Monday, March 27, 2006

My Ned Flanders moment

Sunday, a friend apologized to me. A while back, he had been angry at me -- with ample reason -- but felt that his anger was unjust.

My friend is a devout Catholic who once told me how he nearly decided to become a priest. He's also a former amateur boxer who could easily kick my butt, I'm sure.

My friend told me that he had talked to his priest, whom we will call "Father Variwico," and the priest said that he should apologize. Of course, I'd completely forgotten about it, and certainly owe my friend an apology more than he owes me one. Still, it was very touching.

I'd been thinking about the Domenech affair, and thinking also how the Left is going to come after Lynn and me once the DONKEY CONS comes out (buy TWO). And my friend's apology reminded me of something I'd said to my brother in a phone call Saturday night: "Christianity begins with the admission that we are sinners. 'For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.'"

Yes, and my devout Catholic friend, by apologizing to me -- really, no apology was necessary, since it was all my fault to begin with -- was being truly Christian. (Of course, he's still a papist slave to the Beast of Rome, but I try to be tolerant about such things.) And Father Variwico's advice was exactly right: We have to let go of our anger, and pray for our enemies -- especially because, in most cases, they aren't really our enemies at all. We who are saved by grace are obligated to show grace toward others. If we let our stiff-necked pride get in the way of meeting that obligation, it is we who ultimately suffer, and not those we have wronged.

Two months ago, I wrote an essay (as yet unpublished) entitled, "The Sin of Being Human." Today I saw something about the Domenech debacle, written by one of Ben's friends, Mike Krempasky. Mike's basic point was that, whatever Ben's faults -- and yea, verily, they were abominations -- Ben is his friend. And the Ben that his friends know is a nice guy: a nice guy whom the Left relentlessly vilified in the most horrifying ways from the first day he started blogging for the Other Paper. And as much as I hate plagiarism, as easy as it is for me to jest and jeer at the sheer transparent stupidity of Domenech's thefts ... well, hate the sin, love the sinner.

DONKEY CONS will be officially published on April 4. That's eight days from now. And heaven only knows what evils will be visited on Lynn and me if, as we hope, the book is a success. (The Left doesn't usually bother smearing the authors of flops.) Sunday night I came across a left-wing smear site whose "Rogue's Gallery" actually features the home address and phone number of Michelle Malkin. My God, if that's what they do to the mother two small children, what mercy can I expect?

So when the tsunami of hate comes rolling in, I can imagine the horrified reaction of our friends. Every typo in DONKEY CONS is going to be harped on as if it were a devastating error that completely discredits all 288 pages (with 667 endnotes -- endnotes, we are always careful to say, since Al Franken claims it is a lie to call them "footnotes.") When I came to Washington, I knew that politics here is a full-contact sport, and I've put in my share of crackback blocks and blindside tackles. I just hope I can keep it in perspective, and hope my friends will understand what's going on when the Kossacks and the Atriosites do their ritual excoriations.

That's what I was talking about, by the way, when I went into Ned Flanders mode the other day, explaining to Ben Domenech what being at rock bottom is all about. I was at one of those rock-bottom places when I wrote my essay, "The Sin of Being Human." When you're attacked and vilified, mocked and scorned, used and abused, lied to and lied about, the temptation toward hatred can be irresistible. Yet you must resist, because if you give into hate, that hate will destroy you. And however badly wronged you think yourself to be, your trials and sorrows are no more than you deserve, because you are a wretched sinner. So am I, and so are we all.

If your enemies are unjust, God is not without power to rebuke them -- but what about your own unjust acts, your own ugly outbursts, your own evil thoughts, your own selfishness and hard-heartedness?

Father Variwico was right: Even if we feel that we are fully justified in our wrath, yet we are obligated -- if we would call ourselves Christians -- to show grace. And so after my friend apologized to me Sunday afternoon, an ironic thought crossed my mind. What were the last words of that essay I wrote?

We are all only human -- tribal by nature. We choose up sides, Us against Them, Left-vs.-Right, Red-vs.-Blue. We inflate the evils of our self-chosen enemies, and use the exaggerated menace to justify unfair attacks against them. Mea maxima culpa.

-- McCAIN (Oke-ly doke-ly!)

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