Sunday, March 10, 2013

James O'Keefe and the Curse of God

It looks like James O'Keefe has been slapped with a 100,000 dollar fine for his video taping mission a while back.  I'm sure you remember, he would go in and pose under false pretenses to extract confessions from such places as ACORN that they were involved in truly heinous and deplorable activities - such as covering for sex slave traffickers. 

Well, Mr. Okeefe didn't read the fine print, and it turns out you can't video tape someone without their consent   There you go.  You break the law, you pay the price.  I'm OK with that.  Furthermore, I admit that the tactics of premeditated deceit and falsehoods in order to trap someone is starting off on a dangerous footing.  Better to find more honest and open ways.  You can still discover what's happening, it might just take a little more golly-gee-wiz on your part. 

Nonetheless, Mr. O'Keefe, like Lila Rose, became a lightning rod across the Catholic blogosphere, with bloggers and commenters jumping in to smack them down as the wretched sinners that they were.  Ridiculous threads erupted as some Catholics declared their willingness to stand by and let a million babies be raped and tortured to death before they would tell a white lie to save them.  

For me, it was the moment when much of the Catholic blogosphere jumped the shark.  It proved that yes, Virginia, there are Catholic fundamentalists, even if they don't act and talk like their Protestant counterparts.  Because nothing screams fundamentalist like someone willing to hamstring their own brothers for the speck in their eye, even as the brothers are attempting to extract the true logs of evil out of the eye of the world.  That happened a lot in my own Evangelical tradition.  I can't tell you how many times someone with the best of intentions threw up their hands and gave up because they might have done something wrong, and it was the failure, rather than all the best intended efforts, that everyone chose to focus on.

Even that wouldn't be so bad if those who decide to unleash the gates of Hell on an eye's speck aren't then typically inclined to want to ignore whatever logs are in their own eyes. That James O'Keefe lied is a sin for the ages, and proof of how horribly sinful all those other Catholics are who don't see his vile failings.  When I sin, of course, it's nothing of the sort.  I sin with the best of intentions   I expect nothing but grace, mercy and understanding when my sins are forgiven by the Almighty.  That James O'Keefe may have sinned with the best of intentions, of course, is beside the point.

Now that Mr. O'Keefe has been fined, I expected some in the Catholic blogosphere to rise up and say 'HA!  That'll show you!'  Even though the verdict had nothing to do with the sin that outraged the Catholic blogosphere, it would be enough to say the Curse of God is upon him for sinning in not the way I sin!  It could just as easily have been 'James O'Keefe got run over by a dump truck   HA!  That'll show you!'  

And yet, all this just went by me as nothing other than what I expected.  When I saw the headline, I knew that some bloggers would react the way they reacted.  But what did shock me is finding out that places that only recently sang the mercy and forgiveness and understanding for the late, great Hugo Chavez, now find themselves removing all quarter from their take on O'Keefe's fortunes.  Really?  So we praise God because Chavez died in the bosom of Mother Church, we pray for Chavez, and we look at Chavez as a victim of vile and contemptible right wing nut jobs in America who don't know how to be truly Catholic, but we crow over the unrelated punishments of O'Keefe in order to send a message?

I know, I know.  I would be told that nobody was saying Chavez was a great guy.  We're just wanting O'Keefe to follow the straight and narrow.  We all want the mercy of God for ourselves.   But when stepping back and looking at the big picture, I just can't help but say there is certainly a disconnect with my understanding of right and wrong, and grave sin and venial sin.  I can't help but wonder if we're losing perspective, and beginning to pull a Col. Nicholson, prepared in our own righteousness to swallow a camel in order to show why those other Catholics are so wrong for straining gnats incorrectly.  I could be wrong, but at least as it seems to play out in the words and emphases in certain blogging segments. 


  1. "jump the shark" doesn't even begin to describe this.

    I mean... ok in John Stossel's book "Give me a Break" he talks about how during his days as an investigative reporter, there was a rumor that some clinics were giving pregnancy tests and offering abortions. The catch? The women weren't actually pregnant. It was a scam. So John sent a woman around to the clinics with a urine sample. HIS urine sample to see who was faking. So according to some of those bloggers, John was "wrong" in this and "doing evil that good may come of it". Well what would they suggest? Stossel mentions how in the book they would show up and confront people with on camera evidence of their wrongdoing and the people would still keep lying in the face of incontrovertible evidence. If John had left any wiggle room (by allowing the women to actually submit their own urine) they wouldn't have been able to come close to catching the liars in the act.

    Apparently every teacher, instructor, etc is doing "evil that good may come of it" when they put tests in front of students. I guess according to these people, God was a liar when He asked Abraham to sacrifice Issac unless they want to try and spin how that was different.

    And none of these bloggers make any suggestions for better tactics! I go through that all the time at work and almost nothing angers me more. "You can't do X." "Ok. Well I need to accomplish _, do you have another solution?" "No, just don't do X." "Tell you what, when you can provide me with an alternative, I'll stop doing X." If you're not going to help, STFU and get out of the way. We've got enough enemies without our "allies" trying to "help" us.

    That some of those bloggers frequently go on and on about "prudence" just rubs salt in the wound. Apparently we have to deal with the world as it is, until we actually have to deal with the world.

  2. There is a growing tendency across the Catholic blogosphere to emphasize the virtue of nothing - better to do nothing than take a chance on doing something wrong. Worse, there are some who seem to think that some passive, round about approach is fine, some indirect cause. I was debating once about the a-bombs. Not defending them, but telling people they have to get with the times and realize that we've learned Japan was not always honest about its peace loving ways. What should we have done to stop the war? A lady (by her name) was debating with me. All I said that there needed to be a solution, since people were dying every day. The invasion would have been fine, she said. I said that while millions may have been an exaggeration, few doubt now that the casualties wouldn't have been greater than both bombs combined. That's OK, she answered. You see, we would have 'indirectly' been the cause of all those deaths. A hundred million could have died, and that would be better than to do what we did, which was directly causing the deaths. In other words, to do nothing, or even to indirectly cause untold suffering and death, is fine. Just don't tell a lie to stop it. Maybe it's me, but there is something terribly wrong with that thinking. Dare I almost say Pharisaical.


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