Monthly Archives: August 2013

Abortion, Murder and Theology

The Republican Right takes on faith the belief that when one out of 100 million sperm penetrates one out of 400 eggs, an ontologic discontinuity takes place, that is, what had been exclusively biological is now human, in facI, a citizen under the U.S. Constitution. This transition is referred to as ensoulment or hominization. Aborting a hominized or ensouled egg is tantamount to murder. So wherever the Republican Right is in power, in some 30 states, a relentless effort is made to shut down abortion clinics.

St. Augustine took on faith “delayed hominization,” or “delayed ensoulment,” as did St. Thomas Aquinas eight centuries later. A  fetus first  consists of a vegetative soul, then an animal soul, and finally a rational soul. Hominization takes place with the rational soul. Furthermore, until the fetus achieves form, it is not hominized. Both Augustine and Aquinas taught that a human soul cannot live in an  unformed body. I performed abortions at three months. The conceptual product resembled nothing so much as a gooey clot. The two greatest Catholic theologians differ profoundly with the Republican Right as to when biology goes human.

My own belief is that ontologic discontinuity doesn’t occur until the mother comes into the story, not at conception, a biologic event conjoining egg and sperm, but when she gives birth, nine months later. A newborn recognizes its mama within a  matter of hours. Its deepest need is to be cared for by her, making indispensable a good enough mother-child relationship. What is the evidence? 75% of motherless foundlings die within two years; the survivors resemble ratty runts. Even a one-year old separated from its mother falls into a deep depression and often wastes away. Biology doesn’t make a human; humans make humans. That’s my belief system.

In 1869, the Catholic church declared that even if done at the moment of conception, abortion constitutes murder. The Republican Right shares the same belief system, different from that of Aquinas and Augustine, different from my belief system.(The ancient world practiced birth control by consigning unwanted newborns to the lions. I assume their belief system as to when ontologic discontinuity occurs was very close to mine. Could I abort a newborn? No. A three-month pregnancy? Yes. Four months? Possibly. Five months? No. Aesthetics trumps a belief system. That happens a lot, especially in politics.)

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

What gives the Republican Right the right to prohibit abortion for everyone in the land? Suppose I’m with St. Augustine? or with Congress which legislated Roe versus Wade? or the tens of thousands of women with an unwanted pregnancy, desperately seeking a simple and safe abortion, a procedure which in their metaphysics is not murder?

What gives the Republican Right the right?

Of course, the Moral Sense. That moral system without any morals, that set of Don’ts at war with Joys, that specialist at adding to human misery. How could it possibly pass up pontificating grandly to a despairing woman bowed and beaten by an unwanted pregnancy?

Every day, as we speak, the Moral Sense sets up a silent cry of grief and hopelessness across America. You can hear it at any one of the closed abortion clinics. There are thousands of them. Take your pick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Evolution of the Moral Sense

The Moral Sense is without any morals. It evolved as an adaptational device for the survival of the tribe. It was not designed to inculcate moral rectitude. It looked on ethical enlightenment with a meaningless stare. The Moral Sense doesn’t hesitate to crank out  “moral imperatives commanding belief in nonsense,” if that improves the odds for a group’s success. Survival of the fittest alone served as its law-giver; scrubbing clean the Great Unwashed irrelevant.

The Republican Right provides a laboratory for observing the flaunting of a Moral Sense without any morals. What first jumps out, of course, is the vast number of its ideological fixations – abortion, Obamacare, the Norquist pledge, the deficit, and so forth. Fixations are pathognomonic of a world without morals. Let’s examine the fixation, abortion.

Something like 30 states under Republican hegemony have closed down hundreds of abortion clinics, effectively repealing Roe versus Wade, which happens to be the law of the land. Pregnancy is a product of sexual intercourse, the monster with two backs. Nothing is more difficult for the race than to keep that monster from transmogrifying into a Grendel, laying waste the countryside. Passion overwhelms, love unleashes jealousy and envy. thoughtlessness is the order of the day. “I forgot my condom.” Dingbat teenyboppers have to exercise judgment as much as middle-aged congressmen or 70-year-old mayors.

No surprise that the poor, hormone-driven hominids are blown away by the emotional storms unleashed by sex. The agony and ecstasy are enough to make one cry. Seriously. Suffering is the order of the day. The last thing Michelangelo worked on, the day before he died, was his final Pieta. When it comes to sex, we need all the help we can get.Terminating an unwanted pregnancy is an act of mercy. Wonderful help. It saves entire lifetimes.

Systematically denying access to abortion, the Republican Right is blind and deaf to the anguish and despair associated with an unwanted pregnancy. I haven’t heard a peep from them about the generational devastation wreaked on real people, women and teenagers and families, as a consequence of their dismantling Roe versus Wade. Cruelty unbounded.

“Please, Fred. Abortion is murder.”

I will get to that later. Denying abortion has an unspoken punitive dimension. For the Republican Right, It’s not an everyday problem the race has figured out how to deal with safely and effectively and easily. It’s a problem of good and evil. In fact, abortion, given the tools of modern science, is a blessed option. Sex was and is and always will be riding the back of a tiger. Abortion helps level the playing field.

Denying a woman’s right to choose an abortion is an ideologic fixation. It demands belief in nonsense. It is a product of the Moral Sense without any morals. It adds enormously to human suffering.

Abortion and murder. Next post.

 

 

 

A Thought Experiment

I propose a thought experiment to help us understand the Moral Sense bestriding like a colossus the Political Right and the Political Left. First, I will have to familiarize you with what I, somewhat grandly, refer to as the Six Dimensions of Man. How many one enters determines the richness of one’s life. By the numbers:

Dimension One – The Self, in sickness and in health. “The self relates itself to its own self.” Kierkegaard – “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates

Dimension Two – The Sexual Couple.

Dimension Three – “Mommy and daddy and baby make three.”

Dimension Four – The Group. Four or four million, centrally the relationship between the Leader and the Led.

Dimension Five – Friendship. The only Dimension based on similarities and not differences. Therefore, after adolescence, the least important Dimension as regards growth and development.

Dimension Six – Collegiality

So, here’s the thought experiment.  Identify the most emotional moments of your life, those generating unforgettable experiences. I’ll go first. Following the rules of the experiment, I remember most vividly, beyond every other experience, Pres. Kennedy’s assassination. I was poleaxed for weeks. If I heard Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings – again! – I couldn’t move, simply crushed by physical anguish. James Reston from the New York Times wrote that when a President dies death comes into every home in the land. It came into mine with an unanticipated devastation. And five years later, 1968, when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in April and Robert Kennedy in June, it was déjà vu all over again. Brother Martin had every mountain ring with freedom, Bobby would save us from the horrors of a Nixon presidency. Instead, despair, hell fire and loss of all sense of future.

As violently as assassinations laid waste to my country, the triumphant Obama in 2008 at Grant Park in Chicago, ascending to the presidency that election day, unleashed joy beyond singing. In fact, all I could manage was maniacal shouting. I had worked for three years as a country doc in the deep South. Having been born and raised in the Brooklyn melting pot, the implacable, immovable, unfathomable racism kept me in a tizzy. What good is a tizzy! It doesn’t win elections. Nearly 5 years later, recognizing the greatness of President Obama – he actually pulled it off! – pumps afresh inexhaustible joy.

I had a terrible patch with the ending of a long love affair. Otherwise, carrying out our thought experiment by taking exhaustive inventory of the CONTEXT of my emotional experiences, I discovered that “This is my country,” This is my tribe, This is my President, Dimension four, the group, packs more emotional oomph than did acceptance into medical school, Dimension one, the self; than getting married, Dimension two, sexual life; than having children, Dimension three, family; than making friends, Dimension five; than working with colleagues, Dimension six, collegiality. I found the result of the experiment disturbing. More oomph than seeing my first born arrive on the planet? or finishing a book? or rubbing elbows with famous colleagues? Weird!

You’ll understand with what joy I discovered Darwin had run the same thought experiment. Of course, when you’re in the bailiwick of off-the-chart genius, you hope you’re on the same page. Well, this is what Brother Charles concluded:

“The social instincts (including the love of praise and fear of blame) possess greater strength, or have, through long habit, acquired greater strength than the instinct of self-preservation, hunger, lust, vengeance, etc.” Darwin claims allegiance to the group, expressed as the social instincts, dominates the six Dimensions of man.

The Greeks claimed that anyone who did not take politics seriously was an idiot. So happily, I am not embarrassed by the findings of my thought experiment. For example, Sen. Ted Cruz terrifies me, like an unexpected clap of thunder. I take him seriously. I am grateful for the powerful emotions I experience in political life, Dimension four. They keep me from being an idiot.

 

The Darwinian Moral Sense

On abortion, homosexuality, Planned Parenthood, on food stamps, student loans, unemployment insurance, on capital punishment, amnesty, gun control, in short, on most everything, the political Right is in opposition to the political Left. Across the board, one group sees the world one way, the other group another way, What accounts for this remarkable divergence? Answer: one group is guided by elements manufactured by the Moral Sense from the inside which are projected, the other group is guided by paying attention to what is outside and introjecting the resulting common sense data.

When Freud set out to interpret dreams, he made a fateful decision: he did not turn to soothsayers or ancient seers or magical texts. He figured the only person who knew what a dream meant was the dreamer. He’s the bozo who wrote it, and ultimately, he alone could provide the evidence, gathered by free association, for making an interpretation. Once Freud discovered that dreams, which are hiding places for wishes, are written in code, he deciphered the rules and could then help the dreamer interpret his dream.

Unlike the male polar bear that lives in splendid isolation, you and I and all our forebears live and have always lived in groups. That makes us all political animals, whether on the sidelines or in the middle of the fray. Fortunately, like Freud’s dreamer, we are positioned to learn from our very own experience of group life. We don’t have to rely on scholarly tomes. Whether we are well read in political science makes no difference. What we need to do is interpret our group experience accurately and, hopefully, heuristically.

If a group allows politics, there is an inevitable split into The Right and into The Left. What differentiates these two parties is the one practices politics under the authority of the Moral Sense, the other favoring  common sense. This observation is not pejorative nor exclusive to each party. However, if you examine the political issues I listed at the beginning of this post, the difference between the two jumps out. Nonetheless, everyone is born with the Moral Sense. It is a product of evolution. It is Darwinian. We will examine it at great length.

The Republican Right operates under the hegemony of the Moral Sense. They are doing so for perfectly good reasons – two hundred thousand years ago. We are much more human than otherwise. Human includes our political forebears. They evolved the Moral Sense 2000 centuries ago. It is part of each of us. Sen. Ted Cruz and company have cobbled together a worldview perfectly compatible with it. That is what makes the Tea Party so dangerous.

The Moral Sense is a product of evolution, a survival instrument that adapted hunting and gathering groups successfully.

What is that adaptation?

 

 

 

 

The Moral Sense in Pure Culture

The Moral Sense drives the political Right, common sense the political Left. Looked at narrowly, The Moral Sense makes judgments which disregard facts based on observation. Its authority is not common sense which registers the external world, but an internal structure or system that overrides factuality. The Moral Sense is Darwinian, a result of evolution. Understanding how it evolved goes a long way in making sense out of political life. The story is complicated, but astonishing. I’ll need Freud to help tell the story. But first, a narrow look at the Moral Sense in Pure Culture.

When Obamacare is fully implemented, 30 million Americans presently without insurance will qualify for medical coverage. In my mind’s eye I try to picture what 30 million “looks like.” Two million folks were gathered together at Obama’s inauguration in 2009, a stunning visual. “OMG, 30 is 15 times greater!,” a sea of people stretching to the farthest horizon.

Then I remember I was a country doc for three years, plying my trade along the Mississippi levee in Louisiana. I figured I drew on a population of 10,000. My very first house call was for a five-day-old infant suffering, supposedly, Inanition fever. In fact, the baby had meningitis and would’ve certainly died without modern medicine. Three years later I was visiting the New Orleans zoo when a grandfatherly fellow approached, a young child in tow. Guess who! Yup, the meningitis baby, a perfectly normal toddler.

Saving babies is what docs do. Stealing was Falstaff’s vocation, practicing medicine a physician’s vocation. I had trained many years for the job. Compared with physics and computer science and a host of other specialties, a doc’s job is simple but not easy. Most patients present with a minor illness, of which the chief symptom is anxiety. “No, you don’t have cancer.” But some do! And some have meningitis, and a whole raft of illnesses that flesh is heir to.

I think of my pool of 10,000 patients. Over the three years I was chasing up and down the Mississippi, the number of patients who in fact needed a doc had risen to flood levels. The work thrown at me required my years’ long training. I had to have put in my 10,000 hours. If I and my black bag and my 12 bed hospital had not been available, the needless suffering and loss in my group of 10,000 would have been considerable. No happy scenes in the New Orleans zoo. Again, in my mind’s eye, I picture the 30 million without access to medical care. What I see is unthinkable, a video bombarding eyes and ears, a blast of reality produced by common sense.

The Republicans describe Obamacare as an abomination. Their judgment is not based on common sense. There is not a hint in their diatribes that sickness and suffering, dying and unnecessary deaths have registered. These vivid sense experiences in the outside world are not introjected. Instead, the Republican Right has fashioned a projection, manufactured inside and hurled with might and main to the outside.

President Obama described the projection as an “idealistic fixation.” That is accurate. An ideal has displaced the real. It is fixated which indicates it is impervious to learning from experience. It is manufactured. What is the ideal? Medical coverage provided privately, not by government.

BUT PRIVATE INSURERS NEVER PROVIDED MEDICAL INSURANCE FOR THE THIRTY MILLION!

“The House will please come to order. We will now vote for the 40th time to repeal Obamacare.”

That’s the Moral Sense in Pure Culture.

Back to Square One

Ever since the French Revolution, a basic discovery regarding political life is its organic division into The Right and The Left.  A thousand scientific studies have confirmed these “structures” are a naturally occurring fact of politics across the globe. Psychologists have documented the profound differences between the two factions,  revealing that they truly have a different take on reality. The differences are not trivial. I am adding to these studies using my psychoanalytic toolbox.

First, I am going to revisit projection and introjection. Back to the basics. Why? We will discover they are fundamental in understanding how half the race deals with reality one way, while the other half deals with it another way.

What is a projection? Think of a movie projector. It takes the film which is on the “inside” and projects it to a screen on the “outside.” A projector projects. As regards Introjection, think of a camera. It takes a picture of the “outside” and introjects it to a film which is on the “inside.” A camera introjects.

The external world registers on the five senses. Together they make up common sense. Since everyone comes equipped with the same sensory apparatus, agreement as to what is on the “outside” is usually a matter of simply comparing data. So introjection should go about its business quietly and without fanfare. Confidently. After all, it’s based upon common sense.  Whoa, Nelly! What about projection? The cheese may stand alone but not facts. They come under moral scrutiny, projections from a moral sense.

Take the fact of starving children. Food stamps are their lifeline. You would think it’s a no-brainer.  “Congress , please authorize $20 billion for the children, legislation passed for years on end.” Didn’t happen. The Republicans voted it down – for moral reasons. Government handouts enable dependency, for example. This is a projection, in that it is based on something inside that impacts the outside. That something is the moral sense.

Politically, The Right projects from a moral sense, The Left introjects from common sense. We have come to the heart of the matter. Like Gen. Grant at Vicksburg, here we will fight it out if it takes all summer.

The Unpleasure Principle

Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are poster children for what we workers in the Freudian trade call omnipotence. In my last post I characterized the two of them as infantile. Huh? Yes, that’s not a contradiction. Omnipotence and infantile (helpless) – you can’t have one without the other. Like Adam and Eve, they are there from the beginning of our life. And, like that fabled pair in the Garden, omnipotence and helplessness are both made up, a product of the powers of fantasy as first described by Freud. Cruz and Randy imperil our country with their projection of omnipotence and their unexamined infantile behavior. After all, they are Senators in the Congress of the United States. They have immense power.

Sen. Cruz, who came into the Senate only last January, proposes in all seriousness that the IRS be abolished. He is asking fellow Senators to sign a pledge that they would stop the government in its tracks if one dime is allocated to Obamacare. He bestrides the Senate floor with the arrogance of Sen. Joe McCarthy  And why not! If you’re operating under the conditions of Freud’s pleasure principle, the sky’s the limit. In fact, Cruz intends to run for the presidency in 2016. What does an 800 pound gorilla do? Answer: Whatever he wants. As does an infantile Senator, equipped with the omnipotent powers of make-believe.

As for Rand Paul, he enjoys the certitude of the soap box, even though he came into the Senate only last January also. He has the answers without any regard for their factuality. He comes on like an Old Testament prophet, preaching the word of the Lord. Being cocksure is a common exercise of omnipotence. When doing science, a world removed from infantile/omnipotent, one tries to falsify the evidence. When Rand Paul opens his mouth, let no dog bark.

At his press conference yesterday, President Obama described the Republican attacks on Obamacare as an “ideological fixation.” This is a remarkable structure. It is impenetrable to facts. It is not subject to historical analysis. Unlike Obamacare, flawed by glitches, unanticipated consequences, probably in need of major tinkering, ideological fixation is unchanged from the first vote to the fortieth or the four hundreth. It must be so, because ideological fixation DOES NOT EXIST. It is a fantasy. It’s like hearing voices. The phenomenon of hallucination is real, but the voices don’t exist, even though they may successfully command suicide or murder.

Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have bigger fish to fry than repealing Obamacare. The ideological fixation of the Tea Party on government as an evil threat, this fantasy, perhaps shared by the two of them – I think not Cruz who is sociopathic but probably Rand –  has brought Congress to a standstill. It’s only in the last few hundred years that government is recognized as our responsibility. John Adams remarked how little folks talked about politics throughout history. Mostly we had  omnipotent rulers under whom we were helpless. We suffered from the consequences of this ideological fixation for thousands of years.

And now, bigger than life, we got Cruz and Rand Paul, both exploiting the race’s vulnerability to fantasy. With the addition of these two rapscallions in the U.S. Senate, I prefer Freud’s original designation of fantasy life: the unpleasure principle.

 

 

 

World Class Freudian

Paul Krugman recognizes the Republicans want to repeal reality. They opt for fantasy over fact. I knew Krugman was a world-class economist. But a world-class Freudian? It’s a mystery.

Since we hominids evolved into Homo sapiens sapiens, probably in the last two hundred thousand years, during all those 2000 centuries we preferred fantasy over fact, projection over introjection. That’s a fancy way of saying we couldn’t make much sense out of reality and embraced make-believe, such as gods hiding under every bush. Or gods speaking in the thunder. It wasn’t until the Greeks came along that we discovered an objective world, one that demanded our attention and the full exercise of our sense apparatus. Finally, we began to opt for fact over fantasy. And now, after all that, the damn Republicans drag us back to La-la land. Facts once more get eclipsed by fantasies.

With his simple sounding pleasure principle, Freud discovered that not only did the race prefer fantasies, but so did each of us. We landed on the planet believing that wishing makes it so. We cooked up our own version of reality, stuffed it into our projector and blew away the facts that gave us such unpleasure. Immanuel Kant described these powers as the “accursed fecundity of mankind,” inexhaustibly projecting metaphysical and theological rubbish. Brother Kant would be a good Democrat. Like Freud and Krugman, he would’ve had Republicans sacked out.

Here’s how Krugman earned his promotion to world class Freudian. He observes – introjects, that is – that the Republicans had voted to repeal Obamacare for the 40th time. The voting is an exercise in futility, what with the White House and Senate in Democratic hands. We all know repealing Obamacare takes away health insurance for 50 million Americans, among many other losses. We all know that the Republicans offer no health insurance plan of their own. What Krugman adds is the observation that these seemingly pointless efforts to repeal Obamacare make Republicans FEEL BETTER.

Originally, Freud called the pleasure principle the unpleasure principle, that is, fantasies are conjured to avoid pain. That’s part of it. However, they also give pleasure, and, as noted by Anna Freud, no one gives up a pleasurable position willingly. Certainly not Republicans. They are fully aware that these Obamacare voting exercises make no sense objectively. They are not psychotic. What then? They are infantile, happily at play in the cradle. Republicans have abandoned themselves to the pleasure principle. Watch Ted Cruze and Paul Rand, romping in the nursery.

“What about their governing? Say what you will, Cruz and Rand are Senators.

– Governing! Are you kidding me!

Repealing Reality

In his most recent column, Paul Krugman documents the disturbing truth that the Republicans want to repeal reality. He points out they opt for fantasy over fact. They even disregard the laws of arithmetic without batting an eye. Obviously, Republicans don’t think straight. Can we make sense out of their thought disorder? Yes we can!

We begin with Freud’s pleasure principle. This is how it works. We come into this world a basket case, utterly helpless. Well, not quite. We can hoot and holler for attention, and we can fantasize. We can imagine a world without the discomfort of wet diapers, the pangs of hunger and, best of all, no waiting in line. Like King Lear, in our make -believe world we don’t wait one jot for dinner. And ain’t life grand! Like going to heaven and nothing but bliss. However, by and by, if we let our experience speak, something keeps knocking us a bit cuckoo. Nothing works out as we imagine and, if we are lucky, we slowly come to the realization that doing the same thing over and over again and getting the same bad result is not too smart. We change our way of doing business. It’s called learning and adapting.  We move from the pleasure principle to the reality principle.

Of course, submitting to the facts of life registers as an insult. What happened to the good old days when simply taking thought smoothed every bump in the road, calmed the wind and stopped the rain? “You dreamt it!” reality answers, indifferent to our litany of complaints. And, grumpy or not, we follow our new master. We submit to reality. We consent.

So there you have it, from the pleasure principle to the reality principle. It’s called growing up, and there’s an end. Not everything human is complicated, abandoning the pleasure principle for the reality principle is certainly one example. No wonder Freud is passe. Maybe in his Vienna, a citadel of prudery, his documenting the journey from pleasure to reality enlightened the natives. For us, it’s old hat. But hold on a minute. What is Krugman talking about when he insists Republicans are repealing reality and opting for fantasy over facts? Surely, every Republican had journeyed toward sanity while still in the cradle. Surely, at this late date, no Republican would be found wandering in fantasy-land. The Republican Party is not made up of schizophrenics. That’s true, but, alas, not every fantasy is cranked out by psychosis. Freud discovered this way back in the 19th century.  We all are vulnerable to fantasies in order to substitute pleasure for pain.  They make life bearable. Freud’s critical observation is recognition that fantasies are grounded in the pleasure principle, which takes us back to the very beginning of life.

The mechanism that makes the pleasure principle work is called projection. If we are to understand the Republican mind, we have to understand projection and Its counterpart, introjection. Here’s the skinny: projection works from the inside out. Think of a movie projector. It projects what is inside, the film, to the outside, the screen. Introjection works in the opposite direction.  It’s a camera. It registers what is outside and puts it on film which is inside. introjection works from the outside in, projection from the inside out. Projection has its origin in the pleasure principle; introjection began when we first opened our eyes and tuned in the common senses.

So what is the thought disorder that “repeals reality and opts for fantasy over facts?” a regression to the pleasure principle, that is, projection wins out over introjection. That is not a trivial problem. With astonishing accuracy, Krugman has sounded the alarm.

I’ll answer the bell in the next post.

 

Boring

I wasted my youth not in riotous living but in going to church. All my Sundays got wrecked. The law of the land demanded I park my ass in a Lutheran pew on God’s day. The experience was always the same: BORING! Geography made no difference. Whether I was parked in a Lutheran church on the West Coast or the East Coast, same experience: Boring. Whether the preacher was a country mouse or a city mouse: no relief. I even listened to the sermons, desperate for entertainment. No help. As surely as night follows day, boring.

And then one happy Sunday I came to the realization it wasn’t my problem. The Lutherans suffered a thought disorder. They smothered Sundays by smothering the mind. If mind is lighting up a neighborhood, you experience surprise and commotion. Mind gets the heart racing. It may knock your socks off. But no, in a coordinated conspiracy, the length and breadth of the land, one interminable Sunday after another, the Lutherans stuck to the same message: Jesus died for your sins.Over and over, benumbed, hammered, trapped. They gotcha!

Even more happily, life in a Lutheran pew with all those wasted Sundays enables me to understand the Republican Right. I get it! When I watch Congress in action, let’s say on C-SPAN, I can spot Republicans as soon as they open their mouth. The message is always the same: lower taxes and stop regulation. If I hear Republicans talking out in the boonies, it’s lower taxes and stop regulation. John Boehner is a broken record.  If they’re not giving the party line, they’re busy having a moral conniption about Obamacare. Same ol’, same ol’, as predictable as preachers carrying on about salvation through faith.

Nature can tell us who She is, but She can’t tell us what we ought to do. She does give us a Moral Sense, but the details are our invention. Martin Luther’s large catechism packages those details for Lutherans. Every group on earth puts together its own moral package. (I’m going to let you in on a little secret. It’ll knock your socks off.The way you can recognize any and every catechism is that they all are, well, BORING.) Compared with nature, Luther’s 40 volumes of “oughts” are trivial, as is every product of the Moral Sense. Nature’s Book can’t be housed in the Library of Congress. Luther’s Collected Works don’t fill a single shelf. William Blake observed, “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.” The doors of perception are the Common Senses, not the Moral Sense. And thereby hangs a tale.

I’ve gotten over my loss of Sundays. For one thing, I knocked to pieces my hard, wooden pew. I no longer need permission to go out and play on Sundays. More importantly, I understand why Mitch McConnell is so boring, him and his band of moral maniacs. He has called for 420 filibusters, each a product of the same moral imperative – “get” President Obama. For at least 420 Sundays of my youth, it was “Jesus died for your sins.”

I do allow myself one pious thought on Sundays: Thank God I’m not a Republican. BORING!