Paper Trail to Heaven
Don't look for angels to laud your paper trail if you are not willing to take up your cross and follow Christ daily.
With all the brouhaha over Bush's appointee Harriet Miers not having a paper trail, we readily see how it is a red flag to those who stand on their principles. They feel betrayed and God feels the same way if those without a paper trail are afraid to stand uncompromisingly for Him and all His teachings.
"As true Catholics we are called daily to work on our own paper trail. Are we willing to lay it all out on the line, to present our convictions, stand by them, defend them, and proudly promote them? Most of today's so-called Catholics are pathetic frauds, counterfeit soldiers unwilling to fight, to stand for something, to leave a paper trail. That trail is not one without sin, weakness, humanity, and even occasional betrayal of Our Lord, for we are not worthy to tie Peter's sandals and yet he betrayed Our Lord as well. The paper trail of a true Catholic is not one of perfection, of unabated purity, or of merely smiles and hugs. It is not one that confuses mercy and compassion with weakness and unconditional denial of wrong. It is not one that is so enamored with the Good Samaritan that it forgets absolute truths such as the sacredness of life and the family. It is not one that picks and chooses in the famed buffet style or the cafeteria mold but rather holds firmly to the whole package and is ready to promote that package as one. It respects tradition and is not intoxicated by so-called "progressive thought" and "enlightened growth". It does not need revivals or renewals because Christ does not need these."
With all of the talk surrounding the judicial picks for the Supreme Court, one of the most repeated questions is whether or not someone has a paper trail. According to established understanding and modern usage, a paper trail is a record of past conduct, activities, positions, statements, and opinions that can be used to decipher someone's
stand and beliefs in given areas. One of the strongest and most consistent criticisms of President Bush during this entire process has been his pattern of seemingly searching out the more obscure, the less notable, and the more vague candidates over the clearer, obvious, solid, prominently "trailed" aspirants. Many conservative observers have been very discouraged by the President's two choices to fill the recent vacancies in the court.
While John Roberts and Harriet Miers do not seem to be on the way to radical judicial liberalism, they are not exactly icons of conservative judicial thought either. In fact, both were chosen over such outstanding conservative jurists as Michael Luttig, Sam Alto, Janice Rogers Brown, Prisicilla Owen, and Edith Jones. Many people hoping to overturn Roe v. Wade and other forms of radical secularist judicial activism and abuse are very dismayed. Given the chance to reshape the court away from radical liberals, both Bush Presidents may have cowered in the face of controversy and confrontation. All of this invites us to consider just exactly what a paper trail really is and how such a trail may well be the true litmus test of serving God.
Paper Trails as Measures
The true, courageous moral agent is not afraid to leave a paper trail. In fact, such an agent gladly invites and looks forward to having such a trail, for this trail shines like a tattoo for all to see. A paper trail is a mark of having convictions and beliefs and the courage to stand up for those views despite popular ridicule or controversy. It is a medal of valor in a sea of cowards who stand ready to run or hide at the first opportunity. It is a clear siren of strength and sturdy moral ground in a world where rationalization and relativism have infected every corner of society. It is a banner of confidence in one's beliefs and readiness to fight for and stand by those views. When we look at jurists such as Scalia, Rehnquist, and Thomas, we see such a trail because these people openly and decidedly stood for their convictions and were ready to fight for and apply them. These people had the courage to see wrong and point it out, to see abuse and try to stamp it out, and to see evil and try to root it out.
Now it is quite true that some people have paper trails of sin and heresy, and one may wonder how such trails can stand for conviction and courage. Sadly, those kinds of trails stand for just the opposite. First of all, one does not require courage to stand up for positions promoted by the media and liberal/secularist forces since these positions usually do not endanger their holder in any way and often benefit them instead. How brave does a one have to be to defend abortion and sodomy in the Democratic Party? Does such a person need to worry about possible media attacks or career threats? Absolutely not!
In fact, many politicians, jurists, and clerics have shown utter cowardice and brazen lust for power and popularity by actually defending and promoting such sins. Where is the courage, then, in leaving a paper trail of sin on the road to hell? As far as conviction goes, while it may be an admirable trait in many cases, conviction based on denial and defiance of God's Will and Word is merely arrogant stubbornness dressed in fancy clothes! Let us remember that even an insane person can have conviction in his lunacy, so what virtue is there in disordered and deviant conviction? Certainly Planned Parenthood and The Democratic Party, for example, have the wrong kind of paper trail when it comes to the sacredness of life and the family!
No, it is clear from common sense, natural law, and absolute truth that the only kind of paper trail that stands for valor is that etched on the road to serving God Almighty and His Word. What better witness to one's humble efforts in this regard than being able to say that one stood in defense of the innocent, the weak, the forgotten, and the voiceless amid wolves steeped in self-righteous defiance of God?
Blurred Obscurity as The New Goal
If proud conviction and courage as evidenced in a clear paper trail toward God is the sign of good, then certainly cowardly or calculated obscurity that flees paper trails is a sure sign of deception, distortion, and/or weakness of conviction. In a society that thrives on "it depends" and "leaving cushion room", the blurred and obscure becomes a virtue or at least a shrewd strategy. In such unclear ground one can breed rationalization, justification, and surrender of one's values as the need arises. In such moral fog one can hide and shift as needed, seeking the comfort of avoiding confrontation and the dents such battles can inflict on popularity. At the very least it may be said that having no clear paper trail is evidence of not having clearly thought about anything, much less about the most important and central questions of the soul. Imagine a father with no paper trail of caring for his children or a mother with no such trail of nourishing her infant. Imagine a teacher with no trail of competence or a soldier with no trail of loyalty. In all of these situations, the lack of a paper trail is an indictment.
Political Convenience as The Motive
Sadly, just as so-called Catholic Democrats usually leave their faith at the door on the paper trail to hell, so too many so-called conservatives of faith shy away from confrontation and opportunity for fear of political backlash. Fearful of his shrinking popularity, the Katrina mess, Iraq, and domestic issues, President Bush seems to have taken the easier road by choosing as blurred and vague applicants for the missing Supreme Court posts as possible. The surrender is too obvious to ignore. Faced with the outstanding jurists noted above who have a powerful paper trail against abortion and liberal judicial activism, Bush instead chose his personal attorney because he "knows her heart". This is the equivalent of a baseball general manager choosing his best friend's son who is a nice player over Joe DiMaggio because the general manager claims to know the player's "heart". How long would that general manager last? Considering the wide gap in judicial experience and positive paper trails between Harriet Miers and the jurists noted above, the only plausible explanation is that President Bush is playing not too lose, to avoid confrontation, to get an easy "win" for once. Faced with a great opportunity to really change the face of the Supreme Court, Bush blinked at least once if not twice.
In the process he has betrayed all of those who voted for him precisely because they thought that he had the guts to leave his own paper trail toward good rather than merely another trail for the easy way out.
The Spiritual Dimension
As true Catholics we are called daily to work on our own paper trail. Are we willing to lay it all out on the line, to present our convictions, stand by them, defend them, and proudly promote them? Most of today's so-called Catholics are pathetic frauds, counterfeit soldiers unwilling to fight, to stand for something, to leave a paper trail. That trail is not one without sin, weakness, humanity, and even occasional betrayal of Our Lord, for we are not worthy to tie Peter's sandals and yet he betrayed Our Lord as well. The paper trail of a true Catholic is not one of perfection, of unabated purity, or of merely smiles and hugs. It is not one that confuses mercy and compassion with weakness and unconditional denial of wrong. It is not one that is so enamored with the Good Samaritan that it forgets absolute truths such as the sacredness of life and the family. It is not one that picks and chooses in the famed buffet style or the cafeteria mold but rather holds firmly to the whole package and is ready to promote that package as one. It respects tradition and is not intoxicated by so-called "progressive thought" and "enlightened growth". It does not need revivals or renewals because Christ does not need these.
The true Catholic paper trail is one lined with courage, conviction, clarity, conscience, commitment and, above all, Christ. Many of today's so-called shepherds and leaders have no clue what a true Catholic paper trail is. Their trail is a trail of sin, defiance, disobedience, arrogance, selfishness, greed, and corruption. A Mahoney or a McCarrick or a O'Malley or place your own bishop's name here is so far from a Thomas More that the greatest telescope ever built could not help one see More's paper trail toward Heaven from any of the mentioned wolves' in shepherd's clothing paper trail toward hell. We are each faced with this fork in the moral road every day, every hour, and every minute. We may sometimes stray, even badly, but Christ's sacrifice and God's mercy provide us with yet another fork to choose. However, we must ultimately choose the paper trail to Heaven or we will be stuck on the wrong trail to nowhere.
President Bush's recent Supreme Court choices are clear evidence of a cowardly retreat from a grand opportunity to choose jurists of clear and powerful paper trails toward virtue. While he had not chosen people with clear trails toward perdition, he has opted for the politically convenient option of vague choices with somewhat blurred positions. Unwilling to fight another fight and wary of confrontation with mounting problems, President Bush has betrayed many of those who believed that he could and would turn this nation's judicial system toward God again. Ignoring notable jurists with exemplary paper trails defending traditional values, the President has chosen more vague individuals with no real paper trails to show. The ultimate losers will be those Americans who dream of a return to judicial morality and values-based legal analysis, not to mention the millions of unborn children who will continue to be murdered under the umbrella of legal distortion. The lesson is clear for all of us who seek salvation. We will each ultimately be judged by the kind of paper trail we leave behind. Will that trail be one toward Heaven, or toward moral oblivion? The latter will lead to Hell. The choice is up to each of us.
Editor's Note: Heaven is once again under attack by those who would seek to ignore and overthrow God's majesty and authority. Gabriel Garnica, educator and attorney, submits regular insights and commentaries to remind and help guide readers toward a deeper and more assertive faith. Touching on topics and issues ranging from personal faith, doctrine, education, scripture, the media, family life, morality, and values, Gabriel's notes are music to traditional ears but unpleasant tones to those who have bought into the misguided notions so prevalent and spreading in today's Catholic world.