Is the Contraception Regulation, Revolution Worthy?
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 12:53:14 PM EST
If you are a certain New York Times best-selling author, and up and coming evangelical leader named Eric Metaxas, the regulation requiring employer insurance packages to require contraception coverage smacks of Nazi era legislation, and God really wants us to do better than we did against the Nazis this time. Read all about it in my essay at Religion Dispatches.

[anti-Nazi German theologian Dietrich] Bonhoeffer’s voice, Metaxas explained, was prophetic: “I see him as someone who like Isaiah, or Jeremiah, was saying things to call the people of God to be the people of God... In his day, clearly his voice was not heeded. His voice, if it’s prophetic, is not Bonhoeffer’s voice—it is really the voice of God.” “This HHS mandate” situation he said “is so oddly similar to where Bonhoeffer found himself” early in the Nazi era. “If we don’t fight now,” Metaxas warned, “if we don’t really use all our bullets now, we will have no fight five years from now. It’ll be over. This it. We’ve got to die on this hill. Most people say, oh no, this isn’t serious enough. Its just this little issue. But it’s the millimeter... its that line that we cross. I’m sorry to say that I see these parallels. I really wish I didn’t.”
He joins conservative Catholic leader, and Opus Dei priest, Fr. C. John McCloskey in encouraging people to imagine a revolutionary future; maybe a revolutionary present.
[McCloskey's] dystopian manifesto of a decade ago rocked American public life. The prominent priest’s appearances in major American media at the time included Meet the Press, with Tim Russert. On the show, McCloskey discussed his avatar, Fr. Charles, a future priest, looking back on the history of the Church in the U.S. from the year 2030. The Church had faced persecution, participated in a civil war that broke up the United States—and although the Church now comprised fewer members, the remnant hewed closely to doctrine and had achieved Catholic supremacy in some places. Church membership had also been refreshed by hundreds of thousands of “orthodox” evangelicals who had been co-belligerents in the war. McCloskey is no militant-but-obscure cleric—he has been a regular in the national media and is credited with the conversion of the rich and powerful, including Newt Gingrich, then-Senator (now governor) Sam Brownback (R-KS), journalists Robert Novak and Lawrence Kudrow, former abortion provider Bernard Nathanson, publisher Alfred Regnery, financier Lewis Lehrman, and Judge Robert Bork. McCloskey also famously accompanied then-Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) to Rome for the canonization of Opus Dei founder Jose Maria Escriva de Balaguer in 2002.
McCloskey recently published an update of his essay. “I—or perhaps my thesis” he wrote, “received quite a bit of vitriolic criticism from the elite mainstream media and even from the late Tim Russert on Meet the Press. A goodly number of faithful Catholic writers also found it dark and threatening, however, although I had intended it to be positive and optimistic.” “My avatar priest,” he continued, “looked back from the vantage point of 2030 to reflect on recent ‘history’: the story of American Catholics who became confessors and martyrs to the faith as the federal government of the ‘Culture of Death’ persecuted them.” In his original essay, McCloskey’s avatar, Fr. Charles, explained how “the great battles over the last 30 years over the fundamental issues of the sanctity of marriage, the rights of parents, and the sacredness of human life have been of enormous help in renewing the Church and to some extent, society.” McCloskey’s literary device allows him to avoid openly seditious language, while suggesting that conservative Catholics and allied evangelicals should prepare for civil war.

I'm still sorting out all of the ramifications and complexities, but I cannot help thinking that this theology of violence and war that is a constant theme from the Christian right has helped to further the general societal tendency to regard violence as the first solution to any problem rather than the tactic of last resort.

Obviously no one can draw a straight line from Metaxas and his ilk to the Colorado shooter and other recent mass murderers. But his remarks, and those of McCloskey, feed into the climate of violence in which we now find ourselves. The challenge is how to make non-violent solutions sound as attractive to the general public as do "stand your ground" and "this law means war."

by MLouise on Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 05:02:22 PM EST

fascinating that McCloskey characterizes a future civil war in the US as a vision that was "intended ... to be positive and optimistic"
It says a lot about his understanding of the good.

by PastorJennifer on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 06:04:17 AM EST

If we have a dystopic future, Eric Metaxas and Fr. John McCloskey will have had a hand in creating it, along with Bill Donohue, the dominionists, and the NAR.

by khughes1963 on Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 06:35:16 PM EST

Catholics today are the new George Wallace, not the Bonhoeffers of the world. They will not accept their status, based on taking tax money from us all to do their work in the secular world, as falling under compliance with the Civil Rights Act. As Wallace, Bull Conner et al. defended segregation as their "god given right", so now Catholics do the same with banning contraception. The problem not even being discussed is that they seek to take our money without honoring non-Catholics as MORAL people whose rights are equal and whose morality is just a powerful. Employees are reduced to labor market transactions ('if you don't like it, you don't have to work here.") while the institution lifts its high morality to the skies. Well, as with racial integration, you take our money to operate, you live by the results. Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, non-believers ALL have moral values as profound as Catholics. Since when did "morality" become only disapproval? When is uplift based entirely on anti-sexuality negativity? When did "NO" become the only standard by which we guide our lives? Catholic Medieval or Victorian Values trump justice, compassion, thoughtful reflection, love, and caring??? We Protestants have given this deliberation and moral reflection since artificial birth control was invented. We believe it is a critical moral good as part of our care for creation, our stewardship of earth and family, as affirmation of marital intimacy. So the only GOOD sex is NO sex? How ugly and anti-Biblical. Rise up Protestants and others!! You do NOT have to tolerate being remanded into the binary category of sinner because you believe not only that contraception is a moral right but that you personally, as an employee, have civil rights! The Church has many choices on this - it's not, as a religious body, going to have to include contraceptive coverage. As a secular actor, however, it must. If dissing civil society and other people's rights is SO compelling on this issue, then open those golden gates at the Vatican and start funding hospitals, universities, charities yourselves. Hire only Catholics and take NO tax money. Then you can be pure. And the rest of us can be free.

by Churchlady on Fri Aug 03, 2012 at 01:36:53 PM EST

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