Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Changing our political culture

If you follow politics, or even if you don't but watch the news, you know that Christine O'Donnell won the Republican nomination to fill the Delaware Senate seat vacated by Vice President Biden in 2008. You also know that O'Donnell was not the establishment favorite, far from it, and was backed by Sen. Jim DeMint, Sarah Palin, and the Tea Party. O'Donnell was largely abandoned both prior to and after her win last night. Only the political common sense of Sen. Cornyn of Texas, head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, who had to over-rule his staffers at the committee after their tepid response to O'Donnell's primary victory over liberal Republican Mike Castle, saved the day for the GOP.

Christine O'Donnell

I like anyone who rocks the political establishment and knocks them back on their heels. I like them even more when they also do it to the news media. O'Donnell performed a twofer! What is O'Donnell guilty of, apart from being a true, blue conservative in a that isn't supposed to have any? Well, you see, she's an average person. It took her almost twenty years to pay her student debt to her alma mater Farleigh Dickinson University so she could formally be awarded the degree she earned back in 1993. She has also had other financial difficulties, despite some professional success.

O'Donnell is also guilty of being an unabashed Christian and has been since she was in college. It seems she started out in college doing so many of the things too many college students do: partying a lot and being, by her own admission, at least for a time, a bit promiscuous. Being a Catholic who returned to the practice of her faith while still a young women and having absorbed the lessons of her college experience, she founded an organization called S.A.L.T. (Savior's Alliance For Lifting the Truth) shortly after finishing college. The acronym for her organization is likely a reference to Jesus' words in Matthew 5:13 "You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet" (ESV- parallel passages are also found in Mark9:50 and Luke 14:34). I readily admit that the full name is a bit over blown, but that is not really an issue at all.

It didn't take long for Rachel Maddow to rake O'Donnell over the coals for an anti-masturbation campaign she undertook in the 1990s on behalf of S.A.L.T. Glen Davis, writing for Mediaite describes Maddow "gleefully" showing an interview O'Donnell did on MTV in 1996. In the interview O'Donnell and her friends have audacity to assert that our sexual desires, while God-given, should be expressed "in God’s appropriate context," meaning in marriage. Another young woman says that "masturbation is a selfish act, and it’s a lustful one, and we are to walk with pure hearts, not adulterous, lusting hearts." The fact that a group of young people standing for Christian values. Davis' article is poorly written, he takes aim at O'Donnell's assertion that urging young people to masturbate as a way of sex outside of marriage and STDs is wrong-headed by inserting (parenthetically) a red herring of stunning proportion: "the apparent fact that no married people have AIDS is news to us." Huh?

The video is below:

In the wake of all the liberal hand-wringing over an obscure pastor's threat to burn a few copies of the Qu'ran and allegations that somehow opposing the building of the Ground Zero Islamic Center, complete with mosque, is symptomatic of a mental illness known as Islamophobia, it strikes me as utterly incoherent that a member of this chorus can get away with engaging in a genuine act of religious intolerance by asserting that because someone practices her faith and publicly encourages others to do the same she is unfit to hold office. It just goes to show that many who support the Ground Zero mosque do so, not from a concern about religious faith and practice, which always has content and an existential component (i.e., shapes how adherents live their lives), but from a radical secularizing relativism.

If it's a matter of being fair and balanced, how about some mention of her general election opponent, Democrat Chris Coons' youthful communism, which he described in a newspaper article he wrote for Amherst College student newspaper entitled The Making of a Bearded Marxist. In the article Coons describes his journey from a clean-cut, fairly conservative young person to being a college Marxist. I assert that the difference is, while Coons certainly repudiates his youthful Marxism, O'Donnell still stands for the truth she espoused as a young woman, which makes her odd and the object of scorn.

Let's see how what O'Donnell advocated stacks up with what the Church teaches by looking at some paragraphs from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

2351: Lust is disordered desire for or inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes.

2352 By masturbation is to be understood the deliberate [self-]stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure. "Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action." "The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose." For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of "the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved." To form an equitable judgment about the subjects' moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety, or other psychological or social factors that lessen or even extenuate moral culpability.

2353 Fornication is carnal union between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman. It is gravely contrary to the dignity of persons and of human sexuality which is naturally ordered to the good of spouses and the generation and education of children. Moreover, it is a grave scandal when there is corruption of the young.


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