Senate Punts on Obama Trade Deals. The people Lose Again.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

The United States Senate once again abrogated its responsibilities in favor of letting the Prez do it.

This, my friends, is how we got the imperial presidency. Congress accedes its responsibility because the vote is too “hot” or, as in this case, the corporatist interests want the deal that’s being done.

The Senate gave up the right to amend the Prez’ trade deals and just let him, you know, Rule.

Who’s the loser in all this? Why, you and me, of course. When the Rs and the Ds get together on their corporatism, we always end up in the dirt.

We might all stand on the West Coast and wave our jobs good-bye.

From the Huffington Post:

WASHINGTON — The Senate advanced President Barack Obama’s trade agenda Thursday, voting to end debate on bill that would grant the administration power to fast-track massive new pacts through Congress.

A number of senators objected to the process, complaining that they were unable to get votes on amendments they deemed essential to making sure that looming deals with 12 Pacific Rim nations and Europe live up to promises of helping U.S. workers.

But 62 of their colleagues disagreed and voted to halt debate anyway, setting up passage of the fast-track bill by the end of the week.

… Fast track, formally known as Trade Promotion Authority, would allow the president to cut trade agreements with other nations, then advance them through Congress with expedited procedures that allow no amendments, filibusters or delays, guaranteeing him simple majority votes.

 

 

Breaking: Federal Court Forces Notre Dame to Follow HHS Mandate

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Scott Gulbransen https://www.flickr.com/photos/sdunlvrebel/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Scott Gulbransen https://www.flickr.com/photos/sdunlvrebel/

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the University of Notre Dame’s appeal against the HHS Mandate today.

In a brazen disregard for the First Amendment, the Court argued that the “burden” on the government to re-write the HHS Mandate to allow the Catholic University of Notre Dame to follow the dictates of its faith was too high. The court also said that the “burden” on Notre Dame of being forced to violate its faith and abandon the free exercise of religion which is the guarantee of every American was just not all that important.

They didn’t put it in those words, and I am deliberately writing it in purple prose. But that is the essential meaning.

The court ruled that an agency rule written by a back-room committee of abortion industry insiders trumps the First Amendment guarantee of the free exercise of religion. It based this ruling on the bizarre opinion that abiding by the Constitution of the United States placed an undue burden on the government of the United States.

Here is what they said, without my interpretation and in their own little words:

“The very word ‘accommodation’ implies a balance of competing interests,” the court noted.

“And when we compare the burden on the government or third parties of having to establish some entirely new method of providing contraceptive coverage with the burden on Notre Dame of simply notifying the government that the ball is now in the government’s court, we cannot conclude that Notre Dame has yet established its right to the injunctive relief that it is seeking before trial,” the court said.

 

Two Bad Presidents Made Iraq into the Petri Dish that Grew ISIS.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Fotis Bobolas https://www.flickr.com/photos/fbobolas/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Fotis Bobolas https://www.flickr.com/photos/fbobolas/

How did Iraq become the cesspool that birthed ISIS?

Who made this mess?

We did.

We did it under the one-two punch of back to back bad presidents.

It’s popular for the Ds to point at the totally unnecessary war in Iraq as the cause of the situation there. They are, of course, right.

It’s equally popular for the Rs to point at the premature withdrawal from Iraq as the real cause of the mess. They are, of course, also right.

The point?

This country has suffered two bad presidents in a row. They each increased the divisiveness in the body politic and managed to convince a large part of the electorate that they only govern on behalf of others and not them. What’s worse, these two presidents have both made mistakes that led us directly into the conflagration that has been occurring in the Middle East.

We had no reason to go to war with Iraq in the first place. The reason we were given — weapons of mass destruction — was not true. The CIA either gave bad intel to President Bush, or they lied to him. You decide for yourself which you think it was.

The finest thing President Bush ever did was man up and tell the truth about this. He admitted that there were no weapons of mass destruction. Iraq was his Bay of Pigs. He learned that what Dwight Eisenhower called the “Military Industrial Complex” was massaging intel in order to drum up wars.

I don’t know if he ever understood the full meaning of this or not. All I know is that he did stand up and tell the truth when the truth needed to be told.

Enter President Obama. This president has not been the mindless shill for the military industrial complex that many of his predecessors were, but he was evidently flying blind when he decided to pull our troops out of Iraq. This action created the vacuum that allowed ISIS to grow like a parasitical infection.

So, Rs and Ds, who’s to blame?

President Bush got us into a quagmire. We were, if anyone cares to remember, supposed to go into Iraq, whip them good, cowboy style, and then go home. What we ended up with was a big mess that set us up for decades of occupation, bleeding out the lives of our young men and women on a daily basis.

I watched a few television specials about the so-called tactics being used in Iraq and I was sickened to see American lives wasted in this way. The idea appeared to have been to send our troops out to drive along a road. If they got through, fine. If they got killed, then they were heroes, and well, the manufacturers of body bags thank you very much.

That’s not a tactic. It’s certainly not a strategy. It’s not even good police work.

We were faced with unending decades of this slow bleed of our people’s lives in Iraq because a bad president followed the bad intel of the CIA and got us into a totally unnecessary war. The fact that Saddam Hussein was a bad guy did not and does not justify this nation going to war. American lives and American treasure should never be so cavalierly spent.

President Obama pulled us out of the quagmire, but he left behind a mess that has turned into a massive and on-going war which is being waged against civilians on a mass scale and appears to be an attack on civilization itself. President Obama was not so naive about the CIA as his predecessor, but he has been naive in the extreme about the people of the Middle East.

President Bush made the mistake of thinking that they were just like us. President Obama has made the mistake of thinking that they are just like him.

I would guess that I’ve made just about everyone reading this angry. I know well the depth of the loyalties that Public Catholic readers have to the R and the D.

I’m going to throw this open for you to discuss. Feel free to talk about it in any way you wish so long as you refrain from name-calling and degrading individual people or groups of people. I include elected officials in this. Disagree with them all you want. That is the American way. But leave their kids, dogs, mothers, sex lives, and inner souls alone.

We Need Caregiving for Caregivers of Parents with Dementia

Copyright Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

A few days ago, I had someone praise me for my “witness.”

This person was referring to the fact that my family and I are taking care of my elderly mother. I wanted to interrupt this person and tell them the truth of it, which is that my “witness” is shot full of holes.

Caregiving for an elderly person with dementia can seem like a piece of cake early on in the process. But as it progresses, and more of their brain switches off, it becomes increasingly fraught.

On top of that, I keep getting sick. Not, terrible sick, but bad enough to suck all the life out of me and make every day feel like a march through knee deep mud. I’ve had two colds in two months. Colds aren’t much of anything, unless you’ve got asthma. But put a cold together with asthma and no sleep and all the rest of my life right now and you’ve got a recipe for lungs that just won’t work.

That’s what happened in March. I somehow did not get pneumonia, which the doc assured me was what happened to most folks. But I did get such a bad case of on-going, never-stop asthma that, as he told me, “Your lungs aren’t moving air.”  Enter the miracle of antibiotics and steroids, and I got all healed up and back in the race again.

Then, along came another cold. It sent Mama to the er last week. Now it’s gone down into my lungs and formed an alliance with the asthma. I’m probably going to have to do the antibiotics/steroids all over again.

Why am I telling you this?

Because I want you to understand that my “witness” is a weak and faulty thing. When I’m lying on the sofa, coughing and hacking, I’m not exactly doing a good job as a caregiver. Mama, who can no longer follow a book or a plot on tv, and so is no longer amused by either books or tv, demands constant amusement.

When I’m sick, I can’t do this. Instead of working with her to keep her wound up and moving, I end up letting her sit on the sofa like a zombie, or I send her to her room where she falls asleep. That’s not good care of someone with dementia. But it’s all I can do when I’m sick.

I’ve never resented the spring storms the way I have this year. They set off my arthritis, and somehow or other the stress with Mama seems to make that worse. Plus, I feel the weight of taking care of her in a storm in a way I never felt the weight of taking care of the kids when they were little.

Compared to her, they were ez pz. When they were very small, I just picked them up and did what needed doing. When they were full-on kids, they did what I told them in difficult situations without argument.

But Mama is a never-comprehending rubics cube. She trusts me and will do what I ask of her. But if I’m not there, she fights whoever is trying to help her. That adds a dash of salsa to the storms that, for some reason, seems too much.

That’s what I’m dealing with right now: Too much. It’s all too much. And I’m not sure why.

I think I’ve solved the doctor thing. I simply went on a doctor hunt, and it turned out that I landed on the right square early on in the search. The doc and the staff at the er last week were kind, and they understood my situation almost without my telling them. That was a blessing.

Everything is do-able. Today.

That’s the only promise a caregiver for someone with dementia has: Today. Or, maybe not even today. It may end up that all you know is that things are going good right now. In an hour, it can change, and you are dealing with a full-on hallucination or making a fast trip to the er.

But for today, for this minute, I have loads of help from my kids, and Adult Day Care, and I have prescriptions that seem to be working with Mama and my only problem is that I Do. Not. Want. to go to the doc myself.

I would rather eat dirt than go spend another $160 at an urgent care place to get a script for antibiotics and steroids. But I know that primary care docs with their $20 copay take about 3 weeks to see you, and this isn’t worthy of an er (which is much more miserable than going to an urgent care facility, anyway) so, I have to do the $160 do to get a couple of scripts that, to be honest, I could write myself.

See how I whine? See how negative I’ve become?

That’s what I’m talking about when I say my “witness” is less than shiny bright and pretty.

In truth, Mama’s dementia is doing at least as bad a job on me as it is on her and I can’t figure out why. I hit some sort of wall when she stopped sleeping at night. I know part of that wall was simple exhaustion.

One of the two hardest nights of her dementia so far was last month, when I was sick and she would not stay in bed. I felt so lousy, and she was up and roaming and had to be managed all night long. Before these new meds, she argued with me and refused to go back to bed and had hallucinations that terrified her and made her unmanageable.

That night was about 30 years long, and the next day, I was so sick I had to get medical help for myself.

Then, when we put her in the in-patient diagnostic and she just slept through the night and didn’t do any of this for them so they could help us with it, I hit some sort of despair point. I cried for days and couldn’t stop crying. We finally managed to get a script that actually does help, that not only lets her sleep at night but clears the hallucinations.

Things should be all better now. In fact, they were looking up, then we got this blamed cold. The high wire act of dementia care is such that something as simple as a cold can cause everyone to fall off and into the net. That’s what’s happened to me.

The thing I hang onto is something a man whose name I never learned told me years ago. I taught a class at Youth With a Mission in Hawaii a few years back. It was a glorious experience, spending an entire week in that beautiful Christian environment. Everyone I talked to was a spirit-filled, all-in Christian who wanted to change the world for Christ.

One evening, I was sitting out, watching the sunset, when a man with a baby joined me. We got to talking and he told me the story of how he came to adopt this baby. Long story short, the baby had no one, and he was reluctant to take on raising a child at his advanced age. But when he and his wife did adopt the baby, the child blessed their lives with love and wonder as only a baby can.

“God only wants to bless you,” he told me.

I keep thinking of that comment when things are difficult with Mama. “God only wants to bless you.”

I believe that, and I know it’s true of me and my situation right now. Mama has been a blessing to me all my life. Seeing her home is not a punishment. It’s a gift. A blessing.

That thought is what dries my tears and pulls me back out of despair. I write these blog posts as unsparingly as I can because I think that as a society we need to face up to the fact that we not only abandon our elderly, we abandon their care givers.

Care for people who have dementia is a act of life and love. It is pro life for real. Euthanasia, which is being pushed as an “answer” to dementia and a “relief’ for caregivers, is satanic. It is from the blackest pit of hell.

What we need to do as a society is take off our blinders and help people who are caring for their family members with dementia. We need something like the Rain Teams that Christians once formed to help people with AIDs, only for families who are caring for loved ones with dementia.

Care of the care-giver is a forgotten piece of the equation of caring for our elderly. I can tell you that as the dementia gets worse the caregiver begins to need love and support every bit as much as the person they are caring for.

My “witness,” such as it is, is a call for us to do better. It is not a “witness” of my heroism and perfection. It is, rather, a witness of my weakness and failures. I am not a cheerfully self-sacrificing saint. I am everyman and everywoman, just muddling through and hanging on and falling flat and getting back up.

I do not fall into raptures of grace when I am dog tired and at my wit’s end. I sit down and cry. I am not always reasonable. I do not always do the right thing.

I am you. And me. And every one of us.

That, and not some idea of perfection, is my witness. It is why I can say without equivocation that caregivers of elderly parents with dementia need help. They need love. They need comforting and support.

The Lord only wants to bless us. And the first blessing comes from His command that we “Love one another.”

All His blessings are blessings of love and life. Seeing Mama home is a blessing of love and life. If we rise to this challenge that I am making and will continue to make, and help caregivers of people with dementia, we will be blessing ourselves and one another with love and life.

I write about Mama with as much honesty and raw reality as I can. The reason is that I am issuing a call. I am calling Christians to formulate means to help caregivers of people with dementia in the simple, human ways that they need help. Put life and love back in their days of chaos. God wants to use them to bless you.

All God ever wants to do is bless each and every one of us. And the first and only true blessing is love.

Surprise! The Catholic Church IS Relevant.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Robert Cheaib https://www.flickr.com/photos/theologhia/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Robert Cheaib https://www.flickr.com/photos/theologhia/

Christian bashers are fond of creating alternate realities and then pretending that they are actual reality.

In these alternate realities, Christianity is dying from the earth. In the real world, Christianity is dynamic and growing. Estimates are that there will be around 3 billion Christians on this planet by 2050.

Another Christian bashing fantasy is that Christianity in general and the Catholic Church in particular are not “relevant” to the modern world. This is another example of Christian bashers deliberately ignoring not only reality, but their own behavior.

Let’s start with the Christian bashers themselves. Who do they attack? Is it Muslims? Pagans? Satanists?

Nope.

They go after Christians and Christianity and they love to hate on the Catholic Church. Day and night, night and day, they rant and rave like a bunch of torch-carrying Nazis at a rally about the supposed horrors of Christianity and the Catholic Church. They make searching for embarrassing things that individual Christians or Catholics do, and then implying that this is the behavior of all 2 billion Christians, their bigoted business day and night.

They will go to just about any lengths to drive Catholics off discussion boards and use those boards for their own purposes. They flatter and cajole the weak-as-branch-water Christians who simp when they are stroked. Then they try to use these silly people as weapons against other Christians. It appears that they get up every morning and flick on their computers to begin their daily mission of hate, bigotry and cultivation of prejudice.

If Christianity isn’t relevant to these people, they’re behavior makes even less sense than it does now. I would posit that Christianity, in particular Catholicism, is the most relevant fact of their lives. Without hatred of Christians and the Catholic Church, they would no longer have any reason to write their gutter blogs. Without hatred of Christians and the Catholic Church, how would they feel special?

These people are more focused on the Catholic Church than Pope Francis. In fact, they are a lot more focused on the Catholic Church than Pope Francis, since Pope Francis is actually focused on Jesus Christ.

Relevant? These folks who claim that the Catholic Church is not relevant deny their claims by how they live their lives. They are obsessed, and not in a good sense, with the Catholic Church. It may be the only relevance in their sick little lives.

Now, let’s look at government leaders here in America. If the Catholic Church is irrelevant to President Obama, why did he tarnish the legacy of his own presidency by attacking the First Amendment as a means of attacking the Church? All he had to do was keep his word and live up to the promises he made to the American people and Congress when he was lobbying to pass the Affordable Health Care Act.

But no. He compromised his own place in history by going off on a battle to limit the First Amendment to activities inside church sanctuaries. He went after the basic freedoms of all Americans in order to attack one specific group of Americans: The Catholic Church.

Why? I’m not going to venture into the subterranean channels of President Obama’s mind. I have no idea what lies there. Besides, it doesn’t matter. All that matters with any public official is what they do with the power we give them. Why they do what they do is their problem.

The point for the purpose of this post is simply that the Catholic Church is way past “relevant” to President Obama. This meretricious war he’s engaged in against the First Amendment is the behavior of man who is willing to bet everything on an attempt to force the Catholic Church to bend its knee and kiss Caesar’s ring.

There appear to be few things more “relevant” to president Obama than the Catholic Church.

Now, let’s look at the Catholic bashers of the right and left sides of the political spectrum. I lump them together because, after long years in public office in which I have been thoroughly and repeatedly attacked by both sides, I see no difference between them. Right and left wing nuts are the same.

The reason that both right and left wing nuts attack the Catholic Church is the reason that they do everything: Power. Far from being “irrelevant,” the Catholic Church is a powerhouse of political persuasion. Literally millions of people will place their loyalty to the Catholic Church above loyalty to the R and the D.

Witness the 2014 elections. For the first time, a majority of Catholics voted R. Why? I think the answer to that is obvious. President Obama and his attacks on their Church made the decision for them. Their loyalty was to their Church, not their party.

That, my friends, is power. The power to inspire people to change their long-held behavior, simply out of loyalty, is political power with a capitol P.

The problem for the Rs is that the Catholic Church does not trim the Gospels down to a couple of issues and ignore or even attack all the rest of what Jesus taught. Contrary to what President Obama implied, the Catholic Church expects a lot more of government officials than that they just vote against abortion and gay marriage.

Rank and file wing nuts of both political persuasions, which is to say people like you and me, are just a blinded file of nameless nothings to the people who run the two political parties. They are numbers on a sheet. They were recruited by careful use of “wedge issues,” push polls and profiling. It’s a numbers game.

In the rooms where the decisions are made, which is to say in the rooms of the money men who control the parties, no one is committed to pro life, pro choice, or gay marriage. They want control of government monies and lawmaking powers.  They may have opinions about those issues, but their first concern is simply how the issues help them take control of the government. Their real goals are government pork barrel, using government to destroy their competitors, both domestic and foreign, and enacting policies that will allow them to seize public monies and use government power for their own ends.

The Catholic Church is a troublesome factor in this real life game of thrones, simply because it will not be controlled by these power brokers. While a good many denominations have abandoned the Gospels to deify either the right or the left, the Catholic Church keeps on following the whole Gospels of Christ.

An entity that inspires such loyalty of so many people, that will not fall into the carefully hewn lines of right and left political manipulation, is not just relevant in today’s political world; it is the last serious challenge to the hegemony of the power brokers behind the R and the D.

That’s why the right and left power brokers send their minions to attack the Church. They hate and fear the Church because it is the last challenger facing them.

Contrary to the bizarre little tropes created by Catholic bashers, the Catholic Church is relevant to today’s world in a way that no other entity is relevant. The reason it is being attacked from all sides is because the Catholic Church is that sign of contradiction to the world of darkness that every Christian should be.

My purpose in writing Public Catholic is to encourage, empower and equip individual Christians to become signs of contradiction themselves. I do not care if you are an R or a D. I am not trying to get you to change parties. I’m not interested in telling you how to vote.

I want you to fall in love with Jesus. I want you to commit yourself to Him. I want you to become a change agent for Christ, wherever you are.

This world needs conversion, and you and I are the ones God has placed here in this time and place to do the converting. But we cannot do that if we are so enthralled with the R and the D that we trim our faith to fit their machinations.

The Catholic Church shows us the Way that leads to eternal life. There is nothing more relevant than that.

The Catholic Church teaches us how to apply the Gospels of Christ to our daily lives, our culture and our world. There is nothing more relevant than that.

The Catholic Church is hated, feared, bashed and attacked by purveyors of nihilism, death and corporatism everywhere. That is because they know but lie to avoid admitting that the Catholic Church is absolutely, completely and everlastingly relevant to this dying world.

The Catholic Church is as relevant as Jesus Christ, and He is the only relevance there is.

The Christian Basher in Chief Explains Pope Francis

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

Christian/Catholic bashers come from all sectors of society.

Some of them come from the left. Others come from the right. The thing they have in common is that their agenda is always and forever their agenda and not that of the Gospels.

They attack Christians in general and the Catholic Church in particular, for one reason. They want to either use the prophetic and moral voice of Jesus Christ to advance their nihilist/corporatist agendas, or they want to destroy this voice.

The contrary thing about the Catholic Church is its unbending fealty to the Gospels as a whole. The Catholic Church does not pick out one part of the Gospels to follow and dump the rest of it. The Catholic Church follows the entire teachings of Christ.

This makes the Catholic Church what Simeon told Our Lady that Jesus would be: “A sign of contradiction that will be opposed and spoken against.”

That is what Jesus said would happen to His followers when He told His disciples, If they persecute Me, they will persecute you. A servant is not greater than his master. 

This fealty does not apply to all Catholic laity, nor to all Catholic priests, and not even, sadly, to all Catholic bishops and cardinals. But the Church as a whole does not depart from the historic and eternal Word that leads to life everlasting. For guidance, we do what Christians have always done. We look to Peter.

What this means is that while there are individual Catholics who write books, give interviews and lead lives that witness to the fallenness of this world rather than to life in Christ, the Church itself does not waver in following Him. It also means that for every fallen Catholic yammering away on a talk show or showing up in a divorce court or hanging out on a porn site, there are many others quietly living lives of goodness and value that build up the Body of Christ.

It means that, while there are priests and bishops who pander to the culture, there are others, such as Cardinal Cordileone in San Francisco, who accept the brickbats and slanders that come to every true follower of Christ the Lord.

It also means that the most powerful among us are also those who are most jealous of the power this true moral voice gives to the Church. They love to stroke the fallen clergy and fallen Catholics who feed at the trough at public approbation for betraying Christ by following the world’s teachings instead of the Gospels. But those others, those who refuse to bend their knee and kiss Caesar’s ring, stick in their throats like a bone.

A case in point is our President.

No president in American history has launched such a direct and outrageous attack on the First Amendment and the Catholic Church as that engineered by President Obama with his HHS Mandate. That attack on the basic freedoms of every citizen in this country is, sadly, only one part of what he has done.

Under President Obama’s administration, Catholic organizations have had to end apostolates to trafficked women because they wouldn’t refer them for abortions. Catholic adoption agencies have been closed because they wouldn’t place babies with homosexual couples. People of faith, including Catholics such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, have been forced to spend day after day in court, defending basic rights that an Administration that believed in American freedoms would support rather than challenge.

President Obama’s recent comments concerning Christians, particularly Catholics, strain credulity when they are taken in the context of his administration’s constant attacks on the First Amendment. It seems that the president decided to sound off on how Christians and Catholics should interpret the Gospels. Not surprisingly, he called on them to put aside 2,000 years of Christian teaching and join in following after him.

In fairness to President Obama, he was speaking at an anti-poverty summit of Evangelical and Catholic leaders at Georgetown University. That at least makes his comments on topic. The gist of what he said was that Christians have been too focused on abortion and that they need to be more like Pope Francis with his emphasis on the poor.

First of all, if the president had bothered to consider where he was, he might have realized that Catholics, as well as other Christians, have placed a considerable emphasis on the needs of the poor for some 2,000 years now. He was speaking at a Catholic university because of the powerful focus that all Christians place on education.

How many of the finest institutions of higher learning in the Western world were begun by religious people, seeking to spread education to everyone? How many schools are there in Africa, Asia and even the Middle East today that were begun and are run by Christians, seeking educate those who cannot get an education otherwise?

Likewise, how many hospitals, clinics, homes for the destitute and help agencies were begun or are run by Christians? The entire HHS Mandate fight came about because there are so many of us out there working to provide help for people who would not otherwise have it. The ACLU has sued the Catholic bishops to try to force them to stop teaching Catholic teaching in Catholic institutions precisely because, they say, so many of our hospitals and health care agencies are Catholic.

Get that? So many of them are Catholic. That’s because Catholics care and have cared for a very long time about the welfare of human beings, all human beings, everywhere.

That is what following Jesus Christ inspires people to do. Christians are builders, helpers, educators, healers. The light of Christ not only shows us the Way to eternal life. It shows us the Way to abundant life for all people in this life.

President Obama’s comment was a well-done form of Christian bashing. It was somewhat like his earlier remarks about the Crusades in that it was based on a lie and that lie is being used to bash Christians and weaken the Christian witness in our society.

The other half of his comment was equally inaccurate. Christian advocacy in the political realm, especially that by the Catholic Church, is not limited to abortion. I know that. And so does he.

We both know because we’ve been in the political realm for most of our adult lives and we’ve been the recipients of the advocacy from Catholic entities about everything from support for increasing the minimum wage, to the welfare of immigrants.

My strongest help when I passed the bill protecting rape victims from having their personal information released was Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. Abortion was not mentioned in the bill. Ditto for legislation cleaning up nursing homes, the fight to stop Jim Crow legislation against Hispanics, minimum wage, and a host of other things.

Catholic teaching on justice to the poor and the dignity of workers goes back to Christ. It has been elucidated most powerfully by a long series of Popes, beginning with Pope Leo’s historic encyclical Rerum Novarum and going up through every pope since, including Pope Francis.

Pope Francis is Peter. He is not leading the Church down new pathways. There is nothing new or revolutionary about a Catholic Church that stands for the poor. The only thing that is new is this plastic attempt to “play” Catholics by making them think it is new.

As for the Catholic Church standing for the basic right to life of all human beings, how can anyone with half a brain honestly expect the Church Jesus founded to do anything else?

Does President Obama seriously expect the Catholic Church to come out in favor of the wanton murder of innocents?

President Obama’s many little jibes at Christians in general and Catholics in particular are finely-tuned Christian bashing administered by a self-serving pro in the art of skewering his political opponents. They are also, as these things must be, based on lies.

I’ve already done a whole series on the appalling inaccuracies in the way Christian bashers depict the Crusades. I suppose I can do another one on the even more appalling — since the evidence to the contrary is right in front of them — way that Christian witness is slandered and lied about.

It disgusts me when the President of the United States says things like this. He has no business inciting prejudice against a whole group of Americans. He also has no business telling churches how to interpret theology. As he once said, that is “above his pay grade.”

I am resigned to the fact that our president is a Christian basher. I don’t like it. But I’ve been forced by his own behavior and comments to accept it.

This man needs our prayers friends.

Perhaps more important than that, Christians everywhere need to stop letting Christian bashers define them, their faith and their culture. Christian bashers are bigots. They are liars. They are haters of the first order. Remember that when they try to tell you something about your faith.

History of the Crusades: President Obama’s Prayer Breakfast Comments

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

I’m going to backtrack for today’s video. This video is a discussion of President Obama’s comments about the Crusades at the 2015 National Prayer Breakfast.

I decided to put these videos on Public Catholic because of the president’s comments. Inaccurate history is used by Christian bashers to attack Christianity every single day. Christians do not know enough history to reply or deal with this intelligently. That needs to change.

After I finish with this series of videos on the Crusades, I’m going to take up the ignorant mis-use of Scripture to bash Christians.

We are living in a time in which Christians are the new group of people that it is ok to attack, bash, haze and hate. I see it all the time in crazy mean hate blogs and their crazy mean authors. I’ve encountered it repeatedly at certain political gatherings. It’s out there for everyone to see in the constant drip-drip-drip of anti-Christian articles in the press. We get a continuous battering from televised specials about Jesus which consistently seek to attack the veracity of the Gospels. It’s Lent, with Easter coming, so we’re going to see a lot of that right now.

Then there is the false history, the anti-history, about the Crusades and all other Christian history. You can be sure that whether the topic is the Black Death or the fall of Rome, there will be a jibe against Christians and Christianity in there somewhere. In fact, most of the time, anti-Christian propaganda pretending to be history will be prominent. What you will not see is any mention of the civilization-building power of Christianity, or the development of human rights because of the teachings of Christ. Some of these slanders in the popular media are distortions, but  a lot of it is direct lying.

Americans aren’t just ignorant of the truth, they are actively and aggressively being taught lies about Christianity and Christian history by the popular media. The media appears to be working in tandem with aggressive Christian bashers in an effort to destroy the faith of Christians in this country. The president’s speech, as well as a lot of other things he’s said and done, is an indication of how deep this hatred of Christians runs in certain circles.

It is no accident that we are witnessing an on-going genocide of Christians in a whole region of the world. These two things are, as they always are, tied together. Verbal hazing, degrading propaganda, lies and slanders of a whole people, are the intellectual scaffolding on which those who would commit genocide stand.

We really need to stop dismissing these constant attacks on our faith and ourselves as if they don’t matter. We also need to stop being overawed by the verbal violence and self-proclaimed authority of our attackers. I am not counseling a descent into the slime pit of public discourse alongside them. What I am suggesting is that Christians make the effort to learn the truth so that the lies will not impact us.

Equipping Christians to deal with this post-Christian culture is the primary purpose of Public Catholic. The first step is overcoming ignorance of their faith and their history among Christians themselves.

Christians do not need to apologize for Jesus Christ. We need to stand for Him without fear or equivocation.

I am aware that there are Islamic teachings which lead to a more peaceful application of that faith. I think that the interpretation referenced here is an accurate depiction of of the application of Islamic teachings of a thousand years ago. It also seems that it is still relevant to Islamic extremists today.

I want to emphasize that this video discusses events which happened almost over a thousand years ago. The reason I am posting it here is to correct the inaccurate  history of the Crusades which is being used in the popular media to attack and degrade Christians and Christianity.

 

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/publiccatholic/2015/03/history-of-the-crusades-the-first-crusade-1099/#ixzz3TWbP6IeR

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Christianity Declines Sharply in America. Here’s the One, Two Three of It.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Woodlouse https://www.flickr.com/photos/woodlouse/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Woodlouse https://www.flickr.com/photos/woodlouse/

Recent polls show a seven percent drop in the past eight years in the number of Americans who identify themselves as Christians.

This is due to a number of influences. Here is a short list of things I think have contributed to this situation.

First, and absolutely foremost, the incessant Christian bashing and hazing of Christians has to be at the top of the list. Christianity is attacked from every quarter, every single day. Christians have become the new hate group and Christianity is the new hate faith. This is done by lies, slander, half-truths, mockery and flat-out hate. Being a Christian who stands for Christ means that you will be ridiculed, reviled and attacked.

Second, the political heresy by much of the clergy. These men — and it’s nearly all men — have abandoned Jesus Christ to go off after a political, little g god who — Surprise! — thinks like them. They have drop-kicked the Beatitudes and much of what Christ and the prophets taught to preach and teach the gospel of Ayn Rand and Arthur Laffer. They seriously claim that there is no moral requirement to policies and behavior where economics and moneymaking are concerned.

They have deified corporatism and war and claim a moral imperative for policies that impoverish the people of this country. They have become so identified with the Republican Party that they might as well take the cross down off the altars in their churches and put the elephant up there, instead.

Third, the other side of the political heresy by much of the clergy. These men and women — a good number of these are women — have drop-kicked the calls to justice and personal morality. There is no moral innovation or personal death-dealing philosophy that they do not support. Many of them have gone so far as to align themselves with militant atheists who openly state that they intend to destroy Christianity.

They have attempted to create a moral imperative for murder of the unborn, the elderly, the sick and the helpless. They support the limitation of religious freedom and join in with critics of the Gospels. They are so identified with the Democratic Party that, like their fellow wing-nut brethren on the right, they might as well remove the cross off their altars and replace it with the Democratic donkey.

Fourth, we have far too many preachers who eschew any controversy, including the controversy of the Cross. They are so namby-pamby and feel-good that you can’t tell by listening to them if they really believe in anything or not. This kind of preacher does well in wealthy parishes. All they have to do is mumble a few platitudes over the vicissitudes of life that their parishioners encounter and preach well-written sermons that are like soft pillows of reassurance to people whose problems are always wrapped in the comfort middle-class ease.

These pastors don’t convert anybody. In fact, they’re proud of not proselytizing, as if trying to save people from eternal hell was too gauche for them. You won’t find any mention of the R and D in their churches. And, except for the annual Christmas Eve candlelight service and the gauzy Easter service, you won’t find much mention of Jesus, either. They, and their churches are what Jesus called “neither hot nor cold.”

Item four is a good bit of why item one has been allowed to flourish. Their indifference to Christ makes defending Christ an impolitic overreaction for them.

Items two and three are what created the monster in the first place. It does not matter if they are aligned to the left or the right, clergy who practice the political heresy do not preach Christ. It is easy to caricatureize Christianity when you focus on fallen and false shepherds such as these. The Holy Spirit will not honor the preaching of heretics who preach a false gospel of political redemption and who lead people to political alliances rather than to the cross.

Yes, we need to take a stand against the Christian bashing that is going on in this country. We need to do it, not just as Christians, but as Americans. This vitriolic bigotry is a lethal poison in the body politic. No group of people in America should be subjected to the vicious and destructive hazing that has become normal for Christians.

Yes, those of us who are called to the political world need to stand up for the civil and Constitutional rights of Christians. We certainly should vote for an end to abortion and to save the family. No Christian can vote for murder, which means you cannot vote for abortion, euthanasia, or embryonic stem cell research. You may not kill people.

But by the same token, no Christian should vote for corporatism and corporate welfare that impoverishes the people of this country. Economically, this country has been at war since 1941. That, and not social security, is why we have a deficit. History is replete with the economic meltdowns that occur when wars go on too long.

Too many of our wars are fought for corporate greed rather than to protect the people of this country. Too much of our money is going to build a defense that is not even useful to the defense of this country.

Do you realize what I have just done to you? I have basically told you that you can not support either one of our political parties. That isn’t an accident.

We need to take the elephant and the donkey off the altars of our churches and put the cross back up there.

People need to hear the true Gospel of Christ in all its fullness. This generation needs the saving power of Calvary as much as the pagan world of the first century.

Our priests and preachers need to stop preaching politics and start preaching Christ. They need to preach Christ and Him crucified without shame or dissembling, with the full power of belief. We need to convert this culture, one person at a time.

We will not do that with politics. We will do it by the power of the Holy Spirit. We will change the world when we start trying to change the world for Christ and Him alone.

Our clergy need to preach Christ. You and I need to preach Christ as well; with our lives, with our words, with our daily witness. But none of us — not clergy, not laity — can do this without the power of the Holy Spirit. That begins on our knees.

Pray. Pray every day. Pray for real. Then be a living witness to your salvation.

As for our clergy, stop thinking it’s about you. It’s not. You weren’t called to do well. You were called to do good. Your vocation is meant to make a gift of you to God’s people. All vocations do that. They make us a gift to others.

We need shepherds.

Far too often, we’ve had wolves.

From the USA Today:

WASHINGTON — The United States is a significantly less Christian country than it was seven years ago.

That’s the top finding — one that will ricochet through American faith, culture and politics — in the Pew Research Center’s newest report, “America’s Changing Religious Landscape,” released Tuesday.

This trend “is big, it’s broad and it’s everywhere,” said Alan Cooperman, Pew’s director of religion research.

Christianity still dominates American religious identity (70%), but the survey shows dramatic shifts as more people move out the doors of denominations, shedding spiritual connections along the way.

Atheists and agnostics have nearly doubled their share of the religious marketplace, and overall indifference to religion of any sort is rising as well. Only the historically black Protestant churches have held a steady grip through the years of change.

 

 

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