On a night when the Packers took on the Bears, last Thursday evening, I found myself in Milwaukee speaking to a crowd of 450 friends of the Wisconsin Jesuits about the state of electoral politics in the U.S. The invitation came from the Jesuit Partnership Council, a lay group that garners support for the needs of the Wisconsin Province Jesuits and their missions. The lecture’s title “How to Keep Our Heads Amid the Craziness” (I had actually proposed ‘the Crazies’) was inspired by a lecture by Dan Henniger of The Wall Street Journal last winter during the height of the Republican primaries. The direction of the talk itself owed more to Nick Cafardi’s Voting and Holiness (Paulist) and his July 18 article in America “Keep Holy Election Day."
My own approach, however, took the form of an examination of American political conscience. I argued that neither rationality nor sane judgment seemed capable of cleansing the body politic of the demons that now possess us and that only a more probing spiritual examination of our deeper motives, when “we turn to God in utter openness,” can heal the divisions that currently rent the nation. I had been led to believe that in Paul Ryan’s neighborhood I would meet a partisan audience. Some who attended thought that was not the case. For sure, it was clear the crowd was filled with America readers. In any case, the audience was attentive, respectful and very appreciative. But they did want more time to ponder what I had said.
At the request of my listeners and of others who were not able to attend I have provided a link here to the text of the talk.
Drew Christiansen, S.J.