If Douthat’s Critics Disagree with Him, They Should Say Why, Not Try to Get Him Fired

Photo Source Flickr Creative Commons by Torrenegra https://www.flickr.com/photos/alextorrenegra/

Photo Source Flickr Creative Commons by Torrenegra https://www.flickr.com/photos/alextorrenegra/

Ross Douthat write op-ed posts for the New York Times. He recently wrote a post that contained opinions that inflamed certain members of the administration and faculties of more than one prominent Catholic university.

Instead of making their own case for what they believed, these folks sent a letter to the New York Times that certainly sounds as if they want the newspaper to fire Mr Douthat for his wrong thinking.

I wrote a post about this nonsense for the National Catholic Register. 

Here’s part of what I said:

I didn’t know who Ross Douthat was until a few days ago. I realize that reveals me for the rube I am to all the whole wide world, but so be it.

My life the past couple of weeks has been an exercise in maintaining an even strain. I don’t feel like describing the details. It makes me tired to think about it, much less write it down. I’ll just toss you a couple of hints. My days have been taken up with ugly encounters with the family drug addict, troubles with my 90-year-old Mama with dementia, and a brush with the existential realities concerning my own health.

I’m still standing, but I feel used up with the effort.

Given all that, Ross Douthat, whose name set off a ping of vague recognition when I heard it, but whose identity was otherwise unknown to me, barely tapped my consciousness when he wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times last week. I’ve since learned that Douthat writes opinion pieces about the Catholic Church for the New York Times on a regular basis.

I saw a link to this particular opinion piece on a discussion board I frequent. It kind of entered my awareness that there was a bit of flapping and squawking about whatever he’d said. But I was slogging through a tough patch of real life. I didn’t care about what Douthat had said, and I also didn’t care about the squawking and flapping his opinions elicited.

That’s pretty much what the internet is about: squawking and flapping, huffing and puffing, hissing and spitting. I assumed that Douthat’s opinion piece shared his opinion about something or other, and the subsequent carrying on was just a matter of other people giving counter opinions. That’s not exactly dialogue. But it is fair play.

Then, today, while I was reeling from more bizarre stuff in my personal life, I saw an article about a group of Big Names in the Catholic academic u-verse who had signed a letter which appears to be an attempt to get the New York Times to either instruct Douthat about his opinions or fire him. They tried to dress it up with fancy talk, but their reason was that they didn’t agree with what he had written.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/if-douthats-critics-rely-on-censorship-maybe-theres-a-problem-with-their-id/#ixzz3pyxbJz9a

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The Bishop Must Stand. If the Bishop Fails, All the People Will Run Away

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by USCCB Migration and Refugee Service https://www.flickr.com/photos/125093371@N02/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by USCCB Migration and Refugee Service https://www.flickr.com/photos/125093371@N02/

The Synod on the Family has finally adjourned, leaving behind a document for us to read and ponder. In many ways, this Synod, like the one last year, ended up resembling the United States Congress. Here are a few of those ways.

1. Most of what they talked about doing was so disturbing that the people in the pews breathed a sigh of relief that, in the end, they did nothing. People were praying, saying their rosaries, signing petitions and writing blogs, all to the purpose of imploring the Synod Fathers not to overturn 2,000 years of Christian teaching. We feared with a real fear that our Church was going to go against the direct words of Jesus Christ and essentially deep-six the sacramental basis for the entire Catholic Church.

It was a scandalous debate, this consideration of taking the official position that bishops would officially ignore Church teaching in practice while not changing it in writing. It was scandalous, and it scandalized.

To that extent, the Synod did harm rather than good. The Synod Fathers managed to convince huge numbers of faithful Catholics that such a thing was possible. This damaged the essential trust between shepherds and flock, even though it didn’t, ultimately happen.

In short, the Synod was like the United States Congress.  The changes it was willing to seriously consider were so disastrous and appalling to the people in the hustings that everyone breathed a sigh of relief and considered it a victory when they ended up doing nothing at all. We felt safer when they finally went home.

2. The Synod did not address the cataclysmic discrimination and violence facing Christians all over the world in a meaningful way.

Christians are being wiped from the earth in a genocide in the Middle East. Christians are subject to horrific persecution in North Korea and other places. Christians live under active discrimination that flares into violence, rape and murder in many other places such as India. Christians are subject to government oppression, unjust imprisonment and active government discrimination that can include arrest, torture and long prison sentences in such places as China.

Christians in the West are subjected to constant hazing and bashing. Christianity is slandered and attacked in the media, on-line hate blogs and other Christian-bashing outlets. Christian children are subjected to constant anti-Christian propaganda and pressure in the public schools.

Christians, including Christian elected officials, are subject to legal harassment, arrest and loss of their livelihoods in the so-called Christian West. This has gone so far that the Church itself is subject to lawsuits aimed at trying to force the bishops to stop teaching Catholic faith and practice in Catholic institutions. The Church is also currently fighting a draconian mandate handed down by a stacked anti-Catholic committee and signed by the President of the United States.

3. The Synod did not effectively address the destructive effects that many aspects of our modern world has on families. Drug addiction, discriminatory images of Christians and morality in the media, joblessness, low wages, sex education in public schools, job discrimination against pregnant women, violence against women and pornography mow down families and grind them into the dust. These problems cross cultures.

For instance, here in America, both parents in working class families often have to work more than one job each to make ends meet. This means that young children are often shifted from one baby sitter to the next, and then, when they are barely school-age, left alone for long hours. They end up being raised by other children, the public schools and themselves.

This destroys parental involvement in their children’s lives and leaves the children at the mercy of the larger culture. These same families are forced to send their children to sub-standard schools where they are indoctrinated in the anti-Christian zeitgeist.

In other areas of the world, poverty is so extreme that it leaves children without the basics of human life such as adequate food, clean water and shelter.

Catholic schools cost far too much for most working class parents to afford. They have often deteriorated into prep schools for wealthy kids, many of whom are not Catholic. Meanwhile, Catholic children are forced into substandard public schools. Catholic higher education, at least here in the United States, is an on-going scandal precisely because of the anti-Catholic atmosphere and teaching found in many Catholic universities. Also, Catholic higher education costs far too much to be accessible to most Catholic young people.

Catholic education has become so trendy, “inclusive” and expensive that it excludes most Catholic children.

The Synod was like the United States Congress in that it failed to address the very real needs and challenges of the people in the pews and went off after its own arcane interests that were in fact an affront to Catholic teaching. As I said earlier, we ended up being grateful that, while they did no good, at least they didn’t do the harmful things they had considered.

4. Finally, the Synod on the Family is like the United States Congress because it was lobbied by big money special interests who were bent on persuading the Synod to abandon Catholic teachings in favor of following the “teachings” of the world. These people did not persuade the Synod to subvert Catholic teaching and abandon the clear words of Jesus Christ, but they did control the agenda of the Synod.

The entire Synod revolved around a debate as to whether or not the Church should adopt the agenda of the special interests who were lobbying it. This agenda was presented to the Synod by the German bishops, but it was clear to someone like me who has lived through a lot of this stuff that the puppet masters were the special interests. That is precisely the way these things work in politics, including, it seems, Church politics. Outside special interests get their followers inside the legislative body to present their ideas and hammer them home.

To put it bluntly, the agenda of a few special interests dominated the Synod. The issues at hand were all about how or if to weaken the Church’s teaching on marriage, which is consistent with that agenda.  Not much else was really considered.

It took the efforts of the people in the pews — who counter-lobbied through petition and prayer —  in concert with a group of determined bishops, to stem this move toward clerical nihilism. At the end of the day, we are all saying Hallelujah! because at least the Synod did no harm to the doctrines of the Church.

Was the Synod a complete failure? I don’t know. That depends on what happens next. In short, it depends on Pope Francis and how he responds to the Synod’s recommendations.

I do know that this fight about weakening the Church from within is only just beginning. Those lobbies are not going to stop. They will be back, and next time, they will be smarter.

The pressure on individual bishops to walk away from Church teaching in practice while giving lip service to it is only going to increase. Then, each bishop who falls — and it appears that an entire segment of them in Germany, plus quite a few elsewhere, have already fallen — will be held up as an example as to why Church teaching is unworkable and must be ignored.

Before too long, we will be hearing about how Church teaching is utterly impracticable and the evidence will be the practice of these fallen bishops and their failed leadership. That will create pressure to spread this travesty of leadership further.

The lobbying, the money, the lavish media productions, the steady drip-drip-drip of hate directed at the Church is not going to stop. It is going to become more widespread and aggressive.

To withstand this pressure, a bishop is going to have to endure all sorts of personal indignity, ranging from shunning to open vilification. Bishops begin as priests, part of a brotherhood. They move up the clerical ladder by appointment from those higher up. Then, they find themselves in a position where they have to stand alone or fall, and if they fall, they will take a lot of good people with them.

Years ago, I interviewed an Anglican bishop from northern Nigeria. This man had seen parishioners beheaded right in front of him. Churches in his diocese had been burned to the ground. His own daughter was taken for a while. His wife said something to me that is perhaps the truest thing I ever heard about being a bishop.

The bishop must stand. If the bishop fails, all the people will run away. 

That is the simple of fact of what it means to be a bishop, what it is to be a shepherd. Fancy dinners with the rich and powerful, getting all decked out in extravagant vestments and having people kiss your ring have nothing to do with it. In a time of trouble — and this is a time of trouble raised by powers of ten — it comes down to faith and courage.

Those of us in the pews do not need to be whipped about by bizarre theological experimentation acting on the behalf of special interest groups who are trying to destroy the Church from within. We need trustworthy leadership that we can be proud of and follow.


I know this is not going to happen, but what we need is for the bishops to start speaking with one voice for Christ and Him crucified. We need bishops who stand on the Gospels and don’t flinch when they are criticized for doing so. We need Church leadership that stops being obsessed with itself and begins to look at us, the people who make up the vast Body of Christ in this world and who are being mowed down by the wolves.


We need shepherds.


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What Do You Put on the Altar of Your Heart?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Democracy Chronicles https://www.flickr.com/photos/democracychronicles/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Democracy Chronicles https://www.flickr.com/photos/democracychronicles/

Pro life people must not confine their pro life thinking to the tiny intellectual boxes created by the two major political parties.

The Democrats and the Republicans have created this silo mentally for their own self-serving purposes. It does not benefit the cause of the sanctity of human life. It can actually harm it.

I wrote about this for the National Catholic Register.

Here is part of what I said:

My Grandmother used to say, “That’s like a choice between hanging and a firing squad.”

I wrote a post decrying the lack of a single, unifying objective for the pro-life movement. I also asked readers to offer their thoughts about how to word such an objective for the pro-life movement. I was looking for a one-sentence objective, something on which we could hang discussions about strategies and tactics. The resulting discussion in the comboxes was most edifying.

As people settled into a discursive back and forth, it became obvious that they thought being pro-life in the political sense does not mean protecting human life from conception to natural death. Rather, it means choosing whether to kill the child with abortion or to deny the child the basics of life after birth. It’s as if Satan himself set up the choices for pro-life people, which, in a way, is what has happened.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/elephants-and-donkeys-have-no-place-on-the-altar-of-your-heart/#ixzz3m1XUzZws

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The Future of the Catholic Church is the Same as Its Past

Father Stanley Rother Copyright Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved

Copyright Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved

Ok, so I’m the daughter of a mechanic, the granddaughter of a laborer who at one time dug ditches and was glad for the work on one side of my family, and a real-life horse-breaking, cattle-branding cowboy on the other.

My great-grandfathers were farmers and blacksmiths. Cherokee blood flows in my veins from a time when being Cherokee wasn’t cool.

I am working class from the soles of my dusty bare feet to the top of my frizzy hair. My generation was the first in our family to darken the doorway of an institution of higher learning, and I think we all felt considerably out of place there. Our background, the pond that spawned us, did not fit us for the many pretenses and — to us — absurdities of indirection of the intellectual world. At the same time, our education unfitted us for the world from which we came.

We were, all of us, doomed to wander through life as strangers in a strange land of social dislocation.

Patheos’ symposium on the future of the Catholic Church has some mighty fine thinkers contributing to it. All of them approach the question from an intellectual viewpoint. We have people telling us about how their ministries have informed them of the lacks in the Church’s outreach, others discuss how the future of the Church should be for gay people, or from the viewpoint of clergy.

But I don’t see anything there that even acknowledges the existence of people like me. The working class is right out in discussions of much of anything these days. The people that fight the wars, build the buildings, unstop the plumbing, lay down the roads, grow the food and keep the wiring from frying us, are invisible in almost all discussion of anything in this country, whether that be the ubiquitous “rights talk” that Mary Anne Glendon references, or, sadly, the future of the Catholic Church.

I am going to posit that the major failure of both American government and American Christianity in these past decades is the abject failure to protect, nurture and dignify the working class. It seems that every single thing we’ve done, whether it is the revision of our tax codes, our constant war-making, the destruction of the family or the la-la-la attitude of so much of our clergy, has fallen on the heads of the working class.

Make no mistake about it, our tax code is now constructed so that government is supported by the workers of this country, even while that same government exports jobs, and degrades our public education into a method of transmitting social values that are anathema to the survival of working class social structure and values. At the same time, our religious leaders, both of the right and the left, have gone off chasing after the whiff of close contact with the powerful and abandoned the full Gospel calls for justice and mercy.

How does this apply to the future of the Catholic Church?

It applies because of all the babbling voices of moral exhortation in our splintered and polarized society, the Catholic Church is the only one that speaks for the whole Gospel of Christ. Almost in spite of her clergy, the Catholic Church has refused to hew either to the right or the left, but has laid claim to the calls to human dignity that are inherent in the teachings of Christ for all people. This means that the same Catholic Church which speaks for the sanctity of human life also speaks for the dignity of the worker, the right of working people to earn a living wage and labor in an environment that treats them like people, not chattel.

Instead of following demonic influences that seek to deny the Beatitudes on the one hand or the Ten Commandments on the other, the Catholic Church recognizes that they are both the same and must be equally honored.

Right now, the Catholic Church in America is foundering like a horse that has gobbled down too much soft grass in the springtime. It has imbibed of the cultural riches and now many of its institutions, including its institutions of higher learning, flat-out refuse to honor Church teaching and be Catholic in a real-world way. When they are called to choose Christ or to choose Caesar, they choose Caesar.

Catholics as a whole have taken to heart the unspoken message of do-what-you-want that they frequently get from those in leadership positions in the Church who do what they want themselves. This feels like a kind of freedom to those who are doing well. But for those on the bottom side of the wheel, this moral dissolution leads to life destruction.

Working class people suffer from being disrespected by everyone from presidential candidates to the Church itself. While presidential candidates Obama and Romney both took a turn at dissing working people in private fund-raisers with rich folk, the Church disses them by ignoring them.

It is not enough to lobby for reversals in the legal shearing of working class lambs that has been taking place in government, although that is certainly salutary. It is also not enough to provide ministries of food, medical care, etc, to people who cannot afford them, although that is both necessary and wonderful.

The Church cannot simply “minister” to working class people in their physical needs and stop there. It must lead and convert the exploited and abused working class. I believe that is what Pope Francis has been saying when he tells bishops that they must get out among the people; that the church is not just another non-profit charity.

The future of the Catholic Church lies in the same place as its past. It lies in doing what Jesus directed Peter to do: Feed my lambs.

Too much of Catholic school education has become a rich kids’ privilege. It does not matter if the kids are Catholic or not. It does not matter if the teachers and officials in these schools follow Church teaching or not.

The Church needs to go back and provide Catholic education that is actually Catholic, and it needs to make sure that it is available to the people who need it most. People who are stuck holding down two or three McJobs simultaneously to support their families cannot nurture their children properly and often end up with failed marriages. Add the abominable inner city schools to this, and what you have is a recipe for one lost generation, going on to attempt to raise another generation which will be even more lost.

Meanwhile, the Church closes its parishes in the inner cities and builds both churches and schools in the rich suburbs “where the people are.” The fact is that the moving vans that trundle the vestments and hymnals from the slums to the wealthy neighborhoods are driving past tens of thousands of people who are in desperate need of the Church. They are being abandoned with the idiotic claim that they are not there.

Father Stanley Rother showed us the way, if we would but see it. We need priests who will go into the inner city and into working class neighborhoods with the same missionary fervor and loving heart that he took to Guatemala. We need a Church that ministers to working class people as if they were actual human beings. The bizarre otherness that has been imposed on them by those who are exploiting and using them has no place in a Church that follows Jesus the carpenter.

Father Rother, servant of God, is a true priest for our times. He embodies both the Church’s past and its future.

The Catholic Church is either a missionary Church, bent on conversion and mission, or it is a sacrament dispenser that has no part in the lives of its people.

I could go on and on about the plight of working people in America. I could, and I probably should, write a book about it one day.

The future of the Catholic Church in America could not possibly be brighter. This nation is imploding morally in both the social and the economic realms.  There is one answer to the anguish and misery this will create, and that answer is the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

The Catholic Church is the full repository of the faith. It does not trim the Gospels to suit secular power politics. As such, it is the one institution that has the prophetic and moral voice to speak for everyone.

As Jesus said, the fields are ripe for the harvest. What the Church needs is laborers who will bring in this harvest.

I don’t think it will find them in its various ivory towers and islands of privilege.


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Colorado State U Buys Planned Parenthood Aborted Baby Body Parts

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

Why is abortion so hard to stop? Why is Planned Parenthood seemingly impossible to de-fund?

Part of the answer is that both abortion and Planned Parenthood are entwined throughout the supra-culture.

It appears that Colorado State University has been indirectly buying aborted baby parts from Planned Parenthood by purchasing them from StemExpress, which in turn purchases them from Planned Parenthood.

I would guess that Colorado State University used tax-payer monies to pay for these body parts which were taken from murdered babies. Given the nature of the purchase, it is likely that federal grant monies were involved.

So. We have Planned Parenthood, which is funded by direct federal appropriations as well as huge amounts of grant monies and direct pay of state monies from state governments, including money for “sex education,” selling murdered baby body parts to a second-party vendor. The vendor re-sells the murdered baby body parts to a publicly funded university which almost certainly gets massive amounts of federal grant money to do “research.”

Follow the money, my friends. Who is paying for buying and selling the organs of murdered babies? You and I.

To see the purchase order from Colorado State University to StemExpress, go here.

From LifeNews.com:

On January 10, 2013, Colorado State University purchased fetal body parts from Planned Parenthood’s flagship abortion facility in San Jose, California via a company called StemExpress.  In total, nine specimens were harvested from eight different aborted babies killed in abortions at that Planned Parenthood clinic and the purchase order reveals CSU bought two body parts, including an aborted baby’s liver.

SIGN THE PETITION! Congress Must Investigate Planned Parenthood for Selling Aborted Baby Parts

At the time, StemExpress paid Planned Parenthood $50 per specimen, which means that in one day they received $450. Additionally, Stem Express harvested body parts from Planned Parenthood facilities in Fresno, Sacramento and Stockton.

The documentation from StemExpress (below) reveals that Leila Remling, an employee of CSU’s Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology Department, purchased the body parts.


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Beautiful Chalkboard Drawings from a 1917 Okie School Uncovered

Photo Source: Flick Creative Commons by Todd Petrie https://www.flickr.com/photos/58869428@N05/

Photo Source: Flick Creative Commons by Todd Petrie https://www.flickr.com/photos/58869428@N05/


You’ve got to click on this link and look at these. They are beautiful.

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The Christian Basher in Chief Explains Pope Francis

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

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

Christian/Catholic bashers come from all sectors of society.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A case in point is our President.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This man needs our prayers friends.

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

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The Crusades, Christian Bashing and Our Two-Tier Educational System

NOTE: I noticed a couple of comments on other topics that reflect the popular ignorance about the Crusades. Since this ignorant and inaccurate mis-use of history has routinely been used for Christian bashing, I’m going to re-run the series on the history of the Crusades. I will probably run it many times. It’s just a bit of light, shining in the lies-about-history-Christian-bashing-propaganda darkness. 

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

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

Our two-tier educational system has become essentially a trade-school education for people who live in most of the zips codes of these United States. Among other things that kids in most of our schools aren’t taught are music, philosophy, the arts and history.

It is entirely possible to graduate from our public school system, go on to college and earn advanced degrees and never learn anything of these subjects at all except a smidgen of anthologized literature and a gloss of textbook history, along with the state-mandated history of the state in which the schools exists.

No one reads original sources in most of our educational system. Except for those who are being fed the royal jelly at our elite schools, students are taught almost entirely from hideously expensive textbooks. That means everything they learn is shallow, predigested, committee-approved and edited to conformity of thought.  The “curriculum” is homogenized multiple-choice-oriented trade school stuff designed to train hirable employees for lower level positions — ranging from middle management on down — at one of our corporate or government bureaucracies.

Our educational system actually works against creating thinkers and decision makers. It works toward developing shallow thinkers who can blast through a multiple choice test. The trouble with that, of course, is that multiple choice tests always give you the answer. There’s no thinking involved.

This universal ignorance leads to a population that is like the proverbial goose, born into a new world every day. It also makes We The People easy pickins for the propagandists who seek to destroy Christianity — along with much of the rest of our societal structure — by lies and obfuscations that a truly educated person would strip clean immediately.

Every day, I delete a steady drip of Christian-bashing comments that are based on the stuff and nonsense of propaganda lies. These comments are not only based on lies, they are usually rancorous, rageful and almost identical with one another. Any politician worth his or her salt would recognize that the commenters have been programmed by misinformation and are speaking from somebody else’s script.

The first question an elected official asks when they get a wave of comments like this is “Who” (meaning which special interest) “is behind this?” That’s survival 101 for elected officials.

It’s also a skill We the People need to learn. In this day of propagandized history that is used to bash Christians and Christianity, coupled with an almost universal ignorance of history, theology, philosophy and the arts, its survival 101 for all of us.

One area in which lies and distortions of fact are used against Christianity is the Crusades. The Crusades are actually a rather small part of the misinformation and distortion used against Christians and Christianity. But, given the blank ignorance about the entire history of the Crusades in the general population, it’s also low-hanging fruit for the Christian basher, including, sadly, our own president.

The Crusades are being used to convict Christians of the beheadings, rapes, kidnappings, immolations, and mass slavery that is occurring right now, today. In an irony that belies any concept of truth or fair play, the Crusades are being used to convict Christians of the sins which are being right now, today, committed against Christians. We are facing a Christian genocide in the Middle East. This is not being done just by ISIS. It is on-going, has been on-going for a long time.

Only a truly ignorant population would “buy” the notion that Christians are somehow guilty of their own genocide because of the Crusades. Not only does that defy logic, it is a misrepresentation of the causes of Crusades themselves.

Here, for those who are interested, is the beginning of a series of videos I’m going to post about the Crusades. The videos are themselves only a brief introduction to the actual history of the Crusades.

When I was in Spain, I was struck by the passion of the people who had fought the fight to repel Islamic invaders. Even today, all these hundreds of years later, the depth of their commitment was right in front of me when I looked at the fortifications they built using their toilet seats, pig troughs and whatever else came to hand. These people had fought a desperate fight for their freedom, and their faith animated that fight.

When I was in Turkey, I encountered the bitterness of the Christians there, much of it still aimed at the Roman Catholic Church. I also encountered the gloss that is applied to the bloody history of Christian persecution in that region. There is so much history that Americans do not know and will never learn so long as they confine their thinking to the gloss and the sham.

I picked up several books about both the Crusades and the Inquisition while I was in Spain. The books were dense, and it took me a while to read them, but they taught me a lot. I also went back and plowed through the papal encyclicals that I could read (some were in French, which I don’t read) of the past 1000 years.

Reading books and original sources is a good way to learn more. It’s important when reading about a subject like this, which is being used as a propaganda tool, to read books written from all viewpoints. That’s an education in itself. If you put on your political eyes, you can often, just by reading the distortions from the angles of opposing distorters, arrive at something that is close to the truth.

Please share these with other Christians and encourage them to learn more. We can’t stop the propagandists from lying. But we can at least inform ourselves.

History of the Crusades.

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Teaching Hate: Anti-Semitism Soaring on US College Campuses

Graffiti on University Campus bathroom wall Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Quinn Dombrowski https://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnanya/

Graffiti on University Campus bathroom wall Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Quinn Dombrowski https://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnanya/

University Campuses have become hotbeds of anti-Israel propaganda. Anti-Semitism is rising along with this.

From The Washington Free Beacon:

Anti-Semitism on college campuses is growing, with more than half of Jewish students claiming they have witnessed or been subjected to some form of anti-Jewish harassment, according to a new report by a leading human rights organization.

With college campuses across the country acting as a hotbed for anti-Israel activism, Jewish students say they are beginning to be targeted on the basis of their religion, according to a nationwide survey conducted by Trinity College and the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law.

The survey, which interviewed 1,157 self-identified Jewish students at 55 U.S. colleges, found that 54 percent experienced or witnessed “anti-Semitism on campus during the first six months of the 2013-2014 academic year.”

Perhaps most surprising, the report found evidence of anti-Semitism across the country, a finding “strongly suggesting anti-Semitism on campus is a nationwide problem,” according to the report.

The findings come as anti-Semitic incidents rise across the globe, with Jewish citizens being targeted for attack by Islamic extremists and far-right neo-Nazis.

This has been accompanied by several high-profile episodes on college campuses in which Jewish students have been subjected to harassment and, in some cases, violence.

The Trinity College researchers who performed the study said they were surprised by the findings.

“The patterns and high rates of anti-Semitism that were reported were surprising,” said Ariela Keysar, an associate research professor at Trinity who co-wrote the report with her colleague Barry Kosmin. “Rather than being localized to a few campuses or restricted to politically active or religious students, this problem is widespread. Jewish students are subjected to both traditional prejudice and the new political anti-Semitism.”

The survey was conducted prior to last year’s conflict in the Gaza Strip, when incidents of anti-Semitism spiked globally.


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Cherry Picking the Prez’ Big Speech

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

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

I’ve known for several months now that I had a job of work ahead of me, explaining the current situation in Washington.

I’ve dreaded doing this because, (1) There’s a lot I know that I can’t say, (2) People are going to get mad at me because of what I have to say, and (3) I’m worn thin by worries about my mother and that makes me sort of trigger happy in how I respond to rude comments.

However, I’m going to have to try to share this with you folks. The reason I have to do it is that Christians who want to engage the political culture for Christ need a much more accurate understanding of the beast they’re riding than they do now.

President Obama’s State of the Union address is an excellent place to begin this process. It was, in my opinion, the best State of the Union address he’s given since he was elected president. He’s at his best when his back is against the wall, and the elections last November shoved him hard against the political wall.

He’s made several disastrous political mistakes during his time in the White House, chief among them, the totally idiotic and destructive HHS Mandate. I got called all sorts of names myself for saying he was an idiot to do this, but he was an idiot for doing it. The HHS Mandate is an example of what happens when political power toadies to one special interest.

Any president who goes to court against the Little Sisters of the Poor … well … that president is not being too swift.

The HHS Mandate is an example of the kind of stupidity that happens when Barach Obama feels exalted and is full of himself.

The State of the Union address last night is an example of what we get when he’s fighting his way out of a corner. Nobody gets to the Oval Office without being a fighter. Not one person who sits behind that desk is a softy, or a weak-kneed sap who runs away from a fight. The electoral process is, when money doesn’t overawe it, a magnificent selection process which weeds out those who can’t or won’t fight.

Unfortunately, it does not weed out those who get too impressed with their own victories and go leaping off political cliffs in fits of presidential hubris. That’s how we got the Viet Nam War. It’s how we ended up with Clinton’s gun control bill and the HHS Mandate. Presidents who are too full of themselves make idiotic political moves which harm the country and destroy their own political parties in the process.

But there’s one thing I can say for our presidents: They may dip their toes in political idiocy when they start believing their own campaign ads, but we’ve never yet elected a president who was a coward. Every single one of them would rather fight than switch.

President Obama’s State of the Union address was a gauntlet, and he threw it down. If he’d opted for programs like these at the beginning of his presidency, he wouldn’t have been speaking to a Republican Congress last night. Instead, he chose to go on tangents against the First Amendment and attack the Catholic Church. He blew off a Democratic Congress to pass a health care statute which helps insurance companies a lot more than it helps people.

I’ll wait until Monday to start unpacking the politics of it. We’re going to school next week, and I imagine that by the end of the week everybody, both on the right and on the left, will be gathering up their ropes and looking for a tree to lynch me. I’m not going to make anybody happy. But as I said, I have a job of work to do. This sort of thing is a big part of why I am here.

President Obama made allusions to several concerns without putting any specific policy ideas forward. Among those were global warming, support for organized labor and trade agreements. I think some of this is window dressing and some of it concerns things he intends to address outside of Congress. That raises a whole other issue which I’m going talk about in depth next week.

For this post, I’m choosing to highlight those points he made which were attached to actual policy suggestions.

As always, with every president, there are policy ideas here I like, and others that I think need a bit of tweaking to be workable.

Here are a few of the highlights of President Obama’s State of the Union Address.

1. I’ve been a good president.

We believed we could reverse the tide of outsourcing, and draw new jobs to our shores. And over the past five years, our businesses have created more than 11 million new jobs.

We believed we could reduce our dependence on foreign oil and protect our planet. And today, America is number one in oil and gas. America is number one in wind power. Every three weeks, we bring online as much solar power as we did in all of 2008. And thanks to lower gas prices and higher fuel standards, the typical family this year should save $750 at the pump.

We believed we could prepare our kids for a more competitive world. And today, our younger students have earned the highest math and reading scores on record. Our high school graduation rate has hit an all-time high. And more Americans finish college than ever before.

We believed that sensible regulations could prevent another crisis, shield families from ruin, and encourage fair competition. Today, we have new tools to stop taxpayer-funded bailouts, and a new consumer watchdog to protect us from predatory lending and abusive credit card practices. And in the past year alone, about ten million uninsured Americans finally gained the security of health coverage

…  Already, we’ve made strides towards ensuring that every veteran has access to the highest quality care. We’re slashing the backlog that had too many veterans waiting years to get the benefits they need, and we’re making it easier for vets to their training and experience into civilian jobs. Joining Forces, the national campaign launched by Michelle and Jill Biden, has helped nearly 700,000 veterans and military spouses get new jobs. So to every CEO in America, let me repeat: If you want somebody who’s going to get the job done, hire a veteran. Since 2010, America has put more people back to work than Europe, Japan, and all advanced economies combined. Our manufacturers have added almost 800,000 new jobs. Some of our bedrock sectors, like our auto industry, are booming. But there are also millions of Americans who work in jobs that didn’t even exist ten or twenty years ago — jobs at companies like Google, and eBay, and Tesla.

2. Wages, Equal Pay. 

Of course, nothing helps families make ends meet like higher wages. That’s why this Congress still needs to pass a law that makes sure a woman is paid the same as a man for doing the same work. Really. It’s 2015. It’s time. We still need to make sure employees get the overtime they’ve earned. And to everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this: If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go  If not, vote to give millions of the hardest-working people in America a raise.

3. Education.

I am sending this Congress a bold new plan to lower the cost of community college — to zero … Understand, you’ve got to earn it — you’ve got to keep your grades up and graduate on time.

4. Trade and Exporting Jobs. 

But as we speak, China wants to write the rules for the world’s fastest-growing region. That would put our workers and businesses at a disadvantage. Why would we let that happen? We should write those rules. We should level the playing field. That’s why I’m asking both parties to give me trade promotion authority to protect American workers, with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren’t just free, but fair.

5. Medical Research. 

Tonight, I’m launching a new Precision Medicine Initiative to bring us closer to curing diseases like cancer and diabetes — and to give all of us access to the personalized information we need to keep ourselves and our families healthier.

6. Taxes. 

As Americans, we don’t mind paying our fair share of taxes, as long as everybody else does, too. But for far too long, lobbyists have rigged the tax code with loopholes that let some corporations pay nothing while others pay full freight.They’ve riddled it with giveaways the superrich don’t need, denying a break to middle class families who do. This year, we have an opportunity to change that. Let’s close loopholes so we stop rewarding companies that keep profits abroad, and reward those that invest in America. Let’s use those savings to rebuild our infrastructure and make it more attractive for companies to bring jobs home. Let’s simplify the system and let a small business owner file based on her actual statement, instead of the number of accountants she can afford. And let’s close the loopholes that lead to inequality by allowing the top one percent to avoid paying taxes on their accumulated wealth. We can use that money to help more families pay for childcare and send their kids to college. We need a tax code that truly helps working Americans trying to get a leg up in the new economy, and we can achieve that together.

7. Terrorism and War. 

I believe in a smarter kind of American leadership. We lead best when we combine military power with strong diplomacy; when we leverage our power with coalition building; when we don’t let our fears blind us to the opportunities that this new century presents. That’s exactly what we’re doing right now — and around the globe, it is making a difference.First, we stand united with people around the world who’ve been targeted by terrorists — from a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris. We will continue to hunt down terrorists and dismantle their networks, and we reserve the right to act unilaterally, as we’ve done relentlessly since I took office to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to us and our allies.At the same time, we’ve learned some costly lessons over the last thirteen years.

No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids. We are making sure our government integrates intelligence to combat cyber threats, just as we have done to combat terrorism. And tonight, I urge this Congress to finally pass the legislation we need to better meet the evolving threat of cyber-attacks, combat identity theft, and protect our children’s information. If we don’t act, we’ll leave our nation and our economy vulnerable. If we do, we can continue to protect the technologies that have unleashed untold opportunities for people around the globe.

8. Child Care, Sick Leave and Families.

… we need affordable, high-quality childcare more than ever. It’s not a nice-to-have — it’s a must-have. It’s time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us. And that’s why my plan will make quality childcare more available, and more affordable, for every middle-class and low-income family with young children in America — by creating more slots and a new of up to $3,000 per child, per year.

Here’s another example. Today, we’re the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers. Forty-three million workers have no paid sick leave. Forty-three million. Think about that. And that forces too many parents to make the gut-wrenching choice between a paycheck and a sick kid at home. So I’ll be taking new action to help states adopt paid leave laws of their own. And since paid sick leave won where it was on the ballot last November, let’s put it to a vote right here in Washington. Send me a bill that gives every worker in America the opportunity to earn seven days of paid sick leave. It’s the right thing to do.

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