Nigerians Pray for Missing Girls

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Tim Green https://www.flickr.com/photos/atoach/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Tim Green https://www.flickr.com/photos/atoach/

Boko Haram kidnapped 200 Nigerian school girls a year ago.

They’ve also kidnapped 100s of other Nigerians in the year since.

Kidnapping, slavery, murder and theft seem to be the hallmarks of both Hoko Haram and ISIS.

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Will the Stepford Congress Kill the Sex Trafficking Bill?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Chuck Coker https://www.flickr.com/photos/caveman_92223/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Chuck Coker https://www.flickr.com/photos/caveman_92223/

The boys and girls in DC are doing their doo-dah, once again.

It seems that Congress has labored and almost brought forth a bill. That in itself is newsworthy. Congress doesn’t make laws these days. It makes slander against anyone in the opposing political party that it can find to attack. By opposing party, I mean, of course, both of the political parties. Each political party is the opposing party to somebody.

It seemed for a moment in political time that this great American law-making body was actually going to make a law. They found something they could agree on enough to get enough of themselves to stop denouncing one another long enough to … ummm … actually do something that was part of the job they were elected to do.

Congress was poised on the tip of an actual vote on an actual bill. Americans everywhere held their breath. Would this Congress, long thought barren, bring forth a law?

Not, mind you, that it was much of a law. This particular bill would set up a fund for victims of sex trafficking. The monies to support this fund would come from fines that are paid by those who are convicted of sex trafficking. The money in the fund would be disbursed through grants to local law enforcement and non profits.

In other words, the law would not “protect” sex trafficking victims, as one headline I read stated. In fact, it would not do anything for sex trafficking victims in a direct fashion. But it would provide jobs for folks in the shiny new anti-sex trafficking industry, and some of them night help sex trafficking victims. Of course, the recipients of the grants would be subject to all sorts of politically correct stuff and nonsense, but that’s another post.

This bill is, as they say, a modest proposal. It is an especially modest response considering the horrific crime against humanity that it seeks to address. The real story here is that Congress actually came so close to passing a bill.

But, never fear my fellow Americans. Congress is not going to allow itself to break its losing streak by doing something. It seems that the Dems discovered that (Gasp!!!!) the bill does not allow these monies to be used to pay for abortions for victims of sex trafficking.

Now, we can not have that. Any piece of legislation that concerns “women’s issues,” which is to say any piece of legislation that involves sex, which as we all know, is a man’s delight and a woman’s “issue,” must have a codicil in it somewhere providing “access” for abortion. The reason for this is simple: All any woman needs, ever, is an abortion.

If a woman is kidnapped, raped, beaten, shut in a tiny room and only let out to be repeatedly sold so that she can be raped again and again and again, night after night, day after day. If she is sold across borders and put in “legal” brothels or put on the street and sold hand to hand, if she is told that if she resists, her family in her home country will be killed … if all this is done to her … why then, what she needs is an abortion.

I know something about this problem. I sit on the board of directors of a non-profit that rescues these women, often at great personal risk (people who will do all this, will kill anybody you know.) This organization provides a home environment, therapy, medical aid, education, clothing, and anything else these women need to help them rejoin humanity. Sometimes, the women are pregnant. When they have their babies, it’s a time of great rejoicing in the shelter. The babies are loved and the women are supported.

Odd as it may sound to the abortion-is-all-women-need crowd, when women are given the option of having their babies without paying a horrific price for doing so, when they are honored, respected and loved and their babies are honored, respected and loved, they want the children.

Many of the women we are talking about come from very traditional, conservative societies where children are valued. They value their maternity, when the people around them value it.

But I digress. Let’s return to the ugliness of Congress. It appears that this modest little piece of legislation is in big trouble.

The Democrats (or at least enough of them) are going into a you-can’t-pass-a-bill-about-women-without-promoting-abortion frenzy. They are willing to see the bill die rather than forego using it to fund abortion.

Because, you see, if help for women doesn’t include abortion, why then, it’s no help at all. Women need abortions. More than they need rescue, therapy, medical care (many of these women are horribly injured) freedom from slavery, legal aid, love, support and home, these women — like all women, everywhere — need abortions.

If the Ds can’t make sure that the sex trafficked ladies get their abortions, then they will protect them from having freedom, medical care, therapy, shelter, legal assistance, love, support and home forced on them. After all, without abortion, why would any of these things matter to a woman?

Just when it seemed that the Ds would take home the trophy for dereliction of duty for the week, the Rs jumped in. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that, unless the Ds stop fighting the sex trafficking bill, he will not schedule a vote on the confirmation of Loretta Lynch, who is President Obama’s nominee for Attorney General.

Because, you see, refusing to do its job is how Congress gets its way, and its way is always about partisan fighting.

There is the possibility that public dismay might jog the Stepford Congress out of its partisan thrall. But that won’t happen unless public dismay convinces the people who own Congress that their investment is in danger. It’s more likely that this bill will go the way of the ban on abortions after 20-weeks.

These people campaigned on all sorts of issues, and that got our votes. But they were lying in all those campaign ads. They were sent there to do what they are doing, which is to position their parties to take over the White House in ’16 and allow their money backers to take control of the Imperial Presidency.

The Ds are fighting over money for abortion because that’s big campaign $$ to them. The Rs are blocking everything that Congress might do because, as any politician knows, it’s easier to sell the public on being against things than it is to explain why you’re for something. They don’t want to do anything because there is risk in doing things and that might hurt the chances of taking the White House in ’16.

That’s why this little bill almost came to a vote. It looked like such a win-win-win-win that everybody thought it would be good political fodder for themselves.

But then, abortion reared its ugly head, and Congress stopped itself from breaking its self-imposed losing streak just in the nick of time.

From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — An amazing thing about Congress: Things can always get worse.

After several years of troubles with spending bills that were once routinely bipartisan, the Senate has now found a way to disagree on a bill that would protect victims of sex trafficking. And in the process, that dispute has ensnared President Obama’s largely uncontroversial nominee for attorney general, Loretta E. Lynch.

The latest impasse sweeps up five years of the lowlights of congressional dysfunction: abortion and immigration policy disputes, White House exasperation, garden-variety distrust, and mutual loathing between Democrats and Republicans.

“Life is really simple,” Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada and minority leader, said on the Senate floor on Monday, attributing the sentiment to Confucius, “but we insist on making it complicated.”

The bill in question, sponsored by Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, is a modest measure with broad support in Congress that seeks to create a victims’ fund from fines collected from perpetrators of sex trafficking. A similar measure has passed the House and was expected to pass easily in the Senate.

But a provision in the Senate bill would prevent the fees from being used for abortions for the victims. Democrats say Republicans sneaked it into the bill. Republicans firmly deny the charge. And Democrats now say they will not vote for it unless the language is removed, something that Republicans decline to do.

In turn, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, has said he will not turn to the matter of confirming Ms. Lynch, Mr. Obama’s nominee to replace Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., until the sex trafficking bill gets off the floor. A procedural vote to move the bill forward was expected on Tuesday.

 

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Is the Liturgy Really That Bad?

Photo Source: Flickr Commons. Uploaded by Michael 1952.

Photo Source: Flickr Commons. Uploaded by Michael 1952.

We’ve recently had a dust-up here on Public Catholic because I had the temerity to (1) disagree rather strongly with Cardinal Burke, and (2) come out in support of altar girls.

You would think that I had  barbecued a kitten.

I deleted a ton of hate-women comments in the course of this discussion. I also deleted another ton of hate-Rebecca comments. According to a good number of commenters, I’ve got myself a ticket to a first-class seat in that proverbial hand bucket headed to hell, all because I think we should have altar girls.

I had to delete that claptrap. If I had let it through, any self-respecting woman would have walked away wondering why she, or any other female person, would want to be part of the Catholic Church. At the same time, someone who didn’t actually go to mass on a regular basis might think that we’re running a carny show, complete with clown suits and balloons, behind the altars of our churches.

Of course, both assumptions would be off the mark. I’m going to set aside the woman question for a moment. That will give time for all those folks who dislike the fair sex so very much to draw a breath and gather themselves for the next attack.

I am instead going to stick my head into the liturgy hay bailer.

My question is simply this: Is the liturgy really that bad?

I mean, I go to mass on a regular basis and Jesus Christ the Lord is there every single time. You can count on it. He is there.

I remember wandering back into the sanctuary after Holy Thursday service one Tridium;  after we’d stripped the altar, removed the Host and doused the flame. The difference was stark. That sanctuary, which had always held a warm Presence every time I entered it, had been transformed into an empty, echoey room. There was no Jesus in that place, and the lack thereof was palpable.

So now we have a Cardinal, a prince of the Church, telling us that the liturgy is all messed up and driving men away from the Church because it has been “feminized.” Evidently, there are a lot of people out there who agree with him.

Public Catholic was deluged with angry commenters, swooping in to announce that the liturgy at our masses — the same liturgy that soothes my soul and brings me in direct contact with my Lord — is straight from the infernal regions. It makes me wonder if they and I are members of the same Catholic Church.

As I’ve already said, and will be happy to say again at any time, I think the Cardinal is playing the blame game. I think that for a Catholic Cardinal to blame anything about the liturgy on women, is, well, almost comical. He is the cardinal. If there is a problem with the liturgy, it’s his responsibility, not that of the womenfolk who sit at the back of the hierarchical bus.

Now, I’m going to take on those poor sad Catholics who seem to live to criticize our Church and its liturgy. As I said, I go to mass on a regular basis. I’ve also gone to mass in a number of places. I’ve never attended mass on the East Coast of the United States, so maybe that’s where the priests in clown suits and tap-dancing altar servers show up to do their do. I don’t know.

All I know is that I’ve never seen it. I have gone to mass in (gasp!) San Francisco, and (another gasp!) Seattle. What I encountered there was the same mass — about half of whose attendees were male, btw — that I saw at various points around the globe, as well as here in God’s country, otherwise known as Oklahoma.

Every mass has had some sort of fumble or titter from the pews. Sometimes a cell phone rings and is then hastily silenced. Babies cry, babies crow, little old ladies belch, the priest gets the words slightly wrong, or the altar server stumbles. I’ve seen people drop the Host and people keel over in a faint and priests trip.

I’ve seen priests who couldn’t stand, sit throughout their homilies and then totter to the altar and, ever so shakily, consecrate the Host and barely lift it up.

I’ve heard applause, and seen people hold hands during the Our Father, and other people get all sniffy about holding hands during the Our Father and transsexuals looking downright odd in their wigs and lipstick and truck driver arms and tattoos. I’ve seen women in saris and men in golfing shorts, and knelt in pews beside folks who needed a bath. I’ve heard mass in Spanish, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean and English. I’ve attended quick daily masses that took about 20 minutes, and full-on masses that lasted for an hour and a half or more.

Every liturgy I ever attended was unworthy of Christ the Lord. I know that every liturgy I ever attend will be unworthy of Him, as well. What I have never seen, not once, was a liturgy that was unworthy of me.

I’ve attended mass in living rooms, hotel basements, and once, on a mountaintop with the ocean spread in a 360 degree arc at its base. Every place I’ve gone, every mass I attended, I encountered Christ the Lord.

I didn’t encounter a Django Jesus, standing beside the altar with a baseball bat, ready to smack down the unworthies who try to approach Him. The Jesus I meet in the Eucharist of every Catholic mass is the Good Shepherd, the Jesus of the Cross, Who lays down His life for His sheep.

I have never walked away from the Eucharist feeling condemned. In fact, that encounter with Christ washes away the self-condemnation I so often bring with me when I approach it. I reach out and touch the living Christ, hiding in a wafer, and I walk away feeling accepted and loved.

Considering what sinful people we all are, I don’t see how anyone can approach God with hearts seething with condemnation of the people around them. Do these folks really go to mass and sit there, pick, pick, picking away at the priest, the liturgy, the music?

That is a horrible thought to me. Do you folks of the liturgy cops really, truly enter the Presence of the Lord with hearts full of rage and condemnation?

Don’t you know that you can not enter into the Presence of the Lord that way?

That, and not whether or not people hold hands during the Our Father, or the mass is in Latin or English, or if the people around you are properly reverent, is what can separate you from God.

I feel sorry for these people who spend all their time gnashing their teeth and getting all lathered up over what they see as the terrible liturgy. They are not only missing their blessing, they are taking their blessing and throwing it back into Jesus’ face.

I thank God that we have priests who bring us Jesus at every mass, who consent to be conduits of grace. I have no desire to pick at them over how high they lift the chalice, if they allow applause and whether or not they pray the liturgy with the “proper” amount of gravitas.

I don’t go to mass to find fault. I go to find Jesus.

The truth of life is that no matter what the situation, the occasion, or the event, if you want to sit back and find fault with it, you always can. If you want to go to mass and sit there, ready to carp and complain and pick away at the seams of the thing, you can do it. But if you do that, Jesus Christ will pass right by you and you won’t see Him.

On the other hand, if you go to mass to find Jesus, you will find Him. Because He is there.

My question is this: If Christ the Lord deigns to come to these imperfect masses and give Himself away to the even more imperfect people who worship there, then who are we to criticize?

If the mass and the liturgy are good enough for Jesus to be there, if we, with all our imperfections, are good enough for Him to love us and share Himself with us, then what’s our complaint?

I go to mass to find Jesus, and — this is the miracle — I find Him.

Every mass is a miracle. It is not a miracle of silk, lace and candles. It is a miracle wrought in suffering and blood.

Before we get too worked up about the particulars of the mass, we need to remember that Our Lord uses the most common things to do His work. He began with spit and dirt.

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God Give Us Holy Priests

If you don't like the liturgy, who's to blame: The guys who wrote it, or the womenfolk sitting in the pews? Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

If you don’t like the liturgy, who’s to blame: The guys who wrote it, or the womenfolk sitting in the pews? Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

I’m a member of a group that meets on a regular basis to pray for vocations to the priesthood.

Aside from the fact that this is a small indication that I want our Church to have more holy priests (which is what we pray for) what does this mean?

It means that I have this oddball idea that vocations of all sorts, including to the priesthood, come from God.

I say that this notion is oddball because that’s the impression I’ve gotten from a recent debate which has been happening both here on Public Catholic and on Facebook about the red-hot, all-consuming question: Is the priest shortage due to altar girls, and is bad liturgy due to the “feminization” of the Church?

Let’s consider, for a moment, why we have altar girls in the first place. The reason we have them is because the Church allows them.

Let me repeat that: The Catholic Church has altar girls because the Catholic Church allows altar girls.

The point I’m making by emphasizing that is simply that believing that what the Catholic Church allows is indeed allowable is consistent with being a faithful Catholic. In other, more direct words, If I say that I think altar girls do not harm vocations, I am not being a bad Catholic and I am not attacking the Church. I am saying that I agree with what the Church is already doing.

Now, to the larger question: Where do vocations come from? Do they come from a boys’ club mentality within the Church? Do they come from social/economic situations? Do they come from solemn liturgy? Where do they come from?

The fact that I join with other Catholics to pray for vocations should tip you off to what my answer to those questions is going to be. I think that vocations — of all sorts — come from God. I think that the reason we haven’t had as many vocations to the priesthood as we want these past decades is that God hasn’t been calling young men to the priesthood.

That’s what I believe.

Now, why would God do that?

I can’t and I won’t speak for God except to say that, based on my many dealings with the Almighty, I do not believe it is because the Church has failed to keep its womenfolk in their place.

There are a few other, extremely serious, lapses such the the clergy sex abuse scandal (remember what Jesus said about those who harm “these little ones?”) the in-your-face heterodoxy in parts of Catholic education (witness the walkouts from Catholic high schools over gay marriage, the kissing of Ceasar’s ring via the HHS Mandate by Notre Dame, the banning of the Knights of Columbus, which was later overturned, from Gonzaga’s campus, etc) and other serious problems that might be where the blame lies. If you want to look and play the blame game, that is.

In my opinion, all these examples and the many more I could name are not the problem. They are evidence of the problem. And that is something that seems to be opaque to most people who get into these discussion. It’s what I call mission drift.

A symptom of it is the propensity for Catholic parishes to sit down and write out “mission statements” for themselves. These things usually end up being a paragraph or two of blah-blah-blah committee-speak that nobody reads and no one, no matter how clever, would be able to figure out how to apply to an individual walk with Christ. More to the point, the fact that these parishes think they need a mission statement speaks to a deep ignorance of Scripture and who they are as Catholic Christians.

These mission statements are a clear indication that the parish has forgotten that it already has a mission statement and that this mission statement was given to it by The Boss.

Here’s the Christian mission statement, in Jesus’ own words:

Everything in heaven and on Earth is under my authority. Go and make disciples of all nations, preaching the Gospel, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And I will be with you until the end of the world. 

I believe that the reason we haven’t had as many vocations as we’d like — and I include vocations in front of the altar to family and childrearing as well as vocations to stand behind it — is that we haven’t been following the mission that Jesus Christ gave us, and our Church is wasting far too much of its energy dithering over itself instead of getting out there and bringing people to Christ.

The Catholic Church is a highway to heaven. It was not created for priests. Priests were created for it. And the purpose of both the Church and the priesthood is to be a certain, readily accessible conduit of healing grace and faithful teaching that will convert the world. The Church, along with all the rest of us, is the light of the world. But it is hiding its light under the bushel of concerns about such things as are the womenfolk getting out of hand and is the liturgy just so and if it’s not just so, how do we put the womenfolk in their place so it will be just so.

The Church spends entirely too much time worrying about the Church and not enough time worrying about how to bring Christ to the world. When princes of the Church can seriously try to say that what they think of as bad liturgy and the lack of vocations to the priesthood is due to “feminization” in a Church that is wholly and absolutely governed by men, and when they can then go on to try to pin this on a few little girls, things are waaayyyyyy out of kilter in the curia.

The Church needs to stop gazing at its own navel and look outward to a world that is dying for lack of the Gospel. From pole to pole, dateline to dateline, people are perishing for lack of a minister who will bring them the Word of life.

And what is our Church leadership doing about it? Haggling with one another over how to water down the Gospels concerning marriage so that they can be comfortable with a culture that has lapsed into apostasy while they watched, and debating whether or not altar girls and whatever it is that bugs them about the liturgy is due to an excessive input from people with double X chromosomes.

I have to be honest here. I am sooo disgusted with the lack of leadership concerning the conversion of the world. I am sooo tired of hearing men who absolutely should know better trying to act out their inner sexist by blaming the troubles of the Church on altar girls and “feminization” which, I guess, means letting women have any say at all in the work of the Kingdom.

These guys need to look at themselves. Their job — their vocation — is to preach Christ. If they would do that, the vocations would sprout up like a field of wheat, ready for the harvest.

Preach Christ and Him crucified. Bring Him to lost people in the slums, the snow, the jungles and the desert sands. Bring Him to the deeply lost and sneering souls at the intellectual gatherings and the universities and the oh-so-perfect social gatherings they are trying to redefine Church teachings to please.

My message to the men who run our Church is a simple one: Preach Christ and Him crucified.

If you want vocations, Preach Christ.

If you want to convert the world, Preach Christ.

If you want to do the job God has called you to do, Preach Christ.

And while you’re at it, stop blaming the womenfolk for your failings.

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Cardinal Burke’s Woman Problem

Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke 1

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

 

I’ve written about this before. 

There was a reason why I entered my anti-God period. It had a lot to do with violence against women and the indifference of the church — meaning the whole of Christianity — to that violence. 

I spent 17 years, wandering in the spiritual wilderness over this. When Jesus basically reached out and scooped me back into His arms, I was confounded. The unconditional, ecstatic love that He showered on me was a complete contradiction of Who I had thought He was. 

Still, I was faced with a conundrum. If the men who claimed so stridently that they, and they alone, spoke for God, were telling the truth of things, then what place did I, a female person who actually felt that I was a full human being and not some smidge of what’s left of a human being after the preachers got done limiting me and my life down to what they thought was acceptable, what place did I have in any church that bore the name of Christ?

The Jesus I met seemed to me at that time to have very little to do with the mean-spirited, woman-despising message I had been given by His spokesmen. I loved this Jesus I encountered, and, right from the first, I trusted Him. But that other Jesus — the one who supported the double standard and thought women and girls should live their lives in the circumscribed margins of life that these men of God set out for us, who basically wanted us pushed aside, that Jesus I had been told about and bashed with, I mistrusted and feared to my core. 

I was so confused that I prayed and asked God directly if He hated women. This wasn’t a test. It wasn’t an argument. It wasn’t even much of a prayer. It was a plea and a question from the bottom of my shattered heart. 

I don’t always or even often get direct, immediate and discernible answers to my prayers, but God answered me then. I’ve been walking my walk with Christ on rock-solid certainty of that answer ever since. 

I realize that the Church does not recognize personal revelation except in very rare and well verified circumstances, and that even then these personal revelations are not binding as a matter of faith on the people of God. I think that’s a sound practice. 

I also think that this position on personal revelation makes Cardinal Burke and me just about even so far as this woman question is concerned. I had a personal revelation that God loves the female half of the human race and that He’s not so happy with His preachers who say otherwise. The good Cardinal evidently has had a personal revelation of some sort that the many and manifold problems of the Church are due to those of us who have two X chromosomes. 

In the Gospel according to him, the priest shortage is due to the existence of altar girls. His explanation for this is that boys don’t like to be around girls. Even aside from the fact that we are talking about adolescent boys, a good many of whom seem to rather like adolescent girls, that is absolute nonsense. 

There are a number of factors that have contributed to the priest shortage; the cultural upheavals — the sexual revolution, dissolution of the family, the priest sex abuse scandal, birth control — of the last 50 years chief among them. In addition to the huge changes in society, a major reason for the priest shortage is due to the 800 pound gorilla in the room that nobody will talk about.

As most Catholics over the age of 12 have probably observed, a good many of our priests are gay. Homosexuals are a much smaller pool of potential applicants than straight men. Also — get ready for this Cardinal Burke — straight adolescent boys don’t really want to spend their time with gay men. They just don’t. Call it homophobic. Call it adolescent sexual insecurity. Call it whatever you want, but there is one thing for sure about it: It’s not due to altar girls. 

In another report, I read that Cardinal Burke is decrying the “feminization” of the Church. In his view, men don’t go to church because there are too many women there. 

Uh huh. 

Men just hate being around women. I’ve noticed that all my life. They don’t like the way we smell. They don’t like our soft hands or higher voices. And they really can’t stand the way we look. 

I guess that Oklahoma parishes are just unduly macho — or maybe that’s sissified, I can’t figure it out exactly — but we’ve got a lot of men sitting in the pews every week. And quite a few of them are sitting beside their wives, daughters, mothers and, yes, even their girlfriends.  

I’m not sure how Cardinal Burke plans to run his Church if he and those who think like him manage to turn it into a Spanky and Our Gang Woman Haters Club House, but my personal opinion is that if they succeed in chasing off the women, they might think about closing up shop. 

Jesus did not found a boys club. He founded a universal Church that welcomes everyone. When Our Lord walked this earth, He went out of His way to treat women with honor and dignity that men of that place and time found scandalizing. 

God sent me to the Catholic Church and since the One Who owns the whole deal told me to be here, I’m staying. But I’m not going to listen to anybody, no matter what kind of hat they wear, who says things like altar girls are the cause of the priest shortage and that this Church with its all-male priesthood which makes all the decisions is too “feminized.”

Frankly, between this kind of thing coming from American cardinals, and the doh-si-doh about marriage coming from Germany and Belgium, I’m beginning to wish somebody would pull the plug on these guy’s mikes. 

I’ve struggled with this all my life and I can tell you that ramblings like those from Cardinal Burke were a big part of what kept me walled up in what I thought was self-protective armor against a God I believed hated me. 

You’ve gotta be careful, you men of God, telling half the human race that God thinks less of them than He does the other half. Aside from the enormous harm you do to the souls of the people you are supposed to be shepherding — and this little dance with misogyny is massively damaging to both men and women — you are defaming the Lord. 

Because God doesn’t hate women and He doesn’t want us at the back of the bus.

I know. 

I asked Him. 

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The Murder of Innocents is Wrong and Every Human Being Knows It.

 

Human rights.

Does that phrase refer to unalienable human rights that are ours by virtue of the fact that we are human beings? Or, does it refer to laws and rules that can be shifted and changed by the whim of legislative bodies or the flick of a dictator’s will?

What are human rights, and where, if they exist as a separate entity, do they come from?

Thomas Jefferson, Deist that he was, got it exactly right when he said that human beings are “endowed by their Creator” with “certain unalienable rights.” By using those phrases, he chose to found this nation on the concept and reality of the fact that there are certain things that we, as human beings, know without being taught that we may not do. These things are written on our hearts, placed in our souls, from the moment that we begin to be.

We are never amoral. That is not possible for human beings because we are made in the image and likeness of God and His image shines through us in this undeniable and universal understanding of human rights that we are born knowing. From dateline to dateline, pole to pole, every culture, every people, every person, knows what murder is and that they may not do it.

Atheists often reference this when faced with the question of how they can possibly devise a morality of their own making, without reference to God. Everyone knows that murder is wrong, no matter what they believe about God they say. This is undeniably true, but it is not because there is no God. What they are doing without realizing it is affirming the teaching and the concept of Natural Law.

But, even though we know these things from our beginning, we are not automatons. We are not animals who operate by unchanging instinct. We are, from the moment we begin to be, free to chose. We can reject God or choose God. We can deny Him or follow Him. It is our choice.

We can — and we do — murder one another, oftentimes in great numbers and with a sadistic savagery that no animal can either feel or comprehend. We know that murder is wrong, but we can write laws to give ourselves permission to murder. We can create arguments that, however specious, allow us to fool ourselves into believing that murder is not only allowed, it is a positive good, and that we are taking the higher moral road by advocating for it.

I know.

I did this myself.

I was as convinced as a person could be convinced that legal abortion was a positive good that was necessary to save women’s lives and to further the just cause of women’s rights. I responded to the cruelties, discrimination and violence that I saw visited on women, oftentimes as a result of the fact that we are the ones who bear children, with a committed advocacy for legal abortion.

Later, when I realized the horror of what I had done, I was grieved beyond my capacity to bear. God showed me what I had done, and then He helped me bear and heal from the effects of knowing it.

Because of this experience, I am both the euthanasia advocate’s harshest critic and his or her most sorrowful and loving prayer warrior. I know what awaits them if they ever realize the full extent of what they have, by their advocacy, allowed, encouraged and done.

Innocent blood is on their hands and only  the shed blood of Jesus Christ can wash it away. But repentance for crimes against humanity of this type is not cheap. It comes with the price of knowing that you — you — are a monster. You have murdered innocents.

As much as I sorrow for them for what they are doing to themselves and others, I fear for them even more. They have locked themselves into their towers of unbelief and built moats of pride and hubris all around. Repentance for the murder of innocents is not cheap. But to live and die without repentance is to buy yourself a one-way ticket to eternal hell.

These advocates for euthanasia and their hapless followers are the most pitiable of all people.

At the same time, they, like the women who advocated for abortion, have raised issues and questions which must be answered. Evils like abortion and euthanasia have been sold to us as solutions for our own sins. The call for abortion didn’t just spring from the head of Zeus. The arguments which gave legal abortion sufficient moral gravitas to hook into the public imagination were based on real terrors such as rape and the fear of being forced to give a baby up for adoption.

These arguments found their traction in the sexual double standard and the vast cruelty and hypocrisy — oftentimes supported by the Church — that allowed it. Abortion was taken as an answer to violence against women, discrimination and prejudice against women, and the suffering of women because of these things. We turned to the murder of innocents rather than face our sins against women and repent of them.

In the same way, the arguments for euthanasia began as arguments for compassion for the suffering of dying people. Their traction in the public imagination was gained by the indifferent and cold way that people in our society died, hermetically sealed in hospitals and given only enough pain meds to keep then on the edge of screaming until death finally released them.

Once again, the answer for our sins was murder.

In the process of justifying these murderous answers to suffering and cruelty that we didn’t want to address directly, our intellectual class developed a whole set of arguments based on the concept that we are, all evidence to the contrary, just animals with big brains. We are nothing, they tell us, but chemical processes and meat.

The concept of human rights as unalienable and universal was dashed to the ground and replaced by the nebulous idea of rights founded, not on a universal human right to life, but on the idea of a relative right to life that only applies to human persons who are able to justify their right to life by exhibiting a sufficient level of social utility. This definition of what is a human being who has right to be alive has narrowed down to the point that now it stands basically at the notion that only those humans who can advocate for their own lives in a court of law are deemed truly human enough to have a right to life,

I’m going to delve into this brave new world of killing in greater depth in future posts. But for now it is sufficient to say that the universal understanding of murder as something that we may not do has been massaged into nothingness by those who want to kill at will.

A small number of deadly thinkers have used the media and our educational institutions to infect the public and the body politic with such confusion about what it means to be human that they are no longer capable of responding rationally to the social problems before them. If murdering innocent people is the answer, we really have to ask, How valid is the question?

We are being given false dichotomies and told to chose. The truth is, we have, and we have always had other options.

Women’s human rights are not supported by being forced to soldier on in a misogynist world that gives them the “choice” of murdering their own child in order to be taken as fully human. By the same token, there are myriad ways to address human suffering. Killing the sufferer is not, no matter what we have been told, one of them.

So, is it a mistake in today’s jumbled up climate of a propagandized and totally amoral public debate to talk about “human rights” at all? Has the phrase become so bastardized that it no longer means what it means?

This question strikes to the heart of the anomie of our times. If language is destroyed, then communication is destroyed and more to the point, thinking becomes impossible. What I am saying is that the people who advocate these things have drunk a lethal intellectual kool-aid that has so seriously compromised their thinking capacities that they no longer are capable of intelligent discussion.

That’s why they veer off into personal attacks and vendettas rather than take positions and discuss them intelligently. It’s why they go in circles, endlessly repeating slogans. They are arguing a moot point with bastardized language and concepts that are not concepts but the product of propaganda. Slogans and epithets presented as absolutes are all they’ve got.

Human rights, on the other hand, has the huge weight of generations of intellectual, theological and even some scientific debate and discussion behind it. The concept of unalienable rights and natural law are even accepted by those who deny their existence when they are pushed to explain how they can be moral all of themselves.

Every human knows that the murder of innocents is wrong. That is the reason for the ridiculous arguments, the vast amount of energy wasted on propagandizing the populace and the body politic. If we didn’t know that murder was wrong, it would not be necessary to create fictions and then sell them relentlessly that murdering someone is, in fact, saving them. We must turn the idea on its head or no one will accept it.

Of course, this lie begins to break down as the reality seeps through. Killing is killing. The press and popular imagination can deny this so long as they keep their distance. But the reality of lost lives hits hard for those who vacuum the uterus or administer the drugs. They are actively doing the deed. They are, by their own hands, committing murder on a mass scale.

Just as the Nazis found that machine-gunning thousands of innocent people day after day broke the SS troops who pulled the triggers, the nurses in the abortion clinics have often broken. It will be the same with euthanasia.

Some people — the Mengeles, Eichmanns, Pol Pots, Stalins, the leaders of ISIS — do not break. They are like the Ted Bundys and John Wayne Gacys. They like killing. Abortion and euthanasia was made by and for folks like these.

But for those who are not killers, who actually have bought the whole line, the moment will come when they see and know what they have done. They will break, and in that breaking will be their salvation.

This is why I persist and will continue to persist in using the scuffed and battered phrase human rights. Because it is exactly the right phrase to describe what I am talking about. Because the truth of that is written in every human heart. Because I know — know — that if I persist, someone out there who I may never know in this life will hear me and understand.

I am writing this for that someone, that one person, who will read it, or maybe the next post or the post after that, and realize that human beings have certain unalienable rights and that among them are Life.

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Nigeria, Boko Haram Agree to Ceasefire and Release of Kidnapped Girls

Nigeria’s chief of defense, Alex Badeh, has announced a truce between the Nigerian government and Boko Harma and the possible release of the 200 school girls that Boko Haram abducted six months ago.

From BBC Africa:

Nigeria’s military says it has agreed a truce with Islamist militants Boko Haram – and that the schoolgirls the group has abducted will be released.

Nigeria’s chief of defence staff, Alex Badeh, announced the truce. Boko Haram has not made a public statement.

The military has struggled to defeat Boko Haram, which has been fighting an insurgency since 2009.

Boko Haram sparked global outrage six months ago by abducting more than 200 schoolgirls.

The girls were seized in the north-eastern town of Chibok in Borno state, and their continued captivity has led to criticism of the Nigerian government’s efforts to secure their release.

The hostages are thought to have been taken to the vast Sambisa forest, along Nigeria’s border with Cameroon.

Members of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign said in a tweet on Friday: “We are monitoring the news with huge expectations.”

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Pope Francis: The Devil Hates Human Beings and Wants to Destroy Us

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Snowballs in You Know Where: Libby Anne Cooks Up a Pastoral Chicken and I Agree (Mostly) with Her

I believe that there must be snowballs in the infernal regions.

Today, I am going to applaud and link to a post on the Patheos Atheist Channel.

Libby Anne who blogs at Love, Joy Feminism is a wee bit put off because a “pastor” of some indeterminate denomination (or not) has managed to insult both men and women by reducing men to their most talked about appendage and women to … I can’t even say it.

Let’s just say that in my opinion (and evidently Libby Anne’s as well) this guy is one of those kinds of guys that people tend to refer to as actually being the appendage in question, as in “he’s a d—.” Or maybe, just for variety, they might say, “he’s a d——head.”

Whatever.

The point — at least to me — is that this nano brain is an embarrassment. I had to google him to figure out how he was, and when I did, I discovered that he’s a Really Big Deal in certain circles. His name, in case you’re wondering, is Marc Driscoll. Or, as he seems to be commonly referred to, “Pastor Marc Driscoll.”

I read a bit of his wit and wisdom about human sexuality, and I’m going to assume that he was trying to be … I dunno … cute? Maybe he was making an attempt to address adolescent males about sexuality and decided to get all clever about it. Add the fact that he’s clearly as tone deaf about women as a walking turnip, and you’ve got what we’ve got.

Or, at least that’s what I want to be believe. I want to think that he’s just another open-mouth-insert-both-feet dufus who doesn’t like women and tries to hide it, but who ends up letting it show because he’s unaware of how much he dislikes women. The world is full of these guys.

I said a moment ago that Marc Driscoll is an embarrassment. But I am not exactly sure who he’s an embarrassment to. Twenty-one former pastors of his church (I don’t have a clue how they’re organized, but the story says they have 21 former pastors) have made formal complaints against him for his bullying, intimidating behavior. I suppose they might read this little thingy he wrote and feel embarrassed. But those same pastors also claim that Pastor Marc (as he evidently likes to be called) taught them “sound doctrine.”

So, maybe not. Maybe they think that men are their appendages, and women are the … there it is again, and I still can say it.

Whatever.

Pastor Marc ended up getting ousted from what is said to be a mega church (maybe that’s why the 21 former pastors) from his own organization that he had founded because of his abusive behavior towards these other pastors. Based on my extensive experience with various men like him that I have known in politics, I would guess that if he’s uncontrollably abusive and exhibiting “ungodly and disqualifying behavior” toward other men who are almost his equals in his church, he must be a real treat for the women and girls to be around.

I’ve never known a jerk who wasn’t at least partly an equal opportunity jerk. If he was abusive with the guys, he was almost certainly worse with the women.

Which brings us back around to his absolutely bizarre whatever that he wrote about women, men, appendages and (I kid you not) what God was thinking when He created all of us. It appears that Pastor Driscoll not only knows the purpose for women, which is, it seems, to get laid, but he knows what God was thinking when He created women.

You see, Pastor Marc tells us, God made the male half of the human race with a particular appendage that had nothing much to do. After mulling this over, God decided to make the female half of the human race to give that appendage a “home.” In Pastor Marc’s homiletic,  men are an appendage and women are a purpose for that appendage.

Libby Anne goes on about this in depth and speaks to all sorts of female concerns, including our life-bearing, nurturing selves. She evidently was taught as a child that she was some man’s future wife. If I had been taught that, I’d be mad about it, too.

But I got lucky. I was taught from the get-go by my Christian parents that I could do anything I wanted to do. This wasn’t some pre feminist rap. It was about them, loving me.

I remember when I was a kid, reading a story in The Ladies Home Journal in which the author said that women’s bodies were made so that they could have babies, that having babies was the purpose of the female body. The underlying assumption was that the male body had no purpose except to be a home for men, whereas women … well, you get it. Looking back on it, the article was a dressed-up-go-to-town version of Pastor Marc’s sex ed thingy.

“That’s not true,” my Mama told me. “Your body was made for you to live in it. It’s yours.”

I got my dose of anti-Pastor-Marc early, and it stuck. Which I guess was my good luck.

One benefit of my raising is that when I read idiot commentary like Pastor Marc Driscoll’s, I know right off that it is commentary from an idiot. I also know, due to a lifetime of experience out there butting heads and competing in the open marketplace of full-speed, grown-up politics, that sexism knows no faith or philosophy.

I am telling you the absolute truth when I say that the meanest and most vicious sexists I’ve ever known were liberal men. I say that as someone who self-identifies as a liberal. As for running away from the Church to avoid sexism, you might as well stay home and fight it out. Because atheist men can be vicious sexists, as well.

You’ll find this kind of garbage — and much, much worse — anywhere you go.

I’m not chiding Libby Anne for her opinions. She has every right to them. In fact, I rather imagine that if we could put aside the shibboleths of label, she and I might sit down over lunch and find out that we have a lot of belief in common. I say that after looking down the list of her blog posts and seeing a whole chicken and a pot of things I disagree with.

I just know that women who think that God hates women have often been taught that by people in the church; the kind of people who would tell a little girl that she is not a full person in herself; she is nothing more than someone’s future wife.

I’ve been a wife for over thirty years and I like it a lot, but nobody ever told me my whole purpose for existing was to be a wife. Even now, after decades of sharing my life with my adorable and adored husband, I am not a wife only. Or only a mother. Or only a daughter. I am first of all myself, as is every other human being. You cannot give — to your spouse, your children, your friends or your God — what you do not have. You must first be wholly yourself before you can truly be with and for another.

But that’s getting all philosophical/theological and thoughtful. Which is moving a long, long way from Pastor Marc Driscoll and his bizarro thinking about men and women.

He is, as I said, an embarrassment.

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Five Top Reasons to Homeschool Your Kids

It’s school time again.

What this meant to me as a homeschooling mom was organizing an attendance sheet (Yes. I kept an attendance sheet to make sure that we had the requisite number of school days.) and writing down my lesson plans (Yes. I had lesson plans.)

It also meant setting up two folding tables in the dining room to use as desks and enrolling the kids in science labs at the Omniplex and then in physical activities at the Y for the physical education class.

We usually topped off the first day of class by going to a movie together in the afternoon. Since we were a one-income family and totally broke, we went to the dollar movie. I sneaked sodas into the theater in my large handbag and we shared a single bag of popcorn.

We also did some sort of field trip every week or so. The zoo was a favorite. In the cold months, it was often the Omniplex. We could buy an annual membership of both for $50 that allowed the whole family to go as many times as we wanted without extra charge.

Homeschooling is hard work for mom. Holding down a job is a lot easier. But then, you’re building people. You are investing years of your life’s capital in your children.

I did it. It was the best investment I ever made.

Here, are five reasons I think most parents should consider homeschooling.

1. Socialization. Every home-schooling mom knows this word. It is flung at us as a question. What about socialization? we are asked.

In truth, there is no accurate way to answer that question except with another question: What do you mean by socialization?

If, by “socialization,” you mean interaction with other children and free play time, homeschooling has it all over the public and private schools. Unlike kids in public schools, homeschooled kids actually get free play time. Free play time is critical to blowing off steam so they can learn without Ritalin. It  forms skills, including social skills. Free play time also develops their whole personalities, including their creative, thinking powers.

If, on the other hand, you mean being subjected to the brainwashing our schools have come to specialize in, nope. They don’t get it.

As for interaction with other kids, there’s plenty of that in homeschooling. The difference is the kids they’re interacting with. Instead of spending their days with the messed up kids from the messed up homes that our society has come to see as the new normal, homeschooled kids spend their days with other homeschoolers, who are, by and large, from intact families and stable homes.

Plus — and this is critical — they spend a lot more time with their own parents, which gives them an emotional security that kids who are shipped around all their days will never have.

All in all, socialization is one of the best reasons to homeschool your kids.

2. Education. I first heard about the stunning educational effectiveness of homeschooling when I was on the board of regents of a college here in Oklahoma. The college president told the board that he was surprised to report that homeschooled kids were trouncing kids from public schools academically.

Not only that, but homeschooled kids didnt have the crippling behavioral problems that kids from the public schools exhibited. They were poised, sure of themselves, organized and they showed up for class ready to work. Both he and the faculty were surprised by this. It was a reality that flew in the face of all their previous suppositions. So, they were surprised. But they shouldn’t have been.

Homeschooling gives kids the chance to learn at their own pace. If a child is good at math, they can move quickly. If they struggle at math, they can slow down and work it through until they really learn it.

Homeschooling gives kids a one-on-one learning experience. Teacher mom is going to keep working with them on a knotty point until they understand and absorb it. There’s no going on and leaving them confused and lost because the rest of the group understands.

Homeschooling kids never end up in the dummy group. They are not subjected to bullying. They learn early that if they dig in and get their work done, they can go play. There is no sitting at their desk bored out of their gourd while the slower kids get finished.

Homeschooled kids can follow their interests. My youngest son loved chess. So, we joined the homeschool chess club. When the club entered its members in the statewide Chess tournament, my son went.

I have terrible handwriting. Somehow or other, the judges decided (I guess they didn’t look at the kid. Either that, or they were trying to punish him for being homeschooled.) that the number 4 I wrote on his entry card was a 9. So, they put my little fourth grader in competition with public school and private school 9th graders.

If this was an attempt to punish him for being homeschooled, it failed. Big time. He won the tournament and brought home the first place trophy. He beat them all.

The point? Homeschooling lets kids grow in directions that factory schools don’t.

3. Sexual harassment, twisted sex ed. If you have a daughter, this should be a big point. Based on what I heard from my constituents, sexual harassment of girls in our public schools is close to being pro forma. This is actually supported by sex ed classes that push kids toward sexual activity at a too-young age. Your daughter has a much better chance of growing up to be a strong, independent young woman if she can skip this abuse during her formative years.

4. Religious freedom. Your kids can pray in homeschool. They can also read the Bible, talk about God and and express their feelings on issues of faith — all without fear of being hounded and trounced by lawyer-laden adults with agendas.

I read Hurlbut’s Bible stories aloud to my kids at the beginning of our school day for our first two years of homeschooling. My mother had this old book from her childhood and I read it on my own when I was little. I advise it to anyone, whether they are Catholic or Protestant.

We read The One-Year Bible for Kids the next year. We took turns reading different portions aloud.

After reading the Bible, we prayed together.

We also read a lot of other books on religious topics. Usually, I read them aloud to the kids, because they contained ideas that I wanted us to talk about. We’d read and then discuss.

5. Exploration. Homeschooled kids have the opportunity to noodle with ideas until they grok them. I remember when we were doing baby physics.

Things don’t fall, I told them. Gravity pulls. I dropped a wadded-up piece of paper and a can of beans on the carpet. When they hit at the same time, both kids were a bit gobsmacked. I did it again. They were still confused. So, I flattened out the paper and dropped it and the beans again. When the paper drifted down and hit later than the can of beans, the oldest boy “got” it.

But the youngest did not believe it. He would not accept it. He spent the afternoon, dropping all sorts of objects, looking for a “proof” that Mom was a nut and this gravity stuff was myth.

The opportunity to prove the idea to himself is unique to homeschooling. So is the good-natured discussion that went on during this learning time. At the end of that day, they both “got” it and we could go on to talk about terminal velocity and other interesting ideas the next day.

I saw this acted out in my kids over and over again. We read aloud through a children’s version of Homer. When we got to the sack of Troy, class broke down for a while as the kids played Greek soldier. Then, I had them write a Boyodyssey, about a journey of their own devising. One of them wrote about the family cat, going on a hunt.

This breakdown from study to story-inspired play was just as much part of the learning process as reading the book or writing the Boyodyssey. Years later, one of them took me to see the movie The 400 with him. He knew all about the story and the politics behind the war itself. We’d read/written/talked about this entire war (both wars, in fact) and its significance to Western civilization when he was a kid.

I could go on, but I’ll stop at these five reasons to homeschool your kids.

Our society is increasingly poisonous to children. Your children are a gift and a responsibility from God. Nothing you can do with your life is as important as raising these precious little ones in such a way that they can become the people God intended them to be from the moment of their conception. They are your value added to (or, if you blow it, your value subtracted from) the human equation.

I can think of no better investment in your children’s lives and well-being than homeschooling.

 

Homeschooling Resources: Homeschool Legal Defense Association

Vegisource Homeschool  You can buy homeschool curriculum here, for a fraction of what it would cost new.

Homeschool World It is essential to find other homeschoolers. This is a place to start.

Curriculum:

Many of these programs are accredited. They all provide a framework for homeschooling. This is just a taste. There are many choices.

Sonlight Curriculum This is what I used. Protestant, but can easily be adjusted for Catholics

Ave Maria Academy Classical homeschooling curriculum.

Seton Home Study School  I have homeschooling friends who have used this with outstanding success. Rigorous, traditional, Catholic.

Lepanto Press Traditional Catholic

A Becka Protestant. Traditional. I started with this and abandoned it quickly. But if you want a traditional classroom curriculum with a Protestant slant, this is a good one.

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