What’s the Message? Reflection on the Lost Election


Let us set aside the debate about any Republican tactical missteps or the general question of Nice Guy against Street Fighter.

More profitable for Catholics may be the reflection on what it means that 50% of us–our nation– are willing to sacrifice economic stability in order to insure liberal social mores. Exit polls indicate a majority of voters listed the economy at the top of their worry list, yet, still preferred Obama to Romney. Their reasons essentially came to this: Women’s rights, same-sex unions, and “fairness” by which most mean income redistribution.

Here is a clip from the oh-so-erudite New Yorker Magazine:

Nearly as pleasing as Obama’s surprisingly easy reëlection—and, to me at least, rather more surprising—was the electorate’s nearly across-the-board embrace of cultural and social liberalism and, implicitly, of secularism… In Maine, Maryland, and Washington, for the first time anywhere, initiatives to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples were on the ballot. All three passed—a gigantic breakthrough. In a fourth state, Minnesota, voters rejected a ban on gay marriage. This had never happened before, either; what had happened before, thirty-two times, was that such bans were approved, sometimes overwhelmingly. The pro-equality majorities this time were small, between fifty-one and fifty-three per cent, but they were unprecedented. The change is stunning. It’s epochal. And it shows signs of being permanent.

Author Hertzberg  is effusive–the victory is a “gigantic breakthrough” and “the change is stunning…epochal”

………………I fear he is correct.   Notice–it was NOT about the economy for them.  The Republicans utterly missed that.  No, Democrats understood that Obama is wrecking the economy but they did not care. Simply stated, for many of them the compelling  issue is the culture war.   And it should have been for us too–the nation is so divided, now, that a even the hemorrhaging economy is tolerable, but Christian values are not.

The bishops begin their November deliberations on Monday, and “what do we do now?” is the subtext of every agenda item.  What we may need is a blueprint for charitable but firm civil disobedience.

Link to upcoming USSCB meeting http://www.usccb.org/news/2012/12-156.cfm


******** some have emailed to ask where they may find my article from 2008 0n Obama and Saul Alinsky. Here is a link to “The Other Side of Change:”


More past articles can be found here http://www.catholicity.com/commentary/mjanderson/

They voted for him before they voted against him

By now most faithful Catholics (as in “faithful to the teachings of the Catholic  Church”) know someone who admits that they voted for Obama, but wish they could push cosmic reset button and unvote their temporary insanity. Alas.

No poll will appear that asks  voters who pulled the lever for Obama if they would do so today. No matter. We know from anecdotal confessions on blogs, webpages and even national talking head voyeurs that significant numbers of voters would rescind their votes were it possible to do so.  The fracas at Notre Dame affords us a view from the wrong end of the telescope. It is worse than any hesitant lever-puller imagined. The shock some feel is near laughable–could they truly–truly?– not have known.

obama-punishmentAmong  us, wherever go, there are well meaning Catholics who had supposed  that matters such as a “living wage,” universal health care, hatred of the war in Iraq and “hope”  were cause enough to overlook the one other matter–abortion–that burdened their deliberations in 2008.  Some can be forgiven their myopic angle of view since so many US Catholics lack any schooling in basic theology.

Greater anguish resides in those who knew. And knew that they knew.  Recently an acquaintance  remarked that he could not douse his smoldering anger at Obama for a “breech of trust.”   This man is an attorney who attends mass  faithfully with his family in tow. He is a self described “happy papist.”  Not so happy at the moment.  His  idea was that Obama implied that he would proceed in an open, civil manner that permitted Catholics who disagreed with his principles to trust his good will.

I am not certain that the opposite might better serve us–that is, to vote for principle and never mind the good will. Here I take good will to be less about goodness than good form. Obama seduced many with his polished good form. However empty of any substance that can objectively be described as “good”, candidate Obama excelled at good form, good style, good packaging.  But now that the package has been opened the truth is impossible to escape.  And the truth is not about Obama who hid nothing from us.

No, the truth is about flaccid Catholics who heard what they wanted to hear and shut out all else in a flimsy hope (that word again!) that  somehow it would work out.

Catholics made the election of a hardened abortion proponent possible. Without a majority of the Catholic Vote this national nightmare could not have happened.

The one hope, perhaps, is that we have here a teachable moment. Every Catholic who now regrets his November insanity is open to our voice of faith –faith not in one  man’s promises however smoothly delivered–faith in the enduring ever new ever eternal voice of the Church who calls us back from the precipice.

Obama’s Chilling Cleverness

That is a the title of Hadley Arkes’ new commentary on the presence of Evangelical super-star, Rick Warren, at the inauguration of Barack Obama.

rick-warrenWarren is the author of The Purpose Driven Life, a phenomenon in the world of Protestant study programs. The book has been used by thousands of Protestant churches for their Sunday schools.   Warren has held adamant pro-life , pro-family views.

His fame was catapulted into the mainstream world of politics when he hosted the 2008 presidential candidates and put the question to Barack Obama, “When does life begin?”

It was simply a matter of time before Obama would find the means to gig Warren publicly  in return.

And, gig him good is precisely what Obama has done by having the hapless pastor apply a fig leaf of Christan rectitude  to Obama’s murderous abortion policies at the inauguration when he gave the invocation.

Professor Arkes writes, “Nothing has brought home more surely the consummate cleverness of Obama in offering that invitation to Warren, making it impossible for him to refuse, and gaining nothing but dividends for himself from every angle.”

Read more here


My  yearly irritation has been renewed–neighbors whose tree and symbols of  Christmas are on the trash heap by

6 a.m. December 26th.


The twelve days of Christmas are lost to modernity, apparently.  Like most of you, I am at warp speed visiting with relatives and students home for Christmas break and this may be fortunate for it means I have too little time to rant at length on this topic. But please, lovely Christian people, please “keep Christmas” all the way to the Epiphany.

Dr. Peter Kreeft & the Culture War

Last night I had the pleasure of dining with Dr. Peter Kreeft–professor of philosophy at Boston College and the author of over 50 books– a dozen of those titles on my own shelves.

He spoke to a local Catholic group on the topic, “How to Win the Culture War”

culturewarThe book by that title purchased here

Think of what YOU assume to be the two basic means of  winning the culture war–got it?  Okay, here is the surprising answer from Dr. Kreeft:

Do not be boring, and,  be beautiful.

Had you answered that?  (I had not, I assure you).

If we are passionate for Jesus and his Church it will be compelling in OUR lives and visible to others. We cannot hope to compel the law or politics to make the culture reflect our passion.  When we are passionate, when we build and pursue beauty in art, fashion, architecture, music, city planning–whatever it is that we do—then OUR worldview will be  an intrigue, a wonderment that others will want to learn more about.  In short boring moralism will not win the war.

What do you think of this approach?

The Culture War: To recognize evil, first know good.

Note: Blog Stats indicate many readers of this blog click on the post about the Inquisition. There is a fine new article on the Inquisition by Fr. Brian Van Hove, S.J. at Ignatius Insight, here.

Note: New column at Inside Catholic.com on the how the U.N. robs the poor is here

I’ve been thumbing through Peter Kreeft’s How to Win the Culture War: A Christian Battle Plan for a Society in Crisis.

Each time I revisit this book I am struck by some pithy observation that jerks me up short with an “of course!” exclamation. This time the point was: When we sin, we do the devil’s work. (p.30) –and by extension that to recognize evil, one must know the good.

Does that stop you in your tracks? We too often think of our sins as minor failings. We think of it as simply “falling short of the mark.” We are out of the habit of thinking of sin as an objective evil. But where I sin, I aid Satan. (“He who is not with me is against me.”)

It seems to me that the culture war is more than bringing morals (Not “values”) back to the public square. Hard reality check: Most people, including Christians, no longer know what is good. They know longer know the WHO who is Good. No wonder the culture war is such a sticky morass.

To win this war in whatever corner of the public square in which we fight, we must first show others what good looks like. IN a culture where the “good” is “the freedom to do my own thing” too few know what an actual tangible good is!

How to do this? First of all, sin less. Don’t “go easy on yourself” when you “sin a little bit.” Then our own attitudes and behavior will be demonstrably different. People will notice.

Next, I think, we must make beautiful things. Grow a beautiful and productive garden. Promote good cultural events–art, music, ballet. Form a book club and introduce others to great literature. Organize a movie night once a month for friends and family. Discuss themes of sin and grace, good and evil, acts and their consequences. Sponsor symposiums on topics of interest–perhaps about local history, or local heroes. Help build healthy community identity.

Visit the ill, the elderly, the lonely. Impress upon them that they are part of the community still–that their prayers are what helps sustain those at work, school, home. A neighbor invites women recently released from jail to come to her home to cook and share a dinner and a movie. Reinstate a family Sunday and invite other families for some games.

Our every engagement need not be overtly “religious.” Christians can evangelize by spreading what is truly beautiful. We can build a taste for, a desire for the “higher things.”

Why Be Scared?


Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead, expose them.

——–Eph.5 :11


Welcome one and all!

The title for this blog is taken from letter written by Catholic author Flannery O’Connor near the end of her life, “Be properly scared, go on doing what you are doing, but take the necessary precautions.”

It seems to me that this is the right balance for Christians in our era–go on doing what you are doing, don’t dissolve in panic …but take the necessary precautions.

Precautions include being responsibly informed and battle ready for the culture war. The general idea here will be to play the observant child to the naked emperor. Help me explore the illogic of those cultural blips that are based on fuzzy logic or wishful thinking, not on objective reality, and often in utter disregard for truth.

Catholics–all Christians –ought to seek truth. We are people who understand that truth is ultimately the greatest charity, the greatest mercy. Be Properly Scared  will examine those cultural and political policies that reflect an errant culture’s emotive wish rather than an objective respect for human nature and the given order. A reasoned rant, if you will.

I’ve just read a paper by a favorite philosopher. His article is based on a Chesterton conversation. The Chesterton phrase that made me smile was, “An abominable darkness of brain,” and I’d use that as a tagline if there was a way to add it to this template. How apt. Our era slides deeper toward the darkness–a darkness of mind and spirit–that we call the Culture War. Our goal is to shine a light on that “abominable darkness of brain.”

As for the banner across the top of the blog, a setting sun, it is a visual representation of the finite nature of time. Today is the day to do something.


My most recent article, on Obama, is here

More info about this blog is here





Mary Jo Anderson © Copyright 2008 All Rights Reserved

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