The Sinner, Dr. Indifference and the Thin Man

Since I live in Massachusetts, it’s my privilege to encounter “pro-life” Catholics. That is, they’re in full agreement with the Church’s teaching that abortion is a terrible evil, but they can’t see forcing their morality upon others.

Of course, Dr. Paul passes the ideological purity test. He’s opposed to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, for the same sorts of reasons he would oppose a nation-wide pro-life law. Unlike the “pro-life” Catholics above, he realizes that the overturning of Roe v. Wade (and Doe v. Bolton) would not make abortion illegal in all 50 states.

So I wouldn’t be able to have this short dialog with Dr. Paul as I would with the “pro-life” Catholics. P-LC: “Oh, I don’t want to force my morality on others.” Me: “So do you oppose the Civil Rights Act of 1964?” P-LC: “Oh no. Discrimination is wrong!” Me: “So you’re okay with forcing your morality on others?” Thankfully, most Americans are not as ideologically pure as Dr. Paul.

Ryszard Legutko points out that liberals (in America, this would include conservatives and libertarians) focus on procedure. They might agree with you with an expression of empathy, but they will say that the First Amendment protection of free speech allows that a nude strip club be placed in your neighborhood. And that, they will say, is the end of the argument. And in Dr. Paul’s eyes, President Lincoln committed the unpardonable sin of ignoring the Constitution during a rebellion that threatened to destroy the union (“How dare he!”).

Suppose that there were a pond in a park. Surrounding that pond is grass. Ringing both the pond and the grass is a path for those to enjoy the park. There is a man in the pond. The man is drowning. I imagine Dr. Paul as a man who would see the drowning man, and upon seeing the sign, “Keep off the grass!”, he would start looking for a non-grassy path to the pond. As Mark Shea notes, the Constitution is sacred scripture for Ron Paul.

Ryszard Legutko also notes that liberals have a thin anthropology. While procedure would have Dr. Paul indifferent to the plight of the unborn, Ron Paul is not the thinness of the big three. As almost everyone perceives, the Thin Man is Mitt Romney. I’m reminded of this quote of Kirkegaard’s that Peter Kreeft brought up in one of his talks.

Let others complain that the times are wicked. I complain that they are paltry; for they are without passion. The thoughts of men are thin and frail like lace, and they themselves are feeble like girl lace-makers. The thoughts of their hearts are too puny to be sinful. For a worm it might conceivably be regarded a sin to harbor thoughts such as theirs, not for a man who is formed in the image of God. Their lusts are staid and sluggish, their passions sleepy; they do their duty, these sordid minds, but permit themselves, as did the Jews, to trim the coins just the least little bit, thinking that if our Lord keep tab of them ever so carefully one might yet safely venture to fool him a bit. Fye upon them! It is therefore my soul ever returns to the Old Testament and to Shakespeare. There at least one feels that one is dealing with men and women; there one hates and loves, there one murders one’s enemy and curses his issue through all generations—there one sins.

At the opposite pole, the passionate Sinner is Rick Santorum. He seems to have a passion for justice, and even when he sins, it is borne of a passion for justice. He does have a blood lust against the enemy. He’s infected with the neoconservative fever for war. I would love to ask Rick, “You’ve spoken eloquently about the human dignity of all men, including the yet to be born. What happened to the human dignity of the men you would have tortured or subjected to so-called ‘enhanced interrogation’?”

Of the big three, the Thin Man, Dr. Indifference, and the Sinner, I find myself drawn to the thickest of the three, the Sinner. It’s not that I support his sins, but that I see him to have the greatest potential for an interior conversion. Like the militant saints of St. Ignatius or St. Francis who once desired war, God has something to work with. There is meat on the Sinner’s bones.

I don’t dislike Dr. Indifference. His thickness comes from his passion for ideological purity. He would martyr his campaign for the cause. And so he is much preferred to the Thin Man.

As for the Thin Man, I don’t have much to say about him.

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