(National Lampoon’s?) Pro-Life Vacation

Bloggers, etc. are giving my newest senator some grief for going on vacation. It could be that my liturgical senses are clearing from the anti-cloning push that nearly took over Catholic liturgy in Missouri this Fall. But I haven’t seen much from the anti-clone crowd in the past few weeks. Maybe they’re on vacation, too. After a long and tumultuous election season, heaven knows some people deserve a vacation.

Including my senator-elect. I’m not happy with her support for amendment 2, but so far, nothing like that is appearing on the Senate docket. She’ll get my letter and we’ll go on from there. At least the lobbyists aren’t paying for her down time with family.

What this post is really about is the post-election pro-life strategy. The few blogs and other outlets I’ve seen are showing the fashion faux pas of a white slip of petty sniping. We don’t need that negativity. If you’re inclined to be negative, you’re overdue for a vacation, too.

Anti-clones (and I count myself among them) coughed up over three mil (and except for my gratis yard sign, I don’t count myself among these) for the political mill. While it’s true that the Jim Caviezel bit in the ad (“My name is Jesus and I approved this message”) was the highlight of a good presentation, can I ask: where’s the money for adult stem cell research?

In other words, the capitalism-driven medical industry of the US (and now, the state of Missouri) haven’t set up a clone lab in my town. There are not young minority women or college students waiting in long lines to sell their eggs at market.

On the bright side, if the amendment 2 folks outspent the forces of truth 10-1 on politics, doesn’t that mean there’s more cash for our more virtuous form of stem cell research? Every dollar spent to put Alex Keaton into Cablevision is one dollar less for clones, right? It’s not like television is going to return money collected for political ads, right?

And if we have to have politics, can we have more good humor, please? I thought the funny stuff from the fringes of Amendment 2 resistance movement was the best part of the campaign. This guest appearance (courtesy Kansas City Catholic) by embryonic stem cells was my #2 favorite. I can’t find an online link for my favorite, the one where Dolly the sheep tells us “Cures? What cures? All we got from SCNT were clones.”

I wish diocesan leadership on this had been more coherent. Week to week, we were getting a string of things at the parish level. We had our own stuff, too, including a letter from the pastor to all parishioners. You want to make good judgments on effective timing on campaigns like this. If there was any of it coming form the chancery, I sure didn’t see it.

My liturgy committee and a few other parish groups weren’t pleased that Sunday Mass was utilized as the convenient political gathering of the week for what they considered overkill on an otherwise good message. I realize that despite its flaws and problems, Holy Mass will still outdraw a social justice presentation twenty to one on a vital issue. Which is as it should be.

There’s some talk buzzing around the parish that for future election issues, parishioners want some limits on what gets presented at Mass. For starters, I don’t think a medium of the week at Mass will fly again. Diocesan leadership, be it from a bishop, or the head of a social justice office, is responsible for planning. They’re also responsible for coordinating and communicating with others–including parishes–to ensure that resources are well managed and the best possible presentation is forwarded to the people who need to hear it most.

Hammering away at regular churchgoers week after week is not the way to go. Unless the goal is alienating one’s supporters with the insinuation that a letter from the pastor isn’t enough, we need one from the bishop, too. That weekly presence in the vestibule isn’t enough, we need homily time, too. That a World Series commerical isn’t enough, we need one after Communion as well.

I think some pro-lifers were surprised amendment 2 was so close. Some of them did an excellent job getting the truth out. But some of them also damaged the issue by presenting a facade of desperation. So here are some suggestions from the progressive side of the pro-life issue:

1. Find the humor and keep it. Sourpusses do not make for good media spots.

2. Let’s steer some effort and funding into adult stem cell research. Does Tom Monaghan have the guts (or the cells) to do it at AMU? And if not, why not? Why is so much energy being put into whether a law school is in Michigan or Florida?

3. Start putting together plans way ahead of time for ballot initiatives. Diocesan departments could have this months before election day, and provide parishes with our own windows of opportunity.

4. Stay out of the Mass. The people who attend Mass are most likely your most ardent and loyal supporters. Don’t treat them like the uneducated public at large. Don’t take advantage of the largest crowds the Church will produce who come to worship God. The ends does not justify the means.

5. Act like you have the right stand on the right issue. Avoid getting shrill. Be patient and calm and prayerful about it, and the fence-sitters–the ones you have real hope to persuade–will take note.

6. Branch out from pure politics. Get into charity and justice.

Any other ideas?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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