The Value of Guilt

Sage thoughts from my favorite Dominican blogger-priest, Fr. Phillip Neri Powell, O.P. He is discussing the guilt feelings of people who were involved in abortions, but the principle applies to all kinds of sin.

In my experience, people often express horrible guilt over sin. They are shocked when I exclaim, "Good! You should feel guilty! Do you know what that means?" They usually say, "That I'm a bad person, a terrible sinner?" I say, "Nope. Just the opposite. Guilt tells you that you have a correctly formed conscience and that though you have sinned, you are not fundamentally a bad person."

We have been told for too many years now that guilt is bad and we must do everything to expunge it from our consciousness. In the pursuit of a guilt-free life, we have not eliminated sin in practice but rather made sin rare by making most everything permissible and therefore no longer sinful. No sin, no guilt. But guilt is one way we know that we are good people. If you cannot feel guilt over deliberately and directly killing an innocent life, then something is very seriously wrong.

John McCain Favors Cannibalism; Christians Fall In Line

More than a few people who, this time last month, were terribly disappointed at the thought of John McCain as the GOP nominee have had their minds changed by his selection of Sarah Palin as running mate. As I said at the time, McCain is still McCain. Now the evidence is beginning to mount that the Palin selection is nothing more than a cynical ploy to manipulate Evangelical voters. Consider this:

Sept. 12 (Bloomberg) -- John McCain won't attend a gathering of religious conservatives this weekend -- and the Republican presidential nominee won't have to ask forgiveness.

The Arizona senator's selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate has appeased the evangelical and social conservatives who form his party's core voters. Now, they are letting him know that he doesn't need to further demonstrate his fealty...

McCain, 72, is now reaching out to other constituencies, including independents who may provide swing votes in a tight contest in November.

He also is trying to expand his Republican base. At his party's convention in St. Paul last week, he dispatched two emissaries to address the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay group. Former Republican Representative Jim Kolbe of Arizona said McCain has indicated that he would be open to a repeal of the military's ``Don't Ask, Don't Tell'' policy, which allows gay men and women to serve in the armed forces as long as they don't discuss their sexual orientation. [more]

Wonderful news, yes? Has McCain turned over a new leaf? I think not. He is the same 72-year-old cancer patient who desperately wanted to put pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage Joe Lieberman a heartbeat away from the presidency and was dissuaded only by political reality. Now we learn he gets along swimmingly with the Gay Republicans. And when it comes to gays in the military, John McCain thinks that the policy established by Bill Clinton is too conservative.

If that's not enough for you, check out the new McCain commercial discovered by Chelsea at Reflections of a Paralytic. "Change is coming" for stem cell research, it says. What does this mean? A McCain spokesman confirmed that the Senator is still in favor of embryonic stem cell research as well as adult stem cell research.

For those who may not understand the difference, here it is: adult stem cell research doesn't kill anyone. Embryonic stem cell research does. It is nothing less than medical cannibalism. The embryos that are destroyed in this research are living humans with their own unique DNA. They require nothing more than 1) time and 2) a supportive environment to develop into people like you and me. That is scientific fact that has nothing to do with religion. John McCain thinks it is okay to kill them in order to find cures for the diseases that afflict those of us lucky enough to already be born.

It is, of course, quite true that Barack Obama also favors this research, along with a variety of other ghastly practices that involve the destruction of innocent human life. This doesn't let McCain off the hook. What it means is that we have one candidate who is willing to kill babies at any time between conception and birth (and even afterward if the mother was trying to abort her child), and another candidate who is willing to kill babies as long as they are very small and their bodies can be used to nourish and extend the lives of adult humans. McCain would also, incidentally, permit the killing of those babies who were unfortunate enough to be conceived in the act of rape or incest.

So what we have here is a difference of degree, not of kind, between Obama and McCain. Both would allow innocent humans to die. They differ only in the details. Yet we are supposed to support McCain because Obama is even worse? Please. We do not accept this logic anywhere else.
  • If one man kills three people and another kills thirty, is the first one not a murderer?
  • If one man sexually assaults a child, and another sexually assaults three children, is the first one not a pervert?
  • If one man steals a hundred dollars, and another steals a million dollars, is the first one not a thief?
  • If Hitler had only gassed a thousand Jews instead of six million, would he be any less of a monster?
We could go on but you get the point. The lesser of two evils is still evil. The fact that McCain chose Sarah Palin as running mate is nice. It does not change who he is. Those who think he is somehow different now will live to be sadly disappointed, in my opinion. You are being used by a party that does not care about the things you think are important. It cares for one thing, and one thing only: the acquisition of power.

Seven Years Later

Palin Redux

As far as political convention speeches go, Sarah Palin did a good job last night. Considering that she had only days to prepare and was under enormous pressure, you could even call it outstanding.

She certainly has the base fired up. In this she is getting a lot of help from the media and the left-wing blogosphere, which recognizes the potential threat Palin creates and is determined to destroy her. This will surely backfire on them. Obama’s biggest advantage has been the moribund mood of the GOP faithful; now his own followers are stirring up a hornet’s nest. If Obama doesn’t get his followers under control soon, whatever lead he currently enjoys could vanish quickly.

I’m starting to like Palin. She seems genuine, she’s got a few good ideas, and she’s clearly a no-nonsense, get-things-done kind of leader. The problem is that she is still attached to John McCain, and we have no reason to think that she will have any particular influence on a McCain Administration’s policies. I fear she is being used as bait to draw the social conservatives back into the GOP fold and once in office McCain will revert back to his old ways. Daniel Larison is even more cynical:

Practically everything that you, the average conservative, like about Sarah Palin is opposed and negated by what John McCain stands for and has represented for pretty much his entire career, but still conservatives are reacting deliriously to a speech whose ultimate purpose is to co-opt them into backing a presidential candidate whose policies on vital national questions are antithetical to everything they value. Does her small-town ethos impress you and inspire some identification with her? McCain embraces the policies promoting globalization and mass immigration that are gradually transforming your small towns beyond recognition. Does her hostility to Washington elites please you? McCain serves and always has served the interests of those elites, and his immigration legislation was just the most recent and egregious form of this. Like the undead creature it resembles, the GOP establishment will feed off of every bit of the energy, vivacity and authenticity that Palin possesses in its bid to keep conservatives serving their goals. Do not help the creature to feed on its victim.

Likewise, Mark Shea points out that for all the good things we've seen, Palin seems to be in full agreement with John McCain's determination to continue the Bush/Cheney policy of endless war and prisoner torture. McCain remains someone who thinks it is perfectly OK to kill innocent children as long as they are invisible to the naked eye. Here's Mark:

I love Sarah Palin as a human being. I love her Capra-esque career. I think that, unlike so much of the GOP leadership, she's actually serious about prolife issues and has proven that in an intensely personal way. I think she's a sincere Christian who (with allowances made for her bad theological formation due to circumstance beyond her control) lives a life of integrity. But I also think she's also pretty much on the same page with McCain (and Bush) about Grand End to Evil ideology. I think that, like McCain, she will like talk the talk about torture but turn a blind eye to doing something about it as McCain has when actually confronted with a vote. She hasn't yet spoken to McCain's Lesser Cannibalization views, but (since she accepted the Veep position) it's obvious this will not get in the way of her supporting him. That doesn't necessarily mean she agrees with him and a Palin Presidency might show her to dissent from McCain. So I'm willing to wait on that.

Here is, I think, the best argument in favor of a McCain-Palin vote: it might put her in position to become president herself, one way or the other, and if that happens she might turn out to be someone who will do the right things most of the time. Anyway, Obama would be even worse. So the thinking goes. With all due respect to the people who think otherwise, I still can't buy it.

Leaving aside the fact that the lesser of two evils is still evil, there is a big risk for Palin and the pro-life movement. If McCain-Palin lose, the GOP establishment will need a scapegoat. There's a strong chance they will point the finger at Sarah Palin and those pesky pro-lifers. That will make it a lot easier for someone like Rudy Giuliani to get the nomination in 2012. Go ahead and laugh - but McCain differs from Giuliani only in degree, not in kind.

Conclusion: I like Sarah Palin, but the inescapable fact (for now) is that I cannot vote for her without also voting for John McCain. Since I can't trust McCain, it doesn't really matter how sound and reliable Palin is. She's still #2 to the guy who would much rather have had pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage Joe Lieberman at his side. I just don't see this prospect as anything to get excited about.

Ramadan Begins

[Taking a break from the all-Palin, all the time blogosphere:]

Today is the beginning of Ramadan, a holy month for followers of Islam. During this time Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. As-Salamu Alaykum to all my Muslim friends.

If you are not Muslim, keep in mind that the ability to convincingly pretend could be very useful at some point in the future. This is especially true for atheists and others who deny the existence of God, as well as those residing in Europe. Now is your chance to practice.