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October 28, 2014 by Leave a Comment
When I was at the Catholic Writer’s Conference last summer, I picked up a book entitled Consoling the Heart of Jesus by Michael E. Gailey, MIC. It bills itself as a do-it-yourself retreat in the Ignitian tradition. I’m going to take the rest of the week off and give it a try. I seriously considered taking off the whole month of November, but just couldn’t convince myself to do it.
I’m going to follow the retreat in this book, read the Bible, pray the Rosary, play my piano, and go to confession and mass. I will also take care of my Mama and find time to run the vacuum cleaner. This isn’t a full stop kind of retreat. It’s more of a shut my mouth about what I think and listen to God kind of retreat.
I plan to come back next Wednesday. When I do, I’ll review Consoling the Heart of Jesus for you. I will continue to monitor your comments so you can continue your discussions, and I will post a video every day.
In the meantime, know that you are in my prayers.
October 27, 2014 by Leave a Comment
To join the discussion about Rise of ISIS, a Threat We Cannot Ignore, or to order a copy, go here.
Jay Sekulow has written a small, much-needed counter-point to the suicidal political correctness that infects almost all public discussion about the threat of ISIS and militant Islam. This political correctness has become a kind of censorship by means of name-calling and personal attacks that sink to the level of vendettas against anyone who dares step over the line to say that, yes America, we have a problem.
Mr Sekulow refuses to accede to this, and, in the process, puts forward his own viewpoint without weakening it with protective self censorship.
To put it bluntly, ISIS is a killing machine. Its brother violent jihadists, Hamas, are more specific in who they kill and how they conduct themselves, but, based on their own statements, there is little doubt that they would kill every Jew in Israel if it wasn’t for Israeli defenses. We are witnessing the rise of organizations bent on holocaust in a determined, multi-generational way. In a manner reminiscent the 1930s, these murderers have powerful apologists in the Western world.
These apologists launch personal attacks against anyone who steps outside their dogmatic assertions by labeling them bigots and trying to destroy them professionally. They have been absolutely successful in destroying civil discussion in our society and we are much the weaker for it.
The Rise of ISIS does not excoriate all Muslims. In fact, it makes clear that Islamic people who oppose these murderous villains are our allies in the fight against them. It also says something I think should have been acknowledged a long time ago: We do not need to shoe-horn American-style democracy into societies that are not ready for it in order to oppose these satanic killing machines.
ISIS is a living libel on the name of Islam. It disfigures the notion of faith and transmutes it into an ugly self-permission to murder, rape, steal, kidnap, enslave and torture the innocent. It seeks to deify the ungodly sin of genocide and to destroy whole civilizations. It is, at base, the claim of the right to enact soul-destroying, civilization-killing dictatorship, all dressed up in a phony guise of religious sanctity.
What ISIS really amounts to is putting one satanic man, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, and his satanic philosophy of death in control of wide swaths of the world. That this man claims he has the right to enslave populations of people under his “caliphate” because of his twisted ideas of religion does not alter the fact that this is a grab for absolute power by one man.
I recommend the Rise of ISIS, a Threat We Cannot Ignore. I do not see it as an end-point in learning about the threat civilization is facing because of violent Jihad. But it is a good beginning. The primary reason I say this is because it represents a viewpoint that is expressed without self-consorship to conform to politically correct dogma in order to avoid being personally attacked.
Honest discussion of issues of almost any sort has been obliterated in our society by the threat of personal attacks. I applaud Mr Sekulow for ignoring that threat and speaking out according to what he believes. More people need to do that.
October 27, 2014 by Leave a Comment
The ACLU has declined to pursue legal action against The Hitching Post wedding chapel in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho because the chapel only provides religious services.
Donald and Evelyn Knapp, owners of the Hitching Post Lakeside Chapel, were facing possible jail time and enormous fines that would have put them out of business because they do not offer same sex wedding services at their facility. The Knapps are ordained ministers in the International Church of the Four Square Gospel. The denomination’s teaching holds that marriage is between a man and a woman.
Leo Morales, ACLU Idaho’s interim director said Thursday that the organization would reconsider the decision not to sue “if the chapel were to offer secular services, such as providing flowers or cakes, or holding nonreligious ceremonies.”
While I am glad that the ACLU has decided not to pursue this case, Mr Morales’ caveats constitute an attempt to impose an undue limitation of First Amendment rights by threat of lawsuit. Are churches going to be forced to forgo all sales on their premises or the use of their facilities for “non-religious” purposes or face lawsuits trying to shut them down?
Does this mean that churches who open their buildings for AA meetings or hold bake sales to raise money for a new gym are running the risk of being drug into court?
For that matter, what about allowing church buildings to be used as polling places? Do you want to raise your taxes to build government facilities for elections in every precinct in this country? Or maybe, in small towns, we could just put the voting booths out in a field. I am quite certain that a failure to provide sufficient and accessible polling places constitutes a violation of the core Constitutional right of this nation: To engage in free elections.
I’m glad that the ACLU actually did something that appears to be in support of the First Amendment, but I’m extremely leery of them or any other organization using the threat of lawsuit to limit First Amendment rights in the way Mr Morales seemed to be attempting to do.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Tedesco, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, the legal firm defending the Knapps, says that the ACLU is “terrified … that the ordinance has been used in exactly the way we said it would be. The ACLU wants nothing to do with the worst possible set of facts that could result from one of these ordinances.” The ordinance Mr Tedesco is referring to is the non-discrimination ordinance by which the Knapps were being threatened.
From The Blaze:
The American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho announced Thursday that it will not wage a legal challenge against Hitching Post Wedding Chapel, the for-profit business in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, that could be in violation of a local non-discrimination ordinance for its ardent refusal to marry same-sex couples.
Leo Morales, the ACLU’s interim executive director, said that chapel owners Donald and Evelyn Knapp — both ordained ministers — recently changed their business status to become a “religious corporation,” according to the Associated Press.
Morales made these comments during a press conference Thursday, noting that the newdesignation would likely exempt the family from performing gay marriage ceremonies so long as Hitching Post — which will remain a for-profit business — exclusively performs faith-based weddings.
“As long as a entity is conducting a religious activity, that is accepted. That should be accepted under the nondiscrimination law in Coeur d’Alene,” Morales told TheBlaze Friday. “Once that entity begins to offer other services that are secular services, we believe it then falls under the category of public accommodation.”
If you’ve got gay fatigue, you’re not alone.
I’ve been hearing muttering from some surprising places, including people who are strongly in support of gay rights, that they’re “tired” of the obsessive focus our society has on homosexuality.
The endless circular debates about forcing people to bake a wedding cake or if ordained ministers should be allowed to not perform gay weddings is beginning to try the patience of people from all points on the ideological compass.
However, there is another side to this, and it’s not about petulant demands that everyone collude in the fantasy that two men or two women are the same as a man and a woman. It has to do with the most basic of human rights: The right to life. It also has to do with another basic human right: The right not to be incarcerated unjustly.
I’m talking about countries that have draconian laws giving the death penalty, lashing or long prison sentences for homosexuality. Sadly, most of these laws are being justified because of bogus claims to religion, including, in a couple of places, Christianity. To the extent that this is true, it calls for Christians to speak out against these laws and take a stand against them. Laws such as these are an affront to the basic human dignity of men and women who are made in the likeness and image of God. They are a smear on the name of Christ.
One of the best parts about this story is that, at least in one circumstance, the passage of such laws has been turned back. Uganda’s law which would have provided for a death penalty for homosexuals, was scrapped. This was due to the work of brave homosexual people and their supporters all over the globe.
However, Uganda did end up passing a law that criminalizes “homosexual activities” and metes out harsh punishments. This law clearly violates the civil liberties and human rights of homosexuals.
I think it’s important for us as Christians to join the fight against laws such as these, and for us to do it in the name of Christ. This does not mean that we should stop our defense of traditional marriage. It is a requirement on us as Christians that we walk this line of supporting the human rights of all persons, including homosexuals, and that we also refuse to back down in our defense of the family.
Each in its own way is a human right, which must be defended.
The commitment to Christ Jesus is always a counter-cultural commitment. It does not matter the culture. Following Christ, if you are true to the call, will pit you against the cruelties and lies of your society. That is why so many people who claim to be Christian do not, in fact, live Christian.
Living Christian is not easy. It requires being attacked for one position, and then crossing the street to stand with your attackers on another issue. There is no country for the authentic follower of Jesus except heaven itself.
I’m going to make an effort to follow these attacks against the basic human rights of gay people and to let you know ways in which you can join in the fight against them. At the same time, I am going to continue to urge you to stand strong in the work ahead to rebuild and reclaim traditional marriage, and to work against the onslaught of attacks on First Amendment freedoms in the name of bogus claims of “human rights” violations against gay people in this country.
If that seems like a contradiction, so be it. It is my idea of following Jesus the best that I can.
From the Washington Post:
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni today signed a law that imposes a 14-year prison sentence for homosexual acts — and life sentences for those found guilty of “aggravated homosexuality.”
A measure imposing the death penalty was removed from an earlier version of the bill.Homosexuality was already illegal in Uganda, as it is in 37 other African countries.
Though the death penalty was removed from Uganda’s law, it’s a potential punishment elsewhere, including parts of Nigeria, Mauritania and Sudan.(Last month, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed a measure similar to Uganda’s into law; a few weeks later, a mob pulled 14 young men from their beds and assaulted them, screaming about cleansing their neighborhood of gay people. )
My fellow Catholic Patheosi, Dr Tod Worner published a post today concerning the Ebola crisis. I hope you will click on the links in this post and read it.
Dr Worner gives us a glimpse of the concerns that medical practitioners face when deciding how they would treat this illness. It also evaluates our government’s reaction to Ebola without the distorting prism of political one-upsmanship and ambition.
It is precisely the kind of non-political, rational discussion of this killer disease that should be taking place everywhere, but isn’t.
Here’s a taste:
We crowded into a small room at my internal medicine clinic and looked at each other. Some decisions had to be made. Soon. We were charged to answer one fundamental question: What would we do if a patient suspected of having Ebola were to walk in our clinic door? As simple as it may seem, this is an incredibly complex question. It requires considering the well-being of the patient, the risk to other patients exposed to him (or her, but I will use him for simplification) in our waiting room, and the risks to medical and ancillary staff who are attending to him. We must concern ourselves with the risk of over-reaction as well as that of under-reaction. We need to consider the imperfect state of our understanding of the mode and ease of transmission. And we must recognize that risk and response changes daily with an ever-evolving national and international epidemic. Confronted with this question in that small room, to a person, there was sincere concern about the patient, earnest concern about personal safety and a clear sense that there is a lot of uncertainty about this virus and the epidemic that is unfolding day by day. And yet, that has not been the message from the government leaders or the Centers for Disease Control. If anything, there has been an abundance of assurance. For example,