This post with President Obama’s statement today says all I want to say right now. I think it’s the best speech he has ever given.
This post with President Obama’s statement today says all I want to say right now. I think it’s the best speech he has ever given.
Nigerian Christians are withstanding violent persecution at the hands of Islamic terrorists called Boko Haram. Their witness for Christ humbles me today, as if has for quite a long time. I will never forget the voice of a Nigerian Anglican Bishop’s wife as she told me “Those who persist in following Christ until the end will have eternal life.”
Eternal life in Christ was real to her. It sustained her and gave her not only a peace which passes understanding, but courage which passes understanding, as well.
When people are faced with the horror of repeated terrorist attacks as Christians in Nigeria are, and they respond with prayer and fasting as Christians in Nigeria do, I know that I am witnessing the courage that comes only from the grace of a loving God.
One of the many sins that we need to repent of in this Advent season is our indifference in the face of such magnificent courage and faith in Our Savior by our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world, especially in Nigeria.
The excerpted CNA article below describes one such act of courage among the many in Nigeria today.
Lagos, Nigeria, Nov 13, 2012 / 12:17 am (CNA).- After his parish in southern Nigeria was desecrated on Nov. 4, Monsignor Obiora F. Ike called on his parishioners to observe a week of prayer and penance.
“Msgr. Ike has called for seven days of prayer, fasting, penance and reparation for the Christian faithfuls and for the conversion of these perpetrators,” according to a statement on his website.
Around 2:00 a.m. on Nov. 4, attackers entered St. Leo the Great parish in Enugu, vandalizing the building and destroying infrastructure and sacred items.
Everything in the church was destroyed: the altar, sacred vessels, musical equipment, seats, the pulpit, statues, religious images, and the entire microphone system.
The destruction included “the Blessed Sacrament that was desecrated,” according to Msgr. Ike’s statement.
By 4:00 a.m. security agents arrived at the parish and assessed the damage. According to Msgr. Ike, the damage done totals around $63,500.
Sunday Mass at the parish was held outside “under the heavy sunshine.” Msgr. Ike’s sermon that day encouraged the congregation to “remain steadfast in their faith despite all the persecution, religious intolerance and fanaticism.” He also urged them to remain dedicated in prayer and forgive the perpetrators.(Read more here.)
In what may be one of the more poignant stories of the week, Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council and Kelly Shackelford of the Liberty Institute released a survey Monday that details the rise in hostility toward religion in America.
Just a week ago, a gunman attempted to enter Family Research Council headquarters in Washington DC, wounding a security guard. Law enforcement has treated this as an incident of Domestic Terrorism. That certainly puts an explanation point at the end of yesterday’s press release from the Family Research Council.
According to CNA/EWTN news,
Washington D.C., Aug 20, 2012 / 05:31 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A report examining court cases from recent years has found that hostility towards religion has grown to unprecedented levels in the United States.
The newly-updated Survey of Religious Hostility in America serves as “a testament to the radical shift in our culture’s worldview” on religion, said Kelly Shackelford, president of Liberty Institute, and Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council.
On Aug. 20, Shackelford and Perkins announced the release of the updated analysis, describing “more than 600 recent examples of religious hostility” in the U.S., most occurring in the last decade. Read more here
The full report on the rise of hostility toward religion in the USA can be found here.
New details on today’s shooting at Family Research Council from Timothy Dalrymple at Philosophical Fragments. Read below:
News broke around midday today that a lone gunman had opened fire inside the Washington DC offices of the Family Research Council. Little was known about the shooter, the security guard who was shot, or the reason behind the shooting. I’m actually able to report some new details, having spoken with a source close to FRC. Although I have great confidence in the source, I’m not able to verify these details independently, so it’s always possible that corrections or other important details …[Read More...]
Security Guard Shot at Pro-Life Group’s DC Headquarters
Two people, including a security guard, were reportedly shot this morning at the headquarters of the pro-life group Family Research Council.
According to information provided to LifeNews from a Washington pro-life source, a man posing as an intern shot the guard at the FRC office located at 801 G Street, NW. FRC staffer Anna maria Hoffman added more information on Twitter, “Our security guard Leo got shot in the arm. Please keep him in your prayers.”
“Of the 12 people killed in the Aurora theater shooting, four of them were men who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect their girlfriends. Now, each of these women are struggling to come to terms with both their grief and their gratitude.”
I appreciate ABC News running this story. But I wish they had resisted the urge to drag in “experts” to try to “explain” what is in reality the best that’s in us. In my opinion, all they succeeded in doing with these experts was to devalue these heroes and their sacrifice.
I think the reason why thirty percent of the people who died in Denver were men who gave their lives to protect their women is both simple and obvious: It is how God made them.
If I had to find one story that capsulizes why I think God made men strong, this would be it.
Heroism is not limited to people with Y chromosomes. This story also details women who endangered their lives to protect another person. It is a fool’s errand to come between a womanly woman and her child.
But this willingness of men to die protecting women and children is, in my opinion, God-given. Without it, the human race could never have survived, will not survive now. God made men strong, wired them to respond to physical danger quickly, for a reason. Women are the life-givers. Men are the life-protectors.
All my life I knew that either one of my parents would die or kill to save me. It was a given, like the sun coming up in the morning. I felt the same “I will die for you” strength welling up in me when I was pregnant with my first baby. It has never left me.
But there is a substantive difference with fathers. I knew my mother would kill or die to save me, but it was my Daddy, with his big shoulders and loud voice, who made me feel safe. It is my husband who makes me feel safe now.
Men have a degree of competence in times of physical danger that is innate to their being. Aberrated men use this competence and the physical strength that accompanies it to terrify and destroy. Manly men use it to protect their women and children. They create an line of safety around their families that allows home to become a refuge which nourishes and sustains the people within it.
Amanda Lindgren, whose boyfriend, Alexander Teves, gave his life to protect her, describes it well in the account below.
I’ve blocked the name of the individual who committed this crime. It shouldn’t be in the same story with the name of a manly man.
“Of the 12 people killed in the Aurora theater shooting, four of them were men who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect their girlfriends. Now, each of these women are struggling to come to terms with both their grief and their gratitude.
“Alexander Teves, 24, attended the midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” with his girlfriend Amanda Lindgren , 24, and another friend.
“When ???? opened fire in the sold out theater, Teves immediately lunged to block Lindgren from the gunfire.
“I was really, really confused at first about what was going on, so confused,” Lindgren told ABC News. “But, it’s like Alex didn’t even hesitate. Because I sat there for a minute, not knowing what was going on, and he held me down and he covered my head and he said, ‘Shh. Stay down. It’s ok. Shh just stay down.’ So I did.”
Teves blocked the bullets from Lindgren but he was shot and killed. She was not hit.”
There are no ‘ifs’ in God’s world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety — let us pray that we may always know it!”
Corrie Ten Boom, The Hiding Place
It’s a fact that we learn more from our failures and tragedies than we do from our victories.
When something goes right, we usually high-five each other and then sit around the proverbial campfire rehashing our brilliance and everything we did right. What we don’t do is learn anything. We’re too happy with the way things went.
But when something goes wrong; when we lose, when tragedy strikes, we go into paroxysms of self-analysis as we struggle to learn what went wrong and how we can fix it. This impulse to think tragedy through to ideas for avoiding another tragedy in the future is intelligent and useful. It’s the basis for things like painfully reconstructing crashed airliners to try to learn what broke or what happened to bring the bird down. It’s the reason for medical review boards. It’s why police go over and over an officer’s death.
Done this way, the self-analysis that comes after our painful flops and falters is good, productive and wise.
But there is another side. The aftermath of tragedy, the first quick take of emotion, is usually a blur of pain and confusion. Especially with something like the tragedy at Sandy Hook, there is a desire to avoid and blur both the questions and the answers to the omnipresent “Why?” that haunts us. We don’t want to face any part of it. So, we are tempted to go out searching for someone or something else to take the load of responsibility for facing up to what it all means. We want a scapegoat.
In truth, there are potential scapegoats aplenty in the aftermath of a mass murder, especially one so incomprehensible as these mass shootings and bombings by anti-social young men. But we have to be careful how we chose these scapegoats. We don’t want to pick something that would require us to change. We don’t want to point our fingers at ourselves.
No, we are looking for something or someone easy, outside our normal activities and unable to defend themselves. That’s the impetus behind the outrage of much of the pundit class against Mike Huckabee’s hapless comment. While most people are shocked into silence by these horrors, some people talk uncontrollably. They react to their own internal confusion in the face of tragedy beyond comprehension with cravings for a quick fix of faux outrage. If it hadn’t been Mike Huckabee, it would have been someone else. Every time we have a tragedy, the faux outrage crowd latches onto something some person says. They need a quickie scapegoat.
Of course, faux outrage at accidental verbal missteps wears thin after a time. It is about such a nothing and it is so completely devoid of significance that it simply uses up its own oxygen and goes out like a match.
This leaves the rest of us with the question of what slot we can fit these dysfunctional young men with murder in their hearts into. In truth, they are such bizarre little monsters that we find it difficult to identify with them enough to really have a good go at scapegoating them. Where’s the “out” for the rest of us in looking at people who are so emotionally ugly that they are flat and one-dimensional to the point of incomprehensibility?
We tend to exalt our mass murderers in this country. Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy, the BTK Killer and Ted Bundy get more television coverage than any legitimate celebrity I know of. We hype serial killers into evil gods in our entertainment, making them not only glamorous, but in many ways better — more talented, intelligent and purposeful — than the rest of us.
But somehow, these one-off killers who go to our schools, our movies, our workplaces and just start killing don’t seem so interesting. Killing little Amish girls, blowing up day care centers and murdering first graders just doesn’t seem so much the effort of an evil god as it does the work of plain, unvarnished evil in all its ugliness and banality. More to the point, when someone goes into a movie theater and shoots people, it could have been us they killed.
Still, we do need our scapegoats. Otherwise, we might have to take an honest look at our whole suicidal society and acknowledge that we have become a people that raises up sociopaths in abundance. We would have to admit that there’s more wrong here than gun laws that are over 200 years old and never produced this mayhem before. We might have to see that our many excesses on numerous levels are so dysfunctional that they’ve turned our homes and our society into monster factories.
This lends an especially frantic quality to the search for scapegoats. We need someone to blame; someone who isn’t us.
Unfortunately for us, these young men often come from backgrounds and situations that we’ve been taught to admire and seek for ourselves. These aren’t ghetto kids. They aren’t minorities. They aren’t poor, uneducated or stupid. They aren’t even physically ugly.
Are we supposed to scapegoat the upper middle class? Are we expected to decry family life in our best neighborhoods, our wealthiest school districts and among our most well-educated and successful citizenry?
This is what we all want to be: Rich, successful, going to the best schools, regarded as brilliant.
No wonder we look at young men who kill and blame the guns they are holding. If we don’t, we’re going to have to take a look at something that not only comes from the abyss, but that defies all our well-oiled aspirations.
Blame is our game and we need something to hook that blame onto. We need an object, an idea, a reason that will answer the why of these killings without confronting us with ourselves. The problem with this approach is that it is the antithesis of the painstaking reconstruction that happens after an airliner crashes. It has nothing to do with the honesty and learning process of medical and police review boards.
Rather than helping us come to a true understanding of what is wrong so that we can begin the process of fixing it, the blame game and its hurry-up urgency to do something simple, makes sure we will never understand. If we can affix blame on inanimate objects and then rush, rush, rush to do something about them, then we will be able to avoid doing the painful self-analysis of a legitimate search for answers.
Until it happens again.
Which it will.
Because we didn’t do anything useful with our blame-game and quick fix.
Here’s a for instance. It is a fact that people with red hair are more likely to get skin cancer. So, in the blame-game way of thinking, we would blame the red hair. Ergo, what we should do to avoid skin cancer is to dye our hair black.
That’s the kind of thinking we are trying to employ in our dealings with these mass murdering young men. Maybe we should take away assault rifles. That may be one of the things we need to do. But if that’s all we do, I can promise you, it won’t stop these mass murderers from mass murdering.
Since I will have to vote on at least some of these issues, those are more than words, much more than a political pose to me. How to save lives and preserve freedom, how to convert a culture that finds offense in the idea that it needs conversion; those are the questions. I don’t believe that the answers lie entirely in political battles and legislation. Neither do I believe that the people of this nation are ready to hear that.
I’m not so sure that a nation of people who are addicted to pointing fingers at other people and who refuse to give even one inch in any of their personal opinions and shibboleths can deal with these murderers among us. I question whether we have the honesty and the will to save ourselves from ourselves.
I do know that these young men did not spring fully-formed from the forehead of Zeus. They were made over long periods of time, partly by their heredity, partly by their homes, but mostly by our society. We are teaching them to kill.
Until we face that, we will never “do something” that will end this long nightmare of violence.
Click here throughout the Year of Faith, as the Catholic Channel at Patheos.com invites Catholics of every age and stripe to share what they are gleaning and carrying away from this gift of timely focus.