Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Dividing lines

Get Religion, a blog dedicated to two things I have a real interest in - religion and the press - is always, always worth a visit. There is this interesting little recap of the paper currently circulating in the Vatican regarding how to deal honestly and justly with the sex scandal. I'm still trying to form an opinion on this one, btw, but the intriguing point lies at the end of the post. What is the effect of anonymous sources on the telling of this story? It does seem to muddy the waters on both sides, allowing the spin machines a free reign. Then there was this post of the subject of 'cafeteria Catholics' - something that I think, incidentally, all Catholics are to some degree, no matter what side of the aisle they sit on. That's because most of us are not saints and we have more difficulty with some parts of what we are called to do than others. Rationalizing the parts we have trouble with should not be a surprising thing to see. It's probably an inevitable part of the journey. Anyway, this caught my eye:
Economic justice is a perfect example of a topic where the goal is sure, but the means are not. What has caused more poverty in the U.S. in the past few generations — lack of commitment to economic justice or the fragmentation of the modern family? Rome (and Eastern Orthodoxy, too) would say the best answer is both-and. But there is the rub. Which modern American political party is on the correct side of both of those issues?
It got me thinking about whether there is in fact a major pro family party in either country. I think, in all honesty, that the answer is no. In the US, the Republicans and the Democrats both fail to speak in a convincing way of the need to balance work and family issues and in Canada I think the same can be said about the Tories and the Liberals. Who's campaigning on a pro life, pro maternity leave, pro parental agenda? Nobody, that's who. The left of center parties can't even use the words without sneer quotes and the right uses them more boldly but seems to lack conviction and finish. The left wants to indulge the parents "needs" with day care, welfare and abortion, blithely assuming that more material goods and less parenting will someway, somehow do something for kids. Politicians on the right court parents more openly but tend to wilt when activists and journalists convince them that power will be forever beyond their fingertips unless they water down or back away. I think we have only ourselves to blame. The parties can't afford to court a base that will not give them power. The real debate has to be among friends and neighbors until such a base exists that no party can afford to ignore it. In the end I usually come down on the right side of things. "Give to Ceasar what is Ceasar's" must also mean "do NOT give to Ceasar the things that are not Ceasar's." The Left all too often seems unwilling to admit that there is anything that is not Ceasar's. On the Right, there is no trouble with the idea of limiting the state and some will even admit that business can and does play the role of Ceasar and is also in need pruning from time time - but not enough, not yet.

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