Monday, November 17, 2008

American Pragmatism

The recent presidential election demonstrates a growing and menacing stranglehold of old fashioned 'pragmatism' and 'utilitarianism' within the Catholic population of America. John Dewey should be included in their litany of saints as he was the prominent exponent of this philosophy, along with William James (who espoused the criteria, if it works, then it is good).

Despite Barak Obama's and Joe Biden's blatant support for abortion, many Catholic voters convinced themselves that fixing the economy was a higher priority than saving innocent human lives in the womb. Outside the life and death issues of abortion and euthanasia, there is legitimate room to debate, argue and reasonably disagree on matters such as the economy, the environment, war and terrorism, et al. Political parties (democrat, republican, independent) do not have any monopoly on truth or ways to solve problems.

Pragmatism permeates our society in that many seek a practical solution even if it involves questionable or dubious means. "You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs" is a familiar proverb invoked by many who seek answers even at the cost of their immortal souls. Yet, the Natural Moral Law and the Divine Positive Law both clearly define that THE ENDS NEVER JUSTIFIES THE MEANS. Evil may never be intended and committed no matter how much greater good may come from it. Too many Catholics have been polluted by fuzzy morality taught to them during the zenith of the dissident theologian era when Humanae Vitae was being trashed in colleges and seminaries across the nation. Bad theology and bad morality (along with bad liturgy) were taught to some seminarians (between 1970-2000) so that as priests these guys teach in RCIA and preach from the pulpit that as long as you do not have formal cooperation in evil, it does not matter if you have material cooperation in that same evil. Situation ethics and consequentialism, both condemned by Pope John Paul the Great, were nevertheless part and parcel of some seminary morality courses. "Bonum faciendam et malum vitandum (do good and avoid evil)" as enunciated by the Angelic Doctor, Saint Thomas Aquinas, was replaced by "do as much good as possible AND as little evil as necessary."

Hence, what you sow, so shall you reap. Fuzzy morality which emboldened and rationalized contraception, in vitro fertilization, pre-marital sex, etc., would eventually lead people to overlook a candidates staunch support for abortion in order to embrace his economic proposals. Ironically, since the advent of global economy, presidential control over prices, wages, jobs, etc., has diminished greatly. Even Congress has less control since we trade with other nations all over the planet. Hatred and animosity for the current admininstration is evident not only here in the USA but while on pilgrimage to Lourdes and Fatima, we noticed Europeans ecstatic that President George Bush will soon be out of office and a different political party will be in the White House. Parliamentary governments in Europe are more affected by the party who wins the election (who thereby determine the Prime Minister) whereas in America, the Presidency is separate from the Congress. Hence, we can have a Republican President and a Democratic Congress or vice versa.

It is a wonderful and historic event that the first African-American has been elected President. Someday soon, the first Female President will also be elected. CAVEAT, just as the first Catholic President was not necessarily the best practicing Catholic candidate, so, too, there are other African-Americans (Alan Keyes, e.g.) who would have made an excellent president AND would have been PRO-LIFE besides! Joe Biden might be a Catholic Vice President but his statements before and after the election show he is not in harmony with the Magisterium on key moral issues.

The secular media, however, turned Sarah Palin into a scapegoat. They resorted to ad hominem attacks and portrayed her as a simpleton just as they had done with Dan Quayle. A pro-life woman and mother and a conservative was just too much for them to stomach. Hence, they needed to demonize her as some did with Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater beforehand. Her pro-life stand incurred venomous remarks from radical feminists who detested her successful political career in light of her moral values.

I made this parallel earlier, but very CAREFULLY. I hope and pray that President Elect Obama and Vice President Elect Biden will allow Divine Grace to move their minds and hearts to govern fairly, justly and in accord with the moral law. As legitimate elected leaders, I will pray for them and will obey their lawful authority AS LONG AS it conforms to the laws of God and the Natural Law. I would never equate the personification of evil as found in Adolf Hitler with either Obama or Biden. I beleive both Obama and Biden to be men of honor and committed to the common good, albeit I also believe they are terribly misguided in how to achieve that. My parallel is not with the moral character (which only the good Lord can judge) of these men, but with the REASONS why they were elected. There were some voters in pre-WWII Germany who were willing to overlook the Nazi anti-Semitism because they felt the times were so precarious and the economy so fragile, that significant change was in order. Economic promises to end inflation and unemployment helped elect Hitler and the Nazi party. My point is that some have overlooked the pro-abortion stand of candidates in this election in favor of their economic proposals and the prospect of a regime change in the White House. Besides those voters who were obviously pro-Obama, there were also those who were just anti-Bush and took out their animosity on John McCain because he was republican.

That is the only connection I make; NOT a MORAL connection between the person of Hitler (a reprehensible criminal) and the person of Barak Obama, (a decent human being and President-Elect of the USA). The parallel is not between the personalities but in the context of the election and the voters' decision to ignore pertinent policies of the candidate in favor of other policies they have consensus. Hence, Catholic voters erroneously thought they could overlook Obama's staunch defense of abortion and disagree with him (thus preventing any formal cooperation in evil) on that matter while agreeing with him on economic, military and other issues. Problem is the material cooperation in evil when you still elect a pro-abortion candidate even when you formally disagree in principle. Likewise, no one could morally ignore a candidate's anti-Semitism or racism merely to agree on their economic plans.

The practical solution is not always the moral solution. What works may work immorally, though efficiently. Hence, we can only have GOOD INTENTIONS and use GOOD MEANS to achieve them. Sadly, some Catholic voters were more concerned about the stock market and their 401K than they were concerned about curbing and eventually eliminating all abortions. The systematic murder of innocent unborn human lives is something which cannot be overestimated or overstated. If the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) becomes law, it would be like repealing the 13th ammendment which outlawed slavery. Neither the color of skin nor location (whether in the womb or outside the womb) changes the metaphysical status of a human person. You are a human person by virtue of having a body and soul (in which resides your rational intellect and free will). Human nature gives you rights, not the Constitution.

I hope and pray for an economic recovery, for an end to war and terrorism, for more employment and for lower gas prices. I want America to be respected around the world but I also want us to be safe and secure from our enemies. None of that, however, should be at the price of innocent blood. If we must sacrifice, better it be our comfort and convenience rather than to sacrifice millions of innocent babies in their mothers' s wombs.

PRAYER and FASTING may be our only hope at this point. President-Elect Obama may indeed change his position and embrace a more pro-life stance. It happened to Mit Romney, why not Barak O? Some evils can only be exorcized by prayer and fasting, Jesus said. So, if all pro-lifers committed themselves these next four years to one day a week of prayer and fasting for the unborn, we might witness a metanoia (conversion) of heart in our new president (and vice president).

Meanwhile, our bishops must also get tough and let Catholic politicians know there is a penalty for turning your back on the holy innocents in the womb. Denying Holy Communion and even Excommunication may be required to convey the gravity of the evil of abortion. Often, punishment has a medicinal effect to incur repentance and hopefully prevent reoccurence.


mom v many said...

Sometimes I wonder if Vermont isn't ground zero.
In Woodbury, VT. one of the PUBLIC schools has now decided that if you want to say the Pledge of Allegience you must go to a separate room in the gym so you don't offend the other kids.
This is a very hard place to live for faithful Catholics right now and my blog is now private because of it.
Please don't post this!!
...just know that this is a much darker place this November than you can imagine. There are some who would like Vermont to be the first state without a Catholic Church and they are using the courts to do it.They talk about it openly in public places and don't care who may hear.

I fear for the few priests here who are targets in ways that are getting scarier every day. Pray for my Bishop Matano. I can see your email followups on this posting.

Faithful Mother of 10.

Anonymous said...

In his first television interview since the election, Mr Obama told CBS he would pull troops out of Iraq, shore up Afghanistan, and close Guantanamo Bay.

"I'm going to make sure that we don't torture," he said of the prison camp.

What about abortion? Abortion is torture AND murder. Our country needs to hear how abortions are performed. The innocent growing child is violently removed from the mother's womb. Outside of the womb, the pieces of the human being are inspected, so as to account for all of the parts.
The following website has pictures and video that may wake up America!

Anonymous said...

My elderly aunt speculated yesterday if God had allowed this, Obama becoming president, to wake some people up. Not that he, Obama would, but what has been proposed by FOCCA SHOULD wake some people up. And I do hope if it comes to that point, that the Catholic Hospitals unite and say something to the effect, if you don't change it, we are closing. I think the hospitals make up 13% of all hospitals.
We are praying more and will fast more.
I still can not believe so many of our bishops may have voted for him. I just can't.

Dan L. said...

Fr. T:

I absolutely, totally, agree with you. If you bother to see my own most unworthy blog, I sorta "go there".

I now, most very sadly, am forced to agree with your ascertaition of the teachings to future priests/layman regarding these issues that stand before us. My own two parish priests....are (ugh) CELEBRATING the election of Mr. Obama!. I, as a fervant Catholic, am so, VERY dismayed.


I am no coward. This is no ad, no nothing...I am at, and I have forever always been careful, tried to be sweet, and kind on my blog....but I cannot bear this any longer. of yesterday, I made a statement of importance.

As for me, my own spiritual welfare..."There, but for the grace of God, go I"

God bless EWTN, God bless our finest priests....and all of them, anyway...they are all...His.

--Dan L.

Diane Korzeniewski said...

Thanks for going into detail about the subject of pragmatism.

I also agree that there is a difference between Hitler and Barack Obama & Biden.

The ranks of the episcopacy have also been affected by what was taught in those seminaries.

I've said it before and will say it again: If it were walking, breathing, healthy persons being executed at a rate of 4000 per day, there would be a whole different set of attitudes.

The inability to apply canonical penalties on the part of many bishops has much to do with the silent, hidden nature of abortion.

I was heartened when my pastor decided to continue the post-Mass, priest-led (on their knees) Rosary at least through November on account of the election results. The vast majority remain for that additional 15 minutes.

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