voting

Just Who Is “Us”?

By Deal W. Hudson

Recently, I spoke to a group of pro-life leaders about the 2016 election. I made the following remarks with the hope that the Trump and Cruz factions can eventually “kiss and make up.”

***

I’m going to address the question, “Who Is Us?”

In recent weeks criticism has been leveled at Trump for not being “one of us.” (I have deliberately left out a link to this criticism.)

I’ve used this phrase, but never publicly. Never as a public argument.

Now that I’ve seen it used this way, I am deleting it from my vocabulary.

Why?

Because I started asking myself just “who is ‘us?’” And, am I part of the “us” who speak this way about others not being “one of ‘us?’”

So I started making a list of questions about who could or should be called “one of ‘us.’”

Such as:

A woman who’s had an abortion?

A man who’s encouraged a woman to have an abortion?

A person who claims to be pro life yet can’t talk about it coherently?

A person who accepts the ‘three exceptions”?

A person who claims to be prolife but contracepts and defends it?

Persons with test tube babies?

Women with frozen eggs?

Adulterers?

Catholics divorced and remarried?

The rude, crude, and unattractive?

Male chauvinist pigs?

Anyone who’s been picked up drunk by the police?

Anyone who’s ever been to a strip club?

Or owned a strip club?

Those who watch porn?

The porn-addicted?

Pedophile priests?

Homosexual priests?

Unchaste homosexual priests?

Unchaste heterosexual priests?

Now, I want to pose a question about all of the above:

Are they “one of ‘us’” as long as they are not outed and their “offense” made public?

If outed, do they cease being “one of ‘us?’”

If not outed, do we think they are “one of ‘us’” but aren’t really?

If not outed, do they think they are “one of ‘us’” but aren’t really?

Or do we wait for a prominent Catholic leader to tell us who is “one of ‘us?’”

Another way of answering the question is this:

The “us,” it seems, is who we are FOR.

And the not “one of ‘us’” is who we are AGAINST.

What if “us” accounts for only 20 or 30 % of voters? (Probably far less.)

What if the “us” makes political coalitions impossible? Winning impossible?

What if the “us” turns off even those who sympathize with “us?”

What if it being an “us” makes “us” look like “whited sepulchers?” (Matthew 23.27)

One final question:

If we were all stripped naked and standing before God, would anyone qualify to be “one of ‘us?’”

Because then all will be revealed, all will be outed. The hairs on our heads will be counted (in my case that won’t take long!).

I believe, and I think you will agree, that God has a different conception of “us,” and who belongs to Him.

It’s not based upon our sins, or whether they were made public while on earth, or our erroneous beliefs — He opens His arms to all who have learned to love Him.

By repentance and receiving forgiveness.

By growing through the trials and errors of life.

By learning from the just judgment of others and undergoing a continual conversion of the heart toward Him.

In other words, A Pilgrim’s Progress.

That’s the only way I can make Christian sense of being part of an “us”: As a pilgrim among pilgrims who “for now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face.” (1 Cor 13.12)

john-bunyan-william-blake-1942-the-pilgrim-s-progress-heritage-w-sandglass-60fe81206a72a00fc3b9550e42752962

PS. Since this speech, Pope Francis issued his post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. As I read it, I recognized the Holy Father was addressing the similar theme of how Catholics relate themselves to those who have committed, or remain in, “objective” sin.

Published at The Christian Review, April 15, 2016

“Put Out Into the Deep’ and Vote!

Deal Hudson
Published November 6, 2012

We as Roman Catholics need to put out into the deep. We love the child in the womb. We love the child who is poor, and we love the child who is sick, because of her great dignity and sanctity. After all, what Christ calls us to build is a civilization of love in the support of his or her life.

Several bishops have made public statements on the reelection of Obama/Biden.Bishop Sheridan of Colorado Springs, Bishop Ricken of Green Bay, Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia, Bishop Paprocki of Springfield, IL, but the most interesting of all came from Brooklyn.

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio published a column in The Tablet, his diocesan newspaper, entitled, “What Constitutes a Woman’s Issue?” Bishop DiMarzio begins:

“As we head into the final week of the presidential campaign, I cannot help but be preoccupied by the tone of the debate surrounding what is being referred to as ‘women’s issues.’ This language seems to be code for abortion rights and now a mandate upon employers to offer contraceptives, sterilization and abortifacients to employees.”

Of course, if the good bishop spent any time watching television – and we are glad he doesn’t – he would not have to speak of a “code” for abortion rights and the mandate, because the Obama/Biden campaign ads aimed at women make that connection perfectly clear.

Bishop Di Marzio goes on to explain why the HHS mandate, in fact, is aimed directly at the Catholic Church: “moral opposition to all artificial contraception and sterilization is a minority and unpopular belief, and its virtually exclusive association with the Catholic Church is no secret.”

Just why “the President has senselessly made religious liberty a central issue in this campaign” is a question Bishop Di Marzio raises but does not answer. However, he does spell out how Catholics ought to view the Obama/Biden candidacy for reelection:

“It is inconceivable to me how Catholics could support such policies. Indeed, Roman Catholics who support abortion rights and vote for a candidate because of those policies, place him/herself outside of the life of the Church. In so doing, they also place themselves in moral danger.”

Bishop Di Marzio is not the first bishop in this election cycle to allude to a certain moral peril at stake in casting a vote for Obama/Biden. Bishop Paprocki, in his statement to his diocese, closed by saying, “Pray very carefully about your vote, because a vote for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your own soul in serious jeopardy.”

Bishop Ricken sounds a similar note in his column, “An Important Moment.” Starting with a quote from “Faithful Citizenship”, he goes a bit further in unpacking its meaning:

“A well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program that contradicts fundamental contents of faith and morals. Intrinsically evil actions are those which have an evil object. In other words, an act is evil by its very nature, and to choose an action of this type puts one in grave moral danger.”

With all due respect to the other bishops, Bishop Di Marzio’s statement includes some language that has a certain, well, flair that is not found in the rhetoric of the good bishops of the mid-west:

“Is it possible to vote for somebody despite their support for these policies? To my mind, it stretches the imagination, especially when there is another option.”

When the bishop evokes the “imagination,” he is not taking us into the realm of art. He is very realistically reminding us how we lay our moral choices before us in our minds before we make them. We conjure up, as it were, the different options, and imagine ourselves choosing one or the other, even imagining the future consequences of our choice.

No, this is not an invitation into the “pure imagination” of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”. Bishop Di Marzio is urging all Catholics to imagine how our nation will be impacted by the reelection of Obama/Biden. The bishop’s own imagination can hardly “stretch” that far because it encompasses the imposition of so many intrinsic evils on our families and our societal norms.

Bishop Di Marzio, however, does not leave it there – he then allows himself an evocative, poetic note, the sign of a great orator:

“We as Roman Catholics need to put out into the deep. We love the child in the womb. We love the child who is poor, and we love the child who is sick, because of her great dignity and sanctity. After all, what Christ calls us to build is a civilization of love in the support of his or her life.”

Yes, we agree whole-heartedly, we nod our heads in agreement, we barely stifle the urge to shout, “Amen” (because we are Catholics), and we want to clap, so we do, loudly!

“Put out into the deep,” there are no words that better compress all that is at stake in the next few days than this allusion to Luke 5:4 when Jesus tells Simon to go out into deeper water and let the nets sink lower. When Simon protests that they have fished all night and caught nothing but agrees to do as Jesus says, the result is overwhelming:

“When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.” (Luke 5:6)