As we in the United States suffer through another national election cycle in this odd year, the antics displayed by those who ask for our support grab my attention. A polished used car salesman stereotype with orange hair spits out his best argument against an opponent: “He is a loser!” He repeats this over and over.
His audience claps and cheers.
A grey-haired, skinny, honest-sounding man, repeats a promise to young people who ordinarily would not pay much attention to him. He promises to pay for the education of millions of those students, billions of dollars that he does not have and will not get if the current balance in Congress holds.
His audience claps and cheers.
Two of the “losers,” among those who have not given up this race, decide that they need to catch up with the used car salesman stereotype, so they adopt his apparently winning tactic by presenting their own stand-up comedy club routine. Their quip writers give them shtick to perform. “He is so sweaty that….”
Their audiences clap and cheer.
Jokes Always Have Three Setup Lines
There is much more to this tragic comedy than I have space to write. There is the person who wants to be elected so that her sister voters won’t have to go to hell for not supporting her. She clapped and cheered at that line said by a supporter that apparently has misunderstood the meaning of sin. But, it is time to give you the punch line.
The joke is on you. Those mentioned above are the dominant leaders in this current race. Those unquoted individuals with solid accomplishments are ignored.
This is a power grab by energetic Type-A personalities that we celebrate every four years that ignores other political offices that are also being sought. In the Senate alone there are 34 seats up for election this year. The only show that matters at the moment is who will become the privileged one to live in the White House rent-free. The one not expected to follow the morality of ordinary mortals unless you are of the opposite political party. Opposition ethics, situational ethics; take your pick.
Have we completely lost our minds?
No, We Have Almost Completely Lost Our Christian Faith
Now I say “we” not because I admit that particular fault, but because the blame has to be shared by those who take us to the brink with those who do nothing to try and stop the madness, and with those who are simply fellow Americans. We are a society.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
We are indeed our brother’s keeper.
Catholic scholar Dr. James Hitchcock wrote in 1978, “Catholicism has historically been a religion of tension, a tension between this world and the next, between flesh and spirit. It has been a religion which teaches the necessity of striving, of self-discipline, of continual aspiration towards something higher.”
I am not sure if we have reached the depth of this secular way of being yet. The signs are everywhere if we will pay attention. One example is given by editor Michael Cook in his article on this year’s Academy Awards. He writes, “But the stand-out theme of the Oscars was not the exclusion of people of colour. It was the elevation of victimhood into a badge of honour.”
Another example of our loss of our faith is how our law has been modified to protect sins. Pornography is protected and sold as a good thing for adults. Strangely, it is considered a bad thing for children except that the sexuality that it celebrates is encouraged in young children. We read this headline, “San Francisco’s public schools leaders are considering distributing condoms at middle schools…. The superintendent’s recommended changes include eliminating the exemption option for parents.” Where it once was considered an adult right, personal autonomy is being extended to children. It also has been elevated to a status that eliminates the possibility of sin. Sin has become something that can be defeated by simply declaring that you don’t believe in it. We fail to see that the reward of defeating the desire to sin is in that accomplishment and in the greater good of not reaping the undesirable reward that sin imposes upon us. The well-known quote tells us, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Immediate death maybe, death to the soul for sure. But of course the escapist answer is, I don’t believe in the soul; or, as an atheist professor of chemistry might teach his students, we are just a material being having been evolved from the first element hydrogen (and don’t ask me how). It’s the same answer as the first, but put in an intellectual-sounding way.
Do We Take Yogi’s Advice?
The famous Yankee baseball catcher Yogi Berra is celebrated for this “yogism”: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” That is my advice also. Seemingly simple advice, since there are apparently only two choices if we are to move forward. In that case, we are compelled to understand that the “it” in “take it” means to take one of them. The third choice is to do nothing. Sit by the side of the road as others wear a trail into the ground. To do nothing is to accept our fate as decided by another. Perhaps the biblical brother Cain will determine our road in life. Perhaps we wish to leave our fate up to our generous uncle or the women who brands grieving family members as liars or the used car salesman stereotype or maybe the two left-behind comedians.
One direction leads us mired in the total secularization of America. The other leads us to “continual aspiration towards something higher.”