Monday, April 25, 2005

The Enemy of My Enemy
You may have seen a story in your local paper or online over the weekend regarding American conservatives' reaction to the election of Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI last week. American culture warriors are happy that Benedict seems to see things their way--against abortion, against same-sex marriage, in favor of doctrinal purity rather than modern moral relativity--and they view his election as a "win" for their side. But if ever there were a case of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend," this is probably it. It's certainly not the stirrings of a new form of ecumenism, because conservative American Protestants and the Roman Catholic Church are separated by an unbridgeable gulf--unbridgeable because the gulf isn't filled with water, it's filled with fire.

I was talking with a neighbor over the weekend who had recently attended a wedding where he shared a reception table with several strongly conservative Christians. The conversation hadn't been going on very long when one of the other guests asked my neighbor, "So how long ago did you accept Jesus?" My neighbor, who is not religious, laughed the question off, but decided to use the opening as a learning opportunity. So he started quizzing them about what they believed. Eventually he asked, "Is Gandhi in Hell?" "Yes," they responded, because he wasn't a Christian. "Is Mother Teresa in Hell?" he asked. "Yes," because she didn't believe in "true" Christianity.

That theological observation makes me wonder about all of the conservative Christian praise for John Paul II after his death. It's odd to think they'd praise a man while at the same time believing he was destined for the smoking section. Benedict, too--they're happy to have him and his flock on their side, but when the time comes, the whole lot of them is going to Hell. My neighbor observed that this is the same phenomenon that permits conservative Christians to make common cause with Jews on Israel--they support the Jewish state only inasmuch as it brings forth the Second Coming, at which their Jewish allies are going to be smitten, and eventually damned if they don't convert. But hey, for now, let's hold hands and sing "Kum-ba-yah."

Nuke Watch:
I must confess that I haven't dipped into the aftermath of "Justice Sunday" today--a few seconds of Bill Frist's simpering mug and his oily voice as I surfed by ABC's This Week yesterday morning put me off my Cheerios, so I'd rather not risk whole-body projectile vomiting by wading in any deeper. As it is, the controversy over the words "nuclear option" and whose words they really are is making my intestines quiver. Josh Marshall, Daily Kos, and other bloggers are on the case, and they have found that even reporters who should know better have swallowed the falsehood that "nuclear option" is a Democratic epithet.

One other thing along those lines: I will also recommend Jay Bullock's article today at Wisconsin's progressive website, FightingBob.com, about the role Wisconsin's own F. James Sensenbrenner will play in the upcoming Constitutional battles. Remember--F. Jim before he F's you.

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