Monday, June 16, 2008

For whom can I vote (part 4)

Folks would do well to acknowledge they get overheated about all this.

In a thread at "What Does the Prayer Really Say?" we got into this, talking about the misguided support Chicago priest Father Michael Pfleger has given Obama. I was ultimately accused of promoting "heterodoxy," and the one who so accused me ended up distorting my statements—I think out of being so overwrought about this issue—because I wouldn’t agree with his absolutist statements, also in reaction to the example I provided, when asked, of a situation where one might feel a real conflict. I should have simply stuck with Obama-McCain, but instead I offered this one: what if Sen. Larry Craig runs for re-election, maintaining his 100% opposition to abortion, but is opposed by a pro-abortion candidate?

Were I an Idaho voter, I’d probably vote for Craig (assuming I and others failed to knock him out in the primary), but I said, on that thread, I could understand why someone didn’t feel bound to vote for Craig given his other problems, and might vote for the other candidate, despite being pro-abortion. I’m not saying I agree with the reasoning, but I offer it as an example of where a person of good intentions on the abortion issue might well feel very conflicted, and I’d have a hard time condemning such a voter in that circumstance.

And one can think of even more egregious cases: Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham ended up going to jail for defrauding the taxpayers in his dealings with defense contractors—but he was prolife. Again, thankfully, prolife voters were spared such a choice.

In the end, my overwrought accuser almost seemed to back himself into the corner of saying one would be morally obliged to vote for someone like Craig, or McCain, because of the worse opponent—although I think that commenter would really not hold that, had he given the matter sufficient thought. I offer this an example of where one ends up if one misstates what actually is the moral imperative in these issues, and also gets too wrapped up in the "crisis" of the moment, forgetting the unfolding of Divine Providence.

There is a hazard in getting off balance when it comes to engagement with the political process versus remembering that the Kingdom will only come in fullness in the world to come. We are called to seek a more just world, to struggle in prayer and action very hard for it.

But we live in a world afflicted by Original Sin, and we are limited in what we can do, and what we can anticipate. Every election cycle, folks make it all about the outcome this year--well, no; whatever happens this fall, there will be other struggles after this, regardless of who wins. No matter how pure our intention, how good our methods, how skilled and hard-working we are, political action isn’t going to save the world. We have to remember that. I say that as someone who worked in politics, cares about politics, thinks political action is noble—but also as one who knows the subtle temptation to reach for "the ring of power" (to use Tolkien’s classic image).

When I reflect on Divine Providence and history, I end up speechless—why does God allow things to unfold as he does? A little nudge here or there would—seemingly—so dramatically affect the course of history for the better. So it is with the current state of our nation and our world as we Catholics do our best to make the world more just, including especially stopping the slaughter of the unborn.


Anonymous said...

Hello Fr. Fox,

I checked out your blog today hoping that you were at the CMAA Colloquium and blogging. Anyway, I read this entry on your blog and I thought you might find this article written by Archbishop Chaput interesting. The link to the article is:

He gives us some very good things to consider when voting. It's something I really struggle with personally. Sometimes I'm tempted to just not vote.

Cathy Dawson

Anonymous said...

I dunno, Mr. Fox ... I think the commenter Jon made a very very brilliant point at the start of this comment.

How DO we know that you really are "Fr."? I mean, I've met you in person and all, but anyone can rent a Roman collar and put on a black shirt. And all these photos you post as part of your ruse ... I've seen enough movies to know what can be done with special effects. And I did supposedly see you on that TV documentary on MSM West, including film of your ordination, but maybe that was only a guy who looked like you. After all ... that man was never identified or spoke in the special.

I think this brilliant thinker Jon is on to something.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Fox, you say,

"political action isn’t going to save the world. We have to remember that." Now that's hitting the nail on the head.

Heaven sent blessings to you today.


Michelle McIntyre said...

Fr. Fox,

I'm a pro-life Republican working to keep the party pro-life. I support everything you've said here. You're right that political action alone won't save us. Though I believe more pro-life Catholics need to actually get involved in the process to ensure better nominees. This means being active in the party. But I do believe in Divine Providence. I believe if we are acting on obedience to our Lord, whether that means no compromise or "lessening evil, by voting for the lesser of two evils" according to our own informed conscience, God will take care of the rest. Perhaps the outcome won't be the "lesser of two evils", but instead the greater evil, in order for us to turn to Him in prayer and obedience.