The Catholic fault
Normally this is a blog for silly, lighthearted stuff. Normally I avoid getting political. These, however, are not normal times, so here goes.
It has always frustrated me to no end how conservative political ideology hijacked Christianity to the point where the two have become synonymous; that a Catholic or Christian would vote for a candidate simply on the grounds that he or she is Republican is maddening, a disservice to the democratic process, an indictment of the already absurd two-party system, and, most importantly, a betrayal of the careful considerations our faith demands.
This political season, my family sat through several Catholic homilies that, “without getting political,” less than subtly encouraged a particular presidential vote based on one issue—abortion. (Some homilies we didn't sit through, and would never sit through, lacked all subtlety.) A tremendously serious issue without doubt; however, an issue with layers upon layers of complexities, including but not limited to a) its historic emergence as a political tool rather than a sincere social cause; b) the notion that a singular man—a man with not only a storied history of broken promises, but a man who formerly, clearly identified himself as "pro choice," no less—would stop it in its tracks; c) and a designation of “pro life” that can, with regard to its contrast with other social issues, be more accurately described as "pro birth." (It’s important to note I am anti-abortion. Aren’t we all? Is anyone ever for this act, including those who’ve made the heart-wrenching decision to endure it?) So either through the lens of a singular, complex issue, or simply because he’s Republican, a wide swath of Christians voted for the most blatantly un-Christian president in our nation’s history. So much so that those very Christians comprise the base to which this man frequently appeals. (We can strip away all religious references and label him the most indecent president as well, whatever your preference. Furthermore, it might be noted here that describing him as indecent or awful does not mean I hate him; I do not, and I continue to, as fruitless as it may seem, pray for him to change. My empathy for his sadness disguised as hateful arrogance does not mean I accept him as leader of the free world.)
Now at Mass, during the prayers of intercession, we hear conflicting requests back-to-back—to pray for the spiritual guidance of our nation’s leaders and, next, to pray for the equality of all people regardless of race, gender, or refugee status. Next, to pray for the caretaking of God’s beautiful Earth. NEXT, to pray for peace. Essentially we're asked to pray that the very platforms on which this man based his candidacy—a candidacy unofficially "endorsed" by many church leaders and even more church goers—might just, poof, change, in the face of the obvious fact that these stances have only been emboldened since he's been elected. I would find this comical were there any more room for comedy in this sobering rendition of reality.
It is our task as Christians to preach the Gospel through our lives; however, those on the other side, those who are justifiably skeptical to begin with, those whom we seek to convert and influence, perceive Christians as closely aligned with a man who, among countless unrepentant characteristics, proudly brags about grabbing pussies. It’s an uphill battle to say the least.
Thankfully, there are Catholic/Christian leaders out there who remind us all what it means to be truly Christian. Ronald Rolheiser (our greatest modern spiritual thinker, IMO), Father James Martin, and the Pope himself, for example. I wish they blended into the larger context of perceived Christian ideology, but unfortunately they merely, seemingly, serve as breaths of fresh air in an otherwise toxic climate (figuratively speaking, but soon to be literal).
God works in mysterious ways indeed, and maybe our nation’s current dilemma will allow us to reconsider entirely the processes and mechanisms that brought us here. That is my prayer of intercession now.
I post below Father Martin’s video regarding immigration as a reminder of what we try to practice, what we believe as Catholics. May we be guided by voices like his, voices of hope and compassion that echo the Gospel, and not voices of fear and contradiction that echo personal and political agendas.