Defense of Sacrament of Marriage ... First there are a few terms I want to define. Baltimore Catechism anyone?
136. Q. What is a Sacrament? A. A Sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace.
105. Q. What is sanctifying grace? -- AKA DIVINE GRACE A. Sanctifying grace is that grace which makes the soul holy and pleasing to God.
110. Q. What is actual grace? A. Actual grace is that help of God which enlightens our mind and moves our will to shun evil and do good.
Sacraments give or increase sanctifying grace ...
That marriage is a sacrament is raised to the level of a dogma of the faith by the Council of Trent - Canon I, Sess. XXIV (24) states "If any one shall say that matrimony is not truly and properly one of the Seven Sacraments of the Evangelical Law, instituted by Christ our Lord, but was invented in the Church by men, and does not confer grace, let him be anathema."
This was in response to the reformers
Calvin in his "Institutions", IV (4), xix (19), 34, says:
"Lastly, there is matrimony, which all admit was instituted by God, though no one before the time of Gregory regarded it as a sacrament. What man in his sober senses could so regard it? God's ordinance is good and holy; so also are agriculture, architecture, shoemaking, hair-cutting legitimate ordinances of God, but they are not sacraments".
And Luther speaks in terms equally vigorous.
"No one indeed can deny that marriage is an external worldly thing, like clothes and food, house and home, subject to worldly authority, as shown by so many imperial laws governing it." -- "Von den Ehesachen" (p. 1)
"Not only is the sacramental character of matrimony without foundation in Scripture; but the very traditions, which claim such sacredness for it, are a mere jest"; the original edition of "De captivitate Babylonica"
"Marriage may therefore be a figure of Christ and the Church; it is, however, no Divinely instituted sacrament, but the invention of men in the Church, arising from ignorance of the subject." -- the original edition of "De captivitate Babylonica"
Proof from Scripture
The classical scriptural text is from St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians where Christ declares that the relation between husband and wife should be of that between Christ and the Church.
I will read Ephesians 5:31-32 in the Douay-Rheims version to demonstrate
For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be two in one flesh. This is a great sacrament; but I speak in Christ and in the church.
Still, this cannot be used as a definitive defense because the later, more technical meaning of the word did not come into play until centuries after this verse was penned. A more modern translation of the verse (NAB used by the USCCB)
For this reason a man shall leave (his) father and (his) mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.
Still we call sacraments "Divine mysteries" and from the emphasis we can infer that the importance of marriage is not to be considered lightly. Ludwig Ott in his Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma explains it as such.
"As the unification of Christ with the Church is a rich source of grace for the members of the Church, so marriage if it is to be a perfect image of the grace-conferring attachment of Christ with the Church, must not be an empty symbol, as it had been in the pre-Christian era but an efficacious (producing the result - i.e. real) sign of grace." -
or as the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia states:
"There would be no reason, therefore, why the Apostle should refer with such emphasis to Christian marriage as so great a sacrament, if the greatness of Christian marriage did not lie in the fact, that it is not a mere sign, but an efficacious sign of the life of grace. In fact, it would be entirely out of keeping with the economy of the New Testament if we possessed a sign of grace and salvation instituted by God which was only an empty sign, and not an efficacious (producing the result - i.e. real) one."
Now why would it be entirely out of keeping with the economy of the New Testament to possess a sign that was empty? As Jesus said in Matt 5:17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill." The Catholic faith is a sacramental faith, a point I will delve into momentarily, and our understanding of marriage draws very much from that fact. We as Catholics have an expectation that all types of grace present in the Old Testament, especially covenants, were fulfilled in the New Covenant as greater and more perfect. For example, baptism is "the new circumcision" which allows ALL to enter the New Covenant by the washing clean of our sins.
Col 2:11-12 In him 5 you were also circumcised with a circumcision not administered by hand, by stripping off the carnal body, with the circumcision of Christ. You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
As as the bread offered to the Israelites in the desert sustained them physically, the "Bread of Life", that is Jesus Christ present in the Eucharist will allow us "to live forever".
John 6:49-51 "Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."
That Christ dignified marriage by returning it to the glory indicated in the first books of Sacred Scripture further indicates this perfection of marriage belongs to that of a sacrament.
Matt 19:4-12 Some Pharisees approached him, and tested him, 4 saying, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?" He said in reply, "Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female' and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate." They said to him, "Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss (her)?" He said to them, "Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, 7 whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery."
But you don't have to just take my word for it. To further underscore the doctrine that marriage is a sacrament, I would like to expound on a brief proof from Tradition, or as I like to say, from history -- Lets ask a few of the early church fathers.
The biggest key in demonstrating early acceptance of the sacramental nature of marriage is demonstrating its ability to confer Divine grace. The following elements belong to a sacrament:
it must be a sacred religious rite instituted by Christ; (see Ignatius of Antoch, Tertullian)
this rite must be a sign of interior sanctification; (see Eph 5)
it must confer this interior sanctification or Divine grace; (Tertullian, Augustine)
this effect of Divine grace must be produced, not only in conjunction with the respective religious act, but through it (it must continue). (Tertullian, Augustine)
Hence, whoever attributes these elements to Christian marriage, thereby declares it a true sacrament in the strict sense of the word.
Point one: * it must be a sacred religious rite instituted by Christ;
From the beginning the early fathers regarded marriage as a religious affair
St. Ignatius of Antioch (107 AD) "Letter to Polycarp 5" - "But it becomes both men and women who marry, to form their union with the approval of the bishop, that their marriage may be according to God, and not after their own lust. Let all things be done to the honour of God."
Point two: * this rite must be a sign of interior sanctification; -- back to Ephesians 5 where Paul spells out the image of Christ and the Church with respect to the husband and the wife.
Point three/four: * it must confer this interior sanctification or Divine grace; (Tertullian, Augustine) * this effect of Divine grace must be produced, not only in conjunction with the respective religious act, but through it (it must continue)
As early as the second century we have the valuable testimony of Tertullian,when discussing a mixed marriage between Gentile (secular) matrimony Christian stating that matrimony enjoys "the partial sanction of divine grace"
If these things may happen to those women also who, having attained the faith while in (the state of) Gentile matrimony, continue in that state, still they are excused, as having been "apprehended by God" in these very circumstances; and they are bidden to persevere in their married state, and are sanctified, and have hope of "making a gain" held out to them. "If, then, a marriage of this kind (contracted before conversion) stands ratified before God, why should not (one contracted after conversion) too go prosperously forward, so as not to be thus harassed by pressures, and straits, and hindrances, and defilements, having already (as it has) the partial sanction of divine grace?" "Ad Uxorem", II, vii
But if Divine grace and its protection are, as Tertullian asserts, given with marriage, we have therein the distinctive moment which constitutes a religious action (already known for other reasons as a sign of Divine grace) an efficacious sign of grace, that is, a true Sacrament of the New Dispensation. It is only on this hypothesis that we can rightly understand another passage from the same work of
"How can we describe the happiness of those marriages which the Church ratifies, the sacrifice strengthens, the blessing seals, the angels publish, the Heavenly Father propitiously (graciously) beholds?" "Ad Uxorem" II, ix, in P.L., I, 1302
Again, as Pope Benedict stated, "....we have a positive idea to offer, that man and woman are made for each other, that the scale of sexuality, eros, agape, indicates the level of love and it's in this way that marriage develops, first of all, as a joyful and blessing-filled encounter between a man and a woman, and then the family, that guarantees continuity among generations and through which generations are reconciled to each other and even cultures can meet. ...."
Through here we have discussed testimony from the first two centuries. In the 4th century St. Augustine places marriage, which he names a sacrament, on the same level with Baptism and Holy Orders. Thus, as Baptism and Holy Orders are sacraments in the strict sense and are recognized as such by the Holy Doctor, he also considers the marriage of Christians a sacrament in the full and strict sense of the word. As an image of the bond between Christ and the Church is employed, and that we know that this unification of Christ and His Church is indissoluble we can further infer that marriage retains the same indissolubility.
"Among all people and all men the good that is secured by marriage consists in the offspring and in the chastity of married fidelity; but, in the case of God's people [the Christians], it consists moreover in the holiness of the sacrament, by reason of which it is forbidden, even after a separation has taken place, to marry another as long as the first partner lives . . . just as priests are ordained to draw together a Christian community, and even though no such community be formed, the Sacrament of Orders still abides in those ordained, or just as the Sacrament of the Lord, once it is conferred, abides even in one who is dismissed from his office on account of guilt, although in such a one it abides unto judgment." De bono conjugii - chap. xxiv in P.L., XL, 394
"Undoubtedly it belongs to the essence of this sacrament that, when man and wife are once united by marriage, this bond remains indissoluble throughout their lives. As long as both live, there remains a something attached to the marriage, which neither mutual separation nor union with a third can remove; in such cases, indeed, it remains for the aggravation of the guilt of their crime, not for the strengthening of the union. Just as the soul of an apostate, which was once similarly wedded unto Christ and now separates itself from Him, does not, in spite of its loss of faith, lose the Sacrament of Faith, which it has received in the waters of regeneration." De nuptiis et concupiscentia - (I, x, in P.L., XLIV, 420)
Pope Innocent I in a letter dated Jan 27, 417 AD declares a second marriage during the lifetime of the first partner invalid, and adds:
"Supported by the Catholic Faith, we declare that the true marriage is that which is originally founded on Divine grace." -- Letter to Probus (Ep. ix, in P.L., XX, 602)
So we see here, clear testimony from the fathers prior to the 4th century that marriage was, in kernel, regarded as a sacrament.
Beyond that we have greater testimony in the liturgical books of the churches both in communion with Rome and those separated from the earliest times:
In all these rituals and liturgical collections, marriage, contracted before the priest during the celebration of Mass, is accompanied by ceremonies and prayers similar to those used in connection with the other sacraments; in fact several of these rituals expressly call marriage a sacrament, and, because it is a "sacrament of the living", require contrition for sin and the reception of the Sacrament of Penance before marriage is contracted (cf. Martène, "De antiquis ecclesiæ ritibus", I, ix). But the venerable age, in fact the apostolicity, of the ecclesiastical tradition concerning marriage is still more clearly revealed by the circumstance that the rituals or liturgical books of the Oriental Churches and sects, even of those that separated from the Catholic Church in the first centuries, treat the contracting of marriage as a sacrament, and surround it with significant and impressive ceremonies and prayers. The Nestorians, Monophysites, Copts, Jacobites etc., all agree in this point (cf. J. S. Assemani, "Bibliotheca orientalis", III, i, 356; ii, 319 sqq.; Schelstrate, "Acta oriental. eccl.", I, 150 sqq.; Denzinger, "Ritus orientalium", I, 150 sqq.; II, 364 sqq.). The numerous prayers which are used throughout the ceremony refer to a special grace which is to be granted to the newly-married persons, and occasional commentaries show that this grace was regarded as sacramental. Thus, the Nestorian patriarch, Timotheus II, in his work "De septem causis sacramentorum" mentioned in Assemani (III, i, 579), deals with marriage among the other sacraments, and enumerates several religious ceremonies without which marriage is invalid. Evidently, therefore, he includes marriage among the sacraments, and considers the grace resulting from it a sacramental grace.
The doctrine that marriage is a sacrament of the New Law has never been a matter of dispute between the Roman Catholic and any of the Oriental Churches separated from it -- a convincing proof that this doctrine has always been part of ecclesiastical tradition and is derived from the Apostles.
pulled from a talk I gave on marriage some months ago which borrows heavily from Catholic Encyclopedia and Ludwig Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma
There is some anecdotal evidence to support the idea that priests and religious come from large families at a higher rate than small families. I bring this up because I heard a priest discussing vocations and one of the things he mentioned was that it was a sacrifice. For the priest or religious this is clear, but he further pointed out the difficulty it brings for the parents of the one accepting the call. Parents obviously want to see their children grow up and have children. I think of this myself even with having small children now. Fr. further stressed when talking about the external factors affecting those who answer the call is that of smaller families. It seems there is much greater pressure placed on those discerning from smaller families because in some cases this lessens or cuts off the possibility of grand children.
This got me to thinking. Larger families TEND to be more devout. In a culture that has sold its soul to avoiding children, doesn't it seem obvious that the newer priests are more zealous because they come from backgrounds where families often stress vocations and have less external pressure to carry on the family name than families with less children?
Backed by the full weight of President Barack Obama’s call to service and the institutional weight of the NEA, the conference call was billed as an opportunity for those in the art community to inspire service in four key categories, and at the top of the list were “health care” and “energy and environment.” The service was to be attached to the President’s United We Serve campaign, a nationwide federal initiative to make service a way of life for all Americans.
It sounded, how should I phrase it…unusual, that the NEA would invite the art community to a meeting to discuss issues currently under vehement national debate. I decided to call in, and what I heard concerned me.
We were encouraged to bring the same sense of enthusiasm to these “focus areas” as we had brought to Obama’s presidential campaign, and we were encouraged to create art and art initiatives that brought awareness to these issues. Throughout the conversation, we were reminded of our ability as artists and art professionals to “shape the lives” of those around us. The now famous Obama “Hope” poster, created by artist Shepard Fairey and promoted by many of those on the phone call, and will.i.am’s “Yes We Can” song and music video were presented as shining examples of our group’s clear role in the election.
Obama has a strong arts agenda, we were told, and has been very supportive of both using and supporting the arts in creative ways to talk about the issues facing the country. We were “selected for a reason,” they told us. We had played a key role in the election and now Obama was putting out the call of service to help create change. We knew “how to make a stink,” and were encouraged to do so.
Throughout the conversation my inner dialogue was firing away questions so fast that the NRA would’ve been envious. Is this truly the role of the NEA? Is building a message distribution network, for matters other than increasing access to the arts and arts education, the role of the National Endowment for the Arts? Is providing the art community issues to address, especially those that are currently being vehemently debated nationally, a legitimate role for the NEA? I found it highly unlikely that this was in their original charter, so I checked.
Another question for the gallery ... Is this image sufficient for a consecration/enshrinement/enthronement of our home to the Sacred Heart? It is a Divine Mercy image with a Sacred Heart in it.
I was asked whether this ceremony was being done for us by one of the Sacred Heart members or a priest. Our priest does it along with the Missionaries of Charity. Many of our friends have encouraged us to do this. We are supposed to pray a novena and then the priest and the sisters come out to our house for the ceremony. It seemed fairly straightforward although I must admit some confusion has arisen recently about what images are acceptable etc.
Yet the boycott doesn’t ring true to me. Beyond the obvious involvement of groups like Single Payer Action, an advocacy group that is pushing for a nationalisation of health care period, well beyond President Obama’s call for a government option, there is the insincere morality of those Whole Food shoppers who say they won’t frequent the store in the future.
The reasoning for the boycott is that John Mackey has political opinions that are right-wing, anti-union and obviously against true health care reform. Yet if shopping were all about lining up your own politics with the politics of a company CEO, then I would see many more men with ponytails and goatees cycling their way to Costco to pick up milk and organic, shade-grown, fair trade coffee beans (yes, they do sell them). A number of Costco stores in California and the American northwest are unionised and employees at non-union stores get the same wages and benefits as the unionised shops, including salaries of $40,000 or more, a large sum in retailing. It sounds like the type of employer those boycotting Whole Foods would want.
Costco co-founders Jeffrey Brotman and Jim Sinegal are not only donors to the Democratic Party, but have been linked to left-wing advocacy groups like MoveOn.org and America Coming Together. Yet I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that Costco’s customer base includes a large number of Republicans and very few of the die-hard liberals calling for an end to Whole Foods over the politics of their CEO.
Of course the amazing support that some Republicans have recently shown for Whole Foods strikes me as similarly disingenuous. After all, Whole Foods supposedly supports Planned Parenthood (according to Life Decisions International) and there is no doubt what segment of the political spectrum Whole Foods typically panders to.
Mecatornet finishes up with
This incident is not only another example of the politicisation of food but of the growing partisan divide in America (and other countries); the divide Barack Obama was supposed to heal. How much longer can democracy survive if we cannot even have civil disagreements over how a political question should be solved?
Priest: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.
Priest: The Lord be with you.
People: And with your spirit.
I confess to almighty God,
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have sinned
through my own fault,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done,
and in what I have failed to do;
and I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin,
all the angels and saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord, our God.
I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done
and in what I have failed to do, through my fault, through my fault,
through my most grievous fault;
therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.
about health care from an executive branch web site I cannot help but wonder why people think it is a good thing that Big Brother Is Advertising.
Furthermore, how is this any different than Bush calling together prominent bloggers to deliver talking points to the masses about Iraq? It's not. A new administration doesn't immediately become unblemished or even credible because they operate in contrast on certain points to a previous untrustworthy administration. This is especially true in the face of what little has actually changed in Washington. Seriously, who is really in control here, the people or the ones we elected?
Sometimes I wish we had a king so we can all be united in praise of his benevolence or united in opposition to his tyranny. As it is, we are divided as to which form of tyranny we prefer.
Since your role in teaching your children the faith is so vital
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Hence, parents must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children. Their role as educators is so decisive that scarcely anything can compensate for their failure in it. ... The right and duty of parents to give education is essential, since it is connected with the transmission of human life; it is original and primary with regard to the educational role of others, on account of the uniqueness of the loving relationship between parents and children; and it is irreplaceable and inalienable, and therefore incapable of being entirely delegated to others or usurped by others. -- Familiaris Consortio
What about this is not a clanging gong as to why CCD -- even good CCD -- fails?
I mean, if the parents are not backing up at home what is being taught in the classroom then THEIR values are what is going to take root in the children. The Church rightly stresses this importance.
So shouldn't the parents thoroughly understand that simply dropping their kids off a few weeks a year is not going to turn them into devout Catholics without role models? Are there any parishes in this country that have come up with creative ways of getting the parents to understand this reality?
The current national debate about health care reform should concern all of us. There is much at stake in this political struggle, and also much confusion and inaccurate information being thrown around. My brother bishops have described some clear “goal-posts” to mark out what is acceptable reform, and what must be rejected. First and most important, the Church will not accept any legislation that mandates coverage, public or private, for abortion, euthanasia, or embryonic stem-cell research. We refuse to be made complicit in these evils, which frankly contradict what “health care” should mean. We refuse to allow our own parish, school, and diocesan health insurance plans to be forced to include these evils. As a corollary of this, we insist equally on adequate protection of individual rights of conscience for patients and health care providers not to be made complicit in these evils. A so-called reform that imposes these evils on us would be far worse than keeping the health care system we now have.
Second, the Catholic Church does not teach that “health care” as such, without distinction, is a natural right. The “natural right” of health care is the divine bounty of food, water, and air without which all of us quickly die. This bounty comes from God directly. None of us own it, and none of us can morally withhold it from others. The remainder of health care is a political, not a natural, right, because it comes from our human efforts, creativity, and compassion. As a political right, health care should be apportioned according to need, not ability to pay or to benefit from the care. We reject the rationing of care. Those who are sickest should get the most care, regardless of age, status, or wealth. But how to do this is not self-evident. The decisions that we must collectively make about how to administer health care therefore fall under “prudential judgment.”
Third, in that category of prudential judgment, the Catholic Church does not teach that government should directly provide health care. Unlike a prudential concern like national defense, for which government monopolization is objectively good – it both limits violence overall and prevents the obvious abuses to which private armies are susceptible – health care should not be subject to federal monopolization. Preserving patient choice (through a flourishing private sector) is the only way to prevent a health care monopoly from denying care arbitrarily, as we learned from HMOs in the recent past. While a government monopoly would not be motivated by profit, it would be motivated by such bureaucratic standards as quotas and defined “best procedures,” which are equally beyond the influence of most citizens. The proper role of the government is to regulate the private sector, in order to foster healthy competition and to curtail abuses. Therefore any legislation that undermines the viability of the private sector is suspect. Private, religious hospitals and nursing homes, in particular, should be protected, because these are the ones most vigorously offering actual health care to the poorest of the poor.
The best way in practice to approach this balance of public and private roles is to spread the risks and costs of health care over the largest number of people. This is the principle underlying Medicaid and Medicare taxes, for example. But this principle assumes that the pool of taxable workers is sufficiently large, compared to those who draw the benefits, to be reasonably inexpensive and just. This assumption is at root a pro-life assumption! Indeed, we were a culture of life when such programs began. Only if we again foster a culture of life can we perpetuate the economic justice of taxing workers to pay health care for the poor. Without a growing population of youth, our growing population of retirees is outstripping our distribution systems. In a culture of death such as we have now, taxation to redistribute costs of medical care becomes both unjust and unsustainable.
Fourth, preventative care is a moral obligation of the individual to God and to his or her family and loved ones, not a right to be demanded from society. The gift of life comes only from God; to spurn that gift by seriously mistreating our own health is morally wrong. The most effective preventative care for most people is essentially free – good diet, moderate exercise, and sufficient sleep. But pre-natal and neo-natal care are examples of preventative care requiring medical expertise, and therefore cost; and this sort of care should be made available to all as far as possible.
Within these limits, the Church has been advocating for decades that health care be made more accessible to all, especially to the poor. Will the current health care reform proposals achieve these goals?
The current House reform bill, HR 3200, does not meet the first or the fourth standard. As Cardinal Justin Rigali has written for the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-life Activities, this bill circumvents the Hyde amendment (which prohibits federal funds from being used to pay for abortions) by drawing funding from new sources not covered by the Hyde amendment, and by creatively manipulating how federal funds covered by the Hyde amendment are accounted. It also provides a “public insurance option” without adequate limits, so that smaller employers especially will have a financial incentive to push all their employees into this public insurance. This will effectively prevent those employees from choosing any private insurance plans. This will saddle the working classes with additional taxes for inefficient and immoral entitlements. The Senate bill, HELP, is better than the House bill, as I understand it. It subsidizes care for the poor, rather than tending to monopolize care. But, it designates the limit of four times federal poverty level for the public insurance option, which still includes more than half of all workers. This would impinge on the vitality of the private sector. It also does not meet the first standard of explicitly excluding mandatory abortion coverage.
I encourage all of you to make you voice heard to our representatives in Congress. Tell them what they need to hear from us: no health care reform is better than the wrong sort of health care reform. Insist that they not permit themselves to be railroaded into the current too-costly and pro-abortion health care proposals. Insist on their support for proposals that respect the life and dignity of every human person, especially the unborn. And above all, pray for them, and for our country. (Please see the website for the Iowa Catholic Conference at www.iowacatholicconference.org and www.usccb.org/healthcare for more information)
Populist Right Rising .... or Obama's problem, part II
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
This plays into my earlier post about Obama's problem. Pat Buchananan points out even further evidence that Americans have all of the sudden become a little more conservative ....
But what are we to make of these "evil-mongers" of Harry Reid's depiction, these "mobs" of "thugs" organized by K Street lobbyists and "right-wing extremists" who engage in "un-American" activity at town hall meetings? Surely, all Americans must detest them.
To the contrary. According to a Pew poll, by 61 percent to 34 percent, Americans think the protesters are behaving properly. Gallup found that by 34 percent to 21 percent Americans identify with them. ... What President Obama is losing is not the far right but the center of the country.
You know the middle he moderated towards during the election. The middle that decides the outcome of midterms and future presidential elections. Or as I said in a comment of an earlier post
Taking an election that was not a landslide as a mandate is a mistake both parties have been prone to. You cannot just seize power and push your agenda. The most effective presidents in recent memory didn't drive the wedge. They worked with what they had and they tried to make small efforts to do the right thing rather than pushing rash legislation through against the concerns of large percentages of the American public (source)
So then, anyone who loves history knows that what is happening today in these two huge countries (FC: India and China), which together constitute almost one third of the world population, has always happened in the past, including in old Europe or in the New World. Up until the coming of Christianity.
One of the ideas that recur most in the writings of the first Christians is in fact their desire to frequently repeat one concept: we Christians are different from the pagans, in part because we do not kill our children, neither within our women's wombs or outside of them.
Which then goes on to produce some choice citations from the early church on the topic of abortion.
Which of course extends to contraception. Culture travels through those who have children. The surest way to win the battle against a world that hates children it to allow God to bless us.
Psalm 127:3 Children too are a gift from the LORD, the fruit of the womb, a reward
since I hammered the gnashing of teeth by Republicans on side show items I figured I would give Democrats their own hammering ....
A short while back Mark Shea linked to a Tom Tomorrow comic lamenting the lack of action on certain promises that Obama ran on. See Can this marriage be saved?
This post prompted me to note a trend in recent weeks. There was much to be said of claims by partisan Republicans that Obama was inexperienced. This health care plan, for all of its possible merit, has driven that point home quite nicely. The problem is that most Americans do not deal in vague generalizations. They want to know details because, unlike congress, they have to balance a budget and keep food on the table. "Change" with vague promises is nice rhetoric. It sounds good and it tingles the soul. Details, however, are boring. How to pay for things and how to implement them within the legal system we have in the country are of paramount consideration when making campaign promises. From recent appearances Obama simply didn't do that. So what I want to point out is that people are starting to feel snookered.
Obama's aggressive endorsement of a healthcare plan that does not even exist yet, except in five competing, fluctuating drafts, makes Washington seem like Cloud Cuckoo Land. The president is promoting the most colossal, brazen bait-and-switch operation since the Bush administration snookered the country into invading Iraq with apocalyptic visions of mushroom clouds over American cities.
The greatest peril for Obama, I think, lies in the question of whether he can produce the new, post-partisan, surmounting-special-interests politics that he envisioned during the campaign. In a month of raucous town hall meetings and stalled legislation, that hardly seems likely. The secret deal with Tauzin can only deepen the skepticism. Which leads to the core question facing the still-young administration: What happens when people start to wonder whether they can really believe in this change?
An important factor is undoubtedly the extraordinary influence of special interests at several points in the political system."Interests" - in this case health insurance, pharmaceuticals and private hospitals on one side, and trial lawyers and trade unionson the other - are able to exert three kinds of pressure (see JoeKlein, "Will Special Interests Stymie Health-Care Reform?", Time, 3 August 2009).
First, they target politicians directly with massive campaigns of televised political advertising of a kind that would not be permitted by law (on account that it skews public debate) in most other developed countries.
Second, they lean on politicians by contributing large sums to their re-election campaigns, or to those of their opponents. The fact that elections for the House of Representatives are held every two years increases the temptation and vulnerability of congressmen.
Third, the interests can support a vast network of advocacy-groups, foundations, lobbies and public-relations operations which all strive to frame the debate. This includes the often explicit aim of influencing media reporting. The success here is most blatant in the resulting distortion of Americans' perception of how healthcare works in other countries (for example, the canard that people in Britain or Canada are notallowed to choose their own doctor).
How is Obama going to change the culture in Washington when it is so clear that this health care plan intends very much to work within ideological support for certain special interest groups? This is what happens when you make a promise and leave the details to a very unpopular and highly partisan congress. You pick your lobbies when you vote for Washington politicians and you are not necessarily going to like either set. So much for change eh?
We are at each others throats slinging only carefully packaged bombs of partisan talking points delivered to us by whatever party we hold dear at any particular point in time (this was the reason for Obama wanting supporters to "turn-in" their friend's arguments). Never-mind that the Democrats have a good point on X and the Republicans have a good point on Y. We may never know what a good health care system is like because special interests are determined to screw up whatever the Democrats pass by controlling the debate and focusing it on short rhetoric and not basing it on facts, logic and legitimate REASONED and ad-hominem free discussion.
This is a "fresh" blogroll. It tends to list blogs most frequently updated at the top. It will also drop blogs not updated for a few days. Never fear though, if you post, it will show back up. If you are interested in how I did it see this post.