Have been too busy to really put down my thoughts about yesterday’s election, but I can tell you that I am not at all despairing — in fact I’ve been doing Cher-smacks and telling people to “snap out of it” all day — nor do I feel doomsdayish; rather I feel very grateful to have things clarified for us in such a way.
I will write more — perhaps this evening — to explain what I mean (so check back) but this morning I participated (humbly, along with Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Sean Cardinal O’Malley, Michael Sean Winters and other heavy-hitters) in an opinion-roundtable with Aleteia Media, which you can read here. You might say it was a quick sketch-out of what I will expand on, later:
It is interesting that while exit polls cited the economy and jobs as the most pressing concerns of voters, they decided to stick with a president who has been at times hostile toward business and demonstrably remiss in attending to matters of job-creation, rather than go with the businessman.
From what I can tell, many people bought into the false “war on women” tropes and easy demonizations and their willingness to do so signals a furtherance of secularism and “the politics of the personal.” It means the Church is going to have to gird its loins and prepare for challenges that will require genuine sacrifice, because the society is not terribly interested, at this moment, in our very real concerns about threats to religious liberty, and those who are even aware of that threat still see it as a strictly “Catholic” issue that will not touch them.
Someone tweeted me last night that the Obama win was “too bad for you Catholics” and I thought, “and there is a big part of the problem, right there, the notion that only Catholics are being challenged.” People do not see a diminishment of liberties in one area as the beginning of diminishment in all areas.
[...] Relativism, with a dose of narcissistic self-actualization, has been redefined as a “tolerance” that will tolerate anything but intolerance, and those religious groups who insist on teaching the faith to an age rather than teaching a passing age to the faith are seen as too-intolerant-to-be-tolerated by the secular triune godhead of state, media and academia.
The challenges are only going to get worse because the society is in a habit, now, of dissolution and this election feels to me – and I emphasize feels, because this is just instinct talking – like a willful choice toward the here-and-now rather than [toward] eternity. It’s a choice fueled by feelings being given primacy over reason, a general lack of imagination, and a poor understanding of supernatural realities that – I am sorry to say – is partly due to the deplorable job the Church has done, for far too long, of teaching its members how joyful, affirming and fulfilling is the life lived in Christ, and in obedience to his Bride.
We have for too long allowed our Church to be interpreted and filtered through media outlets whose members are sometimes hostile, sometimes ignorant, sometimes both. We have permitted a sacred continuum to be perceived as out-of-touch rather than wise, and we’re paying for that – and the payments are about to increase.
But there is an opportunity, here. Last night I monitored reactions from people on social media and I saw many “people of faith” – Catholics and Evangelicals – being completely roiled by the returns and I kept thinking of Peter’s first Letter: “There is cause for rejoicing here. You may for a time have to suffer the distress of many trials; but this is so that your faith, which is more precious than the passing splendor of fire-tried gold, may by its genuineness lead to praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ appears.” (1 Peter. 1:6-7)
There is a great deal of genuine Christian feeling and desire out there, but it is immature – American Christians have for the most part lived comfortably the life of faith. I believe we’re being given a chance, now, to become mature in our faith – if we are willing to be open to the workings of the Holy Spirit.
That is a big “if”. American Christians have not gone completely untouched by the influences of secularism and the selfishness and self-regard it foments. “Thy will be done” still spins our heads because our training insists, “but what about what I want?” We don’t realize that what God wants for us is always better than anything we can want for ourselves. The Church has a lot of work to do; much to teach; voices to find. But I believe the Holy Spirit is bringing them forward. Welcome to interesting times.
I understand more POV’s will be added to that piece, so you might want to check back to it later in the day.
Russell Shaw, who also participated in the round-table, says the election sets up a two-pronged crisis for the church:
The first prong of the crisis is that Obama is expected to press policies favoring abortion, contraception and same-sex marriage even more aggressively and coercively in his second term than in his first.
The second prong is reflected in the fact that, according to CNN exit polls, 50 percent of the Catholics who voted backed Obama despite his well-publicized conflict with their Church, with 48 percent going for Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
Read it all.
Marybeth Hicks ponders the disconnect between the realities of what the church does, and how she is perceived.
Meanwhile, I must say I am very proud of the Patheos bloggers and others who have managed to keep their heads while really looking at the spiritual side of things. In particular, I must say I think Tom McDonald, Frank Weathers, Tony Rossi and Lisa Hendey (and Mark) have nailed a lot of what I have been feeling since yesterday, while Joanne McPortland has even taken a mantel from me, I think, and Sam Rocha surprises.
Lots of wisdom in those posts — and also lots of hope and no teeth-gnashing. Check them out. And come back later, see if I’ve managed to write something!
A must-read from Father Dwight Longenecker.