And So It Begins: The Push for Polygamy

Newt polygamy

This is a random round-up of opinion pieces pushing polygamy.

It is by no means exhaustive or even representative. It reflects what I’ve seen in casual internet browsing. One article goes back to the time of the last presidential election. The others were written after the DOMA decision.

Events and behaviors form patterns. The pattern for quite some time has been that opinion makers in high-profile media begin what quickly becomes a coordinated political movement with trial balloon pieces such as these. The normalization of polygamy is fully launched with such television shows as Big Love and Sister Wives.

The piece that irks me the most is the one by the so-called feminist who’s calling for polygamy. If she’s a feminist, then George Wallace was a Freedom Rider.

Is this the beginning of a push to redefine marriage to allow polygamy? What do you think?

From CNN:

It’s time to reconsider polygamy

by Mark Goldfeder, cnn.com

December 16th 2013

(CNN) – Polygamy is back in the headlines.Last week, a federal judge in Utah struck down part of the state’s anti-polygamy law as unconstitutional, although he kept the ban on possessing more than one marriage license at a time. Fans of the “Sister Wives” reality TV stars, who filed the suit, are rejoicing in the news.At the other end of the spectrum, TLC debuted its newest docuseries, “Breaking the Faith,” which tells the dark story of women and children trying to escape from the practice.

Another lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice alleges that polygamous clans are secretly running the show in Utah and Arizona townships, manipulating the political process from behind the scenes. And in Texas, the Attorney General’s Office is inchingcloser to seizing a massive polygamous ranch.Across the country, angry citizens are calling for the government to follow its own laws and crack down on polygamy.

Meanwhile, celebrities like Akon and various news outlets encourage people of all ages to reconsider plural marriage.What competing narratives about polygamy in America reveal is that whether or not a white-washed, clean-cut version of plural marriage could in theory legally exist, in practice it does not, and what states like Utah, Arizona and Texas actually have is an unregulated, dangerous and harmful situation, where the strong prey upon the weak and helpless.The time has come to address this discrepancy. When the Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act in U.S. v. Windsor in June, opening the door to federal recognition of same-sex marriage, it also set the stage for a discussion of plural marriage.DOMA defined marriage as “a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.”

While DOMA obviously prohibited same-sex marriage (by requiring that a marital unit consist of a man and a woman), it also enshrined the prohibition against polygamy, by requiring that such a union be between only one man and one woman. Even before Windsor the Supreme Court had declared morals-based legislation invalid, renewing interest in polygamy. But in calling DOMA definitions unconstitutionally restrictive, the court, perhaps unwittingly, also struck down the federal numerical limitation in a marriage, immediately re-opening the possibility of plural marriage at the state level. Activists have taken note, and are only getting louder.

From Psychology Today:

The Three Reasons for Polygamy

by Nigel Barber, psychologytoday.com

October 23rd 2012

Both candidates for the presidency owe their very existence to polygamy (1). President Obama’s father belonged to the polygamous Luo tribe. Mitt Romney’s paternal great grandfathers moved to Mexico to continue the Mormon practice of polygamy then outlawed in the U.S. So the time is ripe to ask what advantages polygamy has over monogamy.

Although plural marriage is banned in developed countries, it is surprisingly common, and popular, elsewhere with 55 percent of women sharing their husbands in Benin and an average of 16 percent of women doing so in less developed nations (2). Polygamy may be detested in developed countries but it is practiced to some degree in most societies studied by anthropologists. What did polygamy do for the Obamas and the Romneys that they could not accomplish with monogamy?

Studies in animal behavior show that polygynous mating systems (i.e., one male mating with several females) have at least three possible advantages.

From Salon:

Legalize Polygamy!

No. I am not kidding.

By Jillian Keenan

Sister-wives Valerie, left, and Vicki serve breakfast to their children in their polygamous house in Herriman, Utah, in this file photo from May 30, 2007. Polygamy, once hidden in the shadows of Utah and Arizona, is breaking into the open as fundamentalist Mormons push to decriminalize it on religious grounds, while at the same time stamping out abuses such as forced marriages of underage brides.

Recently, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council reintroduced a tired refrain: Legalized gay marriage could lead to other legal forms of marriage disaster, such as polygamy. Rick Santorum, Bill O’Reilly, and other social conservatives have made similar claims. It’s hardly a new prediction—we’ve been hearing it for years. Gay marriage is a slippery slope! A gateway drug! If we legalize it, then what’s next? Legalized polygamy?

We can only hope.

Yes, really. While the Supreme Court and the rest of us are all focused on the human right of marriage equality, let’s not forget that the fight doesn’t end with same-sex marriage. We need to legalize polygamy, too. Legalized polygamy in the United States is the constitutional, feminist, and sex-positive choice. More importantly, it would actually help protect, empower, and strengthen women, children, and families.

For decades, the prevailing logic has been that polygamy hurts women and children. That makes sense, since in contemporary American practice that is often the case. In many Fundamentalist Latter-day Saints   polygamous communities, for example, women and underage girls are forced into polygamous unions against their will. Some boys, who represent the surplus of males, are brutally thrown out of their homes and driven into homelessness and poverty at very young ages. All of these stories are tragic, and the criminals involved should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. (That goes without saying, I hope.)

But legalizing consensual adult polygamy wouldn’t legalize rape or child abuse. In fact, it would make those crimes easier to combat.

 

 

Book Review: Doing for the Least of These for Lent

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To join the conversation about Mercy in the City, or order a copy, go here

Lent in the legislature is always a problem.

The Lenten season falls at a time of year when the legislative calendar is so full that I feel like I’m being drug by a runaway horse. There’s not much time for more than going to mass and snatches of hurried prayer that don’t connect up to anything resembling a coherent Lenten practice. It’s all about tired, over-stimulated hanging in there. Lent gets washed away in all this busyness.

Every stopover at mass is a sudden downshift to a slower rhythm. It is so different from the break-neck pace of the rest of the day that it jars more than soothes. Prayers at night and in the morning require an act of will; otherwise I’ll daydream through the words as I say them.

My Lent has thus been more a time of confusion than spiritual and moral clarity. In fact, there have been a number of years when I decided that doing the best I could on my job in the face of whatever came was my Lent.

Reading Mercy in the City inspired me to be more intentional about how I do Lent in the legislature. The book’s author, Kerry Weber, is a twenty-something who decided to give up the usual sweets for Lent and then added a resolution to perform each of the Corporal Works of Mercy during Lent, as well.

The Seven Corporal Works of Mercy are:

  1. Feed the hungry.
  2. Give drink to the thirsty.
  3. Clothe the naked.
  4. Shelter the homeless.
  5. Visit the sick.
  6. Visit the imprisoned.
  7. Bury the dead.

That’s a tall order for a twenty-something with a full-time job and a dating life, but she managed to get it done. Her journey through the seven Works of Mercy is an illuminating read. Miss Weber learned a lot about other people as she handed out food, spent the night at a homeless shelter and visited with prisoners at San Quentin. Instead of just going through the list of Works and checking them off, she made an effort to learn from the people themselves, to see their humanity and their individuality.

This can be difficult. I’ve never done anything like this for Lent, but I have done some of these things at other times in my life. I can tell you that the sick throw up on you, the hungry gripe about the food you serve them and prisoners often go back to their old ways once they are free.

And yet, there is nothing in Jesus’ words equating Himself with these people that gives us the freedom of turning away from them. If you have done it for the least of these, you have done it for me, He says to us. There isn’t any wiggle room in that statement for an out based on the exterior ugliness of the people you are trying to help. I imagine there were First Century four-flushers and manipulators just as there are today. But Our Lord didn’t say a word about refusing to help people because they can be jerks.

He tells us that whatever we do for them in His name will not be lost. And whenever we turn our backs on the hungry, thirsty, sick, homeless, or imprisoned among us, we will be held accountable as if we had turned our backs on Him.

That’s a heavy kind of instruction. It should weigh on our hearts, and not just during Lent. We will be judged by how we treat the “least of these.” All our Amen-saying is for nothing if we don’t help those who can’t help themselves. More to the point, each and every one of us began life as someone who could not help themselves, and if we live long enough, we will be people who can’t help ourselves again. That is the human condition.

The pitiless among us want to solve these problems by killing those who need help. Just pick up the needle or use the vacuum aspirator and be done with them. But Jesus tells us clearly and without equivocation that we are called to something more than that.

The same God Who authored all life, tells us to honor life by caring for one another, especially when it’s not easy and it costs us something.

Mercy in the City is a well-written, entertaining look at one young woman’s attempt to do the seven Corporal Works of Mercy for Lent. If you read it, it will give a lot to think about and may inspire you to do the same thing yourself, which makes it excellent Lenten reading.

The Issue is Murder, and Our Willingness to Allow It

Death panelMy Sabbath rest from this blog came just in time.

I had read too many combox justifications for killing people.

The ones that took the prize were the comments defending the medical murder of an elderly Italian woman. This lady went to Switzerland and paid $14,000 to have herself murdered. She was in good health. Her only complaint was that she was depressed about aging and losing her looks.

How can anyone subscribe to the medical murder of a perfectly healthy woman who was depressed about losing her looks?

It appears that plenty of folks do.

Remember a couple of weeks ago when Belgium decided to allow medical murder for anyone, at any age, including babies? The talk then was all about unendurable suffering and how we had to murder children because they they were (1) terminally ill, and (2) in horrible pain?

Well, just a few days later, the death rap was a justification for the need to murder an elderly woman because she’s depressed about her looks, and it’s her choice. 

We were told at the beginning of this euthanasia debate that “mercy killing” or “death with dignity” or whatever you want to call it, was only to alleviate the suffering of people who were terminally ill and in unendurable pain. We put down animals, so the debate went, why not do the same for suffering people?

It now seems clear that those arguments were lies designed to get people to go along so that the liars could move to the next level of killing. As soon as the screw turns one half round and we get the power to kill those we decide are in pain and dying anyway, then the nasty old screw turns again and we are told that people should have the “right” to be killed for being sad, if that’s their choice.

Because now the arguments aren’t about “mercy” or “dignity” anymore, they’re about choice. It’s a person’s “choice” to be murdered, so who are we to argue?

Choice, which should be a beautiful word of freedom, has been perverted into a dark word of death. It’s ironic, but not surprising, to hear these promoters of death for the elderly use the same word that they use to justify killing the unborn.

The same people who come on this blog and argue for killing elderly people because they are depressed, also want to kill those with dementia. They are the same ones who will blast you with arguments based on “choice” in favor of killing the unborn with disabilities or for any other reason whatsoever.

The difference here is in the type and tenor of the arguments. They can’t argue, as they do with abortion, about the use of someone else’s body. It serves no purpose to kill grandma because her granddaughter was raped. So, we argue that it’s really Grandma’s “choice” to be killed.

How long before these killers unmask themselves and reveal that this killing is not for Grandma, but for us? How long before we simply say the truth: Sick people are a lot of trouble. Their care costs money, takes time and isn’t all that much fun.

How long before the arguments about “choice” do the next morph and finally become about how killing grandma and saving all that money we might waste on her could allow granddaughter to go to college? Or, if we did in our child with cancer, think of how much it would spare the other children? Or, why should we let that rich old bat sit on all that money when his or her kids need it to maintain their standard of living?

We are less than a fraction of an inch away from Hitler’s useless eaters argument.

The argument from choice as a justification for medical murder is an obvious ruse when we are talking about depressed people, those with dementia, etc. It is a lie, a deliberate, cold-blooded lie, calculated to inure us to murder so that we are ready to take the next step.

The issue is murder, and our willingness to allow it.

Let me repeat that: The issue is murder, and our willingness to allow it. 

These legalized killing fields are an ever-moving target of evil. They have no bottom because their arguments are based on something that does not exist: The ability of fallen and utterly selfish human beings to reason their way to moral behavior.

I asked the rhetorical question in an earlier post: Do you have to be a Catechism-believing Catholic to know this is wrong?

It appears the answer is yes, you do — or at the least, a Bible-believing Christian of some denomination.

There seems to be no place at the table of life for unbelievers, for the simple reason that unbelievers are all sitting at the table of death.

If you do not believe in the real God, you inevitably become your own god, and out of that self-deification flows every evil thing imaginable, including such a low regard for human life that no one, anywhere, is safe from the needle, the vacuum, the shot of poison to the heart.

I am a Catholic:

I do not kill the unborn.

I do not kill the elderly.

I do not kill children.

I do not kill the depressed, the lonely, the ugly, the disabled, or the weak.

I don’t even kill murderers on death row.

Catholics build hospitals to treat the sick.

Catholics provide food, legal services, counseling, shelter, clothing and education to those who need them.

And for this we are attacked. The same people who want to kill grandma also want to close our hospitals, corrupt our educational institutions and belittle and shame those of us in the pews for having the temerity to believe that human life is sacred and may not be ended arbitrarily.

But we will not accede to them. Because human life is sacred. Every human being, including these sad, lost unbelievers who want to kill everyone who can’t fight back, is made in the image and likeness of God. We are fallen and we have the capacity to do evil. But we also have the capacity to turn to God, be forgiven and walk in newness of life.

Today, I set before you life and death, God told the ancient Israelites.

I don’t know about the rest of the world. But I chose life.

Every So Often He Does Something I Agree With

Every so often President Obama does something I agree with.

His support of raising the minimum wage is one of those things. I remember reading that Henry Ford paid his workers higher wages than the standard for that time. When asked why, he said that he wanted them to be able to buy his automobiles.

That remark demonstrated a core understanding of what grows markets that seems to elude today’s corporatists.

The theory that we should cut taxes and give benefits to those at the top while we allow wage earners to suffer an endless downward trajectory in earning power is not good economics. Those who make goods and provide services need customers with the money to buy their products. American industry needs American customers to keep this county strong.

The miracle of the American economy is not that it has created a few fantastically wealthy people. The miracle is that it has provided opportunity, a high standard of living and good lives for almost all of us.

Will raising the minimum wage fix our economic woes? No, it won’t. The reason our economy has been basically stagnant for so long is simple: We’ve exported our industrial base and the jobs that go with it.

Raising the minimum wage will not fix this problem. Nothing short of taking government back from corporatist control will put America back where it once was.

However, raising the minimum wage will increase the buying power of many millions of people. That alone will stimulate the economy.

I disagree with trickle down economics. We need jobs and good wages for the people of this country. That will bring wealth for everyone.

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Elderly Woman Pays $14,000 to be Euthanized at Swiss Death Facility

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Oriella Cazzanello. Source: Daily News.

I’ve been wondering how much it costs to have someone euthanized. I’ve also been wondering what kind of people perform this “service” of legally murdering others.

I’m still in the dark about the second question, but it appears the answer to the first is $14,000.

That’s what an Italian woman, who, according to reports was in good health, paid a Swiss death facility to put her down in much the same way the Copenhagen Zoo puts down unwanted giraffes. The major difference, so far as I can see, is that they didn’t feed this woman’s body to the lions.

The woman in question, 85-year-old Oriella Cazzanello, hired these fine folks to kill her because she was depressed about aging and upset that she was losing her looks. She vanished from her home in January, evidently without telling her family, who thought she gone on a spa break. When she didn’t show up, her family became worried about her disappearance and started looking.

They learned that Ms Cazzanello had been murdered by lethal injection when the death facility mailed her ashes and the death certificate to her attorney.

It sounds like Ms Cazzanello is another unhappy, well-to-do woman who should have stayed away from Switzerland and its business of dealing death.

My question: Do you really have to be a catechism-following Catholic to see something wrong with this?

From the Daily News:

A perfectly healthy Italian woman paid $14,000 to commit suicide at a Swiss euthanasia clinic because she was “sad about losing her looks.”

Oriella Cazzanello, 85, reportedly took her own life at the right-to-die center in Basel after getting “weighed down by ageing and the inevitable loss of the looks of which she was proud.”

RELATED: NEW MEXICO JUDGE RULES TERMINALLY ILL PATIENTS CAN SEEK HELP WITH SUICIDE

The wealthy senior vanished from her home in Arzignano at the end of January, reports the ANSA news agency.

Family members initially thought she’d gone on a spa break.

Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, but there is a huge amount of controversy over the business.

STEFFEN SCHMIDT/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, but there is a huge amount of controversy over the busines

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/italian-woman-pays-14g-commit-suicide-due-losing-article-1.1622200#ixzz2u4HLdFPa

Gov Brewer Won’t Say if She’ll Sign Bill Allowing Business to Refuse Service Based on Religious Beliefs

Governor Jan Brewer

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer won’t say if she’ll sign the bill which would allow businesses to refuse service based on religious beliefs.

Her only comment was that the bill was “very controversial” and that she “needs to get my hands around it.”

Meanwhile the Arizona Commerce Authority is chiming in against the bill.

The bill puts the Republican governor in a pretty political pickle. It forces her to chose between the Republican Party’s vote-getting base of conservative religious, and its corporate/chamber of commerce money men.

According to an article in USA Today, Governor Brewer has until Friday to decide.

From USA Today:

Arizona’s governor is watching an intense debate from afar over a controversial bill that would allow the use of religious beliefs as a basis for refusing service without fear of lawsuits.

The Arizona Legislature passed Senate Bill 1062 on Thursday and the bill could reach Gov. Jan Brewer’s desk as early as Monday, giving her next week to consider how she will sign or veto it.

The Republican governor, who is attending a conference of governors from across the USA in the nation’s capital, rarely comments on bills before they reach her desk.

She spoke Friday with CNN: “Well, it’s a very controversial piece of legislation. We know that. We know that it’s failed in a lot of states across the country. … I’ve been reading about it on the Internet, and I will make my decision some time before … by next Friday … if I do decide to sign it.

“But it’s very controversial, so I’ve got to get my hands around it,” Brewer said.

Socially conservative groups that oppose gay marriage are promoting the twin bills, SB 1062 and HB 2153. GOP state Sen. Steve Yarbrough created his bill in response to a New Mexico Supreme Court decision against a photographer who refused to take a gay couple’s wedding pictures.

In a letter sent Friday to Brewer’s office, Phoenix area economic officials raise concerns that the bill, which shields businesses from being sued if they deny service based on religious beliefs, could cast a negative light on the state as it prepares to host a number of high-profile events, including next year’s Super Bowl.

Pope Francis and the Pentecostals.

You may have already seen this. My fellow Catholic Patheosi have posted it here, here and here that I know of.

I’m posting here to make sure you have a chance to see it. This video gives us the complete Pentecostal service in which they played the Holy Father’s message. If you have time, watch it all the way through and be blessed.

This is wonderful. The Holy Spirit can do so much when He gets His hands on someone who will do what’s asked of them.

At this time when Christianity is under attack it is so important for us to stand together. God bless our wonderful Pope Francis and our Pentecostal brothers and sister in Christ.

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Swiss Study Indicates Lonely, Unbelieving Women are Most Likely Euthanasia Victims

Grim Reaper

So who pays other people to murder them?

A new study gives us a profile of the typical victim of euthanasia. 

According to the Swiss study, 16% of the people euthanized did not have an underlying medical problem, or at least not one that was recorded on the death certificate. In 84% of the cases, the death certificate did list at least one underlying cause for euthanizing the victim.

A previous study showed that 25% of those who were euthanized did not have a fatal illness. In a number of cases, mood disorders and mental or behavioral disorders were given as the primary underlying reason the people were euthanized.

According to the study, those most likely to request assisted suicide were well-educated women from areas of a higher socio-economic standing. Those who live alone or were divorced were 50% more likely to be euthanized. Nonbelievers were 6 times more likely to seek death than Catholics. 

Maybe we should issue travel advisories warning well-to-do, unhappy atheist women who live alone to stay away from Switzerland. 

From the MailOnline:

Women, highly educated, divorced and rich people are more likely to die from assisted suicide, new research has revealed.


Researchers in Switzerland, where assisted suicide is legal, found that of people helped by right-to-die organisations such as Dignitas, around 16 per cent of death certificates did not register an underlying cause. 

They say this indicates that an increasing number of people may simply becoming ‘weary of life’.


 
Of people helped by right-to-die organisations in Switzerland, such as Dignitas (pictured), around 16 per cent of death certificates did not register an underlying cause. - suggesting they were 'weary of life'

Of people helped by right-to-die organisations in Switzerland, such as Dignitas (pictured), around 16 per cent of death certificates did not register an underlying cause. – suggesting they were ‘weary of life’

 

The research, published online in the International Journal of Epidemiology – that shows assisted suicide is more common in women, the divorced, those living alone, the more educated, those with no religious affiliation, and those from wealthier areas.


A previous study of suicides by two right-to-die organizations showed that 25 per cent of those assisted had no fatal illness, instead citing ‘weariness of life’ as a factor.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2562850/Women-divorcees-atheists-likely-choose-assisted-suicide-nearly-20-saying-simply-weary-life.html#ixzz2tzYs8ZYM 
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Arizona Passes Bill Allowing Business Owners to Refuse Service Based on Their Religious Beliefs

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Arizona’s state legislature has passed a bill aimed at curbing lawsuits against business owners who refuse services based on their religious beliefs.

According to a news story by azcentral.com, the bill is a response to the court decision in New Mexico forcing a baker to provide a cake for a gay wedding.

I haven’t read the bill, and don’t have an opinion about its specific language. I do, however support the concept of conscience rights. I think we’re going to see more of this type of legislation. Based on recent court rulings and the spate of lawsuits filed against mom and pop businesses, a legislative solution is needed.

However, I don’t think such solutions as these will work long-term, or even short-term. The entire issue has become court-based, and the courts seem willing to override the will of the people with very little consideration for the gravity involved in taking that action. The DOMA decision is the Roe of gay marriage, and it will end up having similar results.

If the court had allowed DOMA to stand, that would have pushed the debate back to a legislative level. If courts had refused to overturn votes of the people in the domino fashion which they are doing, I think the entire issue would have been settled in a long series of legislative battles at the state level. This would have taken more time, but it ultimately would have saved America what is going to be an ugly, on-going battle that will polarize and damage our country even further.

I think the resistance to gay marriage will end up in a fight to amend the Constitution, and that will become a protracted and painful battle involving increasing public disenchantment with what we have wrought, much like the fight about abortion.

If you follow this link, you’ll be able to watch a news video about the vote. You can see how difficult this vote was for everyone involved. As one legislator to another, my heart goes out to all of them, on both sides of the question. From azcentral.com:

The Arizona Legislature has passed a controversial religion bill that is again thrusting Arizona into the national spotlight in a debate over discrimination.

House Bill 2153, written by the conservative advocacy group Center for Arizona Policy and the Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom, would allow individuals to use religious beliefs as a defense against a lawsuit.

The bill, which was introduced last month and has been described by opponents as discriminatory against gays and lesbians, has drawn national media coverage. Discussion of the bill went viral on social media during the House floor debate Thursday.

Opponents have dubbed it the “right to discriminate” bill and say it could prompt an economic backlash against the state, similar to what they say occurred when the state passed the controversial immigration law Senate Bill 1070 in 2010.

Proponents argue that the bill is simply a tweak to existing state religious-freedom laws to ensure individuals and businesses are not forced to do something that goes against their beliefs.

The bill will be sent to Gov. Jan Brewer, who has five days to sign it into law, veto it or do nothing and allow it to become law.

Holy Gust! Pope Francis has that Windblown Look.

Source: www.news.com.au

Wardrobe malfunctions afflicted our pope today as he prayed for strife-torn Ukraine.

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If You Build It, They Won’t Necessarily Come.

St Patrick went to Ireland.

St Paul went to most of the Roman world.

The apostles traversed the known world bringing the message of eternal salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ everywhere they went. With the exception of St John, they paid for their fealty with their lives.

Not today’s Catholics.

Somewhere along the line, the missionary paradigm shifted to the build-it-and-wait-for-them-to-come-to-us paradigm. Today’s discussions of evangelizing the world revolve around how to shape our catechesis of the people who show up for regular meetings at our churches. “How can we change our catechesis so that we catechize them into faithfulness?” is the question we ask ourselves.

In other words, we’ve abandoned the Gospel call to convert a lost world that is dying for lack of the saving grace of Christ. We’ve gotten so far away from it that we’ve even lost the ability to effectively convert the people who are sent to us or who come to us of their own volition, actively seeking conversion.

The working Catholic paradigm of converting the world is that we may — or most likely may not — build a church to house the people we already have, and if anybody else wants Jesus, it’s up to them to come to us. Worse, we turn people away for not qualifying, or in the case of our serpentine annulment process, because they can’t find everyone they need from their misspent pasts to fill out the right paperwork.

The miracle in all this is that, in spite of everything, the Church is growing. Year after year, our cathedral in my archdiocese is jam-packed through one mass after the other for the Rite of Election.

We are growing, not due to our missionary fervor, but due to the great hunger for God that runs throughout our lost world. People are hungry for the words that lead to eternal life. They want meaning and love in their lives. Most of all, they want to belong to somebody or something bigger than themselves. They want, they hunger for, Jesus Christ.

People are weary of the no-hope nihilism that our society offers them. They want a way out.

And we have the Way. We are not saved just for ourselves and our families. We have the only Way there is, and it’s our job to lead people to it.

Despite the full cathedrals at the Rite of Election, there are vast fields of lost humanity ready to harvest for the Lord that we ignore. They are, to be specific, everyone who does not come to us, requesting entrance, which, to be even more specific, is everyone who has not found some way to partly Catechize themselves.

Everything we do, from our indifference to converting people, to our diffident refusal to ruffle the feathers of those who oppose Jesus by talking about Him, says that Jesus is our private little g god and that there’s nothing about Him that other people need trouble themselves to find.

Sitting around and waiting for people to convert themselves and then beg us for entrance into our Church is the exact opposite of what Jesus told us to do. It eschews the example of the many saints that we quote at one another in our endless arguments during our internecine battles about nothing much.

The Catholic Patheosi have recently discussed Catechesis in depth and with their deep understanding of churchy things. Now, I am discussing, in my usual backwards way, what I think catechesis truly is. Catechesis is conversion, or it should be. As such, it is not limited to specific periods of formal instruction.

The base problem with our Catechesis is simply that it is not converting people. It is not even converting people who come and ask to be converted and who faithfully attend meetings in an effort to become converted. There are many reasons for this, and I’m not expert enough in this area to have ideas about the specifics.

But I can say from quite a bit of first-hand experience that when it comes to most of the world outside our church doors, we not only aren’t catechizing anybody, we aren’t even trying. We do not go to these people and talk to them about Jesus. We simply ignore them, as we ignore everybody else who doesn’t come to us first.

We need to forget the paradigm of build a church and wait for the world to come to us. Because more and more, even if we build it, they won’t necessarily come.

It’s hard to get into the Catholic Church today. You not only have to be the one to convert yourself, you’ve got to be the one to take all the initiative about joining. Then, you’ve got to jump through all sorts of hoops.

If you have a complicated past involving messy marriages — as so many people in this post-Christian age do — you may very well end up having to go through preparation for what amounts to a court proceeding to have your past legally expunged. If you can’t be a good enough lawyer for yourself in this court to get it done, you are not welcome at Christ’s table.

I have a suggestion on this, which I know will offend a lot of people. But perhaps the Church could begin the annulment process for converts by establishing a sort of triage system. If it was a common law marriage, or the person was married by a judge or in a church that worships satan or trees or whatever, then there’s no real reason for them to take the full canonical dose to get an annulment. Those marriages are invalid on their face. We also need a process for people who can’t go back decades and find everyone, or if they do find them, are physically afraid of them.

I’m not talking about Catholic marriages here. I am talking about marriages in the pre-conversion lives of converts; marriages outside the Church.

Ditto for things like baptismal certificates. A lot of protestant churches do not keep the extensive records that Catholics do. Many of them stay in business for a few years then close up and go away. If there’s a doubt in the pastor’s mind, then he should just give the convert a provisional baptism. Keeping people out of the Church over things like this is wrong.

The world is changing. We are going to be dealing more and more with people who have never heard the name Jesus; people who have been fully catechized, but not as we mean it. They are fully catechized in the nihilism of hook-up sex, do-unto-others-before-they-do-it-to-you-first, anything-goes post-Christian cultural dissolution.

It’s going to take more than the old build-it-and-wait-for-them-to-come-to-us paradigm if we seriously want to evangelize this new world. It will require the Apostolic fervor that built the Church in the first place.

My thoughts on what the Church needs to do in the New Evangelization are quite simple. Preach Christ. To everybody. And take down the No Room at the Inn sign.

Richard Dawkins Hoist on His Own … Ummm … Interview

Ravi Zacharias describes an interview where Richard Dawkins overstepped a bit in his never-ending battle against Christianity. He ended up looking almost as foolish as he says Christians are.

Stay with the video to the end. Ravi runs the audio of the interview he’s describing.

Enjoy.

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If You Want to Avoid Disability, Get Up and Move

 

This is bad news for us desk jockeys.

It turns out that just sitting on your duff for long periods of time increases your likelihood of becoming disabled. That’s true, even if you exercise every day.

I’m not surprised by this. I had my first symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis when I was 16. But it was never a problem for me until my first few terms in the Oklahoma House. At that point, the ra became increasingly painful — and I do mean painful.

When I quit the House to stay home and raise my kids, it was still with me. But as the years of being an active mom and engaging in daily walks went by, the symptoms receded and, in time, almost vanished. I still took my medicine, whether I needed it or not, and I had achy-breaky, flu-like symptoms every day. But the ra only really flared before big storms.

Then, I got myself re-elected. After just a few weeks sitting in that chair on the House floor for hours at a time, the ra was back. It’s been getting worse ever since.

I have never known if it was due to the prolonged sitting or the prolonged stress. For instance, I get a headache every year. The headache lasts from the beginning of session to the end. Then, when we sine die, the headache leaves. That’s stress, I think.

An article in live science seems to point the finger of blame (at least so far as the ra is concerned) at the long hours of sitting. According to new research, people who sit for long periods of time are more likely to experience disability, even if they engage in regular exercise.

Given our society’s enforced sitting, which begins in preschool and goes on throughout the working years for most people, I would guess that explains a lot of the joint replacement surgeries, walkers and canes that seem to be showing up with younger and younger people.

It’s difficult on most sitting jobs to find opportunities to walk around on a regular basis. Based on this study, maybe that should change.

From live science:

Older adults who spend a lot of time sitting may be at increased risk of having a disability, regardless of how much they exercise, a new study suggests.

Researchers analyzed information from more than 2,200 adults ages 60 and older who wore a pedometer to track their movement for at least four days.

While they were awake, participants spent about nine hours a day sitting down. Every additional hour spent sitting was linked with a nearly 50-percent increase in the odds of having a disability, the study found. The researchers defined disability as having significant difficulty completing daily tasks, such as eating, bathing or getting out of bed and walking across a room.

That means that, if there are two 65-year-old women, and one sits for nine hours a day and the other sits for 10 hours, the second one is 50 percent more likely to have a disability, the researchers said. About 3.5 percent of all participants had a disability.

Church of England Will Not Perform Gay Marriage Blessings

The Church of England will not perform gay marriage blessings. It also will not ordain clergy who are in gay marriages.

The Pastoral Guide detailing this position affirms that Our Lord taught that marriage is an indissoluble union between one man and one woman. It allows homosexuals and their families, including those who are not living a life of chastity, to participate in the sacraments.

From The Church of England’s House of Bishops Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage:

… As bishops we have reflected and prayed together about these developments.  As our statement of 27th January indicated, we are not all in agreement about every aspect of the Church’s response.  However we are all in agreement that the Christian understanding and doctrine of marriage as a lifelong union between one man and one woman remains unchanged.

… ‘The Church of England affirms, according to our Lord’s teaching, that marriage is in its nature a union permanent and lifelong, for better for worse, till death them do part, of one man with one woman.”

… The victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us. We assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship.

Judge Sentences Elderly Nun to Three Years in Prison

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Now we’re safe.

A federal judge has removed that arch-fiend, 84-year-old Sister Megan Rice, from the streets by sentencing her to 35 months in prison.

Sister Megan was convicted of breaking into the Oakridge Nuclear Weapons Facility in Tennessee. She and her band of desperadoes admitted to spray painting peace slogans on the facility. When a guard finally found them, they offered him food and began singing.

This mirrors a conviction in 2003 of three elderly nuns who broke into a missile silo and smeared their own blood on a Minuteman missile.

The whole thing reminds me of the scene in The Search for Red October when the American diplomat looked at the Russian diplomat and asked, “Have you lost one of your submarines again?

I keep wanting to ask our military security people, “Have those nuns run circles around you again?”

What the military/judiciary complex with its courts, prisons and really big guns, can’t seem to understand is that all their security, which costs the American taxpayer many billions of hard-earned dollars, is no match for a bunch of elderly nuns. Do they really think they can keep these sisters locked up in prison if the sisters want to get out?

The only thing saving this nation from a deadly nun attack is the nuns’ confounded insistence on following the Prince of Peace. Instead of blowing things up, they sing songs and offer food to the guards.

And, oh yes, they don’t seem all that terrified by the courts. When the nuns were sentenced in 2003, one of them made the sign of the cross over the jury, judge and spectators.

When Sister Megan stood before the court today, she asked the judge to not consider her age in sentencing her. “To remain in prison for the rest of  my life would be the greatest honor,” she said, “I hope that happens.”

Since she’s 84, her 35-month sentence may be long enough for her to get her wish. I would normally worry about a woman as frail and elderly as Sister Rice, going to the big house. But in this case, I think the real danger is to the big house. It would be interesting to see the result if something as revolutionary as genuine Christianity broke out behind those bars.

It looks to me like Sister Megan walks with God. When that’s true of a person, anything can happen.

 

From Nuclear News:

Sister Megan Rice, 83, was able to beat USA’s most secure nuclear weapons facility

prison-break

 

From Reuters:

(Reuters) – A U.S. judge sentenced an 84-year-old nun, Sister Megan Rice, on Tuesday to 35 months in prison for breaking into a Tennessee military facility used to store enriched uranium for nuclear bombs.

Two others accused in the case, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed, were sentenced to 62 months in prison.

The three were convicted of cutting fences and entering the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, in July 2012, embarrassing U.S. officials and prompting security changes.”(Rice) does not have the extensive criminal records the others have. Her crimes are minimal in comparison to the others,” U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar said.

The three were also sentenced to three years of supervised release after leaving prison and ordered to pay restitution for the damage they caused.

Rice asked the judge not to take her age into consideration when handing out the sentence.”To remain in prison for the rest of my life would be the greatest honor,” the nun said in court. “I hope that happens.”Rice and the others admitted to spray painting peace slogans and hammering on exterior walls of the facility. When a guard confronted them, they offered him food and began singing.

Denmark Bans Religious Slaughter of Animals. Minister Says “Animal Rights Come Before Religion.”

Animalrights

Denmark’s government has banned the religious killing of animals for the production of halal and kosher meat.

The move has been labeled “a clear interference in religious freedom,” by the non-profit group Halal, while Jewish leaders are calling it “anti-Semitism.”

Israel’s deputy minister of religious services, Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan said, “European anti-Semitism is showing its true colors.” The Danish group Halal, said it was a “clear interference in religious freedom limiting the rights of Muslims and Jews to practice their religion in Denmark.”

The predictable blog posts labeling Jewish and Muslim opposition to the move as “much ado about nothing much” and just more religious overreaction have already started.

It’s seems ironic to me that Denmark euthanizes people and, lately, giraffes.

From The Independent:

Denmark’s government has brought in a ban on the religious slaughter of animals for the production of halal and kosher meat, after years of campaigning from welfare activists.

 The change to the law, announced last week and effective as of yesterday, has been called “anti-Semitism” by Jewish leaders and “a clear interference in religious freedom” by the non-profit group Danish Halal.

European regulations require animals to be stunned before they are slaughtered, but grants exemptions on religious grounds. For meat to be considered kosher under Jewish law or halal under Islamic law, the animal must be conscious when killed.

Yet defending his government’s decision to remove this exemption, the minister for agriculture and food Dan Jørgensen told Denmark’s TV2 that “animal rights come before religion”.

 

University of Texas Scientists Grow Human Lung in a Lab

Lungs x ray

Science fiction is moving toward science fact, and that can be good news for a lot of people.

University of Texas scientists grew a human lung in a laboratory. Then, they did it again.

The lungs were grown from cells obtained from the lungs of children who were killed in an accident. Their lungs were too damaged to be used in transplant. Joan Nichols, a researcher at the University of Texas, Medical Branch, says it will be about 12 years before laboratory-grown lungs are ready to be used in human transplants.

If the CNN story is accurate, nobody was killed, paid money to have their body harvested, or was otherwise exploited to grow these lungs. That means there is no moral impediment to using them when they become available.

From CNN Health:

(CNN) – For the first time, scientists have created human lungs in a lab — an exciting step forward in regenerative medicine, but an advance that likely won’t help patients for many years.

“It’s so darn cool,” said Joan Nichols, a researcher at the University of Texas Medical Branch. “It’s been science fiction and we’re moving into science fact.”

If the lungs work — and that’s a big if — they could help the more than 1,600 people awaiting a lung transplant. Lungs are one of many body parts being manufactured in the lab — some parts, such as tracheas and livers, are even further along.

“Whole-organ engineering is going to work as a solution to the organ donor shortage,” said Dr. Stephen Badylak, deputy director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh.

Image A is before new cells were reseeded. The finished product is image B.
Image A is before new cells were reseeded. The finished product is image B.

New transplant technology keeps organs ‘alive’ outside body

The researchers in Galveston, Texas, started with lungs from two children who’d died from trauma, most likely a car accident, Nichols said. Their lungs were too damaged to be used for transplantation, but they did have some healthy tissue.

They took one of the lungs and stripped away nearly everything, leaving a scaffolding of collagen and elastin.

The scientists then took cells from the other lung and put them on the scaffolding. They immersed the structure in a large chamber filled with a liquid “resembling Kool-Aid,” Nichols said, which provided nutrients for the cells to grow. After about four weeks, an engineered human lung emerged.

 

Oklahoma Pharmacy Says It Won’t Provide Drugs for Missouri Execution

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An Oklahoma pharmacy, The Apothecary Shoppe, says it will not provide drugs for the Missouri execution of Michael Taylor. The execution in scheduled for February 28.

Mr Taylor’s attorneys filed suit against The Apothecary Shoppe in an effort to stop them from providing the drugs. Taylor pled guilty to the kidnapping, rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl.

This story raises all sorts of interesting questions. It’s one thing to support the death penalty and another to take part in an execution. A lot of people support the death penalty in theory and have not thought through the ramifications of what it actually involves.

My personal feeling is that Pope John Paul II’s teaching on this subject are exactly right. The death penalty is not necessary to protect the public. We can lock these people up and never let them out again.

I read Ann Rule’s book about Ted Bundy because Bundy is the single best argument for the death penalty I know of. He escaped from incarceration twice. During the second escape, he committed a number of heinous murders, including the rape and murder of a child that he abducted from her school. This murder is the one for which he was finally executed. If we can’t keep these guys locked up, then the death penalty is a necessity.

From FoxNews.com:

An Oklahoma pharmacy has agreed not to provide Missouri with a made-to-order drug for an inmate’s execution scheduled for later this month, according to court documents filed Monday.

According to the documents, The Apothecary Shoppe, of Tulsa, will not prepare or provide pentobarbital or any other drug for use in Michael Taylor’s execution. The documents ask a judge to dismiss the case that Taylor’s lawyers had filed against the pharmacy seeking to stop it from providing the execution drug. A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

Taylor’s attorney, Matt Hellman, said that as part of the deal, the pharmacy acknowledged it has not already provided any drug to the Missouri Department of Corrections for the execution, which is scheduled for Feb. 26.

The department and the Missouri attorney general’s office did not immediately return calls Monday night seeking comment about the agreement or the status of Taylor’s execution.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon indicated last week that the state has drugs to carry out Taylor’s execution. Nixon, speaking at a news conference Thursday, did not directly answer “yes” or “no” when asked about availability of the execution drug but said, “In order to complete that ultimate responsibility, that’s necessary. The Department of Corrections is prepared to carry out that execution.”

Taylor pleaded guilty to abducting, raping and stabbing to death a 15-year-old Kansas City girl in 1989.


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