Voting is a Moral Act

File Photo

File Photo

My personal religious leader, Archbishop Paul Coakley, gave Oklahoma Catholics one of the few balanced and honest assessments of this upcoming election that I have read from any religious leader.

I am grateful to him for both his courage in saying the truth at this time when people have become so partisan and enraged that they won’t hear the truth, and for his courage in speaking out against sexual assault and violence against women.

Here is Archbishop Coakley’s letter.

Voting is a moral act

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley         October 30, 2016

The presidential debates are now behind us and Election Day is looming large. One of the most common reactions to the astonishing developments of this election cycle is a troubling question: how did we get here? Are these really the best candidates that our nation has to choose from in electing the next president of the United States?

Our major party candidates are both deeply flawed. One has boasted of his ability to grope women at will simply because of his celebrity status. It is never acceptable to demean and commit violence against women! This candidate’s lack of impulse control has been on display in his failure to stay on topic during debates and refrain from offering crass and outrageous statements to reporters, hecklers and even supporters. These are not reassuring qualities for one who might be entrusted with nuclear codes.

The other major candidate has been a tireless advocate for abortion and same-sex marriage. Her inner circle has been caught strategizing an anti-Catholic campaign to undermine adherence to Church teaching among Catholics in order to advance their own short term political gains at the expense of interfering with religious liberty. This candidate has a problem with truth-telling and transparency.

How did we get here? And, what does this mean for our nation? In 1775, one of our nation’s founding fathers, John Adams said, “Public virtue cannot exist in a nation without private virtue, and public virtue is the only foundation of republics.”

We don’t talk much about virtue these days, public or private. That is a big part of our problem. We are witnessing a disturbing lack of public virtue in our national discourse and in the direction that many of our government’s policies and laws are moving. How else can we account for our widespread tolerance of grave challenges to foundational institutions such as marriage and the family, not to mention the sacredness of human life from conception to its natural end?

If this is so, it suggests a failure in private or individual virtue among the citizens of our nation. It was Plato who once described the state as “the soul writ large.” The health of the state, of civil society, of a nation is a projection of the health of the souls and characters of its citizens. If our laws and policies turn a blind eye to the poor, it is because too many of us do the same. All of this is to say that if we find ourselves asking how our nation got here, then we need to look within our own hearts.

During the Maccabean period of Jewish history there was widespread apostasy when the Jews, enamored by the ways of their foreign occupiers, sought to hide the mark of their circumcision. They betrayed their deepest identity as God’s chosen people by being ashamed of the very sign of their covenant with God. Today, we are witnessing a similar apostasy when so many people, believers and unbelievers alike, deny the law written in their hearts by the Creator. Too many people, blinded by sin, make themselves the sole arbiter, lawgiver and judge of what is good and evil, true and false.

This election cycle, perhaps, will serve as a reminder that what we most need is a renewed commitment to the pursuit of virtue, to seek the good and adhere to the truth as inscribed in our hearts by our Creator, elaborated by reason and illumined by Revelation.

Character matters. Unfortunately, as we prepare to go to the polls on Nov. 8 we cannot rely as much on the virtue and character of our presidential candidates as we ought to be able to do.

Still, we have an obligation to vote and our vote ought to be informed by a careful study of the platforms of the parties and the stated positions of the candidates. Voting is a moral act. It ought to be guided by prayer and an evaluation not only of the political, but also the moral implications of our decisions.

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New Study on ‘Sexuality and Gender’ Shakes Assumptions About Transgenderism

Original caption: "Dr. Walter Freeman, left, and Dr. James W. Watts study an X ray before a psychosurgical operation. Psychosurgery is cutting into the brain to form new patterns and rid a patient of delusions, obsessions, nervous tensions and the like." from Saturday Evening Post 1941, pages 18-19. Photo Source Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain.

Original caption: “Dr. Walter Freeman, left, and Dr. James W. Watts study an X ray before a psychosurgical operation. Psychosurgery is cutting into the brain to form new patterns and rid a patient of delusions, obsessions, nervous tensions and the like.” from Saturday Evening Post 1941, pages 18-19. Photo Source Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain.

A new study calls into question the political narratives surrounding trendy treatments for people who say they are transgendered, in particular the unethical practice of dosing children with powerful hormones to suppress their normal physical development.

I wrote this post about it for CatholicVote. 

 

The New Atlantis recently published a studySexuality and Gender, that is sure to earn its authors a place on the secular media hit list.

The study and paper weren’t produced by amateurs, but by Lawrence S. Mayer, MB, MS, PhD and Paul H Hugh, MD.

Dr. Hugh is the University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry and a professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He was the psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital and has served as a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics.

Dr. Mayer is a scholar in residence in the Department of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a professor of statistics and biostatistics at Arizona State University.

He has been published in peer-reviewed journals. His publications include articles in The Annals of Statistics, Biometrics, International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, American Journal of Political Science, New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American Statistical Association and the American Journal of Public Health.

I listed these men’s credentials because the conclusions they reached in their research fly in the face of the political narratives that have been put forward by one side of the culture wars. I expect them to be attacked, and I also expect anyone who cites their work to be attacked along with them.

What have they said that’s so worthy of such attacks? Basically, (and it’s a long article that you should read yourself) they debunk several claims in the public narrative about the causes of homosexuality. One apple-cart that they overturn is the “born that way,” explanation for how people develop same-sex attractions.

There is nothing inflammatory per se in what the authors conclude. It is, rather, pretty much what we all have surmised: there are most likely a number of causes that lead to the development of homosexuality, and no one really knows at this point what all of them are. However, the “born that way” narrative does not bear out, at least as a sole explanation.

The authors also address the question of mental health and homosexuality. Their conclusion is that homosexual people suffer from higher rates of mental health problems than their counterparts in the larger community.

Again, it is not possible to say whether these mental health problems are part of an overall mental health dynamic that results in homosexuality, a result of homosexual behavior, or a reaction to prejudice and discrimination that individuals encounter because of their sexuality. It’s a chicken and egg thing, just like the question of what “causes” same-sex attraction.

This research also shows that “gender reassignment surgery” does not result in improved mental health outcomes for those who undergo it. It raises the issue of the high rate of suicide in people who say they are transgender.

The authors don’t say this, but I would guess that the poor mental health results of gender reassignment surgery are mostly due to the fact that it is a barbaric and mutilating procedure that has more in common with yester-years’ pre-frontal lobotomies than legitimate medical practice. (Read the rest here.)

 

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They’re Opening an Abortion Clinic Next to My Parish Church

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain

An abortion clinic is opening just a couple of blocks from my church. I wrote about it for the National Catholic Register.

An abortion clinic is opening two blocks from the parish where I go to encounter the Risen Lord in the Holy Eucharist.

Parents will drive the children who attend our parish school past the abortion clinic on their way to class. will drive past the abortion clinic on my way to Mass, as will most of my fellow parishioners. Our parish priests will sleep in a rectory that is a stone’s throw from a place where children die horribly and in great numbers.

This, like just about everything else in the larger world, is all fresh news to me. Everything that was happening outside my circle of illness slipped past me in the long period when I was underwater with cancer and its treatment. I didn’t know much about one of our candidates for president. Then I woke up to discover things that left me aghast and demoralized by the Sophie’s Choice that is forced upon us.

Ditto for this abortion clinic. It happened without me knowing about it. I didn’t watch or read the news during that long convalescence. Once in a while a mass murder would break through to my awareness, but I remained blissfully unaware of the imposition by the laws of commerce of this mass murder on the doorstep of my own church home.

Now that I am aware, my primary fear is that the parish will be overcome by the evil. The satanic influences in our society today have become ubiquitous. They have infected and even taken over some of major social and cultural interactions and events. (Read the rest here.)

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Cancer has Taught Me the Cure: We Have to Follow Christ.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

I wrote this last week for the National Catholic Register.

 

I’ve been trying to find my way back into writing for quite a while. It isn’t easy.

Every time I think I’m moving forward, I fall down. I get sick again; not cancer sick, but too sick to do anything. I get colds, kidney infections, gastrointestinal thingies, then I get another cold, and so on and so forth.

Each little illness — and these things come at me like they were being fired from a repeating rifle — takes the little bit of pizazz that I’ve mustered and smashes it flat. I have to rebuild my stamina, and yes, my interest in the world outside the confines of my personal life, all over again. Then, just as I’m peeking over the rim, I get hit with another illness.

These things take me down in a way that colds and such have not in times past. I don’t remember ever missing a day’s work over a cold or a kidney infection. No matter what happened, my verve for doing kept right on keeping on. It has fueled me all my life. But cancer extinguished that verve in a deep, deep way. My focus switched to an all-out fight for my life.

In addition to wearing me down, cancer shifted the things I care about. What mattered to me, in fact all that mattered, was Jesus, my family and a few friends. Whatever verve I had left went to cuddling my granddaughter and taking my Mama out for drives.

There was a time — quite a long time — when I could do neither. In fact, there was a period of at least a couple of weeks where my memory was so drug-laden that it’s just a spotty series of scenes that I sort of remember.

I had one tough instance of runaway high blood pressure. I had daily visits from nurses for a few weeks. They were wonderful and probably saved my life when the blood pressure went wacko. The nurse caught it and went to bats with the docs that they had to do something about it. I don’t remember a lot of things, but I do remember her telling a doc “You have to act. I will not leave this patient in this condition. I don’t want a mastectomy to stroke out on me.”

The odd part of that memory is that a friend of mine was Rebecca-sitting during this whole event. She came to my house each morning as my husband was leaving for work and stayed with me all day. I remember we watched movies and that she helped me strip drains and such.

Later, when I was trying to remember the big mess with the blood pressure, I asked her, “Were you there when that happened?” She smiled and said, “Yes, I was.”

Another time, I was telling her about how heavy my Kirby vacuum cleaner is and bragging that I had been able, for the first time in a long time, to vacuum my living room floor. She smiled and said, “I used that vacuum to clean your house when I was taking care of you.” I have no memory of that.

There’s a lot I don’t remember, and a lot I do (Read the rest here.)

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Trump is Unfit to Lead America

Is Vladimir Putin helping Donald Trump win the race for President of the United States? This caricature of Donald Trump was adapted from Creative Commons licensed images from Michael Vadon's flickr photostream. This caricature of Vladimir Putin was adapted from a Creative Commons licensed photo from the Russian Presidential Press and Information Office available via Wikimedia. This background was adapted from a Creative Commons licensed photo from Jeff Ruane's Flickr photostream. The Russian symbol was adapted from a photo in the public domain available via Wikimedia. This bodies were adapted from a Creative Commons licensed photo from The U.S. Army's Flickr photo stream. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/28512617446/

Is Vladimir Putin helping Donald Trump win the race for President of the United States?
Photo Source:  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/28512617446/

 

The New York times broke a story yesterday that fits the pieces of Donald Trump’s bizarre foreign policy together. It also makes this election about a lot more than issues. It raises an ugly and unthinkable question: Is Mr Trump a Manchurian candidate of sorts?

Let’s talk background. What “pieces” am I referring to?

1. Mr Trump fired the campaign manager who had brought him successfully through the primaries and replaced him with a “professional” campaign manager of the right. This new campaign manager has a well-known background of working for campaigns in the Ukraine.

2. Mr Trump has said that he will truncate our NATO allegiances in favor of allying this country with President Putin and the Russians. Think about that: He’s talking about changing our historic alliances with Great Britain, France, Germany and Italy, and switching — willy-nilly — to allying this country with Russia, presumably at least somewhat against our former allies.

3. He’s blathered so much about his favorable feelings for President Putin that the press has talked about a “bromance” between the two men.

4. Now, according to yesterday’s New York Times article, he fired the campaign manager who successfully brought him to the nomination and replaced him with one of the most dubious of political hacks, who, it turns out, may have been given millions of dollars in cash from — you guessed it — the Russians.

I’ve been appalled ever since I first read about it about his his constant hinting at an incestuous relationship with his daughter, the fact that he put his wife in porn photo shoots, and the way he talks about women.

Christians need to be very careful about endorsing Mr Trump. Other people judge Jesus by the things we do and say, and they will inevitably conclude that our faith is worthless if we excuse behavior like this for political expediency.

There are certain levels of misogyny that Christians can not align themselves with, even indirectly and for what seem to be noble reasons such as the right to life. If they do so, they destroy the integrity of their witness for Christ and besmirch the causes they hold dear.

A man who hints at incest with his daughter and who puts his wife in porn photo shoots and who talks about women the way Mr Trump does has to be an example of one of them. His behavior is anti-Christ and we may not condone it, even indirectly.

Having said that, I want to go back to the points I made about Mr Trump’s foreign policy ideas and his campaign manager’s possible money ties to Putin. The question which comes to mind is simple and straightforward: Did Mr Trump sell this country out to Putin? Is he a Manchurian candidate?

If this story turns out to be true, it raises questions that are even uglier than the questions about Mr Trump’s hatred of women and use of them as sexual things. It raises questions that are worse (if such a thing is possible) than the degradation this nation will suffer if we elect a president who jokes about incest with his daughter and has put his wife in porn photo shoots. The question is, quite simply, is he a traitor to this country?

Is he talking about changing our foreign policy in draconian ways to the harm of this nation because of some nefarious money connection between him and the Russian leadership?

I want to emphasize that I don’t know that this is true. But the story in the New York Times, if it turns out to be true, points toward that being a possible explanation of Mr Trump’s outlandish foreign policy ideas, as well as his “bromance” with President Putin.

I do know that Mr Trump is not only unfit for the presidency, he is unfit for the endorsement or support of any Christian organization. I include in that organizations that are not specifically Christian but which hold Christian ideals.

I understand what I am saying. I know full well the debacle many of our causes face if Secretary Clinton wins this election.

But I am an American. From the top of my fuzzy hair, to the soles of my Okie feet, I love this country.

Mr Trump is unfit at any level to lead America.

 

Note: This post originally contained references to lawsuits filed against Mr Trump alleging that he held sex parties with teen-aged girls. A Public Catholic reader brought this story to my attention, calling that into question. For that reason, I removed references to the articles I had read from this post.

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Sorry for the Gap in Posting.

Sorry for the gap in posting folks. I’ve been sick again. But, I’m feeling better today! Prayers requested that I can get all the way well.

In Christ,

Rebecca

 

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Play Nice or Play Elsewhere

Photo Source: flickr commons, by Kim Siever, public domain https://www.flickr.com/photos/kmsiever/

Photo Source: flickr commons, by Kim Siever, public domain https://www.flickr.com/photos/kmsiever/

There’s a new/old sheriff in town, and she’s had cancer.

What does that mean?

It means that I’m going to attempt to post here on Patheos once again in a fairly regular fashion. But I’m tired, worn and no longer have the energy and patience for nasty people who come here to exercise their inner jerk.

The main reason I’m back here at all is that Public Catholic has become a safe and happy on-line community for some of the most wonderful people I’ve interacted with in a long time. I enjoy the wealth of thinking and good-will that you bring to discussions of public events, and I treasure your good hearts and the camaraderie you’ve developed.

I guess what I’m saying is that the good people here at Public Catholic have formed into such a generous and thoughtful group, that they make the trolls and bizarros worth the candle.

However, I am not able or willing to suffer the emotional angst of dealing with abusive and nutty people. I’m also not going to allow this blog to become a dumping ground for anti-Christian, anti-Catholic, thinking. I don’t write for that purpose and I will not allow my blog to become a forum for those who want to destroy the things I believe in.

The reason Public Catholic developed such a warm community of good people who are able to interact without fear of being flamed is that I never tolerated that kind of behavior. The difference now is that I’m all through mud-wrestling. I don’t have the gas in my tank to deal with these folks. They have many places, right here on Patheos, indeed, right here at Patheos Catholic, where they can act out to their hearts’ content.

But Public Catholic exists to empower Christians to engage the world for Christ. That is its only reason for being. I don’t demand that those who comment here actually be Christians — several regulars are not — and I certainly do not demand that we all agree about issues. That would be counter-productive. Thinking together helps us grow and find solutions for the issues and problems facing us as Christians, Americans and human beings.

However, I’m going to be exceedingly quick to delete the nasties and tribal attackers. I will do whatever I have to do to keep my own energy and peace of mind going, and that means limiting my engagement with the negativity and hate of Christian bashers.

There’s a new/old sheriff in town. And she’s had cancer. What that means to Public Catholic readers is that I cherish each of you, and want to provide you a safe place for thinking through the issues of the day together. Public Catholic’s regular readers are such good people who elevate the public debate with their thoughtful thinking. You are the reason I decided to come back to Patheos.

But this is fair warning to the trolls: I’m not going to allow even the least little bit of nasty. Play nice or play elsewhere.

This is a Catholic, Christian blog. That viewpoint is the one that I promote with both pride and passion. There is no reason to come to Public Catholic and then feign surprise and outrage because the viewpoints it expresses are actually Catholic.

You don’t have to agree with me, but if you find my commitment to Jesus Christ so offensive that you can not put a leash on your vitriol, I encourage you to go to another blog where that kind of behavior is welcome, and express yourself there.

I’m going to close this down now and turn to other matters. Have a holy and happy Sabbath, my friends. Public Catholic readers are the best, most thoughtful folks out there.

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As the World Gets Crazier and Meaner, Follow Jesus Christ

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Daniel R. https://www.flickr.com/photos/zonadearte/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Daniel R. https://www.flickr.com/photos/zonadearte/

I wrote this post for the National Catholic Register a few weeks back. Since then, the United States Supreme Court has stayed action on forcing girls in public schools to go to the bathroom with boys who identify themselves as transgendered. What this means in the long run, I can’t predict. I will say that unless we convert the culture, we are ultimately doomed to fail in the courts and legislatures.

 

Peoples is crazy. And they are getting crazier.

They are also getting meaner. And more deadly.

California’s euthanasia law locked on recently, allowing medical murder. The support for this law comes from claims that killing people is actually a kindness to them, and those who opposed this killing lack compassion.

New York City’s Commission on Human Rights recently released a “guidance” for employers and landlords, requiring them to learn a new language or be fined $125,000 for accidentally saying the “wrong” thing, and up to $250,000 for saying the “wrong” thing on purpose.

What does it take to fall afoul of this newness in employment behavior? Well, if you accidentally refer to a man who thinks he’s woman with the pronoun “he,” ka-ching! you’re out $125,000. If you do it on purpose, the cost will be $250,000.

However, it’s even a bit more complicated than that. You can’t settle the case by just calling “him” a “her.” There is what amounts to a new, legislated, language to be learned here.

It seems that men who say they are women, or women who say they are men must be addressed by such arcane pronouns as “ze,” and “hir.” Ze is supposed to be the third person singular, while “hir” is the third person possessive.

Also, if you have a dress code that differs between men and women, requiring, say, men to wear a tie, then you’re in for another $250,000.

Employers are required to provide health benefits for “gender affirming care,” and to make “reasonable accommodations” for “individuals undergoing gender transition.”

Then, of course, there’s the bathroom dealio. It appears that women employees in NYC need to adjust to going to the bathroom with any man who decides today that he is, in fact, a woman.

Meanwhile, the United States Departments of Justice and Education have issued a joint letter to public school administrators threatening them with loss of Title IX monies if they do not require little girls to share their bathroom and shower facilities with any boy who says he’s a girl. They are also required to destroy girl’s sports by allowing any boy who says he’s a girl and who wants to play on the girl’s teams to do so.

This little list doesn’t come anywhere near compiling the craziness afoot in our fair land. We all know that the two political parties have coughed up turnips in their presidential nominating process and that Congress has abrogated its duties in what appears to be a permanent commitment to partisan rabble-rousing.

We are aware that our elected officials don’t seem to care about this country except when they are campaigning for re-election, and even then not much. Our political campaigns have devolved down to myopic discussions of nonsense that are almost as crazy as the New York employment rules.

So what are we to do? How do we combat this fall into enforced nihilism, narcissism and flat-out reality-bending from our government?

Here’s how.

We stay the course.

What does staying the course mean?

It means, first of all, that we pray. I think it would be a good thing if we all started praying the Rosary every day. I try to do that, and it helps me a lot.

Then, we read Scripture, go to Mass and go to confession.

However, do not mistake any of those things for action. They are simply putting on the armor of faith so that we can take action.

Action, in a society as fallen as this one, means two things.

Read the rest here.

 

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Election 2016: Skip the Top and Look Further Down the Ballot

Photo Source: Pixabay, cco Public Domain https://pixabay.com/en/presidential-election-usa-politics-1336480/

Photo Source: Pixabay, cco Public Domain https://pixabay.com/en/presidential-election-usa-politics-1336480/

Warning: This post is not for children.

 

This is one of those times I don’t care what people call me. If what I’m about to write offends you, and you want to call me names for it, do your worst. Somebody needs to say this.

Publications and organizations who, in the public mind, speak for Christ, need to be very careful about endorsing monsters. This year’s presidential campaign has not given us a choice between black and white, or even between dark gray and lighter gray. It has given us a choice between shades of black.

If you are a person who votes based on your Christian values, then you do not have a candidate in this presidential campaign. Since we are Americans, we need to vote. But we should avoid creating faux versions of the people we are voting for in order to ease our cognitive dissonance about the political situation in front of us.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time dissecting the problems with the Democratic presidential and vice-presidential nominees, for the simple reason that they are not trying to lie about where they stand. They state their pro-abortion, pro-gay-marriage viewpoints, and there is no reason to doubt, particularly in the case of Secretary Clinton, that she means ever single word of it.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that this is one of our major problems in the political fight for the sanctity of human life. Their politicians mean it. They are dedicated to “saving Roe,” and most of them believe right down to the ground that they are “saving women’s lives” with their political activities.

Many of our politicians, on the other hand, just signed a dealio promising to be pro life because that is a requirement for them to get elected. Their commitment to our cause would change the moment their political party let them off the pro-life hook.

I’m not guessing about this. I know it. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it in my daily life for 18 years as an elected office-holder, and in the years before that when I was the Oklahoma Director for NARAL.

That, more than any other single thing, is why the babies lose behind closed doors. It’s why our issues are always set aside for “more important” issues concerning whatever the tom fool the corporations want today. It’s why pro life advocates do not push for legislation concerning embryonic stem cell research; because the corporations don’t want it. Again, I’m not just blowing smoke here. I know these things.

On top of that, this year we are faced with a presidential campaign that does not give us a pro-life candidate to back. There is no legitimate pro-life voice in this campaign. Let me say that again for those who don’t want to hear it: There is no legitimate pro-life voice in this campaign.

A number of pro life advocates have latched onto Mr Trump’s running mate, Governor Mike Pence of Indiana, as their great hope. I’ve even read a few publications, building up his “Catholic” witness.

I’ve got what might be called a liability when it comes to that sort of political knee bending. I have a memory. I can remember all the way back to last year when Governor Mike Pence sold us out by deep-sixing Indiana’s Religious Freedom and Restoration Act.

I remember when Governor Mike Pence announced that he’d signed Indiana’s Religious Freedom and Restoration Act. According to IndyStar, the law prohibited “state or local governments from substantially burdening a person’s ability to exercise their religion — unless the government can show that it has a compelling interest and that the acton is the least restrictive means of achieving it.”

If he’d had the guts to stick with his action, I’d be writing an entirely different assessment of him today.

This bill is not about discrimination,” he said when he signed the bill with religious people in their full religious garb standing beside him for the photo op. In fact, he went on for a while, making all sorts of sanctimonious pronouncements.

Then, the money changers came calling, and Governor Pence did what his true bosses told him to do. He signed a second bill which gutted the Indiana Religious Freedom and Restoration Act.

There are a lot of names for politicians who crawfish like that, but courageous, honest and sincere are not among them. Neither is a description of a genuine fighter for family and the sanctity of human life.

At the same time, I have an adequate short-term memory. I’ve read that the nefarious internal DNC emails show that top-ranking Dems met with those who want to destroy our religious freedoms and — get this — brain-stormed with them on how to do it.

It is a legitimate position for traditional Christians to say that Governor Pence might be a weak-kneed, untrustworthy and two-faced advocate who has shown that he will deal us away; that we can’t trust him or rely on him and that he will probably do us in behind closed doors, BUT we at least have some hold on him, and at least he’s not out to get us. That would be a truth-based assessment of our situation.

It is also the reality of the choice in front of us. I don’t know, but I believe that Mr Trump chose Governor Pence as his running mate precisely because the corporatists who run both political parties trusted Governor Pence to do their bidding.

I think Governor Pence “earned” the vice-presidency with his willingness to betray us over the Indiana Religious Freedom and Restoration Act. He demonstrated, in a most public way, that he was the corporatist’s boy.

Secretary Clinton had achieved (a dubious achievement in my book) a realignment of corporate money, with a good bit of it, including $ from the Koch Brothers, going into Democratic coffers. And Governor Pence had demonstrated, in a most public way, that he was the corporatist’s boy.

Again, I don’t know, but I think he got where is for betraying us.

Now, let’s talk about the presidential nominees themselves. Again, I’m going to make short work of Secretary Clinton for the simple reason that nothing is in dispute. She is a pro abortion stalwart. When her husband was president, he helped pass the federal Religious Freedom and Restoration Act that her own party has been working behind the scenes to destroy.

What would she do as president? How would her Democratic party shape up on the issue of religious freedom? I honestly don’t know. I don’t think she’s out to get us the way President Obama has been. But she’s a political realist. If the party pressure is strong enough, she might turn and attack religious freedom as her predecessor has.

Mr Trump is not pro life. He has filled out a questionnaire from a major pro-life advocacy group in which he said all the right things. And he switched from being “very choice” to newly-minted pro life.

Now, I’m not saying that people don’t convert on this issue. I’m an example of that myself. But Mr Trump didn’t “evolve” (his word) on the issue until he was in the middle of this presidential campaign and realized that being pro choice was standing in the way of his winning the Republican nomination for president.

I paid a dear price for converting. My own party came within 50 votes of censuring me over it. Mr Trump switched when it was politically necessary and he did so in order to gain the Republican nomination for President of the United States.

He’s not pro life.

He’s also not pro family. I’m a little aghast that voters who support family values can go in the tank for a man who has been married three times, each wife looking like the last, and increasingly younger than him.

I’m flat-out disgusted that anyone who claims the name of Jesus Christ can support a man who talks about women like they are dirt, calling them pigs. But, for us to support a man who repeatedly jokes about having sex with his daughter? How can anyone support that?

Mr Trump has repeatedly made comments to the effect that his daughter, Ivanka, has a “great body” and if she wasn’t his daughter, he’d “date” her. If you can’t figure this out, let me clue you in: Normal men don’t make jokes like that. In fact, normal men would be inclined to punch other men in the face for saying things like that about their daughters.

Then, let’s talk about Mr Trump’s wife, our potential First Lady. Mrs Trump is a former model who has posed nude in a sex scene with another woman. I am not going to link to this article because the photos are pornographic.

According to interviews with GQ, Mr Trump was “eager” for his wife  (who was his girlfriend at the time) to appear in a yet another porno shoot for their magazine. Mr Trump evidently went so far as to allow the magazine to use his own jet as a backdrop for the photo shoot.

I thought about saying that Mr Trump has the personal morals of an alley cat, but that truly does insult alley cats. He jokes about sex with his own daughter, encourages his wife to appear in a pornographic photo shoot, has been married three times, and is pro life for political reasons only.

I’m going to repeat something I said earlier in this post. Those who, in the public mind, speak for Christians, Christianity and even Jesus Christ Himself, need to be very careful about endorsing monsters. They will end up besmirching the name of Christ.

Traditional Christians do not have a candidate in this year’s presidential election. But we are Americans, and we must vote. I think there are legitimate judgements that we can make that could lead us to casting a vote, but we have to do this with our eyes open and without lying to ourselves.

Do not lie to yourself and try to turn these straw men candidates into pro life, pro family pro religious freedom gold. Do not demonize them, and do not deify them. To use a slogan from Alcoholics Anonymous, accept reality on reality’s terms.

I don’t endorse candidates with my writing. That is not why I write. I want to make it as clear as I can that I am absolutely not endorsing anyone in this race.

I think we need to vote as best we can, but with the full knowledge that we’re going to have to watch whoever wins and be prepared to fight them for what we believe. We also need to look further down the ticket for our pro life, pro family, pro religious freedom leaders. Because there are none at the top.

 

Note: I ended up linking to the GQ photos of Mrs Trump, which are the ones Mr Trump evidently solicited the magazine to take. They are the least pornographic of the lot, and do not feature Mrs Trump in sexual behavior with another woman as some of the other photos do. I apologize but it was evidently necessary to let people seem at least a bit of this. If you want to avoid seeing this smut, don’t click on the link “another porno shoot.”

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Pregnant and Diagnosed with Cancer

Breast Cancer Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by crazy_dame https://www.flickr.com/photos/craftydame/

Breast Cancer Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by crazy_dame https://www.flickr.com/photos/craftydame/

These videos tell the story of one young family’s fight with cancer. Mom of the family had cancer, and she was pregnant when she was diagnosed, but the entire family fought the disease, which is how it has to be. Nobody fights cancer alone. God bless husbands and wives who go through this journey with their spouses. They are doing eternity work.

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My First Wobbly Post Cancer Post, and It’s About Little g gods.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Daniel R. https://www.flickr.com/photos/zonadearte/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Daniel R. https://www.flickr.com/photos/zonadearte/

This post for Catholic Vote was the first post I wrote after being away so long. I felt like someone trying to ride a bicycle for the first time in years; all wobbles and uncertainty. So, I went with something I believe to my core and have written about many times before: Many Christians on both sides of the political spectrum have made a false god of their political parties. They trim their faith to fit their politics.

I knew when I wrote it that people who are deep into this form of idolatry would become enraged and call me names. Satan is in control of them, and they don’t know it. When someone confronts them with their sin, they attack and vilify that person for telling them what they don’t want to hear.

It’s interesting that not one of these folks had the brains or ability to support their views with actual facts and arguments.  They simply went to the lowest sez-you, you’re-this-or-that denominator. In short, they reached for abuse and a ham-handed attempt to use the combox to commit calumny to support their position.

I knew this would happen. But I’ve been away from the internet, and I was, even after my years of dealing with this particular form of spiritual death, surprised by the vehemence of some of those who have fallen into it. I’m not mincing words here. I am calling the political heresy what it is: idolatry, satanic, sin, spiritual death. The combox viciousness is merely a symptom of how sin sick and lost these people are.

Someone said, You cannot serve two masters, and He was right. He also said, You cannot serve God and Mammon, and He was right again. I believe that Mammon refers to more than money; it is the entire worldly edifice. You cannot walk the Narrow Way that leads to life, and the Broad Way that leads to perdition, both at once.

These people who follow their politics instead of Jesus are, well, not following Jesus. They have become followers of another god, and it is the most pernicious and deadly little g god of them all: Their own vaunting self-righteousness.

I made a list of the worst actors in this regard and I am praying for them. I also pray the St Michael prayer every day for our sin sick nation. This country needs an exorcism, beginning with those who call themselves Christians but put the little g gods of this world on the altar of their hearts, instead.

Here’s part of what I wrote for Catholic Vote:

I have said this many times, and I expect I will say it many more: You cannot follow Jesus Christ and follow either of the two political parties.

This election season has demonstrated in an obvious way that both our political parties are morally bankrupt. It has shown us, if we would allow ourselves to see what is directly in front of us, that this great nation, founded as it was on the idea that all human beings are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, is in danger of being brought down, not by enemies from without, but from the craven manipulations and lies of our political parties.

We will destroy our country if we do not cease and desist from the self-destructive nihilism and corporatism that our political parties are pushing on us.

Far too many people, Republicans and Democrats alike, have made false gods of their political affiliations. They feed this idolatry by hating the sins of the other party without acknowledging the sins of their own party.

In fact and in truth, there is enough fodder for that gun in either party’s behavior. Read the rest here.

 

 

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There are Two Ways to Survive Cancer

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aaaarrrggghhh! https://www.flickr.com/photos/uselessid/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aaaarrrggghhh! https://www.flickr.com/photos/uselessid/

I’m back. Sort of.

As I explain in this post I wrote for the National Catholic Register, I feel like a shipwreck victim who has washed up on a strange shore. I’ve been so completely immersed in that nether world of cancer treatment and fighting for my life that this normal world seems odd to me.

The values of this world are backwards to me now, more so than they already were backward to me as a practicing Christian. The physical part of cancer is all bad. Every single bit of it. It has left me dealing with a set of deficits and diminishments that will last as long as I do.

But thanks to the love of God, the spiritual side of cancer has been a remarkable gift. The Holy Spirit walked with me throughout, and I have come closer to Him than I thought possible in this life.

Here is a bit of what I wrote for the Register.

I told a friend that I feel as if I’ve been away. I feel like someone who has wintered over at the South Pole and is now peeking from behind doors at the newcomers who’ve arrived with the sun.

In truth, I have been to a different continent, but it is a continent of the mind and spirit, of enclosure and obsessive focus. The topography has nothing to do with the unexplored mountain ranges and rivers that I associate with the idea of a new continent. The unexplored areas of this new land were hospital rooms and surgical suites, doctor’s offices and pathology results.

I been fighting for my life, just as surely as any gladiator in an arena, any soldier in battle. I have been, like they are, on strange soil, someone else’s territory, guarding my back as well as my front as I sought purchase on the shaky ground under my feet, as I fought to find the way out of the nightmare.

Cancer is a fight to the death with killer cells that are, in fact, part of ourselves. Nothing will kill cancer that will not also kill us. Because cancer is us. It is our own cells from our own body, gone rogue. Something happened. Either our defenses weakened, or the cell was overwhelmed with a toxicity that almost, but didn’t quite, kill it, and it changed. The change turned it into a terrifying chimera of its old self, a frightening example of what happens to life when the breaks are taken off and one cell — one solitary cell — can multiply and migrate without limit.

Cancer is the ultimate predator. It is the ultimate parasite, taking up ever larger portions of the nutrients and space our bodies need to keep us alive. Cancer is also the ultimate suicidal maniac, that always ends up killing its host, which is to say, itself. Cancer is suicide by greed at the cellular level.

I suppose that makes it a rather elegant metaphor for the politics of greed which threaten to destroy our great nation. But that is a topic for another post.

Today I want to discuss the stunned, waking-up-from-sleep aftermath of cancer treatment.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/there-are-two-ways-to-survive-cancer/#ixzz477qJrqqU

 

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Cancer and Dementia are Risky Ailments in a Time of Euthanasia.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Wes Peck https://www.flickr.com/photos/wespeck/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Wes Peck https://www.flickr.com/photos/wespeck/

I stopped off at Catholic Vote this morning to write a post adding to another post by my friend Kate O’Hare. Kate took on the questions circling cancer and euthanasia.

Cancer is one of those dread diseases that euthanasia salesmen use to convince people that the compassionate thing to do for people is to kill them. Then, they buttress this cold-blooded thought salad of an argument with claims that people are begging for the opportunity to be killed.

Uh-huh.

These arguments are based on ignorance and myth. It isn’t necessary for anyone in the Western world to die shivering and shrieking in pain. We can manage pain just fine. What is necessary is caring and love. True compassion walks the last mile with the dying and sees them home in love.

That takes work, and it can cost money. So, some folks have hatched up this death with dignity story to justify putting other people down like they were animals. But real death with dignity is to die in peace with the people you love who have walked the hard road to departure alongside you.

Here’s part of what I said about all this:

My friend Kate O’Hare recently wrote a post here at Catholic Vote discussing the question of cancer and euthanasia.

I am living with breast cancer right now, as I type. This evil movement to legalize medical murder is more pertinent to me now than ever before.

Euthanasia pushers tout medical murder as an act of “mercy,” when it is in fact the ultimate act of uncaring. I have cancer. I also am caring for my 90-year-old mother who has dementia.

I googled “undergoing cancer treatment while caring for elderly parent with dementia.” I did not get one hit. This particular combination of responsibilities doesn’t fit in “Ten Things to Do When You Have Cancer” blog posts. The only neat solutions to problems like these are evil solutions. Caregiving and dread disease are messy and complicated. They ask of a lot of us.

My situation seems ready-made for the purveyors of death and their murderous solutions for the burdens of life and love. My mother, in their bleak understanding of life, has “lived too long.” As for me, I’m good for a few rounds of treatment. But if that fails, I need to green light somebody to knock me stone dead and put the world out of my misery

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There’s a Man in My Front Yard with a Gun

Christmas at my house. Copyright Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Christmas at my house. Copyright Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

I want to thank each of you who has written to me with your kind words and excellent advice. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your prayers. Please continue praying. I need it.

Have a blessed and Holy Christmas this year. Remember always that you are God’s precious child.

I wrote a post about cancer and Christmas and my house for the National Catholic Register. I was thinking of each of you when I wrote it.

Here’s part of what I said:

The House district that I represented for 18 years is more than a bit incomprehensible to outsiders. And by outsiders, I mean anyone and everyone who didn’t spawn in that pond of which both I and the people I represented are from.

I remember trying to explain to another legislator why my constituents reacted to issues as they did. His constituents were constantly in a kerfuffle over whatever hot-button issue du jour was rocking the world at the time. My constituents were steady on about these things. They just trusted my judgment and let me have at it in those areas.

But there were things that they would not abide. Fortunately for me, my constituents and I were one in all this. We thought and, more importantly, felt, alike because we were woven of the same threads.

My colleague didn’t “get” this. It was opaque to him and I wasn’t sure how to explain it so that he could understand.

I thought about the forces that shaped behavior where I was from: the poverty, threat of violence, and powerful sense of community, the us-against-them attitude that kept us together and rolling. How could I explain this to my colleague for whom these things, this way of thinking and being, was alien? Finally, I hit on a metaphor.

When there’s a man in the front yard with a gun, it focuses your attention. I said.

I don’t know if I communicated adequately with my colleague, but for me it was the perfect and absolute explanation. Life has priorities and some of those priorities require all your attention. More than that, they shape your way of reacting to every other priority, and they re-order you personal hierarchy of needs, boiling away the fat and leaving you with the hard bone of whatever reality sustains you.

I am dealing with such a priority right now.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/thanks-to-my-cancer-this-may-be-one-of-our-best-christmases-ever/#ixzz3vBWPIpQe

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Cancer or Not, I Know Whom I have Believed and I Trust Him.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

This is another article I wrote for the Register. This one is about my surgery for breast cancer. I am having surgery today, beginning at 8 CST. It will run until about noon. I would appreciate your prayers, my friends. Rebecca

(Credit: Andrey Mironov, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

I don’t believe that anyone ever asked me what I would do if I got a bad breast biopsy result. But if they had, I’m pretty sure that feeding a sudden craving for classic rock music would not have been among my answers.

Silly me. I just didn’t know.

Monday was a hard day. My husband and I drove to Dallas and I had a biopsy on my breast. Then, we drove home. For those of you who are wondering, driving 200 miles in a Honda Fit after having had your breast rotter rooted is not a fun time.

The surgeon told me at the get-go that he thought “it” was benign. Then, he turned me over to the radiologist for a little look-see. I went into that encounter hoping that they would be able to determine that everything was good with scans. No such luck. After doing a set of mammograms, with a more hyped-up machine than the one here in OKC, the doc turned serious.

It’s funny, in a non-humorous way, how they keep doing that. They walk in all sunshine and light, then get a good scan and switch to all business. The results came in yesterday, and are a bit too technical for this post. Long story short, I’m still out there, wondering exactly how bad “it” really is; only the questions of it being harmless and of no matter have been settled. It’s not harmless, and it is not of no matter.

Next week I go under the knife. Bizarre as this sounds, I can hardly wait. I want this over with, and I want to know exactly where I stand and what I’m in for.

 

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/i-have-breast-cancer.-whatever-comes-next-i-know-that-i-am-his/#ixzz3tvGkmgAr

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God’s Blessings are Circled with Thorns, Dressed with Tenderness.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Cindi Albright https://www.flickr.com/photos/rustiqueart/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Cindi Albright https://www.flickr.com/photos/rustiqueart/

I wrote this post about family and thankfulness for the National Catholic Register.

Here’s part of what I said:

God’s blessings are circled with thorns, dressed with responsibility and laden with tenderness.

God’s blessings are always blessings of love. St. Paul told us that “faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Everything else — our achievements, our missions for the Church, and our many toys — will drop away from us and be left behind. Nothing abides except those things done with love, in hope and by faith.

My Thanksgiving usually passes in a blur of cooking. From early morning until I collapse on the sofa after the meal is finished, I work. Then, after everyone leaves, I go into the kitchen and put the first load in the dishwasher. It usually takes me all day the next day to get everything cleaned and put back in order.

Does that mean that Thanksgiving is more burden than celebration for me? Not at all. There is something wonderful about cooking a huge feast and gathering my dearest loves around a table to enjoy it. Food and drink, love and being together, are indeed among those blessings circled with the thorns of love, responsibility and tenderness that come from God. I would not trade this day of love for leisure. I am, rather, grateful for the opportunity to be Mom to such wonderful people. They are the warp and woof of my life.

I was grateful for many things this Thanksgiving, and, life being what it is, I am burdened by a couple of things; my beloved drug addict niece foremost among them.  Monday, I go to Dallas to begin the process of determining what the mass in my breast might be. That hangs over me like a cloud, as well.

The thing I am most thankful for and my greatest burden are one and the same thing. God has trusted me with the care of my 90-year-old mother. This is far from easy. In fact, it’s a bit like Chinese water torture.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/gods-blessings-are-circled-with-thorns-laden-with-tenderness/#ixzz3tvBzA3C6

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At the Evening of Life, We Shall Be Judged on our Love

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

My uncle died last Sunday. I’m going to Dallas early next week for my appointment about the mass in my breast.

All these things, plus a number I haven’t written about, have struck me mostly mute of late. I apologize to all of you for being MIA so much of the time. I have quite a lot to say about the things happening in the world, and I’ll try to get back to writing speed as soon as I can.

In the meantime, I did write this post for the National Catholic Register, inspired by my uncle’s passing. Please pray for him. His name is Doyt.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, my friends. We have so much to be grateful for.

In Christ,

Rebecca

From the National Catholic Register:

My husband’s uncle died Sunday. He was 82, and had lived a good life.

Before he died, he saw his dead sister, our Aunt Tid, and his mother. That’s not uncommon when we are nearing the end of this life. We get glimpses of the new life we are about the enter.

My guess is that God sends loved ones to us, to help us make that transition, that they are a welcoming committee of sorts. I believe God sends our angels, alongside our loved ones who have passed ahead of us, to lead us home.

Death is not annihilation. Your body and soul will be separated for a time, but you will not stop existing, not even for a moment. On that day, you will hear someone say, You are mine.

In that moment, we will enter the embrace of the one we have chosen to follow, the one for whom we have lived. Will it be Jesus?

You are mine. You belong to me.

We all die. You will die. I will die. Everyone alive will die. We have no choice in that. But we choose whose voice we will hear when we cross over. We choose now, here, each day of our earthly existence, as we decide who we will follow and who we will trust.

Do you trust Jesus? Do you follow Him?

Read the rest: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/at-the-evening-of-life-we-shall-be-judged-on-our-love/#ixzz3sbsoGj9i

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King of Jordan Warns of Third World War Against Humanity

King Abdullah of Jordan Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Chatham House https://www.flickr.com/photos/chathamhouse/

King Abdullah of Jordan Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Chatham House https://www.flickr.com/photos/chathamhouse/

Jordan’s King Abdullah II warned of a “third world war against humanity.” He described ISIS as “savage outlaws of religion.”

From Al Arabiya News:

King Abdullah II of Jordan warned Tuesday of a “third world war against humanity”, in the wake of the Paris attacks, describing the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group as “savage outlaws of religion.”

During an official visit to Kosovo, Abdullah said both Europe and Islam were under attack from the “scourge” of terrorism that could strike at any time.

“We are facing a third world war against humanity and this is what brings us all together,” he told a press conference.

“This is a war, as I’ve said repeatedly, within Islam,” he said, adding: “Groups such as Daesh (ISIS) expose themselves daily as savage outlaws of religion devoid of humanity respecting no laws and no boundaries.”

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