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Saturday, June 18, 2022

The Demise Of Joe Biden–A Good Catholic Boy Loses His Way

Father Clancy turned to the congregation and said these words,

Domine, Jesu Christe, Rex gloriae,
libera animas omnium fidelium defunctorum
de poenis inferni
et de profundo lacu.
Libera eas de ore leonis
ne absorbeat eas tartarus,
ne cadant in obscurum

Image result for images priest celebrating mass

Young Joe Biden’s eyes teared as he bowed his head and blessed himself.  “I am heartily sorry, O Lord”, he prayed, words of confession not of transubstantiation, but heard only by him, acts of contrition, love, admiration and salvation all mixed and conflated in his mind, but his tears of faith were real.

He looked up and saw the priest, dressed in high raiment, magnificent and splendid red and gold, the cross emblazoned across the back of his chasuble, and turn to the congregation, making a dramatic sign of the cross, raising his ringed hand to the clerestory, dropping it to his heart, and then touching his shoulders in humility and passion.

Little Joe was moved to ecstasy.  The incense, the sound of the censer swinging on its chain as the priest walked down the aisle, blessing all in Jesus’ name, the hosannas sung by the choir above, and the image of Christ himself, larger than life looking down from the cross above the altar – all resonated together in a scene of immeasurable, inexplicable beauty. 

Image result for dali images crucifixion

So it is surprising after this promising beginning that President Biden finds himself in the weeds of progressive secularism where Jesus is irrelevant.  Suffering and redemption, progressives say, have only to do with social justice, the righting of centuries of oppression, misrule, and arrogant racism.  There will be no final judgment and resurrection and only incarceration, carnal and capital punishment for the slave driver, the grandee, the plantation owner and his white, privileged claque of racist enforcers. 

Life from beginning to end is a matter for the courts, the law, and public opinion.  Abortion is a spiritual non-starter, and ‘the sanctity of life’ nothing but a cynical cover for Catholic nativism.  Religious individualism, the acknowledgment that one’s spiritual nature is the irrevocable center of individual life, more important than any secular identity, is nothing more than an attempt to divert the cause of inclusivity and the supremacy of racial identity.

Biden has disregarded the essential precepts of both the Founding Fathers of the Church and the Republic.  To the dust bin with Athanasius and Augustine and Jefferson, Madison, and Adams.  Biden’s secularism has nothing to do with the separation of church and state.  The authors of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights never intended to remove religion from democratic discourse, but saw it as a foundational principle of democracy.  The rights of man are God-given, Jefferson wrote, and American society would be great because of faith and secular enterprise.

Governing as a Catholic and ruling with the Church in mind first and foremost was anathema to the founders of the Republic.  It was not only a privileged, narrow, and distorted view of republicanism, but would lead the way to theocracy and/or religious persecution.  The idea of religion within civil society was far different.  There can be no compassionate, responsible, and respectful society without religion – not so much the practice of it but its principles.

Ivan Karamazov, Dostoevsky’s  character in The Brothers Karamazov, explains to Father Zossima why he believes that the state should be subsumed within the Church.  How little crime there would be, he said, if men were beholden to first to God, the final arbiter of right and wrong.  Crime – sin – would be punished at Judgment Day, the consequences of ill deeds far more lasting than any secular punishment.

Image result for images ivan karamazov and devil

The United States, of course, has fiercely defended the separation of church and state and insisted on it; but the intent of the Founding Fathers has been misinterpreted ever since the framing of the Constitution.  Jefferson et al were never against the incorporation of and respect for religious principles within a secular state; just that no religion should ever be imposed on anyone.

The principles of the Enlightenment on which both the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights were based were profoundly religious.  Although philosophers of the 18th century valued logic and rationality above all, they were insistent that they be put to use in the service of God.  They like Augustine and Aquinas before them understood that the way to faith was through logic; and while faith would always triumph, the exercise of reason would strengthen belief not diminish it.

Augustine’s work, The City of God is perhaps the most important Western work on the relationship between church and state.  As a good Christian who evolved from doubting roots into Christianity’s most influential theologian, Augustine argued for the co-existence if not integration of church and state.  As a good Christian, he believed that nothing was possible without faith – not civil society, not government, not family or community.  Faith precedes logic, civil discourse, laws, and governance, he said.  Without it, mankind would be lost.

Image result for images st augustine theologian

Rational secularists believe differently. Justice can and indeed does exist without faith.  Belief is an add-on, important if not essential, but not indispensable.  Augustine never goes as far as the fictional Ivan Karamazov, but he comes close.

Today, however, and especially under the administration of Joe Biden, these Jeffersonian principles have been deformed into policies which forbid the inclusion of religion in any secular institution or debate.  As a result the teaching of Judeo-Christian moral and ethical standards find no place in society at the very moment when they are most needed.  Social dysfunction requires an insistence of the values of honesty, honor, respect, courage, and compassion embodied in both Old and New Testaments; but are dismissed in favor of respect for ‘cultural diversity’.

Progressives have insisted that Judeo-Christian values have no place in a pluralistic democracy like that in the United States.  The inclusion of distinctly Jewish and Christian values would automatically marginalize and disrespect those of other religious traditions.

Nothing could be further from the truth. All religions espouse the very same principles.  Teaching – insisting upon – honesty, integrity, respect, honor, discipline, courage, and compassion would strengthen common values and would do nothing to disturb or challenge the beliefs of non-Christians. America is very much a Christian country in that it espouses these Biblical values; and confirming that belief and commitment in no way disrespects those of a non-Biblical heritage.

Political movements which focus on ‘traditional’ values – respect for family, God, and Biblical lessons and injunctions – are not retrograde but avant-garde, for they see that that progressivism in an age of contentious divisions is in itself retrograde.

Identity politics which favors self-interested separatism instead of social and philosophical integration are corrosive and dangerous to the body politic.  Pride in ethnic, gender, or racial identity in and of itself is not dangerous; but when self-serving, often venal, principles replace common, mutually-respected values, there is indeed a problem.

“Am I still a good Catholic”, the President asked his wife.

“Of course you are dear”, she replied smiling with love and respect for her husband who had done so much with so little.  She was by his side as he made his way up in Delaware politics and then passionately represented the state’s interest in Congress.  He had always been responsible, dutiful, and honest.

Yet she privately wondered about the President’s shedding all traces of religion from his governance.  Surely, she thought, he cannot believe that abortion is as neutral as his advisors say; that there is not at least a scintilla of truth in the belief that life begins at conception; and as surely he can’t possibly believe that anarchic secularism is good for the country. 

Jill never felt it her place to advise the President in the affairs of state, but what would Father Clancy think of his former altar boy, now a champion of  devious and illogical views?

“I still go to church on Sundays and receive communion”, the President replied.

Father Clancy would have howled at this absurdity and toasted the absolute chutzpah of a man who had sold his soul and claimed he got the better part or the bargain.  Jill winced at Joe’s disingenuousness.  She was aware that priests, cardinals, and the Vatican wanted him excommunicated regardless of his weekly appearances at St. Anne’s.

“I will go to confession when this is all over”, the President said; and again Jill thought of Father Clancy who would have stripped and whipped her husband for his smarmy hypocrisy and convolution of Catholic doctrine before he would ever let him into the confessional.

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Meanwhile faith was the last thing on Joe’s mind as he stood on the podium with cross-dressers and drag queens, championed the ‘diversity’ of the ghetto, spoke loudly and often about the need for universal abortion , and was happily carried on a caparisoned palanquin through adoring crowds. 

“They do love me”, said the President, kissing his wife good night.  “The polls don’t mean a thing”.

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