Money Talks, Facts Walk in Oklahoma’s Three Horse Economy.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Kool Cats Photography https://www.flickr.com/photos/katsrcool/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Kool Cats Photography https://www.flickr.com/photos/katsrcool/

Oklahoma has a three-horse economy. Here it is in three words:

Agriculture.

Military bases.

Oil.

If you closed down those military bases and lowered the price of crude, Oklahoma’s three horse economy would dry up and blow away like a tumbleweed, bouncing before the wind.

Oklahoma has been riding the crest of an oil boom for years now. This has led to policy decisions at the capitol which will be disastrous for Oklahoma’s people in the long run. The reason they will be disastrous is that these decisions were based on the fantasy that Oklahoma’s current prosperity is a reflection of the genius of lawmakers and their half-brained policy decisions rather than the price of the black gold that comes out of Oklahoma’s red dirt.

Okies don’t like things that hurt the oil industry because the oil industry is the plate that everyone in the state feeds off of in one way or another. Not everyone is black gold rich. But just about every paycheck that gets cashed is related in some way to agriculture, military bases or oil.

You don’t bite the hand that feeds you. The dumbest dog in the kennel knows that.

That’s the reason why the Oklahoma State Geological Survey has been oh-so-quiet about the cause of all those confounding earthquakes that have been shake-rattle-and-rolling the state in recent years. There’s a link between the broken glass from those quakes and the hand that feeds us. In fact, it appears that the hand that feeds us is also the hand that is rocking the earth we stand on.

There seems to be a link between all these Okie earthquakes and fracking. Fracking is a practice of the oil industry, one that makes it more profitable and that adds $$$ to Oklahoma’s money bins, both private and public. We’ve got an oil boom and an earthquake boom and it appears that one of them is causing the other. It also seems that the industry that puts food on our collective table and jingle-jangle in our pockets is rocking and rolling the foundations on which our homes are built.

I’ve read concerns that all these little quakes are building up to a big boy that will really do damage. If that happens, Oklahoma will be in the national news again. It seems that we never get noticed unless we are bombed, beheaded or blown away. If we end up rubble-ized by an earthquake shakedown, I imagine we’ll get noticed again.

A couple of years ago after one of our killer tornadoes, the national media wondered why Okies don’t build more storm shelters. They raised the legitimate question as to why we don’t have storm shelters in our schools. The legislature was unable to address these significant concerns that relate to the public health and safety because of pressure from the Chamber of Commerce, who, as anyone who knows anything about Oklahoma politics is aware, runs Oklahoma state government.

Now, it appears that somebody (any guesses who???) has been deep-sixing scientific data linking our earthquake boom (pun intended) to our oilies. I don’t need a psychic to know who’s going to win this argument.

When you’ve got a three-horse economy, you don’t shoot one of the horses.

From Newsweek:

For years, the Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS) avoided acknowledging that Oklahoma’s dramatic increase in earthquakes had anything to do with the oil and gas industry, even while federal scientists fully acknowledged the link.

According to new reporting from EnergyWire, OGS’s reluctance to point fingers may have been due to the industry itself.

In 2012, U.S. Geological Survey officials said that a step in the hydraulic fracturing process—the disposal of vast volumes of salty, chemical-laced wastewater by injecting it deep into the ground—was related to the massive spike in Oklahoma earthquakes. OGS, however, responded by criticizing their “rush to judgment.”

“Since early 2010 we have recognized the potential for the Jones earthquake swarm to be due to the Hunton dewatering [oil and gas project],” Austin Holland, an OGS seismologist wrote to USGS science adviser Bill Leith in 2013, according to documents obtained by EnergyWire. “But until we can demonstrate that scientifically or not we were not going to discuss that publicly.”

According to EnergyWire, Holland was called into meetings with his boss, University of Oklahoma President David Boren, and oil executives, to discuss the link.

From StateImpact:

Despite long-held suspicions that the state’s earthquake surge was linked to oil and gas activity, the Oklahoma Geological Survey stayed silent amid pressure from oil company executives, EnergyWire reports.

For this and other interviews, State Seismologist Austin Holland acknowledges “intense personal interest” from energy company executives, but told reporter Mike Soraghan it never affected his scientific findings:

But Holland and OGS have been the voice of skepticism in the scientific community about connections between oil production activities and the hundreds of earthquakes that have shaken the state.

From grist:

Oklahoma has been experiencing an earthquake boom in recent years. In 2014, the state had 585 quakes of at least magnitude 3. Up through 2008, it averaged only three quakes of that strength each year. Something odd is happening.

But scientists at the Oklahoma Geological Survey have downplayed a possible connection between increasing fracking in the state and the increasing number of tremors. Even as other states (Ohio, for example) quickly put two and two together and shut down some drilling operations that were to blame, OGS scientists said that more research was needed before their state took similar steps.

Now, though, emails obtained by EnergyWire reporter Mike Soraghan reveal that the University of Oklahoma and its oil industry funders were putting pressure on OGS scientists to downplay the connection between earthquakes and the injection of fracking wastewater underground. In 2013, a preliminary OGS report noted possible correlation between the two, and OGS signed on to a statement by the U.S. Geological Survey that also noted such linkages.

 

Shades of Truth: A Film that Delves into the Legacy of Pope Pius XII

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Michele Madalena Oliveira https://www.flickr.com/photos/43747862@N04/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Michele Madalena Oliveira https://www.flickr.com/photos/43747862@N04/

I’ve been reading a book called The Myth of Hitler’s Pope. I recommend it.

I’m also going to check into this film as soon as I can.

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FBI Warns Law Enforcement that ISIS is Recruiting American Teens

 

This photo was taken in London, 2006. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Tjebbe van Tijen https://www.flickr.com/photos/7141213@N04/

This photo was taken in London, 2006. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Tjebbe van Tijen https://www.flickr.com/photos/7141213@N04/

From CNN:

Washington (CNN)The FBI and Department of Homeland Security sent a joint warning to law enforcement across the country about the concern over a growing trend of girls and boys wanting to fight with ISIS in the wake of the detention of a 17-year-old Northern Virginia teen last week, according to a law enforcement official who has read the report.

The source says law enforcement is tracking “lots of cases” like that around the country and they’re growing increasingly concerned about the issue.

History of the Crusades: President Obama’s Prayer Breakfast Comments

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

I’m going to backtrack for today’s video. This is a discussion of President Obama’s comments about the Crusades at the 2015 National Prayer Breakfast.

I decided to put these videos on Public Catholic because of the president’s comments. Inaccurate history is used by Christian bashers to attack Christianity every single day. Christians do not know enough history to reply or deal with this intelligently. That needs to change.

After I finish with this series of videos on the Crusades, I’m going to take up the ignorant mis-use of Scripture to bash Christians.

We are living in a time in which Christians are the new hate group that it is ok to attack, bash, haze and hate. I see it all the time in crazy mean hate blogs and their crazy mean authors. I’ve encountered it repeatedly at certain political gatherings. It’s out there for everyone to see in the constant drip-drip-drip of anti-Christian articles in the press. We get a constant battering from televised specials about Jesus which consistently seek to attack the veracity of the Gospels. It’s Lent, with Easter coming, so we’re going to see a lot of that right now.

Then there is the false history, the anti-history, about the Crusades and all other Christian history. You can be sure that whether the topic is the Black Death or the fall of Rome, there will be a jibe against Christians and Christianity in there somewhere. In fact, most of the time, anti-Christian propaganda, pretending to be history will be prominent. What you will not see is any mention of the civilization-building power of Christianity, or the development of human rights because of the teachings of Christ. Some of these slanders in the popular media are distortions, but  a lot of it is direct lying.

Americans aren’t just ignorant of the truth, they are actively and aggressively being taught lies about Christianity and Christian history by the popular media who appear to be working in tandem with aggressive Christian bashers to destroy the faith of Christians in this country. The president’s speech, as well as a lot of other things he’s said and done, is an indication of how deep this hatred of Christians runs in certain circles.

It is no accident that we are witnessing an on-going genocide of Christians in a whole region of the world. These two things are, as they always are, tied together. Verbal hazing, degrading propaganda, lies and slanders of a whole people, are the intellectual scaffolding on which those who would commit genocide stand.

We really need to stop dismissing these constant attacks on our faith and ourselves as if they don’t matter. We also need to stop being overawed by the verbal violence and self-proclaimed authority of our attackers. I am not counseling a descent into the slime pit of public discourse alongside them. What I am suggesting is that Christians make the effort to learn the truth so that the lies will not impact us.

Equipping Christians to deal with this post-Christian culture the primary purpose of Public Catholic. The first step is overcoming the vast ignorance of their faith and their history among Christians themselves.

Christians do not need to apologize for Jesus Christ. We need to stand for him without fear or equivocation.

I am aware that there are Islamic teachings which lead to a more peaceful application of that faith. I think that the interpretation referenced here is an accurate depiction of of the application of Islamic teachings of a thousand years ago. It also seems that it is still relevant to Islamic extremists today.

I want to emphasize that this video discusses events which happened almost over a thousand years ago. The reason I am posting it here is to correct the inaccurate  history of the Crusades which is being used in the popular media to attack and degrade Christians and Christianity.

 

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/publiccatholic/2015/03/history-of-the-crusades-the-first-crusade-1099/#ixzz3TWbP6IeR

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Pope Francis: Discarding the Elderly is Ugly and It is a Sin

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

This is a powerful message for our Pope on the care of the elderly.

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Netanyahu’s Speech: Is Beltway Partisanship Going to Get Us Killed?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by KAZ Vorpal https://www.flickr.com/photos/kazvorpal/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by KAZ Vorpal https://www.flickr.com/photos/kazvorpal/

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress this week.

The president of the United States went into full bully mode before this speech saying that the invitation was a partisan move to embarrass him. In the end, he managed to embarrass himself, and at least 50 of his fellow Democrats in Congress.

First, administration operatives chewed on the invitation to the Prime Minister. We’ve been treated to all sorts of press questions because Congress didn’t consult the president before issuing the invitation. There was tut-tutting about the prime minister trying to affect American policy with this speech.

That last complaint seems a bit coy considering the amount of lobbying that is thrown at Congress by foreign interests every day. That lobbying is hidden from the American people, but its affect on foreign policy is bound to be enormous. This speech was out there where we could all hear it. It brought we the people into the discussion, and that, I think, is the real reason the president was so irate.

When efforts to force Congress to withdraw the invitation failed, the president went to work on Democratic members of Congress. Most of the Ds who sit in the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives had the good sense to show up for the speech. They behaved like representatives of the people dealing with serious issues. However, at least 50 of them staged a grade school boycott.

This boycott accomplished nothing good. It’s primary affect was to pour gasoline on the partisan fires in our government and deepen the disrespect in which the American people hold Congress. It revealed just how bizarre and reality-deprived the thinking of these people has become.

I realize that they are inside a pressure cooker and that the whole world outside that pressure cooker is just a figment of memory to them. But their behavior about this speech, as well as the behavior of the entire Congress on most other issues, reveals more than a little bit of delusional thinking.

Did they really think that this puerile plan to boycott the speech of a head of state of a friendly nation was a good idea? Have they no sense of responsibility to the American people and our need for at least the appearance of a sane and functioning government?

We’ll get to the particulars of the speech itself in another post. For now, I want to address this partisan flap over the fact that the speech was made.

The first question is a simple one. Was the invitation to Prime Minister Netanyahu a partisan political move on the part of Congressional leaders?

Rather than answer that, I’ll ask another question: Does Congress do anything that is not a partisan political move?

The next questions are, was President Obama within his rights to throw such a hissy fit about the invitation, and were the Democratic lawmakers right to boycott the speech?

The answer to those questions are no, and no.

Congress does not need the president’s approval when it invites someone into its house to speak. Congress can — as should be abundantly clear, after this speech — do that anytime it wants.

President Obama was not only out of line, he looked petulant and weak, pulling out all the stops to derail this invitation.

The Democratic members of Congress who chose to boycott the speech revealed themselves as blind party loyalists rather than representatives of the people. There is no requirement for anyone to agree with what Prime Minister Netanyahu said. Neither he nor President Obama has a vote in either the House or Senate of the United States.

As representatives of the people who should be engaged in making decisions about these serious issues, members of Congress have a responsibility to listen to the head of state of an affected nation who is also our ally. This speech was an opportunity, both for them and for the American people, to think more deeply about our position in that part of the world.

These members of Congress boycotted the speech because of party politics. I don’t have the words to appropriately characterize how shallow and callous that is.

This was another clash in these politician’s dangerous and absolutely vicious game of king-of-the-Hill. What’s sobering is that American foreign policy in this tinderbox part of the world appears to fall into that same category. The terrifying question of a nuclear Middle East with its deranged politics and mass murderers without limits seems to be just another battle in the great Congressional game of using the power of their elected offices to win the next election for their political party.

Yesterday’s boycott of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech by at least 50 members of Congress is not just another symptom of this partisan illness. It is an indication that the business of constantly jockeying for the next election has reached a lethal level.

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech exposed the fact that the partisan gamesmanship has advanced to the point that it now controls what our Congress does in matters that concern issues such as nuclear war, with its potential for global annihilation. We are looking at an on-going holocaust in the Middle East. Prime Minister Netanyahu speaks for a tiny nation that clings to existence on the edge of a region of the world that has, quite frankly, gone mad.

The partisan wars are so out of control that our elected officials now use issues that could threaten the survival of much of the human race in their game of king of the Hill. The question of a nuclear Middle East is not a parlor game. Make no mistake about it, the issues that Prime Minister Netanyahu raised in his speech are issues of survival, and not just for Israel.

I am not saying that I agree with everything Prime Minister Netanyahu said. He is the leader of another nation. His interests do not coincide entirely with those of the United States. But he raised important issues that should be discussed in Congress and throughout these United States.

Should the Congressional leadership have used their power to invite a head of state to address their house to one-up the prez? No, they should not have done it to one-up the prez.

They should have done it because we the people have a need to know more about American policy in the Middle East. Too much of it is cloaked and kept away from the American people. It’s a sad day when we need the speech of a foreign head of state to bring the people of this nation into the conversation. For these reasons, I don’t have any problem with the invitation beyond the partisan motivations behind it.

We really need to demand better of our elected officials. We need more transparency in our government, more open discussion of real issues. We also need and deserve public servants who serve the public, not partisan brinksmanship.

If this country was not so strong, it could not have survived the past decades of bad governance. However, it has been greatly weakened by a long series of bad presidents from both parties and the abdication of responsibility by Congress.

If beltway partisanship replaces the good of America among our elected officials, even in matters this grave, it is going to get us killed.

Here’s a list of those who have admitted they took a powder on the speech. It’s from CNN:

At least 50 Democratic House members and eight senators who caucus with the Democrats said in recent weeks they wouldn’t attend the speech, many in protest to a move that they say is an affront to the president.

Rep. Charles Rangel (N.Y.) had originally said he would skip the meeting, but changed his mind on Tuesday.

A full list of the Democrats who confirmed they missed the speech follows:

SENATE – 8 members

Sen. Al Franken (Minn.)

Sen. Martin Heinrich (N.M.)

Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.)

Sen. Patrick Leahy (Vt.)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

Sen. Brian Schatz (Hawaii)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.)

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.)

HOUSE – 50 members

Rep. Karen Bass (Calif.)

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (Ore.)

Rep. Corrine Brown (Fla.)

Rep. G.K. Butterfield (N.C.)

Rep. Lois Capps (Calif.)

Rep. Andre Carson (Ind.)

Rep. Joaquin Castro (Texas)

Rep. Katherine Clark (Mass.)

Rep. William Lacy Clay (Mo.)

Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.)

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (Mo.)

Rep. Steve Cohen (Tenn.)

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (N.J.)

Rep. John Conyers (Mich.)

Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.)

Rep. Danny Davis (Ill.)

Rep. Peter DeFazio (Ore.)

Rep. Diana DeGette (Colo.)

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (Texas)

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.)

Rep. Donna Edwards (Md.)

Rep. Chaka Fattah (Pa.)

Rep. Keith Ellison (Minn.)

Rep. Marcia Fudge (Ohio)

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.)

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (Ill.)

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.)

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (Texas)

Rep. Marcy Kaptur (Ohio)

Rep. Rick Larsen (Wash.)

Rep. Barbara Lee (Calif.)

Rep. John Lewis (Ga.)

Rep. Dave Loebsack (Iowa)

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (Calif.)

Rep. Betty McCollum (Minn.)

Rep. Jim McDermott (Wash.)

Rep. Jim McGovern (Mass.)

Rep. Jerry McNerney (Calif.)

Rep. Gregory Meeks (N.Y.)

Rep. Gwen Moore (Wis.)

Rep. Beto O’Rourke (Texas)

Rep. Donald Payne (N.J.)

Rep. Chellie Pingree (Maine)

Rep. David Price (N.C.)

Rep. Cedric Richmond (La.)

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (Ill.)

Rep. Adam Smith (Wash.)

Rep. Bennie Thompson (Miss.)

Rep. Mike Thompson (Calif.)

Rep. John Yarmuth (Ky.)

 

History of the Crusades: The First Crusade 1099

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

I am aware that there are Islamic teachings which lead to a more peaceful application of that faith. I think that the interpretation referenced here is an accurate depiction of of the application of Islamic teachings of a thousand years ago. It also seems that it is still relevant to Islamic extremists today.

I want to emphasize that this video discusses events which happened almost over a thousand years ago. The reason I am posting it here is to correct the inaccurate  history of the Crusades which is being used in the popular media to attack and degrade Christians and Christianity.

 

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/publiccatholic/2015/03/history-of-the-crusades-pope-urban-ii-father-of-the-crusades/#ixzz3TR2tedYI

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Conversion on the Beach: One Man’s Conversion to Christ Before ISIS Execution

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Harrison Staab https://www.flickr.com/photos/harrystaab/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Harrison Staab https://www.flickr.com/photos/harrystaab/

ISIS march 21 men onto a beach in Libya. Twenty of these men were Christians. One, a Chadian Citizen, was not.

He watched the Coptic Christians die for Christ. When the terrorist murderer demanded that he reject Jesus Christ as his God, he replied, “their God is my God.” He was then beheaded with his Christian brothers.

The joy in this story is that 21 martyrs to Christ entered heaven that day. They are praying for us now.

From the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church of the Diocese of Bombay:

ISIS announced the execution of 21 Copts but only 20 names were confirmed, most of them were from the province of Minya(Upper Egypt). There was an inaccuracy in the number of Egyptian Hostages; there were only 20 Egyptians(Copts). Then who was this remaining one non-Coptic victim?

Ahram-Canadian News was able to gather information about this man. He was a Chadian Citizen (Darker skin shown in picture) who accepted Christianity after seeing the immense faith of his fellow Coptic Christians to die for Christ. When Terrorist forced him to reject Jesus Christ as God, looking at his Christian friends he replied, “their God is my God“ so the terrorist beheaded him also.

Netanyahu’s Speech to Congress: An Overload of Truth

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by IsraelinAmerica https://www.flickr.com/photos/israeldc/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by IsraelinAmerica https://www.flickr.com/photos/israeldc/

The Obama Administration has engaged in unseemly behavior, trying to block Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech before Congress.

I say it is unseemly because Congress is a separate body of government and it is their right to invite anyone they want into their house to address them. That simply is not the President’s call. I’m going to leave all the policy considerations alone, and leave it at that. I know how the Oklahoma House of Representatives would react if the Governor tried to tell them how to run their house. It wouldn’t be pretty.

Prime Minister Netanyahu gave a powerful speech that, frankly, was an overload of truth in our national capital. I say that because I sometimes get the feeling that our government is more concerned with manipulating and lying to the American people than it is with governing this great nation.

However, it is important to remember that he is the Prime Minister of Israel, not the United States. That doesn’t make anything he says untrue. But it does shift the concerns he raises.

As a side note, I think that the applause was at least in part a response to the president’s attempt to tell Congress not to allow Prime Minister Netanyahu speak. As I said, that is bound to rile just about any member of Congress, regardless of their party affiliation.

I’m going to write about this speech in detail in the next few days. But, in the meantime, I want you to hear it in its entirety and judge for yourself without me or anyone else telling you what to think. These are grave issues. The fate of the world rests on them. Americans are their government. So think carefully. Think deeply. Think prayerfully.  Think without partisan blinders.

To read the transcript of the speech, go here.

This is a video of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech, in full.

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Vatican Acknowledges that ISIS’ Threats Against Pope Francis are Real

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/

Commander Domenico Giani, head of the Vatican police force says that talks he’s had with Italian and foreign colleagues have convinced him that ISIS’ threats against Pope Francis are real.

He also said that Pope Francis is “fully aware of the risk,” but that Pope Francis is “the priest who does not want to lose touch with his flock” and that is “only concern is for the faithful.”

From Breitbart:

The head of the Vatican police force, or “Gendarmerie,” Commander Domenico Giani, said this weekend that the Islamic State (ISIS) threats against Pope Francis are “real” and not just media propaganda. “This is what emerges from the talks I have had with Italian and foreign colleagues,” he said.

Threats against the Pope and the Vatican go beyond the institutional Islamic State, said Giani, and extend to the risk of lone wolves, “which are more dangerous because they are unpredictable.”Giani has stood at the helm of the Vatican police for the past nine years, but he now faces an especially tense period in the face of the dramatic news coming from the Middle East and North Africa and explicit ISIS threats against the Pope and Rome.

According to the commander, Pope Francis is fully aware of the risk but “is not compromising the style of his pontificate, based on closeness to the people, that is, on personal contact with the greatest number of people possible.” Even as Pope, he said, Francis remains “the priest who does not want to lose touch with his flock.”

After 9 Years Ripping Off the Priesthood, Gay Priest Leaves, Blames Church for His Life of Lies

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

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

Priests are human.

I think I established my belief in the humanness and fallibility of priests a couple of weeks ago. I managed to outrage a lot of people by not being all that surprised or all that outraged by the fall from grace of one of our local priests. To be honest, I was a lot more surprised by the anger people felt toward him than by his action.

Based on the reaction to that post, I’m buckling my seatbelt in preparation for this one. Before I begin, I want to caution you. This post is about the self-serving ramblings of a gay man named Ben Brenkert who left the Jesuits after 9 years in formation, but before his ordination. He has published essays blaming the Catholic Church for what he views as the moral failing of being Catholic. He plans to go to the Episcopalians, and his essays basically condemn the Catholic Church for not becoming Episcopalian too.

He reveals all sorts of scandal-causing things about his former brother seminarians and priests that he knew. He also reveals himself to have lived a reprobate life. By his own admission, this man didn’t believe what the Church taught. He  lived a libertine life while in the collar. His every interaction with the laity had to have been based on a web of lies.

It’s important as we read his essays and think through their implications to remember that this is the diatribe of an angry, self-serving and very dishonest young man. However, I think what he has to say is based on an actual situation. Most of our priests aren’t like this. But some of them are. It’s time we dealt with the truth of that.

It seems that Mr Brenkert decided nine years into his “formation” as a Jesuit priest, that he just couldn’t take it anymore and had to go be an Episcopalian. The reasons he gives are a bit, shall we say, self-serving.

It seems that he wants us to believe that he was working to reform the Church from the inside on issues such as gay rights. According to him, he “struggled” throughout his time in the “upper middle class lifestyle that religious life gave me” to allow distribution of condoms to prevent AIDS in Africa, end mandatory celibacy, bring about the right of women to ordination, and communion for divorced and remarried couples.

Of course, in the meantime, while he was “working” for his good causes, he was also living the gay high-life-inside-the-collar. By his own admission, he had affairs, including affairs with his superiors, whom he said “groomed” him for sex, and participated in the “fraternity of men” whose priestly life was compromised by gay bars and visits to “the 4th house” where … all sorts of things happened. He tells us he saw straight Jesuits fathering babies and gay Jesuits fondling each other in vans and on the way to retreats. His stories make his years in the Jesuits sound like time spent in a bordello.

While in St. Louis I met a fraternity of men just out of similar novitiates, whose newfound freedom led them to gay or straight bars, but also to “the 4th house” where we would all gather for libations and pizzas. I was shocked by how much drinking went on that first year. I was more shocked by the stories I’d hear of younger Jesuits fathering babies, and gay Jesuits fondling each other in vans on the way to retreats.

These men were gay Jesuits whom the Church and the Society of Jesus embraced, gay men who according to the church’s teaching were still objectively disordered, intrinsically deviant from the natural world and social order.

Was the Society of Jesus doing us, or the LGBTQ community, any favors by keeping us?

…  There were the gay Jesuits who were so closeted that they hid behind conservatism, leaving the Jesuits for formation programs in dioceses across the United States. There were gay Jesuits who were put in clerical prison for embracing undergrads too long, and others who attended Sexaholics Anonymous, or whose personal collection of pornography was mistakenly played during high school lectures.

I myself was groomed for sex by several older Jesuits. I saw the vehement internalized homophobia of some Jesuits, and knew of certain gay pastors removed from jobs so that less out and more passable gay Jesuits replace them at gay-friendly parishes.

There were gay Jesuits who traveled the world to scuba dive or taste French wine. One gay Jesuit offered to marry me as I departed the Society of Jesus. I lament that these gay Jesuits remain silent while their gay or lesbian lay colleagues are fired from jobs and brought closer to poverty.

FWIW, I’m glad this young man has decided to leave the Jesuits. He shouldn’t have been there in the first place. He was ripping it off.

However, his posts raise a couple of questions that I think Catholics need to think about. The first question revolves around the fact that this guy does everything except directly “out” people. He coyly gives the initials of men with whom he had affairs. How tough is it going to be for those who want to do so to figure out who these guys are? He gives enough details about at least one superior that it would be pretty easy to track him down, too.

Once when I told my acting superior Fr. S. about M.B.’s advances he shrugged his shoulders and said, “Why resist? To him you’re so exotic.” I surmised that I was exotic because of my good looks and charm, but was that an excuse to break my vows and give in to M.B.’s aggressive advances?

Even more to the point is his expressed desire that gay priests “come out.”

I spent many years praying and reflecting about the growing orthodoxy in the younger generation of Jesuits. I came away intolerant of religious hypocrites, especially closeted, celibate gay men, gay men who should be the first homosexuals to come out of the closet, yet remain the last.

The threat of being outed hangs over gay priests like the sword of Damocles, and Mr Brenkert is pulling on the cord that keeps it from falling. Notice, he specifically threatens celibate gay priests, not the boys who break their vows.

That leaves us, the pew sitters, with a big, fat question: What are we going to do if somebody outs Father Kind-Heart, our parish priest?

I know I’m going to get a verbal clubbing for saying this, but I won’t do much of anything, except call Father Kind-Heart and tell him that I appreciate all he’s done for me, and that I will stand by him in this trial.

I’ve done the same thing many times when one of my political colleagues got their head caught in a vise of some sort. I’ve gone to courthouses and sat with them while they were on trial; I’ve stood by them when everyone else was throwing mud; I’ve told people to stop gossiping to me about them.

If I’m going to jump on somebody, it will be when they’re standing upright and can swing back. I just don’t care for the old lynch mob mentality of kick him when he’s down.

That doesn’t mean that I think priests should be free to rip off the priesthood and turn the Church into a gay bar. I also don’t think that straight priests should have women on the side. It simply means that I’m not going to let someone with a political agenda use me for a club to beat a man who has never been anything but kind of me in all the time I’ve known him.

I’m talking about me and what I will or will not do. Because I am not God. I am limited to me and what I am going to do. That’s all I really control. And I will stand by the Fathers Kind-Heart when they are maliciously attacked in this way.

Make no mistake about it, if your parish priest gets outed in this fashion, malice is the motive: Malice toward the Church, and malice toward the priest.

The other question I want to raise is, how does this situation affect the Church’s ability to take stands in favor of the Gospel in today’s post-Christian America?

In my opinion, the effect is devastating. As Mr Brenkert tells us in his blabby coming-out posts:

Some of these very gay men are presidents, principals and campus ministers at any one of the Jesuit colleges, universities or parishes throughout the world.

A number of our most revered Catholic institutions of higher learning have become a scandal to many pew-sitting Catholics. Priests on the beat, which are parish priests, often avoid controversial issues such as gay marriage that might get them attacked by the gay community. Even bishops run and hide from high school students over gay marriage.

How much of this stems from the fact that these priests, like Ben Brenkert, don’t believe what the Church teaches? How much of it is due to the fact that they are, like him, enjoying the cushy ‘upper-middle-class life,’ and their access to what Pope Francis has called “a gay lobby” inside the Church? On the other hand, how much of it is simply that they are afraid of being outed if they take stands that run contrary to the gay rights movement’s “teachings?”

This is a serious issue. In this day and age of Christian bashing and Christian persecution, we need shepherds who will inspire and lead us.

I don’t much care if a priest is gay or straight. But I do care if he believes in Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I care very much if he is a genuine and sincere son of the Church and if he has the courage and guts for the job he’s undertaken.

I am glad that Ben Brenkert decided to give up his life of lies and leave the Jesuits. He should never have been admitted to the seminary in the first place, and he should have been asked to leave as soon as his problems asserted themselves. The Episcopalians pay their priests well, so he should be able to continue living a good life there.

As for my Church, he’s done us a favor by leaving. We need priests, but we need holy priests. Men who are ripping it off should make honest guys of themselves and take up another line of work.

I know that the priesthood is cushy. It provides a very good life and all kinds of respect and adoration from the people of God. It’s easy to live a double life and keep the good folks in the pews in the dark. However, in the final analysis, these men are not getting away with anything with their phony lives. God is not mocked, Scripture tells us. It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Priests who deliberately live a life of ripping off the priesthood are in fact, ripping off themselves. They spend their lives consecrating the Host and lifting the Body of Christ into the air with hands that are fouled with grave sin. That they become hardened into this and it doesn’t bother them does not mean that they are out of peril. It means that God has let them go. He has given them over to their sin.

I wrote a post that inflamed sensitivities a few weeks ago because a priest here in Oklahoma City had gotten married in a civil ceremony a few months back and then got caught. He’s now going through the process of dealing with all that. To me, the situation was simple. He did it. He got caught. He’s now facing the consequences and will hopefully begin to live an authentic life as a husband and, in the future, a father. Sometimes, the best thing that can happen to you is to get caught in your sins.

Which brings me back to gay priests and other gay men who may decide to out them to those of us in the pews. My feeling about this is the same as it was about the priest who got married. If he was a good priest to me, then that’s all I am going to concern myself with. I will support and stand by this poor pilgrim while things move forward. Hopefully, this will never happen, but if it does — and I really think it may be coming — we need to let the Church handle whatever discipline needs to be done and remember that these men are human beings. Don’t kick them when they’re down.

If you want to argue with or even yell at a priest, go do it when he’s full of himself and getting adored by his parish. Don’t join the mob that wants to hit people when they’re hurt.

We Catholics need to stop pretending that we don’t know that a large number of our priests are gay. We need the same standard for all our priests, gay or straight. That standard is authentic Catholic witness in their lives and authentic Catholic teaching in their leadership. We need holy priests. We need Shepherds.

 

 

 

Pope Francis Condemns the ‘Intolerable Brutality’ of ISIS

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

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

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History of the Crusades: Pope Urban II Father of the Crusades

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

Islamic wars of conquest against Christians had been going on for over 300 years when Pope Urban made his famous speech launching the first Crusade. The Crusades were defensive wars. Claims to the contrary are historical fantasy which are put forward as an excuse for Christian bashing.

This anti-history is so widely taught and accepted that the President of the United States referenced it in a speech, conflating Christians and Christianity with the barbarism of ISIS. This speech ignored the fact that ISIS is in fact carrying out an on-going genocide of Middle Eastern Christians.

Many Christians were offended by this speech, but most of them confined themselves to the obvious fact that the president was conflating things Christians supposedly did 1400 years ago with what is happening today. I didn’t hear them saying that his comments were based on bogus history.

Pope Urban II called for the first crusade in 1095. The video below gives a history of Pope Urban II.

I am aware that there are Islamic teachings which lead to a more peaceful application of that faith. I think that the interpretation referenced here is an accurate depiction of of the application of Islamic teachings of a thousand years ago. It also seems that it is still relevant to Islamic extremists today.

I want to emphasize that this video discusses events which happened almost over a thousand years ago. The reason I am posting it here is to correct the inaccurate  history of the Crusades which is being used in the popular media to attack and degrade Christians and Christianity.

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/publiccatholic/2015/02/history-of-the-crusades-debunking-false-crusade-history/#ixzz3TFYlfz48

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Watching Football with My Four-Year-Old

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Craig Sunter http://youtu.be/PnGIakNY7lk

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Craig Sunter http://youtu.be/PnGIakNY7lk

There was a time when I let my babies “style” my hair while I read or watched tv.

Now, I just give them money. :-)

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RIP Leonard Nimoy

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Shashi Bellamkonda https://www.flickr.com/photos/drbeachvacation/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Shashi Bellamkonda https://www.flickr.com/photos/drbeachvacation/

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The Cliche-Ridden Reaction to the Unmasking of Jihadi John

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Matt Lemmon https://www.flickr.com/photos/mplemmon/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Matt Lemmon https://www.flickr.com/photos/mplemmon/

The world has a name and a face to go with the mask and the knife.

It turns out that Jihadi John, the serial killer in the ISIS videos, is an educated, well-to-do Londoner named Mohammed Emwazi. The early coverage of Mr Emwazi was the usual fill-in-the-blanks hand-wringing claptrap. Nobody said that Mr Emwazi’s murders were workplace violence, but that was one of the few cliches they missed.

We were treated to the standard “he’s such a gentle person” from his “shocked” acquaintances, and the “what made this fine young man into a killer” stuff. There were the fill-in-the-blanks attacks blaming Western governments for Mr Emwazi’s murderous behavior.

It seems that British security thought Mohammed Emwazi might be a security risk and took steps to stop him from going to join up with ISIS. According to his apologists, that is what “radicalized” this  “gentle, kind young man … a beautiful human being” who was a “victim” of “harassment” by British security agencies. The British government followed through by defending their security services from this absurd charge.

This posturing, which, considering Mr Emwazi’s crimes, verges on the malefic, completely ignores the rather well documented fact that Britsh security services were correct to be suspicious of this “beautiful human being.” They thought he might be a terrorist. Imagine that.

There were other reactions mixed in with the what-made-him-this-way stuff. The only adult photo of M Emwazi sans mask that we have so far shows him wearing what looks like a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball cap. The Pirates are not flattered by the association. First, they took to Twitter to disavow their murdering fan. Then they issued a statement saying that everyone in the organization found it “sickening” to see Jihadi John wearing their insignia.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to use all means at his disposal to hunt down Jihadi John and his fellow killers. A former teacher of Mr Emwazi’s has stepped forward with the information that the “kind, gentle young man” had to undergo anger management therapy while he was in secondary school.

There has been a spate of articles discussing the radicalizing atmosphere at Westminister University where Mr Emwazi took his degree. A former student at the school wrote an article for the Washington Post describing the atmosphere in the school in an article titled “Jihadi John, a graduate of my radical university.”  The Daily Mail has joined in with a story titled “The Campus of Hate.”  CNN ran a similar story  titled “Why Jihadi John is so Worrying.” 

It turns out that Jihadi John is an example of what Hannah Arendt called the “banality of evil.” Evil can be gripping when we view a dramatized and glamorized version of it in a movie. The gorgeous sound track, great script and world class acting can make evil seem interesting.

Of course, what we’re watching in these films is not evil. It’s talent being used to give evil a gloss. Real world evil only has one way to get our attention, and that’s by horrifying us. Then, it gets caught in the trap of its own boring, one-dimensional banality.

That’s why ISIS keeps coming up with more horrific ways to kill people and why it’s begun putting out videos of  mass executions instead of videos of murdering people one at a time. The public stops watching ISIS’ murder videos if they don’t find something more horrific to get attention.

Evil only destroys. It does not create. And destruction becomes numbing with its repetitiveness.

Jihadi John is not an evil god. He is also not a “kind, gentle, beautiful human being.” He is a stone killer with a religious shtick. He, and all his murdering “brothers,” must be hunted to the ground. Civilization in a whole region of the world depends on it.

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History of the Crusades: Debunking False Crusade History

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

This video is a bit of a palate cleanser before we get into the major battles of the Crusades. It deals with a bit of the false information being promoted about the Crusades.

I am aware that there are Islamic teachings which lead to a more peaceful application of that faith. I think that the interpretation referenced here is an accurate depiction of of the application of Islamic teachings in 633-638 AD. It also seems that it is still relevant to Islamic extremists today.

I want to emphasize that this video discusses events which happened almost 1400 years ago. The reason I am posting it here is to correct the inaccurate  history of the Crusades which is being used in the popular media to attack and degrade Christians and Christianity.

 

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/publiccatholic/2015/02/history-of-the-crusades-the-battle-of-tours-732-islam-halted/#ixzz3SymYYqN7

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Mexico Needs to Stop the Faux Outrage at the Pope and Get Real

Protests Against Violence in Mexico. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by  John S and James L. Knight https://www.flickr.com/photos/knightfoundation/

Protests Against Violence in Mexico. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by John S and James L. Knight https://www.flickr.com/photos/knightfoundation/

Evidently, Pope Francis was concerned about problems in Argentina and, in a private correspondence,  said, “Hopefully we are in time to avoid Mexicanization.”

When this statement became public, there was tsk-tsking in all the predictable quarters and Mexico went into the usual knee-jerk outrage and demands for apologies. I’m not sure if the Mexican president said he was “hurt” by the Pope’s remarks, but I wouldn’t be surprised. Everybody is “hurt” by things that couldn’t possibly hurt these days, including private remarks in private letters written by people they don’t know.

Whatever.

The Vatican apologized. Sort of. Here’s the sort-of apology:

‘The pope intended only to emphasize the seriousness of the phenomenon of the drug trafficking that afflicts Mexico and other countries in Latin America,” said the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi. “It is precisely this importance that has made the fight against drug trafficking a priority for the government.”

Now, according to the New York Post, Mexico is rebuffing the Pope’s sort-of apology.

I know this puts me entirely outside the politically correct industry of constant complaint and apology, but Mexico needs to get real.

I’m not outraged by the Pope’s comment. I am outraged by the long-standing corruption in Mexico’s government which has allowed drug cartels to kill, rape, torture and terrify civilians for decades.

 

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Julieta Alvarez Leal https://www.flickr.com/photos/soaringbird/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Julieta Alvarez Leal https://www.flickr.com/photos/soaringbird/

The murders of women in Juarez has been going on for decades. The people there have staged marches, asking for police protection. When families reported that their daughters were missing, the police told them they had run off with their boyfriends. When the mutilated bodies were recovered, the police told the families the girls were prostitutes. Even if that had been true, it had nothing to do with the fact that the women had obviously been murdered; except in the minds of these Mexican police.

Mexico’s corrupt police have allowed the situation to fall into a near state of anarchy in parts of the country in which citizens are murdered and battles occur that rival actual war zones. Tourists have been advised to avoid Mexico because of the violence.

This violence and corruption play a major role in the situation in which the Mexican people are so unhappy with their home country that they risk walking across the desert to get into this country. I’ve been saying for a long time — to deaf ears, I might add — that if America wants to stop the influx of illegal immigrants at our Southern border, we need to help Mexico develop good government. That would mean, among other things, that we need to stop exploiting Mexico, which gets into corporatism.

Government in Mexico is a failure. It is not just and it certainly is not stable. If Mexico had a just and stable government, these people would not leave their homes and families to make the perilous journey to this country. They would stay in the comforts of their own lives rather than go live as strangers in a strange land. They would stay home, if home was livable.

So, the Pope said something that was based on actual fact, and the Mexican government goes through the faux outraged dignity routine and demands more and better apologies.

The real apology should be made to the Mexican people by the Mexican police, Mexican elected officials and everyone else in Mexico who has failed their people so abysmally for decades. I’ll go back to the women of Juarez to make a point: If this violence against women had been addressed at Juarez — as a legitimate police force and a legitimate federal government would have done — it would not have worsened and spread into the rest of the country. Instead, it was ignored and allowed to continue. The official response seems to have been misogynist jingoism rather than police work and justice for the women of Juarez.

I think, instead of “rebuffing” the Vatican’s apologies, Mexico needs to get real. The Mexican government is the one that should apologize, first to its own citizens and second to the world community, for allowing corruption in its police force and its government to continue unabated and unchallenged for decades.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Thomassin Mickael https://www.flickr.com/photos/mickou/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Thomassin Mickael https://www.flickr.com/photos/mickou/

Will Mexico be able to pull itself out of the abyss of bandit government where the nation is run by drug cartels and the people flee the result of that corruption in such mass numbers that it has created a crisis of illegal immigration in this country? Not unless it decides it wants to, and not unless this decision goes from the top to the bottom.

I would guess that being an honest official of any sort, be that cop, elected official, priest, teacher or clerk, is dangerous business in Mexico. From the things my former constituents from Mexico have told me, the corruption honeycombs the country and all its institutions.

I don’t think the Pope should apologize to anyone for his comment about Mexico. The word choice may have been inept, and the fact that he said such a thing is sure to get him hammered by gaffe reporters and the politically correct censorship cops. But the comment was based on a sober reality that no amount of politically-correct censorship can change.

Mexico does not need the band-aid of politically correct censorship. Mexico needs a just and stable government.

 

 


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