I've been a bad blogger in recent weeks: I've been busy. I've been enjoying family. I've been reading books. I've been watching politics. So let me explain some of what has been taking place in my brain, and then I'll step aside and let the metaphoric shit idiomatically hit the fan.
I've been thinking a great deal about my faith and my ballot card in recent weeks. I've talked about it briefly here before. But I have a serious and growing conflict in my heart over Sen Obama. I like this man. I like his stand on a lot of the issues, as socialized and liberal as they may seem to some. Here are some of the things I like: (1) The "conservative" view of immigration is, to me, untenable as a follower of Christ. And it stinks of fascism - the very idea of rounding up people for deportation is abhorrent to me. I've seen police set up blockades on streets leading to our parish, which has a high Mexican population, on Sunday mornings - actually picking up people who are on their way to worship. That is not the America I love. That is not how we are told to treat the alien and the stranger. That is not how we treat our poor neighbors. (2) That all children receive health care in the richest nation on earth, and all people be able to afford it, also seems a no-brainer - and perhaps it seems so because I have no great wealth that currently provides me the oft-touted "best health care in the world." (3) To pull a card from the Obama playbook: I have been against the war in Iraq since the beginning. And while I think it has become tragically complicated now that we're there (and a simple pull-out ill-advised perhaps), I also am terribly sickened by it. The war has meant persecution and suffering for Iraqi Christians as well as countless other innocents, not excluding the loss of American lives.
So let's play a little Tevye: On one hand, I am resolutely pro-life. I believe it is my responsibility as a citizen and as a Catholic to vote. On the other hand, thinking about voting for John McCain, leaves me feeling nauseated: same turd herders, same price. On the other hand, I like the rhetoric of Obama, and do not believe that it is just rhetoric. I like the inspiration and hope that he brings to the table. On the other hand, I do not in any way condone his views on life within the womb. On the other hand, I am not taken in by the fear-mongering of extremists who worry about his name or his cult following or who think (erroneously) that he didn't put his hand on his chest during the Pledge of Allegiance. That's wacko land. And, of that country, I don't intend to be a citizen.
Will I vote for Obama? I don't know. If I do, it will be in spite of his views on abortion. For me a vote for Obama would not be a light matter. But then, a vote for McCain would also be a reluctant vote.
The big question, of course, is how does someone who is pro-life reconcile that belief with a vote for Sen Obama? It is certainly not by weighing the good I believe Obama would do with the evil of abortion. But it no longer seems so easy to me as casting a vote. It is not as simple a choice as a choice between life or death, between good and evil. A Republican vote does not guarantee that life will take root in our land or that more children will be saved. A Democratic vote does not mean that more children will be murdered. And a simple vote does not wash my hands clean from the evil of abortion, or absolve me of my responsibility to be a force for life (from conception to death) in the circles in which I live and move. Last night, I watched a post-abortive woman talk about the suffering she has been through. And while I felt her pain deeply, I also came away wondering that if many women feel as she does, to a greater or lesser degree pressured or duped into abortion (without choice) - what becomes of these women? What becomes of the people who push death rather than life? Do they suddenly cease to exist in conformity to the law of the land? Our society must change its view on life before any law (or revocation of law) has any great effect. Abortion is, for many people, understood as a right. It's the default mentality of our society, like contraception or sterilization.
What is required of me as a Catholic? This is a difficult question. And I've found it difficult to find a consistent answer with the wide array of Catholic thought (from extremely conservative to extremely liberal). As I understand it, the faith of the Church views a vote for a pro-abortion candidate as a grave sin if the vote is cast because of the candidate's position on abortion. To me that leaves the door open for a vote for a pro-choice Democrat. Again, not because he or she is pro-choice, but rather in spite of it.
At the end of the day, with a Hillary nomination or clear direction to vote pro-life come hell or high water, I may be required to take one for the team and vote for McCain. And that will be OK with me. But it seems that voting this year will deeply sadden me regardless of how or whether I come to any resolution on this issue.
Pray for me. Pray for our leaders, our country, our world. Pray for peace. Pray for those unborn who have had their lives unjustly stolen from them, and for those whose mothers are considering abortion. And pray for women who find themselves with unwanted and untimely pregnancies, who feel as if they are trapped, without hope or options. Pray that they might find hope in new life. That they might rediscover faith while in the oil press. That they might discover in the midst of their suffering, love. And that we might be the ones who show them that love.
Photograph by Annie Leibovitz, from Men's Vogue.