This blog started out as a companion piece to my book, Musings from the Christian Left (excerpts of which can be found in the July 2004 link) and to support a planned radio show. Now, its simply a long term writing project from a Christian Left Libertarian perspective (meaning I often argue for liberty within the (Catholic) Church, rather than liberty because the church takes care of a conservative view of morality.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Pope Benedict Goes to Turkey

The Pope is meeting this day with Ecumenical Patriarch Barthalomew I. It is a step toward eventual Christian Unity, not because it is essential that the Orthodox Church submit to the Pope, but because the Pope must take is place as one among many Patriarchs under Barthalomew. The See of Constantinople did not do anything to break away from Rome. History teaches just the oppossite, that Rome broke its ties to Constantinople. Much of the hubris that infects the Roman Curia would be cured by mending such a break and allowing the Western Church to follow the decentralized model of the East. This is essential for ecumenicism, since a main reason for Protestant disaffection are the overreach in authority claimed by the Pope. There are a few cases when the gift of binding and loosening are given to the Church. While one of these does involve St. Peter, the others involve the Church as a whole, including all of the faithful.

In Evangelical circles, there is a popular wrist band, WWJD, What Would Jesus Do? One might ask in this instance, what would St. Peter do? It can be argued that Peter went to Rome (if he did) because that is where the Emperor was. Therefore, when the Emperor Constantine went to Asia Minor and founded Constantinople, the Church that went with him became the Holy See, giving Peter's primacy to the Ecumenical Patriarch. After the Turks consolidated power in Asia Minor and over all of Islam, the See was under persecution - and still is (which is why no great pronouncements will be made today - His Holinesss the Ecumentical Patriarch does not need that headache). Peter's Church would be the one under persecution, which is fitting as radical Islam raises its head as the main source of terror in the post-cold war world.

Another place Peter might be would be Russia, which was also under persecution over the past century - and may be again if Putin shows his communist roots.

The other place Peter might go is Washington, which is where the power is. A patriarchy in a newly configured Church would be appropriate to lead English speaking Christianity and the most power city in the English speaking world is Washington (the other opton would be Galway, with its similarity to Gallatia - the earliest Gaelic Christian Church - a great Church in its own right that could be restored). I could see Cardinal McCarrick as a Gallatian Patriarch, either in Washington or Ireland. If anyone is temprementally suited to bring warring English speaking Christianity together, it is his Eminence.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Partial Birth Abortion Brief and the Church - Update

Last September, I read the Center for Reproductive Rights brief in response to the government in the federal partial birth abortion case. This week the Court heard the arguments. The WaPo reports that the arguments were as graphic as the brief and that Justice Kennedy seemed to be on the fence, so he could rule either way.

The main feature of the brief, which is correct, is that the act in effect bans most second trimester abortions, going far beyond the public support base for banning abortions on viable children in what is akin to infanticide. Their logic is correct, although this does not stop me from wanting to throw up as they describe how an intact abortion is preferable to one where the fetus is dismembered either inside or outside the mother. The respondents are taking quite a chance with this brief, since the yuck factor is rather high.

I am no fan of abortion, but there are more effective ways to stop it than putting doctors in jail (thereby putting women at risk of unsafe abortions - even when medically necessary).

There is a form of mid and late term abortion that involves no dismemberment. It is called induction. If more hospitals, even Catholic ones, offered induction for second and third trimester abortions, Dialation and Extraction would disappear. Given the bloody alternative, you would think that Catholic hospitals would jump on this - combined with a durable adoption consent so that a woman who seeks an induction abortion surrenders all rights to the child, even if it survives. Of course, keeping such children alive would be expensive. Neither the mothers, the government or even the patient base should be billed for the medical costs of children so rescued - and those who were aborted due to fatal deformities should be baptized and allowed to die. Those whose only defect is parents who can not or will not take care of them should be given a fighting chance but funded through donations for this purpose.

Of course, such heroics is the easy answer. Relying on the law and authoritarianism is also an easy answer. Such easy answers do not always work. Most abortions, except for fetal deformity, can be prevented if we exect people to raise their children and give them the means to do so. Last time I checked, the Catholic Church was the largest single provider of both elementary and collegiate education on the planet. What their system lacks is a commitment to vocational education for the vast majority who do not advance to college. What the system also lacks is the willingness to pay young people for their time in the classroom, thus offering them a way to live independently from their parents when their biology tells them it is time to be parents.

When the Church starts offering young people a future if they marry and keep the child (rather than such stop gaps as Project Rachel), I will be interested in what they have to say on abortion politics. If they take a stand for workers, excommunicating Catholic business owners and share holders who do not provide a living wage (and start paying their employees thusly), I will become very interested. If they really wish to take action on behalf of the unborn they should get their priests out of the streets and set up a "second tithe" for our wealthiest members, who would give an additional 10% of their grosses for redistribution to families with more children than they can afford. If the state continues to fail in this regard, perhaps it is time for the Church to step in. In the early church, there were no poor among us for this very reason. It is time to return to that practice. Then I will not only be interested, I will be impressed. Until they impress me, they can quit telling me how to vote, however.

In ethics, there is a concept called vincible ignorance. That is, you are responsible for your actions if you should have asked or examined. To any clergy out there - consider yourselves warned. Now that you have been, you are responsible for any abortions that might have been prevented had you done what I have suggested. Quit blaming the Democrats and do what is in your power.

Victory Lap and the Eventual Overturn of Virginia's Troublesome Marriage Amendment

The Washington Post reports that the Catholic and Evangelical left turned out for the Democrats. They did so for one particular reason. They listened.

Bob Casey, a pro-lifer, was nominated in Pennsylvania. While I do not agree with him on banning abortion, I do agree that it is a horrible procedure and the taking of a life - and so does the Christian left.

Many people got the message that the Iraq War is a life issue. They realized the stark immorality of using Iraqi civilians as cannon fodder in the War on Terror. Many apologists for the GOP still don't get it. They actually believe it moral to stir up action in a third country in hopes of attracting a war with terrorists there rather than here. As I have said before, that's cold blooded murder in the guise of national defense.

The Christian left is not soft on defense. Many of us voted for strong defense Democrats, like Jim Webb. Many of us are also Clark supporters. If the only way to stop the terrorists is to chase them down in large numbers in Pakistan is to invade that region where we all know they are taking refuge (not Iran, as some lying neo-cons are saying), we would support that. We support common sense security measures here, though not unilateral actions by an expansive executive.

The point is people - WE WON!

Bye-bye Rummy!

We also won on social issues, or did not lose as badly. We stopped a radical abortion ban in South Dakota and rejected a gay marriage amendment in Arizona, while losing less badly in the other states it was contested, like Virginia.

By slicing and dicing the Republican base, we make it less likely that they can mobilize the troops for the inevitable call for a constitutional convention or amendment after the Supreme Court overturns the aforesame marriage bans as a violation of federal equal protection rights - and Justice Scalia himself put the handwriting on the wall on that issue in his dissent in the Texas sodomy law case. He stated that, if adult consensual sodomy cannot be regulated there is no justification for not allowing gay marriage on equal protection grounds. For once, I agree with him, although I do not find any justification for regulating consensual adult sodomy. His own words will haunt him, now that the Human Rights Campaign has local plaintiffs for a suit to have those amendments vacated.

Sometimes you win by losing. The "drubbing" the GOP took means it is unlikely that the outrage to the inevitable High Court decision can be turned into the right wing's dream - a constitutional convention to address mandatory school prayer (which is what they seek, in their hearts), abortion, taxes, pornography and their entire agenda. Oh, they'll try, but because the base has been split, they don't have the votes.

We not only won, we won big!