Opposition researchers love someone like Newt Gingrich. His long career is filled with outrageous statements and deeds. But, people are less inclined to judge someone based on events from long ago when there is no contemporary evidence of similar misdeeds. Yes, Gingrich was the first Speaker to have to shell out $300,000 in fines on account of an ethics violation that was rendered by a large bipartisan majority. But, that was a long time ago.
The United States’ Hispanic/Latino bishops issued a letter to all immigrants this week. And, I can see from the combox that some readers took umbrage at my post about former Sen. Rick Santorum dissenting from Church teaching on the issue, especially my statement that “to be clear, the reason the Church defends immigrants is the exact same reason the Church defends the unborn: They are human beings, children of God, who, as the GOP candidates like to remind us, receive their rights from God not from the government.” Here is what we used to call a “teaching moment.”
Over at Huff Post, they have an interesting slide show of modern churches, mosques and synagogues.
The question for readers: Do you think these buildings are beautiful? Some clearly show the influence of modern thinkers like Mircea Eliade. Some do a masterful job of integrating the structure with the natural space surrounding it. And, of course, the most obvious deficiency of these buildings is no fault of the architect: a church needs time to soften, to be filled with prayers and with some of the kitsch that all heartfelt religions create and with the soot from burning candles and incense. Over all, I like most of them. What do you think?
Over at Swampland, Time magazine's blog, Adam Sorenson looks at how video clips are changing the face of campaigns. As my mother explained to me when she taught me about the importance of doing good and not bad, even when no one is watching, God is always watching. And now, as Sorenson points out and countless candidates have discovered to the great discomfort, C-Span or someone else with a video camera is always watching too.
As for Romney's taped comments about being a "progressive," which are the proximate cause of Sorenson's blog, what to say except that Mitt Romney has proven yet again that he will say almost anything to please his interlocutor, that he is a man with a highly fungible core, and that what he really, really cares about is the camera angle.
Rick Santorum has made it official: He dissents from the teaching of the Church on the issue of immigration. And, while Santorum mentions the U.S. bishops, the Church's unequivocal teaching on immigration has also been put forward, repeatedly, by Pope Benedict XVI.
And, to be clear, the reason the Church defends immigrants is the exact same reason the Church defends the unborn: They are human beings, children of God, who, as the GOP candidates like to remind us, receive their rights from God not from the government.
Attorney General Eric Holder, in a speech at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library in Austin yesterday, called attention to the recent spate of state laws that make it more difficult to vote, requiring government issued ID’s, not permitting government issued ID’s if those ID’s are college ID’s at a state university, limiting early voting and similar measures. Holder was right to speak out against these new laws but as Attorney General, he needs to do more than speak. He needs to act.
There is much I find repugnant about some of the policies adopted by the crop of GOP governors and state legislators after their electoral windfall in 2010, especially the attacks on public service employees and their right to collectively bargain. But, the most appalling initiatives have been these attempts to restrict the franchise. Surely, if there is an issue around which all Americans can agree, it is that our democracy is more likely to prosper if more people engage in the political system.
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear Arizona's objections to a Ninth Circuit Court ruling that invalidated tha state's vicious anti-immigrant statute. I will leave it to the lawyers to argue the due process and 10th amendment issues, but upon reading the news this morning, I did have one idea. Every October, the John Carroll Society here in DC sponsors the annual Red Mass at the start of the judicial term. Many of the Supreme Court justices attend as do other prominent members of the judiciary, executive and legislative branches. With such an audience, the pulpit that day is one of the most prominent that can be afforded and the John Carroll Society should offer it next year to Archbishop Jose Gomez, the Archbishop of Los Angeles and a leading champion of immigrant rights. The Mass will be subsequent to their decision, and I am not sure anything Abp Gomez or the USCCB says would affect the Court's decision. But, those justices who side with Arizona should at the very least anticipate being mighty uncomfortable for half an hour next October.
Over at the splendid and still relatively new website Catholic Moral Theology, Tobias Winright has a beautiful reflection on the readings for the Fourth Sunday of Advent. He reminds us that an awareness of justice was a part of the Christian Gospel even before the birth of Christ. This year marks the anniversary of the 1971 document by the Synod of Bishops, "Justice in the World" which stated, "Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constituitive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel, or, in other words, of the church's mission for the redemption of the human race and its liberation from every oppressive situation." The synodal fathers were, as Winright reminds us, picking up where the Virgin Mary left off.
There are few Catholic academics I admire more than Notre Dame's Cathleen Kaveny. Her writings combine copious learning with penetrating insights and good prose. She has an eye for the culture that is always on point.
In a blog post at Commonweal, Kaveny calls attention to a recent NYTimes essay and asks why so many people do not encounter or experience religion as "good news" and goes on to ask her readers to suggest what book or books they would recommend to someone who finds Catholicism, and religion generally, not worthy of their consideration. The thread Kaveny has started has some very interesting submissions. Here is mine: Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete's "God at the Ritz," a fun but profound introduction to Catholicism that is a quick read, but one that has anyone inclined to search going deeper than they thought possible and down profoundly orthodox paths too!
So, dear readers, what are your suggestions? Post them here and/or at professor Kaveny's post.
The Republican primary contest is nearing its first real battle. The debates have been skirmishes, but as the time approaches when voters get to weigh in, paid media, phone calls, door knocking, and all the other armaments of political combat come into play. And, just so, the gloves come off between the combatants.
Yesterday, the two front runners, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich traded barbs. Romney called on Gingrich to return the $1.6 million he received from Freddie Mac, the quasi-public home mortgage lender. Gingrich responded by calling on Romney to return “all the money he’s earned bankrupting companies and laying off employees over his years.” This is a debate Gingrich does not want to join: It is a debate he must avoid, but it may be too late.
You know that Gingrich is at least a little embarrassed about having been paid so much money by Freddie Mac because, when the issue first surfaced, he said he had been paid as an “historian.” That is pretty laughable. As Romney said yesterday, “That would make him the highest-paid historian in history.”