My colleague Heidi Schlumpf has penned a column advocating abstinence from "Black Friday" shopping. I second the motion. I would also like to see if Bill Donohue and Bill O'Reilly, both of whom have discerned and denounced a "War on Christmas" waged by secularists will now understand that the war on Christmas comes not from secularists but from profiteers, and now they are attacking Thanksgiving too.
The other day, speaking with a friend, I was trying to explain that I thought the real problem I have with George Weigel's writings is not that he is a conservative politically and I am not. No, my problem is that I do not think he has the heart of the matter in hand, if the matter in hand is the Catholic Church's teachings. Now, as if Mr. Weigel had read my mind, he furnishes me with a perfect example of what I mean. In his weekly column this week he writes:
If there was any doubt that the USCCB is in some disarray, yesterday confirmed the diagnosis. In the afternoon, the bishops unanimously agreed that it was opportune to proceed with the cause of Dorothy Day for canonization. In the morning, they rejected a statement on poverty. Hmmmm.
The proposed statement on poverty from the ad hoc drafting committee led by Archbishop Allan Vigneron was defeated by a vote of 134 to 85, short of the two-thirds majority needed for passage. This is fairly stunning. I cannot remember a document from a committee being rejected by the full body of bishops in recent years. I will have more to say on this tomorrow, but what we are witnessing is a bishops' conference that can't find consensus about how to preach the Gospel in the world today.
Catholic University Politics Professor Matt Green has two interesting posts up (the one is linked within the other) about the possibility that the Democrats may have won a majority of the votes for Congress this year, but nonetheless were unable to secure a majority of seats. This has only happened once in recent times, in 1996. As Green notes, it is not clear that re-districting is the only or even principal culprit here, but it is the most likely suspect.
"If I were a Republican, that would scare the hell out of me." Thus, Mark Silk on new data that looks at how age cohorts and religious identification show the need for the Republican Party to re-calibrate its approach to winning election.
Attending the annual USCCB plenary sessions in Baltimore always entails entering a parallel universe. The ballroom where the sessions are held is filled and the participants are almost exclusively male, a few women reporters and staffers sitting on the sidelines. Only in sports events is segregation by gender so obvious. All the bishops are, of course, dressed alike. All speak in measured tones. Even when criticizing a fellow bishop, the criticism is preceded by kind words.
I suppose that big things usually start small, but yesterday's session on "bishops and bloggers" at the USCCB meeting illustrated just how far we have to go before the blogosphere can effectively become a part of the New Evangelization. As I entered the room, I noticed that all the bishops were seated on one side of the room and all the bloggers and journalists on the other side. Call me silly, but if the value of the blogosphere is that it can bring people from diverse areas together in a common space, you would think the seating in the room might have reflected that.
Welcoming the bishops to Baltimore with an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun, John Gehring of Faith in Public Life invites the bishops to re-evaluate their recent forays into politics, and whether the vast majority of moderate bishops are going to continue to allow a few noisy conservatives to dominate the public square. It is a good question.