Monday, November 3, 2008

Why are Catholics Like Humpty Dumpty?

Tim Rutten gives us a clue in the LA Times. The article is entitled "The End of the Catholic Vote."

Basically, it's about how Catholic voting patterns are shifting. The reasons that are apparently behind the shift are the interesting part:

What we're seeing in these three swing states is the end of the Catholic vote, as conventional political strategists traditionally have expected it to behave -- in part because it's now so large it pretty much looks like the rest of America; in part because of its own internal changes. National polls have shown for some time that, although Catholics are personally opposed to abortion, they believe it ought to be legal in nearly identical percentages to the rest of America. Moreover, as a survey by Georgetown University's Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate found earlier this year, only 18% of Catholics "strongly" agree with the statement: "In deciding what is morally acceptable, I look to the church teachings and statements by the pope and bishops to form my conscience."

This last bit reminded me of a quote from Through the Looking Glass. Humpty Dumpty drops this gem of wisdom:

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,' it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.'

Basically, modern Catholics are saying the same thing as Humpty Dumpty when it comes to the word "Catholic." This word, like so many other things in our society, has lost any semblance of objective meaning for these people. Rather than describing an intellectual submission to the Truth of certain propositions, it instead means whatever the given individual declares it to mean. How can this many people be so intellectually dishonest?


Turgonian said...

It's not so much about intellectual dishonesty, I think. Probably, the word 'Catholic' has become associated with a culture, a broadly interpreted way of life and tenor of belief that allows for a great amount of restructuring.

And because almost everybody uses it that way, people don't recognise that it actually means something much more definite.

Philip said...

Dead on.

When somebody tells me that they're Catholic, they still haven't told me anything other than their parents were, "Catholic". It's the new Jewish.

Karl said...

I bet the Catholic vote did, in fact, vote very highly in support of Catholic positions.

The problem is that most of those who self-identify as Catholic are not in any meaningful sense of the term.

But as for me and my house. . .

Throwback said...

Excellent points, all. I supposed that "intellectual dishonesty" implies a certain level of reflection that is lacking in the poll respondents mentioned in the post. Which might be even worse. One would think the specifics of one's relationship to the Creator and Judge would merit a bit more consideration.