I need a break from war and rumors of war.
Much of the news media has been hard-selling war in Syria to their viewers for quite some time now.
Economic issues are the toughest issues to discuss with traditional Christians. I believe this is because far too many of our religious leaders have aligned themselves and their teaching with the Republican party rather than with Christ.
I am well aware that there are many religious leaders who have done the same thing with the Democrats. But when it comes to false teachings about money, the worst offenders are the heretical religious leaders who follow the Rs.
I believe quite firmly that money is playing a decisive part in this push for war-war-any-war-we-can-find that is coming out of certain opinion-makers’ mouths. Not so long ago, these same folks were pushing us to go to war with Iran. If we don’t go to war in Syria, they’ll be looking for another war someplace else before you can say bottom line.
There are real issues involved with this debate about Syria, but you won’t find them on the cable news. That is because the various cable news stations are, as I said earlier “opinion makers.”
Think about that.
Noodle with it.
Let the idea roll around in your mind as you look at it from different angles.
Not journalists. Not reporters of the news.
But opinion makers, which is, I think, a nice phrase for propagandists.
They’re not trying to inform you. They are trying to use you. Their “discussions” always go one direction, and that is war, war, more war.
I am not, as I have said many times, a pacifist. I believe in defending this nation. I understand the lessons of World War II when those in power were so hungry for peace that they became enablers of actions that resulted in the most destructive war in human history.
On the other hand, I sort of understand the side-step, two-step of the war that to this day nobody can really explain: World War I. The world slid into World War I like a line of cars rear-ending one another on an icy road.
One salient point that is usually overlooked is that World War I and World War II were not isolated events. They are actually one event. I have always regarded World War I and World War II as the same war with a 20-year, depression-wracked truce between engagements. The world oh-noooed its way into World War II by letting the bullies have their run-up. But the real causes of that war were in the first world war and its inconclusive and destructive pause. In a real way, the horrors of the 20th century began with a slide on the ice.
The moral of all this, at least for me, is that a slide on the ice is no reason, ever, to go to war. We need to think things through.
War is evil. It is destruction. Even when it must be fought, it is always a tragedy, and it always destroys precious lives. I have stood beside enough graves, I have witnessed the psychological deaths of enough parents standing like hollowed out husks of themselves beside those same graves, to be very slow to say that we should commit America to war.
War makes money, big money, for some. But I am from the economic class that fights these wars. I have talked to the men and women who’ve come back and can’t stop remembering. I have, as I said, stood beside graves into which we lowered coffins containing bodies so mutilated their parents were told not to look.
War is not a video game.
There are three points I want us to consider in this post.
1. Should President Obama have asked Congress to authorize action in Syria, or should he have acted unilaterally?
2. Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons on the Kurds in Iraq, yet the world did nothing. Why is Syria different?
3. Can the American people resist the “opinion makers” who are trying to hard-sell them on war with somebody/anybody and think for themselves?
A couple of days ago:
One year ago:
Eleven years ago:
In one of his morning homilies a few months ago, Pope Francis talked about societies that put company profits above human dignity, or even human life. “What point have we come to?” he asked.
This kind of talk disturbs cafeteria Christians on the right, just as the Church’s insistence on the fundamental right to life of all human beings and the sanctity of Holy Matrimony disturbs cafeteria Christians on the left.
Each “side” of the culture wars wants the Holy Father to affirm them and their half-Gospel as righteousness so that they can use what would amount to an amputated, phony Jesus to score “gotcha!” points off those on the other side of the various political debates.
But Pope Francis is the Vicar of Christ, not the apologist for the false idols of various religious/political heresies.
Jesus was a worker. A carpenter. By doing that, He elevated work far above the animalistic fight for survival that those in power often try to make it into for working people.
Human beings are made in the image and likeness of Almighty God. As such, we each have a transcendent dignity that extends beyond this life and into eternity. The things we do here, including the work of our heads, hands and hearts, is an expression of that innate, God-given dignity.
All people are entitled to the privileges of owning private property and to have the labor of their lives respected. Part of that respect is a living wage and decent working conditions. When these values are compromised by a moneyed few who mis-use the powers of government to seize the treasure of a nation to satisfy their personal rapaciousness, then those who govern must oppose those actions.
Elected officials who do otherwise may profess Christ with their mouths, but they deny Him by what they do.
Our corporate media lines up hard against working people. They extol the virtues of the rich and proclaim the necessity of robbing the worker in every situation, from maintaining an unequal tax structure that permits some to pile up great wealth while forcing workers to pay more than the Biblical ten percent on every loaf of bread and gallon of milk they buy.
They yammer constantly about the totally fallacious “necessity” of cutting Social Security or putting it into the stock market where the wealthy can get a bite of it, but they say nothing about the vast corporate welfare and “privatization,” (Which is just a form of graft that attaches corporate profits to the tax base.) that is actually bankrupting the country.
You would think, listening to them, that a living wage was robbery and robbing retirements and social security so that we go back to the practice of putting our elderly people in poor farms was righteousness.
Who are working people?
I believe that would be you and me. And a few others in our past and present.
We are so blessed to the Catholic!
The Church is a gift Jesus gave us to sustain and guide us until He comes again, or until we go to Him.
The gym at my parish was home this summer to Catholic young people from all over the United States who came to help with the clean-up and restoration after the tornadoes last spring. They were Christ’s representatives in a hard time for people here.
We are all Christ’s representatives when we reach out to other people in their need. That is the deep meaning of Catholic Social Teaching: Being Jesus to other people.
I wrote this post in response to the sexist coverage of the summer Olympics in 2012. I’m re-posting it now as a run-up to my next post, which will be on Miley Cyrus.
Prominent news organizations blazed past their critics to take home medals from the 2012 Olympics despite complaints of unsportsmanlike conduct. Opponents claim that the publications emphasized women athletes’ weight, appearance and body parts rather than their athletic performance. According to the editor in chief of a major news outlet, this criticism is unfair.
“Sure we spiced things up a little,” he said. “So what? Journalism is a competitive business. If these gals want to step out there, it’s our right to try to medal off them.”
This spirit of journalistic competitiveness was evident when the New York Times drummed the competition for the Misogyny Medal by sweeping the field with two articles they entered in the all-misogynist girl-baiting competition. Despite heroic effort from some of the sewer dwellers in the blogosphere, (who are the farm teams for this event,) the supposedly credible New York Times took the gold, followed closely by Melbourne Australia’s Herald Sun.
The Herald Sun made a bold opening move with an article claiming that one of Australia’s female swimmers was “too fat,” and setting up an online poll where readers could vote on the young woman’s appearance. Not to be outdone, the New York Times made a strong counter with an article criticizing one of the American women for being “too pretty” to be taken seriously. They followed this with an article discussing women water polo players’ breasts. This daring maneuver sealed their win.
Skirmishes occurred further back in the pack as other “legitimate” publications tried to make up for lost time by re-printing the bulk of these articles and discussing whether or not they actually “had a lot of truth in them.” Salon took home the bronze with this effort. There were excellent efforts by other outlets who discussed whether or not pretty women athletes were cheating by looking so good and if women athletes really are too fat. But, salacious as they were, none of these medaled.
After the medal ceremony, the team captain for the New York Times indicated that the publication would enter “every event out there” in the upcoming months, stating that it was part of the publication’s standard to maintain a high level of misogyny in all of its coverage at all times. He said that he intended to sharpen the Times’ edge by eliminating the sublety, which he felt slowed his team down. “Next time, we’ll just say that it doesn’t matter what women do or what they achieve, they are still second-class citizens.”
The Herald Sun’s captain broke into the interview to announce, “We’ll do better than that. Next time, we’ll skip the article and run a full-page headline saying, “No Matter What You Accomplish Girl, You’re Still Just A Piece Of Meat.”
When informed that the women athletes in question claimed to feel humiliated and degraded, both team captains said this was an “overreaction” and an example of the emotionalism of women. “I think it’s caused by them thinking about their breasts too much,” the New York Times team captain stated. “Also, carrying around all that fat,” the Herald Sun captain added. “Those girls need to drop about 40 pounds.”
“Yeah,” the Times’ Captain said. “Then we can do an article criticizing them for being too skinny.”
The team captains seemed to forget about the reporter at that point and wandered off together, re-hashing the competition and looking for a brewski.
As for the female athletes, after crying their eyes out, they competed in their events.
We have been faced lately with the defection of a number of highly-placed American Christians on serious matters of faith.
In particular, there has been a large retreat among political and intellectual Christian leadership on the question of the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. They are either tossing marriage out the door altogether, or they are, as I was once counseled concerning abortion, urging the rest of us to leave our beliefs at home or inside our houses of worship.
I’m not talking about one, specific, runner. I’m talking about a whole group of people who have grown fat off denouncing other people for not supporting the very values they are now running from themselves. Excuse me please if I won’t go along with their self-serving patter.
But I’m not going to.
I think they’re self-serving phonies.
I also think that they should consider persecuted Christians around the world who are holding fast to the cross in the face of horrific suffering.
“Faith in Orissa is growing because of the persecution. This mission, in the face of violent persecutions, has become the focus of religious and priestly vocations.”
Consider, for a moment, what sincere Christians face in India. According to Archbishop Barwa,
… the district of Kandhamal, where the majority of Catholics of the Archdiocese live, has faced untold persecution”. The highest point were the pogroms of 2008: “During the persecutions, there was an ethnic cleansing of all Christians in 400 villages, more than 6,000 houses, 340 churches and chapels, clinics and schools were burned and destroyed. Thousands of believers were injured, several women and girls, including a nun, were raped and about 60,000 men, women and children were left homeless”. The Bishop recalled that 75 Christians (22 Catholics, 28 Baptists, 12 Pentecostals, 5 of independent churches) and 8 non-tribal Christians were brutally murdered.
The text continues: “Five years after the persecutions, visiting the affected communities, the faithful say to the Bishop: the persecutors burned our houses, property, and killed our loved ones, but they did not manage to destroy our faith and cannot separate us from the love of Jesus Christ .We are proud to be Christians and proud of our faith”. Words and actions of this kind “are clear signs of growth in faith. They may be poor and illiterate, but rich people of faith”, he comments.
The Archbishop explains that still there is no guarantee that persecution will not be repeated: “We live trusting in God and making every effort, as individuals and communities, to build peace in Kandhamal, but we surrender to God and say: Let there be your will”.
He goes on to describe what I believe is beginning to happen here in the “Christian” West when he says, “Each growth is a process that requires pruning, trials and suffering.”
The devil is collecting the low-hanging fruit with the runners who are running away from traditional marriage in America today. These folks don’t need persecution to make them tuck tail and skeedaddle. If you stop and think about it, they’ve never really talked about following Jesus. Their focus for decades has been on denouncing other people. They haven’t urged us to live by our faith or even to bring people to Christ. Their entire focus has been on manipulating us into believing that being a Christian was summarized by how we vote.
The purpose of all this wasn’t our souls or the conversion of our culture. It was their power.
All they needed to switch horses on these issues they were pushing in lieu of actual Christianity was for the manipulations to stop delivering enough votes to give them the power. They are switching — and trying to get us to switch along with them — on 2,000 years of Christian teachings because denouncing people over those teachings has stopped being profitable. The minute they see the money is leaving the fight, they leave the fight right behind it.
Christianity is growing in India because the Christians there are following Christ.
Cowardice and Christianity don’t mix. Opportunism and political manipulations don’t mix with Christianity, either.
They never have.
Christianity was so ascendent here in the West that its popularity covered for the manipulators and cowards in our midst. But things are changing. Faithfully following Jesus is beginning to be a career breaker, rather than a career maker.
We shouldn’t be surprised when people who were only pretending to follow Jesus in the first place fall away under these circumstances. It is inevitable.
I am humbled by the persecuted Christians in our world today, those in Orissa among them. I know that God holds them close, because I know that none of us has the courage to stand toe to toe with satan incarnate and not run unless the Holy Spirit is empowering them.
We need to help our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ in every way we can, including by praying for them every single day. I hope they in turn will pray for us.
Because their prayers avail much.
Because they walk with God.
The link to this article is courtesy of reader Fabio.
I published this post about 10 months ago. I’m re-running it today because of the combox discussions on birth control.
I am, as I’ve said many times on this blog, a feminist. I’m also no spring chicken. I remember back when feminists actually agitated for safer forms of contraception for women and criticized the marketing of dangerous chemical birth control to women without regard for their health and safety.
The “feminism” of today equates any form of chemical contraceptive — no matter the health dangers to women — as not only ok, but an absolutely imperative and vital part of “women’s health.” They have turned the phrase “women’s health” into a synonym for abortion and the massive application of a chemical band-aid to the sexual exploitation of women and sexualizing of young girls.
They are, in short, exactly who they used to oppose.
I’ve lost count of the Yaz commercials I saw. Here are a couple of examples. Notice the lack of warning about side effects and the age of the girls this pill is marketed to in the first one.
And another ad pushing Yaz, but this time with warnings:
And the FDA finally takes note of the young women who are dying because of this totally unnecessary medication:
The important thing to remember is that none of this is necessary. Yaz is not being used to treat cancer or any other illness. It is marketed for mild teen-age acne, pre-menstrual emotional upset and to prevent pregnancy. It is an entirely elective medication with fatal side effects, being marketed directly to young women and girls.
After Yaz had been on the market a number of years, and probably damaged the health of many young women, ABC News finally wrote a story about it.
The 2011 ABC News article reads in part:
The blockbuster birth control pill with benefits, Yaz was pitched as the choice for women desperate for relief from severe PMS and acne. But now, new independent studies have found that Yaz carries higher blood clotting risks than other leading birth control pills.
ABC News investigated whether tens of millions of women switched to a more potentially risky pill that, as it turns out, was never proven to treat common PMS.
In 2007, Carissa Ubersox, 24, was fresh out of college and starting her dream job as a pediatric nurse in Madison, Wis. On Christmas day, while working the holiday shift, her boyfriend surprised her at the hospital with a marriage proposal.
Wanting to look and feel her best for her wedding day, Carissa said she switched to Yaz after watching one of its commercials that suggested this pill could help with bloating and acne.
“Yaz is the only birth control proven to treat the physical and emotional premenstrual symptoms that are severe enough to impact your life,” claimed the ad.
It “sounds like a miracle drug,” Carissa said she remembers thinking.
But just three months later, in February 2008, Carissa’s legs started to ache. She didn’t pay much attention to it, assuming, she said, that it was just soreness from being on her feet for a 12-hour shift.Birth Control Medication UnderInvestigation Watch Video
By the next evening, she was gasping for air. Blood clots in her legs had traveled through her veins to her lungs, causing a massive double pulmonary embolism.
Her fiance called 911, but on the way to the hospital Carissa’s heart stopped. Doctors revived her, but she slipped into a coma for almost two weeks.
Carissa’s only memory of that time is something she refers to as an extraordinary dreamlike experience. She said she remembers a big ornate gate and seeing a recently deceased cousin.
That cousin, Carissa said, told her, “You can stay here with me or you can go back.”
But, she recounted, he told her if she goes back she’ll end up blind.
“I just remember waking up in the hospital and I was like, ‘Oh, I guess I chose to stay,’” Carissa told ABC News.
Like her cousin in her dreamlike experience foretold, she actually did wake up blind, and remains blind to this day.
(Read more here.)
Don’t be alarmed by defecting Christians.
It’s just the Holy Spirit, pruning the dead wood.
Christianity in America suffers from a blight that is choking out the Word and covering up the Light of Christ.
That blight is the heresy of conflating Christ the Lord with partisan politics. This has gone on so long and become so endemic that a lot of people actually think that they are following Christ by how they register to vote.
Even worse, people who confuse Jesus with the R and the D always seem to end up lopping off parts of Jesus in order to make Him fit into the partisan box. If you’re an R, this has historically meant that the Sermon on the Mount is just jesus (little j) blather that comes from the First Century and doesn’t mean much. I’ve had the experience of using the phrase “If you’ve done it to the least of these, if you’ve done it to Me,” in debate and seeing the bored, patronizing expressions cross those Republican faces.
They don’t want to hear it.
Likewise, anyone who has ever gone into a Democratic Party what-not with the idea that gay marriage or abortion or any trendy social sin is not a “human right” is going to learn what the word “cut” means in the Victorian sense. They will cut you dead. And that’s if they’re in a good mood.
My point, which I’ve made over and over again, and which I’ll keep on making until it’s no longer pertinent, is that the R and the D aren’t Jesus. Party platforms aren’t the Gospels.
We are now living with the inevitable consequences of this decades-long heresy of political jesus. People are increasingly sick and tired of the heresy. They find — quite rightly — that it is a sham and a flam and that partisan politics jesus is a bogus god not worth their time.
Many outspoken Christian leaders have maintained so loudly and for so long that this perversion of the Gospels that they’ve been preaching is, in fact, the true Gospels of Christ, that they’ve managed to convince not only their besotted followers, but the larger population, as well.
A lot of people believe that political jesus; political party apologist jesus, mean and heartless django jesus, is actually Our Lord.
Why do they think this?
Because Christian religious leaders and their followers have been telling them so for decades.
This group of disenchanted, disaffected-with-Christianity reactors to political django jesus, has grown to the point that they are now able to affect the outcome of national elections. Which means that they are now players.
That also means that the same political parties who’ve used and abused the name of Christ for so long are now trying to get shed of Him. The stampede for the exit ramps among politicians and professional Christians of every stripe has become such a crowded field that it is a parody of itself.
The National Review published a whimsical essay today titled “A Form Letter for Defecting Conservatives.” This humorous article is an accurate representation of what is happening and the flabby, flimsy lies these runners are using to explain themselves.
What interested me the most, however, is that the National Review’s title underscores the heresy I’m talking about. The “issues” these running rabbits are dumping are the same issues that traditional Christians have fought for these past decades. They are the issues that put the Rs in the winner’s circle. Hence, the use of the word “conservative” to describe these folks.
However, what they are, are sham Christians who’ve used a faked fealty to Christ to win elections or build big careers in publishing, think-tanking or some other moneyed and powered endeavor. As anyone who isn’t wearing a mental blindfold can tell just by looking around, they haven’t done much good. But they have certainly done well.
The reason they are hitting the door on these “issues” now is because they never believed them in the first place. I’m not saying that people can’t experience a change of heart, that they can’t be converted. But this mass stampede of political opportunists for the higher ground of a different take on traditional Christian teaching has nothing to do with conversion. It is pragmatic people being pragmatic and taking care of themselves.
They never believed it in the first place, and whatever they tell you now, they don’t believe that, either.
The heresy here is that none of this — none of it — has anything to do with Jesus. By conflating politics with the Gospels, we have corrupted politics and defamed the Gospels. These aren’t “defecting conservatives. ” The reason they aren’t is that issues like the sanctity of human life and marriage are not issues. They are truths. The sanctity of human life and marriage are not “conservative” values. “If you have done it to the least of these, you have done it to Me,” is not liberal spin.
These are the law and the prophets of God Almighty. They are the teachings of Christ the Lord.
We are beginning to reap the whirlwind that we have sown by lying about the nature of God for political gain.
My advice is don’t be alarmed or dismayed by all these recanting Christians and born-again nihilists.
Let them go their way and don’t worry.
The Holy Spirit is pruning the tree of life so that it can bloom anew.
Here, from Monty Python, is an anthem for the runners.