There is a thought provoking piece at The Catholic Thing by Fr. James Schall, SJ, a professor at Georgetown. He muses about a future in which we will have to withdraw from participation in public life, or at least in political life, because such participation will place us in the position of having to violate our consciences, the dictates of reason, the tenets of our Catholic Faith.
After introductory section in which he cites, St. Augustine on the question participation in public life, Fr. Schall goes on to say, with my emphases:
Various Catholic politicians, clerics, academics, and critics have tried to justify the substance of the Obama move to control the whole public order. It makes sense that withdrawal from politics may be in order. If doctors and nurses must, at the price of professional recognition, participate in abortions and all that goes with it, not to enter such professions at the risk one’s soul becomes rational. If Obama is reelected, such issues will immediately confront most good people, not just Catholics, but primarily them as they are the ones most clearly targeted.
The president apparently thinks that all wealth is produced by the state. The wealth of the citizens, thus, should pass through state hands to be redistributed to the citizens as a benefaction of the state. The state defines “the good” of the citizen in education, welfare, health, and well-being.
The First Amendment no longer functions as a restriction to the state. Religion contributes to the state only in so far as it assists in carrying out state policies. If it claims exemption, it is imposing its values on the freedom of the state to define the good.
No higher law exists by which we define what the state is. In the Catholic view, the current issues of health care, abortion, sterilization, euthanasia, fetal experimentation, and gay marriage are not primarily religious questions. The basic arguments about what these practices imply are from reason.
Catholicism gets into the controversies as one of the last major voices of reason in the public order. Christian revelation is addressed to a reason that is itself intelligible. It does not tell reason what it is, though it does insist that reason be reasonable.
The president seeks to define what constitutes religion. Those Catholics and other religious people who agree with him have implicitly accepted what this state demands of them. Their support basically entails a rejection of that natural reason found in the order of things.
In this context, the victory of the Obama approach to public life means that reasonable and believing Catholics and other citizens will have little choice but to withdraw from the public life of a country that enforces these policies. Such choices, no more and no less, are what is at stake in these controversies.
Fr. Schall makes a great point: reason must be reasonable.
But, in fact, what is passed off as “reason” today isn’t at all reasonable.
When on TV a couple talking heads, oracular fonts of indisputable truths, are going at it about when the MSM uniformly now calls the “contraception” controversy, the most absurd things are uttered as if they are the most reasonable of propositions. For example, the other day I heard an professional dissenter and Obama vassal (whose accent suggests Ireland) named Jon O’Brien, President of Catholics for Choice reel off a stream of claims that simply defy reason. The clip is HERE. It is instructive, but it could make you pretty mad. Among the loony things he said was that contraception – I am not making this up – is “as American as apple pie”.
My point is that it is increasingly difficult to have a reasonable, rational conversation with people. They have no sense of objective truth. (Thank you NEA, et al!) You can lead people with an argument from A to B to C and when you reach the conclusion they respond, “That may be true for you, but it isn’t true for me”, or else they simply ignore the conclusion and continue to parrot the absurdities they have accepted as incontrovertible.
If the current trends keep trending as are, will we eventually have to withdraw from participation in public life?
St. Thomas More tried to do that before the Act of Supremacy and Treason Act of 1534. Henry VIII wouldn’t let Thomas be. Thomas died a martyr.
This is not the first time I have been reminded of Henry VIII when thinking about Pres. Obama.
Treason Act of… 2012? 2013? 2014? …