- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 14, 2008

Hannitae vitae

“Thus Fox News host Sean Hannity, for example, describes himself to viewers as a ‘good’ and ‘devout’ Catholic - one who happens to believe, as he has also said on the air, that ‘contraception is good.’ He was challenged on his show in 2007 by Father Tom Euteneuer of Human Life International, who observed that such a position emanating from a public figure technically fulfilled the requirements for something called heresy.

“And Hannity reacted as many others have when stopped in the cafeteria line. He objected that the issue of contraception was ‘superfluous’ compared to others; he asked what right the priest had to tell him what to do (‘judge not lest you be judged,’ Hannity instructed); and he expressed shock at the thought that anyone might deprive him of taking Communion just because he was deciding for himself what it means to be Catholic.

“And so we have a microcosm of the current fate of Humanae Vitae and all it represents in the American Church.”

-Mary Eberstadt, writing on “The Vindication of Humanae Vitae” in the August-September issue of First Things


“But why include religion in a list of responses to this anger when the other two items were clearly seen as negative by [Sen. Barack Obama‘s] San Francisco supporters? The answer, of course, is that those supporters, like most of the activist elements in the progressive world, often do see religion as just as much a problem in American culture as guns and anti-immigration sentiments. Seeing religion as a substitute gratification grabbed on to by people who are otherwise oppressed is an insight that has been part of liberal and progressive culture for at least 150 years. …

“If Senator Obama does explicitly embrace a spiritual politics, he can transcend the left/right dichotomies that have torn our country apart. What remains to be seen is whether he can do that in the context of a Left whose religio-phobia is both pervasive and unconscious (many on the secular Left have as little clue of the put-downish nature of their feelings and remarks toward religious people as men had forty years ago about the nature of their sexism), and a media determined to make every mistake into a fatal error no matter who the candidate.”

-Michael Lerner, writing on “Obama the Nominee” in the July-August issue of Tikkun

God’s gruel

“[Aleksandr] Solzhenitsyn clearly was no fan of consumerist American modernity. He said that it in its own way it was as dehumanizing - or, perhaps more accurately, as de-spiritualizing - as almost anything the gulag could engender. Yet in all of his complaining, in all of his cultural criticism of both the Free World and the communist one, this great Russian thinker’s underlying message remained redemptive.

“As truly awful, by ordinary standards, as Ivan Denisovich’s day in the labor camp had been, Ivan went to sleep thinking that ‘nothing had spoiled the day and it had been almost happy.’ After all, ‘he’d had a lot of luck today. They hadn’t put him in the cooler … He’d finagled an extra bowl of mush at noon … And he’d gotten over that sickness.’

“With God’s help, human beings have a remarkable capacity to find hope in the thinnest gruel. We have the capacity, he believed, to get over our sickness.”

-Quin Hilyer, writing on “The West Should Heed Solzhenitsyn” in Aug. 5 at the American Spectator

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