I was in Pennsylvania last week just after their Democratic Party primary and the election issues were still red hot. It sort of got me looking at the political landscape a little more closely this past week. So, at the risk of being misunderstood, getting some angry at me and possibly alienating some of you, I thought I might use that as the backdrop for this month’s newsletter. Please remember that I do not speak for anyone but me. I am an ordained Permanent Deacon in the Catholic Church but cannot speak for the Church. I can only maintain my personal views and in doing so attempt to maintain them in a way that is consistent with the teachings of the Church.

THE NEWS

As I write this, President Bush is in Israel for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the founding of Israel and today discussed his vision of a Middle East that is democratic at every level. He was referring to his vision that the people of every individual country in the Middle East would live each in a country with a democratic government where the people have a voice. Bush has always maintained this as his vision, but the rhetoric of politics and the reality of war have often clouded our view of this vision. Israel, although only 60 years old, has a long history. Consider this quote from Charles Krauthammer - The Weekly Standard, May 11, 1998:
"Israel is the very embodiment of Jewish continuity: It is the only nation on earth that inhabits the same land, bears the same name, speaks the same language, and worships the same God that it did 3,000 years ago. You dig the soil and you find pottery from Davidic times, coins from Bar Kokhba, and 2,000-year-old scrolls written in a script remarkably like the one that today advertises ice cream at the corner candy store."
Yet despite this long history, the Palestinians generally reject the notion that Israel has a right to the land it now occupies. This is a serious disagreement to say the least. Now, I am no scholar on the Middle East, but my instincts tell me that somehow there has to be a way to resolve the historical animosity that exists between the two groups.
Somehow, the war in Iraq, the issue of a nuclear armed Iran, the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Palestinian-Jewish issue are all related. I have a sense that this relation has at its center religious differences, and the reality of that spills over into our own country. Further, it has to be an issue in the upcoming presidential election. After all, we have American soldiers, men and women over there, and we must do everything to support them. The issues in the Middle East are held out to be very complicated and rooted in centuries’ old hatred and animosity. My response to that would be that making it complicated might be why we cannot find a way to adequately address the issues that exist between these two groups. The campaigns of all candidates are pandering to that portion of the American public that they are trying to persuade without any comprehensive approach. It is indicative of American politics.

ATTITUDE

As I have said before in these newsletters, how we look at things often determines how we process information. If we look at them through the lenses of a Democrat we look at things one way and if we look at them through the lenses of a Republican we tend to see things very differently. I have a friend that is a big Democrat and to him the only reason we are at war is so that the Oil Companies can make big profits. To him, Bush and Chaney are crooks and are only after one thing, helping their corporate friends make money. Well, a lot of Democrats feel this way. It is one of the reasons that I can’t stand to have a discussion with them. They have no facts on their side, but are so passionate that they will not look at the facts. Republicans on the other hand will not even consider the possibility that the war effort is taking its toll on the federal budget and will follow their leader like sheep following the shepherd. Both are at fault. There are exceptions and some people are well informed and vote on issues that are very important to them. Notwithstanding this fact, what I see in the voters this time is that the Democrats are so mad at Bush that “Change at any cost” is their motto. On the Republican side I see frustration in the fact that the primary system did not provide a strong candidate. Both of these attitudes are founded in a lack of education on the issues and indicate that this election will probably be won or lost based on which party can mobilize its voters emotionally.
I am not saying that we should ignore our emotions, however to be against the war without wanting to win is ridiculous. And, continuing it without regard to the cost is equally foolish. If you have one or two issues that are very important to you then I salute you and your vote is your way of supporting those issues. I hope and pray that you have seriously considered your position on those issues. For example, if you are pro-life I hope that you have considered your position carefully. If you are pro-abortion, I likewise hope you have considered it carefully. I know people that vote exclusively on these issues and to them the issue is so important that nothing else matters.
There are others who are against the war. That is not a bad position. However what are the options? Just today, President Bush spoke in Israel about the issue of appeasement saying that it never works. The curious thing about this was that Barack Obama responded to the comment as if the President was talking about him. This to me shows a large degree of insecurity on his part as it relates to this issue. The issue is very divisive, however as I see it until a comprehensive solution to terrorism is developed, fighting over there appears to be stopping the bombing and attacks on our own soil.
THE SPIRITUAL

War is terrible from a spiritual perspective because it takes away life itself from those actually engaged in it. While some war is just and necessary, it is incumbent upon us to avoid war if possible. Going into Iraq may or may not have been a mistake. That is irrelevant at this point. What is relevant is the impact of pulling out as opposed to staying and finishing the job. Leaving may create more death than staying. Further, the safety and security of our citizens will be affected if we change course. While it is impossible to know for sure what the effect of changing course will be, it must be considered. One thing that I have learned is to look beyond what appears to be the facts of any given situation to look for the spiritual essence of the situation. For example, I don’t think that Bush likes us being at war. I in fact believe that it pains him. He is strong enough however to hold on to his convictions. He believes the war is a necessary part of bringing democracy to the Middle East. Whether we agree or not, I think he is sincere. To bash him for his beliefs is not what I would consider productive either practically or politically.
Abortion is also terrible from a spiritual perspective for the same reason, it takes away innocent life. To me the issue of abortion is more important that almost any other issue. You have a right to disagree. I have spoken to Democrats that understand that voting for a Democrat is voting for pro-abortion individuals. They don’t seem to care because abortion is not high on their priority.
Poverty is also terrible from a spiritual perspective. It affects individual self worth, confidence and productivity. It hurts people spiritually to be poor. Addressing the issue is important. This issue falls in the category of the “economy” and many people vote their pocket books. When they do, they often are putting their wallets ahead of the issue of abortion and the issue of the war. While this is their prerogative, I think it is selfish.
The point to all of this is that it is difficult to find one party, one candidate to vote for that is aligned perfectly with our own views. So, we have to prioritize the issues as to how important they are to us. In doing this, we ought to at least be aware of the effect that decision has on the “other” issues. Then, we make up our mind and vote with a clear conscience. My earlier comment, that many don’t consider the overall impact of holding a position and are thus ill-informed, concerns those that are caught up with voting for purely emotional reasons without regard to the other issues. It is America and everyone has a right to do that. I am only bringing the issue to the forefront.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Gas prices seem to be soaring with no end in sight. I wonder where it will end. I do know this: I saw the gas price go up nine cents from Friday to Monday. Then by Wednesday it went down five cents only to go up one cent the next day. I don’t know about you, but the way it changes is the cause for concern. Ten years ago then President Clinton vetoed the bill that would have allowed drilling in Anwar. He said that it would be years before any gas was realized from the drilling. Well, “years” are here and if he had not vetoed the bill, we would have that oil now. What we do now does have an impact on our own lives in the future. We need to have vision. When we look only at today without any concern for tomorrow, we leave tomorrow to chance. I am not a gambler. I am a dreamer. I dream of a “today” where tomorrow is seen as a time of peace and joy. I am talking about the “Shalom” kind of peace that is found deep within our spirit, and joy that comes from realizing that it is of no merit to exhaust our energy with worry.
The truth of the matter is, we are truly blessed in America and even our poorest would be considered very wealthy in other countries. People around the world want to come here. We must have a good thing going on for so many to want to get a share of it. Let us remember to be thankful instead of judgmental. Let us find good in people and things instead of bad. Let us see the glass half full!
And, let us make a difference in the world.
Peace and Grace.

Jodi

Author's Bio: 

Deacon Jodi Moscona was born in New Orleans and attended Catholic schools. He graduated from St. Rose de Lima Elementary School and Brother Martin High School. He holds a BA degree in Political Science from the University of New Orleans and a Juris Doctorate from Loyola University of the South. He also holds a certificate from the Religious Studies Institute and a Diaconate Certificate from St. Joseph’s Seminary College at St. Benedict, Louisiana. He moved to Baton Rouge nearly 20 years ago where he currently lives with his wife Darlene and their daughter Alicia, a 2006 graduate of LSU.
Deacon Jodi and Darlene also have two sons, Brian a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and Matthew a graduate of the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University. Brian lives in Atlanta and works at Holy Spirit Prep where he teaches and coaches. Matthew is a radio personality in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Deacon Jodi is assigned as Deacon Associate at the Christ the King Catholic Church and Student Center on the campus of Louisiana State University. Although a public university, LSU has over 16,000 Catholic Students. In addition to his duties at Christ the King, Deacon Jodi is a retreat master and part of the Manresa Retreat Team. Deacon Jodi has delivered retreats throughout Louisiana. Deacon Jodi has also authored many articles and is currently writing a book focusing on the need to include God in our successes.
Deacon Jodi has taught classes at all levels and brings his expertise as a teacher to his role as catechist. He has taught classes on church history, sacraments and sacramentals, the Creed, marriage and marriage preparation and also heads up the Confirmation Program at Christ the King. In addition to his law practice, he is regularly invited as a guest speaker and lecturer. He can be contacted at jmoscona@ctk-lsu.org