Monday, November 03, 2008

To Undermine Christian Morality

First let me heartily recommend the excellent post (as they usually are) from Brian Cross entitled "On Imitations and the Gospel". He stole a bit of my hot air and turned it into thunder (what I mean is that I had this post in the oven before I read his and he said it much better than I could have anyway).

Bishop Jugis (Charlotte) and Bishop Burbidge (Raleigh) issued a joint letter to North Carolina Catholics on the voting issue (it can be read here) and this was read throughout both dioceses at the weekend masses. The letter is short and to the point - "the intentional destruction of innocent human life is an intrinsic evil that can never be supported" - and I applaud our bishops for their courage in leadership during times when moral clarity is a dangerous thing to advertise.

Though I'm afraid our bishops across the country are quickly finding themselves first in a world where speaking out is becoming increasingly necessary and soon in a world where merely speaking out will not be enough. Whatever they said in that letter is 100% irrelevant in the mind of the average NC Catholic because the message is trivialized by the News & Herald (delivered weekly to all Catholics in the diocese) which ran a five part series comparing the candidates on the various issues. The first one, on abortion, is so ambiguous that you come out feeling like McCain is only a marginally superior candidate on life issues. No need to even read the other four (Immigration, Iraq War, Education & Environment) to see what sort of slant they have. I'll say it again, the time is quickly approaching where bishops will need to do more than write letters.

A few months ago, I sat at lunch discussing morality with an OPC friend when a co-worker joined in. I was talking about the movie "Evan Almighty" and lamenting it's awful message when the co-worker remarked "Well I guess some message is better than no message at all". Negative. It is better to have a story without a moral than to have an immoral story.

The message of "Evan Almighty" was that God was angry with us for living in suburbia and driving SUVs and because of that, He sent a second flood. This is a bad message because it is anti-Christian (it replaces and undermines the real Christian message). There is certainly nothing inherently Christian about suburbia or SUVs and certainly nothing unChristian about environmental stewardship but there is something decidedly unChristian about parading environmental concerns in lieu of much graver issues.

So the bishops can write such a letter, and again I applaud them for doing so, but I'm afraid their message is easily drowned out in a sea of competing voices (from friends, family, Hollywood and even our diocesan newspaper) which promotes a message that directly undermines theirs.

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