Crouched Behind our Ideologies; Blocked from Salvation – UPDATED

Almost a year ago, I announced that I was going to make a full-hearted effort to pull back from the temptation to ideological excess, and I completely meant it. I was tired of being angry, more than a little convinced that my anger suited the purposes of others, beyond my ken, and fed up with consenting to being bitter — which was not only exhausting but took me nowhere I wanted to go.

Here’s what I’ve learned, so far: It’s not always easy. Absent a grace-filled miracle, one can’t can’t just say “I want to love again” and suddenly — poof! — you’re a lover, not a fighter; by making a conscious commitment to change the rotation of one’s heart, however, things slowly do become different, better; more productive.

The first bad habit that needs to be broken is the one where labels are easily flung about, creating a world of “theys” and “thems”, which instantly negates human beings; renders their ideas ignorable.

Next comes the difficult part: actively listening to those you formerly thought of as the “theys” and “thems”, while also encouraging them to move beyond their own knee-jerked labeling. The listening is necessary because it forces one to move away from the assumption that we already know what the other is going to say; it discourages caricaturing.

Listening involves — and this can be extremely tough, sometimes — making yourself wait to respond to the other, until you can repeat his or her argument back to them to their satisfaction. It also means (and believe it or not, this is even more difficult) insisting that they repeat your arguments back to you, to your satisfaction, before you can permit the discussion to move forward.

It means establishing conversational boundaries that respect one’s opponent while also respecting the self.

Boundary building is arduous but its absolutely necessary; boxing rings exist in part to strip away the dangerous distractions and focus-stealers that are non-essential to the fight. Conversational boundaries exist in precisely the same way.

Recently a friend of mine who is still very much in the habit of spewing out generalities about evil “right wingers” and the altruistic left tried to engage me, and before we could get very far I asked him what (and who) he meant by “right wingers” and if he could stop indulging in labels and caricatures so we could really talk.

He informed me that he wasn’t caricaturing me, because of something I’d said back in 2006.

I said, “I’m not the same person I was in 2006; are you? You’ve experienced no growth? If that’s true, you should maybe work on that.”

He admitted that no, he’s not the same person he had been, and that allowed him to entertain the notion that perhaps I was not, either.

Suddenly, all that baggage was left outside the arena, and we enjoyed a rousing battle of ideas. Fifteen rounds, no decision, but also no hits below the belt; no cheats; no hauling back for a punch with a glove full of old brass.

It was so much more fun and productive than adolescently calling each other names and gratuitously pounding on old wounds, which bogs the whole battle down to a stagnant stand-still.

Maturity, what a concept! About six months after I felt called to stop using labels, America editor Matt Malone, S.J. had a similar epiphany, and he created an editorial policy to help his writers break through a labeling habit that was stalling every instinct to dialogue, every attempt to put forth ideas and allow unfettered reason to get some air.

“The church in the United States must overcome the problem of factionalism. This begins by re-examining our language. America will no longer use the terms “liberal,” “conservative” or “moderate” when referring to our fellow Catholics in an ecclesiastical context. [emphasis mine - admin]

Malone is quite right. Putting away these over-packed descriptors is the absolute starting point for getting anywhere as a nation, or (more importantly) as human beings trying to tend to our souls.

Ideas need discussion; policies matter and debate is a worthy thing, but we all need to calm down, stop pressing our ideologies to our bosoms as though there is some kind of salvation to be found in such idols; the more closely we cling to them, the less able we are to open our arms and hearts to God, who is the Eternal Reality we are too apt to lose sight of when we’re playing Hatfield and McCoys.

Wesley J. Smith is saying much the same thing over at First Things, today:

. . .politics, like law, is a rough-and-tumble profession. But like law it requires some level of comity to keep political adversaries from being seen instead as enemies. . . We seem no longer to possess that particular wisdom in the way we wage contemporary politics. Comity is on its deathbed.

The good news is that we can stop our eye for an eye, nomination-kill for a nomination-kill politics anytime we want. The bad news is that both sides will happily accept that restorative, but only under the proviso, “You first.”

Yes. Some people are going to have to volunteer to be the grown-ups in the Public Square. It doesn’t seem fair to leave it all up to Pope Francis.

RELATED UPDATE:
Two perspectives
(both via Instapundit) on how geography helped to further define our divides. NPR has How Republicans and Democrats ended up living apart and Victor Davis Hanson on Our “Coastal Royalty”.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • http://catholicorthodoxy.blogspot.co.uk/ Jackie Parkes

    I liked this – thankyou.

  • jeannebodine

    I’m sorry, you seem to only want to revert to “no labels” when it suits your purposes. You had no problem calling out all Christians on the viral internet “story” of a known liar waitress despite the fact that if fit the well-established pattern of over-the-top story manufactured by the left to discredit conservatives/Christians, etc.

    What if Pope Francis is completely wrong on certain issues? And what if what he’s saying does great harm? You don’t think that maybe HE should be withdrawing from making pronouncements on subjects on which he has no expertise? I know among my friends, it has become increasingly difficult for them to understand & accept Pope Francis. What about my 89 year old mother who has loved and respected all the popes She is confused and angry and upset with Pope Francis & the Church for the first time in her life. How do we explain nuance to her? And keep telling her, “that’s not what he meant?”

    Anyway, I seem to confusing several issues here. It just seems like you’re calling for adherence to certain rules again, perhaps to stifle dissent, among other things, and rules you admit you haven’t kept to in the past. At the time of the waitress story you said something to the effect that this is why I don’t like my fellow Christians. Well, this calling of “rules, people” when it suits seems to be just as off-putting. If the Church is going to survive, it’s not going to do so by appealing only to those who can read deeper meaning into the Pope’s message or keep from dissenting. I don’t know what the answer is, I only know that sounds like we’re being set up to be told to shut up, we’re stupid and sinful if we’re disappointed and don’t “get” some of the issues Pope Francis addressed. How heart-breaking all this is.

  • MeanLizzie

    That’s a really angry and, perhaps, slightly confused post. Are Christians a “label”? When I pointed out what some Christians do that makes others hate Christians and caricature them, was I making it up? Further, the particular “hate-stiffing” story which the post you reference (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/theanchoress/2013/10/25/why-people-hate-people-who-call-themselves-christians/ ) was about was a genuine instance of hate-action, while the “hate-hoaxing gay waitress story” (which I think I as adequately offended by here – http://www.patheos.com/blogs/theanchoress/2013/11/26/will-leaving-a-cash-tip-open-us-up-to-this-kind-of-fraud/ ) was never explicitly about “Christians” –there was no mention on the fake receipt about religion, faith, God on the fake receipt message.

    What is very interesting is that while Christians weren’t a part of that story, you took read an attack on Christians into it, which says a lot, actually, about defensiveness and your own assumptions.

    And by the way I have NEVER said “this is why I don’t like my fellow Christians.” I said, “this is why people hate Christians.” Because of when we do not act like we’re supposed to.

    I am not trying to censor anyone or shut anyone up. I couldn’t if I wanted to, which I don’t. You write: “It just seems like you’re calling for adherence to certain rules again, perhaps to stifle dissent, among other things, and rules you admit you haven’t kept to in the past.” I’m calling for adherence to the first rule: Love God above all else, and others as yourself.

    I’m also talking about MY particular journey, and what I have found to be difficult and also what I have found to be easy, and the fact that we’re supposed to grow in our lifetimes. If we’re the same ppl today that we were in 2006, that’s not a great thing. It means we’re stagnant, holed-up, not willing to think outside of comfort zones.

    And that is what a great deal of the conservative hand-wringing re Francis is all about. A lot of people (both “left” and “right” if we must use those words) became very comfortable — in large part thanks to media — with thinking of Popes as either “conservative” or “liberal” — “this pope thinks like ME, so he’s the right one, the best one…” That is — excuse me for saying this, but I’ve written a whole book on it — a form of idolatry; it’s looking for validation of our own thoughts, opinions and understandings and then honoring them in our perceptions all out of proportion. Francis is not a liberal, and he is not a conservative. He is a Catholic, and he is spouting pretty typically Catholic thinking. This was also true of Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul II.

    The label “conservative” that was attached to them came from the press, and gosh when it comes to popes, by now everyone should know by now that the secular press frames them the way they want popes to be seen, and so they shouldn’t be trusted. I once had someone write to me asking how I could like JPII because he was “such a socialist” others wondered how I could like him b/c he was “so conservative!”

    As a conservative you should consider that if Francis was not reflecting Catholicism accurately, George Weigel — as conservative as they come — would be screaming instead of praising him. http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304017204579224030204080004

    For that matter — this is kind of fun — take a guess whether Francis or Pope Benedict said these things. http://www.buzzfeed.com/ellievhall/who-said-it-pope-benedict-or-pope-francis

    There is nothing our popes are saying that is not in-line with church teaching. What’s messing up some Catholics is that they’re getting church teaching mixed up with ideological “teaching”. But ideologies don’t get us to heaven. We Americans are becoming very confused b/c we’re clinging too hard to ideologies and losing sight of the reality of church teachings. Which is what this whole post was about.

  • Roughcoat

    Nope. Can’t get with your program. The left is promoting policies that
    will destroy the America I love: Leftists want to transform America
    according to their vision. Leftists keep trying to take things from me and boss me around. They’ve
    taken my money, they taken my health care, they’re trying to take away
    my 2nd Amendment rights, they sanction taking the lives of unborn
    children, etc., etc. I am sorry, but I’m not sitting still for it. And
    I’m not rolling over for them either. I’m fighting back.

  • tj.nelson

    You say: “Francis is not a liberal, and he is not a conservative. He is a Catholic, and he is spouting pretty typically Catholic thinking. This was also true of Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul II.”

    Then you say: “There is nothing our popes are saying that is not in-line with church teaching. What’s messing up some Catholics is that they’re getting church teaching mixed up with ideological “teaching”. But ideologies don’t get us to heaven. We Americans are becoming very confused b/c we’re clinging too hard to ideologies and losing sight of the reality of church teachings.”
    You say it very well! Thank you.

  • Victor

    I’m really glad that each and every “ONE” of our soul, spirit and Guardian Angels cells are all going to live for Eve her, “I” mean forever cause there’s so much that GOD’s (Good Old Dad) has to teach His Children now!

    http://creationmuseum.org/whats-here/exhibits/

    I hear YA! “You first.” :)

  • g6loq

    Some things are unacceptable. Some compromises are impossible. There is a fine line, quickly one becomes an enabler …

    This:
    Pope:”Authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence”

    http://www.jihadwatch.org/2013/11/pope-francis-authentic-islam-and-the-proper-reading-of-the-koran-are-opposed-to-every-form-of-violen.html

  • MeanLizzie

    Where did I say “roll over”? Please show me where I said that.

    And “the America I love”? I love it too. But I know it won’t be here forever. No nation does.

  • Roughcoat

    And I didn’t say that you used those words.

    And of course I know it won’t be here forever. But that has nothing to do with the point I was trying to make; or, I suspect, with the point you were trying to make.

  • MeanLizzie

    Actually it’s related to the point I’m making. People are flipping out b/c the pope is addressing the excesses of capitalism and materialism (and also addressing social policy excesses but — as someone told me on twitter, “not enough!”) and in the next breath they’re decrying (quite rightly) the disgusting displays we’re seeing on “Black Friday” but they’re not putting both things together and realizing that fixating upon economic theories and the things they either afford or deny us is blinding us to realities of Christ and faith, and the simple fact that if we’re doing the first commandment correctly, the rest of it doesn’t matter, b/c it falls into place. And it makes me keep asking, “what is it you’re loving with your whole heart and mind and spirit: your nation or your lord? Your ideology or your God?” Seriously, I think American Catholics are in trouble; too many of us are lost at exactly that juncture.

  • James_Otis_Jr

    Well, Lizzie, I don’t blame you for your stance, in fact, I applaud it.

    The thing is that what we are facing is evil both in the political and the spiritual realms, and at some point we have to realize that there is a time for war and a time for peace; the time for peace has all but shut.

    Our adversaries have brought us here, it is we who have stood for the bedrock principles, be it the Bible or the Constitution or anything else.

    I intend to be the immovable object – an obelisk of solid granite – that will not yield to the foe that seeks to destroy all around me.

    If it be your lot to be the voice of reason while I wield a sword then so be it. I hope and pray that you are the one that is successful and that it never comes to me to act.

  • Dale

    Elizabeth, I agree very much with your article. Having a productive discussion with someone of opposing opinions is impossible unless we step away from vague (and ultimately vacuous) labels. Unless we discuss specific ideas put forward by specific individuals, we end up either shouting at one another (because there is no content to actually discuss) or we end up simply patting ourselves on the back.

    I try to stay alert for online discussions which shelve hazy ideologies based upon hazy generalizations and demonizing our opponents by turning them into some kind of collective bogeyman.

  • Mark O’Leary

    Sorry if you’ve received this 3x. I’m new to blogging and not sure if any of them got through. Mark

    Dear Elizabeth –

    Ideologues are getting a bad rap these days, presumably based
    on the assumption that if you shape your life around a particular idea, you are
    not capable of hearing and loving others with different ideas.

    The new paradigm is: Ideology is bad; relativism (the new humanism)
    is good.

    The new paradigm is bunk, of course. Ideologically, I am a
    Roman Catholic. My entire outlook on life is shaped by the Catholic lens
    through which I look. Life looks good and works well when I wear my Catholic
    lens. Life begins to fall apart when I take them off. My ultimate aspiration is
    to become an extreme Catholic ideologue – or, to put it another way, a saint.

    Which gets me to your blog. How can ideological excess be
    bad if the ideology is true, particularly when Catholicism, when lived to the
    extreme, leads to truly supernatural acts of love and charity?

    C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton are two of my favorite
    ideological extremists. Can you imagine them giving an inch to compromise with
    someone with whom they disagreed? Why would they compromise if they are
    correct? The objective isn’t compromise. It’s truth and common ground. Yet they
    were gentlemen who fought with wit, joy, charity and love.

    Frankly, I have little interest in arguing with anyone but
    an ideologue – someone who has a point of view that you can see and feel and
    attack and, if they prove to be correct, learn from, and grow.

    The uncomfortable reality that hard core ideologues like me
    can sometimes be angry, intolerant and uncharitable has to do with an abundance
    of pride, a tendency toward despair, and a shortage of Christian hope. The problem
    (read sinful nature) is with me, not my ideology.

    All of your points about healthy, respectable dialogue are
    right on the mark.

    By the by, whatever happened to that “lefty” you refer to in
    your comment policy page? ;)

    I like your new book Strange
    Gods and intend to use some of your points in an upcoming talk my wife and
    I are giving to married couples in January.

    Thanks for keeping the faith.

    Mark O’Leary

    New Glarus, Wisconsin

  • jenny

    I like it…..I think it helps me a little bit to review my language…..

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

    One should never be reflexively ideological. Here’s what I think everyone should do. They should understand themselves and how they view the world. From there they should think through issues and why one’s intuition leads them to a particular position. I don’t consider my conservatism (with a small “c”) to be an ideology. It usually correlates with large “C” Conservatism, but not necessarily.

  • monkbiker

    There are such things as Objective Truth and Objective Falsehood. There are such things as Good and Evil. It’s difficult to find common ground with people who promote socialism or communism or gay marriage or abortion or unrestricted illegal immigration or abolishing the Constitution or any of the myriad other things that the (D)’s seem committed to. I’ve gotten into countless debates with liberals over the years and I’ve come to the conclusion that they live in a different reality from conservatives. They believe things that are clearly not true and refuse to believe things that are true. For the most part they are invincibly ignorant in that no amount of discussion or evidence or kindly persuasion will convince them to change their beliefs. Quite honestly, the only solution I can see is a divorce. Perhaps we should encourage liberals to move to California, Oregon, Washington, Massachussetts, Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire and let them live as they wish. Conservatives will take the rest of the country. Everybody’s happy.

  • Susan Paxton

    The left is not taking away your healthcare or your guns or forcing you to have an abortion. In fact, Jesus would probably wonder what you’re doing with guns. And as for taking away your money, Jesus basically said, “Shut up and pay your taxes.” Presumably you drive on public roads, use the police and fire services, enjoy safe food and water…all those things need to be paid for.

  • tj.nelson

    My comment here was meant to be a positive response to What Elizabeth wrote in her post.

  • kmk1916

    I am re-reading Sherry Weddell’s “Forming Intentional Disciples” slowly, and when I read this, I thought about how she writes that we need to find out where people are first, and what they really mean when they label themselves. She also talks about a certain basic level of trust that usually has to exist before non-Catholics (and even a lot of Catholics) can be open to an encounter with Jesus. We are obliged to establish that trust in our dealings with others, which includes Elizabeth’s examples of how to discuss, above. To see a “solid” Catholic crush a nominal one (“What do you mean you don’t know the Hail Mary, man?” in front of his young family–do ya think man #2 ever went to a Rosary group, or even Mass, again?!) is appalling.
    In fact, we Catholics can recognize the basic truth that everyone is searching and trying to experience a good–even serial killers, I suppose, think what they do is “good”, or they wouldn’t do it. It doesn’t mean us becoming relativistic in our dealings, it means we have to deeply ponder and pray for our approach to relativists and non-believers well before we meet any. The Church views each person as a distinct individual, so wouldn’t we encounter everyone as such? Each encounter with Jesus in the Gospel was unique, and he did “yell” at a few folks–I guess they would’ve had the “good Pharisee” label. : )
    Finally, yep, Elizabeth is hypocritical along with all of the rest of us, me included! But we are charged with allowing people in our lives the room to change for the better with mistakes allowed along the way, yes? Thanks for the post, Anchoress!

  • BHG

    My shorthand version of this is: we all screw things up, just in different ways I may be good at seeing how others mess things up, but am never good at seeing how I do. Unless I sit and listen–then talk–I’ll never move from where I am–and neither will anyone else. Good on you, MeanLizziie. You are in my prayers as I try to walk the same road.

  • David

    Manny, you got it right about how people should understand themselves and how they view the world. It all begins with the values and biases each one of us possesses. They are the bright lines in how we conduct ourselves and how we perceive the world. Our ability to think through any issue depends upon our willingness to use every scrap of knowledge and experience that we accrue to arrive at a particular conclusion or position.

  • Missionary_mom

    I have to agree with Roughcoat on this one. I want my grandchildren to know what it is to have love of church and of country. I was scandalized last Sunday when Obamacare was advertised from the altar and at all the masses. If I don’t speak out on so many levels about this travesty, then the pastor will think the parishioners agree with that anathema. Promoting Obamacare is the same as promoting abortion from the altar in a Catholic Church. I have to speak out…

  • http://nathaniel-campbell.blogspot.com/ Nathaniel M. Campbell

    If only you were able to put aside the labels and listen, you’d soon discover that most of things that you are convinced “the (D)’s seem committed to”–e.g. promoting communism or unrestricted illegal immigration or “abolishing the Constitution”–actually bear little resemblance to the actual political and social views of “the (D)’s”.

    (I know quite a few Democrats, not a single one of whom is committed to promoting abortion or communism or unrestricted illegal immigration or “abolishing the Constitution”.)

  • http://nathaniel-campbell.blogspot.com/ Nathaniel M. Campbell

    Rightists are promoting policies that will destroy the America I love: Rightists want to transform America according to their vision (e.g. no more of those immigrants for a nation built out of immigrants.) Rightists keep trying to take things from me (affordable healthcare, assistance for the poor, the right to feel safe in public, equality for women) and boss me around (tell me what healthcare I can use, what prayers I have to listen to in public schools, who I can and cannot share legal benefits with). They won’t use public money to help the poor or give anyone health care, they won’t let us have reasonable restrictions on dangerous weapons, they sanction taking the lives of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan civilians, etc., etc. I am sorry, but I’m not sitting still for it. And I’m not rolling over for them either. I’m fighting back.

    (See how easy it is when all you do is indulge in ideological mud slinging rather than actually listening to what others have to say?)

  • Chris Nunez

    Does a leopard really change it’s spots?

  • crossdotcurve

    Interesting you throw the mic to Instapundit and Hanson – two of the most egregious traffickers in hurling insults and labels at the other side. Also, Fr. Z definitely did not get this memo.

  • http://nathaniel-campbell.blogspot.com/ Nathaniel M. Campbell

    Health insurance for the working poor = abortion. Impeccable logic, I see. (Where were your objections when Republican political punditry was shamefully pronounced from the pulpit?)

    You’re falling into the same trap that Elizabeth is warning us about: automatically viewing the world through the tinted lenses of your political ideology, rather than through the crystal lens of Christ. Republican DOES NOT EQUAL Catholic. Democrat DOES NOT EQUAL Catholic.

  • Almario Javier

    Parts of the ACA are contrary to church teaching; parts are not. Everyone knows the Church is working to excise the objectionable parts from the bill.

    Also, love of country is all well and good, but we must be careful not to idolize things like laws or constitutions, even good ones. We must also realize that the Church supports what is good from both parties, and denounces what is bad. She is beholden to neither party’s platform.

  • MeanLizzie

    What a perfectly silly remark that betrays your own surrender to bitterness. Am I responsible for what other bloggers say? Am I not supposed to acknowledge where I found an article?

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

    Good for you and you should!

  • David_Naas

    Several years ago, Lefties were sick with BDS (Bush derangement Syndrome). Now the Righties are sick with OBS (Obama Derangement Syndrome). Both are, frankly, immature toddlers who delight in throwing tantrums when thwarted — ie when somebody, *anybody* actually DARES to _slightly_ disagree with their paranoid fantasies.
    (And — this comes from a person who has cheerfully criticized both Presidents, and others back to LBJ.)
    It ain’t easy being a grown-up. Some people would rather go to Hell than grow up. Some may do just that.

  • Kim D.

    Great points, Mark O’Leary in New Glarus, WI! Thank you! :) Kim D. in Middleton, WI

  • Talon

    Ms. Scalia, you took the words right out of my mouth. Excellent article. Thank you.

  • Dagnabbit_42

    Hmm. Never heard Republican political punditry pronounced from the pulpit.

    But then, I wouldn’t regard “Health insurance for the working poor” to be Democrat political punditry, either. After all, every single one of the Republican alternative reform proposals — about seven or eight of them over the last decade? — would have provided that. Aren’t the abortion-subsidizing, contraception-mandating, plan-cancelling, doctor-fleeing, IRS-empowering, 30-hour-work-week-forcing aspects of Obamacare pretty much the bits which make the thing unique?

    Perhaps I didn’t recognize opposition to those as being Republican punditry.

  • Stevelsn

    Except that every statement you made is false. We want immigrants to come here legally. By affordable healthcare you refer to Obamacare which is a lie from it’s inception to today. Of course we want affordable healthcare. We do not want a federal behemoth running it. We are absolutely in favor of assistance to the poor and prove it by our charity. The democrat inspired welfare system we have now is destroying the dignity, the morals and the personal responsibility of Americans poor and not so poor. The lack of public safety is a direct result of the Godless relativism promoted by the Godless left. Equality for women is a straw man that the conscienceless dems used to tremendous value in the last election and will undoubtedly continue to use. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in retrospect, seem to have been a mistake, but unless I’m wrong the current admin. perpetuates the same. As for the dangerous weapons restrictions, we resist it because we know what the true intent is which is to disarm the public in order to subjugate. We are in a war against the forces of evil. It is neither republican or democrat, liberal or conservative. People of every stripe support it or acquiesce to it. I, too, am guilty of it. What is the answer?

  • Stevelsn

    This may be so but you elect people who are committed to these very things. By the way, I have seldom found a “liberal” who would hear one word I had to say and to answer the, as yet unspoken question, yes I have listened to them.

  • Stevelsn

    Have you read the pope’s Apostolic Exhortation. The cherry-picked quotes the media has chosen for their seemingly controversial nature are a tiny, tiny part of the whole and really are not controversial at all when read in context. The essential message is that we (the flock) need to always be mindful of the poor and downtrodden, and that we all are responsible for promoting the “Good News”.

  • Stevelsn

    Thank-you Elizabeth. I quite agree with you. It is also a fact that one of the largest obstacles to faith is the behavior of it’s proponents and I am as guilty as anyone. Here is a quote from Pope Francis in the exhortation. “In your heart you know that it is not the same to live without Him; what you have come to realize, what has helped you to live and give you hope, is what you also need to communicate to others”. God bless Pope Francis.

  • D.A. Howard

    Liberals always want to get rid of labels. Let’s get rid of the label Catholic, it is a label after all. Wait, that would mean we renounce the Church and Teachings of Christ. On second thought…

    Secondly, Pope Pius IX and Pius X and many other popes used the term liberal in a bad light, and support Conservatism. Hmmmm.

  • James Patton

    If this post appears then congratulations! Allowing opposing opinions to be even viewed is a wonderful first step and I appreciate that.

  • Dan C

    Up until now, I suspect you have had a limited diet of Catholicism. Those you read and the writings of the popes you have read have only been explained to you in one mindset. Your experience with Benedict’s encyclicals is likely therefore limited. Until this exhortation, everything Francis has said largely maps to Benedict.

    I think this is partly the trouble with a group of Catholic writers who never wrote about what, for example, Benedict taught. The consequence is that you do not know it, and how normally Catholic Francis sounds, and how odd someone like Fr. Longenecker or Fr. Sirico seems in our tradition.

  • Dan C

    Global Catholicism, which has been taught by Benedict for decades, will produce documents like Aparecida and other regional bishops documents that sound an awful lot like Francis. For bad or for good, classical liberalism or neo-classical liberalism is an economic ideology largely discussed only in American Catholic circles. African Catholic or Phillipino Catholic thought does not have so such thought so vigorously or politically prominent.

  • Dan C

    The Holy Father links two things unmistakeably- the Great Commission (Evangelization) and concrete work to end the difficulties of the poor which include but are not limited to 1) critique of the economic system producing this 2) material aid 3) work to end structural causes of injustice.

    One is introduced to the evaluative schema- one that starts “how are the poor treated?” Not one that says, “Look at how great it made America!” The poor become the centerpiece of the evaluation.

    The old critique of liberation theology in which religion is reduced to ideology (see JP2 at Puebla) needs to be re- examined by the right wing. How attached are these folks to certain economic systems?

  • Matthew J. Ogden

    Yes, but there’s nothing evil about public roads or police and fire services: as there is about contraceptives and abortion. And again, cooperation with evil is still evil. You pay for a program that gives people contraceptives and abortion, you’re basically using the prophylactics yourself and killing all those babies at the same time.

  • Matthew J. Ogden

    Would that they were! The 1789 American constitution is a ludicrous document, and has become an idol for Americans, including the so-called “Catholic” ones.

  • Matthew J. Ogden

    This is a very noble idea, but it works better in thought than it does in practice. Such labels do distort the real nature of the ideas we’re up against, but it doesn’t make the people any more reasonable.

    Most of the enemies of the Church today (note: “most,” not “all”) are people that cannot be reasoned with. The relativists deny the existence of an objective world beyond their own minds, or that there is any objective truth at all. They’ve reduced every judgment to their own arbitrary feelings, which means in their minds, it’s your word against theirs. In other words, might makes right. That’s part of why they are so toxic to be around, what with all the screaming and name calling and so forth.

    So what is the solution? “Shake the dust from your feet and depart from that place, for it shall be more tolerable for Sodom on the day of judgment.” That’s the crux of the issue about this evangelization that everyone is talking about. It’s a good idea, but most of the people don’t want to even hear anything that contradicts their ideology, not even to consider it. Leave them alone. Retreat back into the Catholic ghettos that we used to have. Do it for yourself: don’t waste your time on these people.

  • markkrite

    Once again, are you kidding me? (I use this expression so much because so many on the left or liberal left insist upon seemingly being outrageous for it’s own sake and also because they’re becoming so panicky due to their “messiah” Obama coming apart at the seams) And that brings me to why I’m responding to your post. First I agree w/Matthew J. Ogden “,… ….works better in thought than it does in practice.” Couldn’t agree more. First of all, Mizz Scalia, we’re dealing with a whole bunch of haters and bigots from all spectrums of society who have an unbelievable megaphone consisting primarily of the lamestream media, including all the major T.V. channels, the cable media, CNN, MSNBC, FOX (sometimes), etc.,plus the whole panoply of Hollyweird yahoos who never fail to trash all traditional morality through their incessant “product,” movies and T.V. series, etc., you should know the drill by now. And there is the imperative that we PUSH or FIGHT BACK against all these delusional weirdos who try to influence and control so much. So is it you’re just getting tired of it all and feel the need to wave a white flag? I don’t really believe that, You seem more feisty than that.I think it’s more of a case of just being hammered by so many who’re unhinged out there. Believe me, I get grief from many who just don’t “GET” where this that I’ve attempted to describe can all lead. So, pray and sacrifice daily, especially pray, including the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, daily if possible. And hang in there, because it’ll probably get better before it gets worse. God Bless you in all your efforts.

  • Obpoet

    Not a single one committed to promoting abortion? Wow, you dont get out much do you?

  • Obpoet

    Add to this excellent discussion Mark Shea’s advice to stop viewing everything as Republican versus Democrat and see it as the ruling class against the rest of us. I would expand that to include Satan versus God. Look for Satan. Stop counting R’s and D’s. Abortion, now there’s a start.

  • Gail Finke

    I do not find this to be true, though like you I have cheerfully criticized both. (Don’t you hate it when people think that if you criticize Pres. Obama you MUST have loved Pres. Bush??) There are some tantrum throwers on the Right but I do not see nearly the numbers or the derangement than I did on the Left with Bush. Perhaps that’s because I’m from the Midwest, where we don’t throw as many tantrums…


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