Name That Photo: Flying Hats and the Papacy

What’s your caption for this duo of Holy Fathers and their flying hats?

Benedict loses hat

 

Pope loses hat

Book Review: God’s Favorite Place on Earth

To join the discussion about God’s Favorite Place on Earth, or to buy a copy, go here

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Frank Viola, who blogs at Rediscovering the Supremacy of Jesus Christ, is offering 25 free books or audios to those who buy his newest book, God’s Favorite Place on Earth, in the next week. To learn more, go here

That offer makes a good book a good deal, as well.

God’s Favorite Place on Earth is a combination first person fictionalization/meditation/teaching on the Gospel stories surrounding the family of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. This family lived in the little town of Bethany, and Gospel accounts make it clear that their friendship with Jesus was both personal and on-going. 

These people knew Jesus in the intimate way that friends know one another. They also recognized Him as more than just another rabbi. They got Him at a time when His own disciples were often confused the things He did and said. 

This is the same Lazarus who died and was dead four days when Jesus stood at his grave and, with the words Lazarus come forth! raised him from the dead. 

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First, Jesus meant it when He said that being his disciple means taking up our crosses and following after Him. The message in Viola’s fine book is three-fold. 

Second, God’s ways are not our ways. He doesn’t work according to our time-table or our human goals. He has His own plan and our part in it is to follow Him and do what He tells us to do.

Third, (and most important) Christian life is Christ-centered living. It is not about our missions or our apostolates. It is not a function of how many hours we spend at church or how we vote. Following Christ means following Christ and Him crucified.

Frank Viola has written a fine book that gave me meat for thought about my own Christian walk and the ways in which I put things ahead of Him in my life. It was a convicting and uplifting read, both at once. 

I heartily recommend it. 

Mary’s Day


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Today is May Day.

Mary’s Day.

The month of May is the month of Our Mother. I’m going to write more about this as times goes forward.

This is a video of the Litany of Mary. It’s a responsive prayer in which one person calls out one of the many names by which Mary is known and others respond by saying “Pray for Us.”

I chose this version because it’s easy for someone who is unfamiliar with the prayer to follow. All you need to do is follow along and pray the responses that are in blue.

The Litany Blessed Virgin Mary is a study in the theology of Mary’s role in the salvation of humanity as well as a prayer. She truly is the Mother of God and all that this means.

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Should Pastors Who Preach Against Gay Marriage Be Allowed to Speak at the National Day of Prayer?

 

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Should pastors who preach against gay marriage be allowed to speak at the National Day of Prayer?

I have never attended the National Day of Prayer services here in Oklahoma. I can’t pray in public. When I have to stand for public prayer — as I often do — I don’t feel God. All I hear is the echo chamber of my own thoughts. A lot of times, if the matter is grave, I pray my own private prayer while the public prayer runs as background noise. The National Day of Prayer just isn’t my cup of tea. 

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National Day of Prayer, Tulsa, OK

I never gave the National Day of Prayer much thought until atheist cranks started trying to make it illegal. Then I realized that while I don’t attend because it’s not my personal religious flavor, I do think that it’s up to Congress, and not a smattering of nobody-can-do-anything-I-don’t-agree-with zealots whether such an event should happen. 

So, if the topic is the National Day of Prayer, my reaction is going to be along the direction that those who want to have this day can have it rather than anything based on my personal plans to participate. I don’t intend to change my plans for this year’s National Day of Prayer. I won’t attend the event. However, if the cranks keep on cranking, I may change my mind and show up next year, not for prayer so much as for solidarity with my Christian brothers and sisters.

Once again, the war is being forced upon us.

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National Day of Prayer at Oklahoma City Bombing memorial

This year’s National Day of Prayer is receiving flak from a new quarter. Rather than just the usual atheist crankery aimed at driving Christianity from the public square, we now have the LGBTQ crowd. They don’t want to end the event. They want to chose who leads it.

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Small group prays after official Day of Prayer ceremony, Oklahoma State Capitol 

The Human Rights Campaign is seeking to stop participation by a pastor who has preached against gay marriage, or, as they call it, “equality.” They are asking that Pastor Greg Laurie not be allowed to lead the event.

So, the question arises: Should pastors who preach against gay marriage be allowed to speak at the National Day of Prayer? 

As nutty as it sounds, the Human Rights Campaign, seems to say no. 

Their reason is that he says things like this:

“Sin is sin,” he said during the Thursday night Bible study at Harvest Orange County in Southern California.

Laurie addressed the “hot-button” issues of homosexuality and marriage while preaching on the fifth commandment of honoring one’s father and mother.

“It doesn’t say honor your mother and mother as in two women married, or honor your father and your father, or honor your mother and her live-in lover,” he said.

“God established the family … He and He alone defines the family. Maybe that’s why Satan hates the family so much and has effectively declared war on it because God loves the family.

“Tamper with God’s formula, if you will, at our own peril.”

Like many pastors who have spoken on the issue of marriage, Laurie said the issue is not political, but rather moral and biblical. (Read the rest here.)

I do not understand why gay people seem to be so blind to the fact that the same rights which allow them to promote their cause belong to everyone.

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Demonstration at Oklahoma State Capitol 

Some leaders in gay rights organizations seem committed to a program of harassment and hazing of anyone who disagrees with them. At the same time, they appear to be equally committed to creating a world where those who refuse to participate in gay marriages will lose their jobs and have their businesses closed down.

Now it appears they want to make sure that those who speak against gay marriage are locked out of public events. 

The question remains: Should pastors who preach against gay marriage be allowed to speak at the National Day of Prayer? 

From C.P. US:

Homosexual activists are labeling evangelist Greg Laurie as the “anti-gay California pastor” and are asking government officials to rescind Laurie’s invitation to lead National Day of Prayer-related events in Washington, D.C. as the event’s honorary chairman.

The Human Rights Campaign, the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) advocacy group in America, contends that Laurie has a history of speaking out against LGBT Americans. And OutServe-SLDN, an association of actively serving LGBT military personnel, is calling on the Pentagon to remove the pastor from the agenda, citing “his blatantly anti-LGBT message.”

“Pastor Laurie’s message is out of step with what the majority of people of faith across this country believe,” said Dr. Sharon Groves, director of HRC’s Religion & Faith Program.

“In greater numbers than ever before, people of faith are feeling compelled to speak up and organize for equality – because of their faith.” (Read the rest here.) 

Government Agencies Stockpiling Ammunition: Fact or Black Helicopter Fantasy?

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I have no idea what to make of this story. It’s been circulating for months, and I still don’t know if it’s true or if it’s just a black helicopter thing.

The gist of it is that government agencies, which have no legitimate reason to do so that I can see, are stockpiling ammunition. I’ve read reports of government agencies ranging from the Post Office to the Department of Health and Human Services purchasing enough ammo to re-do Iwo Jima. What I haven’t read is anything to corroborate or explain these assertions.

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Is it in a budget somewhere? Why are they doing it? Where are they keeping all this ordnance? This much ammo is not something you can just throw in the trunk of your car. 

All I’ve read are assertions that it’s happening. The assertions are numerous and sometimes come from at least fairly reputable sources. I’ve lived long enough to know that just about the time something seems totally wacko, it turns out the be true. On the other hand, I’ve lived long enough to see and hear urban legends rise to the level of accepted truth with large segments of the population that have no truth to them whatsoever. 

I’m writing this post to try to flush this one out a bit. If it’s true, the American people deserve some answers. If it’s not true, we need to round file it and get back to things that are happening and that do matter.

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Senator Jim Inhofe 

Here’s an excerpt from an article from The Blaze about a proposed piece of legislation that is being co-sponsored by one of my own United States Senators from Oklahoma. According to the article, the legislation asks for “transparency and accountability” concerning the issue of government agencies and their “stockpiles of ammunition.” 

I wouldn’t mind some of that transparency and accountability stuff myself. 

Republicans in the Senate and House are expected to introduce a joint bill Friday that would limit the amount of ammunition that federal agencies are allowed to buy and stockpile over the next six months, the Washington Free Beacon reports.

The bill, titled the Ammunition Management for More Accountability or “AMMO” Act, is being proposed after several lawmakers have voiced concerns about some federal agencies, like the Department of Homeland Security, seemingly stockpiling large quantities of ammo.

“DHS, for instance, has placed two-years worth of ammunition, or nearly 247 million rounds, in its inventory,” the Free Beacon notes.

In a statement provided to the Washington Free Beacon, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), said federal agencies must provide more “transparency and accountability” in regards to its “stockpiles of ammunition.”

“President Obama has been adamant about curbing law-abiding Americans’ access and opportunities to exercise their Second Amendment rights…One way the Obama administration is able to do this is by limiting what’s available in the market with federal agencies purchasing unnecessary stockpiles of ammunition,” the statement adds.

[T]he legislation would prevent all government agencies except for the Defense Department from purchasing and storing what lawmakers say is an excess amount of ammunition.

The bill’s reach would include DHS and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), two agencies that have found themselves at the center of the ammo controversy.

“As the public learned in a House committee hearing this week, the Department of Homeland Security has two years worth of ammo on hand and allots nearly 1,000 more rounds of ammunition for DHS officers than is used on average by our Army officers,” Inhofe said. “The AMMO Act of 2013 will enforce transparency and accountability of federal agencies’ ammunition supply while also protecting law-abiding citizens access to these resources.” (Read the rest here.)

Religious Freedom Resolution Passes Council of Europe

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The Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly passed a ground-breaking resolution that recognizes the right of religious and conscience rights in the public arena. 

According to the National Catholic Register, the resolution says that “The Assembly therefore calls on member States to … accommodate religious beliefs in the public sphere by guaranteeing freedom of thought in relation to health care, education and the civil service.” 

The resolution passed by a vote of 148-3, with seven abstentions.

Supporters of religious and conscience rights hail the resolution as “an important step.” Gregor Puppinck, general director of the European Centre for Law and Justice said that the resolution is  “… is the first time that … a source of law, saying that there is a right to conscientious objection and freedom of conscience in all ‘morally sensitive matters.” He said that the resolution applies to the fundamental right of parents to educate their children.

I do not understand the the workings of the European Union and the Council of Europe. For instance, I don’t know if this resolution carries the force of law, or is just a statement of intent.

However, since supporters say it is the first legislative recognition of the right to conscience at this level, it is, at the least, an important first step.

From the Catholic Register:

STRASBOURG, France — A resolution passed by the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly is being lauded as an important — although limited — recognition of religious and conscience rights in the public sphere.

“The important step with this resolution is the mention of the right to conscientious objection and the enlargement of its scope of application,” Grégor Puppinck, general director of the European Centre for Law and Justice, told CNA April 29.

“It is the first time that I see a document, a source of law, saying there is a right to conscientious objection and freedom of conscience in all ‘morally sensitive matters,’” he said, which means it applies to the fundamental right of parents to educate their children.

Resolution 1928, passed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on April 24, says, “The Assembly therefore calls on member States to … accommodate religious beliefs in the public sphere by guaranteeing freedom of thought in relation to health care, education and the civil service.”

However, this accommodation is “provided that the rights of others to be free from discrimination are respected and that the access to lawful services is guaranteed.” This has made some critics wary that rights of religious freedom will be viewed as inferior and secondary to abortion and “gay rights.” (Read the rest here.)

Late-Term Abortion: More Common Than We Know

Kermit Gosnell isn’t the only late-term abortionist in this country.

Most of us know about Gosnell/Tiller/Carhart. What we don’t realize is that many of our hospitals push late-term abortions on women for a variety of reasons. Any pregnant woman can fall prey to this. All she has to do is be pregnant with a baby that might have some sort of problem. The pressure intensifies if she’s doesn’t have money.

I’ve heard these stories from the women themselves and from hospital personnel, particularly nurses and hospital chaplains. Doctors bully, badger women into submitting to late-term abortions. The presumption seems to be that any baby that might have a health problem should be killed and women who refuse to do this are out of line and irresponsible.

The irony is that there is no reason to do a late term abortion.

This is a Live Action video of an undercover person talking to a doctor about late-term abortions.

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Government Of, By and For the Special Interests: Rolling Right Along

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Government of, by and for the special interests is rolling right along, despite a national debt that hangs like the Sword of Damocles over all of us. 

A case in point is the on-going debate in Congress about the Abrams Tank. The Army doesn’t want more Abrams tanks. But members of Congress are pushing to force more of them on the Army, anyway.

One factor in this is, of course, the location of Abrams Tank plants. These plants provide jobs for constituents. Voting for the funding because it will keep jobs for your constituents, is, of course, pork barrel voting. But at least the Congressperson who’s doing it has the interests of the people who elected them in mind.

But what about the rest of them? I rather doubt that there are enough Abrams Tank plants in enough Congressional districts to swing a vote in Congress. So, what’s motivating this bi-partisan push to force the Army to buy more tanks, despite the fact that it says it does not need them to keep us safe?

This is just a wild guess, of course, but I’m wondering if campaign donations play a part in this. Or maybe the possibility of a cushy job after leaving office. 

From the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Built to dominate the enemy in combat, the Army‘s hulking Abrams tank is proving equally hard to beat in a budget battle.

Lawmakers from both parties have devoted nearly half a billion dollars in taxpayer money over the past two years to build improved versions of the 70-ton Abrams.

But senior Army officials have said repeatedly, “No thanks.”

It’s the inverse of the federal budget world these days, in which automatic spending cuts are leaving sought-after pet programs struggling or unpaid altogether. Republicans and Democrats for years have fought so bitterly that lawmaking in Washington ground to a near-halt.

Yet in the case of the Abrams tank, there’s a bipartisan push to spend an extra $436 million on a weapon the experts explicitly say is not needed.

“If we had our choice, we would use that money in a different way,” Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army’s chief of staff, told The Associated Press this past week.

Why are the tank dollars still flowing? Politics. (Read the rest here.) 

Our Time in the Sun and the Stories of Our Lives

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Watching a young person grow into a productive adulthood is one of the deepest pleasures in life. 

I’ve witnessed this process in my godson, Jerome Krug, as he’s moved from a devout teen into  seminarian on the road to the priesthood. Jerome has a blog, To Love and Be Loved. His insights and ability to express himself with the written word have developed as he’s matured. 

I want to share a post that he wrote recently because it expresses one of the key insights of living in this life. “These are the days of our stories,” Jerome writes, which is another way of saying that our time is now. Solomon referred to it as “our days in the sun.”

The life each one of us is given is its own story. The things we do with our time become the living witness of who we are, what we value and what or who our gods may be.

A question that grows out of this is, when you come to your day to die, what do you want to have done with your life? What do you want the story of your life to say? What do you want to have used your self, your “time in the sun,” to have accomplished? 

From To Love and Be Loved

These are the days…
This weekend my brother Joseph is making his First Communion. As our family prepares for this priceless ritual lots of family members have come into town(including myself). Last night I was sitting around listening to the elders of our family tell their stories. Talking about the presidents they remember, the civil rights struggles witnessed, the wars lived through, the years following the Second Vatican Council, and many other stories of brokenness and togetherness seen in their lifetimes. 

They talked about how fearful they are that their grandchildren are growing up in a country in perpetual war, trying to establish values in a strikingly materialistic consumerism, a secularism which challenges the sacred depth of our faith, and the busyness and pragmatism that keeps so many people from slowing and quieting down long enough to realize where we are or how we are doing or where God might be nudging our hearts to go next. 

As they talked about all these things, as they told their stories, I had a simple yet remarkable realization that has been ringing in my ears and my heart every moment since: these are the days of our stories…these are the days of my generation’s stories. This is the time that we will bring to those who follow us.


The story is central to the human experience. Story is a part of every Catholic liturgy, a part of every family gathering, a pastime of the young and of the old, the point of Facebook and Twitter and cave paintings, of Scripture and of biographies. The story tells us what we cannot forget about where we have been and what we have done and the things we have gone through. 


Stories become a powerful force forming a sense of what matters to us and leads us to seek messy, real, discursive truth instead of black-and-white, comfortable, tamed “truth”. In the story we learn not only who we are but also Whose we are; in the story of our lives and the lives of the many we discover Providence as real and moving and calling and challenging.


These are the days of our stories.


My generation is thirsting for story: for the stories of our elders and ancestors, for the stories of our God and His people, for the stories we live today and tomorrow and the tomorrows to come that we long never to forget. Storyteller and theologian John Shea says, “Our greatest sin is that we forget.”


May we be a generation that never forgets. May we never forget where we’ve come from, where we’ve been, where we’re going, what we’ve overcome, who we are, Whose we are! 


These are the days of OUR stories. 


Let us drink deeply from the cup of each day. And everyday drink from the cups of days past, years past, lives past. Drink deeply of today!


Telling the stories of today to the people of tomorrow will save our souls, will integrate our sins, will heal our hearts, and will grow our love of self, of others, and of Other.


Drink deeply of every today, for these are the days of our stories. (Read similar posts here.) 

God Bless You: President Obama to Planned Parenthood

I think this speaks for itself.

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