4th of July 2014 Fireworks on the Mall, Viewed from the White House

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The Church and the Cultural Acceptance of Sexual Violence

 

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Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, made the statement below  at a 4-day meeting hosted by British Foreign Secretary William Hague and UN Special Envoy Angeline Jolie.

Cardinal Nichols’ comments address a several  issues that I think are important ones for the Church to take up if we want to end sexual violence.

He deplored the de facto cultural acceptance of sexual violence. This is a key component in the issue everywhere on the globe, including here in the United States. Rape is treated as entertainment in this country. The signals our culture gives about sexual violence, are, at best, mixed. We sometimes go into a frenzy of indignation over a particular crime of sexual violence. But more often, we attack the victims and treat rape as entertainment.

There is a reason why young men video themselves committing gang rapes and then put those videos on the internet to brag. There is a reason why girls are cautioned to be careful what they drink at fraternity parties or to stay away from the jock dorms on campus. There is a reason rape victims don’t talk to their pastors or tell people in their churches what has happened to them.

It all circles back to this one thing: The cultural acceptance, including the direct promotion and exploitation of, sexual violence against women and girls.

He also said — although not nearly strongly enough —that sexual violence is a sin. Potential rapists and their victims both need to hear this. I once put together a meeting of the heads of the various religious groups in Oklahoma for the express purpose of asking them to call sexual violence a sin. My reason was simple: I had been going to church, sitting in pews, for decades, and I had never once heard this preached. This is a moral black hole on the part of the churches, and it has fed into the cultural acceptance of sexual violence.

Finally, Cardinal Nichols gives one of the most accurate descriptions of why sexual violence is such a fundamental crime against the humanity of its victims. Here’s what he said,

Human sexuality is a strong and vital component of our humanity and of each person’s nature. The exercise of that sexuality, in sexual relations, is something that touches the deepest aspect of our identity and personhood. A fundamental aspect of the Church’s teaching about sex is that sexual acts must always take place within the context of authentic freedom. This is because, properly understood, human sexuality has the capacity to unite two people, body and spirit, at the deepest level, in a completeness of self-giving that has within it the call to a permanent commitment between them and which, of its nature is open towards the creation of new human life. What is most relevant in this teaching for us today is that there is no place in sexual relations for brutality, aggression or any kind of de-humanisation of a person.

This Initiative is concerned to highlight that the use of sexual violence is always and absolutely a violation of human freedom and of every rational standard of human decency. And what is more, its de facto cultural acceptance in many places and in so many circumstances contributes significantly to the degradation of women in particular. Sexual behaviour is so often the key litmus test of the honour and respect given to women either in conformity to moral standards or in defiance of them.

I can say without equivocation that the church’s (I am speaking here of the entire body of Christ in every denomination) easy acceptance of sexual violence and its willingness to condemn the victim while harboring the perpetrator led me directly into 17 years of defiance against both organized religion and God Himself. It made me into an ardent advocate for legal abortion.

I do not think I am unique in this.

It literally took an act of God to change me about this. I was so damaged by what I had seen in the churches that I asked God in all sincerity if He hated women. I don’t often get direct answers to my prayers, but I got one then. That answer bound me to God in a way that nothing else could have. It has also made me fearless about speaking out about clerical disregard of sexual violence. I know — know — that this indifference is not only wrong, it is deeply sinful.

It means a lot when a Prince of the Church speaks out against sexual violence. We need to see a lot more of it. His remarks are directed at the use of sexual violence as a weapon against cultures and societies in warfare. I apply them to all sexual violence in every circumstance.

I’ve highlighted a few points in the text below.

From Vatican Radio:

Please find below the full text of the address by  Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, to the conference, delivered on 12th June 2014:

Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative

“I am privileged to have this opportunity to speak at this most important Initiative and to be invited to do so from the perspective of my Catholic Faith. In doing so, I offer my fullest congratulations to the Foreign Secretary in particular, for his dedication to this crucial cause.

The unbelievable surge of sexual violence against both women and men in parts of our world is manifested in the shocking facts well documented in this Conference. I doubt though whether even the most graphic accounts of this evil are capable of conveying the sheer horrors which are generated by sexual violence in conflict and warfare. The damage which is done to the human dignity of the large numbers of victims of sexual violence is so radical and so permanent that it defies description.

It is not the random act of men who have, for a while, lost all sense of decency, which defies description but the deliberate and ordered tactic of oppression, domination and destruction which is at the noxious heart of sexual violence. It is to the shame of our world that the systematic use of sexual violation is still today, in some places, considered as a duty of soldiers, an order that they must carry out. This horror is further compounded by the fact that the stigma attached to sexual violation often falls on the victim and not on the perpetrator. What terrible collusion is indicated by that fact! The public tolerance of sexual violence leads to the inversion of human decency; it reinforces other forms of oppression and undermines the morals which uphold the rights of the human person.

I wish to make three points regarding the moral and religious framework which, I believe, can strengthen this fight against Sexual Violence in Conflict.

The first is the clear principle that every human activity is subject to moral principles and judgment if it is not to lose its truly human character and sink into the realms of the amoral, the dark hole of a subhuman wilderness. This principle applies to situations of warfare and conflict. No declaration of war – whether arguably legitimate or not – excuses those who fight from their obligation to observe fundamental moral principles.

In Catholic teaching this is described as ‘jus in bello’, that just principles must be observed even in warfare. The teaching states: ‘the Church and human reason both assert the permanent validity of the moral law in armed conflict. The fact that war has regrettably broken out does not mean that everything becomes licit between the warring parties (CCC 2312). It refers explicitly to ‘non-combatants, wounded soldiers, prisoners’ who must be respected and treated humanely.’ It continues ‘Actions contrary to the law of nations and to its universal principles are crimes, as are the orders that command such actions. Blind obedience does not suffice to excuse those who carry them out’ (2313).

History has many examples of the pursuit of war criminals. It is also has many instances of the failure to do so. In this Initiative, the measures being proposed and pursued to strengthen the legal frameworks for the pursuit and prosecution of all war criminals are fully supported by the principles of morality and social justice and must be given widespread support. War is no excuse. The demands of justice remain in place. A crime is a crime, whether committed in the context of conflict or not.

And sexual violence is always a crime; it is always an immoral act.

The second point I draw from Catholic moral thinking and teaching is this.

Human sexuality is a strong and vital component of our humanity and of each person’s nature. The exercise of that sexuality, in sexual relations, is something that touches the deepest aspect of our identity and personhood. A fundamental aspect of the Church’s teaching about sex is that sexual acts must always take place within the context of authentic freedom. This is because, properly understood, human sexuality has the capacity to unite two people, body and spirit, at the deepest level, in a completeness of self-giving that has within it the call to a permanent commitment between them and which, of its nature is open towards the creation of new human life. What is most relevant in this teaching for us today is that there is no place in sexual relations for brutality, aggression or any kind of de-humanisation of a person.

This Initiative is concerned to highlight that the use of sexual violence is always and absolutely a violation of human freedom and of every rational standard of human decency. And what is more, its de facto cultural acceptance in many places and in so many circumstances contributes significantly to the degradation of women in particular. Sexual behaviour is so often the key litmus test of the honour and respect given to women either in conformity to moral standards or in defiance of them.

What is clear, therefore, is that the Church wholeheartedly backs every initiative to prevent sexual violence being perpetrated against anyone, anywhere and under any circumstances. The justice at the heart of human sexual relations must be respected as integral to all justice, even in conflict and warfare.

I am proud today to be able to point to the significant work carried out by many religiously motivated people in the fight against sexual violence in warfare and its dreadful consequences. I salute especially the work of religious sisters, in many countries, who for decades have dedicated themselves to this work, without seeking reward or praise. They do so as part of their commitment to justice in our world today. And we are richer for their efforts, along with the efforts of many others, too. This enterprising work generates the kind of wealth without which our world cannot survive. They are, in my view, at the top of the world’s rich list!

The third point I wish to make flows directly from this notion of integral justice as our greatest wealth.

In the efforts of this Initiative to prevent sexual violence, we rightly speak of wanting to protect the human rights of everyone, especially the most vulnerable and the victims of this terrible form of abuse. In order for this language of human rights, and the framework it offers, to be robust, I believe we are helped by clarity about its foundations. The entry of human rights into the international legal framework is largely welcomed. But human rights themselves do not derive from a legal system, nor a political authority, or a state. The dignity of every person, and the pattern of rights which flow from that dignity, are inherent in the person, herself or himself. They are inalienable. Often, of course, there are choices to be made between competing human rights and difficult decisions ensue. But some rights are more immediate, more fundamental than others. I believe that this priority of human rights can best be seen when they are understood in the light of their ultimate origin.

The dignity of every person arises from within their nature and that nature is most clearly understood as deriving from its Creator, from the mystery of God. Here the light of faith sharpens our rational understanding, it deepens our sense of who we are and the dignity which is properly ours. And in this God-given dignity, the right to life itself and the right to bodily integrity are fundamental, as is the right to religious freedom. The violation of that bodily integrity in sexual violence is therefore a most fundamental denial of human dignity and a most gross breach of a person’s human rights. It is a crime which ought to be eradicated with all vigour.

Sexual violence as an instrument of warfare and conflict is a deep wound in the body of humanity, to borrow a phrase of Pope Francis. That it is as old as humanity is a cause for our lasting shame. That this Initiative is daily growing in strength, that it is beginning to engender a common will to say ‘no more, never again’ is a source of real encouragement. That it is producing the statutes and instruments by which perpetrators will be prosecuted and punish is a measure of its initial success. That it will in time challenge and change the cultures which tacitly support these crimes and heap the stigma of shame on its victims is a cause for real hope. I congratulate all involved and I assure you of my full support.”

Happy Birthday America 1889 Style !!

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Oklahoma was first settled when the United States government consigned the Five Civilized Tribes to the eastern half of what was then a territory. The government promised the tribes that this land would remain theirs forever. The Five Civilized Tribes are the Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations.

The law the United States Congress passed to do this was called the Indian Removal Act. This was in 1830. The Trail of Tears took place after the Treaty of New Echota in 1835.

President Andrew Jackson ignored a Supreme Court ruling when he forced the Cherokees from their homes and sent them on a forced march of almost 2,000 miles. The ruling, which resulted from a court challenge filed by the Cherokees, said he could not remove the Cherokees from their lands. President Jackson ignored the Court and used the military to moved most of the Cherokee Nation to Oklahoma Territory.

A few Cherokees managed to escape this forced removal. They still live in the area of their ancestral lands. My Cherokee ancestors were among these people who evaded removal.

Oklahoma Territory was first opened to white settlement in the first Land Run of 1889. The land run opened central Oklahoma for settlement. My great-grandparents participated in this run, but did not get land. They ended up with land later in Southwest Oklahoma, outside of what is now Lawton.

This is a poster from the first Fourth of July after the run.

 

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Minors Crossing the Border Illegally. Figuring it Out.


I don’t know what to make of the story of thousands of minors surging over the borders into the United States from Central American countries.

I haven’t written about it because I’m still trying to understand it. I do know that Ft Sill in Oklahoma is being used to house some of these young people.

What I don’t know, on the other hand, is elemental.

I don’t know how long this has been going on. I don’t know how much of what the media is reporting is hype of one sort or the other that is being generated because of the upcoming election. I don’t know why these young people are choosing to do this. I don’t know what is happening in their home countries that compels them. I don’t know if this is organized. I don’t know how many of them have families already in the US. I don’t even know what the United States government is doing about it.

Given all that I don’t know (which every salient fact) I can’t write about it. What would I say?

I’m putting three videos below which discuss the situation.

The first video is from Catholic News Service.

The second is from Univision, which is a Spanish language television station. They’ve interviewed me numerous times down through the years, and I’ve found them to be very willing to let people have their say without editing. They do have a bias — which they state honestly — toward the concerns of their target audience.

The third video comes from Fox News. I chose them because they seem to give a good round-up here, and because they also have a clear bias, one which somewhat balances Univision.

I would advise against any of us thinking that we understand this situation or know how to address it effectively, based on these videos, or any of the news coverage I’ve seen.

I am guessing that an effective way of dealing with it lie in answers to questions that deal with the situation in the countries from which they come.

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Meriam Ibrahim: My Baby is Physically Disabled Because I Gave Birth in Chains

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Maya Ibrahim

Meriam Ibrahim was sentenced to death when she was eight months pregnant for refusing to recant her Christian faith. 

She is still unable to leave Sudan, due to what I consider to be trumped up charges by local officials. 

She gave birth to her baby girl, who she named Maya, while she was in prison. Her captors forced her to give birth in chains. 

Hopefully, Mrs Ibrahim and her family will be allowed to come to the United States soon and we can provide Maya — and Mrs Ibrahim as well — with the medical care needed to repair the injuries that were inflicted on them by this barbaric government.  

From The Telegraph:

“I gave birth chained,” she said, in her first description of the May 27 birth.

“Not cuffs – but chains on my legs. I couldn’t open my legs so the women had to lift me off the table. I wasn’t lying on the table.”

When asked whether she was frightened that giving birth in such conditions could harm her baby, she said: “Something has happened to the baby.”

She explained that her daughter had been left physically disabled – but the extent of the disability would not be clear until she was older.

“I don’t know in the future whether she’ll need support to walk or not,” she said.

 

Rush Limbaugh is a Cigar-Chomping Idiot

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I know. I tell everyone not to call people names.

But there comes a time when “idiot” isn’t a pejorative; it’s an excuse.

Mr Limbaugh is doing his the-pope-is-a-marxist-communist-not-a-corporatist-like-me thing again. After reading this latest rather bizarre attack against the Holy Father, I am faced with three possibilities.

1. Mr Limbaugh has relapsed into his drug problem.

2. He’s an idiot.

or

3. He is deliberately baiting the Vicar of Christ for ratings, despite the fact that a grade-school child could read the interview he’s referencing and know that he’s misquoting and miscasting what the Holy Father said.

Given the choices, I’ve decided that, in charity, I will give Mr Limbaugh the benefit of the doubt and assume that he’s an idiot. I don’t, for instance, think that the fact that he makes at least $70 million per year in salary, or that his net worth is approximately $400 million, has in any way messed with his mind.

What set Mr Limbaugh off on another of his attack-the-Holy-Father spiels is an interview Pope Francis gave to Il Messaggero on Sunday. Rather than try to untangle the web of misquotes and confabulation that Mr Limbaugh has spun, I’m going to quote a couple of highlights, then put Pope Francis’ entire interview below and let you read it for yourself.

Here are what I think of as the lowlights from Mr Limbaugh’s latest attack piece on my spiritual leader, Pope Francis. 

“The 77-year-old pontiff gave an interview to Il Messaggero, Rome’s local newspaper, to mark the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, a Roman holiday. He was asked about a blog post in the Economist magazine that said he sounded like a Leninist when he criticized capitalism and called for radical economic reform.”

Oh, yeah, some obscure blog post in the Economist said he sounded like a Leninist, that got everybody riled up.  We remember that.  Don’t you?  I don’t remember.  Anyway, he said, “I can only say that the communists have stolen our flag. The flag of the poor is Christian. Poverty is at the center of the Gospel.  Communists say that all this is communism. Sure, twenty centuries later. So when they speak, one can say to them: ‘but then you are Christian’,” he said, laughing.

I don’t know if the pope is saying that Jesus was a communist.  I mean some people could read it that way.  He says the communists stole our flag, and if our flag is rooted in solving poverty, and the communists want to claim that’s what they did, I mean, you connect the dots if you wish.

What Mr Limbaugh is doing here is quoting a misquote from an article headlined “Pope Says Communists are Closet Christians,” and then responding to it with the assessment,  I don’t now if the pope is saying that Jesus was a Communist. I mean some people could read it that way.”

Ok, so he doesn’t know if Pope Francis is saying that Christ the Lord is a Communist? Are we supposed to believe that he’s serious?

Maybe he’s an idiot.

Or maybe this was an attempt to be sly and clever by  attacking with innuendo.

You decide.

Me, I’m going with idiot, because, as I said, it’s the kindest interpretation I can come up with.

Here, for those of you who would like to see it, is what the Holy Father actually said. It’s the whole interview, without cuts or edits.

I highlighted the part about Communism so you can want go straight to it if you want. If you can find the place where the Pope Francis said or implied that Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is a Communist, let me know. Frankly, I think that all you have to do to understand what Pope Francis is talking about is to remember that he’s from a country where children live in garbage dumps and scavenge for survival; a country where Communists have tried to take over by appealing to these poorest of the poor and offering them help.

That, and read the interview yourself instead of miscasting misquotes in order to make a coarse point.

From Vatican Radio:

(Vatican Radio) The Rome daily “Il Messaggero” on Sunday published an interview with Pope Francis made by journalist Franca Giansoldati. In his responses to questions on a wide range of issues, the Holy Father focused, among other things, on the challenges of change in the current “era” and “culture,” which has consequences for political, financial, and social life. The Church, along with various civil and social institutions,  must respond to these challenges by protecting the common good and defending human life and dignity.

“Always protecting the common good, which includes “defending human life and dignity” is “the vocation of every politician,” the Holy Father said. Today, the problem of politics – which Pope Francis called a “worldwide problem” – is that it “has been devalued, ruined by corruption, by the phenomenon of bribery.” This “moral decay, not only in politics but also in the financial or social” sector, is driven by “change of epoch” that we are experiencing today, which is also “a change of culture.” In this context, our anxieties about poverty are not concerned solely with material poverty.

“I can help someone who is hungry, so that they are no longer hungry,” the Pope said. “But if someone has lost his job,” he is involved in another kind poverty. He no longer has his dignity.” Helping families in need, then, requires a “joint effort.” Pope Francis recognized that this is an “uphill” journey, but insisted it must be undertaken, working above all for the good of children. “Starting a family is an effort,” he said, because of economic difficulties that “social policy does not help.” Commenting on the very low birth rates in Europe – which makes it seem “as if she were tired of being a mother, preferring to be grandmother,” the Holy Father noted that the causes of this phenomenon lie not only in a “cultural drift marked by selfishness and hedonism,” but also in the current economic crisis.

Pope Francis was asked how he would respond to being called “a communist.” “I would only say that the Communists have stolen the banner… The banner of the poor is Christian; poverty is at the heart of the Gospel.” The cause of the poor is pre-eminently a Christian cause.  The Gospel cannot be understood “without understanding real poverty.” At the same time, the Pope said there is also a “very beautiful ‘poverty of the spirit’,” being poor in the sight of God because God fills you up. The Gospel, in fact, is addressed indiscriminately to the poor and to the rich and “does not at all condemn those who are rich,” but rather condemns their riches when they become the objects of idolatry.

To the question “Where is the Church of Bergoglio headed?” Pope Francis replied, “Thanks be to God, I don’t have any church – I follow Christ. I didn’t found anything.” He went on to say “my decisions are the fruit of the meetings before the conclave. I have done nothing on my own.”

The Church in Asia “is a promise,” he said, turning to his upcoming trips to Korea, in August, and to Sri Lanka and the Philippines, in January. He also spoke about China, saying it represents “a great, a very great pastoral challenge.”

During the interview, Pope Francis also took up a number of other themes already addressed during his pontificate, such as the place of women in the Church. Without an understanding of femininity, the Pope said, one “cannot understand the Church herself.” Women “are the most beautiful thing God has made. The Church is a woman.” He said that in doing theology, one must take account of this “femininity,” and that the Church must continue to work on and develop a “theology of the woman.”

Pope Francis spoke also about the corruption and the economic and sexual exploitation of children. The Pope speaks of incidents of child prostitution that were reported to him when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, involving even elderly men. “For me,” the Pope said, “people who do this to young girls are paedophiles.”

Finally, on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the patron saints of Rome, Pope Francis spoke about the everyday life and traditions of the City of which the Pope is the bishop. This role, the Holy Father said, is “the first service of Francis.” Pope Francis said Rome shares many of the problems of other cities “such as Buenos Aires.” He said a conference dedicated to the theme of “the pastoral care of the great cities” will take place in Barcelona in November. Pope Francis expressed his hope that the citizens of Rome, the inhabitants of a city “that should be a beacon in the world,” would not lose “joy, hope, confidence, despite difficulties.”

(From archive of Vatican Radio)

Family: I am Sister Lily’s Granddaughter. Where I’m From, that Counts for a Lot.

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Where I’m From: Daddy worked here.

I don’t remember if I told you this, but my grandmother was a Pentecostal Holiness Preacher.

She had a radio show (this was back in the 1940s and early 50s) that covered several states. She was what they called a “church planter.” She went from place to place, starting churches, getting them up and going, then moving along to the next place. She planted several of the churches in the house district that I represented for 18 years.

I remember back when I was running for office the first time — this was in my anti-God period, when I was pro choice — many of the preachers in that district dedicated their Sunday morning sermons to excoriating me from the pulpit. If they’d stuck with the truth — I was pro choice and pro ERA — they might have beaten me.

But they didn’t.

The attacks got crazy and crazier, as they called me everything but a nice person. I was a communist, a lesbian, a slut, a this and a that, a deez and a doz.

Finally, one Sunday, individual congregants in more than one church just spontaneously, without any coaxing from me, stood up in the middle of these sermons and started yelling at the various preachers. They said that they had known me since I was a baby, and the preacher was a liar.

You see, I was from there. These preachers were not.

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Oklahoma National Stockyards. My mother was a weigh master here. 

I was Sister Lily’s granddaughter. I was Charlie and Bessie’s granddaughter. My Daddy worked at the Stockyards and they all knew him … and his brother. My uncle was in the Masons. They’d gone to school with my mother, me, my sister, my cousins.

That is the power of family.

I don’t mean family connections. I mean the power of identity that comes with being connected by blood to a particular group of people.

Family is identity.

It is also home.

I remember (this post is going to be a series of reminiscences, so get ready) when I told my cousin, my Daddy’s brother’s kid, that I had converted to the Catholic Church. He told me, “It doesn’t matter. Nothing you do matters. I love you.”

When I was anti-God, it didn’t matter.

When I was Oklahoma Director of NARAL, it didn’t matter.

When I met Christ in a profound conversion experience and became a Christian, not one thing changed with my family.

When I started my life as a pro life advocate, it was still the same.

When I was in office, a stay at home mom, now, there was no difference.

My friends dumped me, accused me of “betraying” them for my followership of Christ. In fact, many of my bestest buds turned 180 hard about and began attacking me and lying about me the same way those preachers had done years before. The people who had attacked me and the people who had supported me switched places.

All except for family. Nothing changed with them. Nothing has ever changed. Nothing will ever change.

I remember when another cousin of mine decided to come out to us as gay. He got us together; was hyper tense when he called and told us to be at my aunt’s house at a certain time and date. We were scared. We all thought he was going to tell us he had cancer or something.

When he did his big reveal — I’m gay (sniff) — we were dumbfounded. I mean, was he telling us that he thought we didn’t already know???

Duhhhh.

That’s family.

Families are where people who are for gay marriage and people who are opposed to gay marriage, where drug addicts and tee-totalers, Republican and Democrats, all love one another because, at bottom, they don’t care about that stuff. Not when you’re family.

My same cousin who told me he didn’t care if I was Catholic had been a total male chauvinist pig back in the days when I was an all-out feminist activist. Didn’t matter to either of us. He supported the Viet Nam war, I demonstrated against it. No problem.

Robert Frost said, “Home is where, when you go there, they have to take you in.”

Home, in that sense, is family. And family is the people who don’t care about your disgraces and aren’t impressed with your successes. You don’t have to clean up the house before they come. It’s ok if you’re overweight and you’re still welcome to be there even if you’ve just been caught — again as we say in these parts — in bed with either a live boy or a dead girl.

I am well aware that there are families who spend all their time picking each other apart, who compete with one another and criticize one another and who actually are anything but comforting. That’s not my family. My family is the “it doesn’t matter” crowd who just sticks with you, even when they all flat-out know you are wrong.

But even those other sad families, the nit-picking, pretend-perfect families, still usually stick with one another against the outside world.

I could go on and on about family as a social construct or whatever.

But family is both more and less than that. Family is personal. it’s about us as people. It’s who we are, whether we want to be that or not. Divorce is a disaster because it shears family from itself. It atomizes these broad extended tribes of safety into us and them and takes away the only real emotional security to be had from other people in this life.

I can tell you for a fact that friends will throw you away like leftover fish because of your politics, religion or anything else they consider to be the elemental you. There are a few — I had three, now I’m down to two — friends who will stick, even when I go from anti-God to Catholic, from pro choice to pro life — but the rest of them will not.

Friends can become enemies in the time it takes to say Get Out!!

Friends, however much fun they may be, are not family.

And family, if it is torn asunder with betrayals, is not family, either.

The tragedy of our times is that we have atomized and particularized family to the point that many families provide no more loyalty and emotional safety than friendship. Families turn on one another now, too.

When that happens the world is a cold place where the winds of isolation and aloneness howl through people’s lives and warp them into less than who they are meant to be. We become vicious and cowed, like a society of stray dogs. Like those stray dogs, we run in packs and we become dangerous to the order and safety that surrounds us.

Family provides security and safety. It keeps us safe and gives us confidence to go on adventures and take healthy risks, secure in the knowledge that succeed or flop, family is there for us when we want to venture back.

People without family truly are like stray dogs. The packs they form are destructive to the larger world and straight-jacket limiting to those who run in them. No one goes on adventures or takes risks that run against the rules of the pack, because that would result in expulsion. The pack would turn on them and attack them.

That is the source of the crazy viciousness I sometimes see — and delete — in the com box commentary on this blog. It is the cause of the hive mind thinking that is driving our society to the brink of self-destruction. It is the cultural anomie of a society that has torn family from itself and is now running loose and lost in mindless packs.

Family, real family, is the antidote to all that. Family is the most freeing thing possible, because it gives you the safety to try and fail and then try again with the certainty that no matter what happens, you will have a place in this world and you will be loved.

Home is where, when you go there, they have to take you in. I’ve never read a better definition of family.

Annual Black Mass at Oklahoma City Civic Center. Last Year had Zero Attendance.

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Saint Michael the Archangel, Casting Out Satan

I’m only writing about this because my Archbishop has made a statement about it.

Every autumn here in Oklahoma, right along with the nuts that fall down from the trees, a guy who calls himself a “high priest of a satanic group” or one of his cohorts holds a black mass at the Oklahoma City Civic Center.

According to the aforesaid “high priest,” this black mass is “similar to a Catholic Mass, but done in such a way that you are offering a sacrifice to Satan to receive his blessing.”

He does this every year, and every year, the turnout is a wee bit less than stellar. Last year, nobody showed up at all.

This “high priest” says that “the goal of the event is to continue the satanic movement — to keep fighting for our rights for religious freedom.”

It looks to me like his “rights for religious freedom” are chugging along just fine. He’s managed to get the coin to rent a small auditorium at the Civic Center, which doesn’t come cheap, and he’s free to do his di-dos — albeit “toned down to meet the laws of Oklahoma and the rules of a government building” —to a fare-thee-well.

In their 2010 Civic Center extravaganza, the satanists’ “Lord High Master” (they’re pretty good at dreaming up spiffy titles for themselves) announced “We don’t kill animals, we don’t kill children,” which, I assume was a great comfort to one and all. However, it might be a little bit less comforting if people knew that Adam Daniels, the “high priest” is a registered sex offender who has been convicted of sexual battery. Mr Daniels has a history of involvement with these satanic events going back several years.

The “Lord High Master” explained that the black “mass” was “just a blasphemy ritual.”

That’s nice, of course, but it does point out one tiny little thing. To have blasphemy, you’ve got to have God. In fact, asking “Satan to receive his blessing” kinda implies that you have a belief in the whole Bible deal, since that is where and how we know about the devil.

Given what we know about him, why do you suppose a person would want Satan’s blessing? For that matter, why would they want Satan’s attention?

Worshipping Satan is, among other things, stupid. Atheism, I kinda get. You don’t think God exists. Fair enough. You’re wrong, but fair enough.

But … worshipping Satan? That’s, as we say in these parts, not too swift.

For reasons I can’t quite pinpoint, I don’t get as worked up about these things as most of my faith-filled friends. I guess it’s because I think that anyone stupid enough to worship Satan would probably also be stupid enough to inject themselves with the ebola virus. On a spiritual level, the two actions seem roughly equivalent.

I do think that Satan is coming out from behind his many masks more and more as our society deteriorates. For generations, his ploy has been to convince people that he doesn’t exist while he operated through his unaware, but willing, human disciples.

He’s still operating through his unaware but willing human disciples, and he’s using them for bold and bolder attacks on Christians and the Church. But now, he’s also beginning to show his own face. He’s still disguised by a bit of grease paint and a clown mask, but Satan is slowly coming out.

Be that as it may, his pathetic little worshippers and their pathetic little black mass are a waste of good angst. I go to the real mass on a regular basis, and I can tell you, the Presence I encounter there gives the blessing I crave and is the One I trust. I choose Christ. Always.

On a lighter note, how exactly do you clean a place after a black mass? It’s a kind of dirty that Clorox and Lysol won’t fix.

All I know is that I’m going to ignore this bozo and all his fellow bozos. I don’t plan to be anywhere near the Civic Center when this hoedown comes down. If I do anything at all, I’ll attend mass at my parish at the same time and partake of the Living Sacrifice that leads to eternal life.

Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God.

There is no substitute.

The Civic Center listing, via Fox25:

A Religious Black Mass will be conducted as a public event to help educate the public about Religious Satanism. The ritual has been toned down to meet the laws of Oklahoma and the rules of the government building. Enjoy the delights of the Devil.

Cost: Tickets should be $10 to $15.

For more details, check out Dawn Eden‘s excellent commentary.

Repeal the HHS Mandate. Do it for America’s Health.

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The ink is not dry on the Hobby Lobby decision, and already the outline of the counterattack is forming.

On and on, round and round, deeper and deeper down into the pit of acrimony and hate we go.

I have a solution for this. It’s simple, straight-forward, and it will work.

Repeal the HHS Mandate.

The HHS Mandate is not necessary. It is based on a lie and has been protected by lies. It has served no reasonable purpose other than to divide the country and pitch us headlong into protracted court battles over issues that should never have been pushed into our faces in the first place.

It is especially sickening to see the public discourse about this agency rule sink to mindless slander, self-righteous posturing and now incitement to violence on public venues. All this because a back-room, hand-appointed industry-heavy committee wrote themselves a little regulation attacking those they perceived to be their political enemies (i.e., traditional Christians) and our president signed it.

The HHS Mandate is, at base, irrational. President Obama compromised his presidency, scarred his place in history and raised up a whole army of political opposition against himself by signing and defending this needlessly divisive agency rule.

He lied to people who had trusted him and deceived the Congress in order to be able to do this stupid thing. Then, he lied to the American people about what he had done. The Mandate, which was born of lies, has been defended with lies and is itself a lie.

The Hobby Lobby lawsuit was not about contraception, and it certainly is not in opposition to women’s equality or women’s health. Unlike many employers today, Hobby Lobby has always provided health insurance, including insurance paying for contraception, to its employees.

They drew the line at paying for contraceptives that were known abortifacients, specifically IUDs and the morning after pill.

Let’s put the issue of abortifacient aside for a moment. The most significant point in all this is that IUDs and the morning after pill are absolutely not good for “women’s health.” They also are not in any way necessary to women’s equality.

The current argument is that women must have IUDs and these IUDs must be paid for by a third party payor in order to maintain good health and achieve equality.

You heard that right. That’s the gist of it.

This argument is talking about IUDs. You know, as in IUDs that have been the object of class action suits for endangering women and have resulted in infections, infertility and quite a few funerals. According to the deep-thinking apologists for the HHS Mandate, women must have IUDs that are paid for by insurance, or their health and hopes of equality will be compromised.

The media has been hard-selling the lie that IUDs are all better now. They tell us that IUDs of today no longer do the nasty things that IUDs of yesterday did. They say that today’s IUDs are coated with sperm-killing hormones in addition to uterus-inflamming, conceptus-implantation-preventing copper wire. The bad old days are all gone now.

I wonder sometimes just why people are so stupid with their health. If IUDs killed women 20 years ago, if they hurt like the infernal regions to put in 20 years ago, if they perforated uteri and caused infections 20 years ago, then why are they so much better now?

Answer: Because it takes a while for the bodies and numbers and problems to pile up. But they are beginning to. And they will multiply as time goes by. It’s a sad state when trial lawyers who come along and mop up the damage are the true defenders of women’s health.

When discussion of the morning after pill comes up in debate, we hear about rape victims.

However, when the morning after pill is being pushed on young women, what they hear is “plan b,” meaning, essentially, have-sex-tonight and take-the-pill tomorrow and do it again anytime you want because, you see, it’s “safe.” The morning after pill is being touted and sold as a ubiquitous, totally harmless form of post coital birth control.

We know these things cause nausea, vomiting and cramping. Even their rah-rah proponents admit that much. We also know that ordinary birth control pills, with their much lower (and safer) dosage of hormones, can have devastating side effects. But we’re supposed to believe that using the morning after pill as birth control is not only harmless, it’s actually necessary for women’s health.

The morning after pills is being promoted as an over-the-counter remedy that is sold and bought like aspirin, and that is not a good thing for women’s health. High dosages of artificial hormones have long-term effects. These effects are so politicized that we will almost surely never hear the truth of it until the trial lawyers come along and start their mop-up work.

Some side-effects, such as cancer, as so long-term and difficult to connect that it’s doubt that anyone will ever put it together.

The stories you’re hearing about Hobby Lobby are lies.

The arguments in favor of the HHS Mandate are lies.

The Mandate itself is a lie.

What is true is that the HHS Mandate is destructive to the body politic and to our rights as free citizens. There is and always has been ways to provide insurance coverage for almost all employees without limiting or even involving First Amendment rights.

I think that the true purpose of the HHS Mandate is to attack the religious freedom. I think the Mandate was written by people who are actively involved with organizations that have fought traditional Christians in the culture wars for so long that they’ve become mentally bent with their hatred. I think the HHS Mandate was an act of hatred. It certainly was not an act of good governance. Subsequent events have demonstrated that rather clearly.

There is a simple way to do something really good for this country. It needs to be done as soon as possible.

Repeal the HHS Mandate. Start over with a fair committee to write real regulations designed to implement the legislation fairly without trampling on political opponents or enriching special interests. In other words, keep the promises President Obama made back when he was lobbying for passage of the Affordable Health Care Act.

Repeal the HHS Mandate and get this country out of this needless and stupid fight. The HHS Mandate is just an agency regulation. It is the product of a corrupt committee of special interests and one man’s vanity. And we are letting it damage our country. That is idiotic.

Repeal the HHS Mandate.

Do it for the sake of America’s health.

Message to Internet Venues: Stop the Internet Death Threats and Deliberate Attempts to Incite Violence

Finger pointing at raised hands

I’m going to do something that I said I would not do.

Less than 24 hours ago, I was involved in a behind-the-scenes discussion of the vile reactions to the Hobby Lobby decision that were taking place on the internet. I said — and I meant it — that I was not going to write about this trash.

The reason? Satan brought this beast to life, and I, for one, don’t want to feed it.

Now, I’m going to do a 180 and do that thing I said I wasn’t going to do. I am going to talk about the satanically-inspired things being said.

The reason?

I read a call for help from Jennifer Lahl, founder and president of the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network. I have worked with Mrs Lahl on legislation. She is publicly involved in fighting commercial egg harvesting and surrogacy. Evidently, Mrs Lahl has been receiving what amount to death threats.

I’ve decided to write about these threats. I can’t let this go unchallenged.

There were, at least in some dirty little corners of the internet, comments directly inciting violence against Hobby Lobby. What I saw was one person after another calling for specific acts of violence.

I want to make this clear. These were calls to commit crimes of violence against this business. They were explicit and repetitive. They were direct calls to do violence with specific types of violence being named. Every action these commenters were calling for was both a felony in itself and potentially murderous to large numbers of people.

The threats directed against Jennifer Lahl were also explicit. In fact, they were even more explicit, naming the weapon and the method. They were implied death threats, made in graphic terms.

One thing I learned a long time ago is that you have to take people at their word about these things. Words precede actions. My advice to the police is that if anything happens in either of these situations you already have your “persons of interest.” Just look at the people making these threats.

Slander and personal excoriation have become so rife in our society that we no longer recognize them for what they are. We’ve gotten to the point that we think this kind of verbal debauch is normal. Are death threats and calls for violence against persons the downward trend toward a new normal?

I am writing this post to call on other bloggers and people who publish on the internet to accept that they are responsible for what they allow on their publications.

I am not talking about a random comment that got through by accident. I am referring to one call to commit violence, one death threat, after another. If your outlet has become a venue for issuing calls to commit crimes of devastating violence, you need to do something about it. 

Do not wait until a tragedy occurs and then make sanctimonious statements to the press to excuse yourself. Because if that happens, I, for one, won’t be buying it.


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