I’m Not Going to Church Tomorrow. I Have Other Plans.

Breast Cancer Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by crazy_dame https://www.flickr.com/photos/craftydame/

Breast Cancer Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by crazy_dame https://www.flickr.com/photos/craftydame/

Bright and early tomorrow morning, my husband and I will head to the hospital for another biopsy. They found another “suspicious mass” during scans Monday. It may turn out to be fine. I’ll know more in a few days. If you could spare a prayer for me on this Holy Thursday, I would be most appreciative.

I wrote about it in more detail for the National Catholic Register:

Please Remember Me in Your Prayers This Friday
Jesus will take care of me, and I know it. I am not alone, because He is there. He is so completely there.

I have another “mass.” My biopsy is scheduled for this Friday — Good Friday.

I’ve asked a number of people to pray, and their first response has been “how can that be?” I had a bilateral mastectomy, and in their minds, that removed all risk of breast cancer.

But cancer doesn’t give guarantees. Or rather, it gives one guarantee, and that is that it will hang over you like the Sword of Damocles all the rest of your days.

None of this means that I am back in the cancer soup again. I may learn next week that this thing is something other than cancer. That is a real possibility.

But even if it turns out to be a benign something-or-other, I still get to have more fun and frolic with doctors. I still have to consider the what-ifs of this disease all over again. If the cancer has gone off and made an appearance somewhere else, then those “what-ifs” are both simple and existential to the max.

Once again, if I am afraid, I do not feel it. And, once again, I’m using this situation to spring people from Purgatory. I believe that my illness earned a way out for quite a few good souls last year. That’s a good feeling.

I got this good news Monday. I almost cried when I was lying on the table while being scanned and saw the look on the face of the person doing the scanning. There were tears, wanting to leak out.

But I didn’t. I sniffled a bit later that evening, while I was working in the kitchen, but that’s been it with the crying. I’m not being stoic. If I needed to cry, I would. I just haven’t.

The first couple of days, I was blue and angry. I mean really, I-want-to-be-left-alone blue-and-cursing angry.

I had actually begun to think I might be on the road to years of cancer-free time. It took me a while to get there, but I had started thinking I could exhale and just live for a while.

That’s why I was so angry. I lost that little bit of lightness Monday and I was angry about having it snatched away. (Read the rest here.)

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What Was Your Best Lent Ever?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Miran Rijavec https://www.flickr.com/photos/miran/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Miran Rijavec https://www.flickr.com/photos/miran/

I wrote this for the National Catholic Register at the beginning of Lent, but I think it’s pertinent for this Holy Week. Think on Jesus this week, my friends. Remember what He did for you.

What Was Your Best Lent Ever?
The Catholic Church is the spiritual home where we can lay our burdens down and rest in His grace.

What was your “best” Lent ever?

The most recent issue of the (Archdiocese of Oklahoma City) Sooner Catholic had an article in which the author asked and answered this question. It made me think for a moment, but only for a moment. My answer was easy.

My best Lent ever was the Lent in which I came into the Catholic Church. I didn’t know that Catholics used the phrase “Welcome home” to congratulate new members, so when it was addressed to me, I was a bit bemused. The bemusement was minor because “Welcome home” seemed exactly right for the way I felt.

In the words of John Denver, I had come home to a place where I’d never been before. I had come home to the Church.

Around 1.2 billion people call themselves Catholic. With that many people, it is inevitable that there will be rockin’ and rollin’ among the faithful from time to time. The idea that 1.2 billion people can agree on anything is fantastic enough, but that they can shape their behavior and way they live their lives along a set of beliefs and teachings that are themselves 2,000 years old is incredible.

Yet that is what happens. For instance, despite the many differences between and among Catholics, we — all 1.2 billion of us — are right now engaged in the thing we call Lent. Some Catholics may be blithe or even indifferent about the whole thing, scarcely noticing it and not really changing their lives because of it. Other Catholics may be eating bread and water for the 40 days and praying on their knees for hours each morning.

The rest of us lie somewhere between these two examples, with our daily devotions, giving ups, and confession twice a year, whether we need it or not. People do Lent differently, and that’s as it should be.

There is a lot of latitude in being Catholic. The demands of work and family vary greatly between people and at different times in each of our lives. One of the gifts of being Catholic is that we can practice our faith sincerely and devoutly within the constructs of daily life.

This latitude operates within the unifying action of the Catholic Church. Whether Catholics are going all-out with Lenten penances and activities, or just dipping their toes in ever so slightly, they are all Catholic and Christian. They are, each one of them, following Christ along the road that the Church has laid out for them.

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You are Not the Worst Thing That You Have Done.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by gkaruna karan https://www.flickr.com/photos/35888164@N06/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by gkaruna karan https://www.flickr.com/photos/35888164@N06/

I wrote this for the National Catholic Register near the beginning to Lent.

We do not have to suffer and grieve our sins all our days. We can lay them down at the foot of the Cross where all things are made new.

You Are Not the Worst Thing That You Have Done
Do not wallow in your sins, and do not attempt to hold your enemies in their sins. How can you accept God’s forgiveness and then refuse to forgive?

You are not the worst thing that you have done.

There is more to you than just your failings and faults. You are, at your core, an immortal soul. You are made for eternity.

But the fallenness that pulls you down is wound into you. Nothing you can do can ever break its hold on you.

St. Paul called this fallenness “the flesh.” He didn’t mean the tendons, muscles and bones of our actual bodies. He was talking about the fallenness that Catholics call original sin. He was describing the yearning for the things of this world, despite the spiritual poisons that are hidden inside each bauble and toy we seek.

Fame wraps itself around soul-killing poisons. Power, especially power over other people, is corruption waiting to happen. Ambition, pride, great talent, strength and prowess of any sort in any arena are all good things, all gifts of a sort. But they have their hidden barbs that will dig into us, fester and then separate us from God.

Lent is, among other things, an annual reminder that we are both immortal and mortal. Our precious bodies are quite literally made of the dust of this earth, and, in the end, they will return to the dust from which they came. If you think you are your body, then you also believe that your destiny is to nourish the microbes that break down rotting flesh and slowly decompose it back to the soil.

Our bodies on which we lavish such care are destined to be fertilizer. We can mummify or embalm them. We can dress them up as if they were going out for a special occasion. We can style their hair and paint their lips. But they are, once the soul leaves them, a thing.

The miracle is that we have a promise that these things will live again. The promise is the Resurrection.

St. Paul says that 500 people saw Him at one time. Mary Magdalene was the first, the one to whom He revealed His resurrection. At first Peter and John had to content themselves with the message of an empty tomb and a convincing winding sheet. Later, the Apostles touched Him. He ate with them and talked to them, preparing them with a last preparation for what as to come. He was risen, and they walked and talked with their risen Lord. (Read the rest here.)

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Going Away. Coming Back.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by New Life Church Collingwood https://www.flickr.com/photos/nlcwood/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by New Life Church Collingwood https://www.flickr.com/photos/nlcwood/

Eleven years ago next November, I was sitting in the cathedral at Fatima.

I was not praying. I was simply floating in the atmosphere of blessedness that pervades the place.

Without introduction, God opened up a sort of vision. I learned that I was going to be doing something very different in the future, that I had specific books that He wanted me to write.

That wasn’t all of it. But it’s the part that applies to what I’m telling you now.

Eleven years have passed. I have put off doing what God told me to do. That’s usual for me. Every time God has called me to do something big, I’ve delayed. Of all the Bible characters, I’m the most like Jonah. I run from these calls. But I’ve always eventually come around and done what He wanted.

I make me think of a horse, running off when you approach with the bridle, running around the pasture, wheeling and tossing it’s head at you, then stopping and walking back to nuzzle you, as if to say, “Ok, let’s do it.”

The bottom line is that I don’t want to die and go stand before God and have Him say “What part of ‘Write a book,’ don’t you understand?

I don’t think this is a go-to-hell deal. It’s more of a I-love-Jesus-and-I-want-to-please-Him deal. Everything God has ever asked me to do has ended up being a difficult gift and a blessing. I have no doubt that this will end up being the same.

I may write these books and no one will read them. They may moulder on my hard drive and go nowhere. That’s not the point.

The point is doing what He asked. That’s all. Just doing what I’m told.

I’ve found that I can’t muster the double decker concentration it takes to write books and blog both at once. I’m just not that elastic.

So, I’m taking a sabbatical from Public Catholic. The plan is, that I will be back in about 6 months. I may continue writing an occasional article elsewhere. I haven’t decided yet. If I do, I’ll post links to them here for you.

I am a bit torn about this decision. I feel almost as if I’m deserting my post in a time of peril. Christians have fallen so deeply into the thralldom over President Trump and I know that I am saying things that almost no one else is saying. I don’t know of any other pro life, Jesus loving, loyal-to-the-Pope, feminist woman with real political know-how who is out there saying that Trump is a false idol and what many Christians are doing is deserting Jesus to follow after him.

That needs to be said, and it needs to be said as many times as it takes to be heard.

But I am also aware that I am running out of time to do what God has asked. He never told me to blog. He told me to write these books.

In the time I’m gone I will be praying by name for each and every one of you who comment here regularly. If you want to talk to me, you can pm me on my Facebook page. I won’t be there much, but I should find your message in time. You are my dear virtual friends, and I care about you. Please follow Jesus and take care of yourselves while I’m away. If you can spare a prayer for me, I would deeply appreciate it.

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Yes, I’m a Feminist. Why Aren’t You a Feminist Too?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Jay https://www.flickr.com/photos/jryde/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Jay https://www.flickr.com/photos/jryde/

I’ve received a few jibes lately from Catholics, claiming that I must be a feminist. These comments are usually full to the brim with what are either implications or direct claims that I can’t possibly be a good Catholic, since I am … you know … the culture wars f word.

Truth told, I am a feminist. I’ve written about it, and, indeed, made whole speeches about it in many public forums. I don’t hide it. I’m proud of it.

In fact, I have a question for those of you who think being a feminist is such a terrible thing:

In a world with widespread and endemic rape,

In a world with female genital mutiliation,

In a world where women constantly suffer degrading name-calling,

In a world where many men consider it their right to beat and batter women,

In a world where baby girls, both before and after they are born, are routinely murdered, simply because they are baby girls,

In a world where the President of the United States calls women pigs and dogs, hints at incest, puts his own wife in a porn photo shoot (which pretty much answers the question, Does he love her? with a big fat “no.”) and is a serial sexual predator who sexually assaults women and brags about it in what he calls “locker room talk,”

In that world, why aren’t you a feminist too? 

I wrote about this last week for the National Catholic Register.

Here is what I said:

Pope Francis recently made a few remarks about women in which he tried to describe the phenomena that I observed over and again when I was a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

He talked about women’s ability to bring “harmony” to the world. That isn’t how I describe it, but I think we are talking about the same thing.

The House District that I represented for 18 years had a large number of illegal immigrants. I refereed the arguments between them and the Anglos of my district on a daily basis. I was the one both sides called to settle disputes, help them with their problems, and often, just to listen to their gripes.

They taught me a lot of things, these magnificently good constituents of mine. They are wonderful, wonderful people, all of them. The hardest thing about leaving public office was worrying about who would take care of them when I was not there to do it.

One thing they taught me in a clear-cut way was the civilizing power of the female.

It is inaccurate to refer to the human race as “he,” or as “man.” Because the human race is not male.

The human race is also not female. It would be just as inaccurate to refer to all humanity as “her,” or “woman.”

The human race is not “man,” and it is not “woman.” The human race is men and women, male and female, together.

Take us apart, and we die. Literally. We go back to the half-humanity uselessness that is man or woman without the other.

I saw this in real-time among the illegal immigrants in my house district. Young men would wend their way across the border to find work. They were young, really just boys, and they were in a strange world with strange customs and a language they didn’t speak. They would rent a house and hole up together;  even 15 young men sleeping on floors and existing to work.

 They went out and stood on the corners or went to the right employment agencies and were hired as day laborers by the local businesses. There was no lack of work from businesses who wanted to pay slave wages. Then they came back, with money in their pockets and nothing much to do.It is to their credit that these young men didn’t usually do anything really violent. But they were trouble. All kinds of trouble. Because a group of men without women cannot function. They descend rapidly to the lowest form of their sex. If they hadn’t been believing and sincere Christians, it would have been much more difficult for me to manage the problems they caused, and they might have done much worse things.

Over time, they were joined by women, and as soon as that happened, everything changed. Men, without women, are a mess. They are dangerous, including dangerous to themselves. Their thinking runs along nutty lines of violence and swagger. They are destructive.

Women, without men hiss and spit and turn in circles.

But when you put them together, it’s almost like a science experiment when you combine hydrogen and oxygen to get water. Put men and women together and you get life. You get men who use their strength, aggression, and physical courage to protect, provide and build. You get women who use their incredible moral strength, intuition and insight to nurture and sustain.

Together, men and women are the creative force that has built all the good we call culture, society and civilization. Take them apart, and you get ultimate and uncaring destructiveness.

That is why we need both men and women in our government. (Read the rest here.)

 

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Pope Francis’ Prayer Intention for February 2017

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Republic of Korea https://www.flickr.com/photos/koreanet/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Republic of Korea https://www.flickr.com/photos/koreanet/

I’ve decided I’m going to post Pope Francis’ prayer intentions every month.

This one is challenging for those of us in the West because the Holy Father is asking us to do something that runs against our basic instinct for survival. Americans have always welcomed those in need, and we have a long history of reaching out to help others.

It is unfair and untrue to characterize the American people as indifferent to the suffering of the world. We have demonstrated a willingness to do things which no other great power in history has ever done to  build, help and lift up people all around the globe.

Today we are challenged to find ways to continue with our basic goodness in the face of what amounts to an existential crisis for the whole Western world. Western nations are being flooded with immigrants and refugees whose viewpoints and cultural mores are antithetical to the founding principles of their own culture. Some — not all, but some — of these people refuse to assimilate. They have become violence vectors, breeding terrorist attacks and destruction.

There is a lot of name-calling and shaming being thrown about to try to bully people into standing down and not voicing their concerns about all this. At the same time, there is also a lot of vicious racist talk directed at people who are simply trying to live their lives and become part of the new societies in which they live.

It is not easy for anyone to wend their way through this morass of conflicting ideals and needs.

When the Holy Father asks us to pray for refugees, he is doing the right and the Christian thing. He has stubbornly hewed to the Gospel line in the face of backlash and hatred directed at him because what he is saying runs against the easy impulses that drive the rest of us.

That is to be expected. Anyone who honestly follows Jesus is going to be attacked. They will be attacked because Jesus is not convenient. He does not fit into our politics or our desires for self. He is Lord of All of us, including those who we do not like or fear.

I could say that these are difficult times, but all times are difficult to the people living them. What I will say instead, is that these are the challenges we face today, in our time. Difficult as it always is, our challenge as followers of Christ is to do the Jesus thing, not the smart thing.

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When It Comes to Political Parties, Wise George Said It All

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons http://www.the-athenaeum.org/art/detail.php?ID=14476. Public Domain.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons http://www.the-athenaeum.org/art/detail.php?ID=14476. Public Domain.

“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

FAREWELL ADDRESS | SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 1796

 

George Washington cared about America. I honestly believe that differentiates him from just about everyone in a position of power in Washington DC today.

I include in that assessment the Congress, which is so enthralled with loyalty to political parties and personal ambition that they consistently put America last. They have abrogated their duties to author, debate and vote on legislation and by doing so they have created a presidency which is, right in front of our eyes, an elected dictatorship.

The American people themselves have become so devoted to their political party — and it does not matter which one it is — that many of them are willing to toss aside everything else they say they believe to follow these parties.

Christians toss Christian teaching in the trash to follow their party. Catholics attack the Pope because he says that some of the “teachings” of their political party are antithetical to following Christ.

The party in power — again, it does not matter which one it is — demands loyalty from its followers in a “fight” with the “other” side; a “side” which they tell us is nothing less than the spawn of satan. The party out of power — again, it does not matter which one it is — inspires almost hysterical loyalty from its followers in order to “fight” the evils of their “other” side, which,  of course, they say is the spawn of satan.

Both parties claim the moral high road. Both parties say that the other is evil incarnate. Both parties tend to tell the truth when they talk about the other party. Both parties lie, lie and lie when they talk about themselves.

I began writing Public Catholic because I understand politics. I see through things that most other people don’t even really see. I wanted to use this hard-learned knowledge to equip Christians to be more effective for Christ in the political sphere.

But I no longer believe that I have anything to offer that will be heard. My first message, and the one which I just don’t think can get through, is that Jesus has to be first. If you are unable to be around politics without becoming a slave to political forces, then you should stay away from it. Your vocation lies elsewhere.

The most important thing anyone has to do if they want to be effective for Christ in the political sphere is to follow Christ without question. You must follow Him even when it’s unpopular, even when it’s lonely, even when it’s the flat-out and obviously stupid thing to do.

Following Jesus means you follow Jesus.

It does not mean that you pull out lines in Canon law that you think exempt you from following Him. It does not mean that you parse and split the Gospels until you grind them down into some little masticated something that will allow you to ignore His commandments because you have adapted them to fit your political party’s cant.

Following Jesus means you follow Jesus.

You cannot blindly follow your political party and follow Jesus.

You cannot blindly raise up some political demagogue and make him lord of your conscience and follow Jesus.

If you want to follow Jesus, you have to follow Jesus.

Not lead.

Not dissemble.

Just … follow.

Jesus said,

You cannot serve two masters. 

If the master of your conscience, if that which informs your understanding of right and wrong, and tells you what to think and do is your political party, then you are not serving God.

There are many other sayings of Jesus I could use, but that one is enough for now. To be honest, I would like to quit doing this. I don’t think I’m getting through. But for now, it seems that this is my calling. To say what won’t be heard.

Wise George said it all when he told us that political parties would become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.

He was prescient with that statement. We are watching it unfold in real time, right in front of us.

In the midst of this chaos and the deeper chaos that is coming, there is only one Way to turn that offers sanity, hope and a future. That is the Way of Christ.

But that Way requires that we stop giving over our thinking capacities to these two political parties. We absolutely must stop drinking down the mind-bending poisons of lies and propaganda that emanate from them and start thinking for ourselves.

If we do that, we will not all agree. Even Christians, who have the same principles on which they build their actions, will have different ideas about the best way to do things. That is the strength of human beings, that we are each original and that we each one think differently from everyone else. It is healthy, it is holy, for us to be the individuals we are.

It is democracy when we think together about things and work out our differences in open discussion and debate and then settle on a single best solution that is a pastiche, a compromise, of all our ideas. That is the power of the great engine that is our minds.

The blind loyalty to political parties, which are never acting for our good, unless it is by accident, cancels out both our own individual thinking powers, and the enormous power for good that is all of us, thinking together about how we can do what is best for everyone.

Blindly following a political party is offering up your greatest power, which is your individuality and ability to think, on the altar of nothing much. This little g god is like all other little g gods, in that it does not care about you.

When I first got cancer, I put an affirmation in my phone and scheduled it to come up every morning. Change or die.  That was what it said. Every morning I reminded myself that the way I had been living was, in reality, a way of dying.

America is at just such a pass right now. We are tearing our country apart over partisan loyalties. I’ve actually had people come on this blog’s comboxes and flat out say that they didn’t care what happened to the country, they only wanted to get the other side in the political wars.

There is so much hatred in our political world right now that it is scalding to behold. It saddens me more than I can say that so many Christians have given themselves over to this partisan hatred, that they behave as if their country doesn’t matter, as if the common good doesn’t matter, as if the Gospels don’t matter, just so long as they can get even with the other side of these political wars.

It doesn’t matter much which political party you belong to — and I know I’m going to get speeches here about how terrible I am for saying that — but it does not matter. What matters is what you do.

Follow Christ.

Follow Christ and Him crucified.

Stop following the little g gods of political parties and political demagogues.

Then you can be effective for Christ in the political sphere.

But so long as you blindly follow these little g gods of politics, you will be nothing more than a tool for the power brokers who own these parties. You will be a thing they use to help themselves.

Jesus said,

You cannot serve two masters. 

Think about it.

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Is Jeff Sessions Confirmation a Tragedy for American Christianity?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Gage Skidmore https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Gage Skidmore https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/

In a move that I regard as a tragedy for American Christianity, the United States Senate consented to President Trump’s appointment of Senator Jeff Sessions as the new Attorney General of the United States.

They did this, despite Senator Sessions past as a Jim Crow public official. They did this after silencing Senator Elizabeth Warren for the heinous crime of reading aloud a letter from Coretta King, who is the widow of Martin Luther King, Jr. This letter detailed Attorney General Sessions’ Jim Crow actions as a federal prosecutor.

I do not know if Attorney General Sessions has since had a turn of heart and changed in his racism. I do know that the Trump apologists who supported him in their usual knee-jerk, anything-Trump-does-is-holy-and-right manner did not bring such things forward. Instead, they resorted to the trashy, bully-boy Trumpian tactics of mis-using their power to silence legitimate debate and commentary.

The sad and frightening thing is that so many Christians supported this. We now have an Attorney General with legitimate Jim Crow bona fides, and very public and outspoken Christians put him there.

This is not the first time that Christians have abandoned following Christ to follow Trump. It is just one item on a list that is beginning to be too long to list in a blog.

It began with their decision that misogyny was ok, if it was candidate Trump who was calling women pigs and dogs and attacking women based on their appearance. It took an irreversible step forward when Christians — including Christian religious leaders — decided that sexual assault was ok, if candidate Trump was the assaulter.

It also began with candidate Trump’s dark race baiting against Hispanic people, with his demonizing of them and using them as a vote-getter. When Christian people bought into this, they bought into open, frank and outspoken racism. And they liked it.

It began when Christians decided that a First Lady who had posed in porn photos, including girl-on-girl sex, was fine with them. It went a step further when it came out and was confirmed by the editor of the publication in which the photos were placed, that candidate Trump had put his own wife in a porn photo shoot, that he was, in fact, “eager” to do it. What kind of man does that? What kind of Christian supports it?

It began when the tapes became public of Donald Trump, private citizen, bragging and hinting at sex with his own daughter, saying that what they “had in common was sex” and that he wanted “to date her” and agreeing with a commentator that she was “a piece of a–.” Again, what kind of man does that? And what kind of Christian supports it?

It moved right on through Christians supporting the obvious lies of a sociopathic liar and carrying this to the point that they became co-liars along with him.

President Donald Trump has become an idol, a false god, for many Christians. This has reached the point that they actually judge whether or not people are “christian” based on whether or not they are willing to blindly support his actions.

The confirmation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions was a tragedy for American Christianity because it aligns American Christianity with Jim Crow racism. The presidency of President Donald Trump is a tragedy for American Christianity for a number of reasons.

First, because so many Christians, including Christian religious leaders, have been totally and abjectly willing to reject Jesus Christ when His teachings contradict Trump. They are willing to accept pornography, adultery, incest, sexual assault, misogyny and racism without a quibble. In fact, they are willing to attack people who abhor these things and claim that it is not Christian to oppose them.

They have conflated blind following of President Trump with following Christ, even when following Donald Trump leads them in ways of thinking that are diametrically opposed to the teachings of Christ. Catholics among them wave around some something or other in Canon law that they say requires Catholics to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to the evils of this administration on pain of not being a “real” Catholic.

This is a massive tragedy for American Christianity. I fear that it may end up ushering in an almost total loss of credibility for Christian witness in our society.

The standard reply for these things is to say, “But Hillary,” or, “But Obama.” The theory seems to be that these people were so bad that they justify drop-kicking the Gospels and denying Christ His Lordship in our lives to follow a false god who opposes them.

That is specious nonsense. I realize that I cannot reach the people who are so besotted with Trump that they have turned their backs on Christ. That will take the Holy Spirit. Or, I fear, it will take them, suffering the consequences of their blind followership of this demagogue. I fear that in a selfish way, because it means that we will all suffer those consequences along with them.

All I can do is what I am doing, which is to say straight out and without reservation that I am not following any false god anywhere and I urge those of you who still have the wits to think to do the same.

I am not and will never be a member of the “Resistance.” That is just mindless destructiveness, with no purpose, no goal, no reason other than its own brand of mindless hate.

I am not and will never be one of the Christian Trump Worship Cult.

I am in total support of my Hispanic brothers and sisters and those who believe in women’s human rights. I do not follow anyone who supports sexual assault. I do not listen to them and I do not regard them as moral voices.

Women have the right to live and breathe in self-respect, without being accosted and violated by sadistic billionaires who ram their hands up inside them, who call them names and who treat them as things. This is a basic human right. It is at the core of of the Christian witness that there is no Greek nor Jew, no slave nor free, no male nor female, for all are one in Christ Jesus. 

It is a real-life manifestation of the fact that male and female created He them in the Image and Likeness of God.

I believe absolutely in women’s human rights, and freedom from sexual assault is a human right. I just don’t think that giving women the right to kill their own children is the way to achieve human rights for women. Abortion is a knee bending to the devil misogyny, an accommodation to discrimination and the sexual double standard.

Ironically, President Trump is the personification of both misogyny and the sexual double standard. He exemplifies the attitudes and behavior that led so many women to support abortion in the first place. If Christians follow him in this — and right now, many of them are following him the way they should be following Jesus — they will destroy the gains they have made in the arguments for life.

If we want to do something about the influx of immigrants from Mexico, all we have to do is choose the good, positive and Christian response of going to work to help Mexico solve its problems. We need a Marshall plan for South America in general and Mexico in particular.

Opponents of this idea usually say it’s too difficult. But what is “simple” about destroying this country with rage, hatred and unchained evil? What has the demagoguing from the Republicans every election done that has resulted in good? Has the racism of Trump resulted in a healthy country? Has it brought peace? Has anything good come from it?

Doing things the Christian way often seems like doing them the hard way. But, unlike the devil’s way, it always brings good results in the long run.

The confirmation of Jeff Session as our Attorney General was a defeat for American Christianity because so many public and private Christians blindly supported it. It was a defeat because all they had to do was say no to this man and demand that the president make another, better, choice.

We are besmirching the name of Jesus with our fidelity to political evil. We are doing this by putting our political allegiances before the one thing that should be our defining allegiance in every single thing we do. That is our allegiance to Christ the Lord.

I am aware that a lot of people are angry with me, and some of them are going to stop talking to me and begin hating me because I say this. All I can say in answer is that racism is wrong. Sexual assault is wrong. Misogyny is wrong. Compulsive lying is wrong. Demagoguery is wrong.

I know it.

And they know it.

Which is why they are willing to believe any lie to continue supporting these things.

 

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America is Breaking Apart Over the Polarizing Worship of Little g gods

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by New Life Church Collingwood https://www.flickr.com/photos/nlcwood/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by New Life Church Collingwood https://www.flickr.com/photos/nlcwood/

America is breaking apart over the polarizing worship of little g gods.

We the People have become idiots and fools who follow one banner or the other blindly, without thought. To do this, we lie. We lie about the factual world around us. We lie about those who disagree with us. We lie about ourselves. And we lie about the nature of Jesus Christ.

We have becoming willing to attack anyone — even the Pope — if that person disagrees with the ever-changing teachings of our little g gods. We claim with a straight face that we are the arbiters of holiness, and we posit holiness in blindly following one little g god or the other.

From where I stand, there is no moral difference between those who worship the little g gods of the left, or the little g gods of the right. They are both idol worshippers, and they are both living in a self-made cage of self-imposed delusion.

Sad to say, most Christians have abandoned following Christ to follow their political gods. They trim their faith to fit their politics and denounce anyone and everyone who tries to tell them that this is not faith at all. It is delusion. It is madness. It is turning away from the sanity of following Christ.

Those who say they are Christians do not denounce Christ directly. Rather, they denounce everything He said. They cut the Sermon on the Mount and His clear teachings about the Judgement down to nothing. They attack the Holy Father. They pick and choose among the clergy, reviling those who disagree with their politics and making new little g gods out of those who agree with it.

It does not matter if one has given their soul to a little g god of the right or of the left, they have given themselves over to a nihilistic anti-Christ who plunges them into a constant bath of rageful self-righteousness, irrationality and lies.

People are making themselves into self-righteous, hate-filled, irrational wretches by following these false gods of politics. All they have to do is all they ever had to do, which is turn back to the real Christ, the real Cross, the real Jesus.

I know that I’m getting a bit boring by saying this over and over. But it needs to be said. I would not want to not say it over and over, because it is the only Way.

We need to turn back to Christ. By that I mean the real Christ, not the political christ of our own devising. Stop following political gods, which you made yourself of your own worst impulses, and follow Him.

If you do that, you will take your first look in a long time at humility. You will be like someone waking up from a drugged state to look at the mental and moral shambles you have made of your internal self, and you will wonder, “What was I thinking?”

I am asking you to exorcise yourself from the demonic little g gods of this age and follow Jesus. It is an urgent plea based on a deep love for you that can only come from Jesus. Do not continue to throw yourselves away by following the little g gods of this age. Follow Jesus Who died on the Cross, Who preached the Sermon on the Mount, Who gave us this good man for this time as His Vicar.

I wrote about this for the National Catholic Register. Here is part of what I said.

Most Christians want a comfortable enough, get-out-of-jail-free kind of faith.

They want to go to heaven, but not now. Heaven is for the distant future, when they are very old and die in their sleep after having dozed off in front of the television.

The best of them go to Mass on Sundays and drop a twenty in the collection plate as it passes. They may even read their Bibles and say a quick prayer before grace.

But Jesus, the radical revolutionary who overturned tables and cast the money changers out of the Temple, who called the Pharisees “blind guides, leading the blind,” that Jesus is more than they want.

They are both afraid of and unwilling to follow the history-changing Jesus who moves societies by moving individual human beings.

They resist and even denounce the Jesus Who radicalizes His followers’ minds with counter-intuitive teachings such as “Blessed are the poor,” and “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” They don’t like the Jesus who said “You cannot serve two masters. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

That Jesus, the Christ, the God made human who calls us to be more than the petty greed and selfishness that is humankind’s pit in which we all wallow, is not at all to their liking. He is, at best, uncomfortable. At worst, He is convicting in ways they refuse to be convicted.

There are sins we readily denounce, and sins we love so much we are willing to denounce the priest who preaches on them and deny the Christ who judges us for them.

We don’t much want the Jesus of the Book. We want the comfortable, easy, other-people’s-sins-are-the-only-sins-that-matter Jesus that we can trim and shape to fit our lives and our politics so that we never feel a twinge of personal remorse or regret for any of our pet sins.

We do not want and will not accept the real Jesus who told the power brokering priests of His day that prostitutes and tax collectors would enter into the Kingdom of Heaven before they did. We want no part of the Jesus Who told the rich young man to sell all he had, give it to the poor and then come and follow Him.

The truth is, we want to walk past Lazarus. We want to do it because walking past suffering is a whole lot easier than stopping and stooping to care.

Following Jesus has a price that very few Christians are willing to pay. Following Jesus means going against the zeitgeist, stepping out of the parade and being different. It means not doing the popular thing, but choosing to do the right thing, instead. It means being inconvenient, both to yourself and to those around you.

At the very least, truly following Jesus means standing up in front of the gods of this world instead of kneeling down before them. It means walking away from the worship of the false idols of politics, wealth, power and fame and following Him. It means being an outlier in a society that demands absolute conformity with one viewpoint, one way of living and thinking, or the other. (Read the rest here.)

 

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Timothy Putnam and the Weightiness of Becoming Catholic

Photo Source: Timothy Putnam, all rights reserved by Timothy Putnam.

Timothy Putnam and his wife, becoming Catholic. Photo Source: Timothy Putnam, all rights reserved by Timothy Putnam.

There is something weighty in the decision to become Catholic. Timothy Putnam

There is something weighty in the decision to become Catholic. Indeed there is. Sing it, say it, live it, my brother in Christ.

Timothy Putnam has “it.” That “it” is a genuine searching willingness to follow Jesus, even when — not if, but when — He leads us down pathways we would never have chosen on our own. It takes a bit more honesty and a lot more faith than most people are willing to commit to Jesus to stand up in front of the little g gods of this world, turn your back on them and walk away.

Faith, real faith, in the Living Christ is the key to following Him. If you don’t believe — really, truly, absolutely believe — that He is God, then you will not follow Him in this costly, unquestioning way of the Way.

Timothy Putnam follows.

He’s the best kind of follower, the only kind, that, when the bills are toted up, up yonder, matters. He’s the kind of follower who does not trim his faith to fit the world. He bases his activities in the world on his faith.

That is, indeed, a “weighty” thing. When it is coupled with the 2,000 year old teachings of the Church that Jesus founded and Peter first governed, the “weight” is the weight of a peaceful certainty that you don’t have to figure it out yourself. All you have to do is follow the path that is laid out for you in the Catechism, and that is explicated for you by the Pope.

Timothy Putnam has, like so many converts, a fresh and unalloyed love of the Church that comes from having been without it. Doing without the Catholic Church while you try to wend your way through the world can be hard going. It is the heavy slog of someone who has to make each and every decision for themselves.

Is it a sin to do this, or that, or whatnot?

We Catholics have that part easy. We can just put our foot down and slide to heaven by simply staying on the highway to heaven that is the Catholic Church.

But everything has a price. The free gift of eternal life was purchased for us by the ignominious crime of Calvary. We did our worst and God did His best and the result was our everlasting good.

The gift of following Christ has the continuous and ongoing price of being out of step with the world. There is no safe harbor for someone who does their best to follow Jesus and Him alone, no group of buddies, no political safe house where you can just do what your gang does and still follow Him.

If you try to follow Jesus, you are always going to end up an outlier. That’s just a fact.

For some folks like Timothy Putnam, it becomes even more fraught. Jesus calls a few people to step out on the ice of life and follow Him on a path the leads away from safe incomes and guaranteed benefits.

If you are single and He calls you to step out in faith into the shifting uncertainties of a ministry, then you risk a little. At most, you risk your own comfort. You alone suffer the loss of income. You alone must step through the chop of starting up, the long hours, the set-backs and the simple fact that faithful ministry does not and never will be a source of wealth.

But if you are the parents of what Timothy calls a “brood” of seven children, then stepping out is “weighty” for real.

I’ve met Tim’s family, and they are beautiful. His wife is as faithful and committed to Christ as he is. His children are intelligent, bright, inquisitive, fearless and good. Of all the things I know about Timothy Putnam, this is the best. He does not fail in his first vocation, which is to be a faithful father and husband.

He is a manly man in the for-real Christian way of being a manly man, which is to say that he loves, cherishes and cares for his family. This genuine manliness is a far cry from the tinfoil manliness of abusiveness and swaggering braggadocio that is being sold right now. One is the basis for civilization. The other is one of the roots of evil and destruction.

When Timothy Putnam and his wife made the decision to give up a job as the Director of Family and Pro Life for the Diocese of Tulsa and take up full-time ministry, it was a weighty decision. It meant giving up the benefits and security of steady employment and just following.

The result was the thoughtful, teachful blog here on Patheos, A Belief Observed. If you haven’t read it, you should give it a look. The “belief” it observes is that of a faithful Catholic father, husband and growing voice in Catholic media.

In addition to this blog and other activities, Tim hosts a great radio program called Outside the Walls.

Outside the Walls airs Saturdays at 4 pm central time, and on Sundays at 11 am central time. It’s on Breadbox Media, which has been endorsed by its local bishop for its fidelity to the Church. You can download it on iTunes, follow it on Facebook, and Twitter,  or just tune in on your computer or radio. You can also book Timothy as a speaker.

Outside the Walls  is a compendium of Church teaching, Bible study and thoughtful discussion about living Catholic in the world today. All this is put together and presented by an actual, faithful, Catholic husband and father who walks the walk.

I believe with all my heart that faithful Catholics need to support and uphold one another. Tune in and give it a listen. Then, tell you friends about it. You’ll be glad you did.

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