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July 31, 1998     The Message
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July 31, 1998

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4 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Jul i! "t If love is the answer, what's the question By PAUL R. LEINGANG Editor Some scouts and some adult leaders had a dis- cussion recently, and they discovered something that was true. tt happened at a meeting which was designed to help motivate younger scouts to push forward toward earning the rank of Eagle Scout. It always amazes me that the achievement of someone under 18 is still mentioned in the biography of someone who has attained some fame as an adult. The astronaut, the senator, the pioneer in scientific research -- each was an Eagle Scout. The rank, and the honor that goes with it, stays with them through- out life. So this group of scouts and their adult leaders were sitting around one night, talking about becom- ing Eagle Scouts. Over and over the conversation returned to the same questions. Tell me what you did to earn your Eagle. How hard was it to get your project approved? What do you think of my idea for a project? Do you think my project idea is good enough to be approved? That's the point where the conversation went from childhood to grown-up. A turning point, you might call it. A teachable moment. "Is my idea for a project going to be approved?" An assistant scout master answered very clearly. You're asking the wrong question. Up to this point, the Eagle insisted, scouts have advanced through the ranks by fulfilling specified requirements. Do this, do that, walk so far, learn this skill, and you've earned it. Eagle Scout is a rank that pushes the young scout past the point of doing what is required, into the area of leading others to do something that is worthwhile. So what the Eagle told the younger scouts was simple. The question is not, "Is it good enough to get approved?" The question is much simpler: "Is it something good to do?" The emphasis, he insisted, has to be on doing something worthwhile. That's the basis for deciding whether or not to do it. Kids can advance by going through the prescribed steps. Grown-ups ought to do what is right and good and worthwhile -- because it is right and good and worthwhile. That sounded to me to be suspiciously close to the Sermon on the Mount. The result follows the action, it does not lead it. The question is not, "How can I get to be called a child of God?" The question ought to be, "How can I be a peacemaker. Here's the hard part. Take a look at the efforts to do good in your neighborhood or in the city or town where you live, Try to avoid judging the motives of those who are involved, but. carefully examine the work that is  being done. What is being done because it is good? What is being done because it will gain attention? The admonition in Scripture immediately to mind -- that in regard to doing good works, right hand should not know what the left hand is doing. A priest friend recently discussed with me his sense of "obedience" -- which he compared unquestioning love shown within a family, t If a child is sick, a parent does not hesitate toge up at night. The parent does not examine motives,0r analyze the goals and objectives Sleep is lost, care is given, love is shown -- in .... ence to the commandment of love. The ment is not, "Get up at night when your child is' sick." The commandment is simply, "Love er," or something even simpler and just do what you have to do" ,, Take the time today to examine the things "because you just have to do them."  .... : Help a child to understand that love is action: Comments about this column are welcome at or the Christian Family Box 272, Ames, Iowa 50010. Constitution amendments: At a glance thirds supermajority in Con- gress and the three-fourths supermajority among the states. "The level of consensus in the country has to be at least 80 percent," he said, much higher than the simple majori- ty needed for legislation. The Constitution, Mayton added, imposes high decision costs so lawmakers and citizens understand that a proposal to change the Constitution is "not just the passion of the time." "More Americans treasure the Constitution and want to avoid politicizing the Constitu- mitring abortion virtually on demand, the proposal has gar- nered little support. -- The Equal Rights Amend- ment. Known for years as the ERA, it seemed like a sure thing when it was introduced. But after an anti-ERA campaign which, among other things, prophesied unisex restrooms as a result of ERA, it limped badly and couldn't get the required three-fourths of the states to pass it -- even after the ratifica- tion deadline was extended from seven years to 10. But a post-ERA Supreme reverse a Supreme Court deci- sion and permit prayer in pub- lic schools. But Congress has so far failed to hold up its end of the amendment process by passing it with a two-thirds majority. The last amendment added to the Constitution, in 1992, prohibited Congress from giv- ing itself midterm pay raises But it became law not with a bang but a whimper -- mainly because it was first drafted by James Madison in 1789, and he set no deadlines for states to ratify it. Court decision extended the 14th Amendment's equal Aany propo l wh h d njoy rights protections for African- ' Americans to women as well, sa ic oes not e noted William T. Mayton, a constitutional law professor J Ra popular consensus is doomed. at Emery University in By MARK PATTISON Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- There are 27 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, but in a sense that's a misleading state- ment. The Constitution started out with 10 amendments, meaning the original document has been amended only 17 times in the 222-year history of the repub- lic. That's one new amendment every 13 years. Here's a glance at some of the proposed constitutional amend- ments from the past generation still waiting for enough support for passage: The Human Life Amend- ment, which would protect the right to life of unborn children. Proposed shortly after Supreme Court decisions in Roe vs. Wade and Doe vs. Bolton per- 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47711  Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Published weekly except last week in December by the Catholic Press of Evansvtlle Atlanta. The Balanced Budget Amendment. Many thought the only way the federal gov- ernment's budget would bal- ance again was with a consti- tutional amendment. There's no amendment, but there is a balanced budget this year. An amendment to pro- hibit flag burning. Meant to reverse a Supreme Court deci- sion which held that burning the U.S. flag was a matter of freedom of expression, the amendment went nowhere in the early 1990s. It has been revived this year, with no less a celebrity than Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Tommy Lasorda urging Con- gress to approve it this time out. The Istook Amendment. Named after Rep. Ernest Istook, R-Okla., this too would Making a bid for entry into the Constitution would be a redrafting of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The bill, which passed 98-2 in the Senate, set out to reverse a Supreme Court decision which gave government the right in certain instances to restrict the exercise of religion. But Collin Mangrum, a con- stitutional law professor at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., said it would be much tougher to get agreement on constitutional wording to have the same effect as intend- ed with RFRA -- never know- ing how the Supreme Court may interpret it somewhere down the road. What makes it so hard to get an amendment into the Consti- tution? Mayton cited the "decision cost" of acquiring the two- Pulr ............ Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger Editor .................................. .Paul R. Leingang Prock Tedvti .............. Josel Di adveng ................................. Paul Newland Sta wrr ............................ uary a=  Address all communications to P.O. Box 4169, Evansville, IN 47724-0169 Subscription rate: $18.50 per year Single Copy Price: $.50 Entered as periodJcaJ maer at tte pc! offce in Eva, nswle, IN 47701 Publc, atJon nurnlr 843800 PcmasTer: Re.urn POD orms 3579 to Ofhce of 1998 Catt,,of Press of Evansville : ; il I ) tion," offered Mangrum. "The Constitution proves some issues are above politics." Mangrum said few constitu- tional scholars would say the Supreme Court was wrong in the Texas vs. Johnson flag- burning decision, since it con- tinued a trend of expanded individual liberties. By con- trast, they would find fault with its subsequent rulingin Smith vs. Oregon, the case that sparked RFRA, because it restricted individual liberties. Ken Gormley, a constitution- al law professor at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, called many of the F ments "a political exercise optical illusion. this to show to voters the good guys." He said his opinion raaY "a cynical view, but in a pretty accurate one." Gormley said supermajority req adding amendI posal which does not popular consem, According to include the Human ment, the Istook and the flag-burning ment. "In every decade some sort of adding to the although rarely b been a call for a al convention radically redefine rightS erties, said Geor versity constitutional fessor Richard Chused. "In this decadethere'S (proposals) that have farther" than in pas Chused added. talk about amending stitution, but the 1; quite difficult." The Supreme ing down RFRA, its majority opinion best way to get adverse decision is wl stitutional an than a law, Bishop's 00schedule Consulters" meeting, Friday, July 31, Councils Catholic Center, 1:30 p.m. Phiimont scout trek, Aug. 1 through 20.