

    Also, Congrats on your escape from the House. ;) I hope you will find the next stage of your pilgrimage homeward to be an interesting and enjoyable one, with less stress. :)

    • hamiltonr

      Thanks Sister. I hope my voice wasn’t too much of a shock to you. :-)

      • SisterCynthia

        Ha! No, your voice isn’t quite what I expected, any more than most radio folks look like what you envision from their voice, but it certainly fits you. :)
        I could tell you that I have my mom’s voice, but that doesn’t help you much. ;) I guess I’d say mine is soft, lower-middle register, with a bland Northwesterner accent. Which means I can do a really good elevator voice. :D

        • hamiltonr

          :-)

  • Rob B.

    Ms. Hamilton, I am sorry to see you leave public service. Indeed, I wish you were a Coloradoan so I could write you into my ballot. In the end, however, I am glad to her that you will continue to fight the good fight by other means (including, I hope, this blog). Please let me know when your book is published; I’d like to read it.

    • hamiltonr

      Thank you Rob I’ll talk a lot about the book(s) when the time comes.

  • Sus_1

    Thank you for sharing your speech. I watched it with my teenagers. It provided a great base for wonderful dinner table conversation.

    • hamiltonr

      I’m flattered Sus. Thank you.

  • KevClark64

    Rep. Hamilton, Democrats once were as strong regarding religious freedom as Republicans (see RFRA), but now many Democrats seem to have abandoned that position. How can we get more Democrats to understand the necessity of supporting religious freedom in the United States?

    • hamiltonr

      KevClark, after we adjourn this legislative session, I am going to take a week away from everything to pray about my new direction in life. This is one of the things I am going to be praying about.

      I don’t want to go into it now, before I do that. But stay tuned.

      When I get back, we’ll start to work.

  • http://doatney.blogger.com/ David Oatney

    Thank you for being a Catholic in the world of public life. I know from experience how difficult it can be. May God go with you as you enter a new phase of service to Him, and to others.

    • hamiltonr

      Thank you David.

  • peggy-o

    Wow! There’s such a leadership vacuum these days, it’s hard to see the good ones leave. God certainly has big plans for you next and I look forward to your good counsel on how we can all make more of a difference in our public life. You are a great writer and thinker– my prayers and good wishes for you and what comes next!

  • David M Paggi

    Thanks so much for so much thankless service. I am quite sure that the price paid by honest politicians in time, effort, energy, and therefore sacrifice is beyond the comprehension of nearly all their constituents. That price is doubled and trebled for those for whom ego gratification and/or higher office ambition hold little value.

    In your future endeavors, I hope you will have the opportunity to encourage others of like mind to serve in public office as well as giving them practical advice on constituent service, dealing with opposition, and the value of small victories, to name just a few of the skills they will need to develop.

    I am a relatively new reader of your blog, and greatly appreciate the perspectives you provide with such clarity and conviction, as well as your very gracious interactions with those who comment, sometimes not so graciously. God Bless!


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