Minnesota DFL Ad

This ad was sent out by the Minnesotat Democratic-Farm-Labor Party (DFL).  I saw it here at the National Catholic Register online.  I e-mailed the head of the Minnesota DFL with this:

Mr. [Brian] Melendez [chairman of the Minnesota DFL],
I saw a postcard that your organization sent out (noted here), and though I am not Roman Catholic, I was surprised at the vitriol and the ignorance it displayed.  Please reconsider that postcard and perhaps issue an appropriate apology to Roman Catholics and, by extension, all Christians who work and care for the poor.  Surely, with a degree from a Divinity School with a concentration in ethics, you could not yourself have approved that ad?

And this is the response I got:

The ad is part of a two-piece mailing that highlights and criticizes the policy views of Dan Hall, a preacher who is the Republican candidate for the Minnesota Senate. I enclose both sides of both pieces. I understand that some Republican bloggers have taken one image from the first piece, and claimed that the mail is somehow anti-Catholic. But the text explicitly criticizes Preacher Hall for distancing himself from policy views that have been taken by the Catholic Archdiocese, by the [Evangelical] Lutheran Synod, and other leaders in Minnesota’s faith community. Dan Hall is willing to enlist God and religion in his campaign when it helps him — but in fact, his views hurt the poorest and sickest among us, and this mailing holds him accountable for those views.

Donald McFarland
Communications Director
Minnesota DFL Party

Here are the other parts of the ad, sent to me by Mr. McFarland: Mail_piece_2, Mail-Piece_3.

I’ve never heard of Dan Hall (though I found his website here, as well as this and this, and this is the map of the district he’s running to represent; looks to be south of the Twin Cities?), so I don’t know his views on the poor.  But “views” don’t hurt people, poor, sick, or otherwise.  Obviously, the implementation of certain views can hurt people, but I doubt Dan Hall is explicitly trying to hurt the poor.  The DFL may disagree, and I understand the nature of politics as we approach Nov. 2, but the part of the ad I saw first clearly does not differentiate between Dan Hall and those the DFL say they are not criticizing, such as the Roman Catholic Archdiocese (of where?).  And why the clerical collar?  Does Hall wear a collar?  (Not in any pictures on his website.) 

If Hall is promoting Republicans from his pulpit, he’s wrong.  If he’s preaching particular policies from the pulpit, he’s misguided, but not immoral.  And I think it’s strange for pastors to run for office.  I disagree with preachers promoting partisan politics, but I also disagree with the DFL making policy positions into absolute moral imperatives.  So much for democratic discourse.


No Country for Old Men (or Women)

Here a year or two back me and Loretta went to a conference in Corpus Christi and I got set next to this woman, she was the wife of somebody or other.  And she kept talkin about the right wing this and the right wing that.  I aint even sure what she meant by it.  The people I know are mostly just common people.  Common as dirt, as the sayin goes.  I told her that and she looked at me funny.  She thought I was sayin somethin bad about em, but of course that’s a high compliment in my part of the world.  She kept on, kept on.  Finally told me, said, I dont like the way this country is headed.  I want my granddaughter to be able to have an abortion.  And I said well mam I dont think you got any worries about the way this country is headed.  The way I see it goin I dont have much doubt but what she’ll be able to have an abortion.  I’m goin to say that not only will she be able to have an abortion, she’ll be able to have you put to sleep.  Which pretty much ended the conversation.  [Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, No Country for Old Men, 196-197]


Why Refuse the Lord’s Gifts?

I try as hard as I can to understand where people are coming from with whom I disagree.  I really do (most of the time) want to know why they hold the positions they do and how they came to hold them.  But I have a difficult time understanding why people would not want to receive the Lord’s Supper every time they gather for the Divine Service (i.e., on Sundays and feast days, at the least).  I find it even harder to understand why pastors in previous generations (and we’re probably going back 150-200 years) decided to withhold the Supper from their people.  I mean, simply read the Small Catechism, and Luther’s Christian Questions (let alone the book of Acts, esp. 2:42!) and I find it hard to see how anyone could think that having the Lord’s Supper less often was a good idea.  And today, there’s simply no excuse, when Presbyterians put Lutherans to shame with their weekly communions. 

What reasons could people possibly have to say ‘no, thanks’ when the Lord would offer His own Body and Blood for the forgiveness of sins and the strengthening of our faith in Him and our love toward other people?  Here are some possibilities:

  • They don’t really believe it’s the Lord’s Body and Blood.  If it’s just a remembrance ceremony, no matter how special, then it can’t be as important as hearing the sermon or gathering with other Christians. 
  • They think they’ve had enough forgiveness.  You hear statements like this: why do I need to take the Lord’s Supper when I just received the absolution?  The answer is that they have not yet realized the depth of their own sinfulness.  Sin is not just the bad actions you do, it is who you are outside of Christ, and the battle between the Holy Spirit and your sinful nature can still go to your sinful nature.  And because we are completely sinful, though completely righteous before God in Christ, there is not a moment that goes by where we cease to be sinful.  Hence, St. Ambrose: “Because I always sin, I ought always to take the medicine.”  (cf. Augsburg Confession XXIV:33 [Latin])  Or, hear Luther: “If you could see how many daggers, spears, and arrows are aimed at you every moment [by the devil], you would be glad to come to the sacrament [of the Altar] as often as you can.  The only reason we go about so securely and heedlessly is that we neither imagine nor believe that we are in the flesh, in the wicked world, or under the kingdom of the devil” (LC V:82). 
  • It will make the Lord’s Supper “less special” to take it more often.  People seriously need to think before they say this.  They are implying that a gift of Jesus Christ Himself can be made less special, less significant by how we treat it.  What they may be saying is that they would treat it as less special, but there the problem is, as always, not with the gift but with the sinner.  The gifts of the Lord cannot be made less special the more He gives them out.  They are not like having the same holiday every year, which would render the holiday irrelevant.  The logical conclusion of this thinking is fairly obvious to me: why does no one ever suggest having the sermon only twice a month?  Then: why not have the services of the Lord’s House twice a month?  Then: you know, it would be really special if we only did the whole thing once a year.  No one says such things.  To use an analogy, no one would says it would make the times you kiss your wife or tell her you love her really special if you only did it once in a while.  Nor does anyone say that meals would be really special if we had them only once a day, or once a week.  On the contrary, the more the Lord gives us His gifts, the more we learn to treasure them, because they are as necessary as love and food.  Those who say that having the Supper more often will make it less special have not yet recognized the depth of their sin, nor the greatness of Jesus’ Body and Blood in the Supper.
  • I think the most common, though unspoken, objection is that it simply takes too much time.  People like the shorter services, because they view the services of the Lord’s House as a chore to be completed, rather than the occasion of the Lord’s visitation to His people.  If we really believed that God Himself was present in Jesus Christ to deliver His Word and Sacraments every week, we would….  Finish that sentence, and you have the foundation of a very good theology of the Divine Service.   

Those are the ones I can think of.  I find none of them even remotely convincing.  That is not to insult you if you have one of those reasons for not wanting the Lord’s Supper more often, but I think you should reconsider, and maybe confess.  When we use unscriptural and anti-theological arguments as reasons for not having the Lord’s Supper as often as His people gather around Jesus and His means of forgiveness, we are not only harming ourselves, but anyone who may need that medicine that day.  We deprive them of the gifts Jesus wants to give.  If you, for whatever reason, don’t want to receive the gifts He wants to give you, don’t, please, deny others the chance to receive them. 


More From Chesterton on “Birth Control”

[More from “Social Reform versus Birth Control” (see previous post):]

The fact is, I think, that I am in revolt against the conditions of industrial capitalism and the advocates of Birth Control are in revolt against the conditions of human life. What their spokesmen can possibly mean by saying that I wage a “class war against mothers” must remain a matter of speculation. If they mean that I do the unpardonable wrong to mothers of thinking they will wish to continue to be mothers, even in a society of greater economic justice and civic equality, then I think they are perfectly right. I doubt whether mothers could escape from motherhood into Socialism. But the advocates of Birth Control seem to want some of them to escape from it into capitalism. They seem to express a sympathy with those who prefer “the right to earn outside the home” or (in other words) the right to be a wage-slave and work under the orders of a total stranger because he happens to be a richer man. By what conceivable contortions of twisted thought this ever came to be considered a freer condition than that of companionship with the man she has herself freely accepted, I never could for the life of me make out. The only sense I can make of it is that the proletarian work, though obviously more senile and subordinate than the parental, is so far safer and more irresponsible because it is not parental. I can easily believe that there are some people who do prefer working in a factory to working in a family; for there are always some people who prefer slavery to freedom, and who especially prefer being governed to governing someone else. But I think their quarrel with motherhood is not like mine, a quarrel with inhuman conditions, but simply a quarrel with life. Given an attempt to escape from the nature of things, and I can well believe that it might lead at last to something like “the nursery school for our children staffed by other mothers and single women of expert training.” [“might”? T.]

I will add nothing to that ghastly picture, beyond speculating pleasantly about the world in which women cannot manage their own children but can manage each other’s. But I think it indicates an abyss between natural and unnatural arrangements which would have to be bridged before we approached what is supposed to be the subject of discussion.


How Long Until Children Become a Liability?

I don’t mean the money you pay to have them or raise them; I don’t mean the time and energy you expend to give them what they need, especially when it goes against your own desires or dreams; I mean, very literally, when will it be a tax liability to have the children whom God gives?  Read this article at Salvo by Robin Phillips. 

Dr. Barry Walters, a professor of obstetrics at the University of Western Australia, argued a few years ago that those who refuse to use contraception should be levied with a climate-change tax. In a 2007 article in the Medical Journal of Australia, Dr. Walters proposed that such a tax be assessed on all couples having more than two children. He suggested an initial fine of $5,000 for each “extra” child when born, with another $800 assessed every year thereafter. However, parents could redeem themselves by using contraceptives or undergoing sterilization procedures, for which they would receive carbon credits.

Okay, that’s Australia.  But you have to know there are people pushing for similar things in the United States.  People who admire China’s one-child policy, though China has the most carbon dioxide emissions in the world. 

Inverting the Christian redemption story, the new religion of science sees mankind as the curse, and scientists as the prophets pointing out the path of redemption. Like the prophets of old, the modern scientist-prophets know that salvation can never occur without sacrifice. The sacrifice they are calling for is simple: We must become fewer and poorer. Only then will the world will be saved from the environmental Armageddon that is fast approaching as a result of “reckless breeding” (a term employed by Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger).

As Chesterton said,

The Birth-Controller does not bother about all these things, for the perfectly simple reason that it is not such people that he wants to control. What he wants to control is the populace, and he practically says so. He always insists that a workman has no right to have so many children, or that a slum is perilous because it is producing so many children. The question he dreads is “Why has not the workman a better wage? Why has not the slum family a better house?” His way of escaping from it is to suggest, not a larger house but a smaller family. The landlord or the employer says in his hearty and handsome fashion: “You really cannot expect me to deprive myself of my money. But I will make a sacrifice, I will deprive myself of your children.” [“Social Reform versus Birth Control,” http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/books/Social_Reform_B.C.html]

When, in “The Christmas Carol,” Scrooge refers to the surplus population, the Spirit tells him, very justly, not to speak till he knows what the surplus is and where it is. The implication is severe but sound. When a group of superciliously benevolent economists look down into the abyss for the surplus population, assuredly there is only one answer that should be given to them; and that is to say, “If there is a surplus, you are a surplus.” And if anyone were ever cut off, they would be. If the barricades went up in our streets and the poor became masters, I think the priests would escape, I fear the gentlemen would; but I believe the gutters would be simply running with the blood of philanthropists. [Charles Dickens, Part II, chapter VII http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/books/CD-2.html]