August 2008

I read a blog post this weekend about the furor that came out after McCain admitted he was considering a pro-abortion politician for his VP spot. Thank heavens, Christians and the prolife movement as a whole spoke up and strongly advised him against such a plan. The blogger was scoffing this action, deriding the prolife movement for fighting to take a hill not worth fighting over.

In the blog post, he said worrying about a VP’s stance on abortion was ridiculous because even presidents haven’t had an impact on the abortion debate. There haven’t been a lot of laws passed, and if the Supreme Court ever repealed Roe v. Wade, it would simply go to the states and the states would all choose to keep abortion legal. He said the pro-life movement, in opposing a pro-abortion VP, was getting all worked up about nothing.

This blogger is missing the point. First, I think it’s pretty ridiculous to say wanting a VP that believes the federal government has no right to infringe on the rights of defenseless Americans is getting worked up over nothing. But, secondly, there is much more to being pro-life than wanting to see Roe v Wade appealed. We aren’t electing someone who is pro-life because they disagree with a Supreme Court ruling. We are electing someone who is pro-life because they understand what life is.

Someone who is pro-life views the human person very differently than someone who is pro-abortion. And it is not just the abortion issue– as Sam Brownback coined, it is pro-life, whole life. A pro-life person cares about the eldery and the young, the sick and the healthy, the blue-collared workers, the white-collared workers, the unemployed, and the retired. They care about the homeless and the middle class taxpayer. They care about everyone, because we are all made in the image and likeness of God.

If pro-choice politicians are willing to condone unborn babies being killed, what else are they willing to condone? I can’t trust them with a defenseless pre-born child, why should we trust them with the defenseless homeless, unemployed man on the street? Why should we trust them with our defenseless nonagenarian grandparents? Or our defenseless two year-old children? Heck, we all know now we can’t trust Obama to take care of a born baby! After hearing this story, I don’t think I’d trust him to watch my dog while I went on vacation.

There’s a problem with the logic that ‘since VPs don’t have much effect on the passing of pro-life laws, it doesn’t matter if your VP is pro-life.’ It’s like saying that since your board of advisors doesn’t have a final say in your company, it doesn’t matter that Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling are your two main men. A leader is more than just a certain role and certain responsibilities… it is who the person is, what the person believes, what the person stands for.

We’re not talking about electing the assistant trash collector of the month. We’re talking about the election of the leaders of the United States of America! If politicians don’t understand what a human is, if they feel humans are relatively expendable based on the whims of others, I don’t want them to have any part in leading my country, regardless of what laws they can or cannot pass.

Frank Sheed pointed out in 1978: “Science can tell us more and more about life, but it can shed no light at all on what life is about — why we exist (why indeed anything exists), where we are supposed to be going, how we are to get there. On these questions, our rulers can tell us nothing either; most of them are not aware that those questions are fundamental to their work as rulers, or even that rulers have any bearing on it at all. But to handle human lives with no agreement as to what human beings are or what the purpose of life is — that is a formula for chaos.” Preface to Theology and Sanity

Who are we letting handle human lives?


I think the subject line of this post is redundant.  In this health-conscious society, we hear of “balanced meals” or “5 small meals a day” or even “nutrisystem prepackaged meals.”  In these cases, “meal” just refers to a quantity of food eaten at a certain time.

Living as a single person has given me the opportunity to think about something others probably take for granted.  Meal time.  Growing up in a tight family, meals were eaten together around the table.  It was a time to share about your day or present concerns, and, most importantly, listen to others’ plans, concerns, joys, and sorrows.  It was a time of fellowship.  It was time of community.

I heard a theologian somewhere say that essential to the nature of “meal” is the idea of community.  At first I was a little offended– did that mean I could go days without eating a meal?  Ha!  Well, after living on my own for two years now, I think he’s right.

It’s strange to eat alone.  When I had a card table sitting in the corner of my dining area, pretending to be a dining room table, I rarely sat there… it was too strange to sit amongst empty chairs, as if I thought if I squinted while I ate, I could imagine people sitting with me.  Now, I don’t even have a fake dining room table.  I eat on the floor or I sit at my kitchen bar on a stool.  But even that is strange… where do I look?  Into my kitchen at the wall?  Down at my food?

I find that when I eat by myself, I eat too fast.  I don’t stop to enjoy the food in front of me– whether it’s a microwave pizza or a balanced plate of chicken, cous-cous, and green beans.  There’s nothing to do but shovel it into my face.  What am I going to do?  Put my fork down and stare at my cabinets for awhile?  Talk to my imaginary friend between bites?

The last few days, I watched television while I ate– since I didn’t have cable, I indulged in a guilty-pleasure– a well-known late 80s/early 90s sitcom about six high school kids and their principal that I happen to own on DVD.  But it was kind of scary… it almost became pavlovian, and when I was making dinner it was natural to go flip on the TV set and pop in another episode.

That’s when I realized community was essential.  I was uncomfortable eating alone, so I found solace eating with the kids of Bayside High.  Not exactly what that theologian was getting at…

This isn’t to make you all feel sorry for me.  Solitude is vital for life, and not enough people are comfortable with it… not enough people are blessed to even experience it!  Someday I’ll probably long for these quiet dinners alone….

Nah.  Because meals are meant to be shared.  Italians know how to do it… gather the family and friends around the table, share life’s high points and low points… gather around food– something that is so cultural, yet surpasses culture… together, share God’s gifts…  Some of my favorite memories come from meal times, and the others are often reminisced there.  Even when we’re not eating, my family tends to gather in the dining room or the kitchen.  There’s something about those places…

Perhaps it is because we are meant for union, and in God’s grand plan, that union is found in a meal — in a banquet…. the heavenly banquet… and that banquet comes to earth in the Mass, where we are given Jesus’ body for our daily, supersubstantial bread.  So, in a very real sense, our humble meals are shadows of the perfect meal, made present on the altars daily in Catholic churches.

So tomorrow evening, I’ll be eating alone in my apartment.   But tomorrow morning, I’ll be eating a meal– a heavenly meal, accompanied by the Church.  And that’s a pretty good community to eat with, don’t you think?

It’s probably a gross understatement to say that there’s a double-standard in this country. Those people the media loves– namely liberals and celebrities– are lauded for everything they do. Everyone else? Well, we’re racist, prideful, and hate the environment.

Average American couple — we’ll call them the Johnsons — walk through the grocery store with six kids. “Are those all yours?” What are they doing? Haven’t they figured out how to stop that? Do they realize we’re all going to run out of food and natural resources because they’re so irresponsible?

Brad and Angelina have their fifth and sixth kid. “We’ll give you $14 million dollars for pictures of them.” Aren’t they adorable?! Who do you think they look like? Oh, those two are so in love. And they do so much for the poor!


Okay, so how about this? Angelina makes headlines every time she goes over to help the poor and comes back with a child. Now, I respect her willingness to show self-sacrifice and raise children who would otherwise end up on the streets. I’m not going to get into a discussion about that. But what if someone else did the same thing? Are they treated the same way?

What if a woman went over to Bangladesh, for example, and came back with two girls from Mother Teresa’s orphanage? What if one had a cleft palate and one had a heart condition? What if the woman adopted one and had a family friend adopt the other — and paid for all the medical care of the second girl, even though she was not her own daughter?

Would we praise this woman like we have Angelina? I hope so. Perhaps Cindy McCain is just a bit more private about family matters. Maybe she doesn’t want to be on the cover of People magazine to show everyone how wonderful she is. (Didn’t Barack Obama come out and say he was sorry for parading his family on Access Hollywood?  But then we all see them splashed across People Magazine with a big interview a few weeks later?)

Well, hopefully John McCain will start telling us all about himself soon.  We don’t want to hear about Obama, John.  Start telling us about you.