Ah, it's good to be back in the South. I felt it soon as I landed in Charlotte. I guess I was a little hard on the city folks up north, but I tend to sympathize with Fred Reed's sentiment that "maybe people weren't meant to live on top of each other." I can understand why people might work in tall buildings, but I can't understand why they'd live in them. I don't think a man was meant to walk out his front door and get in an elevator, or out his back door and look 80 stories down to a concrete slab. He was meant to feel the grass between his toes, feed the hogs in the pen, or watch the trees in the wind.
There are nice people everywhere. We were treated well in the restaurants and so forth, but we never quite caught on to the ethics of the road, of which the primary directive seemed to require laying on your horn repeatedly and without end until whoever is obstructing your progress gets out of the way. New York's quite a beautiful state once you get outside the city, but that latter thing is like an octopus' tentacles. I saw the same sort of behavior on the streets of the village of New Rochelle. Too many of them work in the city, I guess.
So when we went to Mass in the village of Armonk, we thought to get away from the road, the rain, and the ridiculously cold temperature. It was a real small church in a real small parish. The seating capacity was maybe one quarter of your average place. Very cozy. You wouldn’t think it would be an occasion of sin. Mine, that is. The gospel passage for the day was the one in which Christ commands us to “love one another, as I have loved you.” The pastor’s sermon was on immigration. The gist was that we are to love illegal immigrants by leaving them alone. They are honest, hardworking folks with children whose lives some people would like to disrupt by…doing something to them. What it was he never made clear. This priest used to work in immigration at Kennedy airport (talk about a career change). He knew the business. Yes, those people are here illegally, no one denies that, but…they are honest, hardworking folks with children. Besides, this problem’s been going on for fifty years said the priest-immigration expert. We have not done due diligence. He watched it with his own eyes. His coworkers were not keeping track of the status of everyone’s paperwork. (That bureaucrats get lazy sure is news to me). While listening, one couldn’t help but wonder: weren’t most of those immigrants prior to the Mexican wave here legally? How many illegal immigrants were cutting through the fences at Kennedy airport? Zero? Aren’t most of the immigrants from other countries here legally even today? He didn’t address any of this, nor any argument of the other side. The immigrants are here illegally, they’re honest, they have children, leave them alone. That was the long and short of it. I suppose the matter of the most moral means of dealing with these illegals is worth pondering (other than just forgetting all about it). I suppose we ought not to shoot them on sight. I suppose we ought not to round them up and put them in internment camps (although a case could be made). But leave them alone? As he was finishing up, Bern leaned over and whispered, “You want to go?” Now when such an idea originates with her and not me, something’s badly wrong. I nodded and we left, an exit that cannot go unnoticed in a church so small. I suppose a preacher like that, when he sees it, just sits back in his chair and says to himself, “I must speak the truth in or out of season. Not everyone can hear it.” Some of us just have to be written off.
Now I have to go to confession for not meeting my obligation. I wonder if I can blame it on the priest, which seems a kind of lowdown thing to do. “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. But it wasn’t my fault. One of your colleagues…” Don’t think it will work. Or maybe I could try Bill Maher’s technique, related in a comedy routine he used to do back in the days when he was still funny. He claimed to have been raised by a Catholic mother and a Jewish father, so he got into the habit of taking his lawyer to confession. “Father Ryan, meet Mr. Cohen.”
There’s no defense, it seems. You have to be sorry when you go to confession, no matter what the other guy did. But when our clergy's counsel to “love one another” degenerates into “see no evil,” seems to me we’ve got a problem, although it's not a new one.