Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Letter to the Arlington Catholic Herald - and Most Reverend Bishop Paul S. Loverde

Your Grace, Publisher of the Arlington Catholic Herald*,

I keep seeing articles in the Arlington Catholic Herald that still refer to homosexuality as a "choice"..."a lifestyle choice" to be exact. That one's sexuality is just an "orientation" to be moved about like a swivel chair or a telescope. It condemns millions to a state of sin, one that can be rectified with the help of God: a few Hail Mary's and a trip to some camp where pseudo-psychiatrists impose a therapy no longer supported by the American Medical Association, and even outlawed in some states for it's potential to lead many of it's "patients" to suicide.
I've seen even worse: billboards pointing to fake identical twins to emphasize a fake choice one made and the other didn't, and pointing to fake (even dangerous) psychological techniques praying on the desperation of confused youths, I find morally reprehensible, intellectually bankrupt, ethically challenged, physically and emotionally dangerous, and...sinful. Shame on you, whoever put that billboard up. They cannot point to a success, because the "therapy" has had no real and lasting successes.
At one time slavery and killing one's own family, as well as so many other evil practices in the name of doctrine and religious law, were eventually found socially reprehensible and even SINFUL to the modern world. They were found by the Old Testament and to a lesser extent in the New Testament. In the Christianity I know, Jesus throws out the Old Testament and requires but two commandments instead of ten (and the entire book of Leviticus). Because of the divine simplicity in loving God and each other, we are left to eternally ponder their appropriate application to the issues of our times, praying the Holy Spirit will guide us fallible humans.
Alas, the conservative nature of the Catholic Church is the bedrock reason for its survival over two millennium. I get that. Change comes slowly to the Church, but happily it does come - slavery and killing in the name of Jesus Christ are an affront to our culture and difficult to relate to historically, for good reason. But here, now, in my opinion, the Church is facing another insidious and existential crisis point in the 21st Century. If important issues (the state of the modern family, how we accept or reject homosexuals in the Church and in society (who are sometimes our closest family members and friends), and treatment of the divorced living outside the Catholic Church), continue to be looked upon, a prior i, through the lens of maintaining traditional doctrinal purity, an opportunity to change the trajectory of Christianity and Catholicism in America and the West will be lost.
Leaving aside the fleeting nature of polls and popular trends - where "facts" are now debatable on cable news - and approaching the issue of homosexuality in particular from a purely medical and scientific perspective (please read Nathaniel S. Lehrman, M.D. -http://www.jpands.org/vol10no3/lehrman.pdf), the research points us to a genetic link, or a biochemical process within the womb, where the sex of the fetus is refined and defined, before even leaving the womb. (Please read: William R. Rice, Urban Friberg, and Sergey Gavriletshttp://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/668167). Are these people choosing their "lifestyle", choosing "sinful behavior" before they even set eyes on their parents? Silliness, of course not. So what does this mean if the research becomes conclusive? We may have to, and in my opinion it's been a while coming, accept that God has a hand in the making of these people - our family and friends.
In this light I find the Herald guilty of cherry-picking their "sciences" and facts, the equivalent of Medieval rejection gravity or a knee-jerk denial of evolution after the Scopes Monkey Trail. In other words, to maintain doctrinal purity based on a few sentences in the Old Testament and even less by St. Paul in the New Testament, and in the face of growing and even overwhelming scientific evidence the Church finds itself fighting the light of science for the sake of traditional bigotry based on those few stark biblical sentences.
The Church, particularly in North America and the West, risks much taking this course - losing millions of young people and thousands of potential candidates for vocations as they reach the age of consent, sadly as the Herald points out, after they have gone through the confirmation process. In Africa, particularly in Uganda, and in Russia, homosexuals are being victimized, persecuted and killed while the Church turns away for the sake of new members. Exciting, but at what cost?
Returning home, all denominations and religions in general are facing new questions today by a cynical skeptical but intellectually energetic youth. A generation brought up in an era of war (some may say, religious war), and economic insecurity. A failure to relate to what most say is the civil rights movement of our times and generation that has embraced it on the ground has real implications for programs like FOCUS - will it be just an example of another failed attempt to reach out to our youth? If the Church, specifically in America and more importantly in Northern Virginia, doesn't take a different approach to homosexuality, as well as the divorced, and the growing trend towards extended and non-traditional makeup of the family unit in the 21st Century, it will lose an opportunity that's just knocking at it's door - loudly.

*C2 will be mailing this in the form of a Letter to the Editor

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Historical Impact of the 2014 Mid-term Elections, or Lack of it

Every election is important and the media over-uses the term "historic" for most of them, but just how important is THIS mid-term election?  What will change on November 5th, 2014?  C2 says, "not much".  Sure, it's an exercise of freedom and responsibility by good citizens to give notice to our elected officials on where we'd like the country to go, and in spite of all the cynicism, scandal and money that corrupts the system, we can only change this by being involved, engaged and using our votes. Your vote may not be the most important, but if you don't use it, it will be the least important.

Why does C2 have such a cynical view, that this election will likely not move the needle for either party in terms of power, and more importantly, the ability to implement policies in the interest of the country?  Here are our reasons, Constant Reader:

First, due to the gerrymandering of House districts since 2010 90% of the seats in the "People's Chamber" are safe.  This means that the most liberal and conservative of members have no reason to modify their stances on any issue because their districts are so ideologically, ethnically and religiously homogeneous.  As long as they stick to the script, they are fine - no need to moderate their views to the national interest - they may lose their jobs!  We leave changing the House to the inevitable march of time and the generational and migrational trends we have spoke so often about.

The real battle for influence is the Senate, as everyone who can read or watch TV knows by now. Bottom line: even if the GOP wins the Senate the victory will be Pyrrhic as they well know.  Time has run out.  They should have captured the Senate in 2010 and 2012 if not for Tea Party candidates that were so out of touch with modern American culture that C2 wonders if the GOP hadn't invented a time machine back to the 1948, where communists were around every corner, contraceptive devices were illegal, and women and ethnic minorities "knew their place".  Redefining rape for the sake of harsher regulations on abortion was the last straw for this site. It was the effort to legalize forced vaginal probings for sonograms that temporarily moved C2 from a left-of-center blog to a full-on liberal rant, outraged at the notion of state-sponsored rape - and act of coercion by those wanting a theocracy rather than a republic.

We give credit to establishment Republicans for taking control of their party, first by finally passing a budget last year, and then following through to defeat every Tea Party candidate for Senate during the primaries.  This ensured that the most target-rich environment the GOP will have for the next six years had solid candidates who focused on the problems with Barack Obama's second term, instead of crackpot discussions on "legitimate rape" or whether a woman's body could conceive during a "legitimate rape".  

Democrats could not count on gifts like that this year, and their own candidates received more scrutiny, looking desperate in many Red States - turning out to be political cowards by running away from the leader of the party - but accepting the money he raised from them just the same and looking exactly like the caricature politicians we despise.  They don't understand that mid-terms are not about moderate politics - independents just don't vote in mid-terms unless their is an over-riding issues like the Iraq War or Obamacare.  

However, if Democrats maintain control of the Senate, C2 actually thinks it will be a waste of two more years, as all the people who have given us a state political gridlock will still be in power.  And if the GOP wins, well, "the people who have given us a state political gridlock will still be in power".  The only thing that may happen, in a politically interesting and positive sense, will be a recognition by the GOP establishment that they have a small window of two years that will show the American people, and younger folks and minorities who will control the next election in 2016 that they can rule responsibly.  

This means passing a budget on time with NO government shutdowns, and most importantly, passage of major legislation addressing a long-standing issue with the president that benefits the country as a whole.  C2 thinks there are two pieces of meaningful legislation that can be worked on with a president looking to salvage his legacy: tax reform (even if it's only corporate tax reform) and immigration.  Passing another bill to end Obamacare will just look silly and more of the same - making those 20-some GOP-held senate seats in 2016 even more threatened because they lay in Democratic territory - yep - two years, Republicans. Use the power or lose the power in very quick fashion.  Look like statesmen and women rather than politicians and you may even give your 2016 standard-bearer a chance against the near-coronation of Hillary Clinton.  Another hearing on Benghazi or the IRS will be tempting too - but ending the state of limbo for 12 million people, and their legalized families, just may be earn you some street cred with Latinos as well.  We are not optimistic, but hopeful.  

Finally, there are 36 gubernatorial races tomorrow as well.  Only Wisconsin and Florida really matter: the former will make or break the presidential aspirations of Governor Walker; the latter will tilt Florida even more to the left and validate those trends I spoke about if Former Governor Crist wins.  If Governor Scott keeps the keys to the governor's mansion, the GOP will retain a significant power base for 2016.  Neither candidate is what the people deserve, however.  

I'd like to talk about Michigan and Governor Snyder, but he makes me too angry.  We approved of the Detroit bankruptcy and for the most part the future looks good for my former home, but his under-handed dealings concerning non-government unions and teachers unions, as well as the vote on Tesla just make us ill.  

All that said, and in truth, C2 has been waiting for 2016 since December of 2012 having predicted much of the last two years, sadly.  Go and vote today, Constant Reader.  Get the best you can out of your leaders despite everything.  We'll take baby steps if we must.

Remember these people as well when you vote, or when you don't,
because elections do have consequences.