Shacking up, gay marriage and now wed leases.
Given all this, I’m inclined to say as so many people do these days Why bother?
A reader sent me a copy of the Washington Post opinion piece excerpted below. The author, who is a divorce attorney, suggests that, given today’s revolving door marriages, we just set up marriage as a lease arrangement and forego all that “til death do us part” nonsense at the get-go. He sees it as a simplification of the court-laden bitterness of today’s divorce culture.
My first thought was that the guy deserves a couple of stars for innovative thinking and his willingness to legislate himself out of a job. But then I thought that he’s probably as sick of doing divorces as every other attorney I ever met. Setting up wed leases for his clients (His suggestions would require quite a bit of personalized legal tailoring for each couple.) would probably end up being, if not as lucrative as a high-dollar divorce, still a good living for an attorney, and without the need to Xanax.
So, I guess he’s not being entirely selfless.
However, he has put his finger on the truth of what is happening in our society.
We’ve trashed marriage to the point that it no longer means much of anything. Gay marriage is the end of marriage as a legitimate institution. Now the flood gates on redefining marriage are open and you can bet that a lot of garbage is going to trot through them. Of course, none of this would have happened if heterosexuals hadn’t trashed their marriages (and their kids, homes and finances along with their marriages) for so many years.
Christians who want to follow Jesus instead of the world are going to have to make a decision about their marriages. Are they entering into Holy Matrimony, which is a life-long union on which God rains down sacramental graces? Or, are they entering into an elastic “so long as we both dig it” legal contract endowed by the state with nothing much but a lot of misery and legal gas?
The truth is, marriage, as it is practiced today has nothing — and I mean nothing — to do with the sacrament of Holy Matrimony as Jesus created it and as the Church has provided it for 2,000 years.
Which is it Christians?
Have you and your spouse entered into a Covenant before God Almighty that bonds you together in sickness and health, for richer and poorer until death does you part? Or are you just play-acting with some legally created contract that you can breach or nullify anytime there is sickness or poverty or you just don’t feel like it today?
For centuries, the legal definition of marriage corresponded closely enough to the Christian understanding of Holy Matrimony that the two could function almost as the same thing.
In today’s brave new world, “marriage” is a legal construct. At best, it is a contract. At worst, it is a sham. Many times it is both — a sham contract.
Holy Matrimony, at least as the Catholic Church and some other denominations do it, remains unchanged. Outside of those churches that still treat marriage as the life-long Covenantal relationship between a man and a woman that God intended, there is no Holy Matrimony in our society today.
Christians who want to follow Jesus are going to have to learn to make this distinction, first in their own lives, and second as they regard the “marriages” in the wider world. There are things that redefining the law cannot change, and this is one of them.
True marriage, which, to distinguish it from the legal contracts of the wider society, I have decided to call Holy Matrimony, is a sacrament instituted by Our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is up to you, my Christian brothers and sisters, if you want to be married in the eyes of God in Holy Matrimony, or you want a legal contract for sex and shared finances. If you want Holy Matrimony, then you must begin with the Church as the cornerstone of your marriage. By that I mean you must be married in the Church and you must make Christ the head of your home.
I do not think it will be possible for Christians to be the light the world so badly needs if we continue down this path of half Christian/half worldly.
More and more the world itself is demanding that we, as Joshua demanded thousands of years ago, choose this day whom we will serve.
Choosing to follow Christ begins in the individual heart, and it is first acted out in the home. The creator of home is Holy Matrimony.
Everything else is dead legalism.
From the Washington Post:
We all know that far too many marriages end in divorce, yet this institution does not adapt. Indeed, most Americans today want to expand conventional marriage to include same-sex couples.
So why is there no effort to improve the legal structure of marriage, when it shows itself to be deficient?
Marriage is a legal partnership that lasts a lifetime — one lifetime to be exact, that of the first of the spouses to die. Generally speaking, that is a long time for any partnership. People, circumstances and all sorts of other things change. The compatibility of any two people over decades may decline with these changes to the point of extinction.
In real estate, one may own a life estate in a piece of property. This is comparable to the term of a marriage — a lifetime. And in real estate, one may hold possession of property for shorter terms through a lease.
Why don’t we borrow from real estate and create a marital lease? Instead of wedlock, a “wedlease.”
Here’s how a marital lease could work: Two people commit themselves to marriage for a period of years — one year, five years, 10 years, whatever term suits them. The marital lease could be renewed at the end of the term however many times a couple likes. It could end up lasting a lifetime if the relationship is good and worth continuing. But if the relationship is bad, the couple could go their separate ways at the end of the term. The messiness of divorce is avoided and the end can be as simple as vacating a rental unit.
“The persecution of Christians is not a human tragedy. It is a spiritual reality facing the body of Christ.”
If these people refuse to deny Christ in the face of such suffering, how can we allow ourselves to deny Him in order to keep a job, or to avoid harrassment from aggressive unbelievers?
Pray for them and take every opportunity to stand up for Jesus here.
By far the largest category is the Dawkins without attribution crowd. These people repeat arguments Dr Richard Dawkins has made in his popular books, usually without adding a single thought of their own. But they don’t attribute them to Dr Dawkins. There are so many of these it would be worthless to try to list them. Here is one recent example.
A reader made the statement (I’m paraphrasing) that the reason we live in a universe that appears to be tuned for life, at least life here on Earth, is that, well, however improbable, that’s the universe we live in. This is from Dr Dawkins’ runaway best seller The God Delusion.
Obviously, this doesn’t answer anything. It simply sidesteps it. Also obviously, it wasn’t the reader’s own thought.
There are a large number of pretend Dawkins commenters on this blog. Except for one time, I’ve let every single one of them pass through without calling them on their failure to say that they are quoting someone else.
What is interesting is that they don’t seem to be able to think past quoting Dawkins without attribution. I don’t remember one of these people adding anything to Dr Dawkins’ thinking when they slap these things down in the combox.
I don’t know for sure of course, but I’m guessing most of them haven’t thought all that deeply about what they’re quoting. If they had, they would probably have decided it isn’t worth repeating, as it doesn’t hold water.
God-is-evil commenters are another large group. They have picked up out-of-context Bible verses and stories, sometimes from Dawkins, but I think mostly from Christian-bashing blogs. They come swooping in here with their Bible verse or story and throw it down with an almost audible There! Take that!
I’ve noticed that Public Catholic readers aren’t so good at answering this tripe. Our religious education has not taught us to look at the Bible from a viewpoint of defending God Himself in disputation.
Protestants are good at seeing specific verses because that is the way they have been taught. They are much more adept than Catholics at picking out a verse anywhere. I know Protestants who can recite whole chapters of the Bible. I can give them a word or two of a verse and they will tell me immediately where it is in the Bible by Chapter and verse.
Catholics are good at seeing the overarching story of the Scriptures, because that is the way they have been taught. Every Sunday we hear an Old Testament reading, a Psalm, a reading from an Epistle and a reading from the Gospels. Catholics who go to daily mass will hear almost the whole Bible read to them this way in a three year cycle. These readings are chosen so that New Testament fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy or foreshadowing is placed side by side, along with an Apostolic interpretation of these same things from one of the Epistles.
Catholics come away from this with a good understanding of how the Bible fits together to tell one, single story of our salvation.
However, neither Protestants nor Catholics have been trained to deal with the dubious “scholarship” of highly aggressive Christian bashers. These people are cult-like followers of leaders who earn their living by attacking Christ, Christianity, the Church and God. Many of the Christian-bashing blogs are over the top with followers. Hate expressed in anti-intellectual shibboleths is popular with certain types of people. It always has been.
These leaders comb the Scriptures looking for stories or single verses that they can manipulate to support their contentions. They studiously overlook the vast bulk of Scripture that abrogates their prejudices so clearly that even they cannot twist it into meaning something else. They then reinterpret their gleanings according to their own malice in order to judge both God and Christians by the obnoxious standards of 21st century self-righteous nihilism.
This whole practice of pulling things out of context and ignoring all scholarship to reframe them according to your propaganda is intellectually bogus. It is not a sign of intelligence, especially since the people who come on this blog to throw these things down are just parroting what someone else has said or written without any real understanding.
I haven’t been trained in dealing with this. So far as I know, nobody has. After all, those of us who follow Christ are more intent on learning what the Bible actually teaches than mining it for gotcha verses and stories to use against God.
However, a lot of dumb clucks are buying it as if it meant something. I don’t mean Public Catholic readers. I mean your friends and mine. I mean our kids and the family we see once a year at Thanksgiving. People who have not studied the Bible in an intelligent and informed way are sitting ducks for this sort of anti-intellectual approach to Scripture.
From what little I have read and seen in this area, every single one of these accusations is answered by simply learning why and what the Scriptures are actually saying. I haven’t read one attack on the faith from Scripture that didn’t fall down dead by simply knowing what the Scriptures actually mean.
The problem is that these understandings don’t fit in a combox. In fact, they would only fit in a full post if you take them one at a time, and that would be an entire blog of its own. They require what these anti-intellectual propagandists claim for themselves but don’t demonstrate: A certain amount of intellectual gravitas.
In this post Christian world, we’re all going to have to become apologists, each in our own little world. The time when we could devote our studies to personal piety has ended. We are in a battle and we must, as St Paul said, “take on the whole armor of faith.” That includes an understanding of how and why these attacks on Christians and on God Himself through Scripture are both anti-intellectual in their methodology and untrue in their facts.
The result for us as individuals will be a greatly strengthened faith that “needs not be ashamed.”
Faith grows when you step out on it, and that’s a fact.
This well-produced video gives a funny twist to some serious problems.
I think my favorite is Vice President Biden.
Which one do you like best?
To join the discussion about Free, or to order a copy, go here.
Free, by Mark and Lisa Scandrette, is a self-improvement book for Christians who’ve lost sight of the main thing in their lives.
Americans are distracted and over-stimulated. We’re all hoarders of one sort or another, whether it’s experiences or cash. It seems that whatever we do, we take it past our benefit to our harm.
Free is designed to lead its readers into a structured self-analysis which, hopefully, will show them ways to let go of the things that they are holding onto so tightly. It tries to encourage readers to back away from the greed for experience, money, stuff that is frazzling and entrapping them.
I suppose whether or not this works depends mostly on the person who is reading the book. If you’re the sort of person who takes tests in magazines and on internet web sites to determine what kind of lover you are or how long you may live, then Free is your kind of book.
The first chapter of Free asks you to stop for a moment and consider one thing: What matters most to you.
Of course, the long answer to that can and does change as people travel through life. Passing your driver’s license test may rank pretty high on your list when you’re 16, while having enough money to send your kids to college might be more important in your 40s or 50s. Keeping your health becomes a major goal as you age, and my 88 year old mother can tell you that just hanging on to your memory is a big goal later on.
These transitory goals and concerns are not unimportant because they are transitory. They matter. The reason they matter is that they are the stuff of life. We don’t live our lives in mountaintop experiences where the only reality is some transcendent notion of eternal good. We live our lives down here in the daily pits where getting a driver’s license or sending your kids to school make a difference in the quality and scope of the time we have.
The trick is how to separate the flotsam from the things that make a difference. Watching tv 24/7 is a waste of life. Oddly enough, so is spending you precious time as a career-obsessed money slave chasing after gold for its own sake. Everybody has to make a living, but making money is only useful to us when it supplies the goods that make life livable. When chasing after a buck becomes the purpose of life, then that endless chase after the carrot that’s always a bit too far ahead becomes just as much a waste of life as vegging on the sofa watching tv.
The truth is, life itself, by itself, never has meaning that can transcend the dailiness of what it is. Getting and spending are empty. Even living and loving has an emptiness at its core.
This is because we are hybrid creatures. We are bound by our physical selves to a physical existence ruled by the temporal realities of time and inevitable death. Seen this way, everything we do is, as Solomon put it, “vanity.”
Only God can give meaning to our lives because only God transcends our living,. As I said, we are hybrid creatures. While we live out our days in this life within the limitations of our physical existence, there is in each of us a longing for transcendence. We ache for the immortality we cannot see but know is there. Meaning in this life is found in the reality of the transcendence of God.
When we look at our span of years and the things we do with them in the light of that transcendence and our unrealized part in it, then even the most daily of endeavors takes on dimensions of meaning that give them deep dignity. There is satisfaction is living life within the scope of a transcendent God. What we do matters. Everything we do matters. And we matter, too.
The trick is keeping the main thing the main thing. Even while we are caught up in the dailiness of our lives, we can know and understand that we are also part of the great web of eternity, that our smallest actions are writ large in the overall scheme of things in ways that we cannot know now.
We are children of the living God.
And that is the main thing.
You can not control what other people do. That includes your adult children.
However, if you are lucky, and you’ve done a good enough job raising them, chances are that the things your adult children end up doing will be consistent, at least in an overall fashion, with the values you hold yourself. That does not mean that your adult children will always make the choices that you would make in the same situation. It also does not mean that they are going avoid all the mistakes you wish you’d never made.
One of the hardest lessons any parent has to learn is that you can’t always save your kids from the hard knocks you gave yourself when you were their age. You can’t — and this is hard to accept — impart the wisdom you gained from getting your nose bloodied to keep them from getting their noses bloodied.
Sometimes all you can do is sit back and watch and be there later with a cold wash cloth and an abundance of love. A lot of times what you will see when you do this is that your children are more like you than you would wish.
The best you can do as a parent is to give your children the tools to manage their own lives productively when they grow up and love them passionately, no matter what, after they do grow up.
My husband and I decided when I was pregnant with our first baby that the tools we could give that mattered the most were, (1) a stable and solid marriage between their mom and dad, (2) a strong grounding in faith in Jesus Christ, (3) a good education, (3) the security of knowing that we would always love them, no matter what mistakes they made in life.
My greatest fear as a parent was that I would lose one of these precious little ones that God gave me to the larger culture. I can’t imagine how anything else in life could matter if you mess up your own kids, and for me, messing them up would mean that they lose their immortal souls.
The trick to child rearing is to do such a good job giving them the right tools that they can manage their own lives and make the right decisions for themselves. This should begin long before they fly the nest. In terms of my Christian faith, that means I wanted to teach them to love Jesus and to give them some basic tools for discernment in matters of faith. The rest, I knew, was between them and the Holy Spirit.
I think it’s important for parents to raise their children. I don’t mean that it’s important for parents to send their kids off to daycare or school and let the people there raise their children. I think parents should do it.
That means a lot more than being your kids best chauffeur and activities manager. When my kids were growing up, they each had one organized activity. At some times, it was chess club. At others, it was swim team or Boy Scouts or Little League. They picked and my husband and I came up with the scratch for the uniforms, lessons or whatever. We also went to tournaments and swim meets and games, etc.
But that was it. I did not want to spend all my precious years with my kids driving them from one activity to another. I saw parents who did this and in my opinion, they weren’t raising their kids. They were scheduling and chauffeuring them.
Kids need time with you. They need time in their own homes where it is safe and they can just play. They need unscheduled down time in which you are just with them and they are free to be.
Families need this, too.
So, the first thing I would advise is don’t-overschedule your kids. Let them be kids. And be there with them.
This business of being there with them leads to the single best way that I know of to raise your children in your faith. Do it as a natural part of interacting with them on a daily basis.
Read Bible stories to them, say prayers with them, take them to church. But don’t think that those are the ways you teach them the faith. Those things model faith in action, but teaching faith is something else.
You teach them the faith by being there when they have questions and giving them faith-filled answers. For instance, I have never been troubled by questions of evolution vs the Bible. I know people who have actually lost their faith in God over this quibbling nonsense.
The reason it never troubled me was that when I first had a question about it when I was little, I asked my mother. She explained to me that God’s days were not simple 24-hour solar days. God’s days were infinite. Later on, I realized that if God created time, that meant that God was outside of time. It all just fell into place from there. The result: No religious crisis over evolution.
The same thing happened with the story of Abraham being called to sacrifice Isaac. My mother told me that God asked Abraham to do this to make it absolutely clear to him and his descendants that God did not want human sacrifice. I learned later that there were other meanings to this story, but I’ve always thought my mother was basically right about this.
The point here isn’t that my mother is a great theologian. The point is that she was there to answer my questions and she did answer them in simple ways that insulated me for life from a certain set of attacks against the faith. All this took place as part of the casual give and take of daily life and living. It was not scheduled.
That’s the way it is with kids. The best and most important moments; the ones that determine who they are going to be, are not scheduled. They just happen, and when they happen, mom or dad need to be there. If you don’t want the larger culture or the mixed up kid from down the block raising your kids, then you’re going to have to step in and be there so you can do it yourself.
I made the decision to homeschool my kids. I think that was one of the best things I ever did for them. All the things people claim will happen to homeschooled kids — bad education, unable to associate with others, etc — did not happen to my kids. You have to work at it a bit, but the payback for protecting your children from the evil that’s out there until they are old enough and their personalities are formed well enough for them to handle it themselves are on-going and enormous.
My husband and I have somehow managed to raise a couple of fine young men who are good people and who have never caused problems for us or for themselves with their behavior or attitude, not even during the dreaded teen years.
How do you pass on your faith in Christ to your children? As nearly as I can tell, you do it by being there in their lives to answer the questions they have when they ask them. You do it by protecting them from being drafted into the sicko values of our larger culture when they are too young to fight back on their own. You do it by reading the Scriptures aloud with them, beginning with Bible story picture books when they are little and working up to the real thing when they are a few years older. You do this with a readiness to put down the book and chat about what it means at any time.
Pray for your children. If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself praying for them and for wisdom to be their mom or dad in the way that God wants you to be their mom or dad several times a day. Pray with your children. Take them to church. Protect them from the world. Put them in places where they will have the opportunity to make friends with kids from families with values similar to yours.
Most importantly, enjoy them. Have fun with them. And love them with all your heart.
Then trust God with the rest. After all, they are His children, too.
To join the discussion about Finding God in the Bible, or to order a copy, go here.
I gave this review a title that more or less describes what I see as the function of the book, Finding God in the Bible, by Darren Wilson.
Mr Wilson has an interesting story of his own. He was, by his own description, a ho-hum Christian, doing an ez-pz light-weight Christian walk through life when God butted in and called him to go make movies.
He doesn’t go into detail (which I would love to read, btw) about this call, but it sounds as if God did one is his, “stand over there” deals with no explanation and expected Darren Wilson to step out in faith and do as he was told. God has never hit me with something like “go make movies” with vague directions to head off to foreign lands with a camera and see what happened. But I’ve definitely gotten more than one of those “stand over there” type instructions.
I don’t know about Mr Wilson, but I felt like an idiot the first time I did it. I mean, the version of “stand over there” I got made absolutely no sense. In fact, it placed me where I didn’t particularly want to be and where I was also (to my understanding) wasting my time. It felt at the time as if God was putting me on the bench to sit out the game. Then, out of nowhere, He pitched me the metaphorical ball, which I could never have caught if I hadn’t been standing “over there” as He’d told me.
It is true that faith grows with these experiences. It never gets easy, but you do learn that God has a plan and you can at least trust that He knows what He’s doing, even if you don’t. I am confident that there are times when God tells us to do things and we do not see the reason until we get to heaven.
Mr Wilson covers a bit of this in his book when he talks about Abraham. God told Abraham to get up, take his wife and leave a nice cushy life in the most forward-looking metropolis of his time and head out into the wilderness. This was the ultimate “stand over there.” Years later, God promised Abraham a lot of things about the great nation of people who would come from him, but Abraham never saw any of this come to pass in his lifetime. He died in that wilderness and was laid to rest in the cave near Mamre with nothing but his trust in God that all these promises would be realized in time.
The Bible says that despite the fact that he would never see them in this life, Abraham believed God when God promised him these things and God reckoned that to him as righteousness.
So maybe following a “stand over there” command gives each of us a small bit of righteousness. It would be nice to think so.
Darren Wilson did what Abraham did and what so many people do not do. He got up and headed out the door and did this utterly impractical thing that God had asked him to do. The interesting thing is that every time you do that, God counters with a bigger request the next time. Before you know it, you’re living your life built around Him.
That’s the lesson of Abraham and Darren Wilson.
It’s a lesson that reverberates throughout the interpretive re-telling of Bible stories that this book contains. One after the other, God interrupts the lives of people in the Scriptures with requests that they do what they’re really rather not do. And one after the other, they do it. Some of them do it gracelessly and after a good bit of whining and argument, but in the final analysis, they almost all follow through.
The one big exception in the stories Mr Wilson chose for this book is King Saul. Saul’s failed reign finds its failure precisely in his lack of faith. Saul didn’t wait on the Lord. Unfortunately for us type triple As, waiting on the Lord is as much a lesson of faith as doing for the Lord.
God always seems to make you wait. And then when you’ve decided nothing’s going to happen, here comes that metaphorical ball that He’s tossed you. At that moment, you understand a bit of what you were standing around waiting for in the first place.
Waiting is a lesson in faith. Just like “stand over there” is. Sadly for him, Saul failed this test.
I didn’t agree with every single nuance of every single interpretation of scripture that Darren Wilson wrote in this book. But there’s no reason why my understanding is any better than his. The point for me is the fact that he engaged me to the point that I wanted to sit down and talk to him about it.
I liked this book, and I also found myself liking its author. I plan to look up the movies he’s made and watch them.
I think, after reading Finding God in the Bible that I can see why God gave that particular assignment to this particular man in the first place.
Now there’s a nice phrase.
Another phrase that’s almost synonymous with prosecutorial discretion is selective prosecution. One is considered a sometimes valid, if often abused, tool in the prosecutorial toolbox. The other heads off into the dark hinterlands of overt discrimination and flat-out corruption.
From what I’ve seen, selective prosecution is closely aligned with those other destructors of justice: subornation of perjury and tampering with the evidence.
Taken together, these little prosecutorial peccadilloes have the ability to overturn our justice system and make it into a tyranny.
Prosecutorial discretion, when mis-used for political demagoguery, can easily become a means of blocking the system and turning the whole legislative/judicial process into a sham. Prosecutorial discretion aligned with political demagoguery is so close to selective prosecution that it’s difficult to differentiate between them.
My colleague, Leah Libresco, chimed in on the question of prosecutorial discretion yesterday with a fine post on the behavior of two elected officials. These two people are at the opposite ends of the ideological spectrum on what they are demagoguing about, but their misbehavior is based on an identical misapprehension of the powers of their office.
One is Kathleen Kane, the Attorney General of the State of Pennsylvania. Attorney General Kane announced a few weeks ago that she would not do the job the voters of the state of Pennsylvania elected her to do. She would not defend the state’s law defining marriage in court. Why? Because she doesn’t agree with the law. She seems to think that the law is immoral.
Her announcement was greeted by cheers from gay rights activists and uncomprehending silence from most of the citizens she betrayed. Attorneys General have gone about the business of doing their jobs for so long that most people just take it for granted that they will do them. In fact, a lot of people don’t really understand that when an attorney general flat-out refuses to do their job in this way, it is, and should be, an impeachable offense in most localities.
The other is a sheriff in Baton Rouge Louisiana who has been arresting homosexuals for violation of what sounds like the state’s anti-sodomy law. The Supreme Court overturned this law in 2003. I would guess that the sheriff didn’t agree with this decision. He may very well mirror Attorney General Kane by thinking that the decision is immoral.
This debate about where personal morality ends and the responsibilities of office begin is not nebulous. It also does not apply to employment situations such as whether or not a pharmacist is required to fill prescriptions for RU486, a nurse should be required to assist in an elective abortion or a florist must sell flowers for a gay wedding. But it applies absolutely to elected officials.
The difference — and it is an enormous difference — is between ordinary employment and elected office. An elected official who refuses to fulfill the requirements of their job or who deliberately oversteps the limits of their powers, is violating a public trust. They are violating the Constitutional privilege to hold office and execute the powers of the people in the name of the people.
Public office is not mere employment. It is the indispensable ingredient of the smooth functioning of a just and stable government. As such, it is incumbent on every and all elected officials to do their jobs to the best of their abilities and not the abuse the powers of their office.
I react to both the situations described above, not, as Leah did, as a philosopher, but as an elected official who has been charged with fulfilling the duties of office for 18 years. I understand several key things that proponents of these two elected officials’ actions won’t accept.
First, law enforcement, from top to bottom, is not law making. Law enforcement enforces laws. It does not write them. If Attorney General Kane wanted to work to overturn Pennsylvania’s marriage law, there were many options open to her, including running for election to a law-making position. Since she is an attorney, she might also have considered not running for office at all and filing cases against the law, maybe doing it pro bono.
An Attorney General is not supposed to even take positions on the laws which they are sworn to defend and uphold. By that I mean that she should not be out making stump speeches against such laws — or for them, for that matter. Her job, and I keep saying this, but nobody seems to hear me, her job is to uphold and defend the laws of the State of Pennsylvania.
This is especially grave since, like all elected officials, she is the only person in her jurisdiction (in this case, the entire state of Pennsylvania) who holds the power of her office. If she refuses to do her job, the job can not be done by anyone else.
This is equally true of the sheriff in Baton Rouge. As an elected official, he is the only sheriff in that jurisdiction. No one else can do his job. Also, he is not a law maker or a law interpreter. He is a law enforcer. The decisions about what laws he should enforce are made by Congress, the legislature and the courts.
Elected office is a privilege, not a sentence to be served. If any elected official finds that they cannot in good conscience perform the duties of their office, they have the free right to resign at any time.
Leah Libresco used a quote from a play and movie about my patron saint, St Thomas More, in her analysis. Thomas More was the Chancellor of England. Despite the enormity of this position, he resigned when his conscience would no longer allow him to discharge his duties as the King demanded. This is a good example for all of us who hold office.
If Attorney General Kane can not in good conscience do the job that her office requires of her, she has the clear option of resigning. What she does not have is the option of refusing to do her job and thereby depriving the people of Pennsylvania of the legal representation they are Constitutionally entitled to.
I am glad that Leah found this example giving the other side of this argument. Maybe it will help clarify what is at stake for those people who are so enthralled with their particular advocacy that they are willing to support overturning the very structure of government that gave them the right to advocate in the first place.
From Unequally Yoked:
I’m a little troubled by the way same-sex marriage is becoming de facto legal in Pennsylvania. When I was having SCOTUSblog parties back in June, I found the reasoning based on standing kinda messy. If a law is challenged, it seems like the appropriate state officials should be obligated to defend it. Ducking it seems like a odd kind of de facto veto. And not a proper civil disobedience-y one, a la Mayor Jason West of New Paltz, who conducted then-illegal marriages and was charged for it.
And now this is playing out in Pennsylvania. The PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane declined to defend her state’s ban on same-sex marriage, and it’s unclear who will pick up the baton, or if anyone will be left with standing to do so. The proper way to overturn laws is repeal or, if they’re actually unconstitutional, letting them have their day in court. Not short-circuiting the system over a conscience objection.
I want to congratulate Deacon Greg Kandra.
He has managed to make the devil mad at him.
How do I know this?
Some of the devil’s hate mail to the Deacon has been landing in my box here on Public Catholic. Not much, mind you, but it is mindlessly nasty stuff.
How did a kind and intelligent man like Deacon Greg Kandra inflame the devil so much?
He stood in front of a camera and said that the Catholic Church loves gay people, but that sex belongs in Holy Matrimony, between a man and a woman. He included both gay and straight people in this injunction concerning sex outside of marriage.
The reason for the hate mail is that, by stating this 2,000-year-old consistent teaching of the Church, and indeed, up until the last few years, all Christian churches, he crossed swords with one of the false gods of this world.
For many people and indeed a growing number of churches, god the (little g) god, resides halfway between their waist and their knees. His worship is random sex, his vestments are contraceptives and his sacraments are azt, penicillin, abortion, et al.
Sadly, many of the “Christian” churches are in the process of walking away from the real God to follow after this little g god of our age. They’re drop-kicking the commandments off the front steps of their churches and replacing them with “statements” they write themselves full of meaningless gibberish about “inclusiveness and tolerance,” which basically mean that their little g god follows the world in pelvic region worship and eschews the Christ of the Cross.
Down the road we have other churches which give a lot of lip service to the commandments involving the pelvic regions of the human body, but twist the Scriptures in much the same way their heretical brethren do on other matters. Their little g god is the almighty $ sign.
I’ll talk more about that later. The point for now is simply that little g gods are being worshipped in lieu of the real God in many of our churches.
Whatever your sin, you can go find a little g god worshipping church to tell you that (a) it’s not a sin, and (b) the people who claim it’s a sin are in fact sinning when they say it.
However, that’s not enough. The devil who is the real little g god behind all these false idols, is a ravening hunger that craves annihilation. He can not rest so long as there is one matchstick of light and truth out there, anywhere. He doesn’t attack the little g worshipping churches. It doesn’t matter to him if he’s snared them with their lust for sex or their lust for money. Their light is cold and dead and they are his.
What he attacks — and as the world grows darker, his attacks become more focused — is any beam of the light of the real God, anywhere.
I don’t think it’s an accident that the Church which is under the most aggressive attacks today is the Catholic Church. The devil appears to hate the Catholic Church above all others. Why should this be so?
After all, the Church is full to the top with sinners. We’ve got all-too-human priests trying to shepherd a laity that aborts, divorces, lies, steals and watches porn. All of humanity is represented somewhere in the Catholic Church, including every single human sin.
So, why would a Church like that make the devil mad?
Because, this Church, for all its failings, does not put a little g god on its altars. Its sacraments are conduits of grace and the real presence of the living Christ. This Church will not tell people that their sins are ok. It does not comfort them and sustain them and support them in their sinfulness as it leads them down the wide path to their own eternal damnation. This Church, for all its many faults, is not in league with the devil.
Unlike the rapidly multiplying fallen churches out there, the Catholic Church does not encourage people to sin. It tells them their sins can be forgiven, but they must repent of those sins from the heart and try to change their ways. The Catholic Church doesn’t teach sin, it forgives sin.
And for that, it is hated. For that, it is attacked. For simply saying that the Church is following Christ with its teachings, even little people like me can get smacked with a few brickbats.
Sometimes, I get the by-blows of attacks that are really aimed at someone I admire. In this case, that someone is Deacon Kandra who had the honesty to tell people that the Church loves them and stands ready to support them in their life in Christ, no matter their sexual orientation, but that their sins are, in fact, sins, which need the forgiveness of God.
These poor, sad souls who come swooping in over the internet to drop their load of anger need prayer. They are lost and their fallen churches with their little g gods are even more lost. I am talking about pastors, and even whole denominations who claim to be shepherds of souls, but who deliberately lie to people about the state of their souls in order to be popular in the here and now.
This is sad beyond sad.
We need to do two things.
We need to examine our own hearts and cast out everything that comes between us and Christ. We need to pray for forgiveness and the grace to follow Him faithfully through the minefield of this world.
Then, we need to pray for our fallen brothers and sister who are being misled by little g god worshipping pastors and churches. We also need to pray for these churches and pastors. They are in grave peril.
We need to do this because rewriting a church’s mission statement doesn’t change anything but the church’s mission statement. The reality of sin and death, salvation through the cross and eternal hell still exist. Coming onto this blog or staging demonstrations that involve yelling and insulting and throwing tantrums to demand that God change the way things are doesn’t accomplish anything, either.
These things may feel like they are accomplishing something. They can bully other people. Enough of this kind of thing can get laws changed. It can even push whole denominations into denying themselves and re-writing who they are. But no amount of wind-milling temper tantrums can change the ultimate order of things.
God is God and we are not.
Little g gods are just reflections of our worst, most venal selves in action. Following them leads us wandering in circles in the wilderness of life.
However, we don’t have to be lost. If fact, we are only lost if we chose to be. There is an easy-to-follow, readily-accessible, true compass that will lead you home. That true compass is the 2,000 year old consistent teachings of the Catholic Church.
Lila Rose, founder and president of Live Action, has made a real difference in the pro life movement. Her undercover videos have given those who are willing to look a glimpse of what lies behind the promotion at Planned Parenthood.
This video tells a bit about Lila herself.
These are a few more videos from this joyous week of grace.
Watch them and remember: We are called to abundant life.
Pope Francis in Action
Stations of the Cross at World Youth Day
Pope Francis Visits Recovering Addicts
Cardinal Dolan Talks about World Youth Day
After seeing the video “Passion of the Copts” all I could think was Lord have mercy. This hauntingly beautiful rendition of the Kyrie Eleison and the equally beautiful Gospodi Pomiluj below it are for them and for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ everywhere.
Kyrie Eleison – Zurgo – Navratil Andrea
The Washington Post seems to love the guy.
He is, after all, a “Christian” after their own heart.
Rev Gary Hall, the new Dean of Washington National Cathedral believes that teaching people to wait for marriage to have sex is “unrealistic.” He isn’t too keen on the idea of life-long commitment or fidelity in marriage, either. But he’s in the bag for gay marriage and has personally assured Dr Richard Dawkins that he also “doesn’t believe in the God” that Dr Dawkins doesn’t believe in.
That sounds like a real dome scratcher, since Dr Dawkins has made it abundantly clear that he doesn’t believe in any kind of deity. However it all comes into focus when the top priest at the cathedral that is often called our nation’s “spiritual home” announces that he’s a “nontheistic Christian.”
Aside from the fact that this sounds like he just announced he’s the drug dealer for Narcotics Anonymous, this preposterous statement does fit in the drawer alongside Dean Hall’s other commentary.
No wonder the Washington Post oozes all over him in this article. He’s the kind of religious leader they hanker after: A “priest” who gets his beliefs from reading polls just like everybody else does in Washington.
Dean Hall should fit right in on the beltway. His morals can “evolve” there along with everyone else’s.
A “nontheistic Christian?”
Puh – leeeez.
From the Washington Post:
Life experiences informed Hall’s unconventional views on marriage. (His parents were married seven times between them.) “We have this cartoon in America where you grow up, get married and stay the same person,” he says. “For the church to say, ‘No sex before marriage,’ is not realistic,” he argues.
… Under Hall’s leadership, the cathedral announced it will start performing same-sex marriages.
… He tells of sitting next to the renowned atheist Richard Dawkins at a dinner and discussing God. Hall told Dawkins, “I don’t believe in the God you don’t believe in either.”
“…I don’t want to be loosey-goosey about it,” he says, “but I describe myself as a non-theistic Christian.”
Deacon Greg Kandra had the story of churches that were vandalized in Brooklyn this week. The police have already arrested a suspect and charged him with a hate crime.
That is exactly the right charge. The increasingly widespread vandalizing of churches is indeed a hate crime. Where is this rise of hatred directed at people of faith in general and Christians in particular coming from?
I believe it is inspired by the virulent anti-Christian ethos in our halls of higher education, the mass media, and at least two social movements.
Christian-bashing hate blogs lead easily-led not-so-brights into hatred, support of discriminatory practices against Christians and verbal hazing of Christians. This kind of we-are-special and the people-we’ve-picked-out-to-hate-are-less-than-human incitement has historically been able to create fanatic followings of mental and moral midgets who will do anything to anyone to prove their “specialness.”
Cheap demagoguery is not new and it is certainly not a sign of intellectual prowess. Falling for it and following it is actually a sign of emotional immaturity and the inability to think for oneself. If ever anyone was being brain-washed today it is the millions of people who have fallen into the Dawkins pit of “mock them; ridicule them; in public; with contempt.” Following this kind of leader does not prove you are intellectually superior. It proves that you are morally and developmentally challenged.
Vandalizing churches is just the next, highly-predictable step in the march toward violent persecution. For people in this country to dismiss these things because it’s not so bad here as it is in Kano Nigeria, is a little like someone looking at a pot of water sitting on the stove with steam rising off the water and saying, “It’s not boiling,” as if that means it isn’t on its way to a boil.
The social movements that have taken on a cloak of animosity toward Christians are the gay rights movement and the abortion rights movement. Their behavior seems to be basically a reaction to that simple fact that Christian teaching is that homosexual sexual activity is disordered sexuality and that abortion is the killing of a human being.
These people — who are closely allied with one another politically — appear to be angry because the Church will not redefine its teachings to tell them that their sins are not sinful. In the beginning they expressed this as anger because Christian people exercised their free right as American citizens to lobby for laws against abortion and in favor of traditional marriage. This has since morphed into demands that the law force Christians to participate in abortions and same-sex marriages against their will or face loss of their livelihoods and businesses.
As such, these social movements have begun waging war on the freedom of conscience of those who disagree with them.
This has become so heated and crazy that both the gay rights movement and the abortion movement have increasingly aligned themselves with the christian-bashing-hazing-insulting-sickos of extreme secularism. This despite the fact that both their movements are based on common claims to human rights that arise directly from the Christian teaching that every human being is made in the image and likeness of God.
They might do well to consider the history of extreme secularism and atheism when it is ascendant. Atheist/secularist movements have historically aligned themselves with ideas such as readily available abortion and the rights of groups that feel marginalized. However, when they take power, oppression of homosexuals and state control of human reproduction always seems to follow.
The result of these various forces in action has been a steady march from verbal attacks and verbal hazing toward legal discrimination and now an uptick in vandalizing churches. Most of these instances of vandalism appear to be just that: Vandalism.
One interesting thing is that almost all of them are being covered by local and community press. The larger press is ignoring them, primarily, I would guess, because taken individually, they seem to be isolated incidents of vandalism. It’s the sheer number and consistency of them, combined with the social/political/educational hazing of Christians, that makes them significant.
I don’t think these vandals are organized. However they so often replicate one another that they are appear to be coming from a central set of ideologies and attitudes. If you wonder what that is, just watch the subtle but ubiquitous jibes at faith on almost every television channel, sit in on a lecture or two at your local university, or visit some of the hate blogs and witness their steady, bam-bam-bam drumbeat of Christian-bashing and hatred.
I did a simple Google search this morning on vandalized churches. This is a completely unscientific list of news stories about churches that have been vandalized this summer. The common things the vandals write on the church walls, statues, etc, are Nazi insignia and comments about religious “brainwashing.”
Washington National Cathedral
On July 29, a vandal splattered the organ of historic Bethlehem Chapel and the gilded, hand-carved altarpiece in Children’s Chapel with bright green paint. Damage is currently estimated at $15,000.
NEW YORK (WABC) – Police arrested a man in connection with the vandalism to a number of houses of worship in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn Tuesday morning.
55-year-old Chris Papadimitropoulos is charged with six counts of criminal mischief as a hate crime, 12 counts of criminal mischief and 12 counts of making graffiti.
“Brainwashed” was stenciled onto statues, doors and stairs and other church property at St. Dorothy’s Church, St. Thomas of Villanova and Wilmington Congregational Church.
Union County SC
Union County, SC -
Union County Sheriff David Taylor says the Buffalo United Methodist Church at 108 Hill Street in Buffalo was vandalized.
Taylor says German swastikas, graffiti and satanic symbols were spray-painted throughout the church.
Bibles inside the church were also ripped apart.
CHARLESTON, South Carolina (Reuters) - A South Carolina man said he was “mad at God” when he took out his frustration on 17 churches in dozens of acts of vandalism over the past five years, according to a local newspaper.
Lincoln Township, PA
LINCOLN TOWNSHIP — The pristine face of a 19th Century church was scarred by a vandal Saturday.
An original stained glass window at Christ Casebeer Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lincoln Township was broken with a large rock. The church was built in 1845, according to Rev. Dennis Doebler.
Lee County, FL
The search is over for three men responsible for breaking into St. Raphael’s Church. Lee County deputies detained and charged three juvenile men early this morning.
Deputies responded to St. Raphael’s Church on Lee Boulevard May 25th after it was broken into and restroom walls and doors were vandalized.
“I can’t of course repeat some of the things that were written on the wall; but they were needless to say obscene,” said Father Dennis Cooney, of St. Raphael’s. “It was something that was done out of pure viciousness.”
A donated Cadillac in the parking lot was also spray painted.
St Paul, MN
According to a police report, someone tipped over a concrete statue of Saint Juan Diego at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 401 Concord St., breaking off its head. The damage occurred sometime between 6 p.m. Monday and 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, according to police. The statue is valued at $1,000.
Police are also investigating the theft of copper gutters valued at $1,000 from the First Church of Christ Scientist at 2315 Highland Pkwy. The theft is believed to have happened sometime between July 25 and Thursday.
AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Investigators searching for the vandal or vandals responsible for heavily damaging a church in Aurora on Easter Sunday are looking into some DNA evidence in their attempt to solve the case.
So far there’s no description for who the vandal who damaged St. Martin in the Fields Episcopal Church on March 31 was, but the priest there thinks he knows how they did it.
Father Jim Gilchrist told CBS4 he thinks they took a rock from the prayer garden, smashed a window and crawled in, and then trashed the place.
They ransacked the worship area, shot off fire extinguishers and stole cash and checks from the office.
The Union County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the vandalism of a church in Buffalo.
Sheriff David Taylor said someone broke into Buffalo United Methodist Church on Hill Street overnight and spray painted swastikas, upside down crosses, pentagrams and Satanic messages around the church, splattered red paint on statues, tore pages out of Bibles and turned crosses upside down. Damage was found in the sanctuary and Sunday school rooms.
ROSWELL, N.M. (KRQE) – Roswell Police are searching for suspects in a string of churchvandalismovertheweekend.
According to police, one church received a threatening letter and another had a bunchofwindowsbroken.
“Everybody is kind of stunned that nothing is sacred anymore,” said Deacon Howard Herring of St. Peter’s Catholic Church. “Even churches are under attack.”
HAMPSHIRE, Tenn. - It’s a place where people come to worship, but police said they’re investigating why a mid-state church became the target of vandals, even starting a fire inside.
Investigators said they will be looking at whether this was a prank or something much more serious at Dry Fork Church of Christ.
In a town like Hampshire, Tennessee, church is more than just a place of worship.
“Dry Fork Church of Christ was established in 1850 and we presently have served in this location since 1973,” said Shirley Green, who has been a member of the church her entire life. “Our parents and grandparents went here and now our descendants are here.”
The congregation was shocked to find their church had become the target of vandals.
BATAVIA, N.Y. (WIVB) – Batavia Police are on the hunt for a graffiti vandal who targeted three churches. The three calls came in to police between 8:30 and 9:15 a.m. Monday.
Someone spray painted on Batavia Assembly of God, Grace Baptist Church and City Church with the message “Religion is a mind virus.”
Pastor Marty MacDonald of City Church said, “I am hoping to meet with this person and go out to lunch and hug him and pray for him, because that’s what the Bible tells us to do.”
Westlake Village, CA
Cleaning crews worked swiftly to remove derogatory graffiti that was placed on property belonging to the City of Westlake Village and St. Jude Catholic Church on Easter weekend.
Vandals targeted the 32000 block of Lindero Canyon Road sometime between Fri., March 29 and Sat., March 30, authorities said.
The graffiti included a reference to homosexuality, several four-letter words and a swastika, a source told The Acorn. One scrawl reportedly said, “God is gay.”
GASTONIA, N.C. — The pastor of Covenant Baptist Church said it is a place of hope and faith, and it is disappointing that someone decided to put a negative message on the church wall.
Obscene words with a reference to God and satanic images are covered with a towel on one wall of the church. Power washing did not wipe them away. The cloth does not cover the framework of the disturbing graffiti.
SAVANNAH, GA (June 13, 2013): Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Detectives are searching for 24-year-old Michael Christopher Garko, believed responsible for thousands of dollars in damage to a Savannah church.
At 8:35 a.m. Monday, Metro officers responded to The Church at Godley Station, on the 1600 block of Benton Boulevard. Officers observed a broken window on the front door and several shattered glass windowpanes around the building. It did not appear that the suspect made entry.
SHELTON – St. Margaret Mary Church, located at 380 Long Hill Ave., was vandalized overnight, police said.
A maid discovered the damage Monday around 6:30 a.m. and called police.
Extensive damage was done to the interior of the church. Several religious statues inside and outside the church were destroyed. Two vehicles in the church’s parking lot were vandalized, police said.
A vandal appears to have used a Holy Cross athletic field near 60th and Center Streets to turn donuts, leaving behind a trail of damage.
Employees discovered the vandalism Thursday morning.
“This damage was definitely purposeful,” said Katie Holmes, office manager for Holy Cross. “It looks like someone was doing donuts on the grass and lost control.”
A section of the field was torn up by the tire tracks. A church-owned garage door appeared to have been backed into, and some nearby heavy city equipment was damaged, she said.
It was the second time in the past year that church has dealt with damage at its field, Holmes said. In the earlier incident, a driver ran into the fence.
A graffiti vandal painted a large letter “X” on two statues outside St. Anselm’s Church on the corner of 82nd Street and Fourth Avenue last week, but cops have faith they’ll catch the culprit, who was caught on video in the act, and who now has a price on his head.
UNION, SC (FOX Carolina) -
Graffiti, torn Bibles and other vandalism was found in a Union County church early Tuesday morning, according to deputies.
Union County Sheriff David Taylor said furniture was damaged, swastikas and satanic phrases were spray painted on the walls and several Bibles were torn apart.
The phrase “Christ is dead, Satan is alive” was spray-painted on one wall.
The video below is difficult to watch, but then the reality of what is happening to Christians in Egypt and elsewhere is far more difficult.
The practice of kidnapping Christian girls, raping them and forcing them to “convert” to Islam appears to be widespread throughout the Middle East. There’s not much to say about men who do cowardly things like this to women and young girls except that their “manhood” isn’t all that manly.
One of the more disgusting things about this is the silence from feminists. Where is the outrage about this outrage?
On a side note, I repeat Ravi Zacharias’ reaction when he heard Dr. Richard Dawkins’ incitement of his followers concerning people of faith to “mock them; ridicule them; in public; with contempt.” Dr Dawkins and his crowd should book flights to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc, and try this there.
They could also do similar experiments with the Hindus of India. I’ve got videos of what can happen. Or, they might try ridiculing the faux religion of statism that is practiced in the various atheist paradises.
In truth and in fact, the only societies in the world where they have the freedom to behave like this are those that are informed by Christian values. You know: The terrible, horrible Christian morality that says that all human beings matter, no matter their stage of life or level of health, and that every person has certain inherent rights that come from God.
God help us all if the Christian bashers of the world succeed in wiping that morality out of public discourse and civil society.
Boko Haram has killed at least 1600 people in Northern Nigeria since 2010.
It’s a repetitive story of bombings, mass shootings and knife attacks, much of it centered on the northern city of Kano. I used to know people who lived in Kano and I’ve heard their stories of atrocities against the Christians there.
This business of killing Christians in Kano precedes Boko Haram. LIke all forms of persecution, it gets and has gotten worse over time. A couple of decades ago, I knew people who were victimized by deadly anti-Christian riots that were more or less disorganized and at least somewhat spontaneous.
But for the past 10 years or so Kano and all of northern Nigeria has been subjected to the organized violence of Boko Haram. I’ve published posts here at Public Catholic indicating that Boko Haram is funded and trained by extremist Muslim forces from outside Nigeria, indeed, from outside Africa. It appears that at least some of the funding for Boko Haram may be coming through England,
That’s an interesting and sad thought. A small child who is blown to bits on a summer’s evening may owe his or her death to the actions of international financiers and organizers who have given over their lives to organized killing.
A few days ago, Boko Haram struck again with a series of bomb blasts in Kano. These happened during the evening hours in the Christian section of the city. Many Muslims were out at the same time, because of Ramadan.
As usual for these things, Boko Haram has taken to killing other Muslims who don’t conform to their ideas, in addition to Christians.
My question: Why don’t the Muslims and Christians unite against these killers and get rid of them?
Another question: Why don’t the rest of us in the “civilized” world put their money people in prison? I don’t think it would be too difficult to write a law that could shut them down.
In the meantime, the killing and the dying go on in bleeding Nigeria.
From the Associated Press:
KANO, Nigeria (AP) — Multiple explosions rocked a Christian area in Nigeria’s northern Kano city Monday night, with security forces ferrying scores of wounded to hospitals.
A mortuary attendant at Murtala Mohammed Specialists Hospital said at least 10 bodies had been brought in from the scene. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.
Nigeria is fighting an Islamic uprising by extremists based mainly in the northeast, where the government has declared a state of emergency. Kano city and state are not part of that emergency.
Nigeria’s government is fighting an Islamic uprising by a network called Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden.” The group wants Islamic law imposed in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation of more than 160 million, which is divided almost equally between Christians who live mainly in the south and Muslims who dominate the north.
Witness Kolade Ade said at least one blast appeared to come from a Mercedes-Benz parked beside a kiosk selling alcohol and soft drinks.
“After the first bomb, I threw myself into the canal (drain) to hide. There were at least three blasts,” he said.
The explosions came as hundreds of people thronged the area in Sabon Gari neighborhood, where some were playing snooker and others table tennis.
Anthropologists keep trying to come up with a definition of human beings that applies to something about us that is totally, absolutely unique.
We are the toolmakers, they said. Then, Jane Goodall discovered that chimps poke sticks into termite holes to pull them out and eat them.
We have language. That was a poor choice from the start, since anyone who’s been around animals knows they have a sort of language of their own.
So what about us is unique? Are we just a function of our opposable thumbs?
My answer, which I know would not fit into any anthropologist’s toolkit for categorizing, is that we are the only creatures on this earth who were made for our own selves.
Every other creature here has a purpose and, somehow or other, that purpose ultimately pertains to us. We alone are made with such absolute and radical free will that we can both know and reject our own Maker.
We can imagine things that don’t exist and find ways to create them. We can unravel the secrets of our own creation and teach ourselves a bit of the mechanisms God used when He made us and all that is. We can glimpse, albeit in an incomplete way that is filled with longing, the eternity that lies beyond our finite and mortal coil.
We have a touch of the divine within us that resides, not in our big brains, but in our almighty will. We are free. Stars exist within the laws of physics. Planets rotate on their orbits. All of creation occurs within predictable, learnable mathematical certainties.
The only real surprise is us. We are free, in the way that God is free. We can, with knowledge of what we are doing, and understanding of its implications, chose. We can create. And we can also destroy. This means that we alone of all the creatures around us have the capacity for good and evil. We are moral creatures by virtue of our free will and understanding.
We are not the God of the universe, but we can actually convince ourselves that we are because we have the God-given ability to chose. All our days, we hunger for something more, for that eternity we glimpse but can’t quite see.
There is something majestic and powerfully beautiful about our compulsion to push past the limits of what we are and dip our toes into what we are not. We are slower than a horse and much less powerful. But a long-distance runner can literally run a horse to death. We are not fish, but we venture into the deeps with our ships and tanks and diving bells. We extend our reach far past where any single animal can go. Not satisfied with that, we push our lungs and bodies to dive deep without devices.
Unlike any other creature, we push ourselves past what our species can do and into torturous endurance for not reason except to see if we can do it.
We are made for ourselves alone. Which means that we alone can give ourselves away — totally, freely and with full consent. Of all the things and creatures God has made, we stand alone on this earth as the only one who He gave as a gift to themselves. He gave us, from the first breath, our own selves. We were made to love Him.
And we were made to be free to live, love, work, explore, learn, teach and push ourselves past what we think we can do.
There is no horizon to human existence, not even death. We are living souls, made for an eternity of love.
This is a video of William Trubridge’s record-setting free dive into Dean’s Blue Hole in the Bahamas. He dove — on one breath and without assistance — 101 meters, which is just a little more than 331 feet. Watch and be awed.
Click here throughout the Year of Faith, as the Catholic Channel at Patheos.com invites Catholics of every age and stripe to share what they are gleaning and carrying away from this gift of timely focus.