Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Dr. Frederick Liewehr

10/27/2012 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

It is a true landmark in the sordid history of political advertising for its epic lack of taste and insensitivity

A man's character is the sum of his actions over time, so you intrinsically know a person of good character when you encounter one. Who could have had any doubt about Bl. Mother Theresa's character? One can "smell" good character, or perhaps I should say, one can smell bad character.

Highlights

By Dr. Frederick Liewehr

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

10/27/2012 (1 year ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: character, moral character, Barack Obama, Lena Dunham, campaign 2012, relativism, Dr. Frederick Liewehr


RICHMOND, VA (Catholic Online) - On Thursday, October 25, 2012, the Obama campaign released a startling video "starring" a 26-year old tattooed actress named Lena Dunham (who ironically has the same last name as Obama's mother), which attempts to convince young women who are first-time voters that they should vote for Obama through the use of an obscene metaphor that likens that experience to losing their virginity. It is a true landmark in the sordid history of political advertising for its epic lack of taste and insensitivity to the fact that not everyone in this country agrees with the hedonistic and profane agenda of the far Left or believes that they and their children should be assaulted by indecent, suggestive "soft" pornography masquerading as political advertisements.

The approval of this ad by the President, aside from demonstrating a wholesale lack of taste and judgment, would appear to reflect significantly upon his character. The episode harkens back to the Clinton scandal, where Clinton claimed that his conduct with Monica Lewinsky did not constitute "sexual relations" as defined in the Deposition Exhibit 1, a semantic ploy similar to his famous, "That depends upon what your definition of "is" is." Despite the infamous stained dress and testimonies, he was acquitted of perjury in a politically motivated action by the Senate (every single Democrat voted to acquit), though later was held in civil contempt of court, fined $90,000 for giving false testimony, and  had his law license suspended both in Arkansas and by the Supreme Court.

This egregious behavior, however, was excused by his supporters because the economy at the time was doing well (though I do not remember Clinton "blaming" that on his inheritance from a Bush, as Obama continues to do), and "It's the economy, stupid" was their rallying cry. Those who objected, as Rush Limbaugh did, "Character matters; leadership descends from character ", were paid little mind. Unfortunately, Clinton's acquittal by the Senate was taken by the American people in general as a sanction of his actions rather than as a partisan and illegitimate decision.

So what is character anyway? There is a philosophical discussion in the Catholic Encyclopedia here  for those who wish to explore the subject in greater detail, but the short answer is, character is the "expression of the personality of a human being . that . reveals itself in his conduct." The behavior of any human being is the result of a complex interaction of factors, some of which he was born with and some of which were acquired, the nature-nurture duality, that have impacted him from birth until the present. Taken together these behaviors constitute his character, or at least the visible manifestation of it.

Man has free will, a gift from God, and the "freedom   is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one's own responsibility. By free will one shapes one's own life. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude". (CCC 1731) However, this freedom is not always used as a force for growth and maturity. "Man's freedom is limited and fallible. In fact, man failed. He freely sinned. By refusing God's plan of love, he deceived himself and became a slave to sin. This first alienation engendered a multitude of others. From its outset, human history attests the wretchedness and oppression born of the human heart in consequence of the abuse of freedom." (CCC 1739). Man's will is simply the faculty of choice, and thus the correct use of his freedom.

Character, in turn, has been defined as "a completely fashioned will", or "natural temperament completely fashioned by the will."  As a person grows and matures, the faculty of reason is awakened. He begins to reflect on his choices and the outcomes of those choices, and by the deliberate choice against evil impulses he gradually develops self control. It is by exercising this self control that he develops moral character, which is the sum total of all those acts of self control.

It is a sad fact that in our "post Christian" society, self control is rarely touted as a virtue. In fact, lack of self control is the reason that the Alan Guttmacher Institute says we continue to murder over a million of our children annually. It is the reason why more than 1/3 of the births in this country, and more than half of those to women under the age of 30, are out of wedlock. For those who are concerned by these figures, the President and the Democratic Party suggests contraception, which they intend to force employers who do not agree with their approach, such as Catholic institutions, to pay for. Of course, they also intend to continue legalized abortion and to subsidize Planned Parenthood with tax dollars to provide it. Nowhere in their platform is the subject of "self control" mentioned.

What is wrong with this picture? It is a matter of moral relativity, the "I'm OK, you're OK" syndrome. Politicians are loathe to tell voters that anything they do is wrong, no matter what the obvious consequences are, because they are afraid of losing their votes. Besides that, as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "The only reward of virtue is virtue", and that is not enough to get them elected. Of course, in the Sermon on the Mount, our Lord said, "Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God", but that is not going to get anyone elected, either.

Benjamin Rush, who was one of the Founding Fathers and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, warned that "The only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty". We are seeing very ominous signs in our country, such as the trampling of our religious liberties, the tendency of the Administration to employ obfuscation and falsehoods to cover up its questionable activities, and its use of the vast power of the Federal government to control every aspect of American life, from redefining marriage to micromanaging the amount of water your toilet uses to flush.

Defining "character" is similar to what G.K Chesterton said about virtue: "Virtue is not the absence of vices or the avoidance of moral dangers; virtue is a vivid and separate thing, like pain or a particular smell." In other words, character is something more than simply not being caught in deliberate criminal activities, or being able to claim lack of guilt through the use of semantic tricks. A man's character is the sum of his actions over time, so you intrinsically know a person of good character when you encounter one. Who could have had any doubt about Bl. Mother Theresa's character? One can "smell" good character, or perhaps I should say, one can smell bad character. Watch the video, and see what kind of metaphorical odor you perceive.

Dwight Moody, the founder of Moody Bible Institute, once said that, "Character is what you are in the dark." Perhaps this is something impressionable viewers of Ms Dunham' ad should ponder before they vote.

----------

Dr. Frederick Liewehr is an endodontist who teaches and works in private practice. He converted from Protestantism to Catholicism in 1983, having been drawn ineluctably to Christ's Church by the light of Truth. He is a member of St. Benedict parish in Richmond, a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus and a Cooperator of Opus Dei.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for September 2014
Mentally disabled:
That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.
Service to the poor: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.



Comments


More Politics & Policy

Is it official? Obama worst president in U.S. history as report shows he does not attend briefings Watch

Image of Obama may be the most apathetic--or incompetent president in U.S. history. He is certainly the least effective since Carter.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A report has revealed that President Obama has attended less than half of his daily intelligence briefings, which explains why he has underestimated the Islamic State. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A Government Accountability Institute report shows that Obama has ... continue reading


Why did Obama lie to the American people about ISIS? Watch

Image of Obama blamed his failure on ISIS on the intelligence community.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Obama has found someone to blame for the rise of the Islamic State, and it's the intelligence community that supports him. According to Obama during a 60 Minutes interview, the intelligence community failed to warn him of the rise of the Islamic State. LOS ... continue reading


From the Values Voter Summit: Values, Citizenship and Hope Watch

Image of The birth certificate of this nation was called a Declaration of Independence because it declared independence from an unjust civil ruler. It did not declare independence from a just God.

By Keith A. Fournier

I write from Washington DC where I have been participating in the Values Voter Summit cosponsored by numerous organizations, associations and alliances dedicated to the moral values which ensure a truly free society. I was invited to participate by my friend, a ... continue reading


As the Election Season Begins, Time for a New Christian Social Movement Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

As the political season in the United States of America moves into full gear with the midterm elections opening up into the 2016 presidential campaign, my mind turns again to political and social participation. I will attend the Values Voter Summit this weekend ... continue reading


Too hot in the kitchen? Eric Holder resigns Watch

Image of Eric Holder may be fleeing the heat he's feeling for his refusal to cooperate with Congress.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Eric Holder is preparing to announce his resignation as attorney general, following a five-and-a-half year stint fraught with controversy. WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - Eric Holder, 63, will be announcing his resignation as attorney general after more than five ... continue reading


'The alarm bells keep ringing' says Obama at climate change summit in New York Watch

Image of Actor Leonardo DiCaprio was among the hundreds of international leaders and spokespeople who attended the global climate change summit held in New York.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

During the United Nations Climate Summit meeting in New York on September 23, President Obama appealed to the international community to make greater strides towards creating and enforcing carbon caps, explaining that climate change is happening at a faster pace ... continue reading


Rockefellers to sell investments in fossil fuel to switch to 'clean energy' Watch

Image of From left to right: Stephen Heintz, President of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Valerie Rockefeller Wayne, the chair of the fund, and Steven Rockefeller, a son of Nelson Rockefeller and a trustee of the fund, in New York, Sept. 16, 2014.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In a bold move that illustrates just how far climate change has reached the public's consciousness, heirs to the Rockefeller family have announced that they intend to sell investments in fossil fuels and reinvest in clean energy. The announcement is a ... continue reading


CAN'T KEEP UP: So many employees leaving Department of Homeland Security, it poses risk to U.S. Watch

Image of The vacating of those in top management positions in the Department of Homeland Security has helped slow the rollout of key cybersecurity initiatives.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Department of Homeland Security, or DHS has seen an exodus of employees over the past four years. According to officials, this is leaving the United States open to potential terrorist strikes and cyber-attacks. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Employees ... continue reading


Shell game in Kansas - why Democrats don't have to win Kansas to win the Senate Watch

Image of Independent investor Greg Orman seems to have the advantage in the newly-reshaped senate race.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The race for Senate in Kansas may suddenly be the most crucial contest in the nation as Republicans scramble to protect their longtime incumbent, Bob Dole is back on the campaign trail, Democrats are being as quiet as possible about not having a candidate, and a ... continue reading


Are they on to something? Judicial Watch says terrorists are operating in Mexico Watch

Image of Beto O'Rourke, a Democrat who represents El Paso in the U.S. House of Representatives, called the area offices of various government agencies in response to a report that Middle Eastern terrorists were operating across the border in Mexico.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Judicial Watch, a controversial Web site that maintains that Middle Eastern terrorists are operating just cross the border from the United States from Mexico is evidently stirring up waves. Federal law enforcement sources in El Paso, Texas say that a United ... continue reading


All Politics & Policy News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Exodus 23:20-23
20 'Look, I am sending an angel to precede you, to ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 91:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 10-11
1 You who live in the secret place of Elyon, spend ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 18:1-5, 10
1 At this time the disciples came to Jesus and said, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 2nd, 2014 Image

St. Leger
October 2: Leger was raised at the court of King Clotaire II and by his ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter