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Food for the Poor Godspy.com: Faith at the Edge


Harold Fickett

Chasing the Spirit

It's all grace
Harold Fickett | 10 posts | Member since 12.21.07


RE: Why I Love Obama
Thanks to Johnny and Debra for their kind words, and Chassup, you have more a friend in me than you know. If Obama were to be elected and really wanted to revive America's educational system, for instance, he'd have to talk about more than simply improving teacher salaries. (He began doing this in Virginia, actually--a hopeful sign.) Great schools depend on stable families, in which a mom and a dad work together to educate their children, with the help of teachers. The attitudes of secular elites (and often their social programs)have contributed directly to the rampant dysfunction of our culture. See William Dalrymple's wonderful books. One can only say so much in an article.

RE: Repeat the Sounding Joy
A great essay, Eve. We are so buried in ourselves, when what we need is to be centered in God. The words of others, as you say, can often be the means of transport from one perspective to the other.

RE: Bill, the Times They are a Changin’...
I'm so glad you weighed in on this, Bill. There are so many things that might be said about the Clintons, and I may say a few of them in a subsequent post, but virtually the very first thing President Clinton did--on his third day in office, on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade--was appeal the ban on abortion counseling in federally financed clinics. This from the NYT, January 23, 1993: "In addition to lifting the ban on counseling, Mr. Clinton lifted restrictions on Federal financing of research that uses fetal tissue, eased the policy on abortions in military hospitals, and reversed a Reagan Administration prohibition on aid to international family-planning programs that are involved in abortion-related activities... "He also called for a review of the ban on the importation of the French abortion drug, RU-486, for personal use." Some of us have not forgotten; nor are we confused as to hot air and dirigible pols.

RE: Letting Bill Clinton Off Easy
Marion, this is a helpful complement to Bill's. Although I have voted for years with an eye to a pro-life Supreme Court, I realize that if the Court were to overturn Roe and Casey tomorrow and return the matter to the states, at least half of those states would reinstitute abortion immediately. The fundamental problem is cultural, before it's political, and how we communicate, as Bill agrees, is essential. I'm glad to see you, Z, on GodSpy. I have immense respect for Franciscan University, and I hope many there will find in GodSpy a source of help and inspiration, as I have found in the witness of the university itself.

RE: Why I Love Obama
Damon, I am an admirer of Huckabee as well, particularly for his pro-life stand, as you'll see if you follow the link on the left to "Why Huckabee Makes Evangelicals Nervous." I do think he has some blind spots when it comes to the manner in which he presents his views, although his sense of humor and readiness to engage all points-of-view is tremendously refreshing. Also, I think Huckabee is trying to find his way toward a true compassionate conservatism, in which government is a fair arbiter of economic interests--taking an even hand toward both Wall Street and Main Street--while maintaining safety nets that show a due regard for human nature. Chassup makes a good point about government's one-size-fits-all mentality and refusal to make moral distinctions. I do think, though, that government programs can be based on more or less adequate views of the human person. The welfare-to-work reform, for instance, which embraced the dignity of labor, was an improvement. I love what Chassup says: "The solution to any social justice predicament must begin by treating each individual as a unique human person deserving of love." Only the Church can really do this, and the more we take up our obligation to serve the poor, the less government has to intervene with its ham-handed methods. Faced with this reality, we have to think hard about what the Church should be doing and can do versus functions that properly belong to the state. The existence of the social welfare state can be seen, from one angle, as a sign of the Church's failure. One of the things I'd like to see here at GodSpy is a full-scale discussion of these questions, with all options on the table. Should we deconstruct the welfare state and empower private agencies to addresss social justice concerns? Or should the social welfare state, at least in certain respects, be considered an achievement of the Christian influence in society? That's precisely the type of discussion that GodSpy is here to engender.

RE: Get Married! The Case for Tying the Knot Early
Mary, as I tell my kids, "It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing." On the other hand, I traveled with a man from India this fall who has been very happily married for twenty-five years to a woman of his family's choosing. They met two days before their wedding and learned to love one another during their first year together. The Western emphasis on the sovereign individual has produced generation after generation who neither know themselves, nor trust themselves, because we imagine ourselves to be Emersonian demi-gods, which is the greatest illusion of all. We are often merely "fear in a handful of dust." Marriage is meant to be a vocation and a sacrament--a means of shedding illusions and discovering the truth of who we are in the light of Christ. It's also a social institution meant to protect children against physical and emotional abandonment. These understandings actually enable the discovery of our spouse's humanity and our own. The traditional rules are all-important, I would say, as they actually liberate our feelings, whereas proceeding on the basis of feelings ends in disappointmen--as the hash up my generation has made of marriage in the past forty years attests in encyclopedic detail. How can anyone doubt Lori Gottlieb's unhappiness or fail to see its cause in the narrative of the god-like self? The real right thing always gives way to a person with irritating habits, who actually must be loved, if at all, in their incompleteness, and what a pain that is. But it's only when we accept the inevitable pain we cause one another, as well as the joys we bring into each other's lives, that we begin to know what married love truly is and how it participates in redemption.

RE: Looking at the Pew Study: Danger Ahead?
While I appreciate the context the CARA report supplies, and recognize the aptness of Peter's comment, I think we have to recognize bad news as bad news. There's a lot left to be desired in our catechesis and how we engage the world. In "Marrying Tradition and Modernity" (WSJ, February 22, 2008), Christine B. Whelan reports that the Catholic Church's teaching about marriage has been "largely ineffective." As to Catholic young adults she writes, "only a ... quarter report that their views about marriage have been formed in significant part by their faith. Indeed, a minority think of marriage as a 'vocation' or a 'calling from God,' and nearly half of singles say it's not important that their future spouse be Catholic. Rather, the vast majority of 18- to 25-year-olds report that their spouse must be their 'soul mate,' and that falling out of love is an acceptable reason for divorce." Obviously, given the overwhelming influence in our culture of secular mass media, the Church faces a daunting task. Buy we have to face up to it rather than finding what comfort we can and going back to business as usual. It drives me crazy, frankly, that we are now the ones fiddling while Rome burns.

RE: None of the Above: The Only Vote Worth Casting in November?
As the movement known as the Agrarians reminded us, one of the happy circumstances of America's founding consisted in the country's broad-base of ownership--from small farmers to shop keepers. President Bush tried to begin a conversation about an "ownership society," which was quickly dismissed because of its linkage to the proposed Social Security reforms. But that idea needs to be revisited. What if government saw its role as a fair arbiter more in terms of helping families at every income level enjoy the benefits of capital formation? What if America saw "home economics" as a priority, with the restoration of one income-earner families? There are big issues involved, I know, but ones we should keep persuing here.

RE: None of the Above: The Only Vote Worth Casting in November?
Panther, see The Gospel of Life EVANGELIUM VITAE http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_25031995_evangelium-vitae_en.html as to why the sanctity of life is inherent to the Gospel and essential to it. As Angelo says, no one can judge your relationship to God, but the teachings of the Church, as to faith and morals, are clear--that's one of the great strengths of Catholicism: "You can look it up." The new Catechism is particularly helpful on the broadest range of issues and provides resources, through its citations, for further study. I'd also recommend David Scott's THE CATHOLIC PASSION, George Weigel's LETTERS TO A YOUNG CATHOLIC (which as a middle-aged Catholic I found plenty powerful), and the apologetic works of Scott Hahn, ALan Shreck, and Peter Kreeft. For starters.

RE: None of the Above: The Only Vote Worth Casting in November?
Panther, Try these http://www.salvationhistory.com/welcome.cfm http://forums.catholic.com http://www.catholicexchange.com http://www.catholic-pages.com/forum/default.asp?cat_id=2 http://www.ncregister.com http://www.ignatius.com/index.aspx Also, the best spiritual bookstore in America http://www.eighthdaybooks.com And my favorite monastery http://www.clearcreekmonks.org I'm hardly the fount of all wisdom, but if you'd like to converse via email you can reach me through the GodSpy site. Just go to Control Panel (top left on the home page), then Member List, find my name and click on the email button. Also, GodSpy is hoping to have bulletin boards of its own, where members can discuss topics. So stay tuned. Finally, I'm extremely impressed by the members we have attracted to date. There are a lot of smart, committed Catholics who are already members. You can email people whose comments you find intriguing through the Member List. We want GodSpy not only to be an online magazine but a virtual community as well, and the software is set up to enable this. In Christ's charity, Harold

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