Friday, August 20, 2004

I've watched the reactions to the Deal Hudson story with interest, in the media, liberal and conservative blogs. First of all, as I mentioned in an interview request with Bustedhalo.com, I think the whole thing is unfortunate, and as much as I passionately disagree with Deal Hudson about many things, this cannot be a pleasant time for him or his family, to put it mildly and they have my sympathy as does the young lady who has to rehash this entire incident. This has to be close to rock bottom for us a Catholic and Christian community.

I spoke to Alan Cooperman of the Washington Post yesterday and I mentioned that as a Christian community we've personalized our differences to the point of destruction. At some point we are going to have make a decision to separate ideology, political and religious, from personal considerations; if we decide that because person A is a Republican or Person C is a Democrat, then they are evil and worth destroying, simply because we hold different views; if it has come to be the point that we are more comfortable with our political ideological kin and not with siblings in Christ, then something's not right.

There's been the question of if Joe Feuerherd was right to publish what he did. I don't see why not. It was a profile of powerful public Catholic personality and the report stuck with the public record. Also, there is the issue that Deal Hudson published a biography and thus put his life on the record in print. First as a public person a profile is fair. Secondlly, if you publish a biography, then it is fair to scrutinize that and fill in gaps for the record. Another objection is that the report degenerates into unnecessary detail akin to soft porn. However, if NCR did not include the details which are in the public record, then "sexual harrasment/misconduct" could have been blown off as almost inconsequential and NCR would be accused of making a mountain out of a mole hill. The details, though unpleasant, depict the gravity of the situation and do add something qualitative to the story. If they weren't included, no one would believe that the allegation extended to that depth. So I think NCR did a good job journalistically.

(Soapbox-I do believe in reporting from a point of view, because it carries conviction with it that is absent from straight reporting. My only issue is, if like Fox, one refuses to acknowledge where they're coming from. I don't think reporting with a conviction means a negative report on a figure of an opposing ideological viewpoint. Feuerherd, does make the point that he has published favorable pieces on conservative Catholic figures.)

If Feuerherd was looking to sling dirt, he could have fished out a few unflattering stories from ex-wives or looked in the multiple annulments all for the purpose of creating an embarrasing picture, but those are private issues and JF left that alone. JF did not pile on stories quantitatively just for effect, I think he makes his point and moves on. The sexual incident is part of Hudson's professional history and had a bearing on the trajectory of his career; besides part of JF's point is that for someone who was at a low point a few years ago, his rise has been nothing short of meteoric.

So is Hudson done? Probably not. Like all things, this will blow over and he can start over again. From what I see in the conservative sphere, many conservatives believe that his contributions are such that he shouldn't have quit the BC04 campaign and definitely shouldn't leave Crisis. If he does comeback on the scene, I think he has a unique opportunity to take the initiative and re-inject common civility in Catholic discourse again (if there ever was).

A couple of months ago, a liberal Catholic activist told me how he also had been the victim of the Catholic right's rage and was forced from a job. He noted with frustration how the Catholic right is always looking to bring people down and scrutinizing every opponent for an opening, yet no one on the left is doing the same to the Catholic right figures. (I suppose that's changed now). He then asked if I wanted to get back at Hudson. My answer was an emphatic no. My feeling then and now is that the circle of violence has to stop somewhere. This was Paul and Jesus' point that our squabbling brings shame on God's name. First it was and is the incompetence of the Bishops to rein in molestors and self-police, then scandals with prominent figures on the right such as Bill Bennett and now, Hudson--the Catholic/Christian community is fast losing credibility with the public and that's really the only thing we have. If we keep destroying each other, we hurt no one but ourselves. Rather than be a the paragon fratricidal destruction, shouldn't we be an example of working together? (Swelling chamber music and this is where the clip of Rodney King is shown: "can we all just get along")

Anyway, the point of all this is that we must all then vote for John Kerry in November.

I think as a Christian community we have to ask why we are so drawn, all of us, to accusation and condemnation, rather than reconciliation? The story of the adulterous woman in John 7 speaks volumes about the point of Christianity, "Woman, where are thine accusers?" "There are none, Lord." "Neither do I accuse you. Go and sin no more." She was wrong and in sin, but Jn 3:16, Christ was sent to save and not condemn (Zech. 3, Rev. and 1 pet.5 tell us that our advesary and the "accusser of the brethren" is satan). And then we have 1 Cor 5:17-21, we are "ambassadors for Christ" and we have been given "the ministry of reconciliation"--that is our mission, to reconcile the world to God through Christ. If we are going to reflect the truth of the Christian faith, then we are going to have keep two words in mind, forgiveness and reconciliation.

Out of the depths I cry to thee, O LORD! 2: Lord, hear my voice! Let thy ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications! 3: If thou, O LORD, shouldst mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand? 4: But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. 5: I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; 6: my soul waits for the LORD more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. 7: O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plenteous redemption. 8: And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

Psalm 130 RSV

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