Saturday, April 04, 2009

You Can't Have It Both Ways

In for a penny, in for a pound as the old saying goes.  I knew that once I commented on the Obama/Notre Dame flap, I knew I would find a thousand more articles that would demand my attention.  Sigh!  Okay, here's the next piece.

William Daley has decided to come to the aid of our dear President because of the mean ol' Cardinal George calling Obama's visit precisely what it is - a scandal and a travesty.  Hilariously, Daley doesn't make a blasted lick o' sense from start to finish.  Let's start with this comment: "I believe Cardinal George's stand is an embarrassment to Chicago Catholics and furthers the divide among the church, its members and the rest of America." Well, duh! What does Daley think the nature of the Church is; to be some sort of civil club for people who want to talk to their invisible friends on Sunday, but then have that conversation have no effect on what happens the rest of the week. (Sorry, Chris Hitchens took me over for a moment.) That Catholics would be divided over the moral stance of our president is first insulting and then depressing. It's insulting because it creates this Marxist vision of the Church where the average parish is just waiting to erupt into open warfare between the theological haves and have-nots, who are oppressed in some way by the Church. It's depressing because there is some degree of accuracy in the observation that, as in every age, there are those in the Church, and I am first on the list, who resist the converting power of the Gospel. I want the Church to be right when I am right and I like being right. I don't want the Church to be right when I am wrong. (Hat tip to G.K. for the last witticism.)

Then Daley moves onto the classic saw for Catholic higher education, diversity of opinions. Now, I am all for diversity of opinion in fields of study. Personally, the scientific fields of environmental engineering could use some more dissenting voices in reference to global warming. But the instant the word "Catholic" goes up in front of the university, you become obliged to stand with the Church and to represent what the Church teaches. This is part of the Church's prophetic role. What the president is not promoting is an idea; what Obama promotes is the death of his own constituents. Paging Pol Pot! Frankly, Daley hasn't thought this through. If students want to hear another opinion about this subject, they need only turn on the television. Also, let's just look at this from an academic standard. If I hire a teacher who teaches that 2+2=5 and thinks this represents proper math, then he gets fired. If a professor teaches that a Catholic could condone abortion or for that matter, that Jesus wasn't truly God and Man, then this person needs to be fired because they DON'T HAVE BASIC COMPETENCY TO TEACH. Further, to invoke the idea of diversity of opinions in this context totally bogus. After all, the President is giving a speech and receiving an honorary degree. He's not there to teach a course in some department. Hmm, might someone misunderstand this action as supporting and giving, at minimum tacit approval, of the president's agenda?

Now, we get to the good stuff. Daley moves on to the meaning of morality. Sorry for the long quote but it is priceless. He writes: "To imply that the president should not be invited to speak at Notre Dame because he disagrees with the church on two specific issues promotes a very narrow view of what constitutes morality. As someone who has been fortunate to work closely with Obama, I consider him to be a person of strong moral character. He is a person of faith, a strong family man and has devoted his life to public service when he could have put his Harvard law degree to more selfish pursuits." I want to take this one sentence at a time.  

1.) Morality, unfortunately, is not an essay exam. You can't get some of it right and some of it wrong and still make a passing grade. Since Daley claims to be a Catholic, I am surprised this got past him. After all, morality is both the avoidance of evil and the embracing of the good. It's odd that Mr. Daley didn't make the focus of the conversation all the good that abortion does for women and children. That way, he could really show that the Cardinal was in the dark. Oops, Daley can't do that because abortion doesn't render any good to the individual, neither mother, father nor child, or to the society at large. I wonder how Mr. Daley would respond if a racist ideologue had been invited to speak at Notre Dame. Would we hear about narrow morality then?
2.) Obama is a person of strong moral character based on what? Your opinion, Mr. Daley? If that's the case, then you really are seeking a job promotion, but that job is already taken. However, if Christ tires of being the judge of the living and the dead, I'll see what I can do to put a good word in for you.
3.) This is a strong family man? That's curious, given Obama has publicly stated that if one of his daughters were to get pregnant he would be fine with their choice to abort the child. So, he is strong on immediate family, but not so much on extended family. Further, using his powers for good doesn't excuse some other evil. Mr. Daley read or rent "Watchmen" if you don't understand how that works.

The really galling part comes at the end when Daley brings up the idea of common morality. The problem though is the groups he lists can't come to a common morality because of fundamentally different world views. He has confused ethics (primarily a sphere of philosophy) with morality (primarily a sphere of religion). If he wants to argue for the natural law, fine. Answer me this, Mr. Daley, which is preferable: existence or non-existence? How you answer that answers the abortion debate, at least in part, from an ethical view.

It is totally apt coming into Holy Week that we have Daley effectively making a case for some Catholics by saying, "We have no king but Caesar." This is not a mix of politics and religion; this is the confluence of reality versus delusion. I don't have to be a person of religion to think that abortion is a travesty and a horror. A brief consultation with a medical textbook suffices.

1 comment:

Jeanie said...

Oh Thank you !