This story is a couple of days old, but it is a perennial really. Conservative champion David Barton - a best-selling evangelical author and frequent guest of Glenn Beck - published a book called "The Jefferson Lies" in which he contended that Jefferson was a sort of closet orthodox Christian. Now, his publisher, a conservative Christian publisher obviously, has nonetheless pulled the book because it is - surprise, surprise - filled with inaccuracies. The effort to baptize the American Founding is a deeply misguided project (so, too, the effort to deny the religiosity of many if not most Americans at the time of the founding) and while Barton's book may be the most egregious example, there are others.
The National Catholic Register's Pat Archbold has a post up that is at least more forthright than Cong. Paul Ryan's efforts to invoke the social magisterium of the Church even while undermining it. Atchbold writes, "The Bishops Were Wrong." Okay then. Archbold gets points for clarity, but his reasoning is ridiculous - is it really the case that our nation can't afford to keep programs that assist the poor going, yes with increases necessitated by inflation and population growth, to say nothing of the fact that we are in a recession, or is it the case that wealthy men like Archbold don't want their taxes to go up to pay for it?
Just back from the Catholic Conversation Project, a gathering of young theologians who started meeting at Fordham three years ago with the hope of transcending the facile and unproductive categories of left v. right that have unhappily migrated from the political sphere into the Catholic world. The shrill histrionics on all sides that surrounded Notre Dame’s decision to invite President Obama to receive an honorary degree prompted the formation of the group, which started with young theologians at Fordham and has grown to include theologians from across the country. They now meet through the generous support of Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry, and the meeting is held at a retreat center owned by BC, the former St. Stephen’s Priory in Dover, Massachusetts.
Politico has two articles of note on the Ryan pick.
This one looks at his love-hate, mostly love, relationship with Ayn Rand.
This one looks at the Catholic vote in light of the Ryan selection.
Note To Readers: I am about to head up to Boston for the meeting of young theologians, the Catholic Conversation Project. They do not have wifi at the retreat center where the meetings are held, so I will not be posting again until Wednesday morning. Enjoy the break - I shall!
Last week, Ed Mechmann published an item at the blog of the Archdiocese of New York defending Cardinal Timothy Dolan's decision to invite both President Obama and Gov. Romney to the annual Al Smith dinner. Check out the comment section. Cardinal Dolan can now join Cardinal Wuerl and Cardinal O'Malley as one deemed insufficiently pro-life by the Scatenato Brigade. The venom is truly shocking. (h/t Rocco)
Already, the entry of Congressman Paul Ryan onto the national stage is generating some interesting debates within the Catholic world and within the political commentariat. It seems to me that three issues are brought into greater focus by the selection of Ryan, although hoping for intellectual clarity on those issues during a political campaign may be hoping for the proverbial bridge too far. But, here goes.
Mitt Romney’s choice of Congressman Paul Ryan to be his running mate is electrifying. But, electricity is dangerous at times and, in this instance, Ryan is standing in a pool of watery dissent from Catholic Social Teaching that has existed on the Catholic right for some time.
Over at The New Republic, Amy Sullivan takes up a theme I have commented on as well, the religious right's penchant for perceiving something dark and menacing in President Obama's sometimes use of the phrase "freedom of worship" rather than "freedom of religion." She notes that President George W. Bush used the phrase "freedom of worship" too, did so frequently, and there was no outcry. To be sure, the HHS mandate does highlight the distinction between the two ideas, but to impute a nefarious agenda to a rhetorical device is misleading. And, she thoroughly debunks the idea that Obama purposefully leaves out the phrase "by our Creator" when he quotes the Declaration of Independence, complete with a video of Obama saying the phrase repeatedly.
In case you missed my colleague John Allen's article on our NCR homepage, please read it. And if, like me, you fit snuggly in the category "center-left" please take it to heart. Instead of griping, find areas of common concern, build relationships, and let those with a different ideological temperament see your love for the Church shine through.
From Kathryn Jean Lopez, at National Review, we have this:
Of course, Mr. Romney is on record saying that, as a matter of public policy, he supports access to contraception. And, he has equivocated on the use of torture. And, his health care reform law in Massachusetts, unlike President Obama's health care reform, explicitly provides for taxpayer funded abortions. So, is Archbishop Lori suggesting no Catholic can vote for Mr. Romney?