Friday, December 2, 2011


OK, so the player doesn't fit the page. Honestly, I'm not much in the mood to figure out the code changes I need to make to fix it. And it's an audio file once you get past the commercial anyway so who cares.

I've been listening to a lot of Gingrich over the past few weeks. I gotta admit that I'm a bit leery of him. Fool me once... Anyway, after listening to this clip and reading his comments on the Eucharist I have to wonder - has he changed?

I'm Catholic. I was born Catholic and raised, more or less (probably less in the long run) Catholic. By the time I was thirteen we no longer went to church. I grew up, got married, had kids and still I didn't really go to church any more than absolutely necessary. Too busy drinking and smoking dope, working, dealing with life and all the other excuses one normally comes up with.

I did come back, though. There were a number of reasons, some powerfully spiritual and some purely based on reason. It's the latter that makes me think that Gingrich may have undergone a profound change.

Gingrich is a man of letters. He writes and lectures. He seems to be deeply attracted to debate, both as sport and as a learning tool. He generally uses logic in his arguments which is why he is so very good at winning them. I've watched him systematically dismantle the arguments of others by finding the weaknesses and exploiting them simply by pointing them out and opening them to question. Very much like so many great Catholic scholars have over the last 2000 years, Aquinas coming immediately to mind.

In this love of logic and argument Gingrich and I are very similar. Obviously, he's way smarter than I am (not false modesty but observable reality). And in the end, it's my personal predisposition towards debate that brought me back to the church and created a fundamental change in me.

I was challenged by co-workers, all of a Pentecostal persuasion, about the legitimacy of Catholic belief. Not being one to shy from an argument but also not being one to advance into battle without arms, I set about to learn as much about the faith of my birth as I could. Not because I planned on returning to it but because I wanted to win a fight.

What I found was not some superstitious, lock step belief system based on power and authority of the political or human type but a system of teachings over 2000 years old, never changing but always growing, based first on logic and reason but then, based on the irrefutable findings of that reasoning, willing to step off the cliff of faith, knowing that no other honest response was possible. I found a faith that worships God, not because a book of dubious origin (at least that's what I thought when I heard the Protestant explanation for why I should trust it) commands it, but because reason, moving in the river of revealed knowledge, demands it.

This changed me and everything about me, completely and irrevocably. I would never be able to think or act the same way again. Once presented with truth we are forced to decide whether to follow it or not. We're either all in or out. There's no middle ground. That doesn't mean we don't fall every now and then. It means we keep our eyes on the prize, get up and keeping working towards the truth.

I'm not the same guy I was 20 years ago. Not by a long shot.

Which forces me to ask this question about Gingrich; has he undergone the same sort of fundamental change because of his faith? If he has then I would have to think that he isn't the same person that lived the life he lived long ago and that knowing what he knows and understands to be the truth now he wouldn't have done many of the things he did.

That doesn't mean he won't do them again. I know I have certain predispositions built into me by constant involvement in pointless stupidity over a big chunk of my life. We all have weaknesses and we all have certain responses that we fall back on in given situations that need to be unlearned. And that's a time consuming process.

I know that in my case, learning to think like the Church after these last 10+ years of reading Church history, Papal Encyclicals and so many of the works of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church has fundamentally altered the way my brain works. I think in a different way now. Catholicism does that to you if you avail yourself of the treasure trove of knowledge it's generated over 2000 years.

I'm thinking, based on what I know about Gingrich, that his journey to the Church probably involved a good deal of reading, research and debate. And I would guess that all of this has caused a change in him that will be reflected in his life, his decisions and the way he sees everything around him.

I'll be watching him more closely. I still have a bunch of questions. But the things I'm hearing from him on issues such as immigration make me think that he's been changed, that the teachings of Holy Mother Church have taken root.

I may find myself able to vote for him after all.


  1. “One of the reasons why it needs no special education to be a Christian is that Christianity is an education itself. That is why an uneducated believer like Bunyan was able to write a book that has astonished the whole world.”
    ~CS Lewis

    Let’s watch and see the kind of organizations that contribute to Newt over the coming months and who he stands behind as well. In the past I’ve referred to him as the patron saint of lung cancer after the 30 billion dollars in tax breaks he championed for tobacco companies. Then there was all the money Freddie/Fannie gave him as a “history” consultant etc. In the past his sole interest has always been money. I hope he’s a changed man, but he’ll have to prove it to me. On the other hand, I guess he’s no worse than the others running, and ain’t that a sad commentary on modern politics. Actually, the only guys I can think of that I would actively campaign for if they’d run are John Danforth and Chris Christie. At this point I may not even vote in the next election. It honestly seems both pointless and hopeless.

  2. I pretty much agree with you. I think I'm sensing a change in Gingrich but he's got a lot of provin' to do before I believe it.

    I might vote for Christie, given the opportunity, but I don't and never have trusted Danforth. For some reason I've always had this feeling that he's surrounded by evil. Can't say why and I don't like workin' on feelings but there you have it.

    The next election may be completely pointless but there's always hope. I'm pretty much of the opinion that it really doesn't matter who wins, the country is still going under.

  3. I guess we're really gonna disagree on Danforth. No one has ever come up with any dirt on him, and I don't think they ever will. I've known people who worked for him at Ralston back in the day and also people who've worked for him in political office in more recent years, and every one of them will tell you he's the real deal. He's never done things behind closed doors. What you see is what you get. I don't always agree with him, but I don't know anyone more honest.

    He and his family have contrubted more money to St. Louis charities than anyone else I can think of. Then there's the Danforth Foundation his grandfather started that's built chapels at colleges all over the place.

    John Danforth has been an ordained Episcopal Priest for several decades. You may recall that he officiated Reagan's funeral a few years back.

    Don't you remember how Danforth and Kit Bond came on the scene when we were in junior high? They were like Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday cleaning up the town of all its corruption. It didn't continue after they left office, but it was great while it lasted.

    Danforth is 75 now, and I know he doesn't want to be involved with politics anymore. I'd still vote for him if he ran though. Heck, his dad must be about a hundred now and still doing fine as far as I know. You see him on TV every once in a while, and he's still very sharp.

  4. Did I ever mention that I can't stand Kit Bond, either?

  5. Here's one of the reasons I don't like Danforth, his support of fetal stem cell research:

  6. I couldn't care less about using cells that are only going to be discarded anyway. Might as well put them to good use. If I'm about to be burried, then I don't care if you take my shoes before they throw dirt on me. Take anything you need.

  7. I should point out that I've never read anywhere that Danforth was in favor of using anything other than "discarded" embryonic stem cells. Danforth has always been prolife.