Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Beautiful plumage

1 - Lest you forget, prayers are STILL needed.

2- There has been much made of the spectacle of the President being invited to issue the commencement address at, and receive an honorary degree from, Notre Dame. The noble and right-thinking among us have noted this is the most calamitous thing to befall Notre Dame since Jimmy Johnson started trudging up to South Bend in the 80s. It is certainly worse than changing from green to blue jerseys.

If you are of a perverse cast of mind, as I have been portrayed as being, you are actually enjoying the exegetical gyrations undertaken by the Catholics who, for reasons one simply cannot fathom, are enthusiastically* supportive of the President. While most do not get the northward tingle along the femur, these benighted folks are clearly enamored of the President's proposals and policies and must try to reconcile with the fact the President's record falls impressively short of what Catholic teaching insists are the most important ones, i.e., the life issues. Especially when the President's other views, which they unilaterally declare to be "closer in line with Catholic doctrine" tend to be on issues where a wide prudential license is granted.

This, they likely suspect, is a problem.

So the Ouled Nail dances begin. These take on three basic flavors (which may be combined to make all manner of logical deliciousness; I take all these quotes verbatim, incidentally):

1- Tu quoque. For example, saying the body of people opposed to the Teleprompter and his President putting in a stop at Notre Dame is "not only rabidly pro-war, it also publicly defends and endorses torture, a non-negotiable and intrinsically evil act. And then there's Weigel who a few weeks ago was deriding Americans for not ebing[sic] bright enough to see how great Bush's war actually was."

Y'see what he (or she, I'm not in a mood to split hairs) did just there? There was no defense of the decision, or of the President, or even an attempt -- futile as that may be -- to reconcile the President's views with Catholic doctrine. Just something along the lines of "Oh, yeah? You guys are just as bad!"

2- Ad hominem. If the above is a desperate defensive gambit (and it is) then this one is a preemptive strike, along the lines of Pearl Harbor. Some quotes, from ONE post:

"The right wing of the Catholic Church was, as we noted on Saturday, up in arms within a twinkling of the eye over any honor being given to the President. Mr. Hudson is in high dudgeon at his blog, even issuing a veiled threat to Fort Wayne-South Bend Bishop John D’Arcy"

"Someone at the Catholic News Agency, a conservative propaganda outfit that pretends to be an unbiased purveyor of news..."

"This latest contretemps is disturbing not only because some of us are more than tired with the right wing insisting that only they can lay claim to the mantle of Catholicism, that those of us who see the demands of the world, or the challenge of the Gospels, differently are bad Catholics."

"I ran into a priest whom I have known for more than twenty years but whom I had not seen recently. He did not discuss President Obama, he ranted."

"What is it about President Obama that makes the right wing so crazy, so uncharitable, so frothing-at-the-mouth unreasonable?"

"I suspect the problem is that many on the far right listen to each other only"

"This crowd of conservatives does not own the Catholic Church."

"And, we should be thrilled that the right wing commentariat has again adopted its smug 'I thank Thee, Lord, that I am not like other men' stance." (I find the latter especially, deliciously rich.)

So.

If you think it's, y'know, a bad thing for an ostensibly Catholic university to swan about honoring** political figures especially since the USCCB has specifically said this oughtn't be done...well, you're one of THOSE right-wingers, watching Fox News in your undershirt, drinking domestic beer out of a can, hurling racial invective, and foaming freely at the mouth hoping that Notre Dame had chosen to bring in a catherine wheel to use on those who support peace and justice. Got that? (The in-depth version of how to use this tactic effectively can be found here.)

3- "What's the big deal?" Finally we have an excellent example of damning with faint praise. You'll see the issue framed along the lines of:

a) The President has not ever actually performed an abortion.

or

b) The President and those who agree with him on these hot button issues must be engaged in dialogue.

or

c) This doesn't mean Notre Dame agrees with the President on these hot button issues.

To which I say...
a) So what? By his actions he has made/will make it possible for more people to perform abortions. Keep in mind Bernie Madoff never actually held anyone up.
b) I will believe this when Fr. Jenkins stands up in the middle of the speech saying "Point of personal privilege, Mr. President..." and then engages the President in a dialogue.
c) The problem is that Notre Dame's administration is minimizing the importance of these issues. It is saying, basically, that disagreements over these issues are no big thing. Which, since someone took quill to parchment and jotted down the Didache...they are.

One wonders what the reaction would have been had Notre Dame chosen to honor, say, Bp. Williamson.

Argh.

-J.

P.S. Uncle Di does a masterful job of looking at the man behind the curtain.

* They remind me of Monty Python's "dead parrot sketch" wherein the pet shop owner waxes eloquent about the Norwegian Blue parrot and its manifold glories ("Beautiful plumage, sir.") conveniently glossing over the customer's complaint that for all the wonders of the Norwegian blue, this one happens to be dead. "He's passed on. This parrot is no more. He has ceased to be. He's expired and gone to meet his maker. He's a stiff. Bereft of life, he rests in peace. If you hadn't have nailed him to the perch he'd be pushing up the daisies. He's rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. This is an ex-parrot!"

** I suspect most people could have grumblingly accepted the commencement address, but it's the honorary degree that sticks in their craw...which you'll note is not something mentioned by those denizens of the Amen Corner, preferring to paint it as just a speech issue. Odd, that.