The Conscience of Murkowski

Well, true colors don't fade for long. Lisa Murkowski, one of Alaska's two senators, seemed capable of grasping the implications of the Blunt Admendment last week when she enjoyed local press coverage of her vote in support of it. One call from the intrepid Julia O'Malley, and the good Senator is now rife with regret. Her explanation is best summarized with a direct quote:

"I don't adhere to all of the tenets of my faith.  I'm a Republican, I don't adhere to all of the principles that come out of my party.  I'm also not hesitant to question when I think that my church, my religion, is not current."

Such dismissive pride shows her fidelity for what it is: nonexistent. Three sentences, wherein she uses "I" and "my" nine times. To question a teaching is often the beginning of deeper knowledge, but Lisa Murkowski makes it clear that she doesn't approach her faith this way. Her (in)consistent public actions aren't questioning, but flatly rejecting these tenets, and far more grave --- offering public scandal by driving policy in opposition to it. She's instructing us, the wayward dullards who cling to Rome, Peter, and the Cross, or anyone who might be led astray by such teachings. To whom does Lisa Murkowski finally defer, the comment section of the Huffington Post?

This is not to claim superiority for Catholics in public life. In fact, a secular government leaves no need to dissect or even highlight a politican's religion. But it's in the personal connections that votes are largely won, and our Senator is abandoning ship left and right, in hope of a better gig somewhere on the horizon. That should would betray her own vote doesn't surprise me anymore, but the glib and shallow nature she's displaying disappoints me. To struggle, to question, these are often laudable paths to wisdom. What a voice she could have, if only she had the attention span and courage to find and use it.

Knowing she considers herself a Catholic, it'd be interesting to hear how she defines that since freeing herself of the Catechism or sacred scripture. (As I said, I left her an inquiring message this morning. So far, crickets.) We strive for holiness, and we do so with obedience to the Church's loving authority. It's quite a trip. We insist on pursuing goodness, and we examine vice and virtue with humility and reason as our guides. We love life. We are colossally flawed, but called to mirror the illiterate and pious Saints who brushed back fear and claimed victory. Where we see Goliath, David saw God.

Murkowski, however, has a job to protect. And an East Coast home to preserve (word is that she had begun a remodel of her DC digs before being tossed from the Republican ballot on 2010, only to bump Joe Miller with her write-in campaign. Which she did, of course, after giving her word not to challenge the expressed will of the voters)

Catholics have a term to capture this mindset: Cafeteria Catholicism, where one slides their tray along the happy road of human existence, scrunching their nose and waving off troublesome beets or dry mashed potatoes --- any fare which doesn't tickle the trendy palate. I've shared mass with Senator Murkowski, and my frustration with her arrogance and willful disobedience has been replaced by a desire to pray for her. I confront myself too, in prayer, that I will never mirror such a terrible example.

And if urban dictionary is your thing --- Alaskans, increasingly, are using one word which fits Frank's belle like a glove: Murky.