On June 6, 1944 … 166,000 American Troops Took a Walk on a Beach

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by The US Army https://www.flickr.com/photos/soldiersmediacenter/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by The US Army https://www.flickr.com/photos/soldiersmediacenter/

My Uncle Gene was there. Or rather, he was off-shore in one of the ships. He said that the bombardment which preceded the invasion at Normandy was the most incredible fireworks he ever saw.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by DVIDSHUB https://www.flickr.com/photos/dvids/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by DVIDSHUB https://www.flickr.com/photos/dvids/

He’s over 90 now, and still traveling the world. He has his wits and his health and enjoys his life. But today, he remembers. He knows that the fireworks show he watched from that ship preceded a bloody invasion by ground troops. Despite the bombing from the ships, the fortified positions of the Germans were still there, and our men, or as they actually were, our boys, had to fight and die to take them.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Bill Strain https://www.flickr.com/photos/billstrain/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Bill Strain https://www.flickr.com/photos/billstrain/

June 6, 1944 was D-Day. Seventy-one years ago today, the liberation of Europe and the end of the worst war in human history began with 166,000 American soldiers, GIs, civilians in uniform, landing on a beach and fighting their way across it.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by US Army https://www.flickr.com/photos/soldiersmediacenter/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by US Army https://www.flickr.com/photos/soldiersmediacenter/

We owe them everything.

 

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Fort Bragg https://www.flickr.com/photos/soldiersmediacenter/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Fort Bragg https://www.flickr.com/photos/soldiersmediacenter/

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Westboro Baptist Church Will Demonstrate at Beau Biden’s Funeral

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Sylvar https://www.flickr.com/photos/sylvar/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Sylvar https://www.flickr.com/photos/sylvar/

The church that Christian-bashers try to equate with all 2 billion Christians plans to demonstrate at the funeral of the son of the  America’s Vice President.

Beau Biden, the son of Vice President Joe Biden died recently of brain cancer. He will be buried after a funeral mass in the Catholic Church.

Vice President Biden will attend his son’s funeral, and according to the Westboro Baptist Church’s press release, he will pray the Rosary. This is the “reason” that Westboro Baptist Church has given for their planned demonstration at Beau Biden’s funeral.

I can’t remember what reason they gave when they showed up a few miles from my house to demonstrate against the May 20 Moore tornado victims. I only know that they didn’t stay around.

They also announced plans to picket Steve Jobs funeral, but were foiled by the fact that it was totally private. I think they began these demonstrations by picketing the funerals of American soldiers killed in combat. They usually carry signs proclaiming that God hates homosexuals. You can find a list of their future pickets here.

I don’t think the reasons they give for picketing are their reasons. I’ve read that they do this to provoke attacks so they can then sue for damages. I don’t know. Maybe they are just addicted to the notoriety. All I do know is that it takes money to move even a small group of crazies and their signs around the country for these demonstrations.

My sympathy goes out to Vice President Biden at the loss of his son and I pray for Beau Biden’s soul. God be with Joe Biden in this time.

From Religious News Service:

Westboro’s protest apparently is targeting the Bidens’ Catholicism and the Catholic practice of praying the rosary. The site says:

WBC to picket the funeral of Beau Biden, son of Joe Biden who holds a position of power in today’s Doomed America with a very public platform with which he could give the glory to God for this event.  Rather, news reports indicate the elder Biden will be praying the rosary.  The Lord Jesus Christ plainly said to keep yourselves from idols at 1 John 5:21.  Yo, Joe!  Start reading the Bible and OBEY and get rid of the goofy beads.  They are an idol made with hands and cannot save you, Beau or anyone!

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Trans … What Did You Say? Trendy Medical Malpractice on the Mentally Ill

Incan Brain Surgery. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Thomas Quine https://www.flickr.com/photos/quinet/

Incan Brain Surgery. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Thomas Quine https://www.flickr.com/photos/quinet/

Transexuality, otherwise known as gender dysphoria, is not alone.

It turns out that there are lot of identity challenged people out there. Gender dysphoria is not even alone in having its very own political movement, agitating for “rights” for those who are afflicted with this mental illness.

Of course and always, the number one “right” that these groups agitate for is an end to regarding their affliction as an illness in need to concern, compassion and treatment. What they want — what they demand — is that all of society join with them in their problem and accept that (1) It’s normal to chop off our nose and replace it with something resembling that of a dog, it’s normal to chop off your genitals and replace them with something resembling those of the opposite sex, and, yes, it’s normal to chop off your legs/sever your spine/chop off a hand and spend your life in a wheelchair.

It’s also, these poor, sad people and their cruel, but politically correct, supporters insist, not medical malpractice for docs to do the chopping and rearranging of healthy people’s organs. It’s, get ready for this, “compassion” to subject these people to mutilation, massive doses of powerful hormones and “reassignment” to something that more closely resembles what their mental illness tells them they ought to be.

So we have transpecies-ism, transabiility-ism, complete with diagnoses of species dysphoria, and body integrity disorder.  

According to the Transgender Studies Quarterly of Duke University, transability “denotes the persistent desire to acquire a physical disability and/or to seek the actual elective transition of the body from abled to disabled.” The article goes on to say “The struggle for recognition of transabled politics rests its modern and liberal claims on the right for self-determination (Stryker and Sullivan 2009).”

Species dysphoria, like its cousin, gender dysphoria, can end up with surgically mutilated people. I even found one academic paper linking species dysphoria to that other trendy -ism, speciesism.

So. We have the burgeoning movement in support of the surgical and hormonal mutilation of people who have gender dysphoria, otherwise known as “transgendered” people.

We have the rising movement of people who are afflicted with body integrity disorder, otherwise know as “transability” people. They want an end to people labelling their mental illness as mental illness and acceptance that this compulsion is, in fact, normal. They also want the “right” to have insurance and the government (of course) pay for the  surgical destruction of their healthy bodies for the purpose of making them into life-long invalids who will, presumably, then live on disability the rest of their days.

We have academics writing about the already moderately well-known mental illness suffered by people who think they’re really of another species, otherwise known as species dysphoria, or, in trendy circles, transpecies people.

What’s not to like? Evidently, all anyone has to do to start a movement claiming their mental health problems are in fact healthy and normal and then getting others to pick up the tab is put trans in front of it and -ism at the end.

Think of the brave new world. I think that I may be suffering from transmillionaire-ism. All my life, I knew I was really a millionaire, born into the body of a mechanic’s daughter. You can fix me without mutilating surgery. Just give me the $$$$$ you would spend on a mutilating surgery, followed by life-long hormone abuse, and I’ll be cured.

Lobotomy Procedure. From the Mutter Museum. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Jill Robidoux https://www.flickr.com/photos/jylcat/

Lobotomy Procedure. From the Mutter Museum. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Jill Robidoux https://www.flickr.com/photos/jylcat/

I know I’m making light of this. I fully expect the holier-than-thou thought-and-speech-police to condemn me for my “insensitivity.” They might even write a blog post talking about how another “cruel Christian” attacks transgendered people.

In truth, I am not the least bit insensitive to the plight of broken people whose self-loathing drags them down into an illness this severe and damaging. I am not in any way making light of the sufferers of gender/species dysphoria or of those who suffer from other body identity disorders.

These are terrible illnesses. People who are afflicted with them deserve all our compassion and help.

What I am making light of is those very holier-than-thous and self-righteous blog pot writers who support the trendy and fallacious  logic that cutting off someone’s genitals/nose/legs because they suffer from a mental illness is somehow “treating” them, that it is “compassionate,” and “caring.” It is nothing of the kind.

It is an obscene cruelty.

My colleague, Katrina Fernandez, wrote a post comparing the current frenzy of support for subjecting mentally ill people to these mutilating surgeries and hormone overdoses to a crowd of people yelling “jump” to a potential suicide standing on a ledge. I think that is an apt analogy.

Insulin Shock Therapy, taken at Lapinlahti Hospital, Helsinki, 1950 Photo Source: Wikimedia. Public Domain

Insulin Shock Therapy, taken at Lapinlahti Hospital, Helsinki, 1950 Photo Source: Wikimedia. Public Domain

Future generations will look back on this travesty and decry the callous ignorance of their forebears. They will regard people who support this surgical mutilation of the mentally ill in much the same way that we condemn the practice of prefrontal lobotomy, insulin shock therapy for alcoholics, bleeding people and boring holes in their skulls for headaches.

The difference, of course, is that the people who did these things actually thought that they were doing what was right. We are jumping  on the mutilation of the mentally ill bandwagon because our politics and the zeitgeist demand it of us. We have abandoned what we very well know is the truth for a destructive fantasy so that we can avoid being labeled with whatever nasty name-calling adjective the trendies are using to label everyone who doesn’t go along with their groupthink du jour.

We are, as a society and as individuals, abandoning our reason in order to accept the unacceptable. We do this to avoid being slandered and slimed, called names and drug through the mud of public hazing for sticking with reality in the face of a mass cultural fantasy.

It is wrong; it is flat-out wrong, to support the surgical mutilation, dismemberment and disfigurement of healthy people for the purposes of pretending that this is a “treatment” for their illness. I can not and I will not support something so cruel and destructive to the person as this. Call me what you wish.

I do not in any way condemn, dislike or want to avoid people who suffer from these illnesses. I do not condemn, dislike or want to avoid those who have fallen into the trap of using surgery to treat what is in fact a psychological problem. It is not their fault. They are mentally ill, and I would guess that they were desperate.

I condemn the practice of encouraging what is in fact outrageous medical malpractice and the cultural mavens who are pushing it.

A surgeon bleeding a patient. Photo Source: Wikimedia. Public Domain

A surgeon bleeding a patient. Photo Source: Wikimedia. Public Domain

 

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Pope Francis: A Society That Does Not Take Care of the Elderly, Has No Future

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Marjan Lavareski https://www.flickr.com/photos/mlazarevski/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Marjan Lavareski https://www.flickr.com/photos/mlazarevski/

The Church teaches us to love and care for the elderly, disabled, weak and helpless. It teaches us that every human life has immense value. It reminds us over and over again with a consistent voice that human life is sacred and we may not murder.

The world is doing its best to teach us to love euthanasia.

The difference, my friends, is Jesus.

I often get comments when I write about my own elderly mother, telling me that if euthanasia was legal, I would have a “solution” for my problems. Caring for an elderly parent is work. Caring for an elderly parent with dementia is hard work.

It can be painful, frightening and lonely. But it is also and always a gift. My son took Mama to her adult day care this morning. He told me later how much he enjoyed those times with Amah.

As the days dwindle down, each one of them becomes precious.

Pope Francis tells us that a society that does not take care of the elderly has no future. I would say the same thing, only differently. A society that consigns those who can not defend themselves to death because they are a “burden,” is dead already.

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I Chose Christ, and He is There on All the Altars of All the Catholic Churches in the World.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Robert Cheaib https://www.flickr.com/photos/theologhia/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Robert Cheaib https://www.flickr.com/photos/theologhia/

The Catholic Patheosi are writing about why we chose to stay in the doomed Catholic Church.

I mean, it’s been in all the news lately that the Catholic Church is on the way out. We’re supposed to be over and done for, or at least going down for the count. Catholic teachings are irrelevant to the world today, or so we’re told.

So why would anyone stay in the Catholic Church? Is staying Catholic a twisted desire for irrelevance and being out of step with the world? Do we stay because we have nothing better to do with that hour each week?

Here, in three sentences, is why I stay.

1. Christ in the Eucharist called me to the Catholic Church.

2. Christ is in the Eucharist.

3. Christ has not told me to leave.

That’s it.

To the best of my ability, and according to the grace that I am given, I follow Jesus Christ and Him crucified. If you want to find Jesus Christ and Him crucified, go to a Catholic Church. He’s there, on all the altars of all the Catholic Churches in all the world.

The priest may ride with Jesse James, and the bishop may be as confused as the priest. The people in the seats around you may be all kinds of sinners. You may be all kinds of sinner yourself.  But Jesus Christ the Lord is there — body, blood, soul and divinity — on that altar. And He’s there for you.

You can reach out and touch Him. You can partake of Him. You can be blessed, healed and loved by Him in a concrete, direct and completely reliable way, just by going to a Catholic Church and taking communion.

You hold out your hands and Christ is laid on your upright palm. You taste the wine and the blood of God Who died for you enters into you. You partake of His Passion, and you share in His triumph. He rose so that you may live forever. He died so that you can enter into God’s great ocean of mercy and forgiveness. He cleansed you with that blood you taste, saved you with the flesh hidden in bread on your palm.

I am not leaving the Catholic Church, because Christ in the Eucharist called me to the Church. I am not leaving the Catholic Church, because Christ is in the Eucharist and I partake of Him and His blessings in communion. I stay in the Catholic Church because my Lord and my God put me here and He has not told me to leave.

I chose Christ, and He is there on all the altars of all the Catholic Churches in all the world.

 

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Should Medicare be Forced to Pay for Sex Change Surgery?

 

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by www.GlynLowe.com https://www.flickr.com/photos/glynlowe/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by www.GlynLowe.com https://www.flickr.com/photos/glynlowe/

UPDATE: I first published this post in 2013. I am publishing it again today because the concerns it raises are still valid. Should Medicare pay for sex change surgery? I don’t think so. The Obama Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services ruled in 2014 that Medicare would pay for sex change surgeries. Meanwhile, agitation to reduce coverage for Medicare payments for elderly health care, and agitation to euthanize the frail elderly continues. 

 

I’m going to get roasted and toasted for this post. It would be hard to say anything more politically incorrect that what my typing fingers are about to type here on this blog. Let me begin with a vignette from my daily life. 

A few days ago, I was in a committee meeting in which we were discussing amendments to Oklahoma’s advanced directive laws. Several doctors testified about this legislation. During questions and answers, one of them remarked, “A patient can’t come to a medical practitioner and ask him or her to cut off their healthy legs and have them do it.” No one on the committee reacted to this statement because it is so obviously true.

If I went to a plastic surgeon and asked them to cut off my nose, they would call for a psych evaluation. If I went to a orthopedist and asked him to cut off my hands, he or she would do exactly the same thing. Why? Because a persistent  compulsion to mutilate myself would be an indication of mental illness. 

However, if I went to a doctor and asked him or her to cut off my genital organs and then re-shape the stubby leftovers into the appearance of the genital organs of a man, and if I further demanded that I be given massive doses of hormones to force my body to mimic secondary male characteristics such as a deeper voice and a beard, the doctor and everyone else in our society would be forced under threat of being called a bigot to pretend that this was not a mental health problem, but “normal” behavior on my part.

I could change my name to Regis, dress in a pinstripe suit, use the men’s bathroom and probably go on to demand the right to farm other women’s bodies for eggs in order to create a designer baby for me to raise, if I wanted.

Of course, what I wouldn’t be is an actual man. I would be a surgically and chemically mutilated woman with a serious mental health problem that was going untreated, but whose delusions were being played into socially and medically due to political correctness.

I have all the sympathy in the world for people who suffer from this problem, which is called “severe gender dyphoria.” It must be hell for them. I have witnessed it up close in the person of a member of the clergy at a church I once attended who “came out” as someone who had the body of one sex but felt a compulsion to live as the opposite sex and went through all these grisly procedures to achieve this.

I also am adamantly opposed to any violence or unjust discrimination against transexual people. I don’t want to harm them, but I don’t think that subjecting people to mutilating surgeries and hormone overdoses is treatment. I think it is yielding to social and political pressure to collude with them in the delusions which are a symptom of their real — mental — illness.

I don’t want to muddy the waters here with the small number of people who, through what I regard as birth defects, possess mixed chromosomes that are both male and female and who often also have mixed genitalia. That is something entirely different from what I’m talking about. What I am referring to are those who are born with normal bodies of one sex, and for whatever reason, develop the belief that they are really the opposite sex and who also feel a compulsion to be surgically and hormonally mutilated to live their lives in accordance with this delusion.

I am also not going to weigh in on whether or not doctors should “treat” them by honoring their delusions and performing surgeries and administering the concomitant hormonal overdoses necessary for the person to look like the sex they are not. I will leave that to the physician and patient, as well as the hospital and insurance company.

What I want to address specifically on this blog is how far society and government should be compelled to go in this politically-correct assumption that this mental illness, is, in fact normal. The question for this particular post is, should medicare pay for sex change operations?

The ACLU has joined a lawsuit demanding that Medicare pay for sex change operations. I don’t know how much these surgeries cost, but I do know that there is talk of Medicare going broke. 

It seems evil to me that we have public officials, such as the former governor of Colorado, talking about how elderly people have a “duty to die” because they take up too many resources and put too much strain on our health care system and at the same time are being forced to consider funding what is an entirely elective and mutilating surgery to mistreat a mental illness.

The cost of these unnecessary surgeries and treatments would be enormous. Claims that these procedures are “safe and effective” are nonsense. No surgery is “safe.” Every surgery is a risk. This surgery is elective and it is massive. I do not doubt that there are many serious potential complications and that these would be magnified when the surgery is performed on elderly people. I also cannot imagine what years of hormone overdoses would do to a person’s health, but “safe” is not a word that comes to mind.

Claims based on what various associations of medical practitioners have voted to say about things like gender dysphoria have become meaningless, at least to me. I do not think these positions are based on science. I think they are based on politics and are a response to pressure from interest groups. I don’t think they mean much more than if the members of my book club had voted to take these positions.

I don’t know how the ACLU manages to shoe-horn this concern under the Bill of Rights. But from what I’ve seen, they can twist any trendy social experiment they are pushing to fit if they want to. At least, they can do it to their own satisfaction. The ACLU press release regarding the lawsuit they’ve joined says in part:

 

LGBT Groups Challenge

Medicare’s Refusal to Provide

Healthcare to Transgender

Patients

April 1, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org WASHINGTON – Several national LGBT groups filed an administrative challenge last week to Medicare’s ban on medically necessary healthcare for transgender patients.

Medicare currently prohibits all forms of gender reassignment surgeries regardless of the individual patient’s diagnosis or serious medical needs. The National Center for Lesbian Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, and civil rights attorney Mary Lou Boelcke initiated the challenge on behalf of Denee Mallon, a transgender woman whose doctors have recommended surgery to alleviate her severe gender dysphoria. “Medicare’s categorical exclusion of this care lacks any scientific basis,” said Shannon Minter, legal director at NCLR.
“Study after study has shown that these surgeries are the only effective treatment for many patients suffering from severe gender dysphoria.” Mallon joined the United States Army when she was 17 years old and worked as a forensics investigator for a city police department after she was honorably discharged from the Army. She was later diagnosed with gender identity disorder, a serious medical condition that is characterized by intense and persistent discomfort with one’s birth sex.
“The American Medical Association, the Endocrine Society, and the American Psychological Association all support these treatments for transgender patients,” said Joshua Block, a staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project.
“These procedures have been performed for decades and are proven to be safe and effective.” Medicare adopted the ban more than 30 years ago. Decades of extensive scientific and clinical research since that time have established that these surgeries are safe and effective. (Read the rest here.)

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Obama’s Approval Sinks. What Would it Be if They Asked About Religious Liberty?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

CNN recently polled Americans’ approval of President Obama’s job performance.

It turns out that President Obama’s approval ratings have now sunk lower than the approval ratings of former President Bush. The article I’m citing makes a big deal about that, but it’s really a non-sequitur since former President Bush hasn’t been on the hot seat for quite a while now, and Americans tend to wax nostalgic about former presidents.

President Obama’s approval ratings fell most sharply in the areas of illegal immigration, ISIS and surveillance.

The latter is particularly important, because the issue of surveillance cuts into the base that elected President Obama. I think it reflects his failure to live up to campaign promises in this matter.

I wonder what the poll numbers would be if the poll had included questions about religious freedom. I agree with some of the things President Obama has done and disagree with others. But his attack on religious freedom via the HHS Mandate is a total deal breaker for me. It would be a deal breaker with any president, of either party.

I don’t think I’m alone in this. In fact, if the 2014 election results mean anything, President Obama has single-handedly scuttled the Democratic Party base among Catholic voters.

Another area I’d like to see polling firms ask about is legal immigration. Do We the People approve of the current immigration policies of our government? In fact how many of us know about the immigration policies of our government?

I can tell you that corporate greed and its demand for cheap labor and good relations with certain countries for purposes of commerce decides immigration policy, including policies concerning illegal immigration. Campaign rhetoric aside, these policies do not change, no matter which party wins the election. The welfare and opinions of the American people don’t figure into it.

From Breitbart:

A CNN poll released Wednesday shows that George W. Bush is not only more popular than President Obama, a majority of Americans now view the former president in a positive light. A full 52% see Bush favorably, compared to just 43% who do not. Only 49% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Obama. The same number, 49%, do not.

Obama’s job approval numbers also took a serious dive in the CNN poll. Just last month, the president sat at a 48% approval rating, with just 47% disapproving. Not great, but he was at least above water. Today Obama is upside down a full 7 points, with just 45% approving of his job and a clear majority of 52% disapproving.

That’s an 8 point drop.

On the specifics of his job, other than race relations, Obama is upside down, sometimes by huge margins, in every category: economy 46-53;  ISIS 32-63;  race relations 50-47;  Climate Change 41-49;  illegal immigration 36-60;   government surveillance 29-67;  health care 44-54; foreign affairs 43-55;  terrorism 45-51.

Since last month, Obama’s numbers have worsened considerably on the specific issues of ISIS, immigration, and surveillance.

 

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Throwing Verbal Sewage on the Pope. Why?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aleteia Image Department https://www.flickr.com/photos/113018453@N05/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aleteia Image Department https://www.flickr.com/photos/113018453@N05/

Every morning, I re-tweet Pope Francis’ tweet.

The Holy Father’s tweets are, without fail, a drop of sunshine. They remind us of the love and mercy of our Precious Lord. I don’t know about you, but I can use all the love and mercy I can get.

Jesus is the unfailing source of love and mercy when everything in life has been upended. When everybody else has la la la-ad right past you and your problems, you can turn to Jesus. He will give you the grace you need to deal with what’s in front of you.

Do you know who Pope Francis is?

He’s the Vicar of Christ.

Pope Francis is the Jesus-follower-in-chief. He’s the shepherd we trust to lead us home to glory. At a time when the bishops are at odds with one another over such basic Christian teachings as marriage, and when the priests are pretty much ignoring the constant bashing ordinary Christians take for following Christ, we still have the Pope. Pope Francis is the lighthouse which warns us away from the rocks and keeps us in the safe channels.

I don’t know what Catholics in places like Germany, where the bishops are following one another instead of the Gospels, would do without the Pope. I don’t know who those Catholics who are burdened with trendy priests who teach the world’s wisdom instead of God’s would have for a teacher without the Pope.

Even if a person isn’t Catholic, Pope Francis is still a beacon of pastoral love and hope. He is God’s mercy and justice, personified.

Why then, do people feel compelled to drop vile tweets on his Twitter account?

It appears for all the world like a form of virtual exhibitionism, like the sickos who walk around elementary schools with their genitals hanging out. Or maybe it’s a social form of Tourette’s Syndrome in which people are compelled to shout out obscenities due to a mental tic. I’m not a psychologist, so I don’t know the medical/mental problem involved here.

Maybe it’s just another manifestation of the current zeitgeist in which Christians are the group it’s ok to hate. Perhaps the only mental problem at work is prejudice and hatred, taking form in a deliberate attempt to affront Catholics and degrade the Holy Father as an expression of the overall ethos of Christian bashing.

I think these sewage-dumping trolls are too numerous, and some of the things they tweet too sick, to be the work of adolescents on a dare.

The interesting thing is that the filthy darkness of these tweets tends to make the Holy Father’s goodness shine even brighter. His tweets of support for the suffering, assurance of God’s love, and hope for the salvation of all humankind cast a holy light that overcomes the darkness of this trash.

If you look at it that way, the whole business of sewage-dumping on the Pope becomes analogous to what we face as Christians living in post Christian world every day. The light of Christ is hope, mercy, love, eternal life. The darkness has no light. It only offers viciousness, degradation and anger. Even the jokes that come from people in its thrall are cruel.

Why do people feel compelled to throw sewage on the Pope? I think it’s because they are, without being aware of it, doing their master’s bidding. Who hates the Pope most of all? The one who would lead all the world away from Christ. Who are his disciples in this world? Those who aid him in achieving this desire.

I think that these attacks on the Pope are just another crude manifestation of the fact that we live in a fallen world and that we are, as St Paul told us, dealing with powers and dominions that we do not fully see and do not comprehend.

 

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Research and Writing Software for Writers

Scrivener in cork board view. Copyright by Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Scrivener in cork board view. Copyright by Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Writers are like any other craftsmen. Their tools are part of the process.

The atmosphere of my work space matters to me. I aim for a certain level of comfort, peacefulness and prettiness in the way I put my home office together.

The tools I choose to implement my writing matter to me, also. Software, in particular, shapes the work day. Anyone who has ever had the unpleasant experience of writing a book in Microsoft Word knows that this software was not made for writers.

I’ve read that the latest iterations of Word are better. But I was burned so badly back in my thesis days that I have no appetite to try again. To put it simply, Word crashes with big documents that require a lot of editing. Word crashes a lot. And it corrupts the files so that even when you use a back up, it crashes again. I’ve had to re-type long documents from hard copies because Word corrupted the files so badly.

By the end of my thesis process, I hated Word. I have never tried to use it for a long document again. As I said, I’ve read that it’s all better now, but I value my happiness too much to commit long work I care about to Word.

Aside from that ancient beef with the software, there is the added factor that Word was never meant to be a book-writing application  in the first place. Word is meant for business use. Every other use is a tacked on deal.

What that means to a writer is that it’s awkward and insufficient for writing needs. If you’ve never used good writing software, you may not realize just how crippling Word is, kind of like the way that people didn’t know the power of word processing back when they were using typewriters.

Word does other things quite well. Again, back in my thesis days, I loved the way Word would go over to Excel and import a spreadsheet into a document without leaving Word. I could do computations inside Word and then print out a document with Word verbiage and Excel numbers, all in one place. It was great at that.

But for writing books? Nope.

I’ve looked at several book writing softwares, and have settled happily on Scrivener. Scrivener is the Swiss Army knife of writer’s software, which makes it a difficult thing to describe. It would be possible to go from the first niggling idea of a book, through research and straight to submission without leaving Scrivener.

However, I don’t recommend this.

My recommendation is to use specialized software for research and specialized software for outlining and Scrivener for writing. Import the research you are actually using so you can reference it as you write, but keep your more extensive research in its own files.

Here, for those who are trying to write, is how I handle the research part of my writing. Any suggestions you have on how to improve this process are welcome.

Devon Think Pro Office Research Files Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Devon Think Pro Office Research Files Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

My research is done with two softwares, both of them from Devon Technologies. Devon Technologies is a German company that specializes in this kind of software. I use Devon Agent Pro when I’m looking for sources. I put documents I want to keep in Devon Think Pro Office.

Devon Think Pro Office will download and store emails, convert pdfs to readable and editable documents with ocr, and link to and index other files — such as your Scrivener files — on your computer. It handles enormous research files of all types, including videos, photos, and a large number of file formats, including pdf. Its ability to link between research files by idea and dig things out for you is almost magical.

The software I used to do the same thing back in my pc days was Ask Sam. When I tried to find a link to Ask Sam, I ran into discussions saying that the software has been discontinued. If that is true, I don’t know of an alternative for pcs. Perhaps readers can share one in the combox.

I used both Devon Think Pro Office and Devon Agent Pro when I was a legislator to research legislation and issues. That meant I didn’t have to buy it when I started writing. Neither of them is inexpensive, but if you do research and you don’t want to go crazy, they are must. It’s really a matter of how serious you are about what you do and how highly you value your time and efficiency.

Scrivener is no slouch at organizing research, either. You can store documents of many types right in Scrivener, alongside your writing. You can even open them side by side with what you’re writing and drag things across. You can also link research files to writing files and create a bibliography of sorts. You can view all Scrivener files as index cards on a cork board, as an outline, as individual documents or as contiguous documents. You can view your writing in one format and your research in another format and put them side by side on screen.

That’s why I advise moving the research you are using to Scrivener. The one caveat is that Scrivener slows down if you put too too many files it, although it takes a lot of files to do this. If you’re writing research-heavy non-fiction, you probably need Devon Think. If you’re writing a research-light contemporary novel, you might be happier with Scrivener alone.

One advantage to Devon Think Pro Office is that you can use your research for more than one book or more than one type of project without doing anything to it. When you move files from Devon Think to Scrivener, it’s just a matter of dragging them. The originals stay in Devon Think and you have what you need for your particular project in Scrivener. Since I’m working on a multi-book project, Devon Think Pro Office makes sense for me.

This is the software I use in my research work flow for big projects. For blogging, I tend to stick with an inexpensive (or even free, depending on which version you use) software called Papers. Papers is an easy place to store web pages. It also has a good search function that will locate old web pages by title.

I used Mars Edit for blogging for a long time. It’s a bit of a trick to link with Patheos. I had to get our IT people to help me do it. But it saved me from losing things I was writing when Patheos’ web site had one of its coughing fits. I switched to writing directly into Patheos because the internal Patheos work flow changed. This added another step to posting and I don’t like extra steps. If I have a train wreck and lose something I’ve been working on, I’ll probably switch back. I hate extra steps, but I dislike do-overs even more.

As you can tell, I’m a fan of using the right tools. My criteria for the “right” tool is a tool that helps me do what I want and that doesn’t add  unnecessary work by virtue of its complexity or because it simply was not meant for how I’m using it.

Those two criteria kick a lot of software to the curb that other writers use every day. For me, it’s a matter of how much I’m worth. My time and happiness matter to me. If I’m going to spend my time doing something every day, I want to make it as smooth and easy for myself as I can.

Feel free to add other ideas in the comboxes. I’ll blog more about software I use in other parts of the writing process later.

 

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Pope Francis: Failures are Par for the Course on the Road to Salvation

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Republic of Korea https://www.flickr.com/photos/koreanet/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Republic of Korea https://www.flickr.com/photos/koreanet/

From Catholic News Service:

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The road to salvation may be pitted with failures, but God uses them and overturns them to manifest his love for his people, said Pope Francis.

Reflecting on the parable of the wicked tenants in the Gospel of Mark during morning Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae June 1, the pope said the parable may be understood to represent the “failure of God’s dream.”

In the Gospel passage, Jesus tells of the owner of a vineyard, who has a dream for his land, which he carefully and lovingly prepares to be cultivated. He hires tenants to work the field, but they are wicked and kill all those whom the owner sends to retrieve his portion, including his son. What should have been a story of love, said the pope, instead appears to be a story of failure.

Failures are present throughout salvation history, the pope said. God’s dream for humanity included failure and bloodshed from the very beginning when Abel was killed by his brother Cain; the murders of many prophets followed, and the process culminated with the crucifixion of Jesus, he said.

The Bible includes the “many, many laments of God” when faced with the actions of his people, who are “unable to free themselves from the desire Satan sowed” in Adam and Eve to “become gods” themselves, the pope said.

“The story of salvation could very well be called the story of failure,” he said.

But this “logic of failure” is overturned in the cross, which is perceived as “a scandal,” but is where God makes manifest the ultimate victory of his love for his people, the pope said.

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