This has been a uncomfortable election season for me in terms of interaction with my faith. A couple weeks before the election, a friend went to mass at St. Mary's church in New Haven, where the homilist told the congregation that if they voted for a pro-choice politician it would "count against them in heaven". This was accompanied by a flier produced by the conference of bishops seeking to educate voters about church teachings with regard to abortion, euthanasia, etc. I have not actually seen this document, but a document was handed to me 4 years ago, also at St. Mary's, with similar content. Noticeably absent from the document I saw 4 years ago was any mention of immigration, torture, war, the death penalty, health care, responsible stewardship of the earth, feeding the hungry, sheltering the poor, or any other issue from the host of social justice issues which are supposed to be at the center of the Catholic faith.ﾠ
To add insult to injury, the week following the election, I went to mass at Our Savior church in Manhattan where the homilist proclaimed that "those of you who forgot the teachings of the Church in this election have committed a great act of apostasy". The next day I read this article in the nytimes. According to that article:
"Some bishops meeting here said they did not view that outcome as a repudiation of their guidance, but as a reflection of polls that showed that social and moral issues were not primary concerns for voters, including Catholics, this year."
All of these messages have led me to the conclusion that the leadership of the Catholic church in the US has drifted out of touch with its congregation. At a time when the Church's authority on issues related to sexuality is at an all-time low, somehow our leaders have thought it appropriate to focus solely on the issue of abortion, at the cost of ignoring all else that threatens to tear apart our world. Then, when this strategy failed (and it did... roughly 54% of Catholics voted for Obama in this election), they have the audacity to proclaim that the faithful did not consider moral issues when voting.
Of course we considered moral issues while voting! Vatican II affirmed that every catholic is capable of praying about issues, informed with the teaching of the church, and then the choices they make afterward are informed and influenced by God.
I have to imagine that there are bishops out there who understand and respect they they do not have unique access to the Holy Spirit, that the congregation of the faithful may come to different conclusions given the same information. If such bishops are out there, I pray that they will find the courage to speak out so that the "heretics" in the church who voted with their consciences can find support from the leaders of their faith.
Paul Davies' article in the nytimes has garnered a lot of commentary on my usual blog reading list. For instance, there is a lot going on in the comments at Dave Bacon's site and Chad Orzel has started more discussion.
For what it's worth, while I usually find Davies to be a bit suspect, I would agree that there is an element of science which requires faith. On a very basic level, the scientific method is based upon the belief that the universe is ordered by laws and that these laws can be probed by experiment. It requires belief that if one repeats an experiment one should get the same result. I have written about this before a long time ago.
Article in the NYTimes yesterday about churches using Halo to get teens involved in the community. I must say that I find it odd to have Halo events at church, but I don't necessarily have a problem with it. My local parish had a Superbowl event last year and I didn't think anything of it. I suppose I could see more of a problem with a game like Gears of War which is overflowing with graphical violence. I am not entirely sure why Halo has a "M" rating, for that matter. There is no blood. It is somewhat cartoon-ish. In fact, I think it is hardly more violent than Star Wars.
Still, it would be weird to play Halo at church.
Chad Orzel has a nice post that pretty much sums up my feelings on Richard Dawkins. Maybe some day I'll actually read The God Delusion, but having heard summaries of his arguments, it sounds like he says nothing new and that he severely misrepresents the nature of science.