Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

You Take Your Friends Where You Can Get Them

Figures on both the Left and Right have been chortling with the news that Pope Francis met with God bothering serial marriage enthusiast Kim Davis.  "Ha!" they say, "How's your new idol now?"

Except I don't idolize Francis.  I admire him on many things.  I think he cares about people who are traditionally forgotten by those in positions of power.  I think he understands the costs of poverty better than any pope I can think of.  I think he is trying to place morality and kindness over dogma and rules in the life of his Church.

I just don't need to take lessons in sexual morality from a celibate.  While Francis has been an improvement over his woeful predecessors when it comes to clerical sexual abuse, he has been far from a breath of fresh air.  While he has demonstrated more compassion towards the victims, he has not cleansed the Catholic church of its sins, some of which are on going.

I do not agree with the Pope on the issue of female ordination, marriage equality, abortion or contraception.  But I applaud him for beginning to understand that women make up a majority of his parishioners.  I applaud him for understanding that almost all of his congregants have used contraception.  I applaud him for removing the judgment of celibate old men about the sexual lives of Catholics less central to the church.

But he's still a retrograde fossil on issues of human sexuality.  I disagree with him.

That does not, however, somehow negate the areas where we agree.  The idea that I have to agree with someone down the line is preposterous and a symptom of our badly divided politics.  The idea that I idolize him suggests that I need a hero to save the day.

What I need, politically speaking, is allies who can advance causes of economic and racial justice and who can help save this planet from cooking in its own gasses.  I need those allies.  If we disagree in other areas, so be it.  The idea of lockstep conformity is incredibly dangerous to both politics and civil life.

I agree with Bernie Sanders on quite a lot.  But I disagree with some of his foreign policy stances.  Does that mean I can't support him should he win the nomination?  Of course not.  Same goes with Francis.

If my neighbor can help me raise a barn, I don't condemn him because he can't help me paint it.

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