A group of Catholic bishops are considering the denial of Communion to President Biden. They are displeased with Biden’s “support” for abortion. I don’t actuallly think Biden ever said he supported abortion, but supported the right of a pregnant woman to choose what happens to her body. That’s a bit different from a stance of supporting abortion,, promoting abortion, urging women to have abortions. That would be “pro-abortion” to me, but I’m kind of simple, it seems.
The Pope didn’t weigh in on the matter, saying (correctly, I might add) that bigger issues are in front of them. The Vatican has said recently that the sacrament is not a reward, and should not be used as a political weapon. Well, yeah. It shouldn’t be. But the Catholic Church’s history chronicles many instances of their political intervention in matters of state, and not only in the United States. People who analyze these sorts of things point out that issues like this, where the Church takes internal action against a politician, would seem to be of more concern to the issue of separation of church and state than a matter of faith and adherence to dogma.
I would imagine the Catholic Church, in particular, would have to admit they are not infallible and not unblemished on moral grounds. The sex scandal of recent years should leave no argument there, as victims continue to come forward and there has been a steady stream of recompense. So, let he who has no sin throw the first stone…but in the matter of Joe Biden, the Church has thrown the first stone, which is of course a small boulder.
The Catholic Church in America has long been considered among the most conservative in the Church’s footprint. I like Pope Francis, he seems to have very positive and accepting energy. But he is the Pope, and his job is to preside over the flock and promote the faith. I have been disappointed with him for not taking or at least voicing his support for women becoming clergy. He has elevated the opinions and regard for nuns in the faith, which is long overdue and very much necessary. But elevating women to the star chamber, well…no.
I kind of don’t understand what the objection is for women as priests. There are women as deacons, and they are allowed to serve Communion outside of the Church, in convalescence homes, nursing homes, and for invalids at home. The leap to women performing the ritual of the Mass shouldn’t be a far jump, in my opinion, unless you’re operating from a baseline of misogyny.
So, when an institution as large and influential as the Catholic Church considers action such as denying Communion to a politician, it will mean something to billions of practicing Catholics. They may be inclined to look negatively on Joe Biden, and his political party. Many people for whom this is an important issue probably have Joe Biden at the bottom of their approval ratings. They may be inclined to vote for an opposing candidate, and that’s the heart of why this touches on separation of church and state.
The issue of abortion is always sticky, and it’s always hard to balance dogma against gender equity. Regardless of that, I cannot see any other way to look at the push from Bishops to deny the President Communion as inherently political. But, this has happened before, and that’s just how it goes. At least this time it’s not tacit support of the Holocaust that is on the table.
The notion of fighting for what you think is right is natural to us. I like Jolly Ranchers better than Haribo Gummies, and if you don’t, it’s my dudty to bring you over to the Jolly Rancher side. OK, I can handle that. It’s annoying that such an inconsequential issue would be worthy of more than 15 seconds of conversation, but more benign issues than candy have sparked wars.
Why is it that I need to convince you of my opinion or support about something, whether it’s faith or candy or political policy? It’s something hard-wired in us, and it seems as though self-differentiation is so lonely that we don’t want to possibly stand alone. That seems to be a character issue – always choose the winning side, not necessarily the correct side. For me, that seems to point back to our incessant quest for power. Power over another. Power to get our way. Power to be a winner. Winning is important to us. We have to be top of the heap, even if the heap is the number of deaths from COVID. Yay, us!
So all of that notwithstanding, there were a few more happenings that I took note of recently. This debate – or argument (there’s a difference) – about critical race theory is raging. There are governors and other politicians who are taking steps to ban the teaching of critical race theory in public schools. Their justification is critical race theory is essentially racist in its content, and harmful to children. Plus, it will make the kids feel badly about themselves, so…. no critical race theory for us.
Legislation to ban critical race theory is moving across the country rapidly, like the fast-moving lava from the volcano that is erupting in Iceland. This is unfortunate, in my opinion, because if we are going to have this “reckoning” and move from this point of stasis about the status quo, we need something that provides guide rails to do that work. Critical race theory could be those guide rails, keeping things in context so that we don’t lose sight of the reason this needs to be done in the first place.
I don’t think any elementary, middle, or high school teacher in the United States will be introducing a lesson on critical race theory in their classes. Critical race theory is a high brow, post collegiate level academic theorem and not suitable for pre-college students. Nobody is going to be offering an exam with discussion questions on this rather pithy philosophical and legal subject matter. What they SHOULD do is use the tenets of critical race theory to guide the teacher in presenting true history, not idealism and false historicla references.
It is amazing what most of us have not been taught. It doesn’t matter what color you might be, but we are ignorant of quite a lot of things. When the 1921 Tulsa OK race massacre was in the news. the majority of comments I saw and people I spoke with found themselves stupified by hot knowing about this before now. I was among those who didn’t know a great many things about American history, and I’m eternally grateful to have found out. I don’t see how broadening my understanding of how we got here translates to an unpatriotic stance.
But, here we are, on the battleground that is critiical race theory. That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, because like Pope Francis, I think we have bigger issues on the table. immigration, health care, gun control, police reform, jobs, little stuff like that. So, why in the world is critical race theory getting people to dance around in their boxing gloves, dodging and weaving and looking to knockout the opposition?
I contend this is a contrived distraction. The biggest issue this nation is dealing with is voter suppression and election reform. Those bills are circulating all over country, but they seem more hazy in our vision. I believe that’s because just about everyone can see that suppressing the Black voting block will be favorable to electing candidates of one party over another. Some, however, don’t connect the dots between making it illegal to provide water to voters standing in a long waiting line in GA with the January 6th insurrection. There’s a definite connection.
This is not the first time the nation has sought to suppress the votes of Black people and people of color. Obviously, after the right to vote for all citizens became law, there was resistance. The resistance is about power, or what we call power. The way our governance structure operates, if you want to have a pothole fixed on your street or a ball park built in your town, you need political power. To get that, we are supposed to elect the representatives on the ground who will use their influence to get the desired prize. These days, however, the process seems to get stuck when elected representatives have their own agendas and make only casual reference to the will of their constituency. That’s not a good thing.
Politicians who seek to follow their own agendas, or the agendas of major institutional donors is the kiss of death for the republic. Democracy cannot exist without having one vote equivalent to one voice, and of course the election process must be trustworthy. Personally, I think our only hesitancy to accept the current process as valid is because our thoughts have been poisoned by the nay sayers and conspiracy theories, not to mention extremists who have their own agenda for “getting THEIR country back”. All of this spells non-inclusion of everyone, on the basis of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and somewhat to gender (particularly non-binary women and Black or brown women). This is where the extreme traditionalists converge, and it looks an awful lot like the racism and anti-Black prejudice stances of earlier times.
The effort to confer superior status on people of European descent in this country has been going on since the first pilgrims landed on our shores. In so many ways, we know no other way. Africans who accompanied those early settlers were definitely not equal in status to indentured servants of European descent, so the rules of engagement were set from the first days of settling the New World. We don’t really have any experience with a healthy citizenship here, but we know better. We can see what the scourge of second-class citizenship does, how it erodes our integrity, how it is contradictory to values we espouse.
It’s easy to see double standards today, in many places in our society and our institutions. The governing boards of many American corporations bear little demographic resemblance to the rest of the nation, with few Blacks, Indigenous or People of Color. When Colin Kaepernick knelt when the National Anthem was played during football games, even the former President rejected the action as peaceable dissent. When rioters stormed the nation’s Capitol, breaking windows, damaging property, injuring police officers even the President at the time responded they were patriots, people who loved their country. Colin Kaepernick was not a patriot, he hated America, and he should be fired according to that same President. That’s not simply a matter of perception, because nobody in their right mind can reduce the insurrection to the level of a peaceful protest.
There’s no easy or quick answer to any of this, but unless we arrest the process now and prevent it from getting worse, it is doomed to be worse. Much worse. I do not want to see fighting in our streets between Americans who believe only one concept of how our country should look is plausible. We will all be the losers if that happens, and we’re very close to it right now, at least that’s my opinion. There is no shortage of passion on either side of what this country should be and what it should look like.
Part of why we’re so raucously agitated right now, I believe, is that we’re basically still tribal in our world view. We don’t realize that, but it’s easily seen at any sports competition, where the audience is polarized between those who want Team A to win, and those who want Team B to win. There’s no middle ground, and they can’t both win. So, especially in American football, everybody beat the crap out of the opposition and capture their goal. Whoever is still standing at the end of the prescribed competitive period and who has captured the goal more times wins. Period. Now on to the next one.
Unfortunately, when humans are competing for tangible resources, financial and otherwise it’s not that simple. Money is frequently the root cause of all of this in these times. Even in the simplicity of sports, the mot frequent winner is financially rewarded for their efforts. In the competition between nations, we’re all competing against each other for the prize of lucrative trade options, even more lucrative product delivery like sugar, cigars, cars, electronic devices, and medication. There is big money in those niches, but also the physical survival of millions of people. That’s where it gets scary.
Sometimes I wish for the Big Storm to descend and wipe out our modern contrivances. Bring us back to the understanding that we all need each other to survive, and no one of us can manipulate resources so they have more than a fair share. Let us remember how to write with a pencil and paper, and figure out who the hell we are. We can do that, but everybody has to be willing, and we can’t quit because it gets too hard or nothing’s changing after 30 days. We have to be in it for the long haul.
Volcanoes erupt and spew lava out in the nearby valleys. Tropical storms, cyclones, and hurricanes can demolish entire towns in minutes. The wind gets riled up and starts rotating and a massive tornado crashes through lives and what they’ve built in a flash. And we rebuild. There’s a small town in Louisiana that’s almost at the tip of the boot, and they get washed out repeatedly by hurricane storm surge and flooding. They have rebuilt so many times I can’t even count, but every hurricane season, they vow to rebuild again if they are hit by a storm in the Gulf of Mexico. We toss around the word resilience for repeated efforts like this, and some question the wisdom and the practicality of rebuilding over and over and over again.
So, why do people rebuild after natural disasters, or even an arson that was intentional set? Why do people fight their way back from the brink of death to as much of their previous life as possible? What is it about this place, about us, that makes it unimaginable to be without it? I believe we are ultimately tied to each other with a spiritual bond we cannot comprehend. We are re-enacting the same routines and rituals over and over and over again, because that is what we do. We rebuild what has been destroyed as many times as it takes, because we don’t know any other way. The faces change, the names change, different geographic locations, but it’s the same human struggle for a place to call home.