I haven’t written much about the mess with Ukraine/Crimea/Russia. I haven’t written at all about the missing airliner.
The reasons are simple.
I don’t have a lot of wisdom to share about Ukraine/Crimea/Russia, and I don’t know what’s happened to that airliner.
My guess is that Russia wants a sort of alliance with its former satellites states; something akin to the European Union. I doubt that Russia wants to re-occupy those countries. They’ve already done that. And it didn’t work out.
On the other hand, creating an economic alliance that resembles the European Union would greatly enhance Russia’s economic clout. This is especially true if Russia is the absolute, unchallenged first among equals with the member states of that “union.”
Russia, being Russia, doesn’t seem to have gotten the drift of negotiation in developing this economic union. They’re more into gunpoint diplomacy than the give and take of actual negotiating.
Of course, negotiating with people who were, until a couple of decades ago, Russia’s slaves, would be tough going, even for the most delicate of debaters. Russia has what might be called a bad rep among their former satellites. The brutal police states they ran that impoverished people, destroyed their freedoms and ended many of their lives in gulags make people chary of being their pals now. These folks aren’t too eager to go back under the Russian lash.
It appears that Russia is still the child of its evil past. The response to frustrating displays of disregard for what Russia wants in its satellites seems to bring that evil child to the fore. Russia’s means of conversation is to bring in the tanks and troops.
In addition to economic hegemony, Russia also wants and needs something that Crimea — and only Crimea — has. Americans, who live in one of the other great continental nations, take our plethora of deep water ports for granted. We’ve got so many of them, and they are all ice free year round, that the whole question is not a question to us. We don’t think about what it would be like to be a continental nation without a single ice-free, deep-water port.
But Russia, despite its mammoth coastline, hasn’t got anyplace to park a fleet of big boats. It can’t ship goods by sea because there’s no way to get the goods onto the seas. I won’t discuss the issue of a Russian Navy at this point. I think it’s obvious that you’ve got to have ports to have an effective Nary.
Little Crimea is the proud possessor of a deep water port that is ice free.
Do I need to connect the dots here?
At the same time that we’ve seen exhaustive and utterly confusing news reports about Russia/Ukraine/Crimea, we have also been partakers of the mystery surrounding a missing airliner. It seems that this airliner abruptly made a hard turn off its course, dropped to below radar level and flew on for several hours. Then, it vanished.
Nobody knows what happened. Nobody knows where it is now. Nobody knows anything except that the airliner, its crew and passengers are missing.
Speculation about hijackings and terrorists raises a hundred nightmare scenarios in all our minds.
We faced with other people’s tragedies as their countries are invaded and annexed for the use of more powerful nations. We imagine what it must have been like on that airliner. We feel for the families of these people. We speculate about whether or not the crew and passengers are still alive, and if they are still alive, what might be happening to them.
All this is laced with fear. Not lie-awake-at-night-and-churn-fear, but the cold frisson of fear that is part of living in an uncertain and dangerous world. There are so many good people. But the relatively few bad ones have the capacity to make a hell of this earth for all of us.
Both these situations seem to have a simple root cause, and that root cause is the assumption by some individuals and countries that other human beings are simple expedients to them getting what they want.
We deal with powers and principalities every day of our lives. We see the results of their control over human beings on the news every evening, and we live out the personal miseries they cause us in the dysfunctions of our relations with those around us.
I haven’t written about missing airliners and Russian tanks parked on the ground of other people’s countries because I’m not sure enough of the facts to say anything definitive. I decided to write about these things today because of the one thing I am sure of.
We will never get to the end of the evil that people do to other people in this life. That is why it is so important for us to remember that our primary citizenship is not in any country of this world. We are citizens of heaven, even now, as we live here.
I am not urging an otherworldly abandonment of our responsibilities in the here and now. We are charged with bringing the Kingdom. We are called directly and explicitly by Our Lord to be the light that shines in this darkness.
As Americans we have unique freedoms with which to do this. We need to use every opportunity we have to fulfill our call, and when we feel that frisson of fear that comes from living in a fallen world, we need to remember that we serve a risen Lord. This world is just the smallest part of our existence.
Pope Francis has taught us a lot of Evangelization in his first year as our Holy Father.
The press has wasted a good bit of their reportage of Pope Francis in misreporting. They mine his every statement for anything they can use to say that the Catholic Church is going to get with it and support gay sex and gay marriage. They’ve taken simple comments about forgiveness and mercy and spun them into off-the-cuff ex cathedra statements which they claim overturn 2,000 years of Christian teaching.
One of the many things we’ve got to learn about living in this post-Christian world is that vast swaths of the media, including some of the most powerful media conglomerates, have been actively supporting the disassembly of our culture for decades. We can and should chide them for their anti-Christian bias and Christian-bashing propaganda. But the most important thing we can do is to stop believing them.
Do let yourself be misled by these attacks on Catholic faith. They can come in the form of deliberate misinterpretations of sentences in the Pope’s statements that are pulled out of context and twisted to say things they never said. They also come by means of the use of enormous talent to produce “entertainment” that glamorizes and normalizes aberrant lifestyles. There is also the subtle factor of media refusal to report stories that matter, but which don’t agree with the worldview of the news outlets.
In all these cases and many more, we are going to have to learn to exercise our prudential judgement and simply recognize these things for what they are. They are lies. Know it, and stop believing them.
Here is a brief list by Rome Reports of the most important things Pope Francis has said in his first year as Pope.
According to a poll by NBC/WSJ, 21% of Americans say that religion is “not that important in their lives.”
This isn’t a big surprise. It’s consistent with other polls. The details are pretty much the same as those in previous polls, as well. An NBC news article says that “Less religious Americans are more likely to be men, have an income over $75,000, to live in the northeast” and be under 35.
The only comment I have to make about this is that it’s something to consider as we contemplate how to approach re-converting this culture. Do we start with these “not that importants,” or do we begin elsewhere?
I don’t claim to have a decisive answer. But my personal opinion, based mainly on years of political campaigning, is that we should begin with our own people. I think the first great need for active conversion is to be found in the pews of our own churches.
There are over 1 billion Catholics on this planet, and almost all of us are laity. We are the Church. The need to educate, inspire and lead this laity to an active evangelistic fervor is so obvious that I’m not going to waste the words to substantiate it in this brief post.
I think the place to begin the great work of conversion that is in front of us is our own laity. The question I have is, does the laity have to do the work of converting itself?
We need leadership.
Marshall McLuhan famously said, “The medium is the message.”
Our use of the phrase “the media” as shorthand for all journalistic endeavors reflects the truth of that.
This media/”message” is hard-selling abortion, euthanasia and the destruction of marriage.
This video contains a reflection about this situation.
Please pray for me.
That is Pope Francis’ tweet for today.
I think we should certainly pray for our Holy Father.
We should also pray for all priests.
I am part of a prayer group. It began when we were homeschooling mothers with small children and has held together through the years as our children have grown up, gone to college, married and had children of their own. Our daughters have now joined us.
The purpose of this Rosary group is to pray for our priests. This is a prayer we pray at every Rosary. I think it is a prayer we should all pray. I can think of no better practice to begin this Lent.
God our Father, please send us holy priests, all for the sacred and eucharistic heart of Jesus, all for the sorrowful and immaculate heart of Mary, in union with St Joseph. Amen