Post-Election ’12: Welcome to Interesting Times -UPDATED

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.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • LisaB

    2016 – Rhinestone Suderman for President!!

    I second that motion.

  • J. H. M. Ortiz

    Objection: Mrs. Scalia speaks here of an opportunity to “become mature”; but the Bible speaks rather of becoming as a little child in order to enter the kingdom of heaven.
    Reply: The Bible explains, at least in part, HOW we’re to become as little children, and how not, in the perhaps-neglected verse of 1 Cor 14.20: “Brethren, don’t become children in your thoughts (Adelphoi, mē paidia ginesthe tais phresin), but in malice be childlike (alla tē kakia nēpiazete), yet in your thoughts be becoming mature (tais de phresin teleioi ginesthe).”

  • June

    Just to add to my comment of yesterday – and I was speaking about it to an elderly, devout mother of 8 last night – What keeps me going is Our Lord in the Eucharist and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. I once saw someone religious views categorized on their Facebook page “Roman Catholic – despite the American bishops.” Bingo.

    Flannery O’Connor – as always – hits the nail on the head. Whenever I get discouraged, I read this:

    “Well, toward morning the conversation turned on the Eucharist, which I, being the Catholic, was obviously supposed to defend. [Mary McCarthy] said when she was a child and received the Host, she thought of it as the Holy Ghost, He being the ‘most portable’ person of the Trinity; now she thought of it as a symbol and implied that it was a pretty good one. I then said, in a very shaky voice, ‘Well, if it’s a symbol, to hell with it.’ That was all the defense I was capable of but I realize now that this is all I will ever be able to say about it, outside of a story, except that it is the center of existence for me; all the rest of life is expendable.”

  • Elizabeth Scalia

    It takes a great maturity of faith to become as little children.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    I thank all those who’ve supported my presidential campaign!

    Unfortunately, as I’m the almost sole support of a neurotic Tuxedo Cat, I cannot run for office at this time! :)

  • archangel

    I come and go with comments but have to give Rhine a big standing ovation. My wife was actually more despairing that I. Drudge had a headline yesterday regarding the market dump… “OWN IT”. That can be said for ALL who chose the way they did. I made the comment to my wife that the republic committed suicide on Tuesday and the head shot was California. It sucks being a “remnant” but that is what we are. The “world” wins… we “lose”; for a while. Then it all comes crashing down on them and then WE are obliged to help them. I’ll help them if I can but I’m going to exact a cost from them… I want their mea culpa. I want their repentence. None of this “I can do and think and feel what I want because ‘I’m forgiven’” BS. I want evidence of a true repentence/conversion process coming from them. Without it… I too will simply laugh and walk away; letting them wallow in the hell they have CHOSEN. It will not have been forced upon them. They CHOSE it. I too thanked God for the clarity. I prayed long and hard before this election. It went the way God wanted it to go. The remnant types are well prepared for whatever tribulations come… and they are coming; some have been here for quite a while. But from my POV, the goat-lamb separation process is mostly complete. The choices have been made and the time is getting short to change one’s mind. Those who chose poorly, Catholic or not will indeed have no other choice but to, as Drudge said, OWN IT.

    God Bless America
    God Help America
    Holy Mother of God, Patroness of the U.S., Pray for us.

  • Brian English

    “But would a Romney/Ryan administration have offered fewer challenges to the Catholic moral/social vision? Not at all, if we take him at his word about what he thought and intended to do.”

    This absurdity highlights something that has to happen in the Church over the next few years. People who spout that kind of nonsense need to be put in their place. When you read that type of stupidity on a blog, or in the diocese newspaper, or hear it at a parish function, you need to challenge the person responsible for it. It might be unpleasant, especially the face-to-face confrontation, but it has to be done. Failure to do this is what has led to a situation where a substantial percentage of Church-going Catholics vote for someone like Obama.

  • Brian English

    “The catholic church is also dead to me. When a majority of catholics can vote for someone who is in favor of killing humans before they are born, the church is no longer relevant in anyone’s life.”

    But the Church possesses the Truth. Apostate parishioners and cowardly clergy cannot change that. You can’t walk away from the Truth just because others are blind to it.

  • archangel

    Brian, this was a “soul of America” electon that transended party or denomination. To break it all down into this percentage voted this way and that pecentage vote this way is akin to tilting at windmills. A “Ryan” type catholic will vote one way, and a “Pelosi/Biden” catholic will vote another. That is between them and God. I do not indict the whole Church for a parishioner’s choice. From the numbers, its showing that there’s an argument to be made that Romney’s mormonism played a role as well. But all this is beside the point. In the final analysis, it is clear that this nation has made a GENERATIONAL choice. It has chosen gov’t over individual sovereignty. That generation (18-30) will have to live with that choice. THEY did it to themselves and the only way… THE ONLY WAY that they will wake up is to experience the paun that is coming. It doesn’t matter if they are cathoilc, protestant, pagan, whatever… they will own what is coming. From that pain, they will grow or die. Either way, its on them… not me. My hands are clean in this regard.

  • Pingback: Credo: Brutal Honesty and UnBrutish Reason

  • Rand Careaga

    Rhinestone Suderman: “The problem isn’t Romney. The problem isn’t Obama. The problem is the American voter.”*

    I’m seeing quite a bit of this since Tuesday night on blogs and sites frequented by those who had hoped for a different outcome. Had some of the giddier prognostications that buoyed up GOP hopes been borne out Tuesday night, Rhinestone would be reminding us that the bedrock wisdom of our yeomanry would always assert itself eventually, and would have seen no problem at all with “the American voter” had the popular totals been transposed.

    I’m sure there would have been equal consternation comparably phrased in Left Blogistan had Romney prevailed. Perhaps the lesson here is that to take the position that if an electoral outcome goes your way then it is proof of the wisdom of the people, and if it runs counter to your hopes then an indictment of popular folly suggests that one’s commitment to popular democracy runs out the moment it ceases to deliver the outcome personally desired.

    *Bill O’Reilly elaborated on this theme the other night, and made it clear that the problem was that the wrong *kinds* of Americans were voting.

  • archangel

    Rand, in the strict sense of political tought… you are correct. However, the point that Rhine has made, and I think myself by extension, is that a somewhat permanent turn has been made in the American electorate. And in all honesty, that turn began about 100 years ago with Woodrow Wilson. It continued through FDR to LBJ to the final culimantion of the big-O. I am sorry to say that the Reagan era was simply a speed-bump. Even the founding fathers understood that humanity gravitates toward despotism. They WANT a king. The problem is which king they are choosing. The tension has always been there within the American electorate. That tension has been the fulcrum of every election for the last 100 years. What has changed is the CLARITY of the situation. It has become clear that the transformation of the MAJORITY thought of the American electorate chooses the gov’t and its power to be their king. We are outnumbered at this point. This fact will not change until the pain from their choices becomes so great, their mindset… their soul realizes what they gave up. And of course, by the time it happens… it’ll be too late.

  • Dana Laviano

    Sigh. You’re right. I KNOW you’re right. You are your usual balanced, mature, well-reasoned self. But you know what? I don’t feel ready to jump right back in, be stouthearted, gird up my loins (whatever THAT means), etc. etc. I am disappointed in the extreme. So maybe all this breezy ‘pressing-on’ everyone is doing could wait just a few more days? Because there is more wound-licking to do, at least in my world. There is grieving to be done because this election was our fellow countrymen telling us they think we stink and can just go get knotted. And that isn’t so easy to be breezy about. Not yet.

  • FW Ken

    It’s nice to encounter someone who knows the correct reference for a cardinal of the Catholic Church.

    And ya’ll quit obsessing on all those “Catholics” who voted for Pres. Obama. A bunch them haven’t darkened the doors of a church in years or decades. Those who do go to Mass don’t go to Confession and likely don’t believe the Faith to start with. From what I can read, the Church has always accepted that weeds live among wheat in the field and weeds have always been there. Sure, we have bunches of heretic priests and some bishops, but we have lots of faithful men dedicated to Jesus Christ and serving His Church – that’s you and me.

    Jesus is Lord! The darkness will not overcome the light. I’m telling you, the president of the United States has set himself against God and His Church. The end of the story is already told. If there are hard times in the middle chapters, that’s the way it’s always been.

  • Brian English

    “Brian, this was a “soul of America” electon that transended party or denomination.”

    True, but the Church is supposed to stand for something that transcends personal economic or psychological interests. When the final numbers come in, I bet 35-40% of Catholics who attend Church regularly voted for Obama/Biden. That is an outrage. It should have been 0%.

  • archangel

    Brian. The church is made up of people… fallen people. Your’re numbers aren’t far off and that is the bummer of it. More than likely, that same 35-40% estimate probably doesn’t accept/understand the “real presence” in the eucharist as well. It is an outrage and you’re right… it should be 0% from the people of God. But in the same line of understanding, Adam shouldn’t have eaten the apple either… but he did and we’re still suffering under that transgression made by the first man of God.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Er, Rand—what exactly are you objecting to, here?

    That the winners, and losers, in an election actually voice their opionions, and their dismay/elation at the results of an election?

    That’s not against the law—at least not for now.

    And you really need to drop the mind-reading business—you’re not especially good at it. Romney wasn’t my first, or even my third choice, for Republican candidate. In fact, the Republicans aren’t my first choice for a political party—I usually vote Republican, because the Democratic party is pretty much the party of the left at the moment. Unlike many of Obama’s followers, I don’t see any of the candidates I vote for as The One True Messiah/Fearless Leader/Teh Won We’ve Been waiting for, etc., etc. etc.

    I don’t know what I would have said, if Romney had won (your crystal ball skills need some honing, too.) As the country would still have been in dire straits, it probably would have been something along the lines of Well, we’ve made a good beginning, but we still have a lot work to do, let’s-not-kid-ourselves-this-is-going-to-be-easy.

    (I don’t watch Bill O’Reilly, so I have know idea what he meant by different “Kinds” of voters—if he actually said something like that; nor do I care.)

    Considering what we’ve been through during the last four years, Fast ‘n Furious, Solyndra, Benghazigate, the 16 trillion debt—yes, I do think Obama’s re-election does say something very sad about America. Everybody lost this election.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Thanks, Archangel!

    Like you, I think we all have to say, “Own it!”

  • Brian English

    “But in the same line of understanding, Adam shouldn’t have eaten the apple either… but he did and we’re still suffering under that transgression made by the first man of God.”

    Here is the difference: Adam knew what he did was wrong and tried to hide from God. None of these Obama/Biden voters think they did anything wrong. The way they see it, us “squares,” with our preposterous concerns for unborn children, traditional marriage, stable families and religious freedom are the problem. The “cool kids” would like the Church so much better if we could just get over these silly hang-ups.

  • archangel

    Rhinestone- When the time comes my friend, when the time comes. I will enjoy screaming that at the top of my lungs and it will be very cathartic. That is assuming my family and I are still in CA. WSJ points out that Prop 30 is only the beginning, given the super majority now held in the Senate. The state is quickly becoming fiscally unbearable to the point where some may take a financial bath just to escape with all of our limbs intact. They are coming for the arm-and-leg. I’d like to keep mine.

    Brian- Good point, but Adam only realized his shame after God called him on it. Actually it was only after God called him and Eve. Better still, he sold Eve out. She gave me the fruit!!! It wasn’t my fault!!!! Surprised Cain and Abel were even conceived after that episode. Not sure the wife would ever be that forgiving. Point is… those two didn’t even offer a sign of repentence after the fact. They were sorry AFTER they got kicked out. The idea of saying sorry and seeking forgiveness at the moment never enters the story. Maybe that was part of the problem. The voters in question are just as bad. God hasn’t called them on it… yet. Not sure they’ll ask forgiveness or apologize either. They’ll shift blame just as Adam did.

    I think really all God wants is a heartfelt “sorry”. As a parent… that’s all I want sometimes. And as a parent, I know a real one when I see it. So does God.