A Brief and Somewhat Unfocused Rant About the Hobby Lobby Case

this-is-not-a-church-hobby-lobby-scotus-638x428-520x400

Reportedly, Hobby Lobby CEO Dave Green saw this sign outside the courthouse and said, “Oh wait, Hobby Lobby ISN’T a church? My mistake.” Then he retracted his lawsuit and went home.

Okay, so.

Several people have asked me to blog my thoughts about the high-profile case that’s before the Supreme Court right now. I’m honestly not sure why, since my political views tend to be pretty bland and wishy-washy, but maybe that’s what the blogosphere needs. Maybe I can be the anti-Matt Walsh: angry with no one, and reasonable towards everyone.

I can at least give it my best shot.

So, here are my primary thoughts. Continue reading

Some brief thoughts on the failure of the Tea Party.

Since the economic crisis of 2008, the U.S. has seen the emergence of two populist movements: the Occupy movement, devoted to the dismantling of the global capitalist oligarchy; and the Tea Party movement, devoted to the sending of really angry Republicans to Washington.

I’m not really in a place to judge the former, since their goals are more nebulous and their action more local, but recent events have made it really, really obvious that the Tea Party has failed by any objective measure. Let me give a couple thoughts on why. Continue reading

‘Mama,’ Creepy Kids, and Six Degrees of ‘Humanae Vitae’

I'm too sexy for my encyclical.

I’m too sexy for my encyclical.

In 1968, Pope Paul VI issued what has become one of the more controversial encyclicals in recent memory. In contrast to the Protestant and Eastern Orthodox traditions, which had both been gradually inching closer toward a full embrace of contraception, Humanae Vitae reaffirmed tradition in condemning any and all use of aritificial contraception as sinful. It was a teaching so out-of-step with contemporary culture that it inspired open dissent from both clergy and laity, and even now — more than 40 years later — the encyclical’s teachings are far from popular among self-identified Catholics.

It’s a position that has come to light yet again recently, as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care act — an act which I’ve by and large been supportive of — has come under scrutiny, in part for a provision that requires all employers but the most religion-y to provide their employees with healthcare that will pay for contraception. It’s a reality that has forced me to think long and hard, not only about what religious freedom means but also why one branch of my faith can be so opposed to certain substances that they’ll risk millions in fines just to avoid dirtying their hands with them.

Being raised decidedly Protestant, I spent many years completely unable to fathom how a church could take a position so legalistic and obsessive about externals. The more I think about the teaching, though, the more I understand it. I still regard the Catholic position on birth control to be a tad on the Pharisaical side, in that it adds unnecessarily to the law of Scripture, but in many ways I’ve come around to understanding and appreciating the position. If humankind is made in the image of God, then its natural and appropriate end is the creation of life. If we treat this reality as something to be avoided, our values are confused at best. Continue reading