2013 Favs: Smoke Signals, Courier, Carrier Pigeons, Telegraph, Telephone, Email and Now Tomahawk Missiles? You Gotta Be Kidding Me.

Bombing in warfare can serve tactical purposes.

Say, for instance, that you are at war with a country that has actual war-making capabilities. This hasn’t happened to America in a long time, so let my refresh your memories.

Remember Pearl Harbor?

The Japanese people who attacked us were able to build airplanes, aircraft carriers and guns of all types. They had the ability to train their own pilots, navigate their own ships and come half-way around the globe to launch a devastating attack that sank most of the Sixth Fleet. Then, they had the ability to turn around and go back across the ocean to their home port.

That is war making ability.

You know, the ability to wage actual war on a global scale.

If you are at war with a nation with war-making ability, bombing can serve the purpose of leveling their factories where they make these planes and ships. It can cut the supply lines they use to feed these factories and move their troops. In short, dropping bombs on or shooting missiles at an industrial power with war-making ability during an actual war can serve a strategic and tactical purpose.

This raises the question, at least in my mind, of what, exactly, the backers of the president’s proposed “intervention” in Syria expect to accomplish by lobbing tens of millions of dollars’ worth of Tomahawk missiles at innocent civilians because their government or maybe their government’s opponents … because somebody used sarin gas.

Sarin gas is a gas. It can be carried in a canister. There are comments in various news stories that Syria has “stockpiles” of chemical weapons and that it also is “manufacturing” them. But I find even more sources theorizing that they got these weapons from Saddam Hussein, or even that the United States gave them to Syria a long time ago.

So far as I can tell from this, Syria has no munitions or chemical weapons plants where it is manufacturing this gas that would make legitimate tactical targets. I haven’t found anything except vague, unsubstantiated claims in the popular press that such sites exist.

So, are there military targets that are linked to the sarin gas or not? I keep remembering the way President Kennedy outlined the menace to the American people at the start of the Cuban Missile Crisis. He spoke to us in a straight-forward 1,2,3 manner. That was a serious threat to our survival as a nation, not some we-can’t-explain-it nonsense. But that president trusted the American people with the truth.

If there is such truth now, we have a right to hear it. Based on the fact that we haven’t heard it, I am assuming that the only reasons for creating this war are the reasons that we’ve been given, none of which claim any threat to America or the American people.

That raises the question: What does our president and the war-promotion machine that’s hammering us think they are going to accomplish by hitting these already miserable people with Tomahawk missiles?

What is the military objective? What tactical purpose does this proposed attack supposedly serve?

The only explanation I’ve read as to what they hope to accomplish came in an unintentionally silly little article from NBC News. According to them, we want to use these missiles for “sending messages” (I kid you not.) to the Syrian government. For instance, the article says (emphases mine),

The U.S. Navy can use those capabilities to send a message to Syria’s leaders about their chemical weapons program, just as it sent messages in the past to leaders of IraqYugoslaviaAfghanistan, SudanYemen and Libya.

Almost as important, the Tomahawks can send messages back — in the form of real-time battle damage assessments. As in those earlier conflicts, Tomahawk cruise missiles are America’s point of the spear for the Syria crisis. President Barack Obama and his aides, members of Congress, leaders of other countries and U.N. officials are continuing to debate if and when to attack Syria. Meanwhile, Pentagon leaders have their battle plan ready, and the Tomahawks are expected to deal the first blow.

Now, I’m familiar with the use of the phrase “send him a message” as it is used in trite movies to describe wreaking some form of mayhem on a character by other characters in the screen play. The dialogue usually begins with a command to burn down someone’s house, kill their family, beat them to a pulp or some such and “send him a message.”

I assume that may be what the writer of this article is talking about.

What kind of message are we supposed to be sending by firing thousand-pound bombs at the people of Syria?

Is the plan to devastate the infrastructure so that the government crumbles and the rebels win this civil war? Do we want the rebels to win this war? Who, exactly, are these rebels, and who is backing them? What kind of future war would we create by getting into this?

I wonder if the president and his crew have considered other means of sending messages. I mean, have they tried email? Or how about sending a courier or using carrier pigeons?

Anything  makes more sense than “sending a message” with Tomahawk missiles.

Unless these missiles are sarin-seeking, or known stockpiles and manufacturing plants we haven’t been told about exist, we’re not going to get at the chemical weaponry. What we are going to do is kill people, create even more havoc and entangle America and Americans in somebody else’s civil war.

I listened to Secretary of State Kerry’s testimony before Congress as he flatly refused to “take the option” of “boots on the ground” “off the table.”

Aside from the question, Do these people really talk in unending strings of cliches? I wondered how many of the people listening to this understood what he was saying. He wants authorization for Tomahawk missiles now, with whatever the president decides he wants to do to follow.

He’s saying this vote is a blank check.

Also, for those people who seem to keep forgetting this, he wasn’t talking about sending boots to Syria. He was talking about sending American men and women over there to die.

Maybe the reason for all the hackneyed cliches is because nobody, either in Congress or the White House or the press for that matter, wants to say precisely what it is that they are proposing. It just doesn’t have the same Rambo/Corleone-esq macho block-headedness to say the truth.

What if the Secretary of State had said,

  • We probably will send ground troops into Syria. We haven’t decided how many or for how long.
  • We are certain that we are going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to fire Tomahawk missiles at non-military targets in a largely defenseless nation which doesn’t have any military targets.
  • This talk about a “red line” is just for public consumption. We created the “red line” a few weeks ago, and are relying on the propaganda press and the short attention spans of the American people to sell it for us.
  •  We are not going to discuss the rumors of Russian involvement in this war because if we didn’t ignore it, this attack would be even harder to sell to the American people than it is now.
  • In the final analysis, after all this bizarro cliche talk about “sending messages” with Tomahawk missiles and the “option of boots on the ground,” what we’re talking about is killing people. Lots of people. For no tactical reason that we will discuss with the American people.

Firing Tomahawk missiles into another nation is not “sending them a message.” It’s an act of war. And this particular war is not our war.

We do not need to go to war in Syria to defend America.

Let me repeat that: We do not need to go to war in Syria to defend America.

Is there some other reason for committing American troops? Is our military a police force the president can use as he wishes to “send messages” to whomever he wants?

Or, is it for the protection of this nation and its people?

I have said from the beginning that I am open to being persuaded about military action in Syria. But persuading me means convincing me that there is a reason for it that has to do with protecting America and that the negative consequences of military action do not outweigh the threat to our safety.

So far, all I’ve seen is an appeal to kill lots of people by firing missiles at them because somehow or other that’s the “humanitarian” thing to do. I have not heard anything that convinces me that there is a tactical purpose to this action, or that there are even tactical targets for the missiles. I also have not heard anything — and I mean anything — that addresses how America is endangered by the civil war in Syria.

What is the tactical, military purpose of firing missiles at the Syrian people?

How does firing missiles at Syria protect the homeland and the American people?

Why are we being pushed into this war?

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2013 Favs: Gay Marriage: French Opposition Continues

 

Opponents to France’s new law legalizing gay marriage say they will continue the fight. 

This unwise action by the French government in forcing the vote to legalize gay marriage on an unwilling population appears to have the potential to push France into a protracted struggle. Roe v Wade certainly did that here in America. This kind of government-created civil disturbance is almost always a bad idea.

I haven’t read the new law, but news reports about it say that it specifically allows medical technological interventions to create children for gay couples. Aside from the obvious commodification for children, this process also requires farming women’s bodies for eggs and then  using them for surrogates. The obvious misogyny in that is mind boggling.

This practice is widespread here in America. We have celebrities parading around with their manufactured children that were created by this use of women bodies. We also have a television show that “normalizes” the egregious practice. The violation of the basic human rights of both women and children to be treated as people and not commodities are entirely ignored in our public discussion of this issue. 

According to Vatican Radio, there are reports of “English-speaking companies offering to provide same sex couples in France with children at a cost of $100,000.” I would not be at all surprised if these companies were the same American companies that run baby-manufacturing mills here in America.

From Vatican Radio:

(Vatican Radio) Opponents of a new French law legalizing marriage for same sex couples are vowing to continue their campaign, one day after France became the 14th country to pass the controversial legislation.
A bill, which also allows for adoption by same-sex couples, passed by 321 votes to 225 in the French parliament yesterday, amid heated debate and protests both in and outside the National Assembly building.
French President François Hollande is expected to sign the bill once it has cleared any constitutional challenges. But a broad coalition of opponents, including the Catholic Church, says it will continue contesting the legislation and is planning further demonstrations.
Tugdual Derville is a spokesman for the opposition movement and a leader of the Alliance Vita, pro-life organization. 
Listen: RealAudioMP3 
He says this movement marks the birth of a real reawakening in France of those who are concerned that the most vulnerable people, children, the aged, the handicapped, remain a priority for economic and social policies….today, he says, we see English speaking companies offering to provide same sex couples in France with children at a cost of $100.000 – this is deeply shocking to us.
It is time, Derville says, to open a serious discussion about what we call human ecology, aimed at recognizing, protecting and transmitting to future generations the truth about our human procreation, our birth from a man and a woman. Beyond the public protests, the movement will continue to promote serious reflection and the development of a culture at the service of all human beings.

Text from page http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/04/24/french_opposition_continues_to_same-sex_marriage/en1-686133
of the Vatican Radio website

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2013 Favs: He’s Got the Whole World

 

In his files

 

Candidate Barack Obama and President Barach Obama are two entirely different cats.

Of course, if you listen to the fine points of the statement in the second video below, you realize that he never really said what civil libertarians thought he said. He didn’t say he was going to stop surveilling the American people. However, he implied it throughout this speech, and that is what people heard.

We all have a tendency to fall for politicians’ carefully worded lying truths. We hear what we want to hear.

According to New Times articles the president is extending the electronic monitoring web to people overseas. Germany, for one, is not so sure they trust him as much as Americans evidently do.

Then, there’s the handy-dandy “computer facility” that the NSA is building in Utah. If you want to see why nobody will touch this, all you have to do is look at the “groundbreaking” photo. What you will see is power players, both Democrat and Republican, gathered together with their little shovels, around a sandbox.

As silly government photos go, this is one of the silliest I’ve seen in quite a while. But the game they are playing is a deadly earnest destruction of our liberties and freedoms.

What makes the photo explanatory rather than just silly is that these people with their shiny keepsake shovels represent the power of both political parties. Everybody is in the bag for this. The President has shrewdly made certain that both sides of any political argument are getting their fat juicy piece of the pie. By “informing” our duly elected representatives, he made everybody culpable.

If there was any sewing up that needed doing, he took care of that by building what Forbes calls “the NSA’s ridiculously expensive data center in Utah.”

Let’s think about this. Government finances are running so hot in the red zone, that our “duly elected representatives” (you know, the same folks who are in the bag for spying on the entire American populace) are saying that old folks should work until they drop because Social Security costs too much. These exact same duly elected representatives ponied up for this little deal out in the Utah desert.

Now who do you suppose is going to benefit from this?

Not the old folks, that’s for sure.

Not anybody who sends emails or talks on a phone. They’re all getting surveilled and their private thoughts are being stored away to be used against them whenever it works for the government to do so.

Not the tax payers. Tax payers don’t need a new bill to pay for storage for our emails and phone conversations.

Not those who want to be “safe.” Do you really think the government needs to store your conversations about last night’s sex or a complete record of all those porn sites you’ve visited in a vault to keep you safe? How does this keep you safe? And what if someone decides to use that stuff against you? What will keep you “safe” then?

If we’re not benefitting, who is?

If you want to know that, all you have to do is get a list of the contractors who are building this overpriced file cabinet and the contractors who will maintain it, etc, ad nauseum.

Now go to the boards and the interlocking boards of all the big media and you have the reason why they’re so in the bag for this deal.

The inside-the-curve corporations are holding a royal straight flush and they aren’t going to toss it away. All their puppet politicians they’ve invested a lot of scratch in getting elected are out there on this deal, and now, they’re getting a big payday on it in a direct fashion.

It’s called protect your political investment and cash in.

Who wins?

It isn’t us.

Who lied?

Watch the two videos below and judge for yourself.  Did he lie? Or did we just not listen closely enough?

 

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2013 Favs: Christian Persecution: Are We the ‘New Jews’?

Yesterday’s news of fresh scandal and rumors of scandal in the Church left me feeling like the little girl in Poltergeist. Her family had suffered a harrowing attack by demonic forces. As fresh attacks started, she turned to the camera and said, “No more.”

That’s exactly how I felt when Deacon Greg Kandra posted that another of our Church leaders has been accused of sexual misconduct. This came at the tag end of a day in which the Vatican issued a denial that the Holy Father’s resignation was in any way a response to what sounded like a cabal of homosexual cardinals within the Vatican and Cardinal Mahony loaded on with another of his weird, cardinal-from-space blog posts.

My reaction was exhaustion and depression and sadness, all rolled into a sigh. No more, indeed.

This is especially sad, coming as it does at a pivot point in history. The Catholic Church is the only unified Christian voice in the world today. Christianity is under attack as it has not been for 17 centuries, with Christians in many places quite literally under the gun. Even the Muslim invasion of Christian lands and the subsequent subjugation of entire Christian populations that took place in the Middle Ages did not have the universal, multi-faceted breadth of the challenges Christians face today.

What a terrible time for our leaders to become disgraceful, not for their fealty to Christ, which would inspire and edify all of us, but for their overweening self-absorption.

Before I went to bed last night, I read a remarkable post by one of my colleagues here at Patheos, Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, who blogs at The Velvet Kippah. In this post, Rabbi Adlerstein asks Are Christians the New Jews?  He says:

“If you want to understand us, study our story, learn of our pain.” That is what Jews told Christians who wanted to build new bridges of respect after the Holocaust. Ironically, when Christians begin listening to the story of the Jews, they are finding reflections of themselves.

Christians who listened learned of a Jewish history written in blood from ancient to modern times. When they thought of Christian martyrdom, on the other hand, they had to turn for the most part to antiquity, to early Christianity under the thumb of Roman emperors.

That has all changed. While Jews feel threatened by the massive explosion of global anti-Semitism in the last years, coupled with Iranian and Islamist calls for the genocidal destruction of all Jews, very few Jews in 2013 are dying because of their faith or their roots. Christians, on the other hand, have become the New Jews. (Read more here.

The violent persecution of Christians in the Middle East, which is what Rabbi Adlerstein is describing, is part — but only a part — of the tsunami of persecution that is heading toward Christianity and Christians today. In truth, violent persecution of Christians has spread over a good bit of the world. Christians are burnt, beaten, beheaded, kidnapped, raped, tortured and imprisoned with impunity in much of Africa, Asia, the Middle East and various Pacific nations.

At the same time, hate speech against Christians and Christianity has long been tolerated in the so-called Christian West. It is not only tolerated, but actively encouraged on many of our university campuses. Christians are increasingly faced with the choice of losing their jobs or following their faith throughout what has been for many centuries the stronghold of Christian faith.

We need leaders, and, fortunately, we have them. Our bishops have provided courageous leadership this past year against the overt government attack on religious freedom that the HHS Mandate represents. I am proud of them for this. They have my complete support and gratitude for doing it.

We are, as I said, at a pivot point. If we are going to turn back this tide of Christian-bashing bigotry, we must do it now, before it gets stronger. It is a great sadness that we keep getting battered by scandals at the highest levels in our Church in this perilous time.

I know that God makes all things, even bad things, work to the good. Good will come of these scandals. One good that I think we will see is a more authentic and committed priesthood. I am not one to criticize our priests. Based on my experience, I think they do their very best, and that this best is quite good. However, tough times are ahead. We are going to need priests who are committed to Christ to the death. The day is coming when we will need priests who can lead us through the fire.

I believe that these repeated scandals are the result of the Holy Spirit, cleaning things out. I don’t have any more insight into this than anyone else, but it seems to me that God just got enough. These abuses had to stop, and, even though the cure is quite painful, I believe that the scandals and the misery they bring to all of us will stop them.

So it is with the revelations of scandal from yesterday. These things have to be exposed because the Church cannot fail. The gates of hell will not prevail against this Church. There are times when things must be laid open because sunlight and air purify and heal. I think we are going through such a time in Church history today.

This brings me to something Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in 1969, decades before he became Pope Benedict XVI. I am going to quote it in its entirety because I think it is pertinent to what we face today. Read it prayerfully, and remember that St Paul told us, “The one who endures to the end will be saved.”

Do not let the sins of other people, including the sins of our religious leaders, lead you away from Christ or His Church. Do not throw away your salvation because someone else has sinned. Trust Jesus and endure to the end.

Cardinal Ratzinger’s comments in 1969 say in part:

 

The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning.

It will be hard-going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek . . . The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false progressivism on the eve of the French Revolution — when a bishop might be thought smart if he made fun of dogmas and even insinuated that the existence of God was by no means certain . . . But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes . . . she will lose many of her social privileges. . . As a small society, [the Church] will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members….

And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith. She may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but she will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.

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2013 Favs: Battling Sisters of Stone Park, IL Hold Their Own Against Strip Club

When the city fathers of Stone Park Il came out in support of the worthy project of building a strip club next to a convent, they failed to reckon with the grit, guts and determination of nuns.

I’ve written before about the moral courage of women. When that moral courage is empowered by an unwavering commitment to the love of Jesus Christ, it becomes the kind of force that wears away stone.

I don’t know too much about Stone Park, Il, even though we have similar towns here in Oklahoma. From what I’ve read it’s a small town with a large number of strip clubs. So far as I know, they’ve gotten away with this up to now.

But when they decided to build a multi-million dollar “adult entertainment” club across from the convent of the Missionary Sisters of St Charles Borromeo, Scalabrinian, they started a fight with people who aren’t impressed by money or scared of bouncers.

The intransigent support for this particular strip club, might lead to the conclusion that the people who run this town are what you might call dedicated to having this particular strip club in this particular location.

They want a strip joint next to these nuns and they aren’t going to give an inch until they get it. Earlier in the on-going battle the owner of the club played the Christian-bashing card.

Dont “… impose your religious beliefs,” he said.

Uh-huh.

This guy makes his living by treating women like animals in a zoo. I can certainly see why he wouldn’t welcome the nun’s “religious beliefs” on his premises. What I don’t understand is why he has fought so hard to put his premises on the nun’s doorstep.

Why is it so very important to place a strip club next to this convent? You’d think that piece of land was the last place in the continental United States that was available for such uplifting civic projects. The people who run this town are dug in on this. Is Stone Park in some sort of strip club competition with another town? Do they perceive a strip club gap developing that they have to fill?

The strip club is called “Get It,” which I think says a lot about the services it plans to offer. The intention was to open this club during Holy Week 2012. I think that speaks for itself. 

The war is one year on and the sisters are still holding their ground. They recently held a rally to celebrate this fact, which says a lot in itself.

As many as 500 people have gathered for a prayer vigil. More than 3,000 people have signed petitions against the Club.

“It’s not only for the sisters, but for the community itself,” Sister Noemia Silva said. “All of our communities are praying for this; it’s just constant, constant prayer.

She compared their fight to David and Goliath. “David won the battle because he trusted the Lord. He’ll fight this battle for us.”

From CNA:

CHICAGO — Residents and religious of a small Chicago suburb rallied to celebrate their so far successful campaign against the opening of a multi-million dollar “adult entertainment” club across from a convent.
“We came together as a community, as people of faith and stood together fighting for family values against what some thought was an unbreakable giant,” Sister Noemia Silva of the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo, Scalabrinian said at an April 22 press conference.

“It’s not only for the sisters, but for the community itself,” she told CNA in a later interview.
Outrage has erupted locally over the building of the establishment, particularly because of its location next to the missionary sisters’ convent and retirement home. Proprietors of the business have been accused of breaking state law, which requires a 1,000-foot “buffer zone” between places of worship and such businesses.

“They haven’t respected state law and so we’re going to tell them, ‘You need to respect that,” Sister Noemia Silva said. “This should not have even happened so close to a worship area.”
Although the $3 million establishment, “Get It,” was slated to open during Holy Week of 2012, it has yet to open its doors to the public largely due to community protest and a legal battle between the landowner and building owner.

Sister Noemia said the sisters, who are spread throughout 18 countries, have been praying for the intercession of St. Michael. “All of our communities are praying for this; it’s just constant, constant prayer.”

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/religious-sisters-celebrate-one-year-of-blocking-illinois-adult-club?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NCRegisterDailyBlog+National+Catholic+Register#When:2013-04-25%2013:47:01#ixzz2RUdAXUIu

 

 

 

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2013 Favs: This Just In: Millions Watch as Irrelevant, Dying Sect Inaugurates Poorly Dressed, Out-of-Date Leader

First Question: How many secular pundits does it take a perpetrate a lie?

Answer: All of them, talking from the same script.

Second Question: How many pundits does it take to claim a world leader with over a billion followers is “irrelevant?”

Answer: See question one.

Pope Francis’ inaugural mass was a ratings hit. So was last week’s election of Cardinal Bergoglio to the papacy.

Ratings do not necessarily mean that everyone watching agrees with the Church. But they do lead one to wonder, just how “irrelevant” is a Church whose every action inspires so much adoration, abuse, worship and hatred? Maybe the people who’ve been reporting this story need to check their dictionaries for a better word. Like, say, a phrase such as “Church that says some of the things I want to do are wrong.”

Our public discourse is in the grip of tantrum-throwing narcissists, who, it appears, only talk to one another. They appear to be the products of an education that is more indoctrinating than edifying. They also seem to be stubborn about reporting the story as they want it to be rather than the way it is.

To borrow from that witty atheist writer Mark Twain, reports of the Catholic Church’s irrelevance are greatly exaggerated. However, unlike Twain and his witty retort to an inaccurate report of his death, the reports of the Catholic Church’s irrelevance will always be exaggerated. There is never going to be a day when the Church’s Gospel message of forgiveness of sins, basic Christian morality and the promise of eternal life will be irrelevant to the people who must walk this Earth.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that these issues are the only things that, in the final analysis, matter at all.

It appears that many of these comments are coming from the group rage of self-entitled people who do not like being told that they are wrong. It seems to set their conflated egos aflame whenever the Church says that sex outside of marriage is wrong, killing people they want to kill is wrong, stealing from, exploiting, dehumanizing people made in the image and likeness of the Living God is, well, the kind of thing that can get you sent to an eternal hell.

That last one really makes them mad. Hell is verboten in popular discourse. We can talk about beastiality or show films of gang rape for entertainment, but the word “hell” as an actual destination for wayward souls rather than a curse is forbidden. Saying the “h” word in front of any of these folks puts you in the same place as the little girl who pointed her flashlight at the Tyrannosaurus Rex in Jurassic Park. Do that, and you know you’re gonna get kicked around.

Why?

If these things are “myths,” why do they care? I would guess that first of all, it’s because the devil makes them do it. Not the comic book devil, but the real one who hates the light and whispers his hatred in the ears of us humans. Second, I think they do it because the Church is, in fact, not irrelevant at all.

I would say that there is no other institution quite as relevant as the one and only Church that stands strong and will not be moved on matters of the Gospel. The Church weighs in on issues of death and eternal life. It shows us, in easily-followed and understandable ways, how to go to heaven. It also posts signs along the roadside of our lives saying, in essence, “don’t turn here, that road will take you over a cliff,”  or, “pass by this rest stop or you’ll be mugged.”

Church teachings are not prohibitions. They are warnings. Ignore them, and sooner or later, you will reap the whirlwind of your own lost soul.

I have no doubt that the bizarro commentary about the “irrelevant” Catholic Church will continue, even as the commenters are reporting every word that’s uttered at the Vatican.

Meanwhile, I think the rest of us should pray for these folks. They are, after all, our lost brothers and sisters.

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2013: The Year that Rocked the Church

 

We are so blessed to be part of the Catholic Church, especially at this time when we have the opportunity to do great things for Our Lord in a world that needs Him so much.

This video highlights some of the momentous happenings in 2013.

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2013 Favs: God Made In My Image

I want God; not my idea of God. C.S. Lewis

My god doesn’t …

I don’t believe in a god who …

How many times have we heard this?

I ask you, if God is God; if He made everything, everywhere, including us, then what does it matter what we think of Him? All these quippy little assertions are at base the expression of an underlying belief that God is the clay and we are the potter. They lead directly to what George Barna jokingly described as a nation of “310 million people with 310 million religious expressions.”

I believe this is the root of the “I don’t believe in religion; I believe in Jesus” phenomenon. If you can subtract Jesus from 2,000 years of Christian teaching, why then, you can create a Jesus who fits you and your prejudices, your wannabes, and your wannados right down to the ground. You can create a phony, basically useless Jesus who doesn’t demand conversion, never asks for repentance and would not think of chiding you for your “understandable” little sins.

You can create your own personal feel-good Jesus, who inevitably will be a Jesus without the cross. The only problem with that, of course, is that this jesus is not god. He is not Christ. Jesus without the cross is not Christ. Jesus without the cross was a First Century itinerate preacher and miracle worker who died 2,000 years ago. He’s the shorn and nonsensical little nothing that the film-flammers who attack Christianity try to make Him out to be.

Dietrich Bonnhoefner had a phrase for this. He called it “cheap grace.” Here’s what he said:

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

The Christian culture in which so many of us live is a sham and a flam, a product of cheap grace gone wild that is drummed into our minds by the steady beat of media promotion. Today, we not only have cheap grace, we have competing cheap graces whose followers are focused on defeating one another in the culture wars rather than following Christ.

We have the cheap grace purveyors of the right who tell us that all that stuff Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, and indeed, throughout the Gospels, doesn’t mean what it so plainly says. They create a morality-free zone surrounding anything to do with business and commerce, exempting the most egregious assaults on the common good from any application of 2,000 years of Christian teaching.

Then, on the other side of the cultural divide, we have the cheap gracers who proclaim that any standards of personal morality are in fact violations of personal freedom and assaults on tolerance and love. They carry this to the point that simple disagreement with such actions as abortion, serial marriage, same-sex marriage, and the commodification and sexualization of women and children is attacked and labeled “hate,” “homophobia,” and, bizarre as this sounds, sexism.

These competing versions of cheap-grace, god-made-in-my-image faux christianity have become the public face of Christian teaching. Their followers attack one another with a ruthlessness worthy of Caiaphas, and a pragmatic amorality that would be the pride of Machiavelli. Their total lack of respect for Jesus Christ and the Gospels is only equaled by their pretentious self-righteousness.

These are mean people. They are mean with the meanness that any thinking person would expect of someone who has turned their back on Christ in order to twist His message into a club to beat their political opponents with.

Why they do it is obvious: To gain power, fame and money.

How they manage to succeed at it is more subtle. Anyone who honestly read the New Testament would pick up on the fact that what these people are giving us is the stone, not the bread; a snake rather than a fish. Yet millions upon millions of “Bible believing” Christians not only fall for this crass twisting of the Gospels in the name of self-justification, they abandon the real Gospels to follow and teach it themselves.

Why?

Are they that stupid? Can’t they read the Bible for themselves and see that these are lies?

I think the answer rests in the fact that they can read the Bible; they just don’t like what it says.

The story of the Gospels is not built around some “follow me and I’ll make you into little Ceasars” sort of promise. It is in fact quite the opposite. When Satan tempted Jesus, he offered Him all the kingdoms of this world and Jesus turned him down. What Jesus did instead was set Himself on the path that led to the cross.

These sham teachers of phony gospels of their own devising are offering us the same deal that Satan offered Jesus. The difference being that many of us are taking the deal. Follow them, and you can have any kind of sex you want with whomever you chose. Follow them and you can kill your own children, reduce other human beings to things to be destroyed for your pleasure and feel holier than thou for doing it.

Set your foot on the broad and smooth path of the phony jesus these liars give us and you can lie, steal, cheat, hoard, destroy whole economies for your personal gain. You can push most of the world into death-dealing poverty and back it up with armies you supply from your factories and go to church on Sunday and be honored as great people of a phony god.

Wide is the way that leads to perdition, and it seems that in today’s world it is most often paved by the self-righteous hypocrisy of following false gods of our own creation that we have cast in our own image.

This is cheap grace, and it always seems to end up giving those who choose it a license to kill.

Bonnhoefner also talked about another kind of grace. He called it “costly grace.” I tend to call it “real grace,” but that’s just me and my simple-minded way of looking at things.

Here is part of what he said:

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.

Cheap grace is a sham and a phony. It is a lie we tell ourselves. Costly grace, the grace that comes from following Jesus even if it’s unpopular, even if it means picking up your cross and following after Him, is what can and will heal our culture and save our world.

According to a survey conducted by the Barna Institute, America is drifting more and more toward the cheap grace of God Made in Our Image; the ultra personal god who follows our teachings instead of asking us to follow his.

God made in our image will never ask us to do anything costly. He will always understand our transparent justifications, even of the most heinous crimes. What he can never do is cleanse us, re-orient us and change us into what we were meant to be when God first made us. What we will never see by following him is eternal life. There is no redemption in making an idol out of yourself, in worshipping a self-made, all-agreeing comfortable little kitchen god that you create out of your longing to never be wrong, never sacrifice, never make a tough choice.

Only God, the real God, can redeem us, make us new and lead us into life everlasting. The price of following Him is the same now as it has always been. It is the costly grace of the cross.

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2013 Favs: Christian Persecution: Holy Father Warns Bishops of Coming Persecution


Pope Francis has spoken of Christian persecution. So did Pope Benedict XVI. The papacy is continuity, going back to the words, Thou art Peter. Unfortunately, Christian persecution is a continuity, as well. More Christians have died for their faith in the last century than all the previous centuries combined.

Far from abating, Christian persecution appears to be worsening and spreading, including socially accepted Christian baiting and bullying of Christians here in post Christian America. 

I wrote this post on January 11, 2013. 

 

The Holy Father cautioned bishops that they will inevitably face persecution for standing for Christ in the increasingly secular world of the future.

He issued this warning in his homily for Epiphany. Even though the warning was directed to bishops, I think it applies to all Christians. The day of cheap grace is passing for all of us.

We must, as Joshua instructed the Israelites, “Choose this day whom you will serve.” I hope that we will be able to say along with Joshua, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

ROME, January 9, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – “What sort of man” must a bishop be? The kind of man who can face persecution without flinching, Pope Benedict XVI said at the Mass for the Feast of the Epiphany at St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday.

At the Mass, the pope ordained four priests to the episcopate, one of whom is his close confidante and private secretary, Msgr. Georg Gaenswein.

Pope Benedict XVI

“Inevitably,” the pope said, faithful bishops will be “beaten by those who live lives opposed to the Gospel, and then we can be grateful for having been judged worthy to share in the passion of Christ”.

The Pope’s comments follow his recent pattern of especially strong statements on Dec. 14Dec. 21and Jan. 7  in response to the increasing push for abortion, acceptance of homosexual behaviour and general fierce opposition to the Church’s moral teachings from both inside and outside the Church.

“Today’s regnant agnosticism has its own dogmas and is extremely intolerant regarding anything that would question it and the criteria it employs,” Pope Benedict said.

“Therefore the courage to contradict the prevailing mindset is particularly urgent for a Bishop today. He must be courageous.” Seeking the “approval of the prevailing wisdom,” he said, “is not a criterion to which we submit.”

“The courage to stand firm in the truth is unavoidably demanded of those whom the Lord sends like sheep among wolves,” said the pope. “The fear of God frees us from the fear of men. It liberates.” (Read more here.)

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HHS Mandate and the Complete Loss of Religious Identity

 

HHS Mandate = Totalitarianism.

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