Pope Francis Condemns Arms Dealers. Duh.

 

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aleteia Image Department https://www.flickr.com/photos/113018453@N05/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aleteia Image Department https://www.flickr.com/photos/113018453@N05/

Deal Hudson is all agog because Pope Francis had the temerity to condemn international arms dealers who are providing the weapons that enable groups such as Boko Haram and ISIS to engage in their mass slaughter.

Mr Hudson doesn’t understand why the pope didn’t slam sex traffickers in this same speech. He’s even more flummoxed because the Holy Father has famously said “who am I to judge” about homosexuals who are repentant and doing their best to follow Christ.

Mr Hudson has a long political past, and I believe that he was speaking from that political viewpoint when he wrote his article. He was “outreach adviser” to the Catholic Church for President George W Bush’s presidential campaigns. What this means is that his job was helping the president gain votes from Catholic voters.

According to Wikipedia, “Since 2000, Hudson’s chief political activity has been to help organize the Catholic vote in support of conservative and Republican candidates.”

I think that’s relevant in terms of Mr Hudson’s reaction to Pope Francis’ remarks. Mr Hudson has a public history of viewing the teachings given to us by the popes in light of how they will “play” in electoral battles for power. It was his job to assess the Church as a political power base and come up with ways to use its teachings to craft political spin that would gain votes for one particular political viewpoint.

What that means is that he has a background of ignoring the moral implications of the teachings of the Church and analyzing them in terms of how this or that teaching can be used to gain votes. In order to do his job as a campaign adviser, he had to turn off the moral reflection on what these teachings meant to him as a Catholic and look at them through the absolutely amoral prism of power politics.

I do not say that as a condemnation of Mr Hudson. It is simply the nature of what his job was. He was a political operative.

I view Mr Hudson’s comments about Pope Francis’ condemnation of arms dealers in light of that understanding. In other words, I think they are politically motivated. Mr Hudson is not alone in this. He’s been joined by other defenders of the weapons manufacturing industry, all of them kicking the pope for saying the obvious.

I haven’t been able to find the text of Pope Francis’ remarks (Public Catholic reader JoAnna gave me a link to the speech. You can read it here.) so I’m forced to do as Mr Hudson does with his article and extrapolate from secondary sources. That’s always risky business.

For that reason, I went back and looked at earlier statements Pope Francis has made on this same subject. It turns out that his comments about arms dealers are not a new direction in his thinking. He has condemned arms dealers several times in the past two years, particularly those who sell arms to the likes of Boko Haram. He said this a year ago:

Apparently reacting to current acts of terrorism being perpetrated by the Boko Haram sects in north-eastern parts of Nigeria, Pope Francis early Thursday condemned all acts of terrorism, kidnapping and arms proliferation.

The Pope described the menace as “absurd contradiction” between the international community’s calls for peace, the proliferation of the global arms trade and the lack of attention to the suffering of refugees.

“Everyone talks about peace, everyone says they want it but unfortunately the proliferation of all types of arms is leading us in the opposite direction,” Francis told a group of new ambassadors to the Holy See.

At another time, he decried the power of the weapons’ industry’s lobbyists in government and the largesse they use to buy influence and coddle those who do their bidding, saying,

“And if you want,” he continued, “think of the great dining halls, of the parties thrown by the bosses of the weapons industry that makes the arms that wind up (in those camps). A sick child, starving, in a refugee camp — and the great parties, the fine life for those who manufacture weapons.”

Each of these previous comments were made in the context of the on-going bloodbath in the Middle East. The Holy Father made his comments yesterday in that same context. He made them as he was preparing to leave for a dangerous trip to that region of world.

Does that mean that Pope Francis intends for his condemnation of war profiteers to be limited to this one conflict in that one region of the world? No. When he says that these people are “so-called Christians,” that’s an obvious statement of moral teaching from a man who is the moral teacher for 1.2 billion Catholics .

Frankly, my reaction to his statement is … duh.

Does anyone seriously expect that the Vicar of Christ is going to support arms dealing and war profiteering? Are you going to jump in there and join with those attacking the Pope and defend arms dealing and war profiteering yourself?

It’s easier to understand the Pope’s point if we consider another set of comments he made. At some point — I’m not able to figure out if this was all in one homily or at two different times — he also condemned the Allied bombing runs in World War II for not bombing the train tracks over which people were taken to the Nazi death camps. This is the quote:

He spoke of the Armenian genocide in the early 20th century – though he did not use the word – and of the failure of the Allied forces to stop the Nazi genocide programme. “The great powers had photographs of the railways that brought trains to concentration camps, to Auschwitz, to kill Jews, Christians, Gypsies, homosexuals.

“But tell me, why didn’t they bomb them?” he asked. “The great powers, they divided Europe like a cake.”

Now, how does that jibe with his condemnation of arms dealers?

I think it simply means this: Weapons are objects. They are things. They have no souls. They do not think. They are tools we make. They can be used for self-defense, to hunt for food, for recreational target practice and for cold blooded murder of innocents.

The failure to bomb those tracks was a failure to use the weapons of war to save lives.

That does not, as Mr Hudson implies, smear the men and women in uniform who give their lives to fight these wars. We pray the Centurion’s prayer at mass. Jesus did not condemn this soldier. He praised him for his faith.

It would seem to me that this conflating of these two things — a condemnation of the refusal to use arms to save lives, and a condemnation of international arms traders — tells the story.

The people who are fighting ISIS are also using weapons. But they are using them in self-defense. The war against the Nazis was a war to save civilization. I think the war against ISIS is also a war to save civilization.

That is a vast oversimplification, I know. There is a danger in trying to judge between wars and labeling one side moral and the other amoral. The danger is that we all tend to see “our side” as the moral one. That can lead to justification of any war, any where, against anybody.

There are also a number of great dangers in an economy that is built on arms manufacturing, as the American economy has become. But that is beyond the scope of this post.

Finally, Pope Francis evidently also encouraged his audience to not place their trust in politicians.

Again, I say … duh.

Here is what he said:

“One day everything comes to an end and they will be held accountable to God,” he said.

In his Turin address to young people he also warned against putting too much trust in politicians, saying: “In Europe there is war, in Africa there is war, in Asia there is war. But can I have trust in a world like this? Can I trust the world’s managers?

“When I go to give my vote for a candidate, can I trust that they will not bring my country to war? If you put trust only in people, you lose.”

It’s no wonder that Mr Hudson is so upset with Pope Francis. The Holy Father is challenging Catholics to follow Christ instead of politics. He is directly opposing the political heresy that Mr Hudson served so ably during his time in politics.

Not only that, but he’s going against the biggest pork barrel around: The arms industry. He’s calling foul on the practice of selling weapons of war to mass murderers. He’s saying that you can’t serve both God and mammon.

Somebody else said that a couple of thousand of years ago and He got in big trouble for it.

Pope Francis is cracking apart the political heresy. Those who make their livings by it are responding by calling him everything but the Vicar of Christ.

Who’s going to win this argument?

The pope.

The Catholic Church has been attacked by governments, powers, armies, and now pundits, for 2,000 years. It has suffered loss and peril. But it has always prevailed.

 

For a different look at this discussion, check out Jennifer Fitz, and Father Dwight Longenecker.

 

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Laudato Si is Pope Francis’ Rerum Novarum, or No Wonder Rush Limbaugh Hates the Pope.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/


Make no mistake about it. Laudato Si is not a wimpy, tip-toe-around-and-don’t-offend-anybody encyclical. It’s a throw-the-money-changers out of the Temple revolution of an encyclical.

No wonder Rush Limbaugh hates this pope.

A lot of you are going to find yourself challenged by Laudato Si, precisely because Pope Francis does not give you the option of ignoring what he’s saying. You can decide to go against the pope. Or you can decide to walk with him.

But you can’t pretend he didn’t say what he said.

Pope Francis comes right out and says that global warming — along with a lot of other things — is leading us to a dark future. He points out the spiritual hollowness a society whose chief goal is to blindly consume, and whose community has dwindled to the internet. He says that access to life-sustaining water is a human right, and blasts corporatist control of the earth’s riches to the destruction of the poor.

This is a long Encyclical and unpacking it will take a while. But here is my first thought about it. It is a thought based on a memory and a historical fact.

The memory is of a conversation I had with a friend over a decade ago. My friend and I were talking about the universal sins of each time in history, sins that the people of that time are blind to. What we meant was that when a behavior is universally accepted and no one questions it, even great sins can pass unnoticed by the people committing them. Racism was once such a sin here in America.

Later generations often look back and are appalled by the cruelty and ignorance of their forebears. But they are committing their own sins of cultural blindness, even while they express their disdain for their forebears.

I remarked that I thought that one of the things about which future generations would look back at our time and ask “Why didn’t you do something? Were you blind?” was going to be the environment. If we bequeath a ruined earth to our grandchildren, what will they think of us?

The second thing I want to base my reaction on is a historical fact. That fact is simple. The Popes of the 1930s and 1940s did not issue an encyclical against the Nazis. An encyclical was drafted, and from what I’ve read of it, it was a strong and powerful document.

If that encyclical had been issued instead of shoved in a drawer, the many questions about what the Church did during those dark times would have a clear and compelling moral answer. I believe without doubt that if that encyclical had been issued, all of history since 1930 would be different.

Would the encyclical have stopped Hitler? Probably not. But it would have fueled the resistance to his evils by faithful Catholics. It would have either silenced the go-along German bishops who have become the shame of the Church or it would have exposed them for the anti-Christs that they were. It would have strengthened and ennobled the moral and prophetic voice of the Church for all time.

The failure to issue that encyclical was such an appalling failure of the Church that all of Christianity has been paying for it ever since.

Seen in the light of that memory and that history, I can say without equivocation that I am glad beyond glad that Pope Francis has taken the historic step of issuing this encyclical. I know that it is will unsettle a lot of Catholics who have up until now felt comfortable in their political fealties. I know that is painful. Believe me, I’ve been through such pain myself. In fact, I feel a bit of that pain with Laudato Si.

But it is necessary. Among other things, Pope Francis puts down the corporatist-created heresy that our followership of Jesus Christ stops where commerce begins.

Both the right wing and the left wing of our political spectrum want the Church to shut up and go along where their particular sins are concerned. They both claim, each with their own language, that when it comes to their sins, Jesus Christ is irrelevant.

They are both self-serving liars.

By writing this encyclical in such bold terms Pope Francis demonstrates what Hitler managed to keep an earlier pope from demonstrating: That Jesus Christ  is the Lord of all life and that He is never irrelevant, no matter the topic of conversation.

Now, to get to the touchy matter of global warming. What to do with a Pope who does not equivocate when he says that reputable science shows that global warming is, in fact, happening?

First, the Pope does not say this as a matter of morality. He bases his statement on what he terms reputable scientific studies. I am not advocating that anyone drop kick the pope’s opinion on this in favor of Rush Limbaugh’s.

Pope Francis has a scientific background, and more to the point, he has nothing to gain and lot of to lose by making this statement. The talking heads of the world are highly paid mouthpieces who get their money from the people who benefit financially by the public not believing in global warming.

If I had to pick who to believe, it would be Pope Francis without any question. The vicious and totally untrue attacks on Pope Francis’ good name by the minions of the right have convinced me that nothing they have to say about the Catholic Church or our Holy Father is worth hearing. I think they’re all about the money. Their own money.

What Pope Francis does say as a matter of morality is that we have a responsibility to the earth, to all lifeforms and to the poor. This is sound Christian theology. It is the historic understanding of our call as Christians as regards these matters.

We can think — and by that I mean think, not be led around by pundit pied pipers who slander and slime the pope –and let think on matters of scientific investigation. We do have an obligation to think and not just repeat one-sided arguments that are designed to induce us to allow ourselves to be used.

It is important to the max to listen and read widely about an issue as contentious as this. I say that because it is a grave issue. The wanton destruction of entire species and ecosystems, the loss of breathable air and drinkable water, the unnecessary deaths of millions of people to preventable illnesses that are caused by pollution, starvation and thirst are, all of them, intrinsic evils. The rape of the earth is a violation of our first compact with God to have dominion over creation.

We have, as Christians always do, the freedom to think and let think on the particulars of the science of these matters. But we have an absolute moral obligation to approach the question with integrity instead of political sloganeering, from a vantage of concern for the common good, the welfare of the least of these and the provision of a hope and future for the generations who come after us.

We are Christians and we are called to more than to live only for ourselves with no regard for anyone or anything else in all of creation or in the future.

This is my first blush impression of Laudato Si.

I’m going to read it carefully and write about it extensively. I think we may be in the presence of an encyclical as important as Rerum Novarum.

Make no mistake about it folks. Pope Francis is kind, approachable and unassuming. But he is not a wimp.

 

For other thoughts on the Encyclical, read All of Our Sin, All of Our Hatred, on Trial by the Anchoress,  Reading Francis Through Francis by Kate O’Hare, So Much to Say, So Much to Learn by Kathy Schiffer, Should You Read Laudato Si? by Simcha Fisher, Patriarch Barthelomew on the Encyclical: We Count it a True Blessing, by Deacon Greg Kandra, The Pearl of Great Price by Mark Shea, 3 Sources to Understanding Pope Francis’ Encyclical by Pia Solenni, Laudato Si, Hold Your Breath, Make a Wish, Count to Three by Tom McDonald, Why is THIS Missing from Pope Francis’ Environmental Encyclical? by Dr Greg Popcak.

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Pope Francis: Gender Theory is a Threat to Marriage

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Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

Getting rid of gender difference is the problem, not the solution …  We must do much more in favor of women if we want to give more strength to the reciprocity between mean and women. It’s necessary, in fact, not only that women be heard more, but that their voices have real weight, an authority recognized in society and in the Church. 

Pope Francis, speaking on Gender Theory.

Pope Francis, spoke to the bishops of the Caribbean, and he did what popes must do. He spoke out against a destructive ideology that attacks the dignity and value of human beings. The ideology in question is the trendiest of them all right now: Gender Theory.

“The sacrament of marriage … must be defended,” the Pope said. He urged the bishops to “emphasize family pastoral ministry.”

The Holy Father encouraged the bishops to avoid “wasting energy in divisions and clashes” … and to also avoid wasting their “real passion for the Kingdom of God” on these things.

He emphasized that “the Church is not tied to any political system so that it may always safeguard the transcendence of the human person.”

This is not the first time Pope Francis has made these points. I doubt that it will be the last.

Just the same, I think it’s important to emphasize these teachings, for the simple reason that they are being so successfully challenged in today’s world.

Pope Francis said that gender theory is a problem because it attacks human dignity and human value.

He also said — and this is something I have written about a lot — that the Church is not (or should not be) tied to any political system. I think that applies to people and their political parties as well. I see the political heresy as a serious problem for Christian witness and authenticity here in America.

In addition, he emphasized the dignity of women and the need for women’s voices to be heard in the Church. All I can say to that is Amen.

There is nothing new in Pope Francis’ statements. He’s made all of them before, and I trust that, given the world in which we live, he will have to make them many times again.

The question for bishops everywhere is how they will lead their priests in teaching, preaching and living out what the Pope is giving them. The work of the Church is to empower the laity so that the laity can convert the world, one person at a time.

There is a rubber meets the road point between parish priests and their parishioners that has to work if the Church is going to be the Church. It is a function of the trickle-down teaching that goes Pope, to bishop, to priest, to us; and from us to the world.

Only the laity lives in the world and intersects with the heart of the world at 2 billion points of light.

The Holy Spirit has sent us a holy Pope for these times. I pray for an army of holy bishops and holy priests to follow through on what he is teaching them by teaching us in turn.

From Vatican News:

The sacrament of marriage is one of the Latin American people’s most important treasures, the Pope says, and it must be defended. He urges them to emphasize family pastoral ministry in order to counter “serious social problems” such as “the difficult economic situation, migration, domestic violence” and  “unemployment, drug trafficking and corruption.”

No to gender ideology, protecting the complementarity between men and women

The complementarity between a man and a woman is being questioned by the so-called gender ideology in the name of a freer and more just society, the Pope observes. In fact, he warns, the differences between men and women are not a question of “opposition or subordination but rather of communion and generation… always in the image and likeness of God.” Without mutual giving- he adds – neither can have an in-depth understanding of the other.

Bishops are united to face the country’s problems

The Pope invites the Church leaders not simply to pray but also to reach out in friendship and “fraternal aid” to address the many serious problems facing Puerto Rico. And, he warns them against “wasting energy in divisions and clashes.” “The more intense the communion…the more it favors the mission,” he says.

Pope Francis encourages the bishops to distance themselves from any ideologies or political trends that can “waste their time and a real passion for the Kingdom of God.” Because of its mission, he points out, the Church is not tied to any political system so that it may always safeguard the transcendence of the human person.

 

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The Difference is Jesus: Man and Wife Launch Boat Rescue to Help Immigrants

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Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Sharonetta’s Blossoming https://www.flickr.com/photos/shargadd2/

Christians go out to rescue immigrants fleeing ISIS.

The difference is Jesus.

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Muslim Man Speaks of His Encounter with Jesus

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Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Art4TheGlryOfGod https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

Our call as Christians is to convert the world. Witness to your love of Christ with your life, your words and your actions.

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Who is Jesus? Come and Kneel Before Him Now.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Art4TheGlryOfGod by Sharon https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Art4TheGlryOfGod by Sharon https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

It’s been a while since I posted this. I think it deserves another look.

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… and this one from Downey, California.

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… and Market Square in Knoxville, Tennessee

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Will Gay Marriage Lead to “Marriage with Multiple Partners?” Emory Symposium Says No.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Bombman https://www.flickr.com/photos/ajay_g/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Bombman https://www.flickr.com/photos/ajay_g/

If the Supreme Court creates a 14th Amendment right to gay marriage in it upcoming decision, will that open the gateway to a legal right to polygamy?

Justice Alito asked that question directly during hearings on this decision. There was predictable outrage in certain quarters because of Justice Alito’s question.

Now Emory Law Journal attempts to put the question to rest by taking it seriously and answering it in the negative.

The journal recently held a “paper symposium” on this question. The upshot of the papers it published is that polygamy imposes a preponderance of harm to the human rights of women and children, as well as to the social order in terms of polygamy’s poverty and inequality creating force within societies.

For this reason, that authors argue that America would be able to avoid legalizing marriage between anybody and anything, even if gay marriage is considered a 14th Amendment right, based on arguments in favor of the public good.

This is sophistry in defense of what the authors consider to be a done deal. The forward to the symposium flatly states that the author anticipates that the Court will find a “right” to gay marriage in the 14th Amendment.

These papers and this symposium attempt to soften the blow of such a decision. They’re a scholarly version of the there-there-little-buttercup, it-doesn’t-mean-all-that-much stuff that came out after the DOMA decision. That was bogus then, and this line of reasoning is bogus now. Here’s why.

The authors of these papers seek to answer the serious question of what legal basis for restricting marriage to any definition at all remains if the Court creates a 14th Amendment right to gay marriage. They answer that there is a basis for restricting marriage to two people. Their reason for claiming that the courts will protect marriage between two people is, essentially, because it is best for the common good. 

The authors outline arguments against polygamy and for restricting marriage to two people based on the harms polygamy inflicts on society and on persons. They emphasize the obvious harms to the the civil and human rights of women and children that are inherent in polygamy, and also discuss polygamy’s poverty-creating force, as well as its destructiveness to men without money. They then claim that this gives the state a legitimate legal basis for restricting marriage to two people.

In other words, they are claiming that creating a 14th Amendment right to gay marriage will not lead to future rulings in favor of polygamy because polygamy harms the common good.

This is nonsense. The Catholic Church cares about the common good. The United States Supreme Court clearly does not.

The Court has a long history of ignoring the public good in decisions such as this. The Supreme Court single-handedly created the culture war that is ripping this country apart with it bench legislating in the Roe v Wade decision. It set the country on the road to destruction of marriage with the hydra-headed DOMA decision.  If it uses the 14th Amendment to create a “right” to gay marriage, it will simply be doing more of the same.

The idea that we can base our hopes of preventing a rush to legalize marriage between everybody and everything by trusting the Supreme Court’s desire to protect the common good is fantastical.

If the Supreme Court “finds” (good word) a 14th Amendment right to gay marriage, the agitation to legalize polygamy will ramp up within a couple of months, if not sooner. If you think I’m being alarmist, then hide and watch.

This agitation will be coupled with an all-out attack on the First Amendment rights of small business owners as well as individuals who express opinions in the workplace or other public venues that challenge politically correct thinking.

I remember when the DOMA decision was handed down, I predicted that what has happened would happen. A number of people said that I was being too negative, when in fact, I was deliberately down-playing what was coming. I’m telling you now that I’m also soft-peddling what will happen if the Supreme Court creates a right to gay marriage under the 14th Amendment.

That would be a draconian decision.

Go here to read the papers published in Emory Law’s symposium on marriage.

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Actor Mark Wahlberg Says His Priest Saved Him from “Life of Drugs and Violence.”

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by WEBN-TV https://www.flickr.com/photos/politicalpulse/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by WEBN-TV https://www.flickr.com/photos/politicalpulse/

Parish priests are where the rubber meets the road.

If the parish priest fails, the Church fails.

We need to pray for these men in collars. They have a grave responsibility for souls.

Actor Mark Wahlberg left a life of drug and violence which resulted in him being charged with attempted murder to become a devout follower of Christ.

“I pray every day and try to go to church every day. My faith in God is what makes me a better man,” he says, earnestly. “It’s the most important part of my life. I pray that I will live up to my intention to be the best husband and father than I can be. I never would have been able to change my life and have the success and love that I have in my world today without my faith.”

This dramatic change is a testament to what can happen when the shepherding of a priest combines with God’s redemptive mercy. It is also a testament to the fact that we are, each of us, works in progress.

The article I quote below says that Mr Wahlberg is in a “committed relationship” with the mother of his four children. It turns out that they were married in the Church after having been together for a number of years. They had three children at the time of their marriage.

The ever-forgiving, always-loving Catholic Church welcomed them home.

From Square Mile:

For the longest time, it didn’t look as if Mark Wahlberg would make it beyond the prison cells of Boston – never mind to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. As a teenager he was arrested and detained multiple times – he was once charged with attempted murder (although pleaded guilty to assault) – and was addicted to cocaine before the age of 15. His biography is almost as extensive for his misdemeanors as his filmography.

It’s something he’s asked about a lot in interviews, and something that he always responds to. It’s also what makes him a controversial actor: some believe that he didn’t deserve a second chance, particularly given the nature of some of his crimes, but he’s always maintained that he has had to put the past behind him. That ‘kid from the wrong side of the tracks’ vibe stayed with him and his image as the bad-boy of Hollywood served him well, but the most important thing he remembers from this period is his faith.

It was religion that helped Wahlberg back onto the straight and narrow after his parish priest took him under his wing, and he’s retained that faith to this day. “I pray every day and try to go to church every day. My faith in God is what makes me a better man,” he says, earnestly. “It’s the most important part of my life. I pray that I will live up to my intention to be the best husband and father than I can be.

I never would have been able to change my life and have the success and love that I have in my world today without my faith.”

 

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Can Bruce Jenner Be a Christian? Of Course He Can.

Flickr Creative Commons by  Mike Mozart https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeepersmedia/

Flickr Creative Commons by Mike Mozart https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeepersmedia/

I hadn’t intended to discuss Bruce Jenner, the person.

I don’t mind discussing what I sincerely believe is the medical quackery of “gender reassignment surgery.” This barbarism is being used as  “treatment” for people who experience gender dysphoria. This mutilating surgery is just another of the many quackeries and cruelties practiced on mentally ill people.

Gender reassignment surgery is today’s pre-frontal lobotomy. One day, people will look back on it and wonder how anyone could be so cruel to do this to another person.

Bruce Jenner is a victim of this medical quackery. He also evidently suffers from a terribly painful mental illness. He has all my sympathy. I will never write a word condemning him or what he, personally, has done in this situation. My condemnation is for those who push this barbaric surgery on people for political reasons.

The only reason I discuss Mr Jenner today is because I’ve read a smattering of nonsense out there on the internet challenging Mr Jenner’s Christian faith.

I don’t know anything about Mr Jenner’s personal life or his personal beliefs. I’ve never paid attention to the bizarre cult of personality that surrounds Mr Jenner and his family and I don’t know anything about what he believes.

I have recently read articles saying that Mr Jenner has publicly proclaimed his faith in Jesus Christ. I’ve also read absurd blog posts and combox rants claiming that, because he has come forward about his illness, he cannot be a Christian.

Rubbish.

First of all, whatever emotional/mental problems he has, they are not his fault. Does anyone seriously believe that he would undergo this mutilation and subject himself to high doses of hormones, whose side effects are bound to be long-lasting and damaging, unless he was suffering and desperate?

People who are afflicted with this mental illness are being sold harrowing self-mutilation and damaging hormone therapy as a way out of their misery. This is unconscionable on the part of the people doing the selling. But those who subject themselves to this barbarism are its victims.

Mr Jenner is in no way committing a sin by suffering from a mental illness. He is in no way culpable for the horrendous medical advice he has been given or for the cruel, sicko society in which he lives.

Even if he was fully, totally, and absolutely culpable — and I say again that he is not — that would not in any way mean that he is not a Christian.

I’ve seen it on bumper stickers, and, even though it’s a bit cliche, it’s true: Christians aren’t perfect. They are forgiven.

Transexual people attend mass at my parish. We make them welcome. I do not question their faith.  I have never heard a single word from anyone else in that parish questioning their faith. In fact, I’ve very seldom heard any discussion about them at all.

We are all wounded people. The miracle is that God loves us, heals us and welcomes us to His table without exception. All we have to do is go to Him, warts and all, and place our lives in His loving hands.

Can Bruce Jenner be a Christian? Of course he can.

Is Bruce Jenner a Christian? He says he is.

Jesus loves Bruce Jenner. That I know. Bruce Jenner is God’s beloved child.

Don’t close the doors to the Kingdom on people who sin. We all stand in sinful equality at the foot of the cross. Our righteousness is as filthy rags before God.

We enter the Kingdom by virtue of the enormous price that Jesus paid to ransom us from our sins. There are no exceptions to this. Before you condemn Bruce Jenner and claim that he is not a Christian, go look in the mirror. What you see there will be the reflection of a sinner just like Mr Jenner.

Neither one of you is fit to untie the laces of Jesus’ sandals. None of us — none of us — is without sin. Be careful about condemning specific people in this way. You do not have the authority to make such judgements. That authority belongs to God alone.

Pray for Mr Jenner. He is a suffering fellow human being who is being used by a heartless political movement and medical practitioners bent on quackery. He deserves our compassion, not our condemnation.

 

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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.

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