Still Sick and It’s Holy Week. To the Point Blogging Ahead.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Chauncey Davis https://www.flickr.com/photos/chaunceydavis/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Chauncey Davis https://www.flickr.com/photos/chaunceydavis/

My asthma and what for everyone else would be an obnoxious cold have conspired against me. I’m still sick and need to focus on recuperating for the next few days.

It’s nothing a round of antibiotics and steroids won’t cure. But I’ve enjoyed this garbage as much as I can stand. I’m going to cooperate with the medications and take care of myself.

What that means is that my blogging this week will be short and to the point. Unless something grips me beyond all restraint, I will focus mainly on the business at hand, which is our walk down the via dolorous with Our Lord.

This is the week that we were purchased from satan’s hand. If you doubt the value of every human being — including both you and the person who annoys you the most — consider the price that God paid to redeem us.

I hope that every one who has the health and the freedom to do so will attend the Triduum services this week. I know it’s long, but the Vigil Mass on Saturday is a wonderful experience, too.

The Divine Mercy Novena begins on Good Friday. I’ll post the prayers for that, even if I don’t do anything else. I’m praying that you will choose to pray this Novena and then avail yourself of the great gift of the feast of Our Lord’s mercy on Divine Mercy Sunday.

Be well my friends, and love Jesus. The events of this week are why we are here together, In His Name.

Palm Sunday: Jesus’ Popularity was Going Viral

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Denise Krebs https://www.flickr.com/photos/mrsdkrebs/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Denise Krebs https://www.flickr.com/photos/mrsdkrebs/

The Skit Guys explain Palm Sunday.

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Was Lazarus a Zombie?

Photo Source: Flicker Creative Commons by Sharon Mellerus https://www.flickr.com/photos/clairity/

Photo Source: Flicker Creative Commons by Sharon Mellerus https://www.flickr.com/photos/clairity/

The Skit Guys explain Jesus raising Lazarus.

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OU President Boren: Racist Chant was Taught to Students at National Fraternity Leadership Training

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons by Phil Constantin, open source

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons by Phil Constantin, open source

University of Oklahoma President David Boren announced at a press conference today that the racist chant members of the SAE fraternity were singing in a video that was released earlier this month was taught to local fraternity members during a leadership cruise sponsored by the national organization four years ago.

The chant had become a standard part of the pledge recruitment and initiation process. It was routinely taught to new members. The report said that the chant was part of the “institutional culture” of the fraternity.

Levi Pettit, one of two students who were expelled for singing the chant on the video, participated in a press conference with state Senator Anastasia Pittman and leaders in the Oklahoma City black community, including several prominent black pastors. He apologized for his participation in the chant and expressed deep remorse because of what he had done. Representative Mike Shelton addressed the House of Representatives about the video soon after it first aired.

Hopefully the national leadership of this fraternity will be held accountable at some point.

You can read the complete report here.

From News9.com:

NORMAN, Oklahoma -University of Oklahoma President David Boren has announced the findings of an investigation into a fraternity after members were caught on video engaging in a racist chant.

President Boren held a news conference at noon on Friday. According to the University, the origin of the chant was that it was learned by local chapter members on a national leadership cruise sponsored by the national organization of SAE four years ago. Overtime, the chant was formalized in the local SAE chapter and was taught to pledges as part of the formal and informal pledgeship process.

According to the University, prior to the chapter’s annual Chapter’s Founder’s Day event on March 7, there was alcohol available at the fraternity house, and there is evidence that a significant number of members were consuming alcohol prior to boarding the bus on which the chant was sung.

Jill Stanek: “I Expect that From the Democrats.”

Jill Stanek Photo Source: Flicker Creative Commons by Pro-Life Unity https://www.flickr.com/photos/24711181@N05/

Jill Stanek Photo Source: Flicker Creative Commons by Pro-Life Unity https://www.flickr.com/photos/24711181@N05/

We have two goals today. First of all, in our own way we want to pressure the GOP leadership in the House to present the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act for a vote.

From various sources on Capitol Hill, I have heard that we have already had an impact. There really wasn’t any particular rush felt on this issue, and now there is.

The other goal is to reorient this discussion back to the babies, who are literally being drawn and quartered on a daily basis. People don’t seem to have any sense of urgency about making that stop.  Jill Stanek

Jill Stanek is pro life.

Her pro life convictions were acquired the hard way: From being forced to do the dirt of abortion’s toughest kind of killing.

Infants born alive from abortions are often killed, usually from neglect. I’ve talked to nurses in Oklahoma hospitals who were ordered, as Jill Stanek was, to let babies that are born alive during abortions die slowly and unloved.

That was the inspiration for the bill that brought me within 50 votes of being censured by the statewide Oklahoma Democratic Party. It was the motivation behind the bill that drove a wedge between me and my Democratic colleagues that made the rest of my time in the legislature a kind of purgatory. It was why I could never attend another Oklahoma Democratic Party function again, even though I was the state party’s longest running elected official.

Ms Stanek was a nurse, working in a hospital who had to let a baby die. Unlike the doctors who gave the orders and walked away, she was a witness to these deaths. I heard stories from nurses about what happened here in Oklahoma when babies survived abortions in our state hospitals. I heard the same stories from clergy who worked as chaplains in these hospitals.

These situations drove some of the nurses who were forced to do these deeds to a moral crisis. Most of them just did what they were ordered to do and went on. I don’t know if it hardened them into a deformed version of themselves that was indifferent to killing, or if they suffer deep grief in silence.

I do know that a few nurses were not able to go on with it. Both here in Oklahoma and in Illinois, they stepped out. That is how Jill Stanek became pro life. She held a dying baby in her hands and it changed her. Then, she got involved in seeking a political end to this killing, and that changed her again.

She met President Barack Obama when he was Senator Obama. She lobbied him to pass the law that would allow infants born alive in abortions to receive medical treatment. What she got instead was a dose of what legislators do when they want to kill bills by sleight of hand. The guy who took the hit for the whole pro abortion movement in Illinois was Senator Obama, chair of the committee where the bill died.

The fight for this bill went on for years. When it finally came to a vote, Senator Obama continued to fight it on the floor.

Then, presidential candidate Obama lied about having done this.

Jill Stanek was well-schooled in the ways of politics. But she harbored illusions. She thought that this behavior was a Democratic failing. She evidently honestly believed that Republicans were different.

If she had asked me, I would have told her the truth. But I doubt that she would have believed me. Because this is a hard truth, that people detest. It rips away illusions that make things easy and simple. The pretend that there is a moral safe house in politics simplifies and comforts. The truth, not so much.

When the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives withdrew the bill that would have stopped abortions after 20 weeks off the agenda, a good number of pro life organizations rushed to defend him. That’s the way it works, you know.

Some of these pro life organizations have become Republican organizations first and pro life second. Many of them receive substantial funding from the Republican Party. Others, including most big name Republican-backing clergy, enjoy the backslapping and the “access” to people in power so much that they will not jeopardize it by publicly calling powerful politicians out when they betray the pro life cause.

They have deified a political party, and, no matter what they say to the contrary, that political party is where they bend their knee.

Not so Jill Stanek. She didn’t come to the pro life cause through theological reasoning or political allegiance. She held a dying child in her hands. She was the unwilling participant in the murder of innocents.

Her pro life convictions, unlike that of these other folks, is why she’s involved in all this. She’s there because of the babies, not the political goodies on the periphery of elective office.

She had seen Democrats use legislative ruse to kill pro life bills. But she evidently did not believe that Republicans, once they were in power, would do the same thing.

She didn’t understand the core truth of party politics. I repeat this truth like a mantra. Here it is again: The political parties are about getting power and keeping power. Everything else they say is a lie.

I’m not saying that there are no differences between the Rs and the Ds. What I am saying is that  those differences are not as meaningful as the similarities. At their core, the Rs and the Ds are the same. Both of them are about gaining and holding political power.

So, Jill Stanek joined together with people from the Christian Defense Coalition and Operation Rescue to hold a prayer vigil in front of Speaker Boehner’s office. Ms Stanek said she was there to put the emphasis back on the babies. She ended up getting arrested, along with other pro life leaders.

I am going to add that in this, at least, the Rs and the Ds are different. The Ds treat their allies better than the Rs. I saw it in the Oklahoma legislature and I see it again in this arrest. The Ds don’t have Planned Parenthood people arrested. In all my years in office, I never saw the Democratic leadership disrespect liberal clergy the way I saw the Republican leadership tell pro life clergy to sit down and shut up.

Pro abortion advocates do not grovel before pro abortion Democrats. They work together with them as a team. That’s a huge part of why they’ve seen so successful at keeping abortion legal these past 40 plus years.

The Ds treat their allies on social issues better than the Rs do theirs. And that’s a fact.

According to Ms Stanek, the actions that she and her allies have taken have put the bill to end abortions after 20 weeks back on the legislative map.

Hopefully, she is right.

From Charisma News:

Since the U.S. House of Representatives pulled the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act from consideration on Jan. 21—the evening before March for Life 2015—pro-life blogger Jill Stanek has been relentless in calling for the bill to come back to the House floor for a vote.

With the bill yet to be reintroduced two months later, Stanek felt the voice of pro-life activists was not being heard.

When she teamed up with Rev. Pat Mahoney of Christian Defense Coalition and Troy Newman of Operation Rescue to announce a Sit-in/Pray-in at Speaker John Boehner’s Congressional office, within days the Speaker of the House responded.

Before the protest, Stanek agreed to an interview as her team met at Pete’s Diner on Capitol Hill—a location they knew was one of Speaker Boehner’s favorite spots for breakfast.

Within two hours, she was handcuffed and arrested by Capitol Police outside the Congressional office of Speaker Boehner along with seven other pro-life activists.

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Tornadoes in Oklahoma and Lucky Me, I was There

Cell phones change everything, including the experience of taking shelter during a tornado.

Last night, while we sat in our storm shelter in Oklahoma City, my husband exchanged texts with his best friend who was a hundred miles away in Sand Springs. His friend was also in a storm shelter.

Okies.

We know tornadoes.

A wave of storms swept through the state yesterday, sending a lot of us into shelters. These weren’t the huge killer tornadoes that come down and stay down for long periods of time, taking out whole communities. They were the hop, skip and jump tornadoes that happen any number of times in this state every single year.

I underestimated these storms from the start. Yesterday was the first day in almost two weeks  that I felt well enough to go out to eat. We went to our fav Mexican food place, where we go every Wednesday. They know us so well that they don’t bother to bring us menus. The waiter already knows what we want.

One of the waiters was twitchy about the incoming storms. He and I had both been watching them on radar on our phones. “I think Tulsa is going to get it,” I told him, “but we’ll be alright.”

So much for me as a weather prophet.

My husband decided to put gas in his car, so, on the way home, he pulled into a gas station around the block from our house. We’d been watching the clouds on the drive home. As we pulled to a stop, I noticed a change. I watched as one of the clouds started to turn; to, as the weather guys say, “rotate.”

“That thing’s starting to spin,” I said.

I think my husband’s view was blocked by a post in front of our car. He glanced up, saw nothing and got out to get the gas.

His view must’ve changed when he was standing beside the car, because a moment later he got back in and started the engine. “I can get gas tomorrow. We need to get home.”

It was a short drive to our house, literally around the corner. But as we turned into the drive, the wind hit, bending over the pear tree in the front yard. That tree had been a poofy cloud of white blossoms. As  we drove into the garage, the wind stripped those blooms, blowing the petals into the garage ahead of us, littering the concrete floor with white.

We got in the shelter, and the rest, as they say, is rock and roll.

This particular tornado hit about six blocks from our house. The damage it did can be repaired and no one was killed. There was another small tornado — or maybe this same one, touching down again, a bit further south of us that tossed around vehicles and shaved off the roofs of houses.

The people of Sand Springs and Tulsa got hit with a stronger tornado that did heavier damage and killed one person.

Tornadoes like these happen several times a year, every year, in Oklahoma. They’re different from the huge tornadoes that come along less often. They certainly can and do kill people. A direct hit from a small tornado will destroy your home and kill you. But their killing power is limited to smaller areas and tends to be somewhat capricious.

These little tornadoes go up and down. They are unpredictable. They can form in minutes and vanish in a second.

That is what we were dealing with last night. The warning on a big tornado can give you enough time to get into shelter. But these smaller tornadoes happen fast.

The weather reports had predicted storms, and we could track the overall storm pattern on radar. But the only specific warning we had last night was when I looked up at that cloud and saw it start to turn. If I hadn’t spent a lifetime looking at these things, I wouldn’t have known what I was seeing.

That’s what makes smaller tornadoes dicey. The local weather people, even with all their tornado spotters and radar, mostly tell you about small tornados shortly after they’ve hit. A small tornado can dip down, flatten your house and go back up, leaving the house across the street covered in debris from your house, with the car that was in the drive tossed aside, but otherwise untouched. Then it can come back down and flatten a whole block two streets down.

The irony here is that the thing can kill you just as dead as one of the big ones like the tornado of May 3, 1999. Thanks to our excellent tornado alert system, I watched on tv as what we call “the May third tornado” formed in Apache Oklahoma. I watched it as it stayed down and plowed 100 miles across the prairie to my neighborhood.

I didn’t watch as it continued on through Del City and back out across the prairie to Stroud. I was too busy ducking.

Big tornadoes usually give more warning than little ones. In fact, little tornadoes don’t give warning at all. They are more survivable, and they do not usually cause the total destruction of whole communities. But they can spin up and drop down in a minute. I mean that literally.

I found a spider in the storm shelter last night, which means it needs de-bugging, and not in the computer sense. I also realized that we need to buy flashlights and put them in there. Also bottled water. And maybe a horn or something we can use to get help if the worst happens and we get trapped because our house has fallen on top the shelter.

After the storm passed, I went into an exhausted, totally washed out mode. It was like the experience sucked all the life out of me.

I didn’t realize it, but I’m still not over the big tornado from two years ago. That one killed a lot of people, destroyed a whole community, took out a hospital and flattened two schools. It killed 8 school children in the process.

The rebuilding hasn’t been completely finished from that tornado. I see foundations with no houses when I drive my Mama around in the afternoons. The hospital will be rebuilt, but it hasn’t been yet. The grieving for lost loved ones is on-going.

I guess that’s why this experience last night left me so tired and dispirited. Also, I’m still not entirely well from this cold/flu thing I’ve had. That may have made it worse. All I know is that I usually take these things matter of factly, but last night I reacted with exhaustion, that, and I’m glad we have that shelter.

Mama was prattling to me later in the evening, and I realized that she had forgotten the entire thing. She had no idea there had even been a storm, much less a tornado. Her dementia had wiped it away.

There are times when forgetting is a blessing.

 

Levi Pettit, OKC Black Leaders Hold Press Conference About Racist Video

Senator Anastasia Pittman Oklahoma State Senate File Photo

Senator Anastasia Pittman Oklahoma State Senate File Photo

Levit Pettit, one of the two young men who were expelled from Oklahoma University for their participation in singing a racist song at a fraternity gathering, apologized at a press conference this afternoon.

Senator Anastasia Pittman and other leaders in the Oklahoma City black community, including prominent members of the clergy, joined him at this press conference. At one point, one of the black community leaders reached out to pat him on the back while he was speaking.

Senator Pittman ended the press conference by saying that she and the community leaders who were with her wanted this event to lead to a growth in understanding and greater interracial harmony.

I am proud of and grateful to our Oklahoma City black community for the noble and loving way that they have handled this situation. These Christian leaders have shown us the positive way that true Christian leadership can function. Senator Pittman has demonstrated the best in what an elected official can contribute to her community.

They have shown us the healing power of forgiveness.

You can watch a video of the press conference with Senator Pittman’s comments here.

This is a video of the press conference. It does not contain Senator Pittman’s comments, which I regret. Her words about using this incident to bring us together are important.

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From KFOR.com:

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Former OU student Levi Pettit issued an apology this afternoon, weeks after a cellphone video showing him participating in a racist chant went viral.

20-year-old Pettit is accused of participating in the racist chant along with other Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members.

“Let me start by saying that I am sorry… Although I don’t deserve it, I want to ask for your forgiveness,” began Pettit.

Pettit, flanked on both sides by local leaders in the black community, gave his apology after meeting and speaking with Oklahoma Senator Anastasia Pittman, civic leaders, and local pastors about the incident.

“There are no excuses for my behavior. I never considered myself a racist,” said Pettit. “All the apologies in the world won’t change what I’ve done.”

Pettit and his family have reportedly spoken with Senator Pittman several times since the video was made public on March 9th.

 

Breaking: Speaker John Boehner’s Office Orders Arrest of Pro Life Demonstrators

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons, by Gage Skidmore https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons, by Gage Skidmore https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/

Pro life leaders were arrested for holding a prayer vigil outside House Speaker Boehner’s office today.

Pro life nurse Jill Stanek, who has been a vociferous critic of President Obama for lying about his history of killing the infant born alive bill when he was in the Illinois State Senate was one of those arrested. Other arrestees include Rev Pat Mahoney, the director of the Christian Defense Coalition and Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue. Seven pro life protesters were arrested in all.

“We were told yesterday by Speaker Boehner’s office that this is the most pro-life Congress that has ever been installed,” Troy Newman told CNSNEWS.com.

The protesters were holding a vigil in an attempt to get Congress to pass the ban on abortions after 20 weeks. The bill is usually referred to as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.

The bill was scheduled to come to a vote in the House on January 22, which is the anniversary of Roe v Wade. It was pulled at the last minute and a bill disallowing the use of federal monies for abortions in circumstances not pertaining to the Affordable Care Act was passed in its place.

I am grateful to these protestors for doing this. Maybe the bad publicity will force Speaker Boehner to bring the bill to a vote.

I’ve personally witnessed pro-life people back down and cover up for Republican leadership when they killed pro life bills here in Oklahoma. I’ve also seen big-name preachers take a pass on everything they’d been preaching to their flocks when leadership leaned on them.

This arrest underscores a simple fact that We the People are loathe to accept:  Politics is about power, not morality.

From CNSNEWS.COM:

CNSNews.com) – U.S. Capitol police on Wednesday arrested seven pro-life protestors while they were praying outside the office of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

hose arrested, who included prominent pro-life activist and nurse Jill Stanek, were protesting the House Republican leaderships’ failure to call a vote on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would prohibit aborting an unborn child in or after the 20th week of gestation.

The House Republican leadership shelved the bill less than 24 hours before it was set to come up for a vote on Jan. 22 after some Republican congresswomen, led by Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) and Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), objected to the rape and incest exceptions in the bill, which they deemed too onerous. The exceptions said a baby 20 weeks old or older could only be terminated if the the baby had been conceived by an act of rape or incest that had been reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

In 2012, Ellmers had co-sponsored the District of Columbia Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which banned abortions in the 20th week or later in Washington, D.C., and had no rape or incest exceptions whatever. On July 31 of that year, the bill was brought up on the House floor under a suspension of the rules, which required a two-thirds vote instead of a majority. The bill failed to get two-thirds but did get a majority, with 220 voting yes, 154 voting no, 55 not voting and 2 voting present. Six Democrats voted for that bill with no rape and incest exceptions.

 

From Hitler to the BTK Killer, How Do You Forgive a Monster?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Tony Webster https://www.flickr.com/photos/diversey/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Tony Webster https://www.flickr.com/photos/diversey/

When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer. Corrie Ten Boom

Corrie Ten Boom’s story was pivotal in my growth as a Christian.

My conversion to Christ happened when I was alone, driving my car. No other person, no church or clergy, participated in it. It was literally Jesus, reaching out to me and filing me with His love.

I knew that what I had experienced was real. I knew that I had encountered Another, and that this Being bore no resemblance to the poisoned descriptions of Him that had been used as a club against me so many times in my life.

This was a Being of ecstatic love and joy.

I was changed by the experience, changed further by the on-going relationship with this Being, who I later came to understand was the Holy Spirit. However, even though this direct encounter and relationship with the Divine gave me an understanding of His nature, I had no parallel understanding of Christianity itself.

I did not hate Christianity with the frothing at the mouth propagandized carry-on of today’s Christian bashers. But I had experienced cruelty and dishonesty at the hands of Christians. I had also drunk deeply at the cultural well of Christianity deconstruction. I honestly believed many of the lies I had been told about Christian history.

One of my first encounters with positive Christian witness was when I picked up a book called “The Hiding Place” at a used book sale. I don’t know why I paid the fifteen cents to buy that book. I only know that it was the first time I’d read or heard anything about Christians who had stood against the evils of the Nazis based on their faith in Christ.

Every bit of information on the subject of Christianity and the Nazis that I had seen, read or heard up until that time had been a version of the many Christian bashing tropes that are circulated today. Nobody told me that Christians had worked against the Nazis to their great personal peril and had been themselves been persecuted and murdered for their defiance of the evils of that time.

Corrie Ten Boom was a saint of World War II and the years after. She was an unmarried watchmaker’s daughter and a highly skilled watchmaker herself when the Nazis invaded Holland. She was a woman in her fifties who lived a quiet life with her family, in the home where she had grown up.

She was also a devoted follower of Jesus Christ in a family of devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

Corrie Ten Boom’s family hid many Jews from the Nazis. They were betrayed by a man they had helped and sent to the concentration camps themselves. Corrie’s father, brother and beloved sister died at the hands of the Nazis.

Her sister Betsy was Corey Ten Boom’s best friend, companion and solace in the nightmare of the camps. After the war, Corey encountered the guard who beat Betsy and whose cruelty probably contributed to her death.

This past week has given me the opportunity to reflect on Corrie’s life. I originally intended to pray for the grace of forgiveness during Lent. But other things got in the way. Then last week I got clipped by some sort of flu-like illness. This bug has forced solitude on me. It has freed me to do what I should have been doing all along.

I have prayed deeply about issues of forgiveness in my own life. I’ve also watched more television this past week than I have in the entire year before it. Among other things, I watched a documentary about a man whose family was murdered by the BTK killer in Wichita Kansas. I also watched a documentary about Corrie Ten Boom.

The difference in how these two people responded to the horrific things that had been done to them was stark. I understand the man’s reaction. I’m not in any way condemning or criticizing him. I see a lot of myself in him.

He was a young person with a casual faith. He did not have the underpinning of years of walking with the Lord that Corrie had when tragedy overtook her. He was unable to look at the savage murder of the people he loved from an eternal perspective.

He did not have the sustaining relationship with God that upheld and sustained her even when she was, as she put it, in the pit. He was much like I was when bad things happened to me early in my life.

His life was savaged by the murder of his family. Hers was magnified. Corrie Ten Boom survived the camps and went on to become a great international speaker and evangelist for Christ.

She wrote books and traveled the globe, speaking to people everywhere about the power of forgiveness. “There is no pit so deep that His love is not deeper still,” she told people, and they believed her because she had been in the deepest pit of human devising.

The young man whose family was murdered spent time in prison. He fathered a son he did not raise and has spent his days trying to paste the shattered pieces of himself back together again.

The difference between these two people is faith and the grace of God. It is also the grace of forgiveness.

God used Corrie Ten Boom, but He did not give her an easy life. Not only did she endure personal suffering in the concentration camps, she lost the people she loved there. As if that wasn’t enough, God sent the man who had beaten her sister to her to ask for forgiveness.

This forgiveness was the decisive cleansing of Corrie Ten Boom. It was the surrender she had to make in order to be useful to Him and His purposes. If you pray to become a saint, pray carefully. God asks all of you.

This video is Corrie’s account of her post war encounter with the concentration camp guard who had tortured her sister. It describes the healing power of the Cross, which gives peace that passes all understanding.

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Rep Mike Shelton: OU Racist Video the Action of ‘A Few Ignorant Individuals’

Oklahoma House of Representatives File Photo

Oklahoma House of Representatives File Photo

Representative Mike Shelton gave a powerful speech about the video of University of Oklahoma fraternity members singing a racist song.

It’s particularly pertinent in this season of Lent.

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Our Beautiful Pastoral Pope Preaches and Teaches the Gospel in Naples

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

I love Pope Francis. Nuff said.

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Slander and Character Assassination are Murder with Words

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Steve Jurvetson https://www.flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Steve Jurvetson https://www.flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/

Living with shame is like walking barefoot on glass. If anyone knows about public shaming, it’s Monica Lewinsky.

I chose the video of a TED talk that Ms Lewinsky gave for this post because she does not believe the things I do, at least in certain areas. I want to make the point that neither this nor her previous behavior matters in what I’m about to say. You can find the video at the end of this post.

The current practice of using personal attacks and character assassination to advance political agendas is one of the great evils of our time. It slashes people’s spirits like emotional shrapnel. If it doesn’t absolutely destroy them, it hurts them so profoundly, alienates them so deeply, that most of them will never be the same again.

This is trauma on a deep, social/psychological level.

People engage in these merciless attacks on others in comboxes, on their own blogs or Facebook and twitter accounts, from in front of television cameras, and in personal conversations. They aren’t merely disagreeing with others, they are actively trying to destroy them with hazing, mockery, slander and character assassination.

There is a profound moral disconnect at work in all this. Invariably those who engage in character assassination to advance their views make all sorts of aggressive and self-righteous statements about themselves and their cause. It does not matter if they are pro life or pro abortion; in favor of gay marriage or against it; pushing for euthanasia or working to stop it. At some point they have fallen into the clutches of the devil.

You read that correctly. A person can be fighting for the sanctity of human life, working mightily to stop abortion and euthanasia, praying and fighting to defend the family; they can do all these things, and be working for the devil.

How can this happen?

It begins when we lay aside the armor of God — which St Paul tells us is peace, faith, truth, righteousness, salvation and reliance on the Holy Spirit — and take up the weapons of satan, which are self-righteousness, hatred, slander, mockery, lies, destruction and a refusal to forgive.

St Paul said that the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, forebearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  He also said that the acts of the flesh are debauchery, orgies, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy.

Now I ask you, which of these lists best describes the attitudes and behaviors of those who engage in attacking others with slander, mockery, hazing and character assassination? Christians who try to destroy others with words may not be attending orgies, but how much love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control do we see in them and in their behavior?

Who are they serving when they try to destroy people with their vicious words and ugly photos? If we do not see the Spirit of God in their actions, but we see instead the spirit of the flesh, then who is their master? Who is their lord?

I know that Christian-bashing blogs and books routinely engage in character assassination as a tactic and a lifestyle. I also know that many in these groups are hardened in this sin and refuse to consider the destructive evil of their actions.

But my focus in this Lenten season is Christians who have fallen into this pit alongside the people they claim they are trying to convert. I think these are Christians who have fallen away from Christ without realizing it. I think they are Christians who are trying so hard to do His will that they have exhausted themselves in the effort.

They have been overcome by the world unawares. They’ve forgotten that the first part of doing His will is trusting Him. These are people who need to retreat from the fight and seek Him with all their hearts. They have lost the battle in this spiritual warfare. If they continue, they may lose the war, as well.

St Paul counseled First Century Christians to let go of the legalisms that crippled them in their walk with Christ. He told them to forget about who was circumcised and who was not. He said that the only thing that matters is faith expressing itself through love. Elsewhere, he said that only faith, love and hope abide. In other words, we take three things with us when we leave this life: Our faith, hope and love.

This is the treasure that Jesus spoke of, that He told us to lay up for ourselves in heaven.

How much faith, hope and love are in character assassination, slander, and the social murder of another person? Who will we convert to Christ by this ugliness and hate? Why would anyone want our Jesus or believe that He is Love when we, His followers, do these unGodly things in His name?

It is not only possible, it is more effective in the long run, to avoid attacking people personally and confine yourself to a strong advocacy for what you believe. A firm and unyielding commitment to those beliefs will win out in time, even if it gets knocked down repeatedly at the beginning. Stand for life. Do not slander those who support abortion or euthanasia or egg harvesting or whatever.

Speak the truth of Christ crucified. Share the hope of forgiveness and eternal life. Do it especially with those who spurn Him and who will call you names for speaking of Him.

Never back away or back down when the question is Jesus Christ. Do not become silent for fear of being slandered and slimed yourself.

When others engage in character assassination, speak out against the practice. You may make a target of yourself by doing this. That is often what happens when people take a stand on the Gospels. But taking a stand for Jesus and His teachings is our universal vocation as Christians.

Do not attack other people on a personal level. Put your ideas forward with the absolute knowledge that He can persuade where you can’t. What I’m saying is don’t rely on yourself. Just do what He tells you and trust Him. Trust Jesus.

Do not sit silent when people you are with engage in these sins. Do not feed this behavior by watching it on tv or clicking on it on the internet. Do not use the anonymity of the combox to unhinge youself from your conscience. None of us is anonymous to God.

It is easy to become a slave to the approval, ratings, readership, votes or whatever that demagoguery, slander and personal attacks can bring. I would be the last to deny that those of little conscience and no fidelity to Christ make money, gain promotions, and acquire power by doing these things.

After all, what did satan offer Jesus when he tempted Him? He offered power, money, prestige.

You can get elected slandering people. You can get ratings and big careers and catapult yourself into bestsellerdom. What you cannot do is destroy other people — deliberately and maliciously inflict harm on them that pushes them to the edge of despair and scars them for the rest of their lives — and stand righteous before the living God.

The more you do this, the more it destroys you. That is what it means to deliberately and for your own pleasure and dark gratification to destroy another person with your words, your Photoshopped photos, your hazing, mockery and shunning. That is what it means to bring another person down like a lion bringing down a gazelle.

That is character assassination, and it destroys those who engage in it from the soul out.

We have become a nation of people who advocate for things we claim to believe by using character assassination instead of discussion. If someone disagrees with us, we try to destroy them and their standing in the community. We try to degrade them to death.

We do not talk about why we think their ideas are wrong. Instead, we try to vanquish their ideas by destroying their worth as people.

If you engage in character assassination, if you sit still and be quiet while others do it in front of you, if you enjoy watching while it is done to someone else, you are in sin. You are erecting a fence between yourself and your own salvation. You are putting a barrier between you and the Holy Spirit, between you and Jesus.

Slander and character assassination are murder with words. The damage they do to the people who suffer them is real and lifelong.

Do not inflict blood guilt on your own soul for the paltry pleasure of joining in with the crowd in the latest hate-off. Follow Christ. Say no to this sinful practice. It, like its author, is from the pit.

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You CAN Use Roku, Amazon TV, Apple TV with Your Ancient Television. Here’s How.

b-slate-01-sm-v7._V309500844_

I recently bought Amazon’s new Amazon Fire TV.

I’m an Amazon Prime user, and they sent me an offer to buy it for a lower than listed price. You know how it goes. I clicked and made off with it.

Part of the sell line on the Amazon Fire TV is how easy it is to hook up. However, for those of us who are using Lazarus tvs from early in the century, that’s not exactly true.

We have a newish big-screen tv in our master bedroom. This is my husband’s tv. He uses it with Roku.

Me? I tend to watch tv late at night after he’s asleep. I also tend to stay away from the bedroom except when I’m ready to go to sleep. That means I watch the ancient big screen tv in the living room; the one that we bought way back in 2001

We paid a lotta dough for that thing. But it has been a good investment simply because it wears like iron. Fourteen years into its life, it’s still plugging along without a problem.

I like to buy techie stuff, but I also have a significant cheap streak. I almost can’t make myself replace a perfectly good whatever when it’s working. Even when time and technology pass it by, I hesitate to give it the old heave-ho.

I handle this with computers by passing them along to my kids. It’s always amazed me how short the life span is for a computer when one of my kids gets his hands on it. The same laptop that will grind on for years for me, falls apart — usually literally — under the full torque gaming and being lugged absolutely everywhere that is life for one of my kid’s computers.

But that is another post.

This post is about my brand new Amazon TV and my lazarus television. The problem is that Lazarus doesn’t have HDMI ports. And the Amazon Fire TV requires HDMI ports.

If you waste your time calling “experts” at Best Buy and your cable company and such, they will tell you in a condescending tone that reminds you quite clearly that you are an old woman and old women don’t know nothin’, that your old groaner of a tv is dead to today’s technology.

You can not use your new fangled Roku/Apple TV/Amazon Fire TV with a dead as a rock old-fangled tv from the past they say while doing everything but rolling their eyes.

You. Can. Not. Do. It.

Fortunately for me, I’ve raised male children and am not intimidated in the least by the pretentions of sneering young men at techie places. I know they’re mostly full of self-congratulation and testosterone.

Long story short, here’s how you rig up your old school big screen to work with today’s channel surfer.

Go to Amazon (where else?) and buy one of these. Toss a couple of RCA cables into the cart along with it.

Then, when your order comes in, plug it in. The RCA cables are color-coded, so it’s hard to go wrong. If you find the process intimidating, get a young y chromosome geeky person to do it for you. Most neighborhoods have several of them and, in my experience, they work for praise.

Be sure to turn off Dolby stereo on your Roku/Apple TV/Amazon TV.

You’re good to go.

I just saved you the cost of a new tv.

Pope Francis’ Groupies Surround Him

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Edgar Jimenez https://www.flickr.com/photos/chilangoco/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Edgar Jimenez https://www.flickr.com/photos/chilangoco/

Every public figure has groupies of one sort or another.

Pope Francis looks more startled than I’ve ever seen him when he’s surrounded by his groupies.

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America and Its Half Million Homeless Ghosts

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by David Poe https://www.flickr.com/photos/mockstar/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by David Poe https://www.flickr.com/photos/mockstar/

Foxes have dens, birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head. Jesus Christ

Sprinklergate, the story that the Cathedral of St Mary in San Francisco was using its sprinkler system to clear the cathedral steps of homeless people, is a symptom of a big-time problem.

That problem is that American cities are haunted by over a half million ghosts. These ghosts sleep on park benches, sidewalks and in shelters. They panhandle and go through dumpsters, searching for clothing, food, money, drugs.

These are not silent ghosts. They accost us as we walk to work, they wave signs begging for cash as we drive down the road. They take over the public libraries and, as St Mary’s has discovered, can block entrances to buildings with their vacant-eyed vigils.

The ghosts haunting American cities are the homeless. They are not in any way homogenous. Some of them are temporary down and outs. Others are mentally ill. Many are drug addicts and alcoholics. Others are panhandlers posing as homeless while they ply their trade.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by davejdoe https://www.flickr.com/photos/92414546@N04/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by davejdoe https://www.flickr.com/photos/92414546@N04/

Homelessness is the opposite of the American dream. It is the opposite of what, until a few decades ago, was the American self-image. I am old enough to remember a time when America did not have homeless people lying on its park benches, snoring in its libraries and blocking the entrances to its churches.

I was born in that era between the Great Depression with its hobos and today with our ubiquitous and ignored homeless.

America’s basic response to homelessness among so many of its citizens, including many children, has been to ignore them. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development issues a glossy report on the homeless every year. This report differentiates between types of homelessness. There are the homeless who stay with relatives, and are not, to my way of thinking, truly homeless at all.

Then there are those who sleep in shelters or whatnot. Finally, we get to the homeless that inspire us to such conflicting feelings of pity, indifference and annoyance, those who do not have shelter at all.

In the meantime, while we ignore the homeless, and refuse to even take a look at the government policies and social changes that made them homeless, we shift the burden for dealing with them onto whoever the homeless themselves chose to impose themselves upon.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Alex Barth https://www.flickr.com/photos/a-barth/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Alex Barth https://www.flickr.com/photos/a-barth/

Businesses, public buildings of all sorts, churches and other facilities can easily find themselves unable to perform their intended functions because of the homeless sleeping on the sidewalks at their entrance or sitting inside their buildings. Mothers won’t bring the kiddos to the library if the homeless take it over. Guests won’t check into hotels whose entrances are blocked or whose lobbies are filled with homeless people. Churches can’t hold services if the worshippers stay away rather than step over the homeless, sitting on the steps.

We ignore the homeless because we feel helpless to do anything decisive for them. We ignore them because we don’t truly understand what policies and practices of political and social corruption made them homeless in the first place. We ignore the homeless because they overwhelm us and baffle us and scare us.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by David Hood https://www.flickr.com/photos/131405116@N07/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by David Hood https://www.flickr.com/photos/131405116@N07/

Worse, we ignore them because if we acknowledged that many of our political and social ideas on both sides of the political spectrum have created this problem and allowed it to grow, it would require us to re-evaluate many of our simplistic viewpoints. We ignore the homeless because not ignoring the homeless would require us to change.

So, we dump them.

We dump them on the businesses and operators of public buildings. We dump the problem on the administrators of these businesses, public buildings and churches. Then, when they take any action to dislodge the homeless from camping out on their property and blocking access and use by those for whom it was intended, we excoriate these administrators for their heartlessness.

This public venting of moral outrage has nothing to do with compassion. It is just us, being our hypocritical selves about a problem we will not do anything to solve. We will not take a homeless person home and house them in our spare bedroom. We will not let them sleep on our porch. We will not change our politics to fit the realities of real life.

We will ignore them and what brung them.

They are not people to us. They are ghosts of what once was people like us. Somebody birthed them, taught them to write those signs they hoist and how to read the hours of operation on the signs in front of public buildings.

They were once part of the larger society.

But now they are ghosts.

And we ignore them.

And we denounce those on whom we dump them for being overwhelmed by them.

And we will not change.

Sprinklergate: Is it Real, or Is It Politics?

Market Street, San Francisco Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by William Welch https://www.flickr.com/photos/20098477@N02/

Market Street, San Francisco Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by William Welch https://www.flickr.com/photos/20098477@N02/

I’ve been sick as the proverbial dawg these past few days. I managed to put together a couple of posts, but then I fell back into bed and pulled the blankets over my head.

I’m not feeling all that great today, either, but I have roused myself from my coughing and hacking and moaning and complaining long enough to realize that there’s another oddball “scandal” about the Catholic Church leap-frogging around the internet.

From what I gather, a cathedral in San Francisco (of all places) attempted to use a sprinkler system to encourage homeless people to vacate the steps leading into their building. Or some such.

Needless to say, the story has fueled the tanks of Catholic bashers. It’s also brought out quite a few disappointed and sad comments from faithful Catholics, as well. The story seems to be all about whether or not the Catholic Church and the Archbishop of San Francisco should be keel-hauled and sentenced to extinction over Sprinklergate.

I haven’t read too much about a couple of issues that I think are somewhat pertinent.

First, the Archbishop of San Francisco is engaged in a battle over the future of the Catholicism in that great city, i.e., whether or not the Church will be run by its own teachings or by secular authorities and the mob actions of “activists” who don’t agree with those teachings. This particular argument is about homosexuals.

Second, digging up dirt on someone who opposes them is a standard tactic of the gay rights movement. Demands for  civil and human rights for gay people are just. Homosexuals have been subjected to unjust discrimination and violence for a long time.

But that does not justify advancing this cause by denying the human rights of other people. Far too often, the gay rights movement has advanced its cause by the ignoble method of organized and manufactured character assassination of those who oppose it.

Using character assassination as a method of political bullying is an effective tactic. It harms, sometimes destroys, the ability of the person who is attacked to put their ideas forward in a credible manner. It also serves as a warning to anyone who might be inclined to join them that they, too, will be destroyed. In this case, it sends a signal to other bishops to duck and cover or be personally attacked as well.

I’m not going to take a position on Sprinklergate in this post, but I am going to raise a simple question: Is the whole scandal and the sudden media focus on this rather obscure action by the cathedral an example of attacking the Archbishop because he’s standing for Catholic teaching?

I’m not saying that turning the sprinkler system on homeless people to get them to move off the church steps is a good thing. What I’m saying is that the reason it has been so widely reported may very well be politically motivated.

Archbishop Cordileone has been attacked, picketed and and smeared ever since he took office in San Francisco. These attacks are because  he has taught actual Catholic teaching as regards gay marriage. This latest series of attacks are precisely and directly because he has been doing his best to create a Catholic Church in San Francisco (again, of all places) that is actually Catholic.

In a back-handed way, Sprinklergate is a compliment to Archbishop Cordileone. If this is the best his opponents could do, then he must be an honest man.

There are other issues about Sprinklergate which need to be discussed. But that really is the topic for another post.

My point here, dear Catholics, is don’t be so quick to join in with public lynchings of our clergy when those public lynchings are so obviously linked to actions by that clergy to defend the teachings of the Church in a Catholic-bashing world.

Now, I’m going back to coughing and hacking, moaning and complaining. As soon as I feel up to it, I’ll write another post talking about other overlooked issues in Sprinklergate.

Church Turns to Congress for Relief from Attacks on Religious Freedom

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ed Uthman https://www.flickr.com/photos/euthman/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ed Uthman https://www.flickr.com/photos/euthman/

The city of Washington, DC has passed two laws that directly attack religious freedom.

The first is the ironically titled Human Rights Amendment of 2014. According to Catholic News Agency,

… the Human Rights Amendment of 2014, forces religious schools to recognize persons and groups who might conflict with their stated mission and allow them use of their facilities and benefits. For example, a Catholic school would be forced to officially recognize an openly-gay student group and could not deny them use of its facilities.

The second is the equally mis-titled Reproductive Health Non-Discrmination Act of 2014. Again, according to Catholic News Agency,

… the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act of 2014, prohibits all employers from discriminating against employees over their “reproductive health decision making.” Thus, a Catholic or pro-life group could not make employment decisions based on their employees’ decision to act contrary to the mission – such as procuring an abortion, for example.

Both of these two laws are direct attacks on both religious liberty and First Amendment freedoms. That is why I say that their titles are ironic. They do not guarantee human rights and freedom from discrimination. These laws themselves are attacks on the basic human right of religious liberty and freedom from discrimination of religious believers.

To read a fact sheet on the two laws, go here.

There are two resolutions in the United States Senate which would overturn these laws. Congress has 30 days to review the bills, which are slated to become law on April 17. As noted in the Catholic News Agency article,

The Archdiocese of Washington supports these two resolutions, which, they say, “subjugate the Church’s moral teaching to the moral views of the government” and “result in discrimination against religious believers.”

The Knights of Columbus, the United States bishops’ conference, the Catholic University of America, the National Association of Evangelicals, and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention have joined the Archdiocese of Washington in the call to pass the resolutions.

I do not know if Georgetown University has joined the opposition to these laws. If they have not, I would like to know why.

Congress clearly has the power to overturn these laws. The question, as always with Congress, is will they use their power for the purpose it was given to them, or will they set this up as another partisan fight in order to align voters for the ’16 elections?

Congress needs to hear from their constituents as to why they are not doing any of the things that got them elected in the first place.

The Archdiocese of Washington issued the followed press release concerning the resolutions in Congress on March 18:

Religious Freedom at Stake

U.S. Senate Must Stand for Religious Freedom in Nation’s Capital

March 18, 2015

WASHINGTON – Today the Archdiocese of Washington, along with a large and growing coalition of religious institutions, faith-based organizations, and pro-life advocacy organizations within the District of Columbia, welcomes the introduction of two resolutions disapproving the unprecedented attack on religious freedom, freedom of speech and freedom of association in the nation’s capital through the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act (RHNDA) and the Human Rights Amendment Act (HRAA).

HRAA, by removing conscience protections in the law, would prevent religious educational institutions from operating according to the tenets of their own faith with regard to human sexuality, and RHNDA would force religious institutions and other organizations to hire or retain employees who publicly act in defiance of the mission of their employer. Both laws subjugate the Church’s moral teaching to the moral views of the government, violating the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and result in discrimination against religious believers.

The Archdiocese of Washington has long respected home rule for the District of Columbia and, therefore, advocated for our religious rights with the D.C. Council throughout the legislative process. Despite this, the Council passed these acts. The archdiocese’s appeal to Congress to restore these constitutional rights is the only legislative recourse that remains. The Council of the District of Columbia transmitted the new measures to Congress on March 6, initiating a thirty-day congressional review period.

The archdiocese is grateful for the resolutions introduced today in the U.S. Senate and is hopeful for swift action in both chambers of Congress within the remaining days of the congressional review period.

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Vatican Archives Shed Light on the Armenian Genocide

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ana Ulin https://www.flickr.com/photos/anaulin/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ana Ulin https://www.flickr.com/photos/anaulin/

This year is the 100th anniversary of what is often called “The Forgotten Genocide,” which is the Armenian Genocide.

This slaughter of Christians by the Ottoman Turks occurred during World War I. Together, the formed the kick-off for the bloodbath that we remember as the 20th Century.

I’m going to write about the Armenian Genocide after Lent. The Vatican Archives are a source of information about this forgotten genocide of Christians.

From Catholic News Service:

.- Ahead of Pope Francis’ Mass commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, newly released historic documents confirm the Holy See’s broad commitment to helping the Armenian people at a time when few others would.

The Italian Jesuit-run magazine La Civiltà Cattolica stressed that newly published documents “prove how the Holy See, always informed about events, had not remained passive, but was strongly committed to face the issue” of the Armenian Genocide. “Benedict XV was the only ruler or religious leader to voice out a protest against the ‘massive crime’.”

The Armenian Genocide is considered to have begun April 24, 1915 with a massacre of Armenians in Istanbul. Over the next eight years, 1.5 million Armenians would be killed and millions more displaced.


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