Friday, January 13, 2006

Those Who Divide Ignore How Divided We Aren't

Those Who Divide Ignore How Divided We Aren't

I recently engaged in a conversation about religion and politics titled It's time for... "The Religious Left"! - It was begun by blogger Mark Kilmer at, a group blog to which I subscribe. I read that it was started up by paid RNC operatives, and I didn't know that when I signed on as a participant quite a while back. I enjoy talking with everyone from all political perspectives, providing that they are respectful. Like anyone else, I always hope I will be treated with respect wherever I go. At Red State, I have not been disappointed. I am respectful, and they are respectful in return. I have had shabby treatment at Little Green Footballs, and they lost their credibility with me a long time ago because of that fact. I'm a nice person. They elect not to give any suspected "moonbat" a fair shake. Problem is, everyone's suspected to be a "moonbat." Any participant who doesn't think in lockstep with the groupview is labeled immediately and unjustly as some kind of imaginary leftist demon instead of a fellow American. Go off the talking-points vocabulary and expect to see the fangs come out. It's an immature kind of place to try to have a good or fair public debate. I cringe every time I see them getting any media attention, because they do not deserve it. I have found them to be a closed-minded little society unto themselves and I certainly do not believe that they reflect our American values of respect, civility, tolerance, freedom, amenability, or truth. is far more interesting and inclusive.

To get back to It's time for... "The Religious Left"! - , I was individually pointed out, by a Conservative citizen of whom I have a lot of healthy respect, as a person from an imagined place between Heaven and Earth that many people call "the religious left." I really do consider that to be a divisive and false category, for I am simply a person of faith. With faith, there is no left or right as there is in American politics. Faith is deeply personal. Politics is all-public.

I do understand how the political world works, however, and my faith has put me in some pretty strange and unlikely political corners, some seldom exposed by political liberals' proverbial lamps. Overall, though, I'd have to say that I land where I land on political issues because of my personal faith - and not the opposite. I am faithful first, political second. My faith has made me the "liberal" that others see me as being, and I have to say that, whatever I am, I am proud to be so. If you look at my Political Compass chart, you will see that I don't land all that far from the center, but like Libertarians, I am not trusting of authoritarian institution.

I am not cookie-cutter. I tried to talk to the people who called me to the discussion at RedState,org, but when the conversation got further from the usual talking-points script, people stopped responding to my questions and comments.

I was disappointed. I hope we will see more conversations like this. I think they help us to see how very divided we are NOT. I don't think they want you to discover that dirty little secret.

US Bishops: For Goodness' Sake, It's Time to Get Real

"The great temptation is to try to justify past policies instead of acknowledging where we are and what we need to do."

- John Carr, senior staffer on the Catholic bishops committee

US Bishops: For Goodness' Sake, It's Time to Get Real
Bishops say recent statements by the Bush administration that troop levels would be reduced are not enough.
Story Link: LA Times/Bishops Urge U.S. to Transition Out of Iraq by Larry B. Stammer


It's time to get things morally straight and to see an end to misleading rhetoric and divisive pessimism, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. A spokesman said the statement was intended to set the stage for what bishops hoped would be a vigorous but civil discussion on what the U.S. must do next.
The practice of cutting off the freedom to debate with shallow threats and handing false choices to the public about the transition required in Iraq have been condemned by U.S. Catholic bishops. They remind us that, over three years ago, Pope John Paul II proclaimed that he was against the war in Iraq, but now that we're there, we must act responsibly and morally. To see American politicians justifying past policies in order to save political face will not help the people of Iraq, who have suffered long enough under conditions of war with which we have elected to beset them.

It's time for Republicans to grow up - to become accountable - to come up with a strategy for a much-needed transition.

"Our nation cannot afford a shrill and shallow debate that distorts reality and reduces the options to 'cut and run' versus 'stay the course,' " Wenski wrote, speaking for the bishops conference.

In an interview Thursday, Wenski said the bishops purposely decided to avoid the word "withdrawal" in favor of "transition" to avoid the impression that bishops were advocating that the U.S. "cut and run."

"No matter what the debate might have been about going into Iraq, now that we are there, our presence gives us a whole set of new moral obligations that we have to try to fulfill in a responsible way," Wenski said.

"Our nation is at a crossroads in Iraq," the statement said. "We must resist a pessimism that might move our nation to abandon the moral responsibilities it accepted in using force, and might tempt us to withdraw prematurely from Iraq without regard for moral and human consequences.
The time for "happy talk" - a phrase coined by frustrated realists that represents the irrational rosy cast that the Bush administration has too long utilized to deny reality - is over.
"We must [also] reject an optimism that fails to acknowledge clearly past mistakes, failed intelligence, and inadequate planning related to Iraq, and minimizes the serious challenges and human costs that lie ahead," it said.

John Carr, a senior staffer on the Catholic bishops committee, said the statement was intended to set the stage for what bishops hoped would be a vigorous but civil discussion on what the U.S. must do next.
If people of faith choose to deem as "evil" any misleading rhetoric that our President or anyone who supports that rhetoric extends while continuing this occupation of Iraq, they will have this UCCB statement to responsibly support their case. I'm not a big fan of crying "evil", but I do believe that each and every man has the propensity to do what my faith informs me is "evil." If it walks like a duck...

The UCCB has said that as the U.S. pursues the war on terrorism and the rebuilding of Iraq, it should not forget pressing concerns at home and abroad, particularly caring for the poor.

This reminds me of the unreasonably rosy picture the President paints while he's sitting atop an obvious humanitarian disaster in his one of his own country's major cities. Who does he think he's kidding? The cameras cannot hide this story as some third-world stories might get buried.
The president ignored questions about the city's new rebuilding plan, introduced Wednesday night to enormous community criticism, and White House officials traveling with Mr. Bush declined to offer opinions. The plan, which depends on nearly $17 billion more from the federal government, gives neighborhoods in low-lying parts of the city from four months to a year to attract sufficient numbers of residents or be bulldozed.
He ignored these citizens' concerns? They already suspect the government of wanting to take their land by eminent domain - and his administration refuses to make comment? What kind of President is this man? Harvey Bender and Caroline Parker of the Lower Ninth Ward want to know. I think I already know. The worst President I've ever seen in all my years.

About A Dog

About a Dog

High up in the courts of Heaven today
A little dog-angel waits,
With the other dogs he will not play,
But he sits alone at the Gates:
"For I know my mistress will come," says he
"And when she comes, she will call for me."

He sees the spirits that pass him by
As they hasten towards the throne,
And he watches them with a wistful eye
As he sits at the gate alone;
"But I know if I just wait patiently
"That someday my Mistress will come," says he.

And his Mistress far down on the earth below,
As she sits in her easy chair
Forgets sometimes, and she whistles low
For the dog that is not there;
And the little dog-angel cocks his ears
And dreams that his Mistress' call he hears.

And I know when at length his Mistress waits
Outside in the dark and cold
For the hand of Death to open the gates
That lead to the Courts of Gold,
The little dog-angel's eager bark
Will comfort her soul while she's still in the dark.

- The Little Dog Angel
--- by Norah M. Holland, c.1870

For my friend Eliot, who we lost this month.

*dedicated to Barbara, Andrew, Blaire, and Olivia