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Archive for December, 2008

A Sign of Hope

A few days after the recent election I heard a right wing talk show host speculate that Barack Obama would choose the Reverend Jeremiah Wright to offer the prayer at the inauguration. Shortly after that I was involved in an online discussion, in which most of the participants were of what I call the Latin Right persuasion. One of them said that he had heard that Mr Obama had chosen the homosexual Episcopalian prelate Gene Robinson to do the honors.

Well, a couple of days ago Senator Obama announced his choice to offer the invocation: Rick Warren, pastor of the Saddleback Church and author of The Purpose Driven Life.

While the Reverend Warren’s white bread megachurch evangelicalism is not my favorite type of Christianity, or even Protestantism -although to his credit he does not limit evangelical social concern to the pelvic issues- what is important is that he is opposed to both abortion and homosexual marriage. And so his selection has prompted anger among homosexual activists. Abortion advocates, who are apparently more politically savvy than gay activists, have been silent, having counseled one another to have low expectations in light of expediency.

Now Mr Obama no doubt knew that his choice would not be popular among his gay supporters, but he chose to offend them rather than Evangelical and prolife folks. It’s hard not to see this as a peace offering, an indication that he does not wish to stoke the fires of the so-called culture wars. Certainly his cabinet choices have shown that he is not intending a radical change: the State Department is now full of Democratic interventionists instead of Republican ones, alas. While this in particular is regrettable, in most ways the way his administration is shaping up indicates that he is not going to come out with guns blazing, forging a radical proabortion path. It is doubtful, after offering an olive branch to Evangelicals that he will want war with Catholics.

Let us hope that the dire predictions of Obama closing Catholic hospitals who refuse to perform abortions and stripping all state limitations on abortion prove as misplaced as the ones about the Reverends Wright and Robinson.

Daniel Nichols

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About three months ago I successfully bid on a new mail route. The new route has quieter neighborhoods, some bordering wooded areas, and a good bit less walking: about 2 1/2 hours instead of 5 1/2. It gets a lot more mail and is not as leisurely a pace as the old route, but I am less tired at the end of the day, which can include an additional hour and a half of overtime walking. So all and all it seems a good move.

On the route is a recently constructed housing development, about 35 houses. It abets public housing and is just down the hill from a mostly vacated shopping center, but the homes are pleasant looking and the residents solidly middle class. The sign at the entrance to the subdivision reads “You’ll be surprised at what you can afford!” and “Unbeatable financing!”

Since I have been on the route there have been three foreclosures, and several more homes stand vacant, apparently also foreclosed. For that matter, four homes have been foreclosed on our block in the last couple of years.

Welcome to Ohio. Welcome to 2008.

As I write the nation is careening, staggering like a big drunk. No one knows where he’ll land or how much damage the crash will cause. Headlines are surreal: major banking institutions have collapsed, the Big Three automakers are facing bankruptcy, and Congress is tossing around unbelievably huge sums of money, You’d think they printed the stuff themselves. Oh, yeah, that’s right. They do.

Meanwhile the warring political factions view the crisis from behind their ideological glasses. Free market conservatives, like fundamentalists always do, blame everything else rather than rethink their beliefs: the problem was too much interference in the Market. Greed is still good. Apparently the big shot financiers still think so: I just heard of the CEO of one of the banks which collapsed who has just been awarded a ten million dollar bonus. Such spectacular and shameless venality is breathtaking.

As I said, no one knows where the drunk will land, or how bad will be his crash. The whole world is holding its breath. I heard a market fundamentalist on the radio proclaim that this is just a normal part of the old economic cycle, a blip that will soon even out. That is sort of like declaring that the automobile which has just hit the brick wall at 90 mph has suffered a fender bender.

It took the communists to finish off communism; is it now the capitalists’ turn?

When my friends and I have talked about our dreams of a society lived on a more human scale, of a spiritually healthier and sustainable culture- you know, the old small-is-beautiful, Caelum et Terra vision- we’d usually come to a dead end when it came the question of how this could be attained. Someone inevitably would remark that it would be impossible without a major disaster, an economic collapse.

Well, we may be on the verge of such a collapse. The question is whether, if such a thing comes to pass, America will slide into the Third World morass that many see awaiting. Or will She out of necessity again become a nation of small farmers, craftsmen and shopkeepers? And do we even possess the will and the skill and the wisdom to do so?

Daniel Nichols

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This is really a spin-off from the comments on the previous post, where Thomas Storck remarked that ” I think it’s probably ‘natural’ that a non-Christian society will tolerate abortion.” To which I added euthanasia etc. A little while ago I came across a good example: this story about a man who cooperated in his wife’s suicide as an escape from Parkinson’s disease.

If you didn’t believe that man has an eternal destiny for which this world is only a preparation, and that suffering has a meaning, it would be hard not to accept the logic of their decision–why live if life has become more burden than pleasure?

(Sorry for the racy photos on this page, btw: I came across this story while reading another one on a suburban witch. An interesting connection.)

Maclin Horton

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