My Catholic Faith

God blesses those who come to the aid of the poor and rebukes those who turn away from them... It is by what they have done for the poor that Jesus Christ will recognize his chosen ones. When "the poor have the good news preached to them," it is the sign of Christ's presence.

That rarely quoted gem is from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Church's official compendium of its teachings and doctrine.

Jesus Christ. Community. Mass. Coffee and donuts after Mass. Hymns. School. Nuns. Fish fries. Pope Benedict XVI. Pope John Paul II. These are just some of the things that come to people's minds when they think of Catholicism. Sadly, so do pedophilia, abortion, and homosexuality.

Today is Pentecost, which many regard as the Church's birthday. So today I share with you a glimpse of the principles of my faith, and the many people who share this faith. I also hope to address some of the criticism and controversy surrounding the Church and give a brief look at the story of my own faith. What I hope this post will do is to offer a new perspective of the Catholic Church, one far different from what it is often perceived it to be.

God So Loves The World
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
-John 3:16

The Catholic Church believes in a God who loves all of us. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. God does not hate anyone - not women, not gays, not anybody. Regardless of how some act or what some want you to believe, God loves each and every one of us far more than we can imagine.

Love One Another
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
-John 13:34,35

“But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”
-James 2:20

Just as God has loved all of us, we are called to show love to one another, not just in word but in deed. For example, as I showed above the fold, the Catholic Church considers it imperative to help the less fortunate, while neglecting them is a sin. (See Matthew 25:30-46.)

There are many ways Catholics show their love for other people. For several years my parents and I have been heavily involved in our Knights of Columbus council's fundraiser for mentally impaired children. On a more national level, the group Catholics in Alliance has joined with other groups in pushing for healthcare reform.

If I honestly believed that the entire Catholic Church as an institution - or, for that matter, many Catholic leaders - hated people who are different, then I would be out in a heartbeat. (Actually, given how important faith is to me, I'm not sure I'd be a Democrat!) But hate is not what my Catholic friends and family stand for.

An 'Acceptable' Prejudice
Two things about the Catholic Church concern me today. One is the broad-brush anti-Catholic sentiment that I occasionally see (particularly on blogs like Daily Kos and Democratic Underground). The other issue is the misrepresentation of Church teaching buy a few people within the Church, to which I refer throughout this post.

Like blacks, gays, women, and Muslims, Catholics have been subject to a great deal of prejudice and persecution throughout the ages. This discrimination is based on long-held stereotypes about the doctrines and traditions of Catholicism that people believe differentiate Catholics from non-Catholics in ways deemed unacceptable. This prejudice against Catholics has been labeled by one author as "The Last Acceptable Prejudice." (This Wikipedia article on Anti-Catholicism is a lot more detailed than I care to go right now.)

This anti-Catholicism is far less pronounced nowadays, and is certainly dwarfed by the Islamophobia and homophobia that plagues our and other societies. Even so, such anti-Catholicism is manifesting itself in new ways, and is coming from across the ideological and religious spectrum. Save for the stereotypes and fear people use to characterize Islam, rarely do I hear much criticism of any religious tradition besides Catholicism.

As I said earlier, the Church is too often casually associated with pedophilia - as though all Catholic leaders are guilty - when only a tiny share of priests committed these heinous crimes, and only a handful of bishops allowed it to continue by their inaction.

Others highlight the Church's stances on certain issues, such as abortion, marriage, stem cells, etc., while giving little mention of the Church's long-standing support for workers, the downtrodden, and immigrants. (Dorothy Day, anyone?) Moreover, Catholic politicians seem to come under greater scrutiny for their views than do those of other denominations.

The Flock of the Lord
Those Catholic leaders who make news are often the ones that wade into these issues like abortion and marriage. But to me, the Catholic Church is not just about those who make the news. You cannot confine the Catholic Church to the way the media, politicians, or a few of its leaders define it. We are one billion people strong in the world, including one in four Americans.

And the Church is as diverse as it is large. In Grand Rapids, Michigan, alone, many parishes are packed with Latino, Vietnamese, Italian, German, Polish, and Irish immigrants and their descendants. My parish in Grand Rapids, the oldest in the area, was founded by German, Polish, and Irish immigrants 152 years ago and now has about 700 families, 300 of whom speak Spanish as their primary language. Mass is sometimes offered in Spanish (and occasionally bilingually). My parish up in Mount Pleasant, where I go to school, is a wonderful community of both young and young-at-heart who take their faith seriously - yet still find time to enjoy themselves. The parish we used to attend here in Kentwood is a very diverse and dynamic community of Caucasians, blacks, Asian-Americans, and so many other ethnicities who, if I recall correctly, speak approximately 40 languages!

"We Are God's People, the flock of the Lord," the Psalm says. Ours is the faith of Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Kathleen Sebelius, Dennis Kucinich, John Kerry, the Kennedys, Jennifer Granholm, John Dingell, and Bill Richardson. Not to say that the Church doesn't include its share of the Brownbacks, Santorums, and Scalias of the world, but can the same not be said of other faiths - and, for that matter, our entire country?

My Personal Journey
If I told you that I have been 100% certain every moment of my life that the Catholic Church is where I belong, I would be lying. I have dreamt of being kicked out of the Church for believing in equality. I spent a few years not going to church. My 7-year-old self did not want to church for Christmas. I was given a children's Bible and a picture that depicted an angel, Mary, and the baby Jesus that Christmas. I cried. "That's not for me!" I thought. Heck, a couple of years ago the Mormons almost convinced me of their belief!

But in the fall of 2001, a few weeks after September 11, I stared going back to church. I got more involved in the Knights of Columbus, where my dad had been a Grand Knight (in layman's terms, a chapter president) before. And I came to realize that God loves all of us and that I am called to return the favor through the way I live.

The Church's emphasis on care for all humankind - especially the downtrodden - may be why I strongly believe that my Catholic faith has made me such a strong Democrat. When people wonder how I could be a Catholic and a Democrat at the same time, to me it's obvious. I'm a Democrat because I'm a Catholic.

I reject the widely-held belief/notion/stereotype which says that, because I am a Catholic, I must agree with every single word the Pope says. If that makes this lector, Eucharistic minister, usher, Knight of Columbus, and parish festival volunteer a bad Catholic, then prove it to me. I am also disturbed when people use their Catholic (or other Christian) faith to justify hatred and intolerance of those who are not like them.

I do not know of a single religious tradition that is perfect. There are doctrines, traditions, and beliefs about Catholicism that I struggle to understand, including prohibition of female priests and Pope Benedict's stance that condom use increases AIDS. As bruised toes wrote a few weeks ago:

I certainly don't agree with everything in the Church, but what is there in life that we always agree with?

Yet, what stands out in my mind are the many wonderful aspects of the Catholic Church, from its core beliefs to its people.

These are what make the Catholic Church home to me.


Bits of Tid: May 28, 2009

  • Guess which judge said this:
    Because when a case comes before me involving, let's say, someone who is an immigrant -- and we get an awful lot of immigration cases and naturalization cases -- I can't help but think of my own ancestors, because it wasn't that long ago when they were in that position... When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account.
    Sonia Sotomayor, right? Wrong. Samuel Alito said it at his confirmation hearing in 2006.
  • At any rate, it looks like Sonia Sotomayor might not be filibustered.
  • Rush admits it: America's a center-left nation!
  • Apparently, you can get arrested for corruption in Iraq.
  • Memo to Dick Cheney: Don't mess with Obama's National Security Advisor.
  • We're all paying the price for the fact that millions of Americans are uninsured.
  • From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraph 2443:
    God blesses those who come to the aid of the poor and rebukes those who turn away from them: "Give to him who begs from you, do not refuse him who would borrow from you"; "you received without pay, give without pay." It is by what they have done for the poor that Jesus Christ will recognize his chosen ones. When "the poor have the good news preached to them," it is the sign of Christ's presence.


Support the Democrats at Liberty University

You may know that administrators at Liberty University are no longer recognizing the school's Democratic group. They are banishing them from the campus, prohibiting them from even meeting on campus or else face a reprimand! According to administrators, this is because "[t]he Democratic Party platform is contrary to... Christian doctrine."

This could hardly be more false! Our stances as a Party are very consistent not only with Christianity, but also with the many other faiths we as Faith Caucus members - and we as Americans - hold. My Christian faith is no small reason why I'm a die-hard Democrat!

Here are two things you can do to demonstrate your support for the Democrats at Liberty University. First, sign this petition from the Young Democrats of America in support of the Liberty University Dems. Second, if you have a few dollars, consider donating to the CDA Alumni Association's We Will Not Back Down page on ActBlue, which was established in honor of the Liberty University Democrats.

As the ActBlue page states, "The administrators at Liberty University need to know that attacking our freedom of expression will only strengthen College Democrats nationwide."


Bits of Tid: May 22, 2009

  • Hey, traditional media, it's me, Scott. How's it going? Good? Alright. I just thought I'd remind you of something: DICK CHENEY IS NO LONGER VICE PRESIDENT!!!!! Got that? Alrighty. See you later.
  • In case you're wondering, while the President gave a major national-security speech and signed two pieces of legislation this week, Biden has been touring the Balkans.
  • You probably know that the White House has a YouTube channel. So does the US Government as a whole. Talk about bringing government to the people!
  • I strongly encourage you to chip in a few bucks for the Michigan Democratic Party Youth Caucus and College Democrats of America. The stronger we can keep the youth movement, the better - and let's be honest, money helps!
  • After that, do yourself a couple of favors by visiting 43things.com (which revolves around setting goals for your life) and futureme.org (wherein you can write letters to your future self that will actually be emailed to you on the day you choose).
  • The Tigers' magic number is 120 after they completed their second straight series sweep. Can they keep up the mo' against the Rockies, who are last in their division? And can the Wings do their own sweep?
  • Sheesh. It's already graduation time for East Kentwood!


Oh, the things that show up in my email!

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." Londoners have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies all but ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to a "Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was during the great fire of 1666.

Also, the French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide." The only two higher levels in France are "Surrender" and "Collaborate." The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country's military capability.

It's not only the English and French that are on a heightened level of alert. Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout Loudly and Excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing." Two more levels remain: "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides."

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual, and the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels .

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.
From student essays:
  • A virgin forest is a place where the hand of man has never set foot.
  • Although the patient had never been fatally ill before, he woke up dead.
  • I expected to enjoy the fillm, but that was before I saw it.
  • Arabs wear turbines on their heads.
  • When there are no fresh vegetables, you can always get canned.
  • It is bad manners to break your bread and roll in your soup.
  • The problem with intersexual swimming is that the boys often outstrip the girls.
  • Running is a unique experience, and I thank God for exposing me to the track team.
  • The dog ran across the lawn, emitting whelps all the way.
  • A virtuoso is a musician with real high morals.
  • We had a longer holiday than usual this year because the school was closed for altercations.
  • The bowels are a, e i, o, u, and sometimes w and y.
  • The death of Francis Macomber was a turning point in his life.
  • The Gorgons had long snakes in their hair. They looked like women, only more horrible.
  • Zanzibar is noted for its monkeys. The British governor lives there.


Peace Officers Memorial Day

This week is National Police Week, and today, May 15, is Peace Officers Memorial Day. This is the day set aside to honor the memory of those law enforcement officials who have died in the line of duty.

The American Police Hall of Fame says that a police officer is killed in the line of duty about once every 57 hours, and that

Between 1976 and 1998, of the over 1,800 officers killed--
  • 16% were on disturbance calls
  • 14% were in robbery arrest situations
  • 14% were investigating suspicious persons/circumstances
  • 13% were making traffic pursuits/stops
  • 13% were attempting arrests for offenses other than robbery or burglary
  • 10% were in ambush situations
  • 7% were in an arrest situation involving drug-related matters
  • 5% were in a burglary arrest situation arrests
  • 6% were in other situations
I would like to pay homage to all peace officers who have died in the past year. They are:
  • Deputy Sheriff James Edward Throne, Kern County Sheriff's Department, CA
  • Deputy Sheriff Michael Sean Thomas, Bibb County Sheriff's Office, GA
  • Sergeant Leslie Eugene (Les) Wilmott, Kiefer Police Department, OK
  • Lieutenant Michael C. Avilucea, New Mexico State Police
  • Police Officer Erik David Hite, Tucson Police Department, AZ
  • Police Officer Everett William Dennis, Carthage Police Department, TX
  • Deputy Sheriff Anthony Shane Tate, Grundy County Sheriff's Department, TN
  • Police Officer Todd Allen Bahr, Fredericksburg Police Department, VA
  • Sergeant Barbara Leggett Shumate, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, TX
  • Deputy Sheriff Steven Christopher Boehm, Onslow County Sheriff's Department, NC
  • Deputy Sheriff Jose Antonio (Tony) Diaz, Yolo County Sheriff's Department, CA
  • Trooper David Shawn Blanton Jr., North Carolina Highway Patrol
  • Correctional Officer Jose Rivera, Federal Bureau of Prisons
  • Police Officer Nicholas Karl Heine, Pueblo Police Department, CO
  • Sergeant Richard Scott Findley, Prince George's County Police Department, MD
  • Police Officer Gary Allen Gryder, Houston Police Department, TX
  • Police Officer Richard M. Francis, Chicago Police Department, IL
  • Police Officer Kenneth (Greg) Surles, Pell City Police Department, AL
  • Agent Osvaldo Pérez-León, Puerto Rico Police Department
  • Police Officer Joshua T. Miktarian, Twinsburg Police Department, OH
  • Police Officer Andrew Allen Widman, Fort Myers Police Department, FL
  • Deputy Sheriff Anthony E. Forgione, Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office, FL
  • Police Officer Aldo A. Rossi Jr., Port Dickinson Police Department, NY
  • Deputy Sheriff Juan A. Escalante, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, CA
  • Trooper Shawn W. Snow, New York State Police, NY
  • Detective Sandra Joyce Bullock, Bushnell Police Department, FL
  • Deputy Sheriff Dennis Carl Compton, Colleton County Sheriff's Office, SC
  • Officer Monte Ruby, CoxHealth Department of Public Safety, MO
  • Agent Orlando Gonzalez-Ortiz, Puerto Rico Police Department, PR
  • Detective Michael Smith Phillips, Virginia Beach Police Department, VA
  • Lieutenant Michael Patrick Howe, Baltimore County Police Department, MD
  • Deputy Probation Officer Irene Beatrice Rios, Imperial County Probation Department, CA
  • Lieutenant Robert James Curry, Gulfport Police Department, MS
  • Sergeant Nelson Kai Ng, Ellensburg Police Department, WA
  • Deputy Sheriff Martha Ann Woods-Shareef, Lafourche Parish Sheriff's Department, LA
  • Ordinance Officer Kathy Ann Cox, Gordon County Sheriff's Office, GA
  • Police Officer Thomas Emil Raji, Perth Amboy Police Department, NJ
  • Police Officer Melvin Eugene Dyer, Duxbury Police Department, MA
  • Police Officer Timothy Allen Haley, Columbus Division of Police, OH
  • Trooper Evan Frederick Schneider, Montana Highway Patrol, MT
  • Special Agent Thomas Joseph Byrne, United States Drug Enforcement Administration
  • Deputy Sheriff Anne Marie Jackson, Skagit County Sheriff's Office, WA
  • Officer Christopher Kane, Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, FL
  • Police Officer Isabel Nazario, Philadelphia Police Department, PA
  • Police Officer Kenneth A. Santucci, Belleville Police Department, NJ
  • Deputy Sheriff Marty Michael Martin, Franklin County Sheriff's Department, OH
  • Sergeant Paul Avery Starzyk, Martinez Police Department, CA
  • Trooper Andrew James Stocks, North Carolina Highway Patrol, NC
  • Sergeant Dario Scott Aponte, New Haven Police Department, CT
  • Police Officer Grant Anthony Jansen, St. Charles Police Department, MO
  • Police Officer III Spree Desha, Los Angeles Police Department, CA
  • Sergeant Michael Christopher Weigand Jr., Latimore Township Police Department, PA
  • Detective Tommy L. Keenm Harris County Sheriff's Department, TX
  • Deputy Sheriff Adam William Klutz, Caldwell County Sheriff's Office, NC
  • Officer Kristine Marie Fairbanks, United States Forest Service Law Enforcement & Investigations
  • Sergeant Patrick McDonald, Philadelphia Police Department, PA
  • Staff Sergeant Steven Raul Medeiros, Kennesaw State University Department of Public Safety, GA
  • Police Officer Nathaniel Taylor Jr., Chicago Police Department, IL
  • Trooper First Class Mickey Charles Lippy, Maryland State Police
  • Sergeant Robert Craig Douglas, Oklahoma City Police Department, OK
  • Correctional Officer Douglas Eugene Falconer, Arizona Department of Corrections
  • Correctional Officer Rodney Kelley, Alabama Department of Corrections
  • Police Officer Bradley Alan Moody, Richmond Police Department, CA
  • Deputy Sheriff David Whitfield Gilstrap Jr., Oconee County Sheriff's Office, GA
  • Game Warden George Harold Whatley Jr., Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Law Enforcement Division
  • Officer / Paramedic Bruce Wesley Harrolle, Arizona Department of Public Safety, AZ
  • Deputy Sheriff Sarah Irene Haylett-Jones, Monroe County Sheriff's Department, IN
  • Police Officer David Donald Tome, Northern York County Regional Police Department, PA
  • Police Officer Richard Mark Bremer, Frederick City Police Department, MD
  • Deputy Sheriff Randy Jay Hamson, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, CA
  • Second Lieutenant Francis Joseph (Frank) Stecco, Fairfax County Police Department, VA
  • Police Officer Shane Cory Figueroa, Phoenix Police Department, AZ
  • Sergeant Michael R. King, University City Police Department, MO
  • Police Officer Frank Paul Russo, Schaumburg Police Department, IL
  • Detective Joseph M. Airhart Jr., Chicago Police Department, IL
  • Police Officer Nathaniel Michael Burnfield, South Strabane Township Police Department, PA
  • Police Officer Charles Benjamin Skinner, North Salt Lake Police Department, UT
  • Deputy Sheriff Lawrence Wilhelm Canfield, Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, CA
  • Sergeant Darrell (Monty) Carmikle, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, AR
  • Sergeant Timothy Simpson, Philadelphia Police Department, PA
  • Special Agent Samuel Steele Hicks, Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Police Officer Alex Del Rio, Hollywood Police Department, FL
  • Deputy Sheriff Nick P. Pham, Monroe County Sheriff's Office, FL
  • Sheriff Steven Brent Lee Sr., Trinity County Sheriff's Department, TX
  • Police Officer Robert A. Davis, San Antonio Police Department, TX
  • Police Officer Timothy Scott Abernethy, Houston Police Department, TX
  • Deputy Sheriff Brian DeWayne Denning, Sumner County Sheriff's Department, TN
  • Senior Trooper William Robert Hakim, Oregon State Police, OR
  • Captain Thomas Paul Tennant, Woodburn Police Department, OR
  • Officer Joseph Paul Sanders, California Highway Patrol, CA
  • Police Officer Mark Steven Simmons, Amarillo Police Department, TX
  • Deputy Sheriff Jeremy Keith Carter, Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Department, LA
  • Deputy Sheriff William Kenneth Chadwell,Pickaway County Sheriff's Office, OH
  • Sergeant Marc Charles Wilbur, Avon Park Police Department, FL
  • Public Safety Officer Mason James Samborski, Oak Park Department of Public Safety, MI
  • Senior Corporal Norman Smith, Dallas Police Department, TX
  • Detention Officer Cesar Arreola, El Paso County Sheriff's Office, TX
  • Police Officer Jarod Dean, Boston Heights Police Department, OH
  • Deputy Sheriff Dominique Smith, Torrance County Sheriff's Office, NM
  • Police Officer Joshuah Patrick Broadway, Montgomery Police Department, AL
  • Chief of Police Larry Blagg, Trumann Police Department, AR
  • Sergeant Curtis Massey, Culver City Police Department, CA
  • Captain Richard J. (Rick) Cashin, Massachusetts State Police, MA
  • Chief of Police Johnny Hamilton, New Ellenton Police Department, SC
  • Detective Chris Jones, Middletown Township Police Department, PA
  • Sergeant Greg Hernandez, Tulare County Sheriff's Office, CA
  • Police Officer John PawlowskiPhiladelphia Police Department, PA
  • Police Officer James Frederick (Freddie) Norman, Cobb County Police Department, GA
  • Lieutenant David Charles Gann, Sequatchie County Sheriff's Office, TN
  • Police Officer Richard Matthews, Wilmington Police Department, NC
  • Captain Scott Bierwiler, Hernando County Sheriff's Office, FL
  • Police Officer Glen CianoSuffolk County Police Department, NY
  • Corrections Officer Adam SandersonFlorida Department of Corrections, FL
  • Special Agent Paul M. Sorce, Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Jailer Thomas Carroll, Goodhue County Sheriff's Department, MN
  • Lieutenant Stuart J. Alexander, Corpus Christi Police Department, TX
  • Deputy Sheriff Chad Mechels, Turner County Sheriff's Department, SD
  • Parole Officer Jeffrey Woolson, New York State Division of Parole
  • Corrections Officer Mark Parker, Orange County Sheriff's Office, FL
  • Sergeant Mark Dunakin, Oakland Police Department, CA
  • Sergeant Ervin Romans, Oakland Police Department, CA
  • Sergeant Daniel Sakai, Oakland Police Department, CA
  • Police Officer John Hege, Oakland Police Department, CA
  • Trooper Mike Haynes, Montana Highway Patrol, MT
  • Sergeant Randy White, Bridgeport Police Department, TX
  • Police Officer Eric Kelly, Pittsburgh Police Department, PA
  • Police Officer Stephen Mayhle, Pittsburgh Police Department, PA
  • Police Officer Paul Sciullo II, Pittsburgh Police Department, PA
  • Deputy Sheriff Richard James (Ricky) Stiles Jr., East Feliciana Parish Sheriff's Department, LA
  • Detective Allen Pearson, Lenoir County Sheriff's Department, NC
  • Police Officer Terry Adams, Tifton Police Department, GA
  • Police Officer Dexter Hammond, Headland Police Department, AL
  • Deputy Sheriff Burton (Burt) Lopez, Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office, FL
  • Deputy Sheriff Warren (Skip) York, Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office, FL
  • Deputy Sheriff Brandon Scott Coker, Vance County Sheriff's Office, NC
  • Deputy Sheriff D. Robert Harvey, Lubbock County Sheriff's Department, TX
  • Patrol Detective Justin Mullis, French Lick Police Department, IN
  • Juvenile Corrections Officer William Hesson, Ohio Department of Youth Services
  • Agent Intern Nathaniel A. Afolayan, United States Border Patrol
  • Police Officer James Manor, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, NV
(Source: Officer Down Memorial Page)

Bits of Tid: May 15, 2009

  • I don't think the Obama Administration should oppose the release of torture photos. I'd understand if releasing said photos would cause a backlash, but I just don't see how releasing more such photos would cause a backlash when some have already been released.
  • Speaking of torture, did WE commit torture, as many suggest, or did certain members of the Bush Administration commit torture? Here's something I found regarding controversies surrounding the concept of collective responsibility that may explain why I don't think we should be blamed:
    The first controversy focuses on the relationship between collective responsibility, on the one hand, and the values of individual liberty, justice, and non-suffering, on the other. How, participants in this controversy ask, can we ascribe moral responsibility to groups in society for harms that only a few of its members directly caused without eroding individual responsibility or violating principles of individual freedom? How can we ascribe collective responsibility in such cases without treating those individuals who did not directly cause harm unjustly?
    Of course, that's different from the notion of civic responsibility, which says that as Americans we each must do our part to fight for what's right, including voting, speaking out, and the like.
  • Here's a twist on eco-activism.
  • Suddenly the diploma I got four years ago seems less prestigious.
  • The line from Obama near the top of this blog is from his commencement address at Arizona State.
  • Michigan First Gentleman and leadership enthusiast Dan Mulhern has a new page on Facebook.
  • I am working on getting another blog going. Of course, GLGTGS will still be here to infotain you. Stay tuned!


Souter to retire; who's next?

I'm sure you know this by now:

Justice David Souter announced Friday that he will retire from the Supreme Court after informing the White House of his plans.

In a brief letter to President Obama, Souter said, "When the Supreme Court rises for the summer recess this year, I intend to retire from active service as a justice."
Appointed by President George H.W. Bush in 1990 to succeed longtime Justice William Brennan, Souter was expected to be a conservative force on the Court when he was appointed. He turned out to be anything but. His retirement comes as little surprise to those who have known Souter as a laid-back Justice who doesn't like Washington very much.

So what does President Obama want in a Supreme Court Justice?
"I will seek someone who understands that justice isn't about some abstract legal theory or a footnote in a casebook. It is also about how our laws affect ... peoples' lives, whether they can make a living and care for their families, whether they feel safe in their homes and welcomed in their own nation. I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with peoples' hopes and struggles, as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes. I will seek somebody who is dedicated to the rule of law, who honors our constitutional traditions, who respects the integrity of the judicial process and the appropriate limits of the judicial role. I will seek somebody who shares my respect for the constitutional values on which this nation was founded and who brings a thoughtful understanding of how to apply them in our time."
Some names often included in Supreme Court speculation are Solicitior General Elena Kagan; Appeals Court Judges Sonia Sotomayor and Diane P. Wood; and someone named Jennifer Granholm. Note that all of these people are women; Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the only woman currently serving on the Court. Sotomayor would be the first Hispanic and the first non-white woman on the Court.

Those whom Obama doesn't appoint to succeed Souter will likely have a chance to join the court soon. Ginsburg, 76, has dealt with pancreatic cancer, while John Paul Stevens is 89, so I'd be surprised if neither of them retired soon.

Granholm, who clerked for the one and only Appeals Court Judge Damon Keith in the 1980s, has not been a judge and may be seen as more of a political appointment by Obama if she were selected. I would suggest that Obama select Granholm for the vacancy in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals so she can be groomed for the SCOTUS at a later date.