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Thursday, January 05, 2012

After Tuesday

Well, Michele "Crazy Eyes" Bachmann is out (Thanks be to God) but, being a "good girl", says she'll support whomever gets the nomination.

Rick "Yee-haw" Perry went back to Texas to "reassess" his campaign and is now back in the race (the very definition of "all cattle, no cowboy hat").

Newt "The New Catholic Moral" Gingrich came in fourth but said the Really Important thing about the Iowa Caucus is that 3/4 of the state's Republicans voted against Romney.

Ron "No Government (Unless I Run It)" Paul picked up a few celebrity endorsement (Kelly Clarkson, Chuck Norris and Vince Vaughn) but still came in third - and, only three percentage points behind the top two, who were only separated by eight (8!!!!) votes.

Rick "I'm More Roman Catholic Than The Pope" Santorum rode "The Santorum Surge" to collect 24.5% of the vote - and, also collected more than $1 million dollars within twenty-four hours of his.... "victory".  Not bad for a guy who can't put two sentences together to make a coherent thought.

Mitt "Why Don't Republicans Like Me?" Romney emerged the narrowest of victories but you would have thought he won the lottery - which he can't play, of course, because of his religious beliefs.

And John "The Only Intelligent Choice (so I won't win)" Huntsman didn't show up, campaign or invest even $1 dollar in television ads in Iowa is busy planting seeds of hope in the hard, cold ground of New Hampshire.

Still, Huntsman picked up 745 votes or 0.6% of the votes, and even Herman "I don't remember her...or, her...or, her..." Cain picked up 58 votes, placing him - at 0% - in a statistical dead heat with those who voted for someone named Buddy Roemer (31 votes).

There were also 135 people said they had "No preference" and 117 people who voted for "Other".

What does it all mean?

Beats the heck out of me.

I'm pretty sure it means that the Republican Party is in pretty bad shape. Then again, we knew that after the last Presidential Election.

I mean, a junior senator from Illinois and a Black Man was elected President of the United States over a seasoned senator from Arizona who was a Vietnam Vet and POW and..... well ..... Sarah Palin.

Okay, okay. But, a lot has changed in the political landscape over the past 3.5 years. It's not going to be so easy this time - especially if Mitt Romney gets the nomination from his party and Republicans are united in their effort to "Take Back America and Return It To God". 

Oh, they'll say it's about "the economy, stupid", but some of us ain't that stupid. We know. We see.

This is about the "new religion" of "Politicalism" - an odd hybrid of politics and the Very Hard religious right of an even odder conglomeration of evangelicals and Roman Catholics who are united in their moral outrage over a Quite Queer combination of Reproductive Rights (contraception and/or abortion) and Marriage Equality (homosexuality).

These are people who want "smaller government" but want the government to control what happens in a woman's body and what happens in the privacy of someone's bedroom.

Why? Because, well, because the Bible tells them so. That's why.

After Tuesday's Republican Caucus in Iowa, one thing has become very clear to me: I suspect that the framers of the Constitution - if they were able to hear these candidates -  would be absolutely rolling over in their graves.

We're at a very interesting - when it's not absolutely terrifying - confrontation at one of the principle foundations of this country: Freedom of Religion.

Inherent in that freedom is freedom FROM religion - meaning that Agnostics and Atheists have as much rights under the Constitution as Christians, Jews, Muslims and any other form of religion.

Tell that to some of the folks who are running for President who believe - with all the room in their 'grinchy too-sizes-too-small' hearts - that this means that you can express your CHRISTIANITY any way you want.

Well, mostly. As long as your Christian religion teaches you to 'believe' in the 'right things'. You know. Like they do about abortion and homosexuality. And, as long as you have 'real religion' and don't belong to a 'cult' like Mormonism.

My friend, Ted Mollegen, when we were both part of the New Commandment Task Force - a collective of Episcopalians from across the theo-political spectrum of the Church to try and find a way to avoid the schism that is now upon us - taught me something I will never forget.

Ted said, "You have the absolute right to swing your arms as widely as you want, but that right stops at the end of my nose."

Which brings up interesting questions about the application of religion and politics in a country founded on the principle of "Freedom of Religion".

The way I understand it, Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann and Barack Obama and Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton can hold whatever religious beliefs they choose. Or, not.

The tricky part comes from the fact that their religious positions and values must not - can not - interfere with the interpretation or application of the law of the land.

Religious Freedom
So, for example, Rick Santorum can believe anything his RC church teaches him. He simply can not use that belief to stand in the way of the civil or human rights of others.

Mr. Obama can believe anything his UCC church teaches him. That his particular religious perspective is more in tune with the laws of the land and the proposed changes to the laws of the land does not make him "right" and Santorum "wrong".

That's another issue. A religious issue. Religious issues are religious issues. Legal issues are legal issues. Hopefully, our religious education and training and formation mold us and shape us to be moral agents, but - at least theoretically - laws in a country built on the foundation of "Freedom of Religion" inhabit a place which is simultaneously apart from religion and inclusive of the morality of religious teaching.

Lady of Justice
That's a difficult balance - a murky place filled with complicated questions and complex, difficult answers.  I think that's why the symbol of the legal system is a blindfolded woman, balancing the scales in her right hand while holding a sword in her left hand.

I think that's what it takes to achieve a "more perfect union". Not perfect, but "more perfect". In other words, the laws are not perfect but are perfected, as St. Paul said, "in the doing".

We need the friction of our oppositional views to form the 'refiner's fire' of democracy so that we can become 'more perfect'. That takes maturity and intelligence and imagination - qualities which seem to be sorely lacking in this country at this particular moment in time.

That being said, to allow a religious perspective - any religious perspective - to define laws would be to turn a democracy into a theocracy - which is the danger of politicians who claim to be "religious leaders" and, ironically, the reason we were in Iraq and are still in Afghanistan.

We have met the enemy, as Pogo said, and it is us.

Religious Oppression
After Tuesday's Caucus in Iowa, I've gotten much, much clearer about these three things:
1. Religious freedom is one of the foundational principles of this country which guarantees freedom of religious practice and expression - ALL religion - as well as freedom FROM religion.

2. The Sacred Texts of our religion are not to be worshiped. They are to help us and guide us to worship God and be moral agents of compassion and justice.

3. The Constitution is not a sacred text. We are not supposed to worship the Constitution. We are supposed to govern the government by the Constitution and use the sacred texts of our religion to govern our own lives.
After Tuesday, I don't know that this is clear to everyone in this country.

Before November, 2012, I pray to God that we'll all be much clearer about these things.

That being said, I also know that there are none so blind as those who refuse to see.

And, none so deadly as those who can't laugh at themselves. (Click on picture to enlarge)


Paul said...

I believe the phrase you wanted was "all hat, no cattle," a common euphemism for phonies in cattle country. They don the western wear but have not been near livestock (much like W who was afraid of horses though he rode his bike a lot).

My, they do fill quite a clown car, don't they?

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

That's it. It's hard for a NE girl to speak Texan.

DeanB said...

The Boston Globe's whole editorial column today was an endorsement of Huntsman for the NH primary. He might make a showing. Stranger things have happened.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

DeanB - I wouldn't think Huntsman making a good showing in NH "strange". I would think there are some intelligent Republicans in NH. And, there are.

walter said...

..Conversely what does a Catholic and a Baptist make in a Blue Grotto Tavern? A Diverse America; here hides the secret of the Vitale Kaeton post colonial missionary affirmative mysticism. Please do notice that to personally appreciate the space suggested at the beginning of the first sentence by the double period it is necessary to travel the anti-chronological (in any time’ sense) redemptive dynamic of our pre-consubstantial Holy Trinity and to keep in mind that ultimately God is the measuring’ time ruler. The essence of the pre-consubstantial Holy Trinity is in the redemptive generation of Life and such redemptive generation has its roots in Thomist theology that before being Thomist theology is our God of Life Inherent in incarnational faith by the Vitale Kaeton Grace. This would not be possible if we would take at face value the consubstantiality of Holy Trinity. This I hope will add further depth to Thurman’ truth that the creative act must ever be the personal act. It is about a dimension of spirituality really out of this world. As you will read, 4, the draft of chapter 1 of my Blue Grotto Dimension this stimulation will become a little clearer. I have been revisiting Libby’ written words to me in May 2009 in this context. Thus becoming aware it is yes a becoming aware but it is a strange kind of becoming aware. Walter Vitale