The Alfred E. Smith banquet was hilarious.  It showed the deep divide and really personal hatred that exists in this election.  I don’t know which is worse, the feeling that the candidates over the last few years attacked each other on the stage and played golf together the next morning, or the feeling that it was a good thing they took the cutlery away before the speeches last night or the candidates might have stabbed each other.

The line that every one moaned at was the one in which hatred of Catholics was brought up at a Catholic fund raiser.  It came from  a leaked email that said that conservative Catholics exhibited an “amazing bastardization of the faith. They must be attracted to the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations and must be totally unaware of Christian democracy”.  Pretty wild stuff.  So I guess the Clinton team likes unsystematic thought.  Backward gender relations are an amazing descriptor for a man and a women getting married that was a “natural” standard for thousands of years.  It goes to show what several generations of public education has wrought.  These pseudo intellectuals have indeed a different reality.  They make fun of Thomism and ideas like subsidiarity and they show themselves to be the children of Hegel and Hobbes.  G.K. Chesterton got them just right.  This again from Wikipedia, not to be confused with WikiLeaks…..

“Since the modern world began in the sixteenth century, nobody’s system of philosophy has really corresponded to everybody’s sense of reality; to what, if left to themselves, common men would call common sense. Each started with a paradox; a peculiar point of view demanding the sacrifice of what they would call a sane point of view. That is the one thing common to Hobbes and Hegel, to Kant and Bergson, to Berkeley and William James. A man had to believe something that no normal man would believe, if it were suddenly propounded to his simplicity; as that law is above right, or right is outside reason, or things are only as we think them, or everything is relative to a reality that is not there. The modern philosopher claims, like a sort of confidence man, that if we will grant him this, the rest will be easy; he will straighten out the world, if he is allowed to give this one twist to the mind…”

As an unabashed Lutheran I have no truck with Thomism either.  Lutherans revel in paradox but not the type mentioned by Chesterton.  We are content to let God be God as He reveals Himself in the first commandment, and from there we recognize the radical nature of sin and grace.

There is not time or space to explain the theology of Thomas Aquinas.  People have spent their whole lives studying and teaching Thomism and never get to all of it, but to perhaps oversimplify it, Aquinas wants to “save” God’s justice and so brings in the idea of merits, which became the raison d’tre of the Reformation.  The great Reformation principle of “grace alone” ruins Thomism as a system.  Aquinas, like Einstein, wants to develop a theory of everything that explains everything.  Luther rejoices in paradox and never tries to resolve them.  He is content to let God be God and wait for the explanation in Heaven.  Aquinas wants to combine philosophy and theology and Luther is desperate to keep them separate.

So as a Lutheran let me leave you with a paradox from the Alfred E. Smith banquet.  The Catholic politicians seated in front and those that may have been in the audience have figured out a way to be members in good standing in the Catholic Church while at the same time ignoring some of the most important of the churches teachings, and to listen to nothing their priest says.