Nobody Asked My Opinion. But that Doesn’t Stop Me from Giving It.

Patheos has been running a debate among high-profile thinkers about Christian engagement in politics.

I am not in the league of the intellectual/social/pundit gravitas of the writers who have addressed this. Also, nobody has asked my opinion. But that doesn’t stop me from giving it.

Let me begin by saying that political Christianity as it has been practiced in America for the past four decades is heresy. It is based on the totally incorrect but implicit teaching from a lot of wing-nut preachers, religious leaders and religio-politicians that righteousness before God is to be found in how you vote and who you hate.

That is heretical. It is also anti-Christ. It teaches self-righteousness, encourages slander and leads people away from the cross, not to it. It is the astral twin of the same kind of co-option of the Christian moral voice that took place in Nazi Germany.

Political parties have “claimed” the Christian moral voice as their means to getting votes to gain power for themselves that they then use to allocate the budget and government favor to those who pay the parties’ bills. They have not delivered on any of their promises to the Christians who blindly voted in their column, and they will not. That was never their intention.

This heresy of a political christianity (little c) has done a great deal of harm to the moral voice of real Christianity at a pivotal time in the moral decline of our nation. It has also, as time has passed and people have begun to gag on its hypocrisies and obvious lies, declined in its vote-getting ability. This has happened at the same time that members of the public who are disgusted with political christianity and who have become diametrically opposed to it have reached a critical mass in key electoral states and can now be big players in the outcome of presidential elections.

In other words, political christianity has become something of a liability to the people who have used it to gain power for these last four decades, largely by virtue of the fact that it has diminished and tarnished real Christianity in the public eye to the point that real Christianity itself is becoming besieged in the larger culture.

To put it bluntly, the smart money is beginning to be on the anti-Jesus crowd and for this reason, the smart money is backpedalling on their aggressive “moral” stands, which were nothing more than political poses in the first place.

Since Christianity has spent so much of its moral capital in lending itself to the election of people who are nothing more than puppets of an amoral corporate conglomerate, it is floundering a bit.

What to do?

Should Christians (real Christians) withdraw from the pubic sphere, head for the hills and comfort one another around the hidden campfires of our faith? Should we drop all pretense of taking our beliefs into the court of public opinion? Should we stop taking a stand for the things we believe because those beliefs no longer resonate with large groups of very vocal people?

Should we get smart in the worldly sense and go along to get along, even if that means giving up on what has been basic Christian teaching for 2,000 years?

Should we, in short, tuck tail and run now that the pay-off has become a pay-back?

That is what a good many political christians who have capitalized on the naiveté of the earnest believers they led into this heresy decades ago are hoping. Shut up and leave us alone, they tell their befuddled flocks. We’ve got deals to do and this morality stuff is no longer helping us do them. It has become a liability we want to shuck.

The answer, at least so far as I’m concerned, is that yes, the political christians who were using real Christianity to gain power for themselves need to take off their lamb’s wool and be the wolves they always were. I also think that the many political preachers who’ve been teaching the heresy of redemption through politics to their flocks need to stand down. In fact, I think a lot of them need to leave the pulpit altogether and go into the wilderness to find their Lord.

Does this mean that I think that Christians should give up on the sanctity of human life and holy matrimony, or that they should stop being engaged with the world?

Absolutely not.

We are the light of the world and we need to be that light. That is true especially now when we are becoming besieged and battered by a culture that is (rightfully so) turning its back on the heresy of political christianity.

There is a difference between genuine belief and political expedience. This difference manifests itself in a number of ways, one of which is standing firm when things go wrong.

My advice to Christians is that they should not become cowards about their faith because people who were using Christianity for their own purposes have begun to desert the ship. That’s what rats do, you know. Let them do it.

But you stand firm.

Catholics are being challenged by a Pope who is deliberately and directly addressing this heresy of political christianity and calling us to take on the whole Gospel of Christ. Political christians and their phoney-baloney religious leaders have taught a shorn and neutered political gospel that they have mis-interpreted to fit the political fashion of one or the other of the two political parties for a long time now. They have many well-intentioned but deluded followers.

There are several generations of American Christians who have grown up being taught the heresy of political christianity as if it was real Christianity. When Pope Francis goes in your face with this heresy and teaches us the whole Gospel instead of a truncated corporatist version of it, these people are confounded and offended. Some — perhaps many — of them will not follow the Pope, but denounce him for his failure to validate their allegiance to the false gods of political christianity.

That is sad, and it rests entirely on the doorstep of the political christian leaders of the past decades. By that I mean the same exact christian leaders who are now trying to turn the political christian ship away from the very things they once trumpeted as “non-negotiable issues” for “serious” catholics, or, ‘serious” christians.

There is no reason for people to be dismayed or frightened by all this. Christ will prevail. All we have to do is follow Him and not some bogus political christian leader who is manipulating us to maintain his or her access to the political halls of power.

There is no better way to do this than to follow the teachings of the Catholic Church as they are elucidated by His Vicar, Pope Francis.

Should Christians be engaged in politics?

Absolutely.

We are the leaven, the light, the salt and the hope of this fallen world. Involvement in politics is not our mission, it is an expression of our fidelity to Jesus Christ in every aspect of our lives, including the political. For those of us who have a calling to active involvement in politics, this expression becomes both more compelling and more fraught than it is for those who are called to live out their faith in other arenas.

But America is somewhat unique in that every citizen is to some extent a politician. Government of, by and for the people is not only a privilege, it is a responsibility. No American can shrug off their responsibility to vote according to what they think is best. If you are a Christian, then what you think is best will be in accordance with the teachings of Jesus Christ. To that extent, every Christian is political.

Genuine Christian involvement in politics at any level must be indifferent to party loyalties and the various demagogues who try to exploit our faith. You cannot follow Christ and these bogus religious leaders with their bogus gospel both at the same time. They lead down entirely different paths.

As I said earlier, I believe that the best way to follow Christ in any endeavor, including the political, is to be faithful to the teachings of the Gospel as interpreted by the constant, 2,000-year-old teachings of the Catholic Church.

We don’t need to re-invent the wheel or re-write the Gospels. We just need to be faithful to our call, which is always and forever, the Person of Jesus Christ.

Rush Limbaugh, Pope Francis and Frogs

Rush Limbaugh, who is nobody’s nominee for Nice Person of the Year, says that “somebody’s either written this for him … or gotten to” Pope Francis.

According to Mr Limbaugh, the Holy Father’s recent document, Evangelii Gaudium, is “pure Marxism.”

I’m going to write about Evanelii Gaudium in detail next week when we aren’t digesting turkey, spending time with our families and watching football. In the meantime, I want to toss this little bit of bile from Mr Limbaugh out there for your consideration.

I think it juxtaposes nicely with President Obama’s action of folding America’s Embassy to the Holy See into our Embassy with Italy. Mr Limbaugh’s comment and President Obama’s action form bookends of a sort. They illustrate both the right and the left wing angst that they cannot control the Pope.

Both the right and left wings of current political debate are Godless philosophies that try, each in their own way, to bend the Gospels into a perverted version of themselves that gives moral gravitas to the respective evils of their two socio-fiscal-political viewpoints. The left wing has confined itself to association with churches that bend the Gospels to suit Democratic Party Moral teachings, while the right wing has associated itself with those churches that edit the Gospels to suit Republican Party Moral Teachings.

Lately, the left wing has abandoned the churches altogether and headed out onto the ice of militant secularism. Even while their toady churches continue their slavish apologetics for what has increasingly become an amoral political viewpoint, they find themselves shunted aside as no longer necessary.

The right wing is a bit behind the curve on this, but not much. They are trying to ignore their religious supporters while still hanging on to their votes. It remains to be seen how successful they will be.

Mr Limbaugh, with his deft ability to say vulgar and hate-filled things, has pointed the way.

If the Pope, or any other Christian leader is going to preach a Gospel that includes moral imperatives relating to economics and concern for the poor, then that religious leader is no longer either useful or welcome at the right-wing party.

I’m not writing this to enrage my Limbaugh-following readers — although I imagine that will happen. I am writing it to point out to those who are willing to see it that a true follower of Jesus Christ is without a political country in today’s American landscape.

You can follow Jesus and His Vicar, or you can make up excuses for President Obama and Mr Limbaugh.

However, you cannot do both.

Either Jesus Christ meant what He said in those Gospels Pope Francis is trying to teach us, or He didn’t. Either Christ the Lord is your Lord in every aspect of your life, including your politics, or He is not your Lord at all.

Choose this day whom you will serve: The Rs. The Ds. Or Jesus Christ.

I am writing this in a hurry because I need to get ready to go to mass. This evening I will begin my own personal journey through one of the Church’s two great penitential seasons. Mass tonight marks the start of Advent, when we look at ourselves through a Gospel prism and confess both to ourselves and to our God the many ways in which we fall short of that Gospel ideal.

As such, it is an obvious time to consider where our loyalties in this world actually lie.

Do you love me more than these? Jesus asked Peter.

The question applies to you and me as we begin this Advent season. Who is your God? Does he stand behind a podium with an American flag as a backdrop? Does he wear headphones and spit out diatribes on the radio?

Or, perhaps, are we awaiting your God in this season of Advent, looking forward to the day when He will be born among us in a stable to a young carpenter and his innocent bride?

Do you love me more than these?

In this post-Christian America where Presidents can lie and everyone knows they are lying and no one cares, where commenters can rail against the Pope and still keep their cult-like followings, that question is not only salient, but urgent.

What is your answer?

From TheRawStory:

On his Wednesday radio show, Rush Limbaugh admitted being “befuddled” by the harsh words about “unfettered capitalism” released this week by Pope Francis.

… He also said that up to now he had admired the new pope, if he also thought that Pope Francis was putting on the “common man touch” a bit too thick. “I thought there might have been a little bit of PR involved there,” he said.

But … the pope’s latest Evangelii Gadium, or Joy of the Gospel

… didn’t sit well with Limbaugh. “Somebody has either written this for him or gotten to him,” Rush said. “This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the pope.”

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Closing the American Embassy at the Vatican and Frogs

Former American Ambassador to the Holy See Raymond Flynn

Five former American Ambassadors to the Holy See, who were appointed by both Democratic and Republican presidents, are unanimous in their condemnation of the closure of the American Embassy at the Vatican.

I made no comment about this embassy closure at first because I didn’t know what it was about. I changed my mind when I read these former ambassadors’ statements. I take the unanimous opinion of five former ambassadors seriously.

Here are a couple of things I don’t take seriously.

First, I don’t take the Vatican’s public statement that they aren’t disturbed by the move seriously. What did you expect them to say? It would have been destructive to whatever diplomatic relations they have left with the Obama administration if they had, as we say in this part of the world, pitched a fit over the closure.

In politics, it’s always wise not to let them see you sweat. It’s also wise not to close off dialogue. I put the Vatican’s public statements about this situation in that column.

Second, the fact that the current ambassador to the Holy See backs the president who appointed him means nothing. It’s this guy’s job to take the administration line in matters pertaining to the Vatican. If he went off the rails over this and joined his fellow ambassadors to the Holy See in their condemnation of the action, he’d be packing for the next flight home.

And now, I’ll talk about the thing that I have begun to take extremely seriously. I think President Obama is an anti-Catholic bigot. I think he uses his position in the White House to engage in faith-baiting against Catholics. The HHS Mandate stands alone in the audacity of its attack on the First Amendment, religious freedom and the Catholic Church.

The regulation, as the president first signed it, was an outright broadside against the faith practices of the Catholic Church. It was an open attack on Catholic institutions, ranging from hospitals to schools to counseling and on through pastoral activities.

Congressman Stupak and President Obama Before the Lies Came Down

In addition, it made the assurances that President Obama gave Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak about abortion and the Affordable Health Care Act appear to have been manipulative lies. Congressman Stupak issued a statement about the HHS Mandate. Here is part of what he said (emphasis mine):

Two and a half years ago, I sat in a small storage room on the fourth floor of the Cannon Building to begin negotiations between the Obama Administration and a group of Pro-Life Democratic Members of Congress.  These Democratic Members, myself included, formed a small handful of critical votes necessary to secure passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, National Health Care legislation.

These negotiations … resulted in Executive Order 13535, signed by President Obama, and upheld the principles contained in the 40 year old Hyde Amendment which prohibits the use of taxpayer dollars to fund abortions.  The Executive Order also reaffirmed the “conscience clause” which states that no person or institution can be forced to accept, provide or comply with health care policies or medical procedures contrary to their religious and moral beliefs.

Upon his signing of the Executive Order, President Obama assured me this was an “iron-clad agreement”

I am, therefore, perplexed and disappointed with the recent mandate put forth by HHS requiring faith-based employers to provide contraceptive coverage in their health care plans, including birth control, use of the RU-486 morning after pill, and contraceptive services resulting in the abortion of embryos.

… No individual or organization should be forced by government to set aside deeply held religious convictions, abdicate moral beliefs, or deny one’s own conscience.  Yet, the recent HHS rule requires faith based employers to abandon principles and provide contraception coverage for all employees.  This rule clearly violates Executive Order 13535.

Section One of the Executive Order states that

“…longstanding Federal laws to protect conscience (such as the Church Amendment 42 USC 300a-7) and the Weldon Amendment, section 508(d)(1) of Public Law 111-8) remain intact and new protections prohibit discrimination against health care facilities and health care providers because of an unwillingness to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions”.

The President lied to Congressman Stupak in order to get the votes to pass Obamacare. He also lied to the American people. The HHS Mandate is proof that he lied.

Last summer, the president issued a statement assuring churches that he was not going to require them to perform gay marriages. Inherent in that statement was his assumption that he had the right to force them perform gay marriages if he wanted. I believed then and believe now that this statement was just another of his positions of the moment and could “evolve” into something sinister any time the president thinks he can get away with it.

All these things play into the equation that led to what I wrote earlier about the closure of the American Embassy at the Holy See. When five former ambassadors from both political parties take the unprecedented step of a unanimous public condemnation of an action of the United States Department of State and the President of the United States, I take that seriously, too.

In fact, I think that if you don’t take it seriously, it’s because you either don’t understand just how unlikely it is for such a thing to happen, or you want to back anything President Obama does, no matter what it is.

When was the last time you saw five former American Ambassadors to Great Britain or Spain or Taiwan unanimously  condemn the diplomatic position taken in those countries by a sitting American president?

Can’t think of one?

That’s because this sort of thing doesn’t happen.

Here is what they said:

It’s a “massive downgrade of U.S.-Vatican ties,” said former U.S. Ambassador James Nicholson in the National Catholic Reporter. “It’s turning this embassy into a stepchild of the embassy to Italy. The Holy See is a pivot point for international affairs and a major listening post for the United States, and … [it’s] an insult to American Catholics and to the Vatican.”

Mr. Nicholson — whose views were echoed by former envoys Francis RooneyMary Ann GlendonRaymond Flynn and Thomas Melady — also called the justification for closing the existing facility a “smokescreen,” Breitbart reported.

“That’s like saying people get killed on highways because they drive cars on them,” he said in the report. “We’re not a pauper nation … if we want to secure an embassy, we certainly can.”

Moreover, the existing facility has “state of the art” security, he said.

Mr. Flynn, meanwhile, said the administration’s announcement reflects a hostility toward the Catholic Church.

“It’s not just those who bomb churches and kill Catholics in the Middle East who are our antagonists, but it’s also those who restrict our religious freedoms and want to close down our embassy to the Holy See,” he said in the National Catholic Reporter. “[There’s no] diplomatic or political benefit to the United States” from the relocation at all, he added.

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/nov/26/obamas-call-close-holy-see-embassy-slap-face-catho/#ixzz2lrEVl1qP
Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

Will our lives change because of this specific collapse of this specific embassy into that of another government?

Not directly and not immediately.

Will our lives change because the President of the United States is using his office to attack our Church, and the American people, including a good many Catholics, are going along with him about it? I am afraid they will.

American Catholics and Christians today are like the frog in the pan of water that is slowly heating up. We just keep on sitting there until we are cooked.

Where They Have to Take You In

Thanksgiving weekend is an annual opportunity to kick back and enjoy the people who matter most.

Robert Frost said, “Home is where, when you go there, they have to take you in.”

The same could be said for family. Just for today, let’s not trot out the laundry list of “bad” families and family dysfunctions and remember instead that when, as we say in these parts, push comes to shove, your family members are the only people who will stick by you.

As a long-time/small-time public figure, I can tell you that there are days when home is not only where the heart is, it is also the only safe place.

Enjoy your family this weekend. Your life will be better for it.

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Pope Francis Dedicates 2015 to Consecrated Life

Pope Francis announced that 2015 will be dedicated to consecrated life.

His message to consecrated people is consistent with the message he has been delivering since his papacy began. He called them to “go out to frontiers, working first and foremost with people excluded from society … to avoid hypocrisy and clericalism and to develop a tender heart.”

This message is not just for the consecrated, but for all of us. It is a call to convert the world and to begin that work by following Christ in our own lives.

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25 Black Friday Facts

I’m skipping Black Friday shopping. I never go to these sales. But for those of you who do, here are a few facts.

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Somewhere Over the Rainbow/It’s a Wonderful World Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

Happy Thanksgiving!

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We Try So Hard to be Good, to Lead a Life Worth Living

Gratefulness is a blessing in itself.

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Flying with the Kestrels — USS Abraham Lincoln

Taking off from and landing on an air craft carrier is not for the faint of heart. It takes a special kind of person.

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Former Vatican Ambassador Calls Out Obama for Hostility Toward Church

President Obama, the most virulent anti-Catholic President in modern history, took another shot at the Church when he closed the US Embassy to the Holy See.

In one of the most specious explanations I’ve read in quite some time, the administration says that the United States needs to close the US Embassy at the Vatican because of  – get ready for this now — “security reasons … because of last year’s attack on the American facility at Benghazi.”

When someone comes up with a “reason” as stupid as that, they’re trying to insult you.

Former American Ambassador to the Holy See, Raymond Flynn, said what I think has become obvious when he stated that this action “reflects this administration’s hostility toward the Catholic Church … It’s not just those who bomb churches and kill Catholics in the Middle East who are our antagonists, but it’s also those who restrict our religious freedom and close down our Embassy to the Holy See.”

This president is not just pro abortion or pro gay marriage. He is aggressively and actively anti-religious freedom and anti-Catholic.

From the Washington Times:

The Obama administration, in what’s been called an egregious slap in the face to the Vatican, has moved to shut down the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See — a free-standing facility — and relocate offices onto the grounds of the larger American Embassy in Italy.

The new offices will be in a separate building on the property, Breitbart reported.

And while U.S. officials are touting the relocation as a security measure that’s a cautionary reaction to last year’s attacks on America’s facility in Benghazi, several former American envoys are raising the red flag.

It’s a “massive downgrade of U.S.-Vatican ties,” said former U.S. Ambassador James Nicholson in the National Catholic Reporter. “It’s turning this embassy into a stepchild of the embassy to Italy. The Holy See is a pivot point for international affairs and a major listening post for the United States, and … [it’s] an insult to American Catholics and to the Vatican.”

Mr. Nicholson — whose views were echoed by former envoys Francis RooneyMary Ann GlendonRaymond Flynn and Thomas Melady — also called the justification for closing the existing facility a “smokescreen,” Breitbart reported.

“That’s like saying people get killed on highways because they drive cars on them,” he said in the report. “We’re not a pauper nation … if we want to secure an embassy, we certainly can.”

Moreover, the existing facility has “state of the art” security, he said.

Mr. Flynn, meanwhile, said the administration’s announcement reflects a hostility toward the Catholic Church.

“It’s not just those who bomb churches and kill Catholics in the Middle East who are our antagonists, but it’s also those who restrict our religious freedoms and want to close down our embassy to the Holy See,” he said in the National Catholic Reporter. “[There’s no] diplomatic or political benefit to the United States” from the relocation at all, he added.

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/nov/26/obamas-call-close-holy-see-embassy-slap-face-catho/#ixzz2lrEVl1qP
Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter


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