Monday, May 18, 2009

Wormtongues on the Left

I do plan on eventually writing about things other than Obama's regrettable appearance at the erstwhile Catholic University called Notre Dame, but I did want to spend a brief amount of time having a closer look at Obama's speech. It's amazing how well the man knows what many orthodox Catholics call the "AmChurch," or the Church of the Americanist Heresy, which has been struggling to take over the Catholic Church in America for about forty years, give or take.

There's no point in doing a full fisk of the speech--it isn't substantive enough for that, and so much of it was composed of old, retreaded ideas that were flat enough to begin with; one might as well try to fisk a Marty Haugen song (which, come to think of it, would probably be vastly more entertaining than fisking this Notre Dame speech of Obama's). But I'd like to have a look at a few of the lines used by our Abortionist-in-Chief on this far less than auspicious occasion, and to translate them from Obamish (and AmChurchish) into plain English:
Thank you so much to Father Jenkins for that extraordinary introduction, even though you said what I want to say much more elegantly. You are doing an extraordinary job as president of this extraordinary institution. Your continued and courageous — and contagious — commitment to honest, thoughtful dialogue is an inspiration to us all. [...]
Extraordinary, extraordinary, extraordinary. One gets the feeling that Obama has about as much idea of what this word means as some AmChurch leaders do (e.g., "extraordinary" ministers of Holy Communion). A translation of this passage is simple: "Thank you, Fr. Jenkins, for letting me use Notre Dame for my own purposes, and for pretending that this is about dialogue." Of course, I'm also compelled to note that in the AmChurch, "dialogue" means, "You orthodox types listen to us tell you how it's gonna be around here from now on, and if we tell you there's going to be liturgical dance, women giving homilies, and "priestless parishes," your only permissible response is "Sir! Yes, sir!""
You, however, are not getting off that easy. You have a different deal. Your class has come of age at a moment of great consequence for our nation and for the world — a rare inflection point in history where the size and scope of the challenges before us require that we remake our world to renew its promise; that we align our deepest values and commitments to the demands of a new age. It's a privilege and a responsibility afforded to few generations — and a task that you're now called to fulfill. [...]
Anybody else hearing "Aquarius" in their heads? Oh, yes, we're special, all of history has been waiting for us to come along and fix things in the Church that we never knew were broken, things like hierarchy and patriarchy and a lot of other malarkey. And how exactly do we "align our deepest values and commitments to the demands of a new age..."? Should the test of the age be how well it aligns to our centuries-old values and commitments? But this is the same AmChurch rhetoric that's always claiming that you have to make liturgy "new" or "fresh" or "relevant" once every five to ten years, apparently, leading many to wonder what was wrong with liturgies that lasted a few centuries at a time.
The soldier and the lawyer may both love this country with equal passion, and yet reach very different conclusions on the specific steps needed to protect us from harm. The gay activist and the evangelical pastor may both deplore the ravages of HIV/AIDS, but find themselves unable to bridge the cultural divide that might unite their efforts. Those who speak out against stem cell research may be rooted in an admirable conviction about the sacredness of life, but so are the parents of a child with juvenile diabetes who are convinced that their son's or daughter's hardships can be relieved. [...]
And you know what? I bet they all have their own stories and journeys. I bet they've all pondered the works of the spirit--whatever spirit, we're for equal opportunity spirits--as best they can. I bet they're all willing to walk the labyrinth together, too. But you know what else? Some of them are wrong. Shocking as this may be to Obama and AmChurch members alike, not all life-journeys and experiences and dreams are valid. Some are even--dare I say it?--evil. The gay activist wants what is evil, and calls it good. The parents who want other people's children to die so that their child can live want what is evil, and call it good. Some soldiers want, and do, good, and some do evil; some lawyers want, and do, evil, and some--yes, it's true; there is probably at least one good lawyer in America somewhere.

But Obama (and much of AmChurch) is all about validation, which is a concept that means that everybody should be applauded for wanting anything at all, regardless of the goodness or evil of their wants, desires--choices. Yes, choice can be evil, though some liberal brains might explode at the very concept.

After I read the doctor's letter, I wrote back to him and I thanked him. And I didn't change my underlying position, but I did tell my staff to change the words on my Web site. And I said a prayer that night that I might extend the same presumption of good faith to others that the doctor had extended to me. Because when we do that — when we open up our hearts and our minds to those who may not think precisely like we do or believe precisely what we believe — that's when we discover at least the possibility of common ground.

That's when we begin to say, "Maybe we won't agree on abortion, but we can still agree that this heart-wrenching decision for any woman is not made casually, it has both moral and spiritual dimensions." [...]

In other words, Obama, like AmChurch, learned that the best way to disarm and disable opponents was to pretend to respect them. "I can see you feel strongly about this," "You know, I appreciate what you're saying, but nobody else has complained," "You clearly love the Lord, but maybe you haven't realized that Sr. Pantsuit loves Him too, and that's why she wants to preach at Mass." Etc. ad nauseum.

Open hearts. Open minds. Fair-minded words. It's a way of life that has always been the Notre Dame tradition. Father Hesburgh has long spoken of this institution as both a lighthouse and a crossroads. A lighthouse that stands apart, shining with the wisdom of the Catholic tradition, while the crossroads is where "differences of culture and religion and conviction can coexist with friendship, civility, hospitality, and especially love." And I want to join him and Father John in saying how inspired I am by the maturity and responsibility with which this class has approached the debate surrounding today's ceremony. You are an example of what Notre Dame is about.

Years ago, my mother was told by an AmChurch type that her problem was that she still thought of things like good and evil in "black and white," terms; the Church, this person informed my mom, had moved past that, to "shades of gray." Obama is referring to that, when he talks about "Notre Dame tradition," the incorrigible and unconscionable idea that evil should be treated with an open mind or an open heart or fair words. And not just any evil--the evil of murder, the murder of the innocent unborn.

And at the time, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin was the Archbishop of Chicago. For those of you too young to have known him or known of him, he was a kind and good and wise man. A saintly man. I can still remember him speaking at one of the first organizing meetings I attended on the South Side. He stood as both a lighthouse and a crossroads — unafraid to speak his mind on moral issues ranging from poverty and AIDS and abortion to the death penalty and nuclear war. And yet, he was congenial and gentle in his persuasion, always trying to bring people together, always trying to find common ground. Just before he died, a reporter asked Cardinal Bernardin about this approach to his ministry. And he said, "You can't really get on with preaching the Gospel until you've touched hearts and minds."
Read this article to examine Cardinal Bernardin's support of United Power and the IAF--and these organizations' support of abortion. Beware of libs speaking of "common ground;" what this term means is, "If you get out of our way, we'll probably avoid hurting you later. Unless hurting you gives us some kind of advantage."

And in this world of competing claims about what is right and what is true, have confidence in the values with which you've been raised and educated. Be unafraid to speak your mind when those values are at stake. Hold firm to your faith and allow it to guide you on your journey. In other words, stand as a lighthouse.

But remember, too, that you can be a crossroads. Remember, too, that the ultimate irony of faith is that it necessarily admits doubt. It's the belief in things not seen. It's beyond our capacity as human beings to know with certainty what God has planned for us or what He asks of us. And those of us who believe must trust that His wisdom is greater than our own. [...]

I've left the whole "lighthouse/crossroads" meme alone up to now, but let's state the blindingly obvious: lighthouses are supposed to stand on a promentory of some sort, overlooking the ocean, sending their signals of light and life to those adrift, nearly lost, in danger of sinking. A lighthouse erected in a crossroads would not only serve no useful purpose whatsoever, it would be dashed inconvenient--it would be most regrettably in the way. A crossroads need a lighthouse about as much as a teleprompter needs a spotlight. Of course, it is directed at the sort of people who use phrases like "small faith community" (where do people with larger faith go?) or "Office of Peace and Justice," (no, I'm sorry; I wanted the Office of Violence and Oppression).
For if there is one law that we can be most certain of, it is the law that binds people of all faiths and no faith together. It's no coincidence that it exists in Christianity and Judaism; in Islam and Hinduism; in Buddhism and humanism. It is, of course, the Golden Rule — the call to treat one another as we wish to be treated. The call to love. The call to serve. To do what we can to make a difference in the lives of those with whom we share the same brief moment on this Earth.
If he'd thrown in something about "living stones" or "environment and art," this could have been lifted straight from a bishops' committee document, circa 1980-2000. The problem with these sorts of statements is that they fall apart when we examine them closely in the light of the issue at hand: how is abortion "treat(ing) one another as we wish to be treated"? It isn't, of course; nobody wants to be dismembered, burned to death, or left alone to die in the soiled linen room of a hospital. The only way Obama can apply the Golden Rule to abortion is to declare preemptively that tiny humans in utero are not "others," but property--and then, trampling derisively over all considerations about "common ground" or "lighthouses" or "open hearts," to make laws and allocate funds that make it easier and easier to dispose of that human property.

It's not all that surprising that Father Jenkins would invite Obama to speak at Notre Dame; they speak very much the same sort of language. If anything, the surprise factor has been that so many Catholics are ready, willing, and able to cut through the liberal/AmChurch rhetoric and stand up for the truth--which has been both surprising and vastly encouraging. The Wormtongues on the left may have beguiled a generation of Catholics into thinking that a little clever dissemulation was all that was needed to capture the Holy Grail of policial power and relevance, but the new generation of Catholics--and even a handful at Notre Dame, a school at the center of this sort of obfuscation of the truth--will have none of it, and are beginning to find their voices and to make that perfectly clear.

7 comments:

CrimsonCatholic said...

My thought this morning was to commend the fine Passion Play staged at Notre Dame:

Faithful servants of Jesus arrested. Check.

High priest collaborating with evil ruler. Check.

Evil ruler giving "Quid est veritas?" speech. Check.

Crowd screaming for Jesus's blood and calling for the guilt to be on their heads. Check.

Sure, they had to cut out the scourging at the pillar, but the whole "sacrifice your children to Moloch to magically cure juvenile diabetes" routine captured that pagan Roman feel while updating it for a contemporary setting (kind of like Romeo and Juliet with Leonard di Caprio).

Those people jeering after the lone voice crying in the wilderness spoke the truth broke any optimism I have left about Catholicism in America. The Fifth Column outnumbers the citizenry.

LarryD said...

Great post, Erin. The best I could come up with at my blog was "When ProgCaths say 'dialogue', they're really saying 'Shut the hell up!'"

How much you want to bet someone from the O's administration is invited to the American Catholic Council in 2011?

Baron Korf said...

As a "foot soldier of a discredited army of oppression" (at least according to Obama's staff) I must agree with you. My favorite part is how "not all life-journeys...are valid". Just because they too have seen Arcadia, does not mean that they are right.

These feel good speeches and fancy words don't do anything for me. Primarily because they have lame constructions and weak or inaccurate statements. For example, the Golden Rule is truly unique to the Catholic faith. It require you to love everyone else as yourself, including your enemies. I'm sorry but the other faiths just don't have that extreme of a requirement, I've studied them.

The mention of Wormtongue makes me think of Gandalf's line in LotR:TTT movie "Keep your forked-tongue between your teeth. I have not passed through fire and death to bandy crude words with a witless worm!" That sums up how I think the Church (who most certainly has passed through both on many levels) should approach some of these 'dialogues'.

Magister Christianus said...

Erin, this was an incisive analysis of the speech. Well done! No surprise, but it is quite the opposite of this over at CNN... http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/05/19/borger.obama.civility/index.html. According to Gloria Borger, President Obama did not avoid the controversy, but "purposefully stepped into it, elevating the mundane political imbroglio into a national 'teachable moment' -- a discourse about the civil way to disagree on an issue that has largely been characterized by its emotional turmoil."

With this one sentence she reduced the pasionate outcry of thousands to "mundane political imbroglio," reduced passionate and well-reasoned argument to "emotional turmoil," and lifted the President to the role of nation's teacher.

Your piece thrusts not only the commencement address, but Borger's shameless propaganda into the clear light of truth.

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Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to know who wrote the President's speech. Surely a "Catholic"...
Elise B.

Beate said...

Ugh - I listened on Fox, so I got to hear an interview with some sociology professor who admonished us pro-lifers to have some concern for the living! Despicable!!! Now babies aren't even alive before they're born :-(

At any rate, the whole thing made me sick to my stomach. Did anyone notice the person sitting behind Obama? He seemed green around the gills as well.