Praying for Those to Be ElectedGEORGE WEIGEL
There will be much to ponder, once this interminable electoral cycle comes to an end.
Why has so much of the campaign seemed like a prolonged episode of "American Idol," with candidates trying to sell their personal "narratives" rather than their ideas and policies? Why did Pastor Rick Warren, rather than talented, veteran journalists, raise the questions that many Americans would like to explore in considering their new president: questions of the candidates' character, compassion, intellectual roots, and moral depth? What does the non-stop cable news cycle do to our national ability to pause and think seriously?
Earlier this year, at the height of the primary season, a senior producer in the network news business told me that, while a political junkie, she was appalled by what she had experienced within many campaigns: the carefully crafted, poll -- and focus group -- driven manipulation of the electorate's emotions, in what amount to a variant on the sleazier forms of advertising. Isn't there something more to running for president than appealing to consumer tastes? And then there's the media's own fixation with "gotcha," which further fuels the vacuity of political conversation and debate.
Truth to tell, campaigns are rarely pretty, if you're interested in ideas rather than spasms of feeling. 1960 is supposed to have been an exception -- our age's answer to Lincoln and Douglas -- but few today remember that Kennedy and Nixon spent an inordinate amount of time during their debates arguing about two rocks off the China coast, Quemoy and Matsu. Still, these past two years seem, at the moment, to have been singularly devoid of a serious exchange of ideas, and singularly dominated by sound bites.
So, with the end in sight, let me suggest that it's time to pray: to pray for the candidates, because whoever is inaugurated on January 20, 2009, is facing a world of trouble; to pray for ourselves, that we refrain from tribal voting and make wise and prudent choices; and to pray for our country, that we grow up a bit more in the years ahead. With thanks to the Diocese of Wilmington, let me commend to everyone the Litany of St. Thomas More, Martyr, and Patron of Statesmen, Politicians, and Lawyers:
Let us pray: O glorious St. St. Thomas More, patron of statesmen, politicians, judges, and lawyers, your life of prayer and penance and your zeal for justice, integrity, and firm principle in public and family life led you to the path of martyrdom and sainthood. Intercede for our statesmen, politicians, judges, and lawyers, that they may be courageous and effective in their defense and promotion of the sanctity of human life -- the foundation of all other human rights. We ask this through Christ, Our Lord.
George Weigel. "Praying for Those to Be Elected." The Catholic Difference (October 31, 2008).
Reprinted with permission of George Weigel.
George Weigel's column is distributed by the Denver Catholic Register, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Denver. Phone: 303-715-3123.
George Weigel, a Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, is a Roman Catholic theologian and one of America's leading commentators on issues of religion and public life. Weigel is the author or editor of eighteen books, including Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism: A Call to Action, God's Choice: Pope Benedict XVI and the Future of the Catholic Church (2005), The Cube and the Cathedral: Europe, America, and Politics Without God (2005), Letters to a Young Catholic: The Art of Mentoring (2004), The Courage to Be Catholic: Crisis, Reform, and the Future of the Church (2002), and The Truth of Catholicism: Ten Controversies Explored (2001).
George Weigel's major study of the life, thought, and action of Pope John Paul II, Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II (Harper Collins, 1999) was published to international acclaim in 1999, and translated into French, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese, Slovak, Czech, Slovenian, Russian, and German. The 2001 documentary film based on the book won numerous prizes. George Weigel is a consultant on Vatican affairs for NBC News, and his weekly column, "The Catholic Difference," is syndicated to more than fifty newspapers around the United States.
Copyright © 2008 George Weigel
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