On the debates...

I watched the debates tonight, at least chunks of the whole thing, and my first impression is that Sen. Obama looked like a man who senses victory and Sen. McCain is beginning to look spent. That's the drawback of these things, impression is everything, content is secondary.

Going beyond the art of looking good on television (anybody but me seem to notice that Sen. Obama seems to be going "grayer" in the hair over the past months?) were the words themselves and for those of us who value, as the Roman Church has called it, the "culture of life" those words are foreboding. Sen. Obama is basically and profoundly "pro-choice" and it was clear in the debate that position would the policy of his presidency. Certainly it will influence the laws he signs and the judges he appoints. Combined with the possibility of a Democrat "super-majority" in Congress the pro-life cause will take a beating in the next four to eight years if Sen. Obama is elected. No amount of calm TV presence can obscure this central truth. Despite the Senator's non partisan rhetoric pro-lifers will have no place at the table or even in the room of an Obama administration.

And in one sense this will be an enormous setback. The small and reasonable restrictions on abortion, the product of years of hard political work, will be swept away, the freedom of protest will be curtailed, and more millions will pour into agencies and groups that support abortion. This is what we face. Yet at the same time we who believe in the sanctity of life will need to do what we should have been doing all along, focusing not just on the larger picture of laws and public policy but on each individual person who has a crisis pregnancy, each person who struggles with their sexuality, and each family that needs help. We need no laws to do this and there are no laws that can effectively forbid it.

This also underscores a central challenge for our call to be salt and light in this culture. For too long we have focused on the larger world of politics and structures to support our vision of what society should be and in doing so we have ignored a central truth of our Faith, that the world is changed as each individual is changed by the reality of Jesus Christ. For too long we have asked the government, the structures of our culture, to do what we should have been doing all along. Now faced with the possibility of a government hostile to much of what traditional Christian faith would espouse in the area of life, the failure of that policy has also been exposed. Yet even that exposure, that vulnerability, has the potential to turn, again, our hearts, our efforts, and our lives to both the message and the method of the Gospel. How ironic would it be if we, stripped of our temporal power, discover again the fullness of the Gospel and the Senator's claims of hope and change find themselves realized not in the government, but in the Church.

When that happens the real revolution will begin.

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