On a light note, my friend (and the friends she brough with her from Ravelry) liked my navy story (it’s near the bottom of this post) that ended, “Hope is not a course of action!” So, they made a button out of it. Very nice, y’all. 🙂
Now to the subject of the post title.
I don’t usually do this as often as I should, but here’s a post tonight that I loved, from gukkhser. And, aside from the very serious elements, I also loved her link to this bumpersticker. No, she isn’t supporting Obama (and neither am I!).
For those of you not familiar with the phrase, “cafeteria Catholic” refers to those Catholics who pick and choose which parts of Catholicism they feel like believing. “Well, I’m Catholic, but I don’t really listen when the pope talks about [fill in favorite sin or issue here].” Like Speaker Nancy Pelosi or Senator Joe Biden both insisting that they’re devout Catholics… even though they actively support the legalized murder of more than a million children a year in the U.S. alone through abortion. “Well, I’m Catholic, but I don’t believe in transubstantiation and I don’t think anyone else should, either.” “Well, I’m Catholic, but I live with my significant other, because the Church is just uptight about sex and doesn’t understand.”
(Note: this is not the issue of, “I have sins, doubts, and areas where I don’t understand why the Church says what it says. I’m not bragging about them, and I’m working and praying to correct/answer them.” We all have that. Cafeteria Catholicism is a more stubborn refusal to acknowledge the Church’s teachings, especially combined with an insistance that this is ok, it’s just “thinking Catholicism” to disagree with the pope or something like that… Incidentally, I consider myself a thinking Catholic, thank you very much, I just try to think with the mind of the Church, which is not what is generally meant by “thinking Catholic.”)
After Cardinal Josef Ratzinger was elected pope, the phrase, “The cafeteria is closed!” was an oft-repeated joyful cry in certain Catholic quarters. (There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth in quarters that like to think of themselves as “thinking Catholics”.)
I’ve read reports of various Catholics who support Obama on the “consistent life ethic” theory, which says that the other “life issues” weigh equally with abortion, so, for example, Obama’s opposition to the Iraq War, support for universal health care, and other issues outweighs his radically pro-abortion positions, including voting against requiring medical care for infants who survived an abortion. (And some do survive; see Gianna Jensen’s story, summarized here, with a link to her commercial on Sen. Obama’s record on the Born Alive Infant Protection Act.) There was even a nun working for the Obama campaign, making phone calls and such, who justified her work there by the questionable logic of the “consistent life ethic.”
Except that even the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops managed to say (with relative clarity this time) that abortion holds a primary position among the life issues. Free health care and avoidance of war does you no good if you were one of the more than a million children per year in the U.S. murdered as a fetus.
Be Catholic, or don’t. But don’t pick a few nice, popular, or easy parts; ignore the rest; insist it doesn’t really matter; and call yourself a good Catholic. Frankly, it’s that kind of “religion” that un-churched people are usually mocking. If you love Jesus, why don’t you love your neighbor? The first love requires the second. If Catholicism doesn’t change you, you’re either already a saint (and they all seem to have been quite aware of their remaining faults, even when those around them weren’t) or you’re missing something. Religion should challenge us to be better than we are, to grow in holiness and maturity, not just affirm our current habits and thoughts. As the saying goes, “God loves you too much to leave you as you are right now.”
Religion can not do that if we intentionally ignore the hard parts.
Everyone wants to help the poor (ok, except for the extreme ends of Social Darwinism who think charity interferes with the natural elimination of substandard people from the gene pool). We disagree about how to do it. Sen. Biden, to judge from his tax returns, thinks government should do everything (average charity donation per year over the last eight years: just under $1000. Senators’ salary was about $160k over that time.). Sen. McCain’s wife’s job is giving away her family’s money and encouraging others, especially in Congress, to personally contribute to charity efforts. Both sides agree we should help the less fortunate, they just take vastly different routes to do it.
Everyone wants peace. Yes, especially members (or ex-members) of the military. The question, again, is, “How?” Will an immediate end to the war cause peace to break out or cause more conflicts with a stronger enemy later? Would U.S. isolationism, pacifism, and/or disarmament end world conflicts or embolden countries with agressive designs? We agree on the goal, but diverge widely on the means.
Abortion is harder. There is no universal consensus on any level of the issue. Is a fetus human or not? How do its/his/her rights compare to the mother’s? Is abortion murder or just another medical procedure to remove a parasitical growth? Is it a heinous mortal sin or should it be a pseudo-sacrament? Abortion requires that pro-lifers stand up and say unpopular things. It would be much easier to ignore it and work on what we can agree on, wouldn’t it? I mean, I’m not a fetus anymore, right?
To quote the cynical narrator at the end of Man for All Seasons, after Thomas More has been beheaded for his convictions, “Whew! Thank goodness it wasn’t my neck!” The narrator’s last speech ends, the lights come up, and the audience is left with the uncomfortable feeling that we shouldn’t be too sure if we would behave like the saintly More, who wouldn’t compromise his convictions even if it meant he could be a good influence on the king otherwise, or the cynical narrator, who can’t even understand More’s faith, much less why he would lose his life for it.
Nobody would sacrifice his life for a selection from the cafeteria menu.
Thousands have sacrificed their lives for the fullness of Catholicism, even (or especially?) the hard parts.