July 16th, 2012Apocalypse Soon!by Kevin O'Brien | http://www.thewordinc.org

First, I must apologize to my friend Joseph Pearce for mischaracterizing his Ink Desk blog post The Resurrection of the God of Physics, which in my haste I read as Joseph's agreement with an article in Crisis that seemed to imply the notion that physics can prove the existence of God. 

Joseph says to me ...

Please let me explain: I did not say that physics can prove the existence of God, what I said was that the assumption that physics could disprove the existence of God was wrong. A re-reading of my original post will exonerate me. You owe me a pint of ale as a suitable penance.

Let me say that I accept my penance, which I will make in a few weeks (God willing) when Joseph and I will see each other at the American Chesterton Society Conference in Reno, Nevada

The problem is that such a penance will only make me eager to sin more! 

***

Which perhaps is what I'm about to do, though in the spirit (as Joseph suggests) of never letting a quarrel get in the way of a good argument. 

For Joseph and I, independent of each other, posted last week on the Ink Desk, our reactions to Fr. George Rutler's stirring article Post-Comfortable Christianity and the Election of 2012 .

Joseph's take on the piece was negative on the whole.  For, while Mr. Pearce admits that he agrees "with Fr. Rutler's overall analysis," he adds that "it is an exaggeration to suggest that the outcome of one election is apocalyptic," - referring to Fr. Rutler's bold claim that

The national election in November, 2012 will either give Christians one last chance to rally, or it will be the last free election in our nation.


By contrast, my take on the article was quite positive, if only because I ate up the great rhetorical sweep of the writing.  Fr. Rutler's piece is very spirited and he lands some real zingers.  But beyond admiring the style, I do tend to agree with the content, even with its apocalyptic shading.

So let me land a zinger or two myself and then explain.

***

First, I disagree with Fr. Rutler that the national election of November 2012 may be the last free election in America. 

The last free election in America has already happened.  There is nothing about our choice in November that can be considered free.

Consider this - we were told ad nauseum by the media that the Republican Primary Debates were an exercise in futility.  Before the first of the year, we were all assured that Romney was the favorite, and that the challenges mounted by Paul, Santorum and Gingrich were doomed to failure.  There were perhaps a dozen or more suits and dresses competing in these debates at the beginning, but we were compelled to ad-Mitt that Mitt had it sewn up.

And now that the media has been proven right, what are our choices in November?

A pro-abortion puppet of big business who orchestrated a socialized health care system on the national level

vs.

A pro-abortion puppet of big business who orchestrated a socialized health care system on the state level

And for those who think that Mr. Romney is really pro-life, take a look (if you can stomach it) at this clip, posted on Mark Shea's site today ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_w9pquznG4&feature=player_embedded 

So in what way will we be participating in a free election come November?

I think it is worth quoting Dale Ahlquist here at length, from his editorial in the current issue of Gilbert.  Dale writes ...

Not many people know that in my former life I was a lobbyist. As a result I know a thing or two about how government works and how politics works. I know for instance that lobbyists write most of the laws in this country. I know that party machines, and not the electorate, choose the candidates. I know that elections are about power and not about the people.

I was sitting in a bar in Washington DC one evening shortly after Bill Clinton won re-election in 1996 (after the Republicans had anointed Bob Dole, perhaps the only person in America who was capable of losing to that very unpopular President.) A fellow lobbyist walked in and announced, “I just found out what’s going to happen at the next election.”

“Okay, let’s hear it,” I said with the right mixture of skepticism and curiosity.

“The Democrats, of course, have chosen Gore. But the Republicans have chosen the governor of Texas. George Bush’s son. His name is George Bush, too.”

“What?!” I exclaimed. “No way! That will never happen. George Bush couldn’t even get re-elected. Who’s going to want to vote for his son?”

“No,” he insisted. “They’ve gone to Bush’s son and offered him a $40 million war chest. He said he’ll do it under one condition: that they get rid of Newt Gingrich.”

And lo and behold, less than two years later, the Speaker of the House, the most powerful Republican in the country was gone. George W. Bush indeed went on to be the Republican nominee and won the general election in a squeaker against Al Gore.

So our elections are free in what meaningful sense???

Well, in one sense they still are free.  But I'll get to that in a minute.   

First let me address the End of All Things.

***

There is the question of the overall apocalyptic tone of Fr. Rutler's article, which I can understand people taking as an over-reaction to the present situation.

For instance, my son Colin commented on my post that spoke favorably of Fr. Rutler's article by more or less saying, "This is all just politics.  Everybody needs to calm down."

And he has a point.  Obama is not the anti-christ.  He's just an opportunistic politician who will vote to allow a doctor to stick a pair of scissors in a born baby's head if that's what the voters want.

In fact, if Obama felt he could get elected by suddenly becoming pro-life and pro-marriage, he would convert on those issues in a heartbeat.  And if he suspected there were such a thing as the Catholic Vote in this country, he would have scrapped the HHS Mandate long ago.  The fact is that the mass of Catholics don't care about contraception and abortion, except insofar as they support both.

Support for Culture of Death issues is popular because the Culture of Death is popular.  In that sense our elections are still quite free, for our politicians, hand-picked though they are, force-fed to us though they are, still play to the grandstand.  Their main concern is power and money, and they'll give us whatever sops we want as long as we give them our votes and power continues to concentrate in the hands not of Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public, but in the hands of Mr. and Mrs. Hudge and Gudge

***

But anyway, we know all this. 

We know our country is both free and increasingly not free at the same time. 

We know that we live in the End of the Age, but we've been living in the End of the Age for ages and ages now.

We know that neither Obama nor Romney is the single and ultimate anti-christ; and we know that they both live and breathe the antichristian spirit - for, as St. John tells us, "even now many antichrists have come" - and will continue to.  Listen to Romney in the above video clip defending a sixteen year old getting a judge to grant her an abortion without her parents' consent and tell me he's not antichristian.

Anyway, we know all this.

What we do not know, or what we fail to see is the central point of Fr. Rutler's article, which is not simply that our freedom is threatened, and not simply that a Final Battle looms. 

It's that this is indeed becoming the age of the Post-Comfortable Christian.

This is a phrase that my friend Joseph Pearce objects to - because he realizes that Christianity and Comfort do not go together and never have.  "Christianity, fully lived and truly understood, is never comfortable," Joseph observes. He is right there.

But Fr. Rutler knows that too.  To follow Christ we must take up our cross.  And crucifixion is never comfortable.

But Fr. Rutler seems to be saying that, at least in small ways - the loss of a job, financial penalties that ruin our small businesses, social ostracism - we're going to be forced to acknowledge this.

I personally have never liked the phrase post-Christian era because it implies (as Fr. Rutler says) that something comes after Christ.  Post-Comfortable-Christian era is not a better term, for it's an awkward phrase, and is offensive in itself by implying that there ever was such a thing as a Comfortable Christian Era.

A better phrase for our era perhaps is the Age of New Persecutions.

And did we really think the New Evangelization would be answered by anything else???

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  • July 16 2012 | by Manny

    I know Romney is a flip flopper, he's the Republican slick Willy. He's a man of twists and turns, an Odysseus. But he's stated his position for this election and while I would have preferred he be passionate pro life we can only pick the best that's before us. To leave it as a "plague on both your houses," which is the mark Shea approach is just a cynical exercise. You vote for a direction, not for a specific man. Sometimes a man of twists and turns advances your agenda as did Bill Clinton advance the Democrat agenda while in office. Romney's support would plummet if he ever went against the pro-life position. Plus in fairness to Romney on this issue, while in office he did everything he could to bolster the pro life groups. Here's one article, but you can google and find more:
    http://ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/US.php?id=5270
  • July 16 2012 | by Dena Hunt

    The degree to which we get all hot and bothered by the situation is not a measure of the situation; it's simply a choice of response to it.

    For me, and likely for many others, I remember who's in charge. And it's neither party machines nor lobbyists. I'm not impressed by a yard full of banty roosters--or hens. However, real power impresses the hell out of me.

    An election is just an election; "free" has nothing to do with it. I doubt it ever did.

    I'm pretty much with Colin.
  • July 19 2012 | by Carl Hasler

    Kevin, I read your article with interest. One thing that concerns me as it does you is what you said: "Support for Culture of Death issues is popular because the Culture of Death is popular." I would be interested to know the reasons for why you think this is the case. I, too, will be at the Chesterton conference and I hope we can have a chat about this. Regards.