Government Cannot Love

WASHINGTON - MAY 31: The exterior view of the north side of the White House is seen May 31, 2005 in Washington, DC. Vanity Fair Magazine reported that former FBI official W. Mark Felt claimed himself was ?Deep Throat,? the anonymous source who provided information to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward?s famous Watergate investigation report that led to the former President Richard Nixon's resignation. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Deal W. Hudson

In the midst of Valentine’s Day sentiment, it’s refreshing to hear someone who speaks plainly about love. At a White House briefing on February 6, Jim Towey, the new Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based & Community Initiatives, said something that ought to be heard–“government cannot love.”

Towey, who is Catholic, knows something about the institutions that do works of love and compassion. He led Florida’s health and social service agency, with 40,000 employees, later leaving to found an organization called Aging with Dignity. But perhaps his most self-sacrificial work came as a full-time volunteer in Mother Teresa’s Washington, D.C. AIDS hospice.

They first met on August 20, 1985. Towey was touring refugee camps in Southeast Asia for Sen. Mark Hatfield when he decided to return through Calcutta to meet Mother Teresa. “I didn’t want to be around poor people, but I wanted to meet Mother Teresa, so I promised myself a five-day trip to Hawaii for the effort.”

He never got to Hawaii. Instead, he says he “met Jesus Christ in bed forty-six” when one of the sisters asked Towey to clean a man with scabies. Having planned to “give the sister a twenty dollar bill and leave,” Towey ended up working for the Sisters of Charity as legal counsel for the next twelve years, including during his year-long stint in Washington, D.C.

Towey’s view of the faith-based initiative is animated by the example of Mother Teresa’s integration of love for the Eucharist and service to the poor. Thus, he doesn’t view his job as a simple matter of administering civil rights. “The whole issue revolves around relieving the misery of the poor and recognizing the God-given human dignity of the poor.”

Towey knows well that people love people. However, an abstraction like government, albeit made up of laws and those administer who them, cannot love. President Bush, himself, has made this observation on a number of occasions, yet I’ve never seen anyone comments on it. That’s a shame since the view is clearly influenced by the Catholic principle of subsidiarity.

Subsidiarity means that social problems should be treated at the most local level possible. In other words, the most effective way of fighting poverty begins with the people living in the same community–where the people who help and the people in need can look each other in the face.

A government can’t love but a government can encourage the corporal works of mercy of those people who can. Fortunately, the program of the faith-based initiative answers the question, “What’s the government going to do about it?” by providing resources to people motivated by the earnestness of faith.

As President Bush said at the annual prayer breakfast on Thursday, January 31, “Faith shows us the way to self-giving, to love our neighbor, as we would want to love ourselves. In service to others, we find deep human fulfillment. And as acts of service are multiplied, our nation becomes a more welcoming place for the weak, and a better place for those who suffer and grieve.”

This is the lesson Jim Towey learned from the man in bed forty-six.

By Deal Hudson

Deal W. Hudson was born November 20, 1949 in Denver, CO, to Emmie and Jack Hudson, both native Texans. Dr. Hudson had an older sister Ruth, and eventually, a younger sister, Elizabeth. Emmie Hudson, Ruth Hudson and Elizabeth Hudson now live in Houston, TX; Jack Hudson passed away some years ago. The late Jack Hudson was a captain for Braniff Airlines in Denver at the time of Dr. Hudson’s birth. Later the family moved to Kansas City when his father joined the Federal Aviation Agency. From Kansas City, the Hudson family moved to Minneapolis, then to Massapequa, NY, and finally to Alexandria, VA, where they first occupied a home overlooking the Potomac River adjacent to the Mount Vernon estate. After a year, the family moved to a home on Tarpon Lane a few houses up the street from the Yacht Haven boat docks. Dr. Hudson attended Mt. Vernon Elementary School from grades 4 to 6 and has a special gratitude for the teaching of Mr. Hoppe who first told him was a ‘smart lad.’ Having moved with his family to Fort Worth, TX in 1960, Dr. Hudson attended William Monnig Junior High and Arlington Heights HS. In high school, Dr. Hudson was captain of the golf team, editor of the literary magazine (Guerdon), and performed the role of Peter in the ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ during his senior year. Dr. Hudson graduated cum laude with a major in philosophy from the University of Texas-Austin in 1971 where his undergraduate advisor was Prof. John Silber. His teachers at the University of Texas included Prof. Louis Mackey and Prof. Larry Caroline. Dr. Hudson minored in both classics and English literature. Dr. Hudson lived in Atlanta from 1974-1989, where he attended Emory University, receiving a Phd from the Graduate Institute for the LIberal Arts. He also taught philosophy at Mercer University in Atlanta from 1980-89. In 1989 Dr. Hudson and his family left Atlanta when he was hired to teach philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx. Dr. Hudson taught at Fordham, and also part-time at New York University, from 1989 to 1994. Dr. Hudson first came to Atlanta in after graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) with an M.Div. While at PTS, Dr. Hudson managed the Baptist Student Union at Princeton University and became its first director. Dr. Hudson also was licensed at a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, NJ. Dr. Hudson’s primary area of study at PTS was the history of Christian doctrine which he pursued with Dr. Karlfried Froelich. In 1984 Dr. Hudson was received in the Catholic Church by Msgr. Richard Lopez, with the special permission of Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan, at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta. Dr. Hudson has been married twenty-five years to Theresa Carver Hudson and they have two children, Hannah Clare, 23, and Cyprian Joseph (Chip), 15, adopted from Romania when he was three years old. The Hudson family has lived in Fairfax, VA for more than fifteen years, after having lived five years in Bronxville, NY and a year in Atlanta, GA, where Theresa and Deal were married.

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