It's not politics, it's truth! It's that simple!
When we decided to begin carrying pertinent, thought-provoking quotes from the eminent orator and theologian, the late Bishop Fulton J. Sheen at the beginning of the year, we bandied about various titles to call it. We settled on Simply Sheen and, after nearly two months have deduced that it was an excellent choice for very few put it more simply than the late Archbishop, an icon of the media in the fifties and sixties. Today's article taken from one of his books he titled the chapter "Truth - Forgotten Ideal," hits home with all the simplicity one could muster in the face of so much amoral complexity permeating our airwaves from Hollywood to the White House to Atlanta. He nails the reason for so much immorality today in the simplest of terms: "Freedom fatigues those who want to shirk responsibility." Bishop Sheen relates that "the 'head that wears the crown is uneasy,' not because he is tired of the crown, but because he is tired of himself." The bishop uses the descriptive analogy of a swamp and a river, the latter having boundaries allowing it to flow freely, whereas the former is deprived of boundaries and mired, so to speak, in the bog of nothingness. Many of our country's leaders in politics and business have become isolated swamps that suck us in with their promises and platitudes that ooze with lies. The former host of "Life is Worth Living" asserts Jesus' words in John 8: 32, "The truth will set you free." The problem, as the bishop points out, is that to discover this truth one needs to be virtuous and that is sorely lacking in so many of our dignitaries and personalities in politics, the media and big business today.
Think about it. Read his words and you'll see the bishop nails Bill Clinton's problem even though he never knew of the man. That is why it is so difficult to have one iota of confidence in Clinton today in matters that can greatly affect our temporal future, not to mention spiritual future. Do you honestly feel comfortable having a draft-dodger who lives by the lie holding court over a powerful military that could thrust us into World War Three over the Kosovo crisis? This has nothing to do with politics, but rather people. That, as Clinton has exhibited time and time again, means very little to the commander-in-chief - whether on the front lines or in the womb! Bishop Sheen alerts us to the clarion of truth, prefacing in the simplest fashion all that Pope John Paul II has communicated in his talks, documents and encyclicals throughout his magnificent pontificate including Splendor veritas and his latest Fides et ratio. Bishop Sheen talks about mining for the truth and that once one finds it, they had better hang on to it for if they lose it, it could sink back into the soil of self and be lost. He delineates, as does the Holy Father, between speculative truth which are the sciences, and practical truth which deals with ethics and morals. While Clinton et alii may be on top of the speculative truths, they are sorely lacking in the practical truths. That is not speculation, but rather truth! You can't get more practical then that!
Another "prospector" of the speculative truths is Ted Turner - the "Mouth of the South" - who we lambasted last week in these pages for his insensitivities to Catholics and the Pope, not to mention the Polish people. Even though he has apologized for his remarks, do you think he would have made them if he didn't believe his own words? Sure he has been accused over the years of having diahrrea of the mouth, but the actions of "Captain Outrageous" belie the fact that his words were misconstrued or that he didn't really mean what he said. He apologized for one reason and one reason only; not because he was sorry for his behavior but because it riled so many and made him look like the buffoon he is. His remarks triggered a back-lash that was unforeseen by this "modern luminary" as his press clippings describe him. Outside of the narrow and like-minded robots in the Washington, D.C. gathering of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association where Turner delivered his outrageous and terribly offensive remarks, there was a huge uproar that made headlines world-wide. He's not worried about what the Pope thinks, but his advisors are concerned with world opinion. Being the king of his media empire, Turner is one of those on whose head the crown wears uneasily. Some might say the crown wouldn't fit; his head is so bloated. His apology was nothing but a mandatory way to stop up the dam of public opinion against him. It was politically expedient to say "I'm sorry" without a bit of sincere contrition. In fact his paper apologies came through press releases. He wasn't man enough to publicly apologize to the Holy Father and to Catholics, the Polish people, and decent citizens the world over.
Catholics are blessed with the Sacrament of Reconciliation which is especially pertinent this time of year during the holy and solemn season of Lent. Our Lord beseeches us time and again to forgive and be forgiven. But He also entreats us to "Go thy way, and from now on sin no more." (John 8: 11). Therefore, we should surmize that if Ted Turner and Bill Clinton and their ilk are truly sorry for their actions that they will take up Christ's counsel and amend their ways. We'd like to believe that, but, to paraphrase an old farmer's tale, "we didn't just fall off the turnip truck." Or, to use another, saying, "you can't teach an old dog new tricks." Therefore, we are highly dubious of their sincerity when they say "I'm sorry" because of the signals and behavior they exhibit after their contrition. It has become all lip-service for the spin-meisters who also don't have a clue what Truth is or else they wouldn't perpetuate these prevarications.
Bishop Sheen also wrote, "Self-will always repudiates a truth which challenges it." That, in a nutshell, is why men like Clinton and scores of politicians from the local level to the congressional plateau in all parties, as well as Turner, his media cronies and unscrupulous businessmen all repudiate God's truths because His statutes challenge their thinking and depraved way of life. Just as Jesus warned against tempting the Lord nearly two-thousand years ago, this visionary bishop of a generation ago also reiterated Christ's words and put it so clearly and simply. Regardless if it is the President of the United States, Congress, big business or in our local community or even family, true contrition means resolving to make amends for our life. Turner's propensity for abortion and promoting immorality on his networks and in his film companies are the greatest evidence that he is in no way contrite. Clinton's determination to push the culture of death agenda, his latest in promoting stem cell research from the embryos of aborted babies despite vehement protests from pro-life congressmen (see today's News & Views), make it obvious that he has no intentions of amending his ways. Yet, according to the polls, he remains popular for many share the same disdain of truth because if Clinton would be held up as the "sacrificial lamb" they would have to face themselves and their consciences. That is why so many politicians refuse to lay blame so close to home; that is why so few celebrities in entertainment and sports will speak out against the politically correct stance that contradicts God's Will; that is why so many Americans don't want to rock the boat for they are "comfortable" in their amoral zone as long as the economy is good. But the Blessed Virgin Mary has said time and again that our economy will collapse and no politician can prevent that, only prayer! Yet prayer, like the dinosaur, is becoming extinct in this land founded on God's principles. Like the chosen people of the Old Testament, Americans have turned away from God during these "good times." The younger the generation, the more spoiled and soft. We all need to don our spiritual jogging apparel and start exercising regularly for the good of America's soul and our own.
Bishop Sheen has bequeathed so much truth in his writings over the years, showing us the simplicity of faith and the maxim Our Lord left in Mark 10: 15, that Amen I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God as a little child will not enter into it." Today the good bishop looks down from Heaven and continues to encourage us just as he stated so clearly in his writings and talks. We need to read and remember the wise words he left us and keep in mind, folks, it's not politics, it's truth! It's that simple!