Thursday, February 7

Cal Thomas on some current legislation designed formally allow churches to engage in political speech without losing their tax-exempt status. I say "formally" because, as Thomas points out, there is an enormous double standard at work in regard to the current situation:

Though the measure is rarely enforced, the political activism of some conservative Christians over the past two decades has caused religious and political liberals to demand that the tax-exempt status of some conservative ministers be revoked. These same people are mostly silent about the political activism of liberal clergy, especially those who are African-American who preach politics, lobby Congress and endorse candidates from the pulpit.

Thomas is skeptical about the proposed legislation, and instead suggests that churches should just be willing to give up their tax-exempt status voluntarily, a position with which I agree:

But if clergy choose to be political, they don't need special privileges from government. If they choose to eschew politics, they don't need government subsidies, unless God has run out of money.

One can't help but wonder if fear of losing that sacred 501(c)(3) status has more to do with the largely ineffectual and low-key anti-abortion "efforts" of most RC bishops over the past three decades.

Today is the feast day of St. Giles Mary-of-St.-Joseph, who couldn't be a priest in his religious order, but "only" a lay brother and was given the job of porter. That's a fascinating little subset of sanctity: monastery porters. Blessed Andre Bessett and Venerable Solanus Casey were also porters - men whose job it was to welcome and screen visitors and who, by their position at the door of the monastery, became the first person those in need would meet.
Michael Novak on the return of good and evil :

Most of what passes for relativism today is fake. Your average relativist is only a relativist when she is trying to discredit your standards. Try lighting up a cigarette too close to her, you'll find out how relativist she is!

Not so long ago, a friend of mine was debating on talk radio someone described as a "former nun lesbian abortion rights activist" (I kid you not), when the question came up of belief in moral standards. The former nun was having none of it--no talk of "medieval absolutes and all that baggage." The host asked my friend if he believed in absolutes, but before he could answer, the former nun burst in: "Name one."

My friend didn't have time to think, but by a gift of grace shot back immediately: "Thou shalt not rape."

On the air hung three delicious seconds of silence

Actually, a response that gets to an even more fundamental level would be this: To say that there are no absolutes is...a statement of an absolute. That's the philosophical conundrum that relativism ultimately can't fix.

Mormons whining about media coverage. Too bad. Here's my main complaint about Mormons: their deceptive, manipulative evangelization tactics. Many years ago, just to see what would happen, I let a couple of Mormon missionaries give me their sales pitch over a three weeks' time. Never did they mention anything substantive about Mormon theology - the stuff about human souls being the fruit of God the Father's procreation with God the Mother or Jesus being married or anything else. Their whole pitch played on fears about the afterlife. "Wouldn't it be great," they asked, "if you could be with your family forever?" Interesting...other religions emphasize individual salvation, but the Mormons talked about eternity in terms of family life. You can see the appeal.

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