A Genteel Rant on Party Unity

Having let this simmer on the back burner for a few weeks, I find it’s still apt, even with the election so close. Therefore, for your consideration:

I’m not a political action committee, nor do I plan to form one. It’s election season, though, so forgive me the occasional rant. There’s a campaign phenomenon that drives me nuts: people who campaign for (insert party name here) candidates for the sole reason that they belong to (insert party name here), because “party unity” or some such thing.

I’ve been a campaign staffer on two statewide Republican campaigns, both of which hired me knowing I’m an independent. A generation ago, back when I was a registered Republican, I was involved in platform debates. There’s pressure to support the entire party slate of candidates, top to bottom. That’s true of every party. I get that.

But I don’t think it’s too much to expect for pro-lifers to be pro-life first and (insert party name here) second. When elected officials of a party with a pro-life platform are not united in supporting that plank, and when the right to life is fundamental, then it’s kind of silly to vote a straight (insert party here) ticket.

Read the rest of the post at Leaven for the Loaf

Post-election donations: make them count

It’s on social media so it must be true: the president of the nation’s leading abortion provider is delighted to announce that since the presidential election, her organization has received 80,000 donations – and some of them have been donated in the name of pro-lifers, in a modestly in-your-face gesture.

Turnabout’s fair play. Consider supporting And Then There Were None, a ministry to workers seeking to leave the abortion industry, founded by ex-abortion-worker Abby Johnson. Make the donation in the name of whomever you please.

Re-collection

Reblogged from Granite State Walker

I walk for fun, to explore, to more-or-less exercise. I also walk to keep my head on straight. I wouldn’t have gotten through today without a couple of miles outside.

I’m a political critter, you see. I’ve been a campaign staffer, an activist, a blogger from the State House, to name a few pastimes. Yesterday was election day after the nastiest campaign year I’ve ever experienced. This has been a backed-up-sewer of a season.

Nothing will flush it out except time on the trails.

Continue reading

Merton on activism and “the real hope”

I’m indebted to Frank Weathers at Patheos for bringing Thomas Merton’s Letter to a Young Activist to my attention. The Patheos post came just after the 2012 election, after I had been a staff member on a statewide political campaign that fell short. Merton’s words were just what I needed to hear and ponder.

I offer an excerpt for your consideration, at the end of a campaign that makes 2012 look like a walk in the park. Go to the polls, for sure, but go with discernment and a spirit devoid of bitterness.

Do not depend on the hope of results. When you are doing the sort of work you have taken on, essentially an apostolic work, you may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. And there too a great deal has to be gone through as gradually you struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. The range tends to narrow down, but it gets much more real. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationships that saves everything.

The big results are not in your hands or mine, but they suddenly happen, and we can share in them; but there is no point in building our lives on this personal satisfaction, which may be denied us and which after all is not that important….

The great thing after all is to live, not to pour out your life in the service of a myth: and we turn the best things into myths. If you can get free from the domination of causes and just serve Christ’s truth, you will be able to do more and will be less crushed by the inevitable disappointments. Because I see nothing whatever in sight but much disappointment, frustration and confusion.

The real hope, then, is not in something we think we can do but in God who is making something good out of it in some way we cannot see. If we can do God’s will, we will be helping in this process. But we will not necessarily know all about it before hand.

Shared on #WorthRevisit linkup with Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb.

An Election Day destination (not the polls)

Much as I appreciate my freedom to exercise Catholic citizenship, I’ll be relieved to get past this election, bitter and noisy and chaotic as it is. I don’t think I’m the only one who feels that way.

Whoever handles social media for my local Diocese brightened my Facebook feed the other day with a simple announcement that the cathedral would be open all day Election Day for anyone wanting to stop in and pray. I love that. 

It’s not that I think prayer on Election Day is any more efficacious than prayer on any other day. Rather, this is a gentle and public reminder that while this election is important, there are things that are more important. It’s an invitation to walk away from the noise and the signs, catch one’s breath, and be renewed in spirit by the Presence in the tabernacle. 

Sure, I’ll vote. I’ll even be holding a sign for a friend who is running for office. But first things first.

Maritain on faith and the democratic ideal

“Faith in the dignity of the human personality, in brotherly love, in justice, and in the worth of the human soul, outweighing the whole material universe – faith, in a word, in the conception of man and his destiny which the gospel has deposited at the very center of human history – this faith is the only genuine principle by which the democratic ideal may truly live. Any democracy that lets this faith be corrupted lays itself open to that extent to disruption.”

I am discovering the work of Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain by way of an anthology from Sophia Press entitled Christianity, Democracy, and the American Ideal. The book clusters bits and pieces from Maritain’s work into chapters on various civic themes: the American experience, social solidarity, freedom of association, and so on.

The looming national election gives point to what I’m reading. The quote above brought me up short the other day. It rings true in a way the pile of campaign literature on my table does not.

Grace in a graceless season

Spare a moment and a prayer for the political types, please and thank you. I’m one of them.

The bitter election-year exchanges on every platform are part of my daily life. Whether on television on online, shutting them down altogether is not an option, appealing though it may be. Politics is part of my vocation. Times like these, I’m tempted to wish it were otherwise.

This is a plague-on-both-your-houses year. I am reading  C.S. Lewis’s  Mere Christianity this month, and something he wrote in there captures my attitude.

I feel a strong desire to tell you – and I expect you feel a strong desire to tell me – which of these two errors is the worse. That is the devil getting at us. He always sends errors into the world in pairs – pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse. You see why, of course? He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors. We have no other concern than that with either of them.

Providence was at work when I pulled that book off the shelf days ago. Continue reading