By Irene F. Starkehaus -
I have many times throughout the years read these words and not fully known them: THESE are the times that try men's souls. With a most cursory glance, we can dimly fumble at what Thomas Paine meant with all that hubristic certainty and sympathy of an inexpert Emma Woodhouse of the Jane Austen variety, but to live in despairing times is to be present in the very moment when Paine took pen to paper in prayer for his beleaguered countrymen.
It is at that moment of isolation when sympathy blossoms into empathy, and we as a people can partake of the full bodied cassis of this sickly-sweet wine that is futility. "Faith is a dark night for man, but in this very way it gives him light."
For years and with kaleidoscopic levels of disquiet I have witnessed the shift of this country toward European socialism and I have thought, "I will stick with my party. We share goals and we will work to overcome this." For decades I have offered stubborn testimony against the transformation from "one nation under God" to a nation of secular humanists and have stayed determined in the knowledge that at least I have my Church, which is faithful – if imperfectly at times – to the teachings of Christ. I have abhorred the coarsening of the American spirit against life, sacredness, freedom and free will believing that a system of checks and balances would ultimately prevail because they were designed with thieving tyrants in mind.
These people, these traditions, these laws with which I have aligned myself were my bedrock, my support as we worked – I thought – toward common goals, but as time has worn on, I have reached for those touchstones and they have each, in succession, disintegrated in my hands as if made of sand. No one, it would seem, is willing to remain allegiant to his oath. No one wants to really care. To care is to risk losing everything.
We are living in an age of farce. Scarce are the individuals who demonstrate fidelity to truth. If a tree falls in a forest and there's no one there to witness it, did it make a sound? If we all partake in a capricious, contrarian denial of shared values, shared culture, does that mean that truth is mutable? Relative? Does truth belong to the victorious or does truth live just outside of man's manipulation – beckoning, taunting, stinging the conscience?
In that moment when Pope Francis walked into the White House with President Obama and as the pundits from across the spectrum gave their predictable, two dimensional analyses of what they wanted to see in that instant, I felt that my Church and my nation are equivocating, lingering precariously at an important crossroads, and that too many people are caught up in the farce to care.
The crux of the problem is nuanced. Jesus is invited to dine with the tax collectors and the sinners and he agrees to meet them. His apostles are livid. How could he be with these unclean people who will only serve to blemish his reputation, but Jesus goes anyway because – Jesus explains – he will not win souls by preaching to the choir as it were.
Pope Francis goes to the White House to meet…literally with the tax collectors. Barack Obama gathers for the pope an assemblage of people who aggressively oppose Church traditions and teachings and the symbolism is too absolute to ignore. Someone…I don't know who… recognized a symmetry between the Christ's visit and an opportunity within the pope's visit. It is not a coincidence.
In the account of Jesus's visit to Matthew's home, the sinners were surprised that Jesus came to them and they savored – for only a moment – a validation, a victory over truth, but Jesus was not there to validate their sins. He was there to convert, to save. In this moment and in all that he did, Christ was determined and transparent. He didn't equivocate. Clarity and simplicity were the key elements in his techniques.
Clarity is not this pope's forte. His persona prospers feeding off the miasma of ambiguity. All things to all people and so I fear that he will star prominently, but will not own the allegory being drawn out by the modern tax collectors. To this end, the symmetry is lost and the Vicar of Christ – having chosen ambiguity – becomes the tool of the tax collector.
"Go and sin no more" is too certain, judgmental for sinners like you and me and in this day and age, who are we to judge? Let us shelter ourselves in the expedience of Climate Change, which in and of itself is an ambiguity. We can share common goals that are undefined and undefinable. Let us spread the word. Anyone who is definite is worthy of condemnation. We must not abide certainty. Certainty is the greatest of all sins, so it would seem.
I think about the pro-abortion nun who was invited to meet with Pope Francis. Try as I may, I can't look away from of her moral ambiguity over our need to protect innocent human life. I guess there are gray areas from her perspective when it comes to an unborn child, and that ambiguity, that apostasy is the greatest expression of the First Amendment that a real American woman can make. Again, so it would seem.
Carly Fiorina, on the other hand, has been excoriated by America's real feminists for her lack of ambiguity. She's whipped over her support for protecting the unborn. Per America's real feminists like Joyless Behar:
She has the nerve to use the term women's suffrage when she's against Planned Parenthood and women's maternity leave. She's against ObamaCare. She's anti-choice. She uses the term women's suffrage. She should be ashamed of herself. It's not your face honey, it's your policy.
Fiorina has been called a liar for her description of whistleblower videos about Planned Parenthood and the brutal treatment of living children.
Warning – graphic content
Carly Fiorina did not lie. She told the truth and she told that truth during a pivotal moment in our history that will define, as she puts it, the character of our nation for years to come. Will we continue to federally fund Planned Parenthood or will our nation abandon the bad habit like we have abandoned other forms of slavery?
As we battle progressives for the right – not even to end abortion, which I defiantly suggest we have every obligation as Americans, as women, as feminists to end – but just simply the right to conscientiously object to murder by not financially supporting it, will the pope bear witness to that truth? He's here. The fight is raging across the country, in the media, in Congress. Will he take a side? Will he fervently refuse the lie?
I ask you. Without such moral support, how long will politicians hold true? How long will they stand strong before they too disintegrate as if made of sand? They slip away one by one…the thought leaders who advocate farce by supporting farcical positions or candidates or laws. Easier. It's just easier not to put up a fuss.
Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.