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Evansville, Indiana
September 6, 1991     The Message
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September 6, 1991

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4 Editorial The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana September 6, 1991 By PAUL LEINGANG Message Editor We can build community through common experience The people gathered at the appointed time, to tell stories and to sing songs. It is not the liturgy of the Mass I am describing, it is a report on a music concert over the past weekend. Huey Lewis and the News performed their blend of rock and roll in St. Louis on Saturday night of the Labor Day weekend. A special place had been prepared ibr the celebration, beneath the gleaming structure of the St. Louis Gateway Arch. Thousands and thousands of people gathered at the site, long before the concert was to begin, in order toget a good place to see and to hear. Fami- lies came to sit on blankets spread on the grass. Others found seats together on a hillside. Still oth- ers stood at the edge of the crowd, as close as we could get because of our arrival just minutes be- fore the music was scheduled to begin. I am not a liturgist, but I a m an observer. What I tell you in this column is true, as true as the account of any witness can be. There are some elements in common, I dis- covered, between the celebration of the Mass and the music concert. It is important to say immedi- ately that people at the concert did not come to- gether to offer sacrifice, and so there is an essen- tial difference. Yet there are some points worthy ,, Washington. Letter of comparison. People assembled at the appointed time. They came to hear old songs and new songs, the familiar words they had heard before and the new words of songs .not yet well-established. Within the concert crowd there was a kind of enthusiasm for what was unfolding. There was no hesitation to shout and show approval, to add a kind of "Amen!" to what was said and done by the one who presided over the gather- ing. People in the crowd had varying degrees of musical knowledge and experience. Among the crowd were true fans and the merely curious. Those well-acquainted with the words of the song witnessed -- by singing along -- to the oth- ers who did not perhaps share the depth of their feelings. Such a performance is vastly, even immea- surably different from a studio performance. The singer and the band were at the center of atten- tion, but what happened within the crowd was a necessary part of the success of the concert. It was not so much technical mastery -- although that was important -- but rather the interaction of the entire assembly that unified the entire as- sembly. People who did not know each other before the concert still did not know each other well after the concert, but they had experienced some- thing together. Because of that common experi- ence, there was built among them a kind of com- munity. To say that God sent his son to be one of us is to acknowledge that our experience of the di- vine happens within what is human. Our experi- ence in liturgy may transcend what is merely of this world, but it is my experience that the foun- dation of a liturgical experience is as human as a crowd gathered to hear music. The heart of rock and roll is the beat, sang Huey Lewis, and I am able to bear witness to you that it was indeed the beat which unified the crowd at the concert. I am convinced that deep within the heart of humanity is the need to as- semble as a community to acknowledge the one who unifies us with his Father. No, the concert was not an assembly of di- vine worship. But, yes, it was an acknowledge- ment that the foundation of our holiness is in the gathering, where people tell stories and sing songs and build community. In nomination world, endorsements der, t(mncements matter little By PATRICIA ZAPOR Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS)- By the time Judge Clarence Thomas finally sits at the mi- crophone in a Senate hearing room Sept. 10 or 11, at least four dozen national interest groups will have already ruled on whether he&apos;d be a gooa Supreme Court justice. Not only will they have de- cided whether their interests would be advanced or imped- ed hould the 43-year-old U.S. Circuit Court judge join the nation's highest court, they'll have attempted to make that judgment clear to every member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to as many other senators as possi- ble and to every major media outlet in the country. What remains in doubt, however, is whether an en- dorsement or denouncement by interest groups does much to sway the opinions of the i EbSAGE,,,,,,.. 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47724-O1 69 Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Published weekly except la;t week in December by the Catholic" Press of Evansville. Publisher .... Bishop Gerald. : Gettelfinger Associate Publisher .... Re Joseph ZiUak Editor ................. :: =ul Leingang Production Mgr ............... Phil Boger CirJAdv. Mgr ........... Pa =1A. Newlancl Address all communication: to P.O. Box 4169, Evansville, IN 4772<-0169. Phone (812) 424-5536, Subscrlptlor rate: $1 7.50 per year Single Copy Price: 50 Entered as 2nd class matter at the post of- rice in Evansville. IN 47701. Publication number 843800. Postmaster: Return POD formB 3579 to the Office of Publication. Copydghl 1991.Catholic Press of Evansv / |= voting senators. "Sometimes, through a well-orchestrated campaign, it is possible to make it ap- pear as though there's a groundswell of opposition or support for the nominee," said John McAdams, associ- ate professor of political sci- ence at Marquette University in Milwaukee. The Reagan administration learned that lesson with the failed effort to appoint Robert Bork to the court in 1987. Bork opponents advertised and lobbied heavily, empha- sizing his conservative views. In the end, their approach of depicting the nominee as a radical conservative succeed- ed. But with Thomas' nomina- tion, the number of "for" and "against" pronouncements seem to cancel each other out and there is little evidence of strong sentiment either way from the general public. Messages of support have come from the Eagle Forum, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Catholic Education- al Association, Knights of Columbus, Catholic Golden Age, College Republican Na- tional Committee and the Family Research Council, among others. Those opposing the nomi- nation include the AFL-CIO, People for the American Way, National Abortion Rights Ac- tion League, the League of United Latin American Citi- zens and the National Organi- zation for Women. But the announcements only work to influence sena- tors if the group's members are willing to back up in the voting booth what its leader- ship says. "Interest groups don't mat- ter much in this process un- less they truly epresmt 'the constituencies they say they do," said McAdams. For instance, although the leadership of the National As- sociation for the Advance- ment of Colored People voted to oppose Thomas, some local chapters disagreed and proclaimed their support for him. That drew threats of sus- pension from the national or- ganization. Historically, the lack of support from the NAACP for Supreme Court nominees has been significant, according to Norman Amaker, a law pro- fessor at Loyola University in Chicago. Amaker was a col- league of retiring Justice Thurgood Marshall at the NAACP during the 1960s and monitored the Equal Employ- ment Opportunity Commis- sion in the 1980s when Thomas was its chairman. "No Supreme Court nomi- nee has ever overcome the opposition of the NAACP," Amaker said in an Aug. 15 statement. Polls taken soon after Thomas' nomination showed a majority of blacks support- ed him, but McAdams said he believes opinions are now more mixed. The Urban League, one of the largest pre- dominantly black civic groups, has remained neutral on the nomination, as has the American Civil Liberties Union. "I don't expect interest groups to matter a great deal in this case," McAdams said. With groups like the Urban League and the ACLU staying neutral, "it's going to be diffi- cult to make it look like there's a groundswell of pub- lic opinion against Thomas," he said. Unlike the Bork nomina- tion, which was swept away in a national wave of opposi- tion before the Judiciary Committee could vote, "this decision is going to be made in the U.S. Senate," McAdams believes. Three members of the com- mittee are generally consid- ered to be swing votes on most court nominees, sena- tors Dennis DeConcini, D- Ariz., Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and Howell Heflin, D-AIa. No matter how the wind seems to blow among their fellow committee members ahead of time, the three tend to wait until the end of the hearings before giving an in- dication of how they'll vote. The amount of interest Thomas has generated from the general public is still rela- tively light, according to DeConcini's press secretary, Bob Maynes. There has been less mail about Thomas than there was about Bork, but mare than there was about Justice David Souter, who was named to the court last summer, Maynes said. McAdams predicted that those who would sidetrack Thomas' nomination on the basis of popular opinion will have to find an issue other than his opposition to affir- mative action programS, which has been cited by soy" eral of the key groups calling for the Senate to reject him. "The majority of Americans are opposed to affirmative as" tion," he noted, and ThomaS' belief that affirmative actioS programs are unnecessary isn't likely to bother the vet" ing public enough to start aS outcry. Nor will Thomas' limited experience as a judge make much difference, McAdamS thinks. In terms of scholarN credentials, Bork was one o the most qualified nominees for the court in recent history, yet in the end it didn't mat" ter. "I suspect Supreme Court appointments are almost never based on credentials and almost always on politi" cal motivations," he said. Letters to the edi- tor are welcome. Letters submitted for publication must be signed and must in- clude a daytime teleph on e num eber. I Bishops schedule The following activities and events are listed on the schedule of Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger k=.._