Obergefell Destroyed Marriage as a Legal Construct. It Did Not Destroy Marriage.

 

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Dr Wendy Longo https://www.flickr.com/photos/wtlphotos/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Dr Wendy Longo https://www.flickr.com/photos/wtlphotos/

He who made them in the first place, made them man and woman. For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and go to his wife and the two shall become one. So they are no longer two, but one. What God has put together, let no man take apart. Jesus Christ

 

Jesus’ statement on marriage was one of his “tough” sayings. He didn’t equivocate about marriage, and neither can we.

Here’s what He said, broken down:

1. God created humanity as man and woman. This was ordained from the beginning, as part of the order of creation.

2. Marriage is between one man and one woman. Not, notice, one man and many woman, or groups of people, two men or two women. God’s created gift of marriage is not any of the innovative adaptations humans seek to apply it. Marriage before God is between one man and one woman. This definition of marriage is also given in the first chapters of Genesis. Jesus is not creating new law here. He is quoting Scripture which decides the order of creation as God intended it.

3. Divorce is a human contrivance that comes from our hardness of hearts. Further down in the exchange I quote from above, the Pharisees challenged Jesus in an attempt to attack Him. They asked Him why the law of Moses allowed divorce. Jesus answered them simply: Moses (not, notice God) allowed divorce because of the Israelites’ hard hearts. But, He adds, it was not so from the beginning. He goes on to say that, basically, divorce is a human contrivance and that even if someone divorces under civil law, they are still married before God and that any further marriage would be living in adultery.

What does this mean to us as Catholics?

It means that gay marriage is, at best, a human contrivance that has no existence before God. Churches of various denominations can decide to allow it, but they are teaching a false teaching to their flocks. I would not want to be a preacher who had deliberately done this on the Day of Judgement.

It also means that people who divorce and remarry are not remarried at all before God. They do not have the power to dissolve a sacramental marriage. The courts do not have this power, and neither does the Church. Jesus Christ has plainly said that it can not be done. When divorced people remarry, they are not married before God. They are cohabiting.

This gets into the thorny questions of the various accommodations the Church has made to our human fallenness in this area. Marriage Tribunals exist that go over divorced individuals’ marriages in detail in order to see if they can find a way in which the original marriage was not “licit,” which is to say that it was not a marriage before God in the first place. This looks, from the outside, like they are straining out gnats of situation so that they can swallow the camel of divorce. But that is a topic for another blog post.

What does all this say about gay  marriage? It says that gay marriage doesn’t exist before God. It has never and will never exist before God.

What does that say about us and how we conduct our social and professional lives?

It says, first of all, that we cannot accept or accede to gay marriage as a social construct, anymore than we should accept or concede to divorce as a social construct.

Now we all know that we’ve done the hat-tip to divorce. My husband and I were once part of a large Sunday School class at a Methodist Church that was comprised of about 20 married couples. In that group, there were only three couples who had not been previously married, divorced and remarried. We actually felt like outsiders in much of the conversation, since we had no share in the miserable, teary-eyed stories of grief and personal tragedy that accompanied this divorced lifestyle and history.

Divorce wasn’t so ubiquitous in the Episcopal Churches we attended. In fact, it was rather rare. It’s certainly a reality in our Catholic parish, but when we gather with groups, life-long married couples with their only spouses are the majority.

The point to all this is simply that we’ve swallowed the camel of divorce. In the process, we’ve created generations of feral children and all but destroyed the working class.

One reason why divorce has been so disastrous for the working class is that divorce creates and exacerbates poverty. Divorce splits the assets of the married couple. Every single divorce does this. Several divorces can atomize an individual’s lifetime accumulation of property and savings to the point that they have, literally, nothing.

Divorce with children is much easier to weather when the divorcing parents are each capable of financially providing for their children’s care. When divorce hits people who are struggling to get by with McJobs, the family is plunged from barely getting by into a sinkhole of poverty. Whichever spouse ends up with the children is always the most poor because the kids are such a drain on the time, resources and career opportunities of a single parent.

This means, among other things, that unless family members can take up the child care, these kids spend almost all of their waking hours either under the authority of bad public schools, or home alone. As we say here in Oklahoma, they get their raisin’ from indifferent teachers in slum schools and other children.

Is it any wonder that they grow into messed up adults? Is it any wonder that they turn to gangs for the family they’ve never had? Is it any wonder that they are prey to every social innovation that comes along?

Divorce has destroyed our families and it has fed our kids into the maw of the culture.

Enter same sex marriage.

If divorce damaged and defaced marriage to the point that it created generations of feral children, gay marriage destroys it utterly. Marriage no longer exists as a legal construct in this country. It is now an elastic non-definition based on feelings rather than law. Since the Supreme Court “found” a right to privacy in the 14th Amendment, along with a new right to individual autonomy, the legal fence around marriage that allowed it to exist as a discreet legal entity is down.

Marriage no longer exists as a legal construct. I think that, in time, this will lead to the overturning of laws that grant marriage special privileges. That almost has to happen, for the simple reason that enforcing and allowing those privileges will become too burdensome on governance at all levels.

Also, marriage in itself is no longer deemed either a foundational institution or a core method of child rearing. Marriage is now, under the law, a matter of nebulous feelings, intent, and newly created rights to individual autonomy.

In short, marriage, as the vague and non-defined whatever that it is under Obergefell no longer provides for a social good that justifies granting it special privileges. When it is promoted by nonsensical slogans such as “love is equal,” you almost know that marriage is now about nothing from a legal standpoint. The decision itself reflects this.

Does that mean that marriage no longer exists?

Have we, by our own contrivance, done away with what God created and told us that we may not put asunder?

No.

Marriage, real marriage is not a relationship. It is a reality. Marriage is the God-ordained root of human society by which human beings become more fully human. It is the civilization-builder that makes us unique among all of creation. It is also a gift that will last as long as this created order in which we live and breath, move and work, lasts.

Without marriage, there is no civilization. Men and women, when they are separated from one another, are useless creatures. Men without women rapidly descend to the brute. Women without men dither and spin. But when we come together, we create civilization.

We weren’t meant, as some false faiths teach, to lord it over one another and abuse one another. That is the sin of the garden. It is not the natural order of how we were created. Misogyny is the curse of our fallenness.

There is a reason why societies which degrade the female are both brutal and backward. That reason is that these societies violate the natural civilization-creating order that God intended. They suppress the feminine to the point that they descend to the male brutishness. They are societies that are trying to function with half their heart and half their brain.

The Obergefell decision destroyed marriage as a legal construct. But it did not destroy true marriage. The Court does not have that power.

And neither do you and I.

We cannot destroy marriage by divorce, domestic violence and adultery. We can not destroy it by the sophistry of legal definitions and media propaganda. Marriage, created by God from the beginning, is not ours to destroy. What we maim and damage and inflict grave harm upon with our behavior is ourselves, our spouses, our extended families, and, most of all, our children. If we continue down this path, and it appears that we will, what we will ultimately destroy is our society and our civilization.

Gay marriage does not and cannot destroy true marriage. Neither does divorce.

What both these things destroy is our society. Our children. And our own lives.

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Did Your Pastor Preach on the Supremes’ Decision on Gay Marriage?

This is an informal, non-scientific poll that I’m conducting from my own curiosity.

Did you pastor address the Supreme Court decision doing away with marriage in his homily Sunday?

Has he ever preached on the issue of gay marriage?

I’m just curious.

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United States Catholic Bishops’ Statement on Gay Marriage Decision.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Jim Linwood https://www.flickr.com/photos/brighton/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Jim Linwood https://www.flickr.com/photos/brighton/

This statement was issued by Archbishop Joseph E Kurtz of Louisville, KY. Archbishop Kurtz is president of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops.

I am printing it in full, without editing. To read more, go here.

June 26, 2015

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Supreme Court decision, June 26, interpreting the U.S. Constitution to require all states to license and recognize same-sex “marriage” “is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

The full statement follows:

Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme Court may declare at this moment in history, the nature of the human person and marriage remains unchanged and unchangeable. Just as Roe v. Wade did not settle the question of abortion over forty years ago, Obergefell v. Hodges does not settle the question of marriage today. Neither decision is rooted in the truth, and as a result, both will eventually fail. Today the Court is wrong again. It is profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage.

The unique meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is inscribed in our bodies as male and female. The protection of this meaning is a critical dimension of the “integral ecology” that Pope Francis has called us to promote. Mandating marriage redefinition across the country is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us, especially children. The law has a duty to support every child’s basic right to be raised, where possible, by his or her married mother and father in a stable home.

Jesus Christ, with great love, taught unambiguously that from the beginning marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman. As Catholic bishops, we follow our Lord and will continue to teach and to act according to this truth.

I encourage Catholics to move forward with faith, hope, and love: faith in the unchanging truth about marriage, rooted in the immutable nature of the human person and confirmed by divine revelation; hope that these truths will once again prevail in our society, not only by their logic, but by their great beauty and manifest service to the common good; and love for all our neighbors, even those who hate us or would punish us for our faith and moral convictions.

Lastly, I call upon all people of good will to join us in proclaiming the goodness, truth, and beauty of marriage as rightly understood for millennia, and I ask all in positions of power and authority to respect the God-given freedom to seek, live by, and bear witness to the truth.

Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, Supreme Court, religious freedom, marriage, same-sex, Obergefell v. Hodges, Roe v. Wade, Pope Francis, integral ecology, encyclical
# # #
MEDIA CONTACT:
Norma Montenegro Flynn 
O: 202-541-3202

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Don’t Panic, But It Really Is That Bad

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Jim Linwood Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Jim Linwood Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

The news cycle turns and turns.

Friday, when the Supreme Court decision ending marriage came down, pundits jumped on the run-in-circles, scream-and-shout bandwagon. One week-end later, and they are all set to do the don’t-panic-you-unlettered-ones, it’s-not-that-bad pat down.

Today is the day when the flood of there-there-little-buttercup-it’s-alright commentary begins. We’ll be treated to analysis as to how same-sex marriage has not hurt anybody anywhere and there has been no push past gay marriage to an even more elastic set of definitions. We’ll hear how the Church is flourishing in countries with gay marriage and has not suffered harm.

We’ll be told to stand down and go about our business as if nothing has happened. Somebody somewhere is sure to use the meme, Keep Calm and Catholic On.

This is evidently as predictable as pundit ignorance is inevitable. Most of these people couldn’t read a law and tell you what it means if their lives depended on it. They certainly couldn’t look at a statute or a court ruling and see the ez pz ways in which it can be massaged for use in further challenges or revisions or whatnot.

In my humble opinion and for what it’s worth, the decision the Court handed down Friday is as elastic as hot taffy. It is so elastic that it destroys marriage as a legal construct. There is now no marriage in the dependable, this-is-what-it-is way of law under American jurisprudence. We now live in the Wild West of marriage.

It will take a while for the destructive vagueness of this hatched-up decision to roll its way through the body politic, but when it does, the damage is going to be widespread, endemic and generational. The court created a Constitutional crisis that will spawn other Constitutional crises that will spawn civil unrest that will spawn a much uglier culture war than what has damaged this nation so seriously up until now.

The Supreme Court has, in the past 50 years, been the chief creator of civil and cultural unrest in this nation, and it has now outdone itself.

If you want someone to go hush-a-bye and sing lullabies to you, read another blog. I would be lying to you if I did that. Contrary to the things you may read elsewhere, I’m going to tell you that it really is “that bad.”

But I’m also going to tell you not to panic.

Today is not the time to begin the process of talking about how we will respond to this new challenge. People — including me — need a bit of time to process this emotionally.

I wrote Friday and Saturday on the decision itself. I will probably do that again.

But for today I’m going to tell you one thing: The damage the Court did to this country Friday is every bit as bad as your worst thoughts of it. But — and this sounds ironic, I know — there is no reason to panic.

Martin Luther King, Jr, said “A lie cannot live.”

I would paraphrase that to say that a lie cannot live forever. Western civilization is in the grip of a number of lies about the most essential questions of all. We are debating the roots of civilization itself with questions revolving around the basic right to life and what it means to be human.

One question we have not asked, but which is much-needed, is how much nihilistic rot a culture can withstand before it collapses. Another unasked but needed question is whether or not we will impose any limits on human hubris.

Those of us who are traditional Christians, specifically those of us who are Catholic, have a stronger position in this debate simply because we are not balancing, as the Supreme Court did in its ruling, on the ever-rolling marbles of public popularity and poll numbers. We are standing on the Rock.

Notice, I did not say that we are standing on “a rock.” I said “the Rock.”

I’m going to noodle with this decision and its supporting arguments for a couple of days. You and I both need to do this to get our bearings in this new landscape. We’ll deal with the what is part of this situation first. Then, we’ll deal with the personal challenges that we face.

Then — and only then — we’ll look at political responses.

This is going to be a long fight. We have an entire culture that is caught in a self-righteous suicidal frenzy before us, and it’s our job to save it. We have a world to convert and re-convert. Our first work in the conversion department begins with ourselves.

The truth of our situation is that it really is “that bad.” But those of us who are standing on the Rock have no reason to panic.

 

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10 Ways I’m an Accidental Greenie. (Pope Francis, Are You Listening?)

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by TORLEY Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by TORLEY Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

I already do a few things that are accidentally in obedience to Pope Francis’ call to care for this good Earth of ours.

Admittedly, the environmental goodness of these actions is purely accidental on my part. But I think they still count.

They also indicate how easy it is to change in a few ways that, if we all do it, will make add up to a big difference.

Here are my accidental greenie actions.

1. I honor the Sabbath.

I don’t work or shop on the Sabbath. In fact, I usually end up spending the entire day just putzing around with my family. I pray a Rosary and play a couple of hymns on my piano. But the Sabbath has mostly become a family day and a day of rest.

How does this qualify as an accidental greenie action? I think it qualifies because for one 24 hour period each week, I’m not spinning the wheel. Not only that, but I’m not doing things that require other folks to spin the wheel, either.

Taking a day off is not exactly a big sacrifice for Mother Earth. In fact, it’s not even a big sacrifice for my faith. I started this practice of Sabbath keeping because I became convicted that I was ignoring one the Commandments, and that was wrong.

What began as obedience quickly turned into a gift to myself. Following God’s rules for us usually does turn out to be a gift for ourselves, leading us as they do straight into a life of love, family, peace and hope. Sabbath keeping is no exception.

I think it also, by simply shutting down the practice of on-going consumption, aids the environment a bit. If we all did it, we might find that the impact was surprisingly large.

2. I turn up the thermostat, turn off the desktop computer, switch off the air filters and hunker down during hot summer afternoons.

This particular accidental greenie practice of mine is entirely about balancing the budget. Our local electric company has what it calls “Smart Hours.” If you enroll, they guarantee you a low rate for off-peak hours of operation. Then, they sock it to you during the peak hours.

The idea is to flip off everything you can, and get out the fans to keep cool from 2pm until 7pm. If you work outside the house during the day, you can put everything on a timer (I do that, anyway.) and you won’t even know it happened.

Since I work at home, I am aware that it gets warm in the house and that the whole place is eerily quiet because the little motors aren’t humming. But it’s not all that bad. I use fans and wear lightweight clothing and drink a lot of iced tea. It works.

It’s also kind of sweet at 7pm when things switch back on. It’s a kick every day to hear the house coming back to life.

The inconvenience is that I have to do all the chores that involve running plug-in machines either during the morning or evening hours. That can be a pain.

But it does save money, and now, I can claim that I’m also following my papa in his call to be kind to creation.

3. I drive a small car.

My personal car is a Honda Fit, which is basically a really cushy go-cart. It gets great gas mileage, and it’s a fine little car for taking Mama on the drives she demands.

I chose it because it was cheap and it had all those little niceties like power windows and a hook-up to play music from my iPhone that a car has to have to get me to park it in my garage. My gasoline bill runs me about $50/month because my little buggy sips the stuff.

Once again, my inherent cheapness has led me into being kind of the earth.

4. I use those lightbulbs that supposedly save energy. 

My reason for doing this is — you guessed it — they save money. I almost never have to replace one of them, and they save $ on my electric bill.

5. I use a hand-crank can opener instead of an electric can opener. 

Surprisingly, this tiny bit of greenie has nothing to do with saving money. I just don’t like electric can openers.

6. I play an acoustic piano instead of a keyboard. 

Actually, this choice cost me money. I spent thousands of the dollars that I saved turning up my thermostat on hot days and driving my cushy go-cart to buy my piano.

Needless to say, the environmental impact involved did not enter my little mind. I laid down the $$ to bring home my wonderful instrumental friend that I call The Precious for one reason: I love the way it sounds.

Keyboards? Not so much.

I may buy a keyboard one day, if I ever find a group of friends to play with and need a portable piano. But unless that happens, I will never own one. I’m an acoustic girl all the way.

Now I can also put this in my faux greenie column.

7. I use solar lights to light my back yard and front flower beds at night. 

This is my husband’s deal. He enjoys messing with those things. All I know is that they’re pretty and they run on sunlight.

Another score for accidental greenie-ness.

8. We charcoal instead of heating up the kitchen in the summer. 

This is a combination of saving money on electricity by not heating up the house, and just plain liking the taste. We use an old-fashioned charcoaler instead of one of those gas deals; again because we prefer the taste. True, it does generate a bit of smoke, but the impact is bound to be less than running those big turbines that pour out the electricity.

See how easy it is to be environmentally friendly?

9. I turn the thermostat way down low and use an electric blanket to keep warm on winter nights. 

This is another of my cheapness deals. It also reflects that fact that I like to sleep cool.

10. Every time I replace an appliance, I buy something energy efficient. 

Can you guess why I do this?

If your answer doesn’t involve electric and water bills, you may have overlooked the not-so-subtle message in these ten items. I like to avoid spending money on utilities and such. I’d rather spend it on pianos and such.

There you have it: Ten easy things that I do — and I’ll bet you do, as well — that lessen the hit I take on what papa calls “our home.”

I think there is an accidental earth friendliness in these choices. This earth friendliness doesn’t amount to much if I’m the only one doing it, but it would make a big impact if we all did it.

I have a feeling there may be more to this greenie stuff, but I don’t think it’s really as bad as a lot of people are making it sound. Switch off the lights when you leave a room. And stop supporting corporatists who really are raping the planet.

I think that last sentence, the one about not supporting corporatists, is what has all the pundits going. After all, they are paid – well paid — to say what they’re told.

My advice is simple: Support the pope and stop making yourself miserable about these things. Just do what you ought yourself and refuse to be co-opted by those who are trying to use you to their own purposes.

The only other thing I would add is that the next time someone calls the Pope a Marxist or some other ignorant garbage, switch them off and don’t go back.

 

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The Supreme Court’s War on Government Of, By and For the People

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

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

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. 

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. 

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

 

Can the Republic survive a federal government and a Supreme Court that is both corporatist and nihilist?

That is the question.

The United States Supreme Court has been waging a successful war on government of, by and for the people for several decades now. Roe v Wade and Obergefell v Hodges bookend an almost 50-year-old judicial bypass of democracy and the democratic process.

In both instances, the Supreme Court jumped into an arena where the democratic process was working very well. The Court slashed through the democratic process, ending it abruptly and disastrously. The democratic process was dealing with the question of legal abortion in the always-messy, always-effective way that is democracy in action. One state would legalize abortion in certain circumstances, another state would tighten abortion restrictions. The first state would revise its abortion laws again, and a third state would decide to legalize.

It would have taken time, but the democratic process was working this out according to the will of the people. There is no doubt that, if the Court had allowed the process to work, it would have worked. What we would have ended up with would have been a much more just and — this is crucial — culturally-agreed-upon solution. Our laws would have reflected the will of the people, and for that reason, they would have stood. There would have been a lot of electioneering and speechifying, but there would have been no destructive culture war and the resulting breakdown of the body politic which we have seen since Roe.

The Court, by injecting itself into a healthy, working democratic process, and arbitrarily ending that process by the use of the brute force of fictional “findings” in the Constitution, created an on-going Constitutional crisis such as this country had not seen since the Civil War. Flash forward 50 years, and we arrive at Obergefell v Hodges.

Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision was another slam-dunk of the democratic process on an issue that was being debated and legislated over time. There is no doubt that the democratic process would have resolved this issue had the courts stayed out of it. It would have taken time, and again, it would have been messy. But the end result would have been a solution that We the People accepted and that would not have damaged this country.

The DOMA decision of two years ago set the lower courts on their domino effect overturning of state statutes pertaining to the definition of marriage. That allowed the Supreme Court to do exactly what it intended when it overturned DOMA, which was to issue a draconian ruling. Yesterday’s decision was a judicial one-two punch. Anyone with half a brain could see that the issue had been decided when the Court set up the DOMA decision in the first place.

I suppose the lessons of Roe are why they decided to take this backdoor route to legislating from the bench. That, and the opinion polls which gave them the entirely false notion that they were acting in a manner that the public would accept.

Roe and Obergefell bookend tragic overstepping by the Supreme Court that have done and will do incalculable damage to the Republic. Roe shoved into the Constitution the legal fiction that some human beings are not in fact human and their lives have no value under the law. Obergefell destroys marriage as a legal construct. It enshrines cultural nihilism in the 14th Amendment and sets the Constitution on a collision course with itself.

Obergefell inevitably places the Supreme Court in the position of legislative arbiter on the limits and allowances of all manner of American freedoms which we have held dear and fought wars to preserve since this nation’s founding. We are going to see the Court’s ham-handed fine-tunings of the Bill of Rights on a plethora of challenges that will come from yesterday’s ruling. Each one of these subsequent rulings will do damage to American freedoms. Every ruling will limit the rights of We the People and will strengthen the Court’s power as a legislative body with dictatorial powers and no checks and balances.

Notice that I said that the yesterday’s ruling places the Supreme Court as the legislative arbiter. Obergefell is so destructive to the democratic process that it will inevitably remove whole areas of the law from the democratic process and place them entirely in the hands of the Court. The ruling is so nihilistic that it creates an arbitrary legal option for nihilism in future proceedings.

The Supreme Court has set aside democracy.

I mentioned corporatism a few paragraphs back. I am aware that my concern about corporatism confuses many Public Catholic readers. But corporatism, as practiced in America, is government, working entirely for multinational corporations who are like parasites draining every bit of economic vitality out of this country. Corporatism is not only a grave evil, it is the absolute enemy of the Republic.

These twin evils — corporatism and nihilism — are the underlying principles behind many of the Supreme Courts decisions in the past 10 years. The Supreme Court has become anti-democracy and subservient to corporatism.

The Court is not the only institution which serves corporatism and nihilism. Our legislative process is also poisoned by these twin evils, which are, at their root, very similar. Corporatists and nihilists share an absolute contempt for the will of the people. They are bedfellows in their parallel goal of side-stepping and annihilating the democratic process.

Their best friend in this is the United States Supreme Court.

The Court destroyed marriage as a legal entity yesterday. It also created a plethora of avenues by which basic American freedoms can be destroyed.

Advocates of gay marriage may themselves come to rue this decision. It will take time before that happens. A lot of tragedy and excess will have to play out before things get so ripe that everyone can smell the rot. But to the extent that gay marriage advocates value marriage and were simply trying to acquire the good of it for themselves, they have failed. Instead of buying the house, they burned it down.

The question before us is a relatively straightforward one, and the answer, at least to me, is equally straightforward. Can the Republic survive a Supreme Court that is both corporatist and nihilist?

The answer is no.

America may, as Rome did, go on as a great military power long after the Republic is dead. But democracy cannot survive if its own government turns on it and shuts it down. Corporatism, if we do not stop it, will be the death of democracy.

Nihilism, on the other hand, is such an unworkable social construct that it cannot govern at all. No society can survive as a nihilistic society. America will not go on as a great military power shorn of its democracy if nihilism prevails. America will fail horribly and fall into a debacle of ruin if it is governed by the forces of nihilism.

Nihilism and corporatism are very similar. Corporatism, is, at its root profoundly amoral. Nihilism is, at its root, profoundly anti-human.

American civilization was so strong that it has taken these blows and kept on walking. But the Republic cannot operate forever under the governance of corporatism and nihilism. America can be destroyed, not from without, but by the corruption of its institutions.

That is exactly what we are facing with our corporatist/nihilist Supreme Court and its ugly war on government, of, by and for the people.

 

 

For other thoughts on Obergefell v Hodges, read what Kathy Schiffer, Simcha Fischer, Pia de SolenniJane the ActuaryFather Michael Duffy, Frank Weathers, the Anchoress and Deacon Greg have to say.

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The Supremes Decision Enshrines Cultural Nihilism in the Constitution.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Tori Rector https://www.flickr.com/photos/124387535@N03/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Tori Rector https://www.flickr.com/photos/124387535@N03/

Today, the United States Supreme Court ended marriage as a stable legal institution in the United States of America.

In flowery language that often sounds like it came from a Harlequin Romance, the decision quotes everybody from Confucius, to Cicero to Alexis de Tocqueville, to the American Association of Psychiatry.

Here’s a sample:

The centrality of marriage to the human condition makes it unsurprising that the institution has existed for millennia and across civilizations. Since the dawn of history, marriage has transformed strangers into rela- tives, binding families and societies together. Confucius taught that marriage lies at the foundation of government. 2 Li Chi: Book of Rites 266 (C. Chai & W. Chai eds., J. Legge transl. 1967). This wisdom was echoed centuries later and half a world away by Cicero, who wrote, “The first bond of society is marriage; next, children; and then the family.” See De Officiis

The Court attempts to justify what is in fact the creation of new law. It also overturns its own ruling of a couple of years ago that marriage should be left to the states. Needless to say, a bit of reaching is involved in this legal sophistry.

The decision actually goes past new law creation and claims an almost seer-like knowledge of the minds of the plaintiffs. It then bases this huge decision of the United States Supreme Court at least in part on what it believes it sees in the plaintiff’s hearts.

I want to be clear. The Decision actually uses the Justices personal impressions that the petitioner’s motives are pure as a reason for the findings of the decision itself.

Were their intent to demean the revered idea and reality of marriage, the petitioners’ claims would be of a different order. But that is neither their purpose nor their submission. To the contrary, it is the enduring importance of marriage that underlies the petitioners’ contentions. This, they say, is their whole point. Far from seeking to devalue marriage, the petitioners seek it for themselves because of their respect—and need—for its privileges and responsibilities.

We are treated to a spot of history about women’s rights, which is irrelevant since the situation Justice Kennedy describes was remedied at the state level. Then, we are reminded that marriages were once arranged, even though the Decision concedes that this has never been a legal construct of marriage in America. It doesn’t state, as it should, that this makes the consideration bogus.

When Justice Kennedy finally starts to reference the law, he goes immediately to the right of privacy that the Court created in Roe v Wade. In a deep irony, the findings of Roe concerning the then newly-created right of privacy are used to destroy marriage in America.

The decision spends quite a bit of time explaining that the Constitution is an elastic document and that finding new “rights” in it is within the purview of the Court. That is where it places most of its legal arguments.

The actual arguments it articulates for “finding” a right to gay marriage in the 14th Amendment are all touchy-feely, emotional stuff. They also reference hardships and problems which are easily solvable without this draconian decision.

The decision wastes a bit of gas emphasizing the “two people” construct of marriage. But it does not define marriage as such. In fact, it does not define marriage as anything other than an emotional bonding between undefined persons who are empowered to legal rights concerning this bonding by a new right to “individual autonomy” and a previously court-created right to privacy.

And even that is not a definition. It’s just the way the Court talks about marriage.

Under this ruling. marriage is whatever an individual or group of individuals, exercising their right to “individual autonomy” and their right to privacy say that it is. The ruling specifically addresses gay marriage, but the way it does it opens the door to anything and everything at all.

Since the Court appears to “find” rights in the Constitution independent of the document itself, we won’t have long to wait before the complete destruction of marriage becomes a fact. Any attempts to impose definitions and limitations on marriage, to create a legal entity called marriage that is recognizably something real, is going to run smack into the arguments created in this Decision.

Marriage has become a private, rather than a legal matter. At the same time, it has also become a supremely legal matter. Marriage is now a 14th Amendment dueling point which will be pitted against every other right given to Americans in the Constitution. The First Amendment freedom of religion is, of course, the most endangered. But once it is vanquished, others will follow.

The Court has done it again.

It has set this nation on a course of decades-long culture war. This vague and destructive decision does more than create a new kind of marriage. It recreates marriage entirely by making it subject to a “right to individual autonomy” and a “right to privacy.” This newly-created type of “marriage” is not marriage at all. It is an elastic construct with no boundaries, fixed definitions or even an actual predictable existence.

It’s a lengthy decision. I can’t critique it in full in a blog post. You can read it for yourself here.

Suffice it to say that marriage is now meaningless under the law.

The Supreme Court has done more than create a new kind of marriage. It has enshrined cultural nihilism in the Constitution.

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Supremes Destroy Marriage. Bequeath Generations of Culture War to America.

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

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

They just couldn’t let democracy work.

The United States Supreme Court issued another of their sweeping legislate-from-the-bench rulings today. They have created a new Constitutional definition of marriage that over turns the truncates the on-going democratic process and destroys 2,000 years of legal understanding that the family is a protected institution.

This ham-handed ruling brackets Roe v Wade in its destructive force on The body politic. It sets up generations of culture wars.

I will write about this ruling in detail later.

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ISIS Offers “Beautiful Young Girls” as Sex Slaves to Winners of Koran Memorization Contest

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

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

Evidently, ISIS is sponsoring a Koran Memorization contest in honor of Ramadan in which “beautiful young girls,” said to be as young as 12 years of age, go to the winners.

The contest announcement, which was posted on Twitter, is below.

From The Jewish Press:

‘Soldiers of the Islamic State, Commanders and Troops, Greetings and salutations upon the advent of Ramadan, May it be the will of Allah to accept our fasts and prayers May Allah protect us all from the fires of hell.

Da’wa institutions and mosques hereby declare the opening of the Qur’an memorization competition, To include the following traditions (chapters):

Surat Al-Anfal (Surah prey), (Surah a-Ta’uvah) Surat Muhmad, and Surat Patikha (Surat opening). The competition will be held from 1 Ramadan 1436 to 21 Ramadan 1437.

Those who wish to participate may register at the following mosques: Mosque of Abu Bakr, Mosque of Osama Bin Laden, Mosque of Abu Musab a-Zarqawi (senior Al Qaeda official, the founder of ISIS assassinated in Iraq in 2006), and the Al Taqwa Mosque.

Allah willing, winners will be chosen between 21 Ramadan 1436 and 27 Ramadan 1437.

Competition Prizes:
Grand Prize Winner: ‘Sabia’ (a young girl)
Second Prize: Teenage girl
Third Prize: Teenage girl
Fourth place: 100,000 Syrian pounds ($530)
Fifth place: 90,000 Syrian pounds ($477)
Sixth place: 80,000 Syrian pounds ($424)
Seventh place: 70,000 Syrian pounds ($370)
Eighth place: 60,000 Syrian pounds ($317)
Ninth place: 50,000 Syrian pounds ($265)
Tenth place: 50,000 Syrian pounds ($265)

We ask Allah the Great to ease and help you on your way in serving Him as He desires.
Da’wa Institutions and Mosques

 

 

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Archbishop Paul Coakley: The Future of Marriage Hangs in the Balance

File Photo

File Photo

My spiritual leader, Archbishop Paul Coakley, wrote a stirring letter to my diocese recently. I’m sharing it here without editing.

The Future of Marriage Hangs in the Balance

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley

The recent media fascination with the “transition” of Bruce Jenner into Caitlyn has highlighted the tragic confusion about gender and sexual difference in society today. Rooted in both natural law and divine revelation, our Catholic teaching affirms that men and women are equal and different. Together they are created in the image and likeness of God. Man and woman are designed by God in relation to one another to form a conjugal union that brings forth children. The consequences of this affirmation are far-reaching.

Sexual difference is essential to marriage and child rearing. Our bodies matter. We don’t just have a body. We are a body. Without this basis in sexual difference and complementarity, there is no limit to what “marriage” could mean.

Perhaps by the time this issue of the Sooner Catholic is published, and certainly by the end of June, the Supreme Court will have issued its ruling on two crucial questions dealing with the very definition of marriage. The questions the court is addressing ask whether the 14th Amendment requires a state to license a “marriage” between two people of the same sex, and whether the same amendment requires a state to recognize same sex “marriages,” which were lawfully licensed and performed in another state.

No matter how the court rules, it cannot change what marriage really is. Marriage by its nature remains the union of one man and one woman. It is a natural institution that predates and precedes governments and government regulation.

Every society has acknowledged that the sexual union of man and woman matters because it creates the next generation. While Jesus elevated Christian marriage to a sacrament, the complementarity of the sexes and the natural meaning of marriage can be known through reason even without appealing to Scripture.

Governments have long maintained an interest in protecting and preserving marriage. Society needs an institution that connects children to their mothers and fathers, and marriage is the only institution that does this. Every child has a mother and father and deserves to be loved and raised by them. Certainly, there are many circumstances that can hinder and prevent this, but marriage has always been the primary way that society protects this right of children to be raised by both a mother and a father. Both matter. Both are irreplaceable. Only a man can be a father and only a woman can be a mother. A child should not be deliberately deprived of either one. There are certainly wonderful single parents and others who make great sacrifices to raise children. They deserve our respect and support. But, every society ought to affirm each child’s basic natural right to come from and be raised in a loving home formed by his or her own mother and father joined together in a stable marriage.

Law is a teacher. A redefinition of marriage in the law teaches that one sex is interchangeable with another, and that either mother or father is dispensable as a parent. This ignores the wisdom of millennia of lived experience. It teaches that marriage is whatever consenting adults say it is and that these adults have a “right” to children they did not conceive. This is not only false, but it fails to take into account what is good for the child. Affirming the tried and true definition of marriage denies no one their basic rights. Rather it affirms the equal dignity and complementarity of men and women, and safeguards the rights of children.

Advocates for so-called “marriage equality” claim that the traditional definition of marriage unjustly discriminates against homosexual persons. Unjust discrimination is always wrong. But treating different things differently is not unjust discrimination. Protecting marriage is a matter of justice.

In addition to the devastating effect that a redefinition of marriage would have on children, there also are far-reaching religious freedom issues at stake.

It would change literally thousands of laws all at once. Marriage redefinition would immediately set the Church’s teaching and witness concerning the meaning and sanctity of marriage in opposition to the law of the land. This would result in countless conflicts between the state and religious institutions and individuals who adhere to the teaching of their faith and the judgment of their consciences.

So much hangs in the balance. What can we do? We can pray and we can fast for the protection of marriage and religious liberty. We can become advocates for marriage by our own witness to its sanctity and goodness. We can talk about the truth of marriage with patience and kindness and understanding. Who could have imagined that such common sense wisdom would become so counter-cultural in our time?

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Thank You, Bristol Palin, for Your Courage.

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

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

Bristol Palin, fellow Patheos blogger and daughter of former vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, announced on her blog that she is expecting a new baby.

I’ve read a few comments about her pregnancy on other blogs that disgust me. I won’t reiterate them here. I will just say this:

Thank you, Bristol Palin, for your courage.

You could have killed this baby and no one would be the wiser. That’s what many young women in your situation would have done. Instead, you chose to face the inevitable judgments and cruelties of people with an axe to grind about your politics, your opinions or about your mother, and give life to your child.

This took courage. It is a hard-core, pro-life-when-it-hurts commitment to your baby. You will be subjected to verbal trauma from the cruel people in this world. You may even have to face anger from your family because they, too, will get a dose of the same bitter treatment.

But you will never have to live with the miserable fact that you have murdered your own child to avoid hardship yourself. Your child will know that he or she has a mother who walked through sorrow and shame for his or her life. Your baby will never have to doubt how much he or she matters to you.

Bravo, Miss Palin.

And congratulations on your new baby. May you love and enjoy this child every day of what I hope will be your long and happy life.

 

 

 

Kathy Schiffer has written an excellent post about Miss Palin’s new baby here.

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Catholic World News: Negative Judgement on Medjugorje

I’m writing about this because it comes from a reputable source, and because I know that many Public Catholic readers care about it intensely.

However I want to caution that it is not the official report. It comes from Italian journalists who evidently have an inside source.

According to these Italian journalists, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has concluded that the Marian apparitions at Medjugorje are not due to supranational activity.

From Catholic World News:

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has reached a negative conclusion regarding the authenticity of the reported Marian apparitions at Medjugorje, according to Italian media reports.

The CDF reportedly held a feria quarta meeting on June 24, at which the prelates discussed the findings of a special papal commission that had investigated the Medjugorje phenomenon. According to several Italian journalists—notably Vatican-watch Gianluca Barile—the CDF agreed with that commission’s finding that there is no evidence of supernatural activity at Medjugorje.

The CDF’s conclusions will now be presented to Pope Francis, who will make the final judgment on the subject. If the reports are accurate, and the Pope confirms a negative verdict regarding the Medjugorje phenomenon, that decision will have a heavy impact on thousands of Catholics who have developed a special devotion to the site.

 

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Christians in the Muslim World: Egypt

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Gigi Ibrahim https://www.flickr.com/photos/gigiibrahim/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Gigi Ibrahim https://www.flickr.com/photos/gigiibrahim/

This is a bit long, but I think it’s well worth watching.

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And While We’re At It, Let’s Talk Global Warming

Mean weather. Moore tornado aftermath. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Official US Navy Page Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

Mean weather. Moore tornado aftermath. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Official US Navy Page Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

This is my position on global warming:

I don’t know.

How did I arrive at this non-opinion?

I listened to the dueling experts, and got so confused that I decided to stop thinking about it.

Here is my opinion on climate change:

Something’s happening.

How did I arrive at this vague opinion?

I experienced two unprecedented, record-breaking killer tornadoes in 10 years. I watched as unprecedented weather cycles exploded all around. I saw the photos of the ice caps melting, and what happened after Sandy hit New York and Katrina took out New Orleans.

I think — not know, but think — that something’s happening.

I would like to know for myself, but that would require more effort than I’ve been willing to put into it. The fact is that the only way to even begin to understand all this is if I have the math and the science chops to read the original research – all of the original research, from both sides — and then have the chops to understand and synthesize it. After all that, I’d still be giving my opinion as to what it means. But it would be an informed opinion.

I might, if I, as Okies say, went to school on it, be able to figure out the research. But it would be like bailing out a lake with a bucket to get there. I just don’t have the push to take it on.

There clearly are big money political agendas at play in the argument. We are obviously being propagandized and lied to.

I don’t have the science and math chops to grok the original research on climate change and global warning without making a huge effort at self-education. But I do have the political chops to recognize this hysterical and dishonest tsunami of political propaganda for what it is.

We’re being manipulated in a crude and overbearing fashion. I am, to be honest, a bit flummoxed by how emotional and crazy-acting people who’ve been through this “education” program become whenever someone questions the craziness they’ve been taught. It’s weird to see heretofore passionate Catholics who’ve condemned others for choosing their political kool-aid over the Church flip like a flapjack and do the same thing themselves.

I understand, or I think I do, why they get so angry and out of it when they do this. It’s because they’ve become addicted to being propagandized and the addiction has cut off their thinking, reasoning brains.

If I can get even one or two people to calm down and start thinking with their own brains instead of warping out on repeating what they’ve been taught by people who are manipulating them, I will consider this blog a success. It isn’t so much what they decide, it’s that they, and not the pundits, need to be doing the deciding.

My feeling, which I’ve expressed in the comboxes, is that Pope Francis is the only disinterested party who’s spoken on climate and global warming. He is also the only honest man of the bunch. I trust that Pope Francis is speaking from the heart of Christ and that he — and he alone of all the many blabby pundits opining on this topic — is speaking on behalf  of the poor, the disenfranchised, those without voice in the world’s affairs, and indeed, for all of us.

I absolutely believe that Pope Francis is speaking for the common good.

He’s the only commenter in this whole thing that I respect and trust.

So, I take what he says, including things he says when he evaluates scientific data, very seriously indeed.

I chose Christ. I am convinced that the simplest way, indeed the only way I can follow Christ with surety that I am doing it right, is by following the teachings of the Catholic Church.

I’ve done my deal on being my own god and making my own rules. I’ve sown and reaped the whirlwind of my own moral devisings. It is to me a sign of peace and hope that I can follow the teachings of my Church and not be forced, as Scripture says, to “rely on my own understanding.”

I want to trust in the Lord and do good.

That means, among other things, that when Pope Francis says something, I don’t go off in a rage and throw dirt in the air and pound a stick on the ground like an angry ape. My first reaction must be respect and trust.

I haven’t cancelled out my thinking brain. I took exception to his call to do away with life sentences because I honestly believe that there are certain people who must be locked up to ensure the public safety. But me, taking exception with the pope, is, as we say here in Oklahoma, as rare as hen’s teeth.

Even then, I did not dismiss what the pope said out of hand, and I certainly did not dismiss it in favor of some vicious talking head on tv or internet pundit. I based my reaction on a lifetime of dealing with both the perpetrators and the victims of violent crime in my former house district.

I looked at it from the perspective of someone who has considered these matters for almost two decades while living with the responsibility of having to decide. I have given a lot of thought and had to make many hard decisions about how to create laws that would allow for both justice and the public safety in these matters.

In short, I had a lot of experience and knowledge on which to form my opinion, and I tried to base my conclusions on what is best for the common good. More to the point, I did not — and will never — challenge Pope Francis’ authority in my life as my papa, the Holy Father.

For the same reasons, I am going to accept what he says about global warming. I don’t have the knowledge, understanding and longtime experience in the area of climatology to form an intelligent opinion. I honestly do not know of my own understanding what is fact and what is flim-flam in the discussions of global warming.

I am certain without doubt that there are lying liars afoot and that the reason for all the lying is $$$$$.

The one person I trust who has spoken on this is the pope.

Now, I’m going to let Public Catholic readers thrash this out. But be warned: I am a Catholic woman and this is a Catholic blog. Disrespecting the pope is not allowed here.

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Ok. Let’s Talk Gun Control.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Paretz Partensky Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Paretz Partensky Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

Ok. Let’s talk gun control.

I’m writing this post for one purpose. That purpose is to talk about what so many of you evidently need to talk about: Gun control. It’s a big issue for these times, one that isn’t going to go away. We really do need to discuss it at Public Catholic, at the intersection of faith and public life.

This post is an attempt to separate the discussion from the post I wrote about the tragedy in Charleston. Getting into the gritty stuff of political discussion on that post makes me a bit queasy. I react as if we’re engaging in the mud pie throwing of a political discussion at a funeral.

I’m going to delete the posts that are incoming over there. Please move them here.

Now. To gun control.

The issues are black and white to everyone, on both sides of the argument. As usually happens in this time of terminal personal self-righteousness and culture war, everyone thinks the people on the other side of the debate are unreasonable demagogues with the consciences of serial killers.

I think — for what my thinking is worth — that both sides are trying to deal with the intractable problem of evil, manifesting itself in human actions, without acknowledging that this is what they are dealing with.

I am personally opposed to limiting second amendment rights beyond a few reasonable legal codicils. As usual, I have the votes to prove it.

But that does not mean that I think that people who favor gun control are acting out of ignorance or a craven desire to limit American freedoms. I think that they are good people who are focusing on a different set of dangers than I am.

That is a key point in this discussion: Both sides of the debate are advocating a dangerous position, and both sides refuse to see that their position is in fact a dangerous one to take. There are no easy, harmless solutions to the problem of the human propensity to murder other humans.

Among the dangers inherent in gun control is that it is first of all a cavalier approach to limiting a basic Constitutional right. It ignores the increase in the reach of government power and oversight of Americans that would be involved in such a change in the laws.

America is not Europe or even Canada. We are a heavily armed people. Here in Oklahoma, just about every home has at least one gun and most homes have several. Most Okies not only have guns, they know how to use them. They do use them, for target practice and hunting.

I’m pretty sure that this same situation prevails throughout most of the South and the Southwest. I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t also exist in other parts of the country, as well. The political realities of gun control legislation seem to indicate that there are a lot of Americans out there who keep and bear arms.

The bureaucratic measures of filling out forms and undergoing checks of various sorts that office holders keep proposing would not dent the gun violence and mass killings we’ve seen. Ideas about limiting access to ammunition have been floated. But the political realities of that idea are probably even more extreme than those for gun control.

Not only that, but a lot of Okies are perfectly capable of making their own bullets. They do it now, as a hobby. I imagine that’s true of other, non-Okie folks, as well.

Removal of guns, such as has happened in other countries, is where this argument has to go. That would result in draconian government intrusion into the lives of otherwise law-abiding citizens. It would also be even less effective than Prohibition was. The resistance from the public is not something I want to contemplate. Not only that, but, once again, Okies are perfectly capable of making their own guns, as are a lot of other people, I’m sure.

We need to be careful about making criminals of law-abiding citizens as a means of getting at a few individuals who are in the grip of a killing fever that the rest of us can’t explain or understand.

Also, mass murder is not just a function of guns. Fertilizer and gasoline will make a bomb. You can kill many innocent people and maim many others with it. You can blow up big buildings and murder little children with it. Rwanda suffered a genocide that slaughtered hundreds of thousands in a short time with clubs and machetes.

We deny the power of human ingenuity if we seriously think that limiting access to a category of inanimate objects will stop these mass murders.

It is a simple historical fact that we did not suffer these repeated mass killings earlier in the history of this country. Guns were even more ubiquitous in our past, but the tragedy of one or two people randomly killing strangers, co-workers or fellow students for no apparent reason is a relatively recent phenomena.

It’s the people themselves who have changed. And this is a result of societal breakdown that evidently predicates toward the creation of psychopaths and rage killers.

This leads me to the dangers of opposing gun control. People are being killed. We know that what happened in Charleston has happened before. We know that it will happen again. And again.

We know, whether we will admit it or not, that it takes less time and is easier to pick up a gun than it is to build a bomb. It’s neater and cleaner to kill people with the squeeze of a forefinger on a trigger than it is to build a bomb, swing a club or wield a machete.

The trouble with this entire debate is that it is about inanimate objects which are only tools, rather than the tool wielders. I think this is because we do not want to face what we have wrought.

These killings are not about mental illness. Mentally ill people, like guns, have been with us long before these killings started. They are also not about poverty, or racism.

While one murderer may kill a school full of little Amish girls and another murders black people at a prayer meeting, their brothers in murder may decide to go on a military base and start shooting, or to their place of employment or even to the local McDonalds. They may, as I remarked earlier, build a bomb, put it in a truck and park the truck under a day care center.

The evil is not in the guns. The evil is not in the fertilizer. The evil is not in the truck.

The evil is in the young men who commit these murders. More to the point, the evil is in the society that built the young men.

The one constant is that the murderers are nearly all young men. Most of them are from privileged backgrounds. They are not hungry, battered, sexually molested or on drugs. We say they are mentally ill, and some of them may be. But others clearly are not. All of them have sufficient wits to plan and commit what are fairly complicated acts of mass murder.

This problem we are dealing with is a symptom of a larger societal sickness. And that is what we don’t want to face.

The entire gun control debate is ruse of sorts that lets us believe in the lie of simple solutions and one-off fixes. Focusing on gun control allows us the luxury of avoiding the deeper discussions of what has gone wrong in our society that, after around 150 years of gun ownership without these mass murders, has been plunged into the hell of seeing them happen over and over again.

That discussion, which would take us into the subterranean world of the things we dare not say, is one that we are willing to accept mass murder and maybe even give up our freedoms to avoid.

But it is the only discussion that has a hope of yielding ideas which might actually address the problem.

 

 

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You Can Read the Text of Pope Francis’ Comments about Arms Dealers Here

World War II ammo Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Moyan Brenn  https://www.flickr.com/photos/aigle_dore/

World War II ammo Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Moyan Brenn https://www.flickr.com/photos/aigle_dore/

Public Catholic reader JoAnna Wahlund shared that Zenit has published the full text of Pope Francis’ remarks about arms dealers, etc. You can read it here.

Here are the paragraphs that caused the kerfuffle:

It makes me think one thing: people, leaders, entrepreneurs that call themselves Christians, and produce arms! This gives some mistrust: they call themselves Christians! “No, no, Father, I don’t produce them, no, no …. I only have my savings, my investments in arms factories.” Ah! And why? “Because the interest is somewhat higher …” And a double face is also a current coin today: to say something and do another. Hypocrisy …l But let’s see what happened in the last century: in ’14, ’15, in ’15 in fact. There was that great tragedy in Armenia. So many died. I don’t know the figure: more than a million certainly. But where were the great powers of the time? Were they looking elsewhere? Why? Because they were interested in war: their war! And those that died were persons, second class human beings. Then, in the 30s and 40s the tragedy of the Shoah. The great powers had photographs of the railroad lines that took trains to the concentration camps, such as Auschwitz, to kill the Jews, and also Christians, also the Roma, also homosexuals, to kill them there. But tell me, why didn’t they bomb that? Interest! And shortly after, almost contemporaneously, were the lager in Russia: Stalin … How many Christians suffered, were killed! The great powers divided Europe among themselves as a cake. So many years had to pass before arriving at “certain” freedom. It’s that hypocrisy of speaking of peace and producing arms, and even selling arms to this one who is at war with that one, and to that one who is at war with this one!

I understand what you say about mistrust in life, also today when we are living in the throwaway culture, because whatever is not of economic usefulness is discarded. Children are disposed of, because they are not developed or because they are killed before they are born; the elderly are disposed of, because they are not useful or are left there, to die, a sort of hidden euthanasia, and they are not helped to live; and now young people are disposed of: think of that 40% of young people who are without work. It is in fact a rejection! But why? Why are man and woman not at the center of the global economic system, as God wants, but the god of money. And everything is done for money.

Notice that the pope condemns abortion, euthanasia, joblessness, disposable culture and genocide. A critic would have to be reaching quite a bit to get into a huff because he didn’t mention sex trafficking. That’s especially true when you consider that Pope Francis has spoken many times against the evils of human trafficking and sex trafficking.

For a more thorough discussion, go to Pope Francis Condemns Arms Dealers, Duh. 

By the way, the differences between what the Pope said and what I was able to piece together (with the best intentions in the world) are a good example of why I recommend reading original sources.

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Pope Francis Condemns Arms Dealers. Duh.

 

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aleteia Image Department https://www.flickr.com/photos/113018453@N05/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aleteia Image Department https://www.flickr.com/photos/113018453@N05/

Deal Hudson is all agog because Pope Francis had the temerity to condemn international arms dealers who are providing the weapons that enable groups such as Boko Haram and ISIS to engage in their mass slaughter.

Mr Hudson doesn’t understand why the pope didn’t slam sex traffickers in this same speech. He’s even more flummoxed because the Holy Father has famously said “who am I to judge” about homosexuals who are repentant and doing their best to follow Christ.

Mr Hudson has a long political past, and I believe that he was speaking from that political viewpoint when he wrote his article. He was “outreach adviser” to the Catholic Church for President George W Bush’s presidential campaigns. What this means is that his job was helping the president gain votes from Catholic voters.

According to Wikipedia, “Since 2000, Hudson’s chief political activity has been to help organize the Catholic vote in support of conservative and Republican candidates.”

I think that’s relevant in terms of Mr Hudson’s reaction to Pope Francis’ remarks. Mr Hudson has a public history of viewing the teachings given to us by the popes in light of how they will “play” in electoral battles for power. It was his job to assess the Church as a political power base and come up with ways to use its teachings to craft political spin that would gain votes for one particular political viewpoint.

What that means is that he has a background of ignoring the moral implications of the teachings of the Church and analyzing them in terms of how this or that teaching can be used to gain votes. In order to do his job as a campaign adviser, he had to turn off the moral reflection on what these teachings meant to him as a Catholic and look at them through the absolutely amoral prism of power politics.

I do not say that as a condemnation of Mr Hudson. It is simply the nature of what his job was. He was a political operative.

I view Mr Hudson’s comments about Pope Francis’ condemnation of arms dealers in light of that understanding. In other words, I think they are politically motivated. Mr Hudson is not alone in this. He’s been joined by other defenders of the weapons manufacturing industry, all of them kicking the pope for saying the obvious.

I haven’t been able to find the text of Pope Francis’ remarks (Public Catholic reader JoAnna gave me a link to the speech. You can read it here.) so I’m forced to do as Mr Hudson does with his article and extrapolate from secondary sources. That’s always risky business.

For that reason, I went back and looked at earlier statements Pope Francis has made on this same subject. It turns out that his comments about arms dealers are not a new direction in his thinking. He has condemned arms dealers several times in the past two years, particularly those who sell arms to the likes of Boko Haram. He said this a year ago:

Apparently reacting to current acts of terrorism being perpetrated by the Boko Haram sects in north-eastern parts of Nigeria, Pope Francis early Thursday condemned all acts of terrorism, kidnapping and arms proliferation.

The Pope described the menace as “absurd contradiction” between the international community’s calls for peace, the proliferation of the global arms trade and the lack of attention to the suffering of refugees.

“Everyone talks about peace, everyone says they want it but unfortunately the proliferation of all types of arms is leading us in the opposite direction,” Francis told a group of new ambassadors to the Holy See.

At another time, he decried the power of the weapons’ industry’s lobbyists in government and the largesse they use to buy influence and coddle those who do their bidding, saying,

“And if you want,” he continued, “think of the great dining halls, of the parties thrown by the bosses of the weapons industry that makes the arms that wind up (in those camps). A sick child, starving, in a refugee camp — and the great parties, the fine life for those who manufacture weapons.”

Each of these previous comments were made in the context of the on-going bloodbath in the Middle East. The Holy Father made his comments yesterday in that same context. He made them as he was preparing to leave for a dangerous trip to that region of world.

Does that mean that Pope Francis intends for his condemnation of war profiteers to be limited to this one conflict in that one region of the world? No. When he says that these people are “so-called Christians,” that’s an obvious statement of moral teaching from a man who is the moral teacher for 1.2 billion Catholics .

Frankly, my reaction to his statement is … duh.

Does anyone seriously expect that the Vicar of Christ is going to support arms dealing and war profiteering? Are you going to jump in there and join with those attacking the Pope and defend arms dealing and war profiteering yourself?

It’s easier to understand the Pope’s point if we consider another set of comments he made. At some point — I’m not able to figure out if this was all in one homily or at two different times — he also condemned the Allied bombing runs in World War II for not bombing the train tracks over which people were taken to the Nazi death camps. This is the quote:

He spoke of the Armenian genocide in the early 20th century – though he did not use the word – and of the failure of the Allied forces to stop the Nazi genocide programme. “The great powers had photographs of the railways that brought trains to concentration camps, to Auschwitz, to kill Jews, Christians, Gypsies, homosexuals.

“But tell me, why didn’t they bomb them?” he asked. “The great powers, they divided Europe like a cake.”

Now, how does that jibe with his condemnation of arms dealers?

I think it simply means this: Weapons are objects. They are things. They have no souls. They do not think. They are tools we make. They can be used for self-defense, to hunt for food, for recreational target practice and for cold blooded murder of innocents.

The failure to bomb those tracks was a failure to use the weapons of war to save lives.

That does not, as Mr Hudson implies, smear the men and women in uniform who give their lives to fight these wars. We pray the Centurion’s prayer at mass. Jesus did not condemn this soldier. He praised him for his faith.

It would seem to me that this conflating of these two things — a condemnation of the refusal to use arms to save lives, and a condemnation of international arms traders — tells the story.

The people who are fighting ISIS are also using weapons. But they are using them in self-defense. The war against the Nazis was a war to save civilization. I think the war against ISIS is also a war to save civilization.

That is a vast oversimplification, I know. There is a danger in trying to judge between wars and labeling one side moral and the other amoral. The danger is that we all tend to see “our side” as the moral one. That can lead to justification of any war, any where, against anybody.

There are also a number of great dangers in an economy that is built on arms manufacturing, as the American economy has become. But that is beyond the scope of this post.

Finally, Pope Francis evidently also encouraged his audience to not place their trust in politicians.

Again, I say … duh.

Here is what he said:

“One day everything comes to an end and they will be held accountable to God,” he said.

In his Turin address to young people he also warned against putting too much trust in politicians, saying: “In Europe there is war, in Africa there is war, in Asia there is war. But can I have trust in a world like this? Can I trust the world’s managers?

“When I go to give my vote for a candidate, can I trust that they will not bring my country to war? If you put trust only in people, you lose.”

It’s no wonder that Mr Hudson is so upset with Pope Francis. The Holy Father is challenging Catholics to follow Christ instead of politics. He is directly opposing the political heresy that Mr Hudson served so ably during his time in politics.

Not only that, but he’s going against the biggest pork barrel around: The arms industry. He’s calling foul on the practice of selling weapons of war to mass murderers. He’s saying that you can’t serve both God and mammon.

Somebody else said that a couple of thousand of years ago and He got in big trouble for it.

Pope Francis is cracking apart the political heresy. Those who make their livings by it are responding by calling him everything but the Vicar of Christ.

Who’s going to win this argument?

The pope.

The Catholic Church has been attacked by governments, powers, armies, and now pundits, for 2,000 years. It has suffered loss and peril. But it has always prevailed.

 

For a different look at this discussion, check out Jennifer Fitz, and Father Dwight Longenecker.

 

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House Undoes What it Did and Passes Fast Track on Pacific Trade Bill

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ron Cogswell Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ron Cogswell Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

You just can’t get Congress to be Congress anymore.

A few days after the United States House of Representatives denied President Obama sweeping powers to put through the Pacific trade deal, it reversed itself and passed fast track in a separate piece of legislation.

I know this sounds cynical, but that lets the good Congresspeople claim that they voted with whoever they are talking to on this measure. If they are talking to those who favor the Pacific trade agreement, then they point to this vote. If they are talking to people who want to preserve American jobs, they can point to last week’s vote.

If an opponent in a re-election campaign attacks them for backing the Pacific trade bill (when they’re talking to We the People, they almost always have to deny supporting this thing) they can call them a liar and say they voted to stop fast track.

When they go to the corporatists with their hands out for campaign money, all they gotta do is explain that they were forced to vote against fast track in the first vote because the rubes in their district demanded it. But they made good on their real campaign promises to the money men with the second vote.

It will work. It always does.

From The Hill:

The House on Thursday took the first step toward resuscitating the White House’s trade agenda by passing legislation granting President Obama fast-track authority.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where the White House and GOP leaders are seeking to strike a deal with pro-trade Democrats.

The House vote was 218-208, with 28 Democrats voting for it.

This is the second time in a week the House has voted to approve the controversial fast-track bill. On Friday, the House voted 219-211 in favor of fast-track, which would make it easier for Obama to complete a sweeping trans-Pacific trade deal.

In last week’s vote, the House GOP paired the fast-track bill with a measure known as Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) that gives aid to workers displaced by trade. Both measures needed to be approved in separate votes for the entire package to move forward.

House Democrats have historically favored TAA, but they voted against it on Friday to kill fast-track, which is deeply opposed by unions and other liberal groups.

The White House still wants both measures to reach Obama’s desk, but is now advancing a different strategy that would see the two bills move separately.

 

 

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