August 19, 2016

Letters to the Editor

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It may be hard at times, but being part of a community and ‘testing yourself in the arena of others’ are central to faith

I often hear people say, “You don’t have to go to church to have a relationship with Christ Jesus,” or “there are too many hypocrites in church,” or “too much politics.” What they are really saying is they can’t have it their way.

Institutions enable, but they also aggravate, as do many families and every other organized segment of the human experience. If you want frictionless, do it alone.

To be spiritual but not religious confines your devotional life to feeling good and hedonism. Spirituality that is not grounded in sound doctrine often attaches itself to self-absorption.

If the truth be known about human nature, it is that people’s internal sense of goodness is not always in accord with their behavior. To know whether your actions are good, a window is a more efficacious tool than a mirror. Seek the advice of others. Be part of a community. In short, join.

Being religious does not mean you have to agree with all the opinions, positions and practices of your own group, but it does mean testing yourself in the arena of others.

No one expects those without faith to obligate themselves to a religious community. But for one who has an intuition of something greater than ourselves to hold that this is a purely personal truth—that faith is personal and private—that it demands no communal searching and struggle, no Church to realize its potential in this world, straddles the line between narcissistic and solipsistic (i.e. extreme ego-centrism). If the spirit moves you to goodness, that is wonderful.

For many, though, spirituality is only a VIP card allowing them to sail past all those wretched souls waiting in line or doing the heavy lifting.

Together is harder, but together is better.

- Kirth N. Roach | Order of Carmelite Discalced Secular Indianapolis

As leaders, politicians must stand up for the values they personally believe in, instead of ‘doing nothing’

In September 1984, as a sophomore at Notre Dame, I sat in a packed auditorium and listened to Mario Cuomo, then governor of New York, deliver his rationalization about how he was a Catholic who was personally opposed to abortion, and yet needed to fulfill his role as a public servant and stand idly by doing nothing to fight abortion in his public role.

I was struck then by how disingenuous that sounded. Why was he “personally” against abortion? One of, if not the only, reasons one is opposed to abortion is the belief that it is the taking of a human life. If you believe that, then how could you not oppose it in your public position as well?

His speech opened the door for many subsequent Catholic and non-Catholic politicians to rationalize the same— Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Vice President Joseph Biden to name a few.

Sen. Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential running mate on the Democrat ticket, is a Catholic who has a 100 percent rating from Planned Parenthood. That is, he votes in favor of pro-abortion measures every single time they are raised. But he is “personally” opposed.

As the culture of life is eroded in our country and moral relativism slowly destroys the fabric of our society, we need people to stand up for those things that they personally believe in while in their roles as leaders. And we need to in our daily lives as well.

As we head to the polling place this November, are we going to practice the same rationalization by saying to ourselves, “I am personally opposed to abortion but when I vote I have to detach myself from that”? What other issue is more vital?

- Dr. Stephen O’Neil | Indianapolis

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