On My Mind (Vol. 3)

—1—
 
I’ve been following the Democratic National Convention this week just as I did the Republican National Convention the week before. (Much to the chagrin of my little children, who find “Grownups Standing and Talking,” as we call it, infinitely more boring than Paw Patrol and The Lion Guard.)
Comparing the two conventions, I have to say that the Democrats have done a better job of the thing. “Bernie or Bust” drama aside, the Democrats’ evening programs have seemed much more solid – packed with a strategic selection of speakers who have made coherent cases for their party’s platform and nominee. (I couldn’t help but feel that the organizers of the Republican National Convention felt compelled to take whomever they could get.)
I’m curious to see what kind of a bounce the convention will generate for Clinton. I think it’ll exceed Trump’s, but pretty much every prediction I’ve made so far about Trump has been wrong, so who knows?


Women listen to U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., during her speech July 25 at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. (CNS photo/Charles Mostoller, Reuters)

—2—
 
All that said, I’ve heard a lot at the convention that that I disagree with. (No surprise, as I’m not a Democrat.) And I’m finding the Party’s persistence in advancing abortion on its (literal) national stage to be especially frustrating.
Democratic Party, we know that you’re for abortion “rights” – for abortion on demand, even. Why must you continue to rub it in? Why must you invite Cecile Richards to speak? Why must Ilyse Hogue talk about her abortion? Why must you (I presume) require that Tim Kaine fully come over to your side on the issue?
I realize that the Democratic Party’s most extreme leftwing element wants to normalize abortion, but in an environment where Hillary Clinton is trying to pick up independent voters and Republicans disenchanted with Donald Trump, shouldn’t the party be moderating, not doubling-down on its abortion rhetoric?
 
—3—
 
Personally, I find the following argument from Ben Domenech (in The Federalist, via Gracy Olmstead in The American Conservative) to be very compelling:
“The pro-life movement today has been successful by many measures at the state level, but its Washington, DC-based incarnations have been too willing at times to give the Republican Party a pass. Pro-life Americans are already completely ignored by the Democratic Party, thanks to the great sort that has pushed them out of the coalition. Now they are being ignored by the Republicans as well.
This creates an opening for a third party that would follow in a different tradition from Libertarians or Greens. Instead, it would hold to the old-fashioned approach to third party efforts: an agenda that is unified around a single issue, and otherwise open to a wide degree of differentiation among candidates on every unrelated issue.”
I’m in. Sign me up.
 
—4—
 
I’ve been reading a fair number of gloom-and-doom articles these days. Here are two on the election that I’ve found especially interesting/terrifying – particularly the first. I might write on them further, but they’re most definitely “on my mind” this week, so I thought they were worth sharing here too.
—5—

Of course the martyrdom of Father Jacques Hamel at the hands of ISIS-supporting young men is also terrifying. I hardly know what to do with that news. I pray, of course. I pray for Father Hamel, I pray for the victims of terrorism everywhere, I pray for the conversion of the hearts of those who seek to carry out such crimes. I pray for the intercession of Father Hamel on both of those counts.
(Here’s a post I wrote last year on praying and mourning as a response to the November attacks on Paris.) 

But other than praying and mourning, I feel a sort of stumbling. What can we in the West do to stop the waves of terrorist attacks that break over us? (And how can we contribute to stopping the waves that regularly overcome other parts of the world?)


A policeman reacts as he secures a position in front of city hall after two assailants killed 85-year-old Father Jacques Hamel and took five people hostage during a weekday morning Mass at the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, France, near Rouen July 26. (CNS photo/Pascal Rossignol/Reuters)

I don’t think that intelligence operations will be enough. When attacks can be carried out by as few as one or two individuals, when they can be executed with weapons as simple as a knife, they’re mostly impossible to predict.
I don’t think the solution is as simple as keeping entire peoples out of our countries, either. Not only is it morally problematic to refuse safe harbor to entire populations because of the actions of a few, but I think it’s impractical. A policymaker who aims to achieve security by forbidding entire peoples entry will never achieve his end. He’ll only punish swaths of law-abiding people in his vain efforts to keep out the handfuls who are happy to make their way through the cracks.
 
—6—
 
In the wake of such attacks here and abroad and in the middle of the terrible developments in our own political system, my mind scrambles around trying to devise a plan. I want a way out of this mess.
I don’t know why I presume to think I could come up with something. Maybe it’s my way of coping; maybe it’s my arrogance. But of course it’s impossible.
Yesterday I was leafing through some back issues of the Catholic Review as I cleared out a stack of papers (I’m not well enough organized to tell you which issue) and I came across an old column of George Weigel’s. In it he discussed struggling with grief and ultimately coming to the conclusion that “God is God and we are not.” (Or something like that.)
It is, of course, the answer that I was meant to hear. We are called to respond to the world’s tragedies in some way – by praying, by mourning, by loving those we come into contact with, by offering our efforts and resources in support of worthy causes, by offering our ideas too. But we are not called to devise perfect solutions.
God is God and we are not.
So we are to rest assured of His divine providence, I suppose, and just do what small things we can.
 
—7—
 
I’m sure I should be able to think of another point for you, but this has been a getting-myself-back-in-order week, a stretching-out-and-enjoying-my-freedom week, a lazy-days-of-summer week. Thank goodness.
I’d hoped to get such a week in at the actual onset of summer vacation, but just a few days into it, my baby girl was hospitalized for salmonella poisoning. She was soon feeling better, but it goes without saying that the situation took up quite a bit of our time and attention.
Then we welcomed a German friend (a lovely teenage girl) into our home for a three-week stay. During her visit we participated in some Fourth of July festivities, spent time at the pool, went to the beach, went berry picking, and made some fun visits to the Maryland Science Center, the monuments of Washington D.C., a trampoline park, and – of course – the Columbia Mall. (Teenagers.)
All the while wrangling four young children, including a toddler and an infant. Whew.
All that is to say, our summer has so far felt like one frenzied blur and my mind is accordingly blurry. I’m making progress this week (It only took me two days to clean the kitchen! I’ve actually started the laundry!) and I have great hopes that by the time next week rolls around we’ll all be able to function normally. Whatever that looks like.
Anyway, I hope you have a good end to your week. I hope you pray, love, pay attention to politics, and, come Friday, stop over to Kelly’s to check out the rest of this week’s 7 Quick Takes.
 

Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.