Pope Francis: The Future is in the Meeting Between Youth and the Elderly

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Christianity: The Religion of Life

The Light of Life

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 

 

In a world beset with narcissistic -isms, Christianity is the one light.

Every other philosophy, sooner or later, gets around to death. But the Gospel message of Jesus Christ is a message of life. And that light of life and love not only illumines our deepest darkness, it plants hedges around our most pitiless impulses.

In a world where the power to kill helpless human beings is labeled “compassion” or a “human right,” both compassion and human rights become matters of definition, and the defining is done by those who want to kill at will. What is in fact, monstrous, we call good. And what is in fact good, we call monstrous.

Christianity, with its unyielding call to life and love, is the light that shines in this darkness. And the darkness hates it.

This attraction — I cannot call it love, for love is not in it — to ever deeper darkness grows from our most selfish impulses. It creates an upside down world based on language mis-used that demands that everyone — everyone — accede to the lies of manufactured definitions of our finest words. Killing, we are told, is a “right” of the killer, as in abortion is a “right.” Murder is compassion, as in euthanasia is compassionate. Genocide is godly, as in the bestial behavior of Boko Haram and ISIS.

In this upside down world of lying definitions, we can pretend that homosexual couples are the same as a man and a woman, is the same as groups of people consorting sexually, is the same as … whatever. We can label the deliberate killing of people who are slightly different from the norm — such as those with down’s syndrome — a moral necessity. We can reduce women and children to commerce with surrogacy and egg harvesting, sex trafficking, prostitution and porn and call it variously, freedom of expression, creation of families and, once again, the “right” of the purchasers.

Whatever our dark desire to degrade, exploit or kill other people, we can use our facile gift of language to construct a lie to convince ourselves that it is good.

This darkness slides over all life like sludge from a tar pit. It seeks, always, to take us back to the time before; before Christ, even before Abraham. It wants to take us back to the time when we used our big brains in the service of our reptile brains without the hedgerow of Christian teaching to fence them in.

Without God, without Christ, we are capable of anything. There is no bottom to our depravity, no end to our malignant craving for self-gratification. Because we are not animals. Or rather, we are not animals entirely. We are made of the same dust of this earth as any other living thing on this planet. But we alone of all the life on this planet teeming with life have the breath of God within us. We know that we are creatures. We know that we are finite and temporary.

And, if we will admit it, we also know that there is an Other, a being outside ourselves, greater than us, Who is both infinite and eternal. Our inchoate longing for this Other can haunt us. It can drive us to brittle anger and rageful hate that sends us screaming through our years, leaving a past of toppled lives behind us.

The terrors we weave of our unsatisfied longings for God and our refusal to live in the light of His life are the terrors that only a living soul, a creature made in His image who rejects that image in an irrational self-deification, could devise. We are not just animals. We are cathedral builders and bomb builders, poets and beheaders, we are slavers and freedom fighters, abortionists and mothers who lay down their lives for their child. We are the men who protect their families, and the men who kill their families. We are destroyers and builders, killers and nurturers.

No animal possesses this grandeur of good and bottomless capacity for evil. We do.

That is our darkness. It is the darkness of freedom that runs so frantic that it becomes a prison. We are, and we have always been, free. We are not spiders who spin the same web from one generation of spiders to the next. We are free. We can create. We can destroy. We can reject this Other, this God Who calls us but will not force us to love Him. We can even create alter-gods of our own devising, bastardized versions of the real God in whom we attempt to deify our deepest darkness.

The Light of Life that is Christ is the only beacon in the darkness of the hidden places in our own souls. The Gospel message is the message of life. Christianity is the religion of life.

The darkness fights to overcome it with weapons that appeal to our vaunting need to be our own gods. It uses our great facility for language, our enormous creativity, to shape the lies, excuses and bogus philosophies of false belief and disbelief that become tools for tearing down our common humanity and the walls of our civilization.

But the darkness, however many it pulls into its quagmire of lies, never overcomes the Light of Life. This Light shines through us, through ordinary weak and willful Christians who are as afflicted by the fallenness of this world as any other human. We are different in that, though we stumble on the path, we know the Way.

Christianity in general, and the Catholic Church in particular, is the bulwark against the forces of death. It shines the light of Life into the darkness of abortion, euthanasia, eugenics, egg harvesting, surrogacy, human trafficking, the destruction of the family and the whole range of degradations, humiliations, and destructions of the human person who is made in the image and likeness of God.

The howling hatred which is directed at Christians and Christianity is the rage of those who wallow half alive in the sludge and do not want to be awakened from their nightmare. Christianity is the religion of life. It defends life in this world, and, to those who are willing to accept Christ, it gives eternal life in the next.

We are not made for the sludge pits of evil that so many of us call home. We are eternal beings who are made for the Light.

Our great dignity is that of all the creatures and living things on this planet, we alone are free. God sets before us each and every day life and death. We can chose the life of His Light. Or we can chose the death of our many false gods and self gods.

It is no accident that the powerful ideas of the value of the individual, the splendid notion of inalienable human rights and the essential equality of all human beings came into existence within Christendom. Such ideas could not have come to fruition anywhere else. Only the Light of Christ, the enlightening mustard seed of Christianity which teaches that there is neither Greek nor Jew, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for all are one in Christ Jesus, could have grown and blossomed into the progenitor of the idea of universal human rights.

This is not a Western notion. It is a Christian teaching.

Even the hairs of your head are numbered.

If you have done it for the least of these you have done it for me. 

Blessed are the poor.

If you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. 

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that you may have life and that you may have it abundantly. 

Christianity is growing rapidly throughout the world, even as we are moving into a new age of martyrdom. It is growing the way it always has: By voluntary conversion. People who are attracted to the Light, who hunger for Life, are drawn to Jesus because He is the Light and the Life.

Christianity is the religion of life because Christ is the Light of Life.

And the darkness will never overcome Him.

James Foley’s Home Parish Celebrates His Life with a Memorial Mass

dt.common.streams.StreamServer.cls_.jpegJames Foley’s family and friends celebrated a memorial mass for his life in the family’s home parish this weekend. His funeral mass will be in October, on his birthday. His parents said in an interview I posted earlier that they did not expect ISIS to return Mr Foley’s body.

Watching these videos makes me proud to be an American, and a Catholic.

For more details about the memorial mass, check out Deacon Greg Kandra.

This video starts with a small bit from James Foley’s Memorial Mass and moves to a longer discussion about the British Jihadists, one of whom is thought to be the James Foley’s murderer.

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James Foley’s Memorial Mass

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James Foley’s parents speak of praying for other hostages.

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Wayfaring Mama. Caring for Elderly Parents with a Will to Wander.

Mama

Yesterday I took a nap. 

I woke to my outraged son, wanting to know why I hadn’t answered my phone. 

It seems that while I was sleeping, my 89-year-old Mama took off. She wandered the neighborhood until a wonderful neighbor took her in. The only thing Mama could get straight enough to tell her was my phone number. 

But I was asleep. The phone was on the bed beside me. Just in case. I vaguely remember dreaming about the phone ringing. But it didn’t wake me. All my life, I’ve slept deep. I guess yesterday, I was sleeping really deep.

Somehow — I’m not sure how — the neighbor managed to contact one of my sons at work. He left his job and — in his own words — drove like the proverbial bat to get to Amah. 

Amah, meanwhile, was fine. She was having a chirpy little old lady good time, visiting with the neighbors. 

It turns out that Mama has been traveling the neighborhood at night. She’s been getting up at 3 or 4 in the morning and going to neighbor’s houses and getting them up to chat. They bring her home and we don’t know anything about it. 

This is my nightmare scenario so far as Mama is concerned. If she starts wandering — and it appears she’s well into her wandering phase — I don’t know how to take care of her. 

We’re reconfiguring things as I write. She’s getting a gps necklace. And we’re putting alarms on all the doors alert the police and should even get me awake and moving. We’re also reconfiguring the front door and garage doors so she can’t get out at night. She can go into the back yard all she wants. But not out the front. 

I’m also going to sell some property to get the money to hire people to babysit with her when I have to be gone in the evenings. She goes to adult day care — a heaven-sent program that saves lives and money by allowing families to keep their elderly and disabled family members at home and still hold down jobs — during the day. A family member is with her most of the rest of the time. 

But, we need someone to babysit once in a while, too. It’s the easiest baby sitting in the world; just dial up the sports channel, get Mama a diet Coke and make sure she doesn’t wander out the front door. 

I can’t tell you how much I love Mama. We all do. The whole family is 100% involved in taking care of her. I am not some martyr for Mama who is doing all this alone. My sons do an enormous amount of the Amah care, and they do it cheerfully, lovingly and without complaint. My husband gets into it too.

Mama is a family project of love. 

I hope that God gives us many more years with her. I’ve prayed at times when she was sick, asking for more time. But that is in His hands. My main prayer, which I pray fervently and often, is that Mama will be happy and not suffer. I trust her life to God. I know where she’s going when it’s time.

About a week ago, while we were out on Mama’s daily drive and ice cream run, she told me that she loved her “job” (adult day care) and that she enjoyed our drives so much. She took a few laps on her ice cream cone, then smiled. “I’m very happy,” she said. 

That’s everything I ever wanted. 

St Michael the Archangel, Defend Us in Battle

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I Didn’t Know “Trickle Down Economics” Was in the Ten Commandments.

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I didn’t know “trickle down economics” was in the Ten Commandments.

I also didn’t know it was in the Sermon on the Mount.

I remember things about “blessed are the poor” and “depart from me I never knew you.” But I missed that “trickle down economics” part. I guess it must be in the part that says that government should transfer the wealth of generations to a few corporatists under the guise of corporate welfare and “privatization.” Or maybe it’s under the demands that economies should only be built on making war and not manufacturing goods, providing for infrastructure and growing the nation.

I dunno.

I read the Bible every day. I read through the Bible — the Catholic Bible, complete with all those books that Martin Luther took out — every year and a half or so. But I don’t remember anything about taking from the poor to give to the rich, or trickle down economics being a requirement for heaven.

I have heard these claims. I heard them just about every single day I spent in the business of legislating. They are part of the wing nut teachings which political nut jobs on the right use to replace the Scriptures. Left wing nut jobs do the same thing, only in reverse.

In the left wing political religion, moral values only apply to economics. Everything else — sexuality, family, basic honesty, even human life itself — are fixed on their own, selfishly-defined constructs. In the right wing political religion, moral values only apply to sexuality, family and, human life — when it fits their vote-getting expedience. Economics is a absolute morality-free zone.

The one thing the right and left wing political religions both agree on is basic honesty. Neither one of them have any use for it at all.

Which leads us to what has become an entertaining stand-off in the United States House of Representatives. 

House Speaker Boehner invited Pope Francis to speak to the House when he visits the US next year. It’s customary when dignitaries come by like this to pass an attaboy resolution and present it to them with suitable legislative fanfare. Nobody takes this resolution stuff all that seriously. It’s just being polite; kind of like offering your neighbor a glass of iced tea when she drops by to say howdy. Neither you nor your neighbor think all that highly of the tea. The only issue would be your rudeness if you didn’t offer it.

In a show of bi-partisanship, the resolution slotted for Pope Francis has both an R and a D as primary co-authors. It congratulates Pope Francis on being elected Pope and compliments him for his “inspirational statements and actions.”

That sounds like plain vanilla do-dah politicking to me. You’d think the resolution would sail through without a comment, that even the pope-hating bozos would chill and keep their mouths shut.

But the true-believers of wing nut political religion can never be underestimated. Their breathtaking self-importance is only exceeded by their equally breathtaking self-righteousness. The pro forma attaboy resolution for Pope Francis’ possible visit to the House may not pass. It will not pass if the true believers of right-wing-nut political religion prevail.

Meanwhile, the Ds are giving the resolution a big huzzah. The party whose national convention booed God is all for Pope Francis as he is defined by their press right now. Their press has edited and parsed Pope Francis into what he is not, which is to say an apologist for laissez faire morality in all areas except economics.

That’s heady stuff for a party that’s been damned and consigned to hell-fire in the public imagination. Pope Francis may not be their cheerleader, but unlike every other pro-life, pro-marriage religio on the planet, he has not washed his hands of them and told them to go to hell. He thinks they’re still people that Christ died for who are in need of salvation. Over 200 Ds jumped on the resolution with co-authorship. They’d co-author the thing twice each, if they could.

The party that claims it speaks for God is all in a pope-hating funk because, as it turns out, he thinks that they are also people that Christ died for who are in need of conversion. They’re not used to being told they need conversion. And they don’t like it.

While anyone can see that the lefty press is twisting statements to lie about the Holy Father, there is no denying that he is laying claim to all those troublesome things Jesus (and the prophets before Him) said about rich men having a tough time getting into heaven and how we all have a responsibility to care for the poor. That’s discombobulating to a party that (1) is corporatist to its core, and (2) has made its vote-getting bones by self-deification.

So, this do-nothing, attaboy, courtesy resolution has become another opportunity for the two political parties to proclaim their own righteousness and teach morality to God. Or, as the case may be, teach morality to the Vicar of Christ.

Rather than just hold their little noses and rise about the stink of their own self-importance, the Rs have used their power as the majority party to sideline the resolution in committee where it is intended to quietly expire. About 19 brave Rs stepped up to co-author. Most of the rest — many of whom are Catholic — have folded their hands and are now studying their shoes.

There are a few convinced and convicted right-wing-nuts who are so apoplectic at the Holy Father’s confrontational attitude toward right wing nut political religion as it concerns economics that they’ve stepped up to set the record straight. They are against the resolution because, they say, “the pope sounds a lot like Obama” (Obama = Satan in their parlance), that he has “denounced trickle down economics” and that he “supports civil marriages.”

In the first place the pope did not say he “supported civil unions.” Go back and read the post about that and see.

But I’m pretty sure, based on dealing with these kinds of birds, that what’s got their feathers in a ruffle is not “civil unions.” They’re on their soapboxes because the pope “denounced trickle down economics.” The reason I say that is twofold. First, it’s what has given well-paid corporatist mouthpieces the temerity to say that the pope is “a marxist,” “following Lenin” and some other thing that’s too stupid to even talk about.

Those media moguls are the corporatist-apologists-without-any-pretense in today’s media. The nut-job Congresspeople are the corporatist-puppet-people-with-loads-of-pretense in elected office. They were beamed into office on a beam of corporate money. They are wholly owned subsidiaries of corporatist thinking and activism. If they weren’t, they’d be pulled and replaced like a bad spark plug.

As for me, I’m not all that alarmed about this resolution thingy. As we say here in Oklahoma, it don’t mean nothin’. The resolution is just a piece of paper with no force of law of any kind. It’s a Congressional attaboy that they hand out to visiting dignitaries and such like gum drops.

Pope Francis is the Vicar of Christ. He answers to Our Lord. I doubt very much that he’s going to cry himself to sleep because a bunch of political puppets with delusions of grandeur do not deign to gift him with a meaningless attaboy filled with compliments they clearly do not mean.

It’s entirely possible that the press flurry may embarrass these Congresspeople’s corporatist owners enough that they tell them to go ahead and vote the resolution through and be done with it. If that happens, it’ll slide through and we’ll go on to the next Congressional stupidity. If it doesn’t, no matter.

The beauty of this particular incident is that these folks have demonstrated rather candidly what they are and who they follow. In terms of its impact, the resolution itself is worthless. But in terms of its teaching powers, it’s priceless.

I keep putting this message out there. I’m going to continue putting it out there until it gets through.

Repeat after me: Political parties have nothing to do with righteousness. Political parties are about power; about getting power and keeping power. Everything else they say is a lie.

Do not follow the R or the D.

Follow the whole Gospel of Christ, all of it, including the parts that disagree with your political religion. The simplest and surest way to do that is to follow the teachings of our Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church constantly irritates both the R and the D. If you believe Jesus, you will not agree with either political party most of the time. If you follow Jesus with your life, you will not and cannot follow either political party.

There is one Way. The R and the D are not it.

From The Hill:

A popular piece of legislation that seeks to honor Pope Francis is stuck in Congress.

With time running out on the Capitol Hill calendar, the lawmakers who crafted the bipartisan measure are getting impatient with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

The resolution, written by Reps. John Larson (D-Conn.) and Pete King (R-N.Y.), congratulates Francis on his March 2013 election and recognizes “his inspirational statements and actions.”

The seemingly innocuous resolution was referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which hasn’t acted on it. The panel didn’t comment for this article.

The inaction and the lack of a white smoke signal from Boehner have sparked speculation that politics is at play.

Only 19 of the 221 co-sponsors are Republicans. The dearth of GOP members on the measure could be attributable to assertions that the pope is “too liberal,” according to a Republican backer of the legislation.

The source noted that Francis last year denounced “trickle-down economics.”

Some Republicans believe the pope is “sounding like [President] Obama. [The pope] talks about equality — he actually used the term ‘trickle-down economics,’ which is politically charged,” the GOP official said.

The Catholic Bishops Aren’t ‘In Bed’ with President Obama. They’re In Court with Him.

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I hate it when I have to spend my good time sweeping up the refuse from idiotic, politically-motivated attacks on our Catholic religious leaders.

Today, I’m going to address attacks from the right side of unreason, and to be honest, I’d rather not. Have to, that is. I’d much rather I didn’t have to keep doing this.

I’m not so pleased when I have to do the same thing for with the left side of unreason, either.

But … duty calls.

There have been a smattering of articles and combox vitriol floating around the internet accusing the Catholic bishops of all sorts of nasty things because they don’t/won’t/aren’t-going-to hate on Mexicans. After all, we’re deep into our bi-election brown-skin hate-off right now and every red blooded American is called to abandon all reason and blindly join in.

The cable news networks are discussing (they never report, they only discuss) the issue of large numbers of children coming over the Rio Grande. I watched a brief thingy on one of them Saturday night. They were proclaiming that one in four of these kids are “criminals” and that “gangs” are meeting them at the border to recruit them.

I know lots of people who’ve come over that border. Some of them are bad dudes. True. But most of them fall into the salt of the earth category of family-loving, deeply-religious goodness. You can hate me for saying it, but it’s just a fact.

To get back to the talking heads and their endless talk-talk on this border situation, I have one main point, and that point is …

They do this every single bi-election year.

I’m not saying that the problem with people flooding our Southern borders isn’t real. I am also not saying that this country should not control its borders. Far from it. A country that can’t control its borders is in big trouble.

What I am saying is that the this wall to wall reporting that has you so whipped up and miserable right now is politically-motivated. The cable news does this every bi-election The constant drumbeat of hysterical talk-talk-talking about “illegals” will stop like turning off a tap as soon as the votes are counted in November.

In the meantime, the good people of this country will have been ripped around and worked up into an emotional pitch for nothing. Again.

Because, you see, nothing is going to happen that will stop the flood of illegal immigrants coming over the border. Think about it. This big outrage has been whipped up every bi-election since the turn of the century. What good has come of it? Republican President/Democratic President/Republican Congress/Democratic Congress it doesn’t matter. Nothing changes.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Bishops are doing their Jesus thing and insisting that these children are people and must be treated as people. If you will read the Bishops’ statements on this issue, they plainly support efforts to control the country’s borders. But they can’t very well drop kick the Gospels just to make the right wing side of unreason like them.

So … they get hit with the usual claptrap from the vicious pharisees to the right. I won’t go through the whole tired litany of hate talk. I’m going to focus on one bizarro statement that I’ve seen repeated enough to know it has traction in certain internet nut bins. That statement is the ludicrous claim that the Catholic bishops are “in bed” with President Obama.

That is so stupid that it deserves a trophy of some sort or other.

Have any of the little hive minds that are passing that around totally forgotten the dozens upon dozens of lawsuits filed against the HHS Mandate? How about the bishops’ requests for religious exemptions to ENDA and the fight brewing there? Who do you think was working against the Hobby Lobby vote last week?

The bishops are in bed with President Obama? Puleez.

What the bishops are doing with their support of the human rights of immigrants and their refusal to join in with the great bi-election immigration hate-off, is following Jesus.

You know, the Jesus Simeon said would be a “sign of contradiction.”

What Simeon didn’t prophesy, but which Christ the Lord promised when he said If they persecute me, they will persecute you, is that people who follow the Gospels, especially in a a post-Christian society such as ours, are also going to be signs of contradiction. In fact, I’ll go a step further and say that our vocation as Christians in this post-Christian culture is to be signs of contradictions.

The bishops are succeeding in that vocation in a grand fashion. They are, for instance, being sued directly for their teaching that abortion is wrong. That’s from the left side of unreason.

Now, they’re being accused of pandering to our anti-Catholic president by insisting that people are people, no matter their legal status. That’s from the right side of of unreason.

What we are dealing with here is two sides of the same God-is-Made-in-My-Image coin. When people cut the Gospels down to fit their politics, they stop being a sign of contradiction to the sins of the world and become the sin’s enablers. They are salt that has lost its savor.

The followers of the politically-trimmed Gospel that does not allow for the sanctity of human life or marriage on the one side, and that tries to enforce economics as a morality-free zone on the other, are both examples of fallen and useless Christians. When I say “useless” I mean they are useless to God in His great work of Kingdom building.

Is there anything worse I can say about a Christian than that they are useless to God?

Jesus told us cannot follow two masters, and I think He meant it. When we trim our faith to suit our politics, we are running away from the cross, just like Peter, Andrew, James, James, Matthew, Philip, Thomas, Nathaniel, Simon the Zealot and Thaddaeus.

The Apostles repented of their shameful running away. They gave their lives for the same Jesus they had abandoned.

We can too.

I am not saying that we should not be concerned about the flood of illegal immigrants that have been coming over our borders for the past decades. This country needs to secure its borders. Period.

I am saying that we should stop letting ourselves be jerked around by the bi-election carrying on that happens so predictably that you could set your calendar by it.

This isn’t about shutting down our borders. In fact, the same corporatists who own the news outlets that are pushing this hysteria are themselves ardently opposed to shutting down the borders. They like and employ the cheap, off-the-books labor. I’ll write more on that in a day or so.

What this reporting and whipping Americans into a xenophobic hysteria are about is the universal goal of power politics: Getting power and keeping power.

Nobody is going to fix this problem, come November. The day after the elections, the talking heads will start talking about something else. Just like they do every bi-election.

In the meantime, the right-wing-of-unreason crowd will have scarred and defamed the name of Christ with their claims to be Christian while they say things that come straight from the pit.

The bishops are right about this, just as they are right about marriage and abortion and human trafficking and a whole host of other things.

They are being attacked because they are the sign of contradiction in American public discourse.

They get attacked from the left and right because they are not acolytes to either the right or left. Their job isn’t to give moral support to the immorality of power politics. Their job is to proclaim the Gospels and teach us what living for Christ means in this world.

When they tell us to treat immigrants as people, they are teaching us how the Gospels apply directly to us, in our current world. They are setting the cross before us and asking us to take up the unpopular position and lift the cross onto our shoulders and follow Him.

The Catholic bishops are in bed with President Obama? The plain facts of recent history make that charge ridiculous.

The fact that otherwise intelligent folks are bandying it about simply points to how nutty following the gods of this world can make people.

I am writing this with one goal, and it’s not to call in the lightning on my own head, although I will probably get a bit of that. I am writing it to urge you to regain your reason.

Think straight. Look at the simple fact that this happens every bi-election. Consider what that means in real life.

Look also at the fact that the bishops are hated on by both the right and left of the political spectrum. Consider for a moment that perhaps this is because they are actually being the “sign of contradiction” that we all should be.

If you follow Jesus, you’ll be treated the same way He was. That’s what’s happening to the bishops. It’s also what should be happening to you and me.

Use your minds and think people. Do not be whipped around by talking heads with a political agenda. Think. Connect the dots.

And support our bishops.

Get Real Fellas.

Senators Joe Manchin and Bob Casey are generally pro life. 

I accept that.

But when they voted against the Hobby Lobby decision, they dribbled enough sewage on their pro life stands — not to mention the good names of every completely pro life Democrat in this country — to raise a stink that blots that out.  

They voted with their caucus in favor of overturning the Hobby Lobby decision and by doing that voted against religious freedom and in support of President Obama’s on-going war with the Catholic Church. 

Why?

I’m not believing for a minute that they actually buy their own spin. This was a political vote, a go along to get along and have somebody to pal around with at work vote.  

But what political score keeping went into their belief that they could get away with it? Did they believe the things the other Dems told them in caucus? Were they swayed by the advice on how they could “spin” this vote to slide past it? 

All I know is that, as a pro life Democrat, I am almost certainly more unhappy by this party-line vote against religious freedom than any Republican. I feel personally slimed by it.

I am disgusted beyond the meaning of the word disgust with Senator Manchin and Senator Casey and every other “pro life” Democrat who doesn’t “get” that being pro life means you have to cross your party’s bow on these tough votes. 

Get real fellas. 

I’m going to put the statements concerning this vote from both Senator Munchin and Senator Casey below. Taken together, they’re like a compendium of anti-religious freedom Hobby Lobby spin. 

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Senator Manchin’s Statement on the Hobby Lobby vote:

“Today, I voted in support of overturning the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision that ruled for-profit companies can opt out of providing contraceptives to their employees because of religious beliefs. As Governor and U.S. Senator, I have always fought to protect the sincerely-held religious views of non-profit organizations, like soup kitchens, colleges, hospitals and similar non-profit organizations. However, for-profit corporations do not have the same legal privileges as non-profits, and therefore they should not have the same protections as non-profits recognized by law as being a religious organization. This legislation strikes a balance between allowing non-profit organizations to hold onto their religious views while ensuring that Americans have access to safe, affordable and reliable preventative health benefits.”

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Senator Bob Casey’s statement on the Hobby Lobby vote:

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) released the following statement on his co-sponsorship of the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act, aka the Not My Boss’ Business Act:

“As a cosponsor of S. 2578, the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act, I was disappointed that the Senate voted against the measure.  The bill is a common-sense step to ensure that for-profit CEOs cannot interfere in their employees’ decisions about contraception and other health services.

It is an important protection that will help ensure that women working for for-profit corporations can make health care decisions based on their own consciences and religious beliefs, not those of their CEOs.

This is consistent with my long-standing strong support for greater access to contraceptives.

The bill affects for-profit employers but maintains the pre-Hobby Lobby accommodation for religiously-affiliated, non-profit organizations – an accommodation that I aggressively pushed the Administration to include – by specifically stating that the regulation continues to be in effect for plans affected by the bill.

As Justice Ginsburg stated in her dissent: ‘The First Amendment’s free exercise protections, the Court has indeed recognized, shelter churches and other nonprofit religion-based organizations. The Court’s “special solicitude to the rights of religious organizations”…however, is just that.’

The assertion by five of the justices on the Court that a for-profit corporation is a ‘person’ for the purposes of religious objection is simply a bridge too far.  

The ruling essentially empowers CEOs of for-profit corporations to deny vital health benefits to women based on their own religious beliefs. As Justice Ginsburg stated ‘until today, religious exemptions had never been extended to any entity operating in the commercial, profit-making world.’ For-profit companies receive significant benefits that come with incorporation, including certain tax advantages and limited liability for owners. In turn, they are subject to a number of federal regulations, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII, and the Fair Labor Standards Act, which are enacted to preserve the health, safety and welfare of employees.   

Thirty million women have gained access to contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act.  This is an important health service and has critical implications for economic security.  The data shows us that access to contraceptives reduces the number of abortions. A recent study demonstrated that providing no-cost contraception can decrease abortion rates by up to 78 percent. I will continue to work to protect religious liberty for the American people while fighting to ensure that more women have access to affordable contraceptives.” 

Senator Casey’s record on family planning can be found here: link.

S 2578 Vote: We had a Roll Call. They had Heroes.

S 2578 is the bill that would overturn the Hobby Lobby decision by basically repealing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Yesterday I called people I know who have been working to kill S 2578. I wanted the names of the senators who had fought against the bill inside the Senate; the behind-closed-doors champions who had actually expended a bit of political capital in the fight for religious freedom.

I assumed they would be Republicans, and I was all set to write a post praising them. I even had the idea of calling the post “The Heroes of the S 2578 Fight”  or something similar. It was going to be a fun post to write, praising our pro life heroes.

But I can’t write that post for the simple reason that we didn’t have any heroes. We had votes. We got a couple of speeches on the floor and some press thingys. But nobody, not one senator, worked against S 2578 among the other senators. We had no one — nada, zip, zilch — who cared enough to actually try to reach out other to other senators and turn them around on the issue. There was no bargaining, no horse-trading, not even any discussion in an attempt to work against the bill from the pro life side.

What we had were votes, like a blinking roll call.

What the other side had was passion, commitment and real warriors who were wiling to do the deal to get the deal done for “choice.”

I’ve been in these fights close up and personal for years. I can guess a lot of what went on in the Senate Democratic Caucus before the vote. These things get ugly. And votes change. That’s why it was a straight line-up of Ds on this thing. The people who oppose religious freedom, the pro aborts who have, in Senator Cruz’ words, declared war on the Catholic Church, did the legislative work to line up that vote.

There is also another consideration here. Both parties wanted a monolithic party-line vote, for political reasons. What would have been the effect if Republican senators had actually reached across the partisan divide to their pro life brethren in the Democratic side of the argument? I think they might have changed a couple of votes by doing that.

The trouble is, Ds and Rs don’t even talk to one another anymore. This hate-off is a real deal among them, and it transcends every single thing they tell the voters they believe when they run for office.

I have seen this work against pro life here in Oklahoma when it was the Republican caucus that was being arm-twisted into obedience. I have seen the “pro life” Republicans in the Oklahoma House line up monolithically against the number one pro life bill of the year because caucus loyalty dictated they do that.

I did, as a pro life Democrat, cross that party divide. There were a couple of Republicans, notably Representative Mike Reynolds, who did the same. We pushed the issue to the point that the leadership had to use strong arm tactics out on the floor to kill the bill.

We called them on their lies and made them regret the whole thing. The cost in political capital was a lesson learned. They learned that killing pro life bills, even if you’re Republicans, has a payback. This didn’t happen in the Oklahoma House again.

The Oklahoma Senate hasn’t learned this lesson. The reason is that the pro life people in the Oklahoma Senate line up and vote, but they don’t and won’t fight their own party for the sanctity of human life.

We need people who are willing to put life ahead of party and we need pro life people of both parties to work together. When that happens, life wins. When it doesn’t happen, politics wins.

Pro life people who will fight for life in the back rooms and across the aisle — genuine pro life heroes — can turn vote totals around. That’s what the pro aborts have.

We’ve got to have genuine pro life heroes in office. I don’t mean votes in a roll call. Votes are good, don’t get me wrong. But roll-calling our votes ends up with what we have now: Pro life being used as a political football by both parties.

The sad part is that there are pro life heroes aplenty, but they’re not in office. I’ve been told by people who know, that Senator Rick Santorum actually worked behind the scenes for pro life legislation, including within his own caucus. From what they told me, he was pretty much unique in this.

I also know that before passage of the Affordable Health Care Act, a number of pro life Democrats in the House worked very hard to keep it from paying for abortions and to make sure it guaranteed religious freedom. In case you don’t remember, these pro life Democrats almost nailed the deal to the wall, but they scuttled their own efforts by falling down the rabbit hole of believing President Obama’s promises.

I’m not trying to ameliorate the degree of their fail. I was sick when they folded. In addition to allowing the evil genie out of the bottle, they destroyed the nascent movement of pro life Democrats.

But the point here is that a few pro life Democrats were able to pin the whole thing to the mat. If they had stuck to their guns, they would either have won or killed the bill. I think it was that killing the bill part that got to be too much for them. This was their first time at the defying your own party rodeo. They were weak.  And they latched onto believing our president’s lies as a way out of the barrel.

But the bottom line to the story is the same one I saw in Oklahoma. Pro life people in both parties who are willing to stand up to their party for life can change things. We’ve got to have them if we want to win this fight. We need people inside both parties who are willing to stand up to their respective caucuses and fight for life just as hard as the pro aborts fight for “choice.”

We also need them to walk across that aisle and work with their pro life brothers and sisters in the other party, even if it means working against their own caucus. We need people who put pro life first.

The point I’m making has nothing to do with parties and everything to do with why we keep getting whipped by these people. The pro aborts have people in elective office all over this country who will lie down on a railroad track in front of an oncoming train for “choice.”

They have heroes. We’ve got a roll call.

 

 

Former Euthanasia Supporter Testifies Against British Bill: We were Wrong. Terribly Wrong.

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Photo Source: Catholic Herald UK

My heart goes out to Dr Theo Boer.

He doesn’t sound as if he gets it, at least not yet, but he’s come far enough to know, in his own words, that he was “ … wrong … terribly wrong” to have supported euthanasia in the Netherlands.

What he doesn’t seem to get — at least not yet — is that euthanasia is not wrong because abuse of legalized murder is always going to happen; because in his words, “once the genie is out of the bottle, it is not likely to ever go back in again.”  Euthanasia is wrong because murder is wrong. It is wrong to kill people.

He doesn’t sound as if that has seeped through to him yet.

Who is Dr Theo Boer and why does his opinion matter? Dr Boer is a Dutch professor and ethicist, who The Mail calls “a European assisted suicide watchdog.” He is, in short an expert on how legalizing euthanasia is playing out in the real world. And his knowledge has taught him regret.

According to Dr Boer’s testimony before the House of Lords, he advocated for the legalization of euthanasia in the Netherlands. But the resulting use of the practice to kill anyone who’s troubled for whatever reason has changed his mind.

Professor Boer argued seven years ago that a “good euthanasia law would produce relatively low numbers of deaths.” Now he now wonders if “the very existence of a euthanasia law turns assisted suicide from a last resort to a normal procedure.”

He also said that he worries about changes in the law to allow the killing of children, those with dementia and those who are simply depressed He sees the “the mobile death units of traveling euthanizing doctors” and has come to the conclusion that “activists continue to campaign for doctor-administered death … and will not rest until a lethal pill is made available to everyone over 70.”

I don’t know if it’s fully come home to him what this means, but Dr Boer will have to live with what he has done for the rest of his days. His comment that you can’t get the genie back in the bottle again sounds as if he’s come against the terrible truth that un-doing evil is much more difficult than doing it in the first place.

My heart goes out to him because I’ve been there. I’ve learned the hard way that you can’t unkill people. You can go back to the people you led astray and say, “I was wrong,” but you can’t make them listen to you. The downward trajectories you helped set in motion keep rolling on and nothing you do can stop them.

I’ve also learned absolutely and without doubt that I am not God. That’s why I don’t quibble — ever — with the 2,000-year-old teachings of the Catholic Church. If I had followed those teachings and looked for other ways to deal with the injustice and suffering that led me into doing wrong, I would not have done wrong in the first place.

I don’t think Dr Boer has arrived at that place yet. He knows a bit of the horror he helped unleash. He’s evidently a man of moral courage. I say that because it takes moral courage to admit you were wrong about something like this.

Most people won’t do it. They will keep on justifying their mistakes right down to the grave. They will not admit that they have done a terrible thing, that they have been somebody’s monster, that they were, in Dr Boer’s words, “terribly wrong.” And they die and face God in their sins.

I thank God for Dr Boer’s courage. I pray that he goes all the way down this road until it leads him to the only place where these things can be made right, which on his knees in front of the cross.

Here, from the Daily Mail, is Dr Boer’s testimony. I also urge you to read the Daily Mail article which accompanied it.

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‘ASSISTED DYING: DON’T GO THERE’: DUTCH ETHICIST THEO BOER’S THOUGHTS ON EUTHANASIA IN FULL

In 2001 The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalise euthanasia and, along with it, assisted suicide. Various ‘safeguards’ were put in place to show who should qualify and doctors acting in accordance with these ‘safeguards’ would not be prosecuted. Because each case is unique, five regional review committees were installed to assess every case and to decide whether it complied with the law. For five years after the law became effective, such physician-induced deaths remained level – and even fell in some years. In 2007 I wrote that ‘there doesn’t need to be a slippery slope when it comes to euthanasia. A good euthanasia law, in combination with the euthanasia review procedure, provides the warrants for a stable and relatively low number of euthanasia.’ Most of my colleagues drew the same conclusion.

But we were wrong – terribly wrong, in fact. In hindsight, the stabilisation in the numbers was just a temporary pause. Beginning in 2008, the numbers of these deaths show an increase of 15% annually, year after year. The annual report of the committees for 2012 recorded 4,188 cases (compared with 1,882 in 2002). 2013 saw a continuation of this trend and I expect the 6,000 line to be crossed this year or the next. Euthanasia is on the way to become a ‘default’ mode of dying for cancer patients.

Alongside this escalation other developments have taken place. Under the name ‘End of Life Clinic,’ the Dutch Right to Die Society NVVE founded a network of travelling euthanizing doctors. Whereas the law presupposes (but does not require) an established doctor-patient relationship, in which death might be the end of a period of treatment and interaction, doctors of the End of Life Clinic have only two options: administer life-ending drugs or send the patient away. On average, these physicians see a patient three times before administering drugs to end their life. Hundreds of cases were conducted by the End of Life Clinic. The NVVE shows no signs of being satisfied even with these developments. They will not rest until a lethal pill is made available to anyone over 70 years who wishes to die. Some slopes truly are slippery.

Other developments include a shift in the type of patients who receive these ‘treatments’. Whereas in the first years after 2002 hardly any patients with psychiatric illnesses or dementia appear in reports, these numbers are now sharply on the rise. Cases have been reported in which a large part of the suffering of those given euthanasia or assisted suicide consisted in being aged, lonely or bereaved. Some of these patients could have lived for years or decades.

Whereas the law sees assisted suicide and euthanasia as an exception, public opinion is shifting towards considering them rights, with corresponding duties on doctors to act. A law that is now in the making obliges doctors who refuse to administer euthanasia to refer their patients to a ‘willing’ colleague. Pressure on doctors to conform to patients’ (or in some cases relatives’) wishes can be intense. Pressure from relatives, in combination with a patient’s concern for their wellbeing, is in some cases an important factor behind a euthanasia request. Not even the Review Committees, despite hard and conscientious work, have been able to halt these developments.

I used to be a supporter of the Dutch law.  But now, with twelve years of experience, I take a very different view. At the very least, wait for an honest and intellectually satisfying analysis of the reasons behind the explosive increase in the numbers. Is it because the law should have had better safeguards? Or is it because the mere existence of such a law is an invitation to see assisted suicide and euthanasia as a normality instead of a last resort? Before those questions are answered, don’t go there. Once the genie is out of the bottle, it is not likely to ever go back in again.

Theo Boer has been a Member of a Regional Review Committee since 2005. For the Dutch Government, five such committees assess whether a euthanasia case was conducted in accordance with the Law. In the past nine years, Prof. Boer has reviewed almost 4,000 euthanasia cases. The views expressed here represent his views as a professional ethicist, not of any institution.


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