Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Obligatory Post: Inaugural Reflections

I've been attempting to put into words my thoughts about our recently inaugurated president. I am not a particularly political person by nature although I do care deeply about the foundation of our nation and preserving our citizens' rights to worship, parent and live with the freedom to follow our convictions without undue government interference. Although this article came from a Catholic source, it probably embodies my thinking better than anything else I've read or tried to contemplate on my own. I have a lot of questions in my soul about how our nation turned to such a leader with so much enthusiasm. I just don't get it in the deepest part of me. I am not a one-issue voter, I am a Character voter and the abortion issue to me is an excellent litmus test for testing the character of a person. Our current president has failed...miserably. What is wrong with so many who simply overlook his desire to annihilate the least and the lost while spouting rhetoric that holds himself up as a champion of human rights? I, like the author of this article, feel remarkably like an alien in my own nation.

Alien Nation

January 20th, 2009 by Doreen Truesdell (posted to on 1/20/09)

I am a middle aged, middle income, traditional Catholic female and I don’t belong here anymore.

The nation I have loved all my life has rebelled, like some arrogant teenager who smugly tells his mother and father that he knows more than they do. It’s been coming on for some time, but I’ve always comforted myself with the thought that I stood with a silent majority that was just too busy working and striving and living and dying to voice their concerns about where the culture of our nation was headed.

Forty years or so after the cultural and sexual revolution began, the “teenagers” have won, the silent majority is a minority, and this nation — on an executive level — has become alien ground to me and many others.

This is not just inaugural griping, this is the realization that our nation has finally, officially embraced the post-modern world; that, in addition to media elitists and collegiate intellectuals spreading nihilism, we finally have a U.S. president who embodies such a culture. Propelled into office by voter greed, Barack Obama will now lead the nation that leads the world, using his successful blend of atheistic humanism and political manipulation that make for easy-to-digest sound bytes. The immoralists are no longer only in the ivory towers, they are in the White House, not to mention the courts, the educational systems and the financial industries. And most Americans don’t mind at all or are too busy or distracted to notice.

obama.jpgThe U.S. has unequivocally, unabashedly and electorally embraced a subjective reality where truth is changeable, depending upon how it can serve our pocketbooks and our uninformed consciences.

“Every generation feels the same way, and yet the nation survives,” you may say. But I say our nation is dying and it’s closer to its death throes now than ever before in its history. The United States is 233 years old and it is creaking under the weight of its own arrogance.

“In the end Christ will triumph and the His truth will be vindicated,” you may also say, and I concur with a grateful heart. I thank God for His promises, which I know He will keep. But between now and His triumph could be the end of the great American experiment. Christ never promised the U.S.A. would be around to welcome His victory, and it’s not alarmist to say that our beloved nation may well fall before that glorious day arrives.

Stop. Before you click the “comment” link, stay with me a while longer because here’s where this article takes a surprising turn towards optimism. After two months of pondering what this new presidency and administration will wreak upon unborn babies, legitimate marriage, public education, health care and a bevy of other life-altering issues, I maintain there is opportunity alongside this heartache. In God’s universe, thanks to His mercy and providence, there always is.

The universal struggle between good and evil, between Christ and His enemies has now taken center stage in this nation. For decades most American Catholics have lived relatively comfortably by accepting shades of gray. Little by little the grays became darker as more of the Church’s moral teachings were questioned, ignored and rejected. Now, the gray areas have turned to blackness. It is no longer possible for lukewarm Catholics to remain faithful. The gray areas are gone. American Catholics will either embrace the white light of Truth or accept the darkness.

So where does this leave aliens like me? Totally reliant upon God, and for many of us it will be the first time in our lives. I used to define myself as an American Catholic, but now I realize I am a Catholic in America. The nation I used to depend upon to accept my spiritual composition is gone. No longer does our citizenship agree that our laws are, and should be, based on Judeo-Christian concepts. No longer can a Christian assume his moral beliefs will be given fair representation or even toleration in the public forum.

As aliens, we have an important role to play as keepers of the faith on hostile soil. Here’s our opportunity to get off the fence on every controversial issue that offends God and start pulling our weight as Catholics in America. Many Catholics already are very publicly defending Christ and His Gospel truths. Most aren’t. Are you defending Christ in America? Am I?

This era, just beginning, represents our time in the long history of the Catholic Church to accept suffering, offer prayers and penance, and do battle in the public forum so that the voice of Christ can be heard. It is our turn to live as Catholics who look only to the magisterium of the Church for instruction on true human dignity and authentic social justice.

We will join Catholics from around the world who “lost” their countries long ago — Italians, Greeks, Slavs, Chinese, Russians and others who have already inured themselves to the agonies of living in an atheistic nation, one that they used to love with patriotic fervor but now are estranged from. We will lean on the rich Catholic tradition of the Church Militant and go on living in an alien nation while fortifying ourselves with the Word Made Flesh, He who makes His dwelling among aliens the world over.

Are you up to this challenge? As Americans, we’ve grown undisciplined, flabby and unused to suffering. We can’t bear the pain of unpopularity; how will we bear persecution? And it is coming. With this new administration we have the makings of unprecedented Christian persecutions in our nation that will make martyrs and saints of many who stand up for Truth. You won’t have to be a political activist to have it thrust upon you: parents, clergy, health care providers, teachers, workers of all kinds will find themselves facing moral issues that assault the foundations of the Catholic faith. Which issue will be the one that forces Catholics like you and me to confront how shallow our relationship with Christ has been? Which issue will finally inspire us to make the commitment to “put out into the deep,” whatever the cost?

Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta, after visiting our great nation years ago, said she pitied us our “poverty.” She understood the seriousness of the spiritual poverty that the U.S. suffered. We may be on the brink of changing that poverty, one Catholic, one Christian at a time.

The history of the Church is one of suffering and triumph. From that perspective, the Obama presidency could be the beginning of a great renewal of Christianity in America, if each of us lives the faith the way Christ calls us to. So in an important way, this article is not about losing a nation, so much as gaining a deeper relationship with Jesus, the King of all nations. We, who have always assumed that our nation would validate our faith, now find it must be validated only by God.

“[T]he new age has begun; and…much must now pass away,” Gandalf says in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Let it pass. With prayerful renewal and faithful responses, we can find that God alone will suffice. Then maybe, in small ways that have great power, we can work to bring our beloved nation back to God.

Doreen M. Truesdell, a former newspaper journalist, is a freelance writer and editor. She and her husband, Stephen, live in upstate New York with their four homeschooled children, aged 4 to 13.


Monica said...

The end, in a strange way, seems to align with what Fr. Seraphim Rose taught in the early 80's. Suffering... persecution... I have trouble "seeing" it happen around the corner, yet feel like those ideas have some validity. And I like Obama (Don't like FOCA but do like providing for the other "least of these" like the poor and sick.) Strange thoughts about a coming persecution swim in my head, but it's too murky to understand them.

Mairs said...

Yes, I agree. A persecution seems like a murky memory somewhere in my mind. Little things slowly starting to add up to maybe nothing, maybe something big....But i don't think govt is the solution to caring for the poor and the sick. I'm perfectly happy to keep my tax money and go ahead and support the hospitals and organizations in which *I* believe. Just curious, why do you like Obama? I think if I could past his voting record on abortion I still wouldn't like him much. For one thing, he's not Black - he's biracial - and yet he's totally ridden the Black ticket (the very same people Margaret Sanger would have loved to have seen abolished through abortion)....ehhh...way too many issues here to make some pithy comment - back to the original question - What is the attraction to him? I never saw the attraction to Clinton either and he was also quite popular riding into office.

Gina said...

That article resonated with me, too, though I'm wary of defeatism. Perhaps it's tilting windmills, but we have to continue to fight, particularly on a micro level. The good thing is that this campaign tapped into noble impulses- service, self-sacrifice, helping the poor- though I believe it did so in a deceptive and ultimately self-centered and empty way. Without the foundation underneath, the airy promises won't last long, and we need to keep our eyes on the true substance and point others to it.

I really cannot understand at all the appeal of this man, nor that people think he is different than Carter or Clinton. Reading accounts of the inauguration euphoria, I just shake my head. Are people on drugs?? Are they really so unhappy and desperate that they are willing to fall so hard for a politician, let alone one so relatively unaccomplished as Barack Obama? Can we please come back to earth now?

Marfa said...

Trying to be positive? That's good...but there are so many who are really caught up in believing he is good. I can't help but think that he is the anti-christ.

Lucy said...

So you want the Catholic church to run your country?

The Catholic ran my country until they early 1990's and we suffered greatly because of it.You might like to consider that.

We are meant to a separation between the church and the state.