Conversion Story: Melissa Weinisch

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Be Ready to Take a Beating: OKC Bishop Emeritus Marched with Martin Luther King, Jr

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Our current leader, Archbishop Paul Coakley, and Archbishop Emeritus Eusebius Beltran.

Oklahoma City’s Archbishop Emeritus Eusebius Beltran was a gift to our state when he led us.

He was always willing to take the hard step up to the plate to defend the human person from the ravages of discrimination and hate.

About 10 years ago, Oklahoma passed an outrageous law aimed at Hispanics. This law made it a crime to help people, even when they were in dire situations, who had entered this country illegally. It was so draconian that it cut right across the mission of every Christian to serve and love the “least of these.” It was, in truth and in fact, a Jim Crow law for Hispanics.

I actually debated this point when I spoke against this law. I dug out the vote on the original Jim Crow law that Oklahoma had passed not long after statehood.

Do you want your name on a list like this, I asked my fellow legislators, pointing to the votes. It did no good. The state Republicans had whipped the public into a mindless and vicious anti-Hispanic hatred in order to win elections, and even legislators who saw that this law was a crime against God voted for it for fear of losing their next election.

My own district, which was a mix of all sorts of people — a true “rainbow” district of skin colors — was in a welter over it. Later, when the pro abortion people tried to defeat me in an election, they made an attempt to use that stand against this law to defeat me.

I had to take another stand, this time in my district, and tell the people there that I would not vote for something like this, and that if they wanted a racist who attacked people for political gain, then they should not vote for me. I won that election by a huge margin, with the full support of every racial group in the district.

What that meant — and continues to mean — to me is that the people of District 89 are far better people than you will find in much of the rest of our good state. They are some of the best people you will find anywhere.

Archbishop Beltran did not have the luxury of speaking to and for the Catholics of a small part of Oklahoma, like my House district. He wasn’t dealing with people who had known him all his life. He had to deal with the irascible and diverse Catholic population of his archdiocese. Many of the Catholics were just as thoroughly whipped up into anti-Hispanic hatred as the rest of the state.

So, when their Archbishop came out against this law with the full force of his prophetic and moral voice as their religious leader, they were irate with him for doing so. He did not let that stop him at all. The Catholic Church in Oklahoma stood tall against this dastardly legislation, just as it had stood for life and human dignity in an absolutely reliable way for years.

The Church was not able to stop passage of the law, but the Church, by taking this stand, raised the issue of the moral responsibility of lawmakers in an arena which was operating by a faux morality that justified harming other people. The Catholic Church was alone in taking a stand against this law. Others joined later, but in the beginning, the only voice against it was the Catholic Church.

The priests who were on the priest council here in Oklahoma all signed a declaration saying that they would not obey this unjust law. The statement declared that they would minister to everyone, regardless of ethnicity or legal status, even if doing so meant that they would go to jail.

These men made me proud to be Catholic. More than that, they made me feel that the Church was a refuge for those who were without other refuge, that Christ really did animate what they were doing as His priests. They sent the message with that statement that the Church was for real.

That taught me a simple lesson that I’ve seen enacted again and again around the world. When people are totally abandoned by everyone; when they become the object of such universal hatred that anyone who stands up for them is taking a big risk, the Church is their refuge.

That is what happened to black people during the long dark night of segregation. The black churches not only created community, they ennobled a people. Their message of Christ saved black Americans from falling absolutely into the pit of rageful despair which would have destroyed them in an absolute way that Jim Crow could not.

Archbishop Beltran was a young priest in Atlanta at the time of the Civil Rights Movement. He knew Martin Luther King, Jr. Father Beltran did in that time what Archbishop Betran did later. He stood with the weak and the hated against the powerful haters who wanted to destroy them. Archbishop Beltran marched with Martin Luther King when it was a dangerous thing to do. He marched with his bishop’s permission, but with the understanding that if he was arrested, his bishop would not try to get him out of jail.

This was a time when jail was a witness to truth. Father Beltran marched with the understanding that he might have to be just such a witness.

Among the many wonderful things that Archbishop Beltran did, he wrote a pastoral letter about violence against women. I treasure this deeply. The Church needs to use its moral and prophetic voice to speak out more decisively against violence against women. It could make such a difference if it did.

The Sooner Catholic recently published an article, discussing Archbishop Emeritus Beltran’s experiences in the Civil Rights movement. Here is a brief excerpt.

From the Sooner Catholic:

On a steamy Georgia morning in March 1965, Father Eusebius Beltran and three of his brother priests piled into the four-door sedan they borrowed from the Archdiocese of Atlanta and headed south toward Selma, Ala.

 It had been two days since they’d heard news of a police shooting and beatings during a protest march in Selma that would later become known as “Bloody Sunday.”

 The men were not strangers to marches during the Civil Rights Movement, having marched many times through the streets of Atlanta to protest discrimination by schools, restaurants, bus stations and other public venues. But, they hadn’t marched in a protest like this. The Selma marches became a national spark to protest the ongoing exclusion of African-American voters from the electoral process and from the discrimination they faced.

 At the urging of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who they’d spoken with often at his father’s Baptist church, the Catholic priests sought approval from Archbishop Hallinan for the road trip to Selma and use of the archdiocese’s car.

 “He told me that he wanted to see the boys, the priests, who were going with me before we left,” said Archbishop Beltran, who is now Archbishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City.

 “The four of us went to see Archbishop Hallinan in the hospital and that’s when he asked us ‘Do you guys know what you’re doing? Do you realize you’re breaking the law? Do you know that you could go to jail? And, that if you go to jail, I want to let you know I will not bail you out because part of standing for the truth is you take the punishment, and that’s part of the punishment.’ We said we all knew that, and he said ‘OK, God bless you.’”

 After a nervous 4-hour drive to Selma, the priests each claimed a mattress on the floor of a hallway at the Catholic church and headed to join the crowds at a pre-march pep rally.

 “The whole thing was well-organized and there was always a spokesman up there who was giving directions, reminding people no violence and to be ready to take a beating. It was scary in a way, but when you’re young, you don’t think about it. And, it had to be done too. It was part of the movement at that time. Selma brought together everything we were working toward.”

 The next day, the march began in the same way it had two days earlier. Dr. King led the way across the Edmund Pettus Bridge where the group of more than 2,500 marchers were met by state troopers. Since a judge had issued a court order prohibiting the marchers from continuing to Montgomery, Ala., they turned around and marched back to the church without incident. (Later that evening, three white pastors were attacked by members of the Klu Klux Klan, killing one Universalist pastor after the public hospital refused treatment.)

 Following the second march, which became known as “Turnaround Tuesday,” Father Beltran and his crew returned to Atlanta where they continued their meetings and marches for several years – including a march to protest a segregated chicken restaurant owned by Lester Maddox, who later became Georgia’s governor.

Former President George H W Bush Celebrates His 90th Birthday by Jumping Out of a Plane

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Former President and First Lady Bush after the sky-dive he made on his 85th birthday. 

He was a much better president than we knew at the time.

He was a genuine war hero, the president who fought in World War II, an oil man and a former member of Congress/head of the CIA/Vice President.

He was President George H W Bush, and today’s he’s 90 years young.

Former President Bush (or Bush I, as we call him around our house) celebrated his birthday by jumping out of an airplane. Literally.

That ground can get awful hard when it’s coming up at you from a few thousand feet. I don’t know many 90-year-olds who could take the lick involved in a jump like this. But I also know from my elderly relatives that those who live long are tough in way that us wimps can’t fathom. They all have a get-on-with-it, it is what is toughness that allows them to cycle through the infirmities and limitations of advancing age without being vanquished by them.

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That toughness gets put on display every time one of former President Bush’s birthdays rolls around. He’s been celebrating the passing years by jumping out of planes for quite some time now. Former First Lady Barbara Bush is pretty tough herself, to let him do it.

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Former President George H W Bush is rescued after his plane was shot down in combat. 

I would expect no less from the man who survived the getting shot down in combat, losing a child to leukemia and decades of America’s political wars. You’ve got to be made out of cast iron to do all that.

Happy Birthday former President Bush. I hope you have many more.

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Pope Francis Will Travel to Holy Land with a Rabbi and Muslim Friend

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Omar Abboud (right) and Rabbi Abraham Skorka.  Photo Source: Catholic News Agency

Pope Francis does it his way.

In a complete departure from previous papal trips abroad, he is bringing two friends of other faiths along with him on his upcoming trip to the Holy Land.

Pope Francis’ longtime friends, Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Omar Abboud, a leader in Argentina’s Islamic community, will accompany him on his journey to the Holy Land later this week.

The Vatican spokesman called this a “novelty.” I think of it as a symbol of what this land of many faiths could, and hopefully one day will, be.

From The New York Daily News:

VATICAN CITY – A rabbi and a Muslim leader will join Pope Francis on his upcoming trip to the Holy Land, the first time an official papal delegation has included members of other faiths, the Vatican said Thursday.

Francis’ two longtime friends and collaborators from his days as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Omar Abboud, a leader of Argentina’s Islamic community, are on the official delegation for the May 24-26 trip to Jordan, the West Bank and Israel.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said their presence on the delegation was an “absolute novelty” desired by Francis to show the “normality” of having friends of other faiths.

Skorka and then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio together wrote “On Heaven and Earth,” which explores Jewish and Catholic perspectives on a host of issues. Abboud, meanwhile, was Bergoglio’s main Muslim interlocutor in Buenos Aires and recently participated in an Argentine interfaith pilgrimage tracing the key stops of Francis’ upcoming tour.

Actor Kevin Sorbo’s Faith Story

Kevin Sorbo, star of God is Not Dead, shares his remarkable story of faith, including how his faith helped him through a traumatic health crisis that could have killed him or left him an invalid.

As his wife says in the video, “He’s a good guy.”

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What is Bill Maher’s Problem?

 

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 What is Bill Maher’s problem?

Kevin Sorbo, the star of God is Not Dead, responded in the video below to yet another of Bill Maher’s ugly anti-God rants.

In this particular rant, Mr Maher raises the “God is evil” argument, basing it on the movie Noah. I’m going to write a post discussing the “God is evil” argument. But for now, let’s just look at Mr Sorbo and Mr Maher.

Mr Sorbo’s view of Mr Maher’s behavior is worth thinking about. What is behind all this ranting and raving? Is Mr Maher doing it because it attracts an audience and makes money? Or, does he believe it? Even if he believes it, why all the crazy carrying on?

I have never watched Mr Maher’s show. I have seen a quite a few scenes from it on You Tube. Based on that, I would say that he’s also nasty in his treatment of women. In fact, Bill Maher seems to be thoroughly ugly in the way he expresses himself on a number of topics.

But it seems that God is his special hate. In addition to rants like the one on this video, he also made an entire movie attacking God and people of faith. Again, I never saw — and don’t plan to see — the movie. But I have seen a few scenes from it. The pleasure he takes in attacking people of faith is rather striking.

So, what is Bill Maher’s problem? It would seem that, like the professor in the movie, it isn’t so much that he doesn’t believe in God, as that he hates God. He really goes off in this video. It’s as if he’s talking to God directly instead of his audience. Why all this rage about someone he doesn’t believe exists?

I’m sure Mr Maher makes a lot of money attacking God. But I think he probably means most of it. I think he’s as God-obsessed as he appears. I am guessing, of course, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t also as vicious and unpleasant in person as he appears in these clips.

One connected point Mr Sorbo made is something all of us should consider: He doesn’t subscribe to HBO.

We subscribe to a rather expensive cable television package at our house. I honestly don’t know the particulars of this cable package, since my husband set it up and pays the bill for it. If there’s a way for us to dump HBO, we certainly need to do it. If not, we might ought to consider getting rid of the premium channels altogether.

Watching this clip made me wonder if we’re not unintentionally tithing a good bit of our money to support direct attacks on our faith.

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21% of Americans Say Religion is ‘Not That Important’ in Their Lives

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According to a poll by NBC/WSJ, 21% of Americans say that religion is “not that important in their lives.”

This isn’t a big surprise. It’s consistent with other polls. The details are pretty much the same as those in previous polls, as well. An NBC news article says that “Less religious Americans are more likely to be men, have an income over $75,000, to live in the northeast” and be under 35.

The only comment I have to make about this is that it’s something to consider as we contemplate how to approach re-converting this culture. Do we start with these “not that importants,” or do we begin elsewhere?

I don’t claim to have a decisive answer. But my personal opinion, based mainly on years of political campaigning, is that we should begin with our own people. I think the first great need for active conversion is to be found in the pews of our own churches.

There are over 1 billion Catholics on this planet, and almost all of us are laity. We are the Church. The need to educate, inspire and lead this laity to an active evangelistic fervor is so obvious that I’m not going to waste the words to substantiate it in this brief post.

I think the place to begin the great work of conversion that is in front of us is our own laity. The question I have is, does the laity have to do the work of converting itself?

We need leadership.

Who Were the Real Monuments Men?

Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci from C2RMF retouched

This is the story of the real Monuments Men on whose work the movie is based.

Americans should be proud that we did this. It is a powerful demonstration of who we were.

To what extent is it who we still are? 

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Hey Jude, Stand by Me and Let it Be with Bruce Springsteen and Queen Elizabeth

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I tried to watch the Beatles special last night, but it was such a gloss of nothing that I turned it off. I decided this morning to do my own tribute. What is your favorite Beatles song?

Old Paul and Old Bruce Together

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The Beatles, Concert for Queen Elizabeth

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John Lennon, Stand by Me. Lennon’s artistic power comes through in this casual recording.

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Let It Be; another casual performance that shows their command of their medium.

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A Man Born to Hang, Ain’t Never Gonna Drown

My grandmother used to say, “A man born to hang, ain’t never gonna drown.”

Evidently, 16-year-old Mackenzie Wethington was not born to die in a 3,000 foot fall out of an airplane.

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