Book Review: The Cross and Gendercide

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It is not often that I read a book that I could have written.

It’s even more rare when I read a book that is somewhat similar to one that I intend to write.

But that is what happened when I read The Cross and Gendercide, A Theological Response to the Global Violence Against Women and Girls.

I have devoted much of my adult life, beginning when I was barely out of my teens and going right through to this afternoon, to two majors issues: The way we treat our elderly, and a search for an end to violence against women.

Elizabeth Gerhardt, the author of The Cross and Gendercide, sounds like my sister from another mother. The differences between us are obvious, of course. She’s an academician/theologian and an administrator of shelters to protect and help women who are victims of violence. I have worked almost exclusively through the political arena.

She evidently has clung to her Christian faith throughout her career. I, on the other hand, left Christianity and God altogether for most of my early adulthood. My reason, ironically enough, was violence against women.

That leads me directly to the subject of Dr Gerhard’s book. I walked out of Christianity and spent around 17 years seething with anger toward Christ and his followers precisely because of the indifference and often the hostility I witnessed within the church toward women who were victims of violence. In particular, I was almost destroyed spiritually by the response I saw in one church toward a rape victim.

Dr Gerhard approaches this topic from a more scholarly perspective than I can muster. Even today, that old rage kicks off when I think about these things.

I think Dr Gerhard’s more measured approach is needed. But I also know from experience that my take-no-prisoners way of doing things has its place is this fight, as well. We are agreed on the topic of her book. The Church does not have an adequate theological response to violence against women. And that adequate theology is not difficult to find. It is right in front of every Christian in the cross of Calvary.

There is a reason why victims of human trafficking cry for hours after seeing The Passion of the Christ. The God they encounter in that movie is a God Who can understand them.

Watching Jesus being reduced to an object and then beaten, tortured and murdered resonates with them in a way that it does not with people who have never experience these things themselves. The cross changes God from a frowning figurehead off in the distance into a brother God Who understands and shares their anguish in a way that goes beyond words and does not need them.

Through the miracle of salvation, Christ dignifies their own dehumanization and lifts them out of the shame and loss of self that scars them.

That is the miracle of the cross. It is the message of Christianity.

The other miracle, and one which the Church ignores at its peril, is that these women from all over the world, including our own neighborhoods, who are victims of savage violence are our Jesus. They are Christ crucified, right in front of us. If we ignore them, we ignore Him.

That also is the miracle of the cross. It also is the message of Christianity.

I didn’t see this for a long time, for two reasons. First, I sought solutions in creating social responses such as rape crisis centers, and in changing laws. Second, I had x-ed both God and the church off my list of possible allies. I believed they did not care about violence against women, that in many circumstances, they promoted it.

My conversion experience was mostly an encounter with the living God. It was not intellectual. But it forced me to reconsider almost everything in my life, which was, many times, a deeply thoughtful and prayerful process. The first thing I had to learn is that my understanding of the nature of God and especially my understanding of His reaction to violence against women was wrong.

I learned, through prayer mostly, the depths of God’s love for womankind. I also learned the degree of depravity that violence against women really is. To call it a human rights violation does not touch it. Our God is Jesus Christ, Who was born of a woman. Everything that is human about Him came from His mother. She is the only human being who has ever or who ever will be elevated to the status of Queen of Heaven.

Violence against women is a direct sin against Our Lady.

After decades of starting organizations and passing laws and still encountering violence against women and indifference to that violence at every turn, I had a sort of epiphany. I had been too angry to see it before. In fact, it took me a long time to be able to think about it at all. And that epiphany was simply that the Church owes Jesus and Mary more than they have given where violence against women is concerned.

The victims of egregious denial of their basic human rights change from clime to clime. The group of people singled out to suffer varies from one location to the next. But no matter where you go, the one group who always has a firm grip on second place, and who is always subjected to violence and degradation of many sorts, is girls and women.

Women are bought and sold, marketed like chattel, all over the globe. With the crime against humanity that is egg harvesting, their bodies are harvested to be sold on the internet. With surrogacy, their bodies are rented out as incubators. With prostitution, trafficking and porn, they are sold and used as if they were appliances.

Women are subject to the most brutal violence imaginable in every country in the world. Women must fear being attacked for no reason wherever they go.

This is not random violence. It is a universal, global, culturally-sanctioned human rights violation that in terms of scale, persistence and ubiquity outweighs all others.

Where is the Christian outrage over violence against women? I’m not talking about a few seminars and a couple of tut-tut speeches scattered around. Where is the Christian response to this degradation of half the human race that the Cross demands?

The Church cannot sit idly by while Christ is crucified over and over again in His sisters all around this globe of ours. The Church does not dare be silent when Our Lady is degraded by this degradation of the female.

The Church needs to stand up on the whole issue of violence against women. Violence against women is a historic, endemic, universal human rights violation that spans humanity from dateline to dateline, pole to pole. It is the universal human rights violation of humanity.

The Cross and Gendercide raises the serious question of how we should develop a theology against violence against women. The author correctly points us to the cross in our search for this theology.

The Cross and Gendercide is is well worth reading. I recommend it.

 

 

President Bush’ Jump. Video.

Thanks to Public Catholic reader Fredx for telling me about these videos.

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Pope Francis on Child Labor, Fear of God, Love of Money, and Arms Dealing

Pope Francis is first of all a priest. The world is his parish and every single one of us is in the crosshairs of his admonitions to follow Jesus without reservations.

Following Jesus all the way, without holding anything back, is a revolutionary act. People who do it, even the most placid and low-key of them, become revolutionaries themselves. They are God’s change agents in a fallen world.

Those who try to follow Jesus part way, who stop when it gets difficult or conflicts with other things they hold dear, are pretty much useless to God. He cannot change the world with partially converted Christians. We are called to follow Him. There are no qualifiers to that command. It is absolute and all-encompassing.

When Pope Francis exhorts us to do just exactly that, he invariably becomes the target of half-converted Christians who have been using a selective view of the Gospels to condemn others and deify themselves. Everybody gets a kick out of it when the Holy Father calls out somebody else about sins we find appalling. But when he does it to us, well, that’s, as we say in these parts, meddling.

There has grown up here in America a false theology based on the idea that only a couple of sins — abortion and homosexuality — are truly sinful and anything and everything that has to do with money is outside the concerns of morality. In other words, if you oppose abortion, then you can rob all the banks you want.

This has grown to the point that there is a whole movement of fallen Christians out there who will lecture and hector anyone who has concern about the poor and helpless. They justify themselves and attack others with what are blatantly selective and anti-Christ interpretations of Scripture.

They use this obviously false and self-serving bogus theology to justify helping the rich get richer by transferring the wealth of our nation to them. They take prosperity that belongs to everyone and give it to a few and then proclaim that what they are doing is righteousness before God.

I’ve lived with this blasphemy for years on my job as a legislator. I’ve listened as the distorted, self-serving, anti-Christ interpretations of Scripture are flung in people’s faces. It is evil right down to the ground.

The idea that opposing abortion and gay marriage politically is the sum total of the Gospels is a sick, sad, anti-Christ interpretation of Scripture invented by political activists for their own purposes. It is, in itself, deeply sinful.

When Pope Francis tells us that we are bound to follow the whole Gospel of Christ, he is telling us the same thing that Dietrich Bonhoeffer said with his famous comments about cheap grace.

Of course Pope Francis is being attacked for speaking out for the poor. Of course he is being reviled for teaching the whole Gospel.

That’s what happens to people who stand for Christ and Him crucified. It. Happens. Every. Time.

I’ve chosen this particular video because it contains excerpts from three of Pope Francis’ recent audiences in which he addressed what is the moral plague that is destroying the witness of a good many Christians today. He talks about child labor, the love of money, arms dealing and fear of God.

In my opinion, these things are just a few of the manifestations of one thing: A false Gospel that says that economics cannot be judged by moral beliefs. If that isn’t a lack of fear of God in action, I don’t know what is.

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Told Ya This was Gonna Happen

Whenever Oklahoma gets on the national news, it’s always something bad. We pretty much get ignored unless we are hit with a massive tragedy or some Okie manages to make a real mess of one sort of the other.

Our latest foray into national attention is no exception.

Oklahoma has developed real problems executing people. Between lawsuits and botched executions, we’ve shown ourselves to be downright incompetent in the area of administering the death penalty. All this led to the second kind of national attention we usually get, which is to say a derisive critique.

This situation came about because of the zealous fight put up by attorneys for the two men slated for execution by the State of Oklahoma this year. After exhausting years of appeals, the attorneys switched from defense to offense. The object of their attack was the method of execution itself. They managed to intimidate the drug companies that supply drugs that are used in executions to the point that the state had problems getting enough drugs to kill someone.

When it came time to execute one of the two men, the prisoner — who had a history of assaulting and trying to kill people while in prison, particularly guards — resisted being moved from his cell. The guards had to taser him. Maybe the aftereffects of that hit with electricity was why things went so awry later.

All I know for sure is that the doctor couldn’t find a vein to use to administer the drugs and finally had to put the needle in the prisoner’s groin. According to news reports, the needle “blew” the vein, which led to a thoroughly botched execution. The prisoner ultimately died, but it was 45 minutes later, after the doctor stopped the execution.

The governor has issued a stay until next November for the other prisoner.

I wrote at the time that the attorneys for these two men needed to consider carefully what they were doing. I knew that Oklahoma has the laws on the books to use a firing squad as a means of execution. I also knew that the legislative will was to do exactly that.

Now, my colleague, Representative Mike Christian, wants to conduct hearings on what process would be necessary to switch to death by firing squad as the preferred method of execution in Oklahoma. Representative Christian, who is a retired Highway Patrolman and fellow Southsider, has said that he would be fine with beheading or feeding prisoners to the lions as methods of execution. In my opinion, that pretty much sums up the prevailing attitude among the people I worked with.

I guess I get to say I told you so.

I don’t want to behave like a seeress, but with me gone, the number of legislators who will be voting against the death penalty next year just dropped by one. Not that we had enough votes between us to matter. Legislators who oppose the death penalty in Oklahoma are a tiny group. If it comes to a vote, the chances of legislation passing that would enable the use of firing squads in Oklahoma is just about 100%. And that’s assuming that legislation is even necessary. Oklahoma already has this means of execution on the books.

I understand that the attorney for a death row inmate operates from the idea that any delay is a good delay. If they can buy their client one day, they’ll do it. But this particular delay may not play out to be all that pleasant for those who will be executed.

I’ve never seen an execution, and hope sincerely that I never have to. But people who have seen executions by lethal injection tell me that it looks painless for the prisoner. No one can say that for other means of execution. They may be quick, but they don’t look painless.

Killing people is grisly business. Lethal injection is certainly the most painless way we’ve found to do it. As I’ve said repeatedly, I do not favor the death penalty except in rare situations that almost never, and shouldn’t ever, arise in America. However, I am aware that I am an outlier on this.

Most people in this country, and certainly most people in Oklahoma, favor the death penalty. The feeling runs so strong that even the Supreme Court had to overturn itself back in the 1970s when it ruled the death penalty unconstitutional. Of course, the Supreme Court didn’t say it was overturning itself. But that’s what it did.

Americans want the death penalty. Not many elected officials are going to argue with them about it. As it turns out, not many judges will, either.

If death row inmates had the wherewithal to donate millions to political campaigns, that would change in a heartbeat. You’d suddenly see elected officials all over this country developing a tender conscience about the death penalty. But people on death row are almost always poor, which eliminates that possibility.

So that’s where we stand. All I can do is repeat one more time: I told ya this was gonna happen.

Former President George H W Bush Celebrates His 90th Birthday by Jumping Out of a Plane

He was a much better president than we knew at the time.

He was a genuine war hero, the president who fought in World War II, an oil man and a former member of Congress/head of the CIA/Vice President.

He was President George H W Bush, and today’s he’s 90 years young.

Former President Bush (or Bush I, as we call him around our house) celebrated his birthday by jumping out of an airplane. Literally.

That ground can get awful hard when it’s coming up at you from a few thousand feet. I don’t know many 90-year-olds who could take the lick involved in a jump like this. But I also know from my elderly relatives that those who live long are tough in way that us wimps can’t fathom. They all have a get-on-with-it, it is what is toughness that allows them to cycle through the infirmities and limitations of advancing age without being vanquished by them.

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That toughness gets put on display every time one of former President Bush’s birthdays rolls around. He’s been celebrating the passing years by jumping out of planes for quite some time now. Former First Lady Barbara Bush is pretty tough herself, to let him do it.

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Former President George H W Bush is rescued after his plane was shot down in combat. 

I would expect no less from the man who survived the getting shot down in combat, losing a child to leukemia and decades of America’s political wars. You’ve got to be made out of cast iron to do all that.

Happy Birthday former President Bush. I hope you have many more.

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Sea Lion Plays Tag with Little Girl. Watch the Reaction When the Little Girl Falls.

This charming video of a sea lion and a little girl playing tag, and then the sea lion reacting when the little girl falls down is a good way to start the day.

Enjoy.

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It Just Depends What Kind of Pain You Can Take (Warning: NOT for Kids.)


It just depends what kind of pain you can take.  

Photo Source: Photobucket

Ok. So what do you want for your daughter?

Law school?

A loving husband, kids and a home of her own?

How about sitting on the podium as she is sworn in as governor of a state?

Does anything you hope when you look at your little girl include whips, chains, and sado-masochism, including anal sex?

Do you want your 15-year-old daughter being counseled (at tax-payer expense, I might add) on the ins and outs of “kink.” Do you want her young mind warped to the point that she views sex as something where the question is how much pain can you take?

If you have a son, do any of your hopes for him revolve around sick relationships based on hurting his wife or girlfriend? Do you like the idea of your son in chains while a dominatrix whips him?

If the answer to these questions is “no,” then I have a couple of follow-up questions for you. Why are you sending your son or daughter to public schools where they will be taught these things in sex education classes? If you haven’t demanded to see how your Congressperson voted on funding for Planned Parenthood, why not?

The Live Action videos below show a Planned Parenthood counselor, complete with the comforting medical symbolism of scrubs and stethoscope, counseling what she thought was a 15-year-old girl. This counselor goes into detail with this young girl about how to go about engaging in sado-masochistic sexual behavior, including anal sex with her 17-year-old boyfriend. The counselor even coyly mentions the possibility of sending a friend in to a store to buy “sex toys” for these underage kids.

I’ve put three fairly graphic videos below. None of them are for kids, even though this kind of talk is routinely given to kids as “sex education” and the song is promoted and sold in the venues they watch.

The first video, which is taken from The Young Turks, begins with one member of a panel that is discussing the exposure of young girls to beating through music decrying the situation. He is promptly answered by another panel member who says that the song being quoted is by Rihanna, a singer who was beaten up by her boyfriend and is now back with him.

Frankly, I don’t see how that makes this ok. It seems to me that the fact that Rihanna was beaten up by her boyfriend pretty much puts a face to this sickness.

My indignation is struggling with my desire to make a point here. In truth, I would like to just ask people how stupid they really are to allow their children to be exposed to this trash.

I guess, despite how repulsed I feel, that is the question. We can’t keep this off the airwaves. We can’t keep it off cable television. And it appears that, no matter which political party we vote for, we can’t stop our taxes going to pay for it. Our schools aren’t doing such a hot job on basic education, but they are very successful at teaching kids to accept and “explore” sexual perversion of every type.

So, what are parents who care — as opposed to those who clearly don’t — supposed to do? I’ve already said several times that I homeschooled my kids. That is one answer, for at least some people. But it’s only part of it. As the Planned Parenthood counselor noted, porn sites are easy to find on the internet. If we want to protect our kids, we have to limit their access to the internet and cut off some of the cable channels that go to our house.

Even more important, we have to spend time with our kids. I don’t mean time spent driving them from one lesson and one activity to another. I mean time spent together as a family, just kicking back.

Look at the videos below and decide what you think.

Live Action video of Planned Parenthood counselor “teaching” a 15-year-old girl about bondage, domination, sadism, masochism and anal sex.

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Planned Parenthood video, once again teaching about “kink” sex.

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Rihanna, S&M. Rihanna is the woman in the photo at the top of this post.

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In another take on the issue, Joanne McPortland raises the question — which occurred to me as well — as to what kind of burned-out teens are we dealing with that need sex toys and “kink” to supplement their adolescent hormones in providing excitement about sex? It’s a valid question indeed.

 

Is it a Fluke, or a Harbinger? House Majority Leader Eric Cantor Loses to Political Outsider

Eric Cantor, the Majority Leader of the United States House of Representatives, lost his primary battle to retain his seat to a political newcomer yesterday.

Congressman Cantor, who came into the race with massive campaign funding and the weight of incumbency behind him, lost to Dave Brat, an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College. Brat raised the comparatively scanty sum of $200,000 for the race. In contrast, special interest groups poured money into Cantor’s campaign, which spent over $5.4 million. The American Chemistry Council, which represents a group of blue-chip corporations,  spent over $300,000 on ads for Cantor by themselves.

It is not often that an incumbent loses. It is also not often when the candidate with the least amount of money — in this case, a great deal less money — wins.

Early news reports seem to be giving the Tea Party movement the credit for Brat’s win. It is reported that Brat campaigned as an outsider running against an insider who, according to Brat, was not conservative enough. The fact that the election was a Republican primary instead of a general election makes that plausible.

Brat used high profile endorsements, such as one by radio personality Laura Ingraham, to counter the money factor in the race. He also campaigned against Cantor’s support for a more moderate position on immigration.

Apparently, the political deep-thinkers in Washington failed to see this coming. According to the New York Times, the only question along the beltway was how high Cantor’s victory margin would be. Congressman Cantor himself seems not to have realized how serious the challenge was until just a short time before the election.

The cherry on top of what must have been a miserable night for Congressman Cantor and his supporters came when a group of pro immigration reform demonstrators burst into the campaign gathering just a few minutes after he had made his concession speech. The irony in that needs no explaining.

What does all this mean in the larger arena?

The deciding factor in the impact this stunning turnover will have on the Republican Party as a whole and, through it, the American political landscape, depends on whether or not it was a fluke or a harbinger. What, if anything, does it say about other races later this year?

Congressman Cantor was so sure that he was going to win that he made the mistake of not taking his opponent seriously. He didn’t get the news that he was in trouble until just a few weeks before the votes were cast. He walked into the punch with his arms at his side. Hubris beat Representative Eric Cantor every bit as much as Dave Brat did.

His colleagues are now forewarned. One certain effect this election is going to have is that no incumbent will make the mistake of ignoring an underfunded, seemingly insignificant opponent. I doubt very much if we see other races like this one where the incumbent just la-la-las his way through the campaign until the last few weeks.

Will that save them? I would guess that it depends on the district and how blatantly the Congressperson has sold out their constituents to special interests, in particular special interests whose program is anathema to the people they represent.

The Republican voters of Virginia just chose a man as their nominee who doesn’t owe the corporatist interests that control their party his soul. In doing so, they tossed out a man who was owned by those interests to the tune of $5.4 million.

Mr Brat’s acceptance speech was a rousing statement of voter empowerment. If he makes it past the Democrat in the fall, a question that will likely be resolved by the configuration of the district, we’ll get a look at who he is in power.

Will he be able to stay the same guy once he meets all his new best friends and gets a taste of the perks, flattery and pressures of actual political office?

I’m sure that the calls from what was surely a rather flummoxed Republican Party began last night as they moved to pick up the pieces and head toward the general election. The other calls, which are forerunners of the full-bore flattery and stroking that will begin if he wins in November, began right along with them.

Will this election result in at least one independent member of Congress who thinks for himself and does not check with special interests before he wipes his political nose? I hope so.

No matter his politics, that would be a refreshing change.

You’re Not Always the Decider

The Timothy McVeigh trial was difficult for me.

I won’t go into all the things I thought and felt. They are too private. But I will say that it engaged me and put me through a considerable emotional torque. Ditto for his execution.

One thought allowed me to maintain an even strain through that experience: I didn’t sit on that that jury, could in no way ever be asked to sit on that jury, and that meant I didn’t have to decide. 

Maybe it’s because I spent so many years in a job where I had no choice about deciding — and taking the consequences of those decisions. I know first hand that having to decide is not all that great. In fact, it can be one of the most miserable things that ever happens to you.

Perhaps that’s why I find such peace in looking at each new faux outrage that is being hyped on our news-free news stations with the simple knowledge that I don’t have to decide. Should his wife leave him because of his infidelities? That’s her call. I don’t have to decide. What did he know and when did he know it? I’m not on that jury. I don’t have to decide. Is this person more evil than that person? Was the jury right?

I don’t have to decide.

People who are so eager to decide often don’t realize that deciding is not all that easy when you actually have to do it. It’s ez-pz to declaim while sitting on your sofa that I woulda/they shoulda/how come they didn’t? But in real life, the whole thing is more nuanced and difficult by powers of ten.

In the first place, what passes for news these days is not news. It’s just sensation-creating entertainment and public-opinion-shaping propaganda. What that means, in layman’s terms, is that you can’t believe it. The one thing you know when you are watching agenda-driven/side-taking/propaganda-ridden “news” is that you are not getting anything like a fair presentation of the facts.

These news people have taken a side, and they are presenting the facts (such as they are) which will support that side. They are not informing you at all. They are convincing you. They want you to decide, and they want your decision to be the one that will benefit the “side” that they have taken on the story.

To make things worse, they are operating from a long-term agenda. This shaping of the way they cover events isn’t based on a one-off I-like-this-person, or I-feel-sympathetic-to-that-viewpoint kind of approach. It is part of a long-term arc of bias that consistently shapes every story and decides which stories are to be covered based on how they support the agenda that the news network is putting forth.

Hence, you have “liberal” news outlets, and “conservative” news outlets. Everyone knows it and even the news outlets themselves acknowledge it.

Think about that. They tell you right up front that the “news” they are serving up is biased toward one viewpoint or the other. You know going in that you are not going to hear the truth or all the facts or even all the stories that comprise legitimate news. You know when you flip to a certain channel that you will get a predigested dose of propaganda that is designed to serve one set of political puppeteers or the other.

So why, my friends, do you allow them to get you upset? Why are you all in a lather about the “facts” they’ve given you, when you know — and I mean absolutely know — that these facts have been edited, massaged and carefully chosen to shape your thinking rather than inform it?

The only saving grace in this is that you don’t have to decide. You can, and for your sanity you should, sit back and let them rant without allowing yourself to be hooked into ranting yourself. Because it’s not your call. You can’t decide.

And that, if you will accept it, is a sanity-saving blessing.

There are plenty of things that each one of us has to decide in this life. If you are really feeling the desire to make decisions for many other people and you think you have a calling to it, I suggest you run for office. I am saying that sincerely. We need, desperately, to have honest people who can’t be bought or controlled in public office. I do not care if you are an R, a D, or an Independent. If you’ve got the spine it takes — and you would be shocked what a strong spine is required — to go into that arena and stand firm, then by all means, do it.

But be forewarned. It’s not all pretty inside those halls of power. If you truly go in there and do what you think is right, you’re going to take a beating.

As for those of us who sit on the sidelines and watch, our job is to help the honest ones survive that beating.

And to not allow ourselves to be blown around like chaff in the wind by the propagandists who are callously trying to use what they call news to persuade us to support them in their own ends. Just sit back and watch. And remember two things: They are trying to persuade you, not inform you. And you don’t have to decide.

Is the Irish Babies in the Septic Tank Story a Media-Created Hoax?


Forbes has published an article labeling the babies-in-the-septic-tank story a hoax.

The article, written by Eamonn Fingleton, who writes under the claim that he has “a sharp eye on media bias, official propaganda and globaloney,” says that the so-called septic tank is in reality a shaft burial vault.

I’m not saying that this article is the final word on the mystery. But it does underscore the points I made earlier today. (1) We can’t trust a media with an agenda, in this case hatred of the Catholic Church, and (2) When you’re dealing with one of these media hate orgies, it’s usually better to not let yourself get worked up about it. Wait and see.

From Forbes:

Professor Finbar McCormick, of Queens University, says “The structure as described is much more like to be a shaft burial vault, a common method of burial used in the recent past and still used today in many parts of Europe.

“In the 19th century, deep brick-lined shafts were constructed and covered with a large slab which often doubled as a flatly laid headstone … Such tombs are still used extensively in many Mediterranean countries.

“Many maternity hospitals in Ireland had a communal burial place for stillborn children or those who died soon after birth. These were … often in a special area within the grounds of the hospital.

“For anyone familiar with Ireland, the story of nuns throwing babies into a septic tank was never a runner … they were nothing if not God-fearing, and therefore unlike to treat human remains with the sort of outright blasphemy impied in the septic tank story.”

 

 

Sgt Bowe Bergdahl, John Corapi, Baby Bodies in Ireland and Letting the Facts Sift Themselves to the Top

 

Father John Corapi was just a smidgeon (and a very small smidgeon, at that) this side of Jesus to a lot of people.

I liked himself myself for quite a while. Then, one day, I was watching him on EWTN. He was talking about his escapades from his past and it occurred to me, “He’s not confessing. He’s bragging.” I noticed the way he almost leered when he talked about himself from what he was pretending he thought were his bad old days, and I realized, they weren’t bad old days to him. Not at all.

In short, I realized that this was a man in love with his sins and in love with himself. He was not the great priest he was pretending to be. He was something else, altogether.

I stopped watching him after that. A few months later, when the story broke that he had been credibly accused of all sorts of things, I wasn’t surprised. I’d seen it in his face that night.

I went to a meeting later in the week with a group of devout pro life Catholics. We were planning a pro life event. The talk was all about Father Corapi and the “lies” that were being told about him. The focus was on his accusers and what morally bankrupt people they were.

I listened for a while, then said, “I’m going to wait and see how it turns out.”

I didn’t say anything one way or the other about Father Corapi, just, “… wait and see how it turns out.”

There was a stunned silence and then one lady in particular fell to glaring at me. She glared throughout the meeting, and, so far as I can remember, has never spoken to me since. In fact, she still gets a case of the glares when she sees me.

Despite the silence and the glares, what I said was good advice, born of many years in the public eye and having been lied about over and over again by lying pros.

That was going to be my message about the wild story concerning the bodies of children that were found in Ireland a while back. Don’t believe the things the press is throwing around, and don’t disbelieve them, either. Just … wait and see.

My colleague, Frank Weathers, wrote a sterling post Saturday in which he gave us a few calming facts about that story to juxtapose with the hysteria in the larger press. You can read it here.

I am also going to suggest the same attitude toward the release of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. Sgt Bergdahl was the last American prisoner of war from the war in Afghanistan. He was ransomed from captivity in a prisoner trade a few days ago.

He’s being trashed by all sorts of people. I don’t know him or them. I do believe that at least some of the trashing is a tactic in the partisan political wars. I take everything that is said in that context with about 20 pounds of salt. When it involves attacking someone who can’t fight back to score points against one political party by the other political party, I add another 50 pounds of salt to go with it.

These people — and I’m not talking about Sgt Bergdahl — are absolutely ruthless. They’ll destroy anybody to get what they want. Destroying the life and reputation of one soldier to gain a few points would be like snapping a toothpick to them.

It does not matter whether you are talking about the Rs or the Ds. Their only concern is getting and keeping power. Everything else they say is a lie.

A good deal of the press has become aligned — primarily through the interests that own them — with one side of the partisan wars or the other. They’re not trying to inform you. They’re trying to persuade you. And the persuasion is aimed at concentrating power in the hands of one side or the other of this political divide for purposes of making money for those same interests that own the media outlets.

So, my advice about Sergeant Bergdahl is the same advice I would give about the bodies in Ireland, which is based on the same thought I had when John Corapi was accused. Wait and see how it turns out.

I’m not trying to persuade anyone as to whether they should be an R or a D. I’m convinced we need Christians in both parties. What I am saying is don’t be too quick to join the lynch mob for this soldier. He’s a person, not a political opportunity.

I’ve seen cattle get run all over a field by a German Shepherd dog who was just having fun. The dog would send them one way, then the other. The cattle ran and the dog had the time of its life.

Don’t be like those cattle. Stop letting yourself get tossed around by a media that’s mis-using its power. Wait and see how it turns out. Give the facts on this story and all the others like it time to sift themselves to the top.

Don’t let yourself be herded from one outrage to the other by gossip that’s posing as facts, propaganda and sensationalist lies. If you know a news outlet is literally owned by a set of interests, remember that when considering the news they cover.

Trust God, and Him only.

And wait and see what happens when the facts sift themselves to the top.

 

Sensitivity Training for Supporters of Traditional Marriage vs Chairman Mao’s Re-education Camps. How Do They Differ?

 

 

Americans have long deplored “thought police” and “re-education camps” in Communist regimes.

We have thumped our chests and demanded human rights for those in other climes. We have been appalled by the violations of the basic civil rights of their citizens by totalitarian states; rights that we took for granted. These governments seemed and actually were hell bent on enforcing emotional/moral/social conformity at the price of individual liberty, religious freedom and the rights of free speech and thought.

Americans have practically written the book on condemnation of such actions by other governments against their hapless citizens.

So, why are we doing the same thing to our citizens?

I’ll be first to admit that sensitivity training is less violent and draconian than marching people through the streets in front of jeering crowds and then consigning them to re-education camps for years. But the difference is a matter of degree. The underlying principle of government-enforced mind control is the same.

In fact, the re-education meetings in which people denounce one another and confess to their lack of revolutionary fervor that are conducted by these same regimes seem eerily close to sensitivity training as it’s currently being used by our courts and various “civil rights commissions.”

I started thinking about this because of the court-ordered abuse of the civil rights of Jack Phillips. Mr Phillips is the owner of what must be the only bakery in Colorado. He is also a new social and economic Christian martyr.

As so often happens with the people who turn out to be the real heroes, Mr Phillips seems an unlikely candidate for the title. He’s a small businessman, a baker by trade, just trying to make an honest living. He didn’t go out looking for trouble. He’s no grenade-throwing political activist with a vast talk-show following. He doesn’t wear $1,000 suits and he probably hasn’t had a single voice lesson to prepare him for his new life in the public sphere.

He’s a baker. He owns a bakery. He makes donuts and apple fritters and stuff.

So how did Jack Phillips the baker become a Christian martyr?

It’s simple. He refused to violate his faith.

He didn’t, mind you, bother or even try to engage anyone else. He simply followed his own beliefs by living them in his own life with his own actions. These beliefs led him to refuse to bake a cake for a gay wedding. And that made him the target of the culture cops.

Because, you see, wedding cakes are a human right. Religious freedom, not so much.

That is the question here, not wedding cakes, but religious freedom. I am not advocating for a particular position by Christians on the great cake-baking question. I am advocating for the right of free Americans to follow their faith without being forced into re-education (brain-washing) as punishment for doing so.

The cake-baking issue is distinct by virtue of the pettiness of the demands of those who want to coerce others on the one hand and the enormity of the principle involved in the actions of those who resist on the other. The extra issue of forcing people into re-education for practicing their faith is also enormous. And chilling.

I can only surmise that the offended parties couldn’t find any other baker in the whole state of Colorado to bake their cake. Why else would they drop all the lovey-dovey premarital stuff and spend their time dragging Mr Phillips into court? It’s not like he refused them service. They could have bought all the donuts and cupcakes they wanted. He refused to bake a cake for this one specific purpose, which was against his religious beliefs.

But in the brave new world of government-enforced political correctness, acting on religious beliefs by living them is not allowed. No one is allowed to believe and adhere to a morality except the group morality of the almighty politically-correct zeitgeist. It appears that violation of this bit of absolute totalitarianism is a new kind of crime, and by that I mean a literal, criminal act.

After going through all the good times that everyone who has ever been in a courtroom knows all too well, Mr Phillips found himself guilty as charged of being publicly Christian. I believe the specific legal verbiage was a tad different from that, but that’s what it amounted to.

He has been court-ordered to bake the blasted cake and — get ready for this — go to “sensitivity training,” and send his entire staff to the same training, where, presumably, they will get their brains washed out and cleaned of any remaining individual thinking. He’s also supposed to re-write his company policies to reflect the values he’s been ordered to learn to believe.

On top of that, he has to submit quarterly reports to Colorado’s “Civil Rights Commission” (which seems an odd name for this group) to prove that he’s baking up a storm for gay weddings everywhere.

How does this differ from Chairman Mao’s re-education camps? By degree. How does it differ from governments forcing people to attend re-education groups? You got me.

And, since this sort of government bullying of private citizens was unthinkable not so very long ago, I tend to regard that matter of degree as a moving dot on the line toward totalitarianism.

Mr Phillips, for his part, says he’s not going to change his company policies. “My God is bigger than any bullies they’ve got,” he said.

 

As for the sensitivity training designed to rehabilitate Mr Phillips into believing what the government demands he believe, that may not work out, either. “My 87-year-old mom works here, and she says she’s not going to be rehabilitated,” he said.

When quizzed about how he would respond if the Supreme Court of the United States orders him to bake the cake and get his brain washed out, he said, “There’s civil disobedience. We’ll see what happens. I’m not giving up my faith. Too many people have died for this faith to give it up that easily.”

This is left-wing-nut totalitarianism. But we can’t get away from it by a blind flight to the right. There’s plenty of right-wing-nut totalitarianism, too. Blindly empowering either one of them is going to do us in.

The real answer is up to his elbows in flour in a bakery in Colorado. Ordinary people who will not compromise their faith and are willing to take the hits involved in standing for Jesus are the answer. We have to say “no.” And by “we” I mean all of us pew-sitting Christians who’ve been going along to get along.

Because extraordinary ordinary people like Jack Phillips are the only real heroes there are.

 

The video below discusses the way that Christians are being blocked from certain professions for holding traditional Christian beliefs. It also gives us the example of another brave person who is standing for her beliefs in the face of enormous government pressure; in this case from a government-funded university.

 

New Jersey Moves Toward Legalizing Medical Murder. Quebec Does the Deal.

New Jersey’s assembly advanced a bill Thursday that would allow doctors to prescribe killer drugs to their patients.

Arguments surrounding the bill seem to be focused on the language of the bill and what kind of “safeguards” it has in it.

Safeguards?

The bill allows doctors to prescribe death-dealing drugs to their patients for the express purpose of killing the patient.

I ask again, safeguards?

Laws like this remove the “safeguards” on medical killing for all of us. There are no “safeguards” for legalized medical murder. The fact that the discussion is all about what “safeguards” there are in this law, rather than the fact that the idea itself is dastardly, reflects how far the New Jersey assembly — and the rest of us along with it — has fallen.

Five states allow doctors to kill their patients. You can call it “death with dignity” or “euthanasia” or a “final solution.” It is legalized medical murder. They are: Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico. New Mexico’s courts allowed euthanasia with a stroke of judicial law-making.

At the same time that New Jersey was voting to allow docs to put its citizens down, Quebec’s National Assembly voted to legalize euthanasia. The noise coming out of that vote was all back-slapping self-congratulation.

“I want to congratulate ourselves as parliamentarians,” PQ MNA Carole Poirier said, “… Quebec has just shown that we are a really, really different story.”

“I think we have before us today, with the adoption of this law, an example of all Quebec society is capable of,” said PQ MNA Veronique Hivon.

Considering that these two elected officials had just voted to allow the legal murder of their own citizens, all I can add is that they are absolutely correct. This vote certainly did show what the government of Quebec — and every other evil government — is capable of.

 

Fifteen Nigerian Military Officials Found Guilty of Arming Boko Haram


Now it’s beginning to make sense.

Boko Haram, the mass murderers in the name of Allah who have rampaged at will over Northern Nigerian for years never made sense of me.

They were heavily armed and appeared to be able to burn down churches and schools, engage in protracted assaults on large institutions, without undue interference from the government of Nigeria. Boko Haram could waltz into any location, kill, raze, burn and kidnap, then waltz back out and nobody stopped them.

They are a good-sized band of armed men, rampaging over the countryside, yet nobody can figure out where they are. They have no visible means of support, yet they are fed, clothed, sheltered, armed and trained — all, we are led to believe, by magic, or the terrorist fairy or some such.

It never made sense. Not one bit of sense.

In fact, it reeked of government corruption on a vast scale.

This has been going on, and the bodies have been piling up, for a long time. So far as I know, I was the only one who kept asking these impertinent questions about who was funding them, why the Nigerian military couldn’t find them and take them out, and what, exactly, was so rotten in Nigeria. My questioning ranged far and wide, including what I fervently hope turns out to be wrong fears that somehow or other the oil in Nigeria had involved American interests in this killing on some level.

Whatever was going on, I knew absolutely that the stories we were hearing did not add up.

The smell of it all finally got seriously international when Boko Haram kidnapped around 300 school girls with the stated purpose of selling them as sex slaves. (They did say they were going to sell some of them as “wives,” but “wife” in this context sounds like sex slave to me.)

All it took was a bit of looking. Or rather just a tad of not ignoring the obvious. The international outrage allowed the obvious to come up and start biting prominent Nigerians in the nose.

In what I expect, if there is any genuine honesty building in Nigeria, will be the very first and smallest revelation, ten of Nigeria’s generals and five other high-ranking officers have been found guilty of supplying arms to Boko Haram. These are generals from the same military that was in charge of protecting the civilian population from the terrorists.

Reports coming out of Nigeria say that soldiers have been talking about this — and being ignored — for quite some time. There are other reports that members of the Nigerian military actually participate in Boko Haram’s raids on the civilians that the military is supposed to protect. Then, after murdering the people whose safety they are charged to maintain, these same soldiers go back into column with whatever passes for a “legitimate” military in Nigeria.

I’m guessing that the police, as well as government officials on every level, are involved in this, as well.

People I know in Nigeria have told me that the corruption there is overwhelming. They tell me that it is impossible to engage in business with the government at any level without bribing officials. Bribes are taken as a commonplace, something expected in order to function. I’ve been told that Christians demand and accept bribes, as well as others.

I have a small message for every Nigerian Christian: Do not ask for or accept bribes.

I have another small message for every Nigerian Christian clergyman: If you are not preaching about honesty and exhorting your parishioners to stop soliciting and accepting bribes, you are ignoring one of the most poisonous sins in your society. Get with it preachers: Preach.

As for the generals and members of the Nigerian military who have committed this treason, I think the death penalty is warranted. I generally oppose the death penalty, but this is a situation in which the government is too corrupt to trust to keep these people out of action where they can not continue to do harm. When the government cannot provide for the public safety without the death penalty, then the death penalty becomes a necessity.

This breakdown of governance needs to be stopped if Nigeria is to survive.

From ABC News:

Ten generals and five other senior military officers have been found guilty in courts-martial of providing arms and information to Boko Haram extremists, several Nigerian newspapers said Tuesday, though the military insisted there was no truth in the reports.

They follow months of allegations from politicians and soldiers who told The Associated Press that some senior officers were helping the Islamic extremists and that some rank-and-file soldiers even fight alongside the insurgents and then return to army camps. They have said that information provided by army officers has helped insurgents in ambushing military convoys and in attacks on army barracks and outposts in their northeastern stronghold.

Leadership newspaper quoted one officer saying that four other officers, in addition to the 15, were found guilty of “being disloyal and for working for the members of the sect.”

Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade, who last week denied reports saying senior officers were being investigated, reiterated in a statement on Tuesday that defense headquarters “wishes to state once again categorically that there is no truth whatsoever in the report.”

He called it a “falsehood” concocted by those who “appear hell-bent on misleading Nigerians and the international community to give credence to the negative impression they are so keen to propagate about the Nigerian military.”

Nigeria’s military often denies substantiated reports, such as on extrajudicial killings of civilians and detainees. It is accused of such gross human rights violations that the U.S. efforts to help in the rescue of nearly 300 abducted schoolgirls have been limited by U.S. law restricting sharing of some types of information and technology with abusive security forces.

The alleged sabotage by senior officers could explain the military’s failure to curb a 5-year-old Islamic uprising by Boko Haram that has killed thousands despite a year-long state of emergency in the northeast.

Why Does True Love Have to Wait?


Why does the Church teach that sex belongs in marriage?

This video is a bit long, but well worth watching.

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China: Tiananmen? What Tiananmen?

 

In China, June 4, 1989 is the day that wasn’t.

Tiananmen Square is the massacre that didn’t happen.

And on this anniversary of the massacre that didn’t happen, nobody inside China had better say anything that intimates that it did.

Welcome to the world of our trading partners. You know; the country to which we have exported our industrial base.

I’m talking about the last major Communist stronghold, which America has cunningly built into a world economic power by sending our jobs and our manufacturing base to them.

I am referring to the land of forced abortions and murdered baby girls, the bastion of slave labor, persecution of Christians and censorship. I mean the country that did not slaughter thousands of its own citizens in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

If you think that perhaps the Tiananmen Square massacre actually happened and that I’m exaggerating about our trading partner’s censorship, just try to send an email to anyone in China with the words Tianamen, June 4 or massacre in it. It will go nowhere.

The Chinese government forbids discussion of Tiananmen Square, the massacre it wreaked on its own citizens, and the brutal aftermath of persecutions, torture and re-education that followed it. The Chinese reaction to today’s anniversary of that tragedy is the reaction that totalitarian governments always use: stone-walling and silence that is enforced by threats, lies and raw power.

A few Americans have become rich beyond the dreams of avarice by dismantling our industrial base and moving it to China. The rest of us, not so much.

How this will play out in the years ahead, I am not sure. I only know that this Chinese leopard has not really changed its spots. That, and the obvious fact that our corporatists have weakened this country greatly feeding their greed.

From USA Today:

BEIJING – Tight security around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square Wednesday combined with a months-long crackdown against dissidents and a quarter century of enforced amnesia to prevent public commemoration of the crushing of the 1989 pro-democracy movement.

In Hong Kong, China’s semi-democratic enclave, more than 100,000 people attended an evening vigil to mark the bloody end to seven weeks of demonstrations for a fairer, cleaner government 25 years ago.

On the mainland, China’s ruling Communist Party forbids citizens from discussing the movement. Thousands were believed to have been killed on the evening of June 3 through June 4, 1989, when the same party sent army troops into central Beijing to quell protesters.

In the past two months, about 50 people have been detained in a pre-anniversary crackdown that Chinese activists and human rights groups have called the most severe ever.

China’s state-run media all but ignored the highly sensitive date, while the censor’s trigger finger was busy Wednesday blacking out television screens showing CNN and BBC whenever the foreign broadcasters aired segments on Tiananmen.

 

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Choose. This. Day.

Evidently, there was an internet hate-off while I was off unpacking my office and getting acquainted with The Precious.

I won’t go into the details because I don’t know the details, and also because I can see from a distance that the details are rife with petty malice, self-righteous viciousness and lies.

It seems that Pope Francis kissed somebody’s hand and one of my colleagues said something about heresy and, of course, the money changer christians are all in a big kerfluffle because the Pope, once again, spoke out in favor of the poor. What’s more, he did this in direct violation of their true theology.

That theology is the self-serving, greed-driven Ayn-Rand-derived neo-con economic theory/theology that is being put on the altars of a lot of Christians’ hearts these days. It is being blessed and promoted in direct contradiction to the teachings of the law and the prophets and Christ the Lord by sin-sick clergy who are twisting the Scriptures to suit the politics of the destructive wing-nuts on the right of the political spectrum.

I’ve written extensively about the wing-nuts on the left of the political spectrum and their Gospel-twisting clergy. But from what little I know, this particular hate-off was fueled and carried forth by the right-wing-nuts of today’s culture/politics-worshipping fallen (little c) christianity.

I’m quite certain that a lot of Public Catholic’s readers are going to come at me with pitchforks and torches for saying this, but my friends, you have got to choose. Follow Christ, or follow the apologists of your political party. You can not serve them both and you cannot follow them both.

On the one hand, we have the arguments of those who buttress claims that Jesus really supports abortion, gay marriage, euthanasia, etc. They use distorted lying interpretations of Scripture to support what is in fact, anti-Christ. On the other hand, we have those who claim that Jesus really supports transferring the wealth of the people into the hands of a few greedy campaign donors and impoverishing the people of this great nation in the process. They use their own distorted, lying interpretations of Scripture to support what is also and in fact, anti-Christ.

What is the difference between them?

Nothing.

They are two sides of the same coin. And they both are leading people down the wide path that goes straight to a hell that exists on this earth and in the next life simultaneously. We are making a hell of this heaven with our politicized christianities.

You cannot — can not — follow either of these heretical (there’s that word) — self-serving, false and evil wing nut christianities and follow Jesus. It is not possible. It cannot be done.

Choose this day, people. Choose who you will serve. Will you walk down the wide road of political expedience and ez-pz morality crafted by the lying liars of politicized little c christianity? Or will you and your house serve the Lord?

The christianity being taught by the wing nuts on both sides of the political spectrum is not the Christianity that leads to eternal life. This bastardized christianity is from the pit, and it leads straight back to the pit. There is no life in these teachings; no Gospel, no Jesus. They come from people who have sold their souls to the political store. Their words are justifications of evil. They are teachings for and about themselves, their greed, and their fallenness. They are not in any way about Him.

Which is why their fruit is lynch mob carrying-on on the internet and in other places. Their fruit is death, dissolution, impoverishment of the many for the few and destruction. They lead people into self-righteousness and crazy viciousness. They fuel slander, malice, envy and an endless cycle of cruel, hate-filled attacks that resemble a debauch more than a discussion.

The internet is full of what amounts to verbal orgies of hatred, directed in the name of Christ — in the name of Christ — at anyone who disagrees with the gospel of wing-nut political christianity.

I looked over the rim of my week off and saw the destructive hate-off. I saw it and I thought, there they go again. I can tell you that from that safe distance it was clear to me that satan was running the show. We are living in times when our world is falling away from Christ. The exhortations and temptations to fall with it are varied and many. But the most sinister come from fallen christians who try to induce us to live by the world’s lights while proclaiming that we are following Him.

Is that heresy? I don’t know. I’m not theologian enough to say. But it is blasphemy. It is taking the Lord’s name in vain. Of that I am entirely certain.

Here, for your delectation, are a few random quotes, pulled from my rather spotty memory. Read them and think. And stop supporting fallen religious leaders and political demagogues who have the temerity to lecture God on morality.

Cboose. This. Day.

Who said that?

Money is the root of all of evil.

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

Do not store up treasures on earth … store up treasures in heaven … for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

If you have done it to the least of these, you have done it to me.

You cannot serve both God and money.

My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers.

But the deceitfulness of riches and desire for other things enter in and choke the word and it becomes unprofitable.

What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his own soul?

Who said that?

Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied.

The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.

Do not be hard hearted or tight fisted toward your poor brothers and sisters.

You have hoarded wealth in the last days. The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you.

If a man shuts his ear to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.

He who mocks the poor shows contempt for his maker.

The righteous care about justice to the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.

He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord.

A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare.

Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, for the Lord will take up their case and will plunder those who plunder them.

Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath.

The Precious

I did do one thing during my week off.

It revolved around The Precious.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

I’ve written before about my new-found love of playing the piano. A friend from my church gave me her old piano, a 1984 Wurlitzer, last August. That piano opened a whole new world for me. I started taking lessons, and found that I have a surprising facility for music. More important, I discovered that I love making music.

The minute I sit down at the piano, the world drops away and it’s just me and the sounds I can draw out of those keys. I didn’t even know where middle C was when I began. But I’ve moved on rather quickly since then. I’m not sure why, but it’s like I’m learning a language that in some odd way I already know.

I don’t practice. I just play it. Learning a new piece of music is fascinating to me, like working a puzzle.

As grateful as I was to have the Wurlitzer — and I was very grateful indeed — I was dissatisfied with it almost from the first day. I don’t know the technical language to describe it, but there was no there, there in the tone. I could change the way I touched the keys and change what it did, but nothing I could do could pull real music out of it.

I don’t know how to explain it except to say that it was limited in what it would do and the limitations wouldn’t allow me to make the sounds I could hear. I heard music in my mind that I knew I could not ever get out of this piano.

I spent hours, trolling on-line web-sites, mooning like a lovestruck teenager over the pianos I saw there. I even went so far as to contact one of them and see if he’d take my Wurlitzer in trade. Shipping costs made that a bad deal for him, which I understood.

In fact, shipping costs made buying from him a bad deal for me, as well. It costs almost $1000 to ship a piano from the East coast to Oklahoma. That’s a lot of coin to stack on top of the cost of the piano itself.

During a lunch break at work a few weeks ago, I decided to check out a local piano dealer called Larsen Music. I wanted to check the prices on a new piano to get an idea of how much a used one should cost. I did not have any plans to buy a piano when I went into that store.

But the very nice salesmen told me I could play any piano that I wanted. That’s a little bit like a car salesman offering a test drive. There is nothing like the smooth specialness of a new car with that intoxicating new car smell. If they can get you in that baby, you’re halfway to sold by the car itself.

It was the same with these pianos. I tried three of them that were in my general price range. They all cost more than I planned to spend. A lot more. But each and every one of them put my Wurlitzer in the dirt. They were all wonderful, but as soon as I touched the keys on The Precious, it was swoon time. If buttered honey was a sound, it would be the sound of this piano. If the colors of a sunset were music, they would sound this way.

It had the voice that speaks the language of the kind of music I want to play.

However, it cost a lot of money.

And I don’t have a lot of money.

Fortunately, there was wiggle room in the price. It turns out that buying a piano really is a lot like buying a car. The piano, like the car, sells itself. Then, the process of working out the deal on the piano involves — like buying a car — a bit of bargaining.

I traded in the Wurlitzer and got quite a lot taken off the asking price in addition to that. The bottom line was that I could afford it. I went home with prices and photos for three pianos. But, the one I wanted was the Kawai. I called back the next day and asked for a couple of more discounts, then agreed to buy over the phone.

The reason? I found the piano I wanted at a price I could afford. I had also learned the answer to the question I had when I walked into the store: New pianos are a better deal than used ones, especially when you factor in the expense of shipping. I had been looking at thirty-year-old pianos that, with shipping, would have cost me about a thousand dollars less than I paid for this new one. That’s not a good deal.

My new piano has a 10-year warranty, a complimentary first tuning and Larsen’s offers a 100% trade-in if someday in the future I decide to buy a grand piano.

I paid for it when I bought it, but asked the store to keep it for me until session was over because I knew I wouldn’t have time to touch it, and that if it was sitting in my house and I couldn’t play it, I might stroke out. It rained here last week, which delayed delivery a day.

But last Wednesday, the delivery guys brought The Precious.

That may be part of why I didn’t get much done last week. All I know is that they weren’t out of the drive when I started playing it, and I didn’t stop until my hands got sore.

I love this piano. It is (in case you’re interested) a new Kawai K3. I recommend Larsen’s Music to any Okie who’s looking for a piano of their own. They are good people to do business with. I think the salesman enjoyed my pleasure in the piano almost as much as he enjoyed the sale. He told me, “I saw your face when you played the Kawai. I knew that was the one.”

I stopped my lessons for the past couple of months because there was no time. I’m starting again this Thursday and I’ve got so many things I want my teacher to go over with me, I don’t know if we can fit it into an hour.

I’ll never be a great musician. But I am already a fulfilled and happy one. I am going to ask around my church and see if I can find enough interested musicians of any level of competence to put together some sort of funky Southside Papist band. That would be great fun.

The moral of this story is simple: If there’s something you want to do, do it. Don’t let wiser heads tell you that you’re too old or that it’s impractical or wasteful silliness. Above all, don’t listen when they tell you to grow up. “Grow up,” used that way, is just a synonym for “stop living.”

That advice isn’t wise. It’s an exhortation to waste life. The greatest wisdom about life is to know it and live it as the gift that it is.


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