FIFTY-ONE


Ah, how rich and splendid and fecund this page is with material for reflection, for meditation, for inspiration!!

I could reflect on the profound philosophical and religious implications of these words from the top of the page, “...Todd and I were excited about it, though. We'd been TOGETHER BUT SEPARATE [emphasis mine] for many years already, so we figured we could handle whatever life dished out. We put it all in God's hands.”

I could comment on Sarah's words from the latter part of the page about the agonizing hours and days that preceded the immortal triumph of the twentieth of April in the Year of Grace One Thousand Nine Hundred Eighty-Nine.

However, on this beautiful morn of early spring I would like to focus on two small sentences from a passage that occurs about a third of the way down the course of the page.

Sarah says, “On April 20, 1989, my life truly began. I became a mom. I had no idea how this tiny person, my son, would turn me inside out and upside down with the all-consuming love that swelled my heart from the second he was born....”

“On April 20, 1989, my life truly began. I became a mom.”

I believe that these few words contain all the power of life in the universe, both divine and human, within their short compass. They occupy less than one full line on the page, and yet what vast stretches of truth and beauty and power they occupy in the order of the deepest REALITY of things!!

Ah, how to begin?!?

We may commence with some questions. How can Sarah say that her life “truly began” on that day in 1989? Was she not born in 1964? Was she not living a vibrant, active life all those years up to 1989? What does it mean truly to be alive?

To live, at the most fundamental level, is to partake in the mystery of Communicatio, that is, communicating, sharing, interchanging.

We observe this in nature, beginning at the level of breathing. Plants and animals and man/woman all share in the function of breathing in and out, of exchanging one gaseous substance for another.

Further, when a member of any species attains to a fullness of growth, to adulthood, it possesses the power to transmit, to communicate its own life to a new member of the species.

With men and women we see this law of nature revealed at a level and in a splendor that far surpasses the plants and (mere) animals.

Why is it that it resides in the very heart and bosom of our beings to desire, for example, to share a beautiful poem, share a new scientific discovery, share an ennobling or bracing experience with others? Why does Sarah recount with such delight in GR (p.20) the joy she and her family and her friends still derive from sharing with each other, for example, the splendid appearance of an aurora borealis in the majestic Great Land?

It is because we are created in the image of that God Whom Christians believe to be Triune, a Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Just as the Father eternally generates the Son and is bound in Eternal Love (the Holy Spirit) with the Son, so it is the delight of one human being to communicate things to another human being. This communicatio then creates a bond of happiness and joy between the two that is a faint shadow and hint of the Holy Spirit.

The essence, then, of life resides in this dual GIVING-RECEIVING, this COMMUNICATIO VITAE, this communicating/sharing of life, this TRADITIO VITAE, this handing on/passing on of life.

We observe this power at its crown and summit in the generative power that man/woman possesses. We hold this mighty power on several levels. And this is crucial: The exercise of this power requires that the one who exercises it have achieved relative perfection or “adulthood” at the level in question.

On the physical plane, only adults can procreate new human beings.

On the intellectual plane, only true Masters of their subject matter can effectively communicate, “bring to birth” in their pupils a knowledge of and love for a given subject (this is why I believe, for example, that only Masters should teach subjects like Latin and English, even in their beginning stages...rather than “teachers” who are only a “few steps” ahead of their pupils).

On the spiritual plane, it is one who is already himself/herself far advanced in the Love of the Deity, who can generate that Love in others (St. Paul, for example, whose thundering, deathless epistles speak to us with a living voice that reverberates down through the halls and corridors of the centuries...and right up to this very moment!!).

In fact, we Catholics speak of bishops as possessing the “fullness of the priesthood” because only bishops can create other bishops and priests; they hold the “adulthood,” so to speak, of the priesthood!

So this brings us back to our Sarah. She says, and says well, that her life truly began when she communicated that life to another being, her eldest child, Track!

I believe that ALL men and women are called to this same lofty vocation of the COMMUNICATIO/TRADITIO VITAE. But what about those who cannot or do not want to have children? I think that the calling can be fulfilled on many levels. A man or woman who never has kids need not feel sad or deprived at being shut out from this exalted human privilege.

He or she can generate knowledge, courage, light, clarity, brightness, love in other lives in an almost infinite variety of ways. There is no limit to the generous and gracious hand with which the Lord holds out to us all the possibilities and opportunities for fatherhood and motherhood, in the broadest and deepest senses of these terms!!

Of course, we all believe that Sarah has been granted a most special and unusual, nay unique, “mom's vocation.”

In 1989 she became a mom for the first time.

In 2008 she became a mom for the fifth time, with the birth of her precious little Trig.

In 2011 she is poised, we believe, to become the Mother of Her Country!!

Read It For Yourself:

Other Great Sarah Books:

Palin Essentials:

Credits:

All sidebar photos are from Wikimedia. I have tried to post all royalty-free images or to get permission, but in a few cases I could not locate the original source of a photograph or find a way to ask permission.


Contact info: bbrianus@gmail.com.

Other Great Going Rogue Reviews:

Jedediah Bila:

"Palin’s inviting first-person narration that is sometimes whimsical, often confident, and always patriotic...Going Rogue is truly one of those reads in which you put the book down after your eyes graze the final lines and you somehow feel like the writer is someone you’ve known all your life."
John Ziegler:

"I was simply blown away by Going Rogue on almost every level. For many reasons, this is by far the best book and greatest literary achievement by a political figure in my lifetime..."
Brigadier General Anthony J. Tata:
"Her book washes away all doubts that any reader might have had about her readiness to be president. She comes across as exceptionally bright, dedicated, and passionate about public service. Her moral compass is strong, pointing true North in this case. And she has a wicked sense of humor."
Don Surber:
"Conservatives know why Palin is still standing — and standing taller today than those who tried to bring her down. What does not kill you makes you stronger. Thank you, Tina Fey."

Sarah Palin is Coming to Town

Review by Stanley Fish:

When I walked into the Strand Bookstore in Manhattan last week, I headed straight for the bright young thing who wore an “Ask Me” button, and asked her to point me to the section of the store where I might find Sarah Palin’s memoir, “Going Rogue: An American Life.” She looked at me as if I had requested a copy of “Mein Kampf” signed in blood by the author....


A few days later...I had begun reading Palin’s book, and while I wouldn’t count myself a fan in the sense of being a supporter, I found it compelling and very well done....

First, the art. The book has an architectonic structure that is built around a single moment, the moment when Palin receives a call from John McCain inviting her to be the vice-presidential candidate of the Republican party. When we first hear about the call it is as much a surprise to us as it was (at least as reported) to her, because for six pages she has been recounting a wonderful family outing at the Alaska State Fair. When her phone rings, she hopes it might be a call from her son Track, a soldier soon to deploy to Iraq, but “it was Senator John McCain asking if I wanted to help him change history.”

And that’s the last we hear of it for 200 pages. In between we hear a lot about Wasilla, high school, basketball, college, marriage, children, Down syndrome, Alaska politics, the environment, a daughter’s pregnancy. The re-entry of John McCain into the narrative on page 208 introduces Palin’s account of the presidential campaign and its aftermath, especially her decision to resign the governorship before the end of her term....


Paradoxically, the effect of the neatly spaced references to the call is to de-emphasize it as a dramatic moment. It is presented not as a climax, but as an interruption of matters more central to Palin’s abiding concerns — her family, Alaska’s prosperity, energy policy. (She loves to rehearse the kind of wonkish details we associate with Hillary Clinton, whom she admires.)

Indeed, it is a feature of this narrative that events we might have expected to be foregrounded are elided or passed over. Palin introduced herself to the nation with a powerful, electrifying speech accepting McCain’s invitation to join the ticket. It gets half a sentence (“I gave my speech”)....


The only event that receives an extended discussion is her resignation. It is important to her because as an act it reflects on her integrity, and she has to be sure (as she eventually was) that she was doing it for the right reasons.

Resigning was a moral act for which she was responsible. The vice-presidential candidacy just happened to her; her account of it reads like an extended “what-I-did-on-my summer-and fall-vacation” essay.


For many politicians, family life is sandwiched in between long hours in public service. Palin wants us to know that for her it is the reverse. Political success is an accident that says nothing about you. Success as a wife, mother and citizen says everything...

I find the voice undeniably authentic...It is the voice of small-town America, with its folk wisdom, regional pride, common sense, distrust of rhetoric (itself a rhetorical trope), love of country and instinctive (not doctrinal) piety.

It says, here are some of the great things that have happened to me, but they are not what makes my life great and American. (“An American life is an extraordinary life.”) It says, don’t you agree with me that family, freedom and the beauties of nature are what sustain us?


And it also says, vote for me next time. For it is the voice of a politician, of the little girl who thought she could fly, tried it, scraped her knees, dusted herself off and “kept walking.”

In the end, perseverance, the ability to absorb defeat without falling into defeatism, is the key to Palin’s character. It’s what makes her run in both senses of the word and it is no accident that the physical act of running is throughout the book the metaphor for joy and real life. Her handlers in the McCain campaign wouldn’t let her run (a mistake, I think, even at the level of photo-op), no doubt because they feared another opportunity to go “off script,” to “go rogue.”

But run she does (and falls, but so what?), and when it is all over and she has lost the vice presidency and resigned the governorship, she goes on a long run and rehearses in her mind the eventful year she has chronicled. And as she runs, she achieves equilibrium and hope: “We’ve been through amazing days, and really, there wasn’t one thing to complain about. I feel such freedom, such hope, such thankfulness for our country, a place where nothing is hopeless.”

The message is clear. America can’t be stopped. I can’t be stopped. I’ve stumbled and fallen, but I always get up and run again. Her political opponents, especially those who dismissed Ronald Reagan before he was elected, should take note. Wherever you are, you better watch out. Sarah Palin is coming to town.

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