Why I Took My Son with Me to the Voting Booth

There is so little left of shared public life here in the United States--we have to appreciate, and teach to our children, the value of what remains of it.

Daniel McInerny
06.11.2013 // PRINT
Avenue Q
So at lunchtime on this gorgeous autumn day, my son and I walked down the street to the local public elementary school where I cast my vote in the Virginia governor’s race. On our way to the school, we talked about the value of voting and the apathy of so many of our fellow citizens who decline to do so. We wondered how much our nation’s affluence, and even the size of our political community here in Virginia (over 8 million souls) contributes to that apathy. “If we lived in a community of only a few thousand people,” I conjectured, “we would all be rabidly interested in every facet of our politics, because every political decision would affect everyone immediately and visibly.”

As I approached the school with my son, some volunteers handing out voting guides congratulated me for my “civic mindedness” in bringing my son to the polling place. I guess I did want my son to see me vote, to witness my small but (I believe) significant participation in our political process. And I’m glad he saw the troops of hard-working volunteers ready to check my voter registration card, and that he was allowed to stand with me at the touch screen and watch me cast my ballot. There is so little left of shared public life here in the United States – we have to appreciate, and teach to our children, the value of what remains of it. 

The governor’s race in Virginia this fall has been the usual contentious one. Republican Ken Cuccinelli is pitted against Democrat Terry McAuliffe. The Catholic Church does not take sides in political elections, but it does offer principles that should guide our political community – principles based upon the Church’s understanding of human dignity and the common good as illumined by the light of the Gospel. The most fundamental and politically necessary of these principles is every human being’s right to life, from conception to natural death, without respect for which every citizen’s progress toward a flourishing life is put in jeopardy. Another fundamental and necessary principle that the Church upholds is the right to religious liberty, which the HHS Mandate that forms part of Obamacare has endangered for many Americans.

Terry McAuliffe is unfortunately an avid defender of “a woman’s right to choose,” as well as a staunch supporter of Obamacare. He has rejected the Church’s guidance in matters necessary for our common good, whereas Ken Cuccinelli has vowed to fight for every Virginia citizen’s right to life and opposes the HHS mandate. McAuliffe, moreover, supports same-sex marriage, while Cuccinelli supports only traditional marriage. So while the Church in no way endorses Cuccinelli, its guiding political principles, in my estimation, direct us to press the touch screen for him. 

As I write this, Cuccinelli trails McAuliffe slightly in the polls. But even if Cuccinelli comes from behind today and wins, it will still be the case in our polity that the number of people who recognize and adhere to the fundamental principles of Catholic social teaching, whether they be Catholic themselves or not, is becoming smaller and smaller. Yet even as their numbers dwindle, the political action of this plucky band is becoming ever more vigorous. It is as if that small, vibrant political community I imagined in talking with my son is coming into existence – not linked, however, by a single locality, but rather by a single passionate desire for dignity and freedom. This movement has nothing essentially to do with the Republican Party (I myself am not a Republican and have no desire to be one). It is a cultural or philosophical movement rather than a political one in the “party” sense. At bottom, it is about what it means to be a human being. 

In his engaging new book, Tea Party Catholic, Samuel Gregg, Director of Research at the Acton Institute and a member of Aleteia’s board of experts, quotes Pope Emeritus Benedict’s prediction that “Catholicism’s immediate future in America and the West would be life as a “creative minority.” The phrase “creative minority,” as Gregg points out, is taken from the English historian Arnold Toynbee, the man who famously observed that “Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder.” For Toynbee, according to Gregg, a creative minority is a group of people “who proactively respond to a civilizational crisis and whose response allows that civilization to grow.”

I will learn tonight – and you will know when you read this – whether the proactivity of Virginians is (or was) enough to elect Ken Cuccinelli as their governor. Who knows? Perhaps a McAuliffe victory, while damaging to Virginia in the short run, will stoke the flames of a creative resistance to the decline of a truly human politics both in Virginia and throughout the United States. 

In any event, in taking my son to the polls today I’m glad I did a little bit to help keep the flame of freedom burning for future generations. After my son and I came home, we had some lunch and then my son returned to his schoolwork (at McInerny Academy, our homeschool), while I came down here to my home office and returned to my duties for Aleteia. In the quiet of our family’s privacy, my son and I are able this afternoon to undertake the wild adventure of freedom rooted in the truth about the human person. Not under the constraint of a false philosophy animating an increasingly despotic regime, but in light of a freedom and dignity suitable to the children of God, we pursue our happiness. 

This, I say, is what politics is for.

This is why we go to vote.  

Daniel McInerny is the English language editor of Aleteia. You can contact him at daniel.mcinerny@aleteia.org, and follow him on Twitter@danielmcinerny.  

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KCBC Bible Commission & Kerala Catholic Bible Society POC

A Kerala Model for New Evangelisation It‰Ûªs just awesome! 560,829 are the participants this year for Logos Mega Bible Quiz to be conducted on 30th September 2012 in Kerala the great and ancient centre of Christianity in India. The interest in the Quiz has gone up steadily since it was initiated in 2000 the Great Jubilee Year by the Bishops‰Ûª conference. This year saw an increase of 25,000 compared to last year‰Ûªs registration (537,300). This colossal phenomenon, called ‰Û÷Logos Mega Bible Quiz‰Ûª, invites the keen attention of the universal Church at the dawn of the Synod on New Evangelization. The Aim The Logos Bible Quiz, which is organized by Kerala Catholic Bishops‰Ûª Council‰Ûªs Bible Commission, provides people opportunity to read and study the Holy Bible carefully. ‰ÛÏOur aim is to promote interest in Bible reading and to cultivate a culture of systematic study of the Bible in order to make a vibrant Christian life possible‰Û, says Rev. Dr. Joshy Mayyattil the chief co-ordinator of Logos Mega Quiz and Secretary of KCBC Bible Commission and Kerala Catholic Bible Society. The Mode The participants, in the quiz conducted by Bible Commission of the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council, are divided into six age groups. People of all walks of life can participate in this popular Bible quiz. Many religious and priests too participate in it. The preliminary round of the Logos Quiz, conducted in parishes under the auspice of Diocesan Bible Apostolate directors, lasts for one and half hours in which the participants will answer multiple answer questions. Three toppers from each age category will participate in the written quiz conducted in KCBC headquarters at Kochi. Top ten from each age category from this round will be eligible for the final round which includes audio, video, written, oral and Bible verse recitation tests. Once the final round gets over, the winners in each category is awarded with gold medals and cash prizes. And the champion of the Logos Quiz (Logos Prathibha) will have a free pilgrimage to Holy Land. The possibility of introducing scholarship for Bible study for the Logos winners is under consideration. Last year the Logos Prathibha (i.e., Logos Champion) was Sr. Betty LAR from the diocese of Palai. Year before last it was Miss Reshma Pius a 16-year old student hailing from an economically poor family. This Bible lover has proved that her family‰Ûªs richness consists in their love for the Scripture. A Year-long Preparation for 35 chapters! People prepare themselves well in advance for the quiz. The syllabus of almost 35 chapters from the Old and New Testaments (the syllabus for this year: Exodus 25-40; the Gospel of Mark; II Peter) for the quiz is announced a year in advance so that the contestants can get ample time to prepare. Often people carry their personal Bibles during travels in order to read the portions. In many cases parents and children get ready for the Logos making collective study and preparing notes in the family. It is not a rare thing in Kerala to see members of the same family, especially children, competing among themselves to learn biblical verses by-heart. In some places, the participants of the Logos Quiz sit together after the Sunday Catechesis and revise the topics. Study guides are also available. Last year more than 20 various guides were available in the bookshops. In Future ‰ÛÏLogos Quiz has become a Herculean task for the conducting team. However it is also a pleasant task‰Û, says Bishop George Punnakkottil the Chairman of KCBC Bible Commission. ‰ÛÏLast year we introduced on-line registration (visit: www.logosquiz.org). In a few years we will be able to conduct on-line exam also. Thus the desire of numerous Keralites abroad to participate in the Logos Quiz would be realized‰Û. ‰ÛÏThe KCBC Bible Commission has plans to make this Bible Quiz popular in other parts of the world too. For this purpose, the Bible Quiz, which is currently conducted in Malayalam and English, will be made available in other languages also‰Û, added Bishop Punnakkottil. The e-mails that the organizers of the Logos Bible Quiz receive are evidences for the desire of the people around the globe for such methods and tools for Bible study. The great success of this Bible contest in Kerala could be a pointer for the universal Church ‰ÛÒ Bible Quiz, if culturally adapted, may be one of the best means for the new evangelization.

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