BUMPED: "Faith-based" and hand-wringing

BUMPED TO TOP: I’ve had a lot of positive feedback on this piece and a request to bump it to top for today. Happy to comply!

“A life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all. No man can serve two masters. Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire. “ – Thomas Merton

The other day I wondered if we were making our political parties and voices into idols.

Today I’m wondering how it can be that the “faith-based” party — full of people who presumably have prayer lives – is in such a sorry frenzy. “Frenzy” should not be a word that applies to believers. Nor should “fear.”

I had Rush Limbaugh on earlier in the week only long enough to hear some woman calling in and screeching gasping about how “scared” she was, how “fearful,” it all seemed to her that John McCain could possibly be the GOP nominee. And Rush seemed to enjoy her fear and to congratulate her on it.

Apparently fear of the McCain is the beginning of wisdom in these new scriptures, the Gospels of Rush, Hannity, Coulter and Levin.

What the hell is all this “fear” about? There’s no crying in baseball and there’s no hyperventilating fear in Christianity.

For crying out loud – THIS is how the “faith-based” party acts when it doesn’t like the choices set before it? Instead of getting quiet, prayerful and thoughtful, the “faith-based” party gets emotional, fretful and spiteful?

Instead of saying “Lord, what gives? What angels have you for us in this whirlwind,” and taking some time to wonder about it, you freak out and go sobbing to talk-radio saying, “save us! I believe, O help my unbelief!”

And the word cometh from on AM-high, and the word says, “all will be righted if you vote for Mitt Romney on Tuesday, even though he is not really pro-life, even though he was shaky on the surge!”

Okaaaayyyy.

Pope John Paul II preached “Do Not Be Afraid; look to Jesus.”
Talk radio preaches “Be Afraid and Look to Us.”

Where are you supposed to be looking right now? Who are you supposed to be putting your faith in? Where are you supposed to be going for answers?

If Mitt Romney wins on Tuesday, apparently all will be well. Then, assuming he can beat the Democrat candidate, you only have to pray he won’t crumble on judges, taxes and Iraq – which is very likely.

And of course, if John McCain wins on Tuesday, there will sackcloth, ashes, weeping and gnashing of teeth, and oh, yeah, “I’m voting for Hillary!” Or, “I’m sitting the vote out,” which is the same thing, essentially.

But let me ask you:

When you have troops in harms way, and a worldwide terrorism movement just itching to see America replace a “strong-horse” president with a “weak horse”, how do you reconcile your support for the troops with a vote for a candidate who seems not to appreciate the seriousness of those issues?

When you claim to be “pro-life” and you know that 3-4 Supreme Court Justices will be named by the next president, how do you reconcile your commitment to life with voting for a candidate who will (if a Dem) appoint judges who will uphold Roe v Wade, or (if Romney) very like fold for the Democrats on their wishes, since his “pro-life” commitment is as new as…oh, as John McCain’s commitment to tax cuts!

When you claim to be a patriot, how can you reconcile the second coming of Sandy Berger into your White House?

Last night, I watched Paddy Chayefsky’s brilliant film, Network, and I felt like William Holden, watching a mob-mentality jump to their windows and scream, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore,” because they’re been roused by the authoritative voice of “someone on tv,” and shaking his head.

He was shaking his head because he knew that there was a great illusion at work.

And to a point I am shaking my head for the same reason – although I only suspect the illusion. Mostly I’m shaking my head because there is so much noise – so many breathless pronouncements serving up fear and loathing – that reality is being skewed; it is being replaced by the sort of intellectual dishonesty that says “John McCain is the same as Hillary Clinton.”

Humbug. And we Christians should think about that.

What is your prayer these days, is it, “Jesus I trust in you,” or is it “Lord, I’m so scared, please make it all go the way I think it should?”

They’re both prayers. I won’t gainsay yours, whatever it is – but remember that the best prayers are the ones that are positive, not negatives, because there are no negatives in Christ.

Here’s my prayer:

“Jesus, I trust in you. Our nation is overrun with noise, chatter and misdirection. It is not easy to discern the servants from the would-be masters, to know who wishes to serve the nation and who wishes to merely acquire power. Help us to see the way with clear eyes and an open mind. Help us to cultivate silence so that we might hear your voice. Grant us peace within the tumult of the world and the chatter of its princes. Grace us with the wisdom necessary to pierce through the confusion of this age, and the frantic exhortations of the world, to see your will. Keep us always mindful of your promise to touch us and guide us with “peace beyond all understanding.” Help us to be faithful and unafraid in a fearsome time. Amen.

And I always ask Mary, the Mother of the Christ, to pray for us, too. And St. Michael. And Cardinal John O’ Connor. And Pope John Paul II. And Ronald Reagan. Because you know – the Communion of Saints; that great cloud of witnesses – they’ll join our prayers with their own.

You don’t have to do any of that, of course, but to me it seems like a better way. No hand-wringing…just hand-clasping and a humble heart.

Let me be very clear, so I don’t get 1000 emails again: This is not about McCain. This is not about Romney. It’s about how we come to our decisions. It goes hand-in-hand with my post from yesterday, where I asked if our political parties had become our idols. And it’s about our souls.

Neo-neocon has a very good piece up – it’s sure to upset those on the far-right whose eyes are currently bugging out as they grab people by the shoulders and scream into their faces, “vote for Romney! He’s not John McCain! Vote for Romney to save the country!”

Romney, Neo notes, is far from a “perfect” conservative but he is become the salvation of the conservatives, endorsed by all the purest purists on the right; and he’s not John McCain, which is all that matters. To a portion of the right, if Mitt Romney is not crowned on Super Tuesday, then the White House immediately goes to Hillary or Obama, and that – according to the pro-life, pro-war right – is the better thing.

Neo has quotes which were left over at Ed Morrissey’s place in this thread – they mirror a lot of what I’ve seen all over the “right” blogosphere:

McCain is no different than Hillary other than the (R) after his name. I too will likely vote for Hillary because if someone is going to create a Nanny state with government programs and destroy the economy – I WANT it to be a democrat.

[and]

If America is to go to hell in a hand basket , at least let it be under the watch of a Democrat. With Hillary we’d manage to get the House and Senate back. Remember: It took four years of Carter to give us a Reagan. (It was worth it)

Writes Neo:

Let that sink in:

Carter was worth it, to get to Reagan. This not only supposes that Reagan could not have been elected but for the Carter years…it also supposes that whatever Reagan did was important enough that it canceled out the damage done by Carter.

This ignores Carter’s disastrous Iran policy, to take just one example. It can be argued that Carter’s incompetence was instrumental in creating the present-day threat from Iran, which has been a worldwide state sponsor of terrorism for many years.

Quite right. We are today, right now, even at this very moment, still paying for four years of Jimmy Carter – and we’re paying for those years with the lives of our young – and he left office in 1980, remember.

Neo calls fanaticism on the “true conservatives” who will demonstrate their “trueness” by voting for the pro-abortion, anti-troop candidates unless their boy (the recently pro-life, unknown-for-troops Savior Romney) is the GOP nominee.

I’m going to say it one more time, for all you hate-mailers: I am no fan of John McCain. Faced with a choice to vote for him or Romney on Tuesday, I frankly want neither. But there is a reason why this is the contest before us – everything happens for a reason and “all things work together for good to those who love God.” If this is the hand we must play, then let it be played and with clear eyes – not eyes clouded with rage, anger, suspicion, malice or spite. And certainly do not cast your vote in fear, not if you belong to the Lord.

So, I don’t much like McCain; I see nothing in Romney that tells me he is going to be reliable for as much as a week in the Oval Office. If these are my only two choices – or, really, our only FOUR choices – I have a lot of praying yet to do. I am genuinely torn.

Rachel Lucas is writing that she is disgusted with the far-right. Me? I’m just remembering something St. Paul wrote – that all that he hated, he had become.

All I know is this: I’m already missing George W. Bush.

Dr. Sanity is on a similar page.

Fred Barnes says, Grow Up, Conservatives. I’m sure that will not be received well.

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