If you saw someone harassing an old person, what would you do?
I have to tell you, I am really proud of these people.
This story is a couple of weeks old, but I’ve been too busy to take it on until now.
A few weeks back, a federal judged made the landmark ruling that Kentucky had to honor gay marriages which were contracted in other states. This ruling, if upheld, has the practical effect of legalizing gay marriage in every state of the union. The judge’s ruling was based on last summer’s hydra-headed Windsor ruling by the United States Supreme Court. Windsor overturned the federal Defense of Marriage Act, (DOMA.)
In what has become a predictable dereliction of duty, Kentucky’s Attorney General, Jack Conway, announced that he would not defend the state statute, because “it was discrimination,” and, as he said in his announcement, “that I will not do.”
In other words, he’s appointed himself the legislature, court and will of the people of the entire state. He is also, flatly and obviously refusing to do the job he was elected to do. Pious pronouncements aside, this is a clear failure of integrity on his part. As I said before about other attorney general’s who have done this same thing, they don’t seem to know what their job is.
Attorney’s General are chief law enforcement officers. They are not lawmakers, and even though law enforcement rests in the judicial branch, they are not judges. Attorney General Conway obviously ran for the wrong office.
Now, Kentucky’s Governor, Steve Beshear, has announced that he will hire an independent law firm to defend the state.
Does anyone “get” what a dereliction of duty this attorney general is indulging in? Does anyone understand how wrong it is for the governor to have to spend tax payer money to hire outside attorneys to do the job that the attorney general of Kentucky was elected to do?
I am way past glad that the Governor is taking this step. This court decision is huge. It must be challenged.
In the meantime, I’m wondering if the people of Kentucky are so caught up in the gay marriage bubble that they don’t “get” the full significance of what their AG is going to them. I wonder if any of the people of this country can understand what a breakdown it is for so many attorneys general to refuse to do their jobs.
This isn’t a small thing. It’s a symptom of a very ugly infection of narcissistic dishonesty in the body politic. I am not talking about gay marriage, per se. I am not talking about any issue. I am talking about our system of governance, which depends on people who will govern by the law and by responsible action, not opinion polls.
United States Attorney General Eric Holder has stepped in with a “ruling” of his own, saying that “states attorneys general don’t have to defend gay marriage bans if they view them as discriminatory.”
Isn’t that nice? The nation’s number one cop as decided to publicly indulge in selective law enforcement. He is unilaterally giving anyone who wants to violate their oath in support of the side of an issue that he happens to agree with a free pass from the Justice Department.
If the laws are enforced selectively — which is what the United States Attorney General is doing — then the laws are by definition unjust. Selective enforcement of the law is — dare I say it? — discriminatory on its face.
One interesting side note in this story: Both the governor and the attorney general are Democrats.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said Tuesday that his office would hire outside counsel to appeal a court ruling that the state must recognize same-sex marriages performed outside Kentucky, just moments after the state attorney general, a fellow Democrat, said he would no longer defend the ban.
Jack Conway, Kentucky’s attorney general, said Tuesday that if he appealed the recent ruling, he would be forced to defend discrimination. “That I will not do,” he said in a statement. “As Attorney General of Kentucky, I must draw the line when it comes to discrimination.”
Beshear promptly announced that his office would continue the appeal, the Associated Press reports, saying there would be “legal chaos” if the courts don’t delay any changes until after an appeal. “Employers, health care providers, governmental agencies and others faced with changing rules need a clear and certain roadmap,” Beshear said. “Also, people may take action based on this decision only to be placed at a disadvantage should a higher court reverse the decision.”
The rapid-fire action and reaction underscored how states are struggling to respond to a wave of court decisions striking down same-sex marriage bans of various kinds. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder recently said state attorneys general don’t have to defend gay-marriage bans if they view them as discriminatory.
The Big Bang has an echo, which is what you would expect from a “bang” that, blew creation into existence.
The elusive echo has finally been located in gravitational waves. The waves, which Albert Einstein first predicted in his General Theory of Relativity, were discovered with the use of a telescope at the South Pole.
What this means, among other things, is that the universe had a beginning, and that beginning was 13.7 billion years ago.
For a long time, scientists made the (at least to me) totally illogical assumption that the universe had no beginning. It just, according to them, always was. Even as a young child, I thought this thinking was daft.
It turns out that my young child intuition was, at least in this one instance, more accurate than the thinking of the big brains of earlier eras.
I think one reason why so many learned folk made this assumption was simply that the idea of a universe which had a beginning raised all sorts of questions that their world view didn’t allow.
That’s not science. It’s human nature, and every single one of us, including scientists, is a slave to human nature. We don’t see what we don’t want to see. Unless, of course, we have to.
The “have to” in this instance was the doppler effect, writ large. Just as a train whistle changes tone as it travels past us, so the light from stars changes color as it moves away. This simple bit of logic led to the realization that the universe, which had once been thought static, was moving away from us. It was expanding at great speed.
Computations based on this movement led us backwards to a point where the expansion began: The Big Bang.
The universe that always was became the universe that had a dramatic and sudden beginning. Existence exploded into existence.
Scientists have advanced all sorts of theories to try to explain away the implications of this Big Bang. Some of them have been quite fanciful.
But this discovery leaves those ideas flat. These gravitational waves are an echo of the Big Bang in much the same way that a tsunami is an echo of an earthquake.
The Big Bang happened. It is where everything, everywhere, came from.
The rest is religion.
Chris O’Dowd, who evidently stars in one of those cable series I’ve never watched called Girls, has shared his original thinking on the topic of religion.
Mr O’Dowd says in an interview with GQ that he used to be “liberal” about religion, and thought it was ok for other people to have ideas he disagreed with. Then, he got his brain washed and now he knows that “religion is ruining the world.” He says that there will be a “turning point” where religion is “going to be like racism.” Because people will decide “you’re not allowed to say that! It’s mad!”
He also informs us that President Obama lies when he says he’s a Christian, telling us, “I mean, you really think that Barack Obama believes in God? No way!”
It’s a bit difficult to take these deep thoughts seriously, so I don’t think I will. Take them seriously, that is. I mean, (to quote Mr O’Dowd) let’s look at what he said.
Religion is ruining the world. That one’s pretty well been done to death.
People will decide you’re not allowed to say that. How many times, in how many ways, have we seen attacks on religious people’s right to freedom of speech? I doubt if this thoughtful young actor understands that’s what he’s supporting, btw. I think he’s just repeating something he heard someone else say and probably doesn’t understand its implications.
President Obama is not a Christian? Do tell.
All in all, what this interview shows — as if we needed to be shown — is the level of non-thinking that goes into bashing religious people in our society. It also demonstrates why the programming we see on television is so biased against faith.
I wouldn’t take Mr O’Dowd’s thinking too seriously. There’s not an original idea here. If his industry’s opinion changes, he’ll get his brain washed again and say something else that’s just as deep and thoughtful as this.
Son of God is still in the theaters. If you haven’t seen it, I encourage you to go.
It seems that there is more than one Christian movie coming out this Lent. God is Not Dead opens this weekend. We need to support movies like this with our time and our dollars.
I’m going. I hope you will, too.
The tactics used against pro life Democrats in order to pass this legislation totally destroyed the nascent pro life movement in the national Democratic Party. According to news reports, the Obama administration threatened to close military bases in Senator Ben Nelson’s state of Nebraska, thus putting tens of thousands of his constituents out of work. These threats were made in order to secure the 60th vote necessary to stop a filibuster in the United States Senate.
The president persuaded Congressman Bart Stupak to abandon his fight to block the bill in the House by giving him an “ironclad” promise that he would issue an executive order guaranteeing religious freedom and no federal monies for abortion under the bill. The president did issue an executive order, which I personally thought was insufficient, even at the time.
First an executive order is not a statute, and this critical issue clearly needed statutory force. Second the executive order itself was insufficient.
However, the president put the lie to his own promise when he followed this executive order by signing, promoting and putting the entire force of his presidency behind the ignominious HHS Mandate. The HHS Mandate is an egregious and direct attack on religious freedom. His administration’s arguments against court challenges to this mandate have sought to restrict First Amendment freedoms to religious practices inside church buildings.
If President Obama wins the court challenges to the HHS Mandate, using these arguments, it will be the death of religious freedom in this country. It will also set off a Constitutional crisis more serious than anything America has faced since the Civil War. That is the outcome of Congressman Stupak’s actions.
Congressman Stupak returned to private life after the session in which Obamacare passed. But he was one of the early opponents of the HHS Mandate. He signed a letter against the Mandate in which he referenced the fact that President Obama had betrayed his promises.
Now, he’s taken it a step further and publicly stated that the HHS Mandate is a double cross.
What does all this amount to?
One thing: The President of the United States is a liar. He’s not a liar on whether or not he caught a minnow that was six feet long. He’s not a liar on whether or not he had an affair with a woman. He’s a calculated, deliberate liar on matters of policy that affect the American people. He lied to a member of the United States Congress on a matter of extreme importance to this country to get the congressman’s vote.
There’s no coming back from that.
I know that a lot of pro life people want to burn Congressman Stupak in effigy. I, for one, never believed the president. I can’t find the exact word for how I felt when I watched the vote on this bill and heard Congressman Stupak’s comments. It was a mixture of pity and sorrow, coupled with grief.
I’ve experienced a bit of the pressure that is put on Democratic elected officials to get them to betray their pro life beliefs. I have a lot of sympathy for Senator Nelson, for the simple reason that he was responsible for his constituents. It’s a terrible thing to tell an elected official that if they don’t do what you want, you will destroy the lives of tens of thousands of the constituents it is their job to protect.
I’ve seen this happen on the state level, for a lot less than the Affordable Health Care Act. I’ve seen Democrats threaten to close colleges in another Democrat’s house district if they didn’t change their vote on a bill. I’ve seen a Republican speaker threaten a Democratic House member with the closure of a major industry in his district if the Democrat didn’t stop asking questions that the Speaker found embarrassing. I’ve seen pro life Republicans kill pro life bills at the behest of corporate interests. I’ve been on the receiving end of pro abortion Democrats’ demands that I kill pro life bills for party loyalty.
I’ve seen things a lot worse than what I just described, that I don’t want to write about.
I don’t doubt for one minute that the Obama administration threatened to put tens of thousands of people out of work, just simply to pass a bill. I also don’t doubt that Congressman Stupak was the object of intense hate, vilification and threats over this vote. President Obama is not only a liar, but he’s a convincing liar, and I don’t doubt that Congressman Stupak believed him.
I have never experienced the pressure that happens at the national level. I imagine it’s the difference between a 1,000-pound bomb and a hydrogen bomb. It is localized annihilation versus national annihilation.
Just the same, I can tell you that what I went through was more than enough for me. I didn’t fail. I passed the pro life bill the Democrats tried to force me to kill. I thank God for that. I mean that literally. I thank God for that.
Unlike Congressman Stupak and Senator Nelson, I had the great help of my own past. I knew what abortion was, and I knew what I had done in the past. There is no certainty quite like looking at the depth of your own depravity. It is absolutely shattering. After that, you stop trying to be smart, because you know that your own smarts have led you to do what you can never undo.
I also had the experience of having seen the lying liars of politics before. I had matriculated through the school of being in office and out of office and then back in office once again. That perspective lets you to see the lies of politics as nothing else can.
I knew that sometimes you just have to do what’s right and put the rest in God’s hands. It’s a matter of stepping out onto what looks like thin air and trusting that He will put solid ground under your foot. “Lean not on your own understanding,” the Scriptures tell us. “Trust and obey,” the hymn teaches. That is exactly what you have to do.
Bart Stupak believed a lying president, and the action he took because he believed let the genie out of the bottle. I know I’m going to get roasted and toasted by the absolutists in Public Catholic’s readership, but I feel sorry for him. I felt sorry for him at the time. He had such a magnificent opportunity to stand for life. And he gave it away for a lie.
Based on the op-ed piece he wrote for USA Today, Congressman Stupak is still trying to parse what he did. I don’t think he can accept that it was a disaster, and not just for him personally. It was a disaster for this nation, allowing as it did the formulation of the HHS Mandate.
It was an unmitigated disaster for the fight for life and for Christian values generally. The resulting purge of pro life Democrats from the Democratic Party has resulted in one of our two national parties going totally over the cliff on moral issues.
This is a terrible thing, for all Americans. Knowing what I know of politics and both of these two national parties, I can tell you that Christians no longer have a choice at the ballot box. I always get rebuffed by hard-core Republicans when I say this, but I will continue to say it, because it is true. Both parties are amoral. Without a balance of push and pull between them to keep one another honest, they will, either one of them, do terrible things. This isn’t something I’m guessing about. I’ve seen it.
By destroying the growing pro life movement within the Democratic Party, Congressman Stupak’s actions also destroyed the single best chance this country had to find legislative resolutions to the social issues that are tearing it apart. We need both parties to change this country. Congressman Stupak’s actions polarized the fight in a horrible way.
I feel sorry for him.
And for all of us.
I haven’t written much about the mess with Ukraine/Crimea/Russia. I haven’t written at all about the missing airliner.
The reasons are simple.
I don’t have a lot of wisdom to share about Ukraine/Crimea/Russia, and I don’t know what’s happened to that airliner.
My guess is that Russia wants a sort of alliance with its former satellites states; something akin to the European Union. I doubt that Russia wants to re-occupy those countries. They’ve already done that. And it didn’t work out.
On the other hand, creating an economic alliance that resembles the European Union would greatly enhance Russia’s economic clout. This is especially true if Russia is the absolute, unchallenged first among equals with the member states of that “union.”
Russia, being Russia, doesn’t seem to have gotten the drift of negotiation in developing this economic union. They’re more into gunpoint diplomacy than the give and take of actual negotiating.
Of course, negotiating with people who were, until a couple of decades ago, Russia’s slaves, would be tough going, even for the most delicate of debaters. Russia has what might be called a bad rep among their former satellites. The brutal police states they ran that impoverished people, destroyed their freedoms and ended many of their lives in gulags make people chary of being their pals now. These folks aren’t too eager to go back under the Russian lash.
It appears that Russia is still the child of its evil past. The response to frustrating displays of disregard for what Russia wants in its satellites seems to bring that evil child to the fore. Russia’s means of conversation is to bring in the tanks and troops.
In addition to economic hegemony, Russia also wants and needs something that Crimea — and only Crimea — has. Americans, who live in one of the other great continental nations, take our plethora of deep water ports for granted. We’ve got so many of them, and they are all ice free year round, that the whole question is not a question to us. We don’t think about what it would be like to be a continental nation without a single ice-free, deep-water port.
But Russia, despite its mammoth coastline, hasn’t got anyplace to park a fleet of big boats. It can’t ship goods by sea because there’s no way to get the goods onto the seas. I won’t discuss the issue of a Russian Navy at this point. I think it’s obvious that you’ve got to have ports to have an effective Nary.
Little Crimea is the proud possessor of a deep water port that is ice free.
Do I need to connect the dots here?
At the same time that we’ve seen exhaustive and utterly confusing news reports about Russia/Ukraine/Crimea, we have also been partakers of the mystery surrounding a missing airliner. It seems that this airliner abruptly made a hard turn off its course, dropped to below radar level and flew on for several hours. Then, it vanished.
Nobody knows what happened. Nobody knows where it is now. Nobody knows anything except that the airliner, its crew and passengers are missing.
Speculation about hijackings and terrorists raises a hundred nightmare scenarios in all our minds.
We faced with other people’s tragedies as their countries are invaded and annexed for the use of more powerful nations. We imagine what it must have been like on that airliner. We feel for the families of these people. We speculate about whether or not the crew and passengers are still alive, and if they are still alive, what might be happening to them.
All this is laced with fear. Not lie-awake-at-night-and-churn-fear, but the cold frisson of fear that is part of living in an uncertain and dangerous world. There are so many good people. But the relatively few bad ones have the capacity to make a hell of this earth for all of us.
Both these situations seem to have a simple root cause, and that root cause is the assumption by some individuals and countries that other human beings are simple expedients to them getting what they want.
We deal with powers and principalities every day of our lives. We see the results of their control over human beings on the news every evening, and we live out the personal miseries they cause us in the dysfunctions of our relations with those around us.
I haven’t written about missing airliners and Russian tanks parked on the ground of other people’s countries because I’m not sure enough of the facts to say anything definitive. I decided to write about these things today because of the one thing I am sure of.
We will never get to the end of the evil that people do to other people in this life. That is why it is so important for us to remember that our primary citizenship is not in any country of this world. We are citizens of heaven, even now, as we live here.
I am not urging an otherworldly abandonment of our responsibilities in the here and now. We are charged with bringing the Kingdom. We are called directly and explicitly by Our Lord to be the light that shines in this darkness.
As Americans we have unique freedoms with which to do this. We need to use every opportunity we have to fulfill our call, and when we feel that frisson of fear that comes from living in a fallen world, we need to remember that we serve a risen Lord. This world is just the smallest part of our existence.
Pope Francis has taught us a lot of Evangelization in his first year as our Holy Father.
The press has wasted a good bit of their reportage of Pope Francis in misreporting. They mine his every statement for anything they can use to say that the Catholic Church is going to get with it and support gay sex and gay marriage. They’ve taken simple comments about forgiveness and mercy and spun them into off-the-cuff ex cathedra statements which they claim overturn 2,000 years of Christian teaching.
One of the many things we’ve got to learn about living in this post-Christian world is that vast swaths of the media, including some of the most powerful media conglomerates, have been actively supporting the disassembly of our culture for decades. We can and should chide them for their anti-Christian bias and Christian-bashing propaganda. But the most important thing we can do is to stop believing them.
Do let yourself be misled by these attacks on Catholic faith. They can come in the form of deliberate misinterpretations of sentences in the Pope’s statements that are pulled out of context and twisted to say things they never said. They also come by means of the use of enormous talent to produce “entertainment” that glamorizes and normalizes aberrant lifestyles. There is also the subtle factor of media refusal to report stories that matter, but which don’t agree with the worldview of the news outlets.
In all these cases and many more, we are going to have to learn to exercise our prudential judgement and simply recognize these things for what they are. They are lies. Know it, and stop believing them.
Here is a brief list by Rome Reports of the most important things Pope Francis has said in his first year as Pope.
According to a poll by NBC/WSJ, 21% of Americans say that religion is “not that important in their lives.”
This isn’t a big surprise. It’s consistent with other polls. The details are pretty much the same as those in previous polls, as well. An NBC news article says that “Less religious Americans are more likely to be men, have an income over $75,000, to live in the northeast” and be under 35.
The only comment I have to make about this is that it’s something to consider as we contemplate how to approach re-converting this culture. Do we start with these “not that importants,” or do we begin elsewhere?
I don’t claim to have a decisive answer. But my personal opinion, based mainly on years of political campaigning, is that we should begin with our own people. I think the first great need for active conversion is to be found in the pews of our own churches.
There are over 1 billion Catholics on this planet, and almost all of us are laity. We are the Church. The need to educate, inspire and lead this laity to an active evangelistic fervor is so obvious that I’m not going to waste the words to substantiate it in this brief post.
I think the place to begin the great work of conversion that is in front of us is our own laity. The question I have is, does the laity have to do the work of converting itself?
We need leadership.
In the circular cobweb of bizarro accusations, obfuscations, dissimulations and dead flat lies that pass for commentary coming from Christian bashers, there is a surprising bottom line.
That bottom line has nothing to do with reason, rationality, right or moral/intellectual integrity. In fact, this particular bottom line is the opposite of those things. It is a claim by these people that they can do whatever they want, say whatever they want, and when they do, it is the fault of those they do it to and and say it about.
You may have encountered this line of reasoning in other parts of life. My most frequent encounter with it is among the perpetrators of violence against women. She asked for it, and Look what you made me do, are the commonplaces of excuse-giving among rapists and batterers.
It is, you see, the fault of those we are raping, battering, bashing that we do these things. We have no responsibility for our own tawdry behavior. The fault, dear horatio, lies in in the victim.
I see a lot of this bullying reasoning in the comments that show up here on Public Catholic. Every time I write something about (1) Christian persecution, (2) Christian bashing, (3) attempts to silence Christians and drive them from the public square, or (4) attempts to use government to coerce Christians to violate their beliefs, I know — know — that all I have to do is sit back and wait a few minutes before the abusive rebuts start pouring in.
Most of these abusive rebuts end up sleeping in the delete file. That leads to more abusive rebuts accusing me of all sorts of unsavory character and moral defects, which in turn, sleep in the delete file. This is followed by a good old fashioned thrashing of my intelligence (or lack thereof) morality, womanhood, professional standing and heritage on various Christian-bashing blogs.
Does any of this idiotic aggression prove that Christians are not subjected to bashing/hazing/attempts to silence them/persecution/and a newfound totalitarianism directed at their freedoms?
On the contrary, this name-calling, attempted character assassination, bombast and bullying are all manifestations of precisely and exactly those things.
Aside from the predictability and profanity involved, the paucity of thinking that goes into the attacks from these people who claim that their thinking is “rational” is rather stark.
The lines of argument they use are usually a circular apologetic for two things: Use of government force to coerce Christians to violate their beliefs, and the attempts to drive Christians from the public square. The excuses for this are flat-liner simple.
Here’s how it works.
First, they say they don’t do it.
Gay marriage (as a for instance) will not affect anyone except people who are getting gay married.
If you don’t want an abortion, don’t have an abortion.
When they are confronted with the uncomfortable facts that
People are being taken to court all over this country as well as other countries to force them to participate in gay marriages,
Christians have lost their jobs because of it,
Catholic adoption services and Catholic Charities’ ministries have been forced to close because they won’t refer for abortions or provide children for adoptions to same-sex couples,
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has been sued by the ACLU for teaching 2,000-year-old Catholic teachings,
They don’t back down.
Instead, they go on the attack. “You make us do it,” they claim in an eery echo of the batterer’s look what you made me do! Christians try to force their beliefs on others, the set-piece story goes, and thus they deserve to be pushed from the public square, called ugly names and hazed, both personally and by a deluge of anti-Christian rhetoric, television programming and other media attacks. As for me and my behavior, everything I do and say is justified because Christians are trying to force people to live by their morality.
This confabulated excuse for tawdry behavior ignores the plain fact that this Christian “force” they claim justifies any and all attacks on Christians and Christianity is the exercise of the same Constitutional rights that are available to all Americans.
They are trying to claim with a straight face that demonizing, hazing and constantly attacking a whole group of people is justified because those people (1) vote according to their own beliefs, (2) speak to their elected officials on behalf of their own beliefs, and (3) seek redress in the courts.
These activities are guaranteed rights of every American. You can find them in the First Amendment. They are, ironically, the same freedoms being used to advance the viewpoints these Christian bashers espouse. What these Christian bashers are objecting to is that all Americans, including Christians, have the same rights as they do. They are trying to use personal attacks, hazing and propaganda to batter Christians into acceding their rights as free Americans.
Raise this point, and the resulting cacophony of personal attacks would drown out a full orchestra playing the 1812 Overture.
The reason for these personal attacks are obvious. There is no just reason why Christians should be deprived of their freedom as American citizens to vote according to their beliefs, participate in the political process on behalf of those beliefs or seek redress through the courts. These are among the basic freedoms of American citizens, guaranteed by the First Amendment. The abusive yelling and screaming is a bullying attempt to avoid admitting that forcing Christians to forfeit their rights is, in fact, tyranny.
The interesting thing is that at the same time that Christian bashers are giving loud and verbally abusive explanations as to why the First Amendment does not apply to Christians, they are denying vociferously that they attack Christians unfairly.
When, as always happens on this blog, their abusive behavior nets them a zero, they move to cloying manipulation. The comments shift to feigned civility and syrupy compliments, based on the totally wrong assumption that nobody has ever tried to flatter or manipulate their way past me before.
There is an element of echo-chamber thinking in these attacks. Going back to the virtual clubhouse and counting coup, then trying to outdo one another in how they insult Christians seems to convince Christian bashers that people of faith really are as stupid as they tell each other. I don’t have any other explanation for the sudden turn to obviously manipulative niceness by the same people who’ve been calling me everything but a nice person otherwise.
We don’t do it, they tell us at the outset.
You make us do it, they reply to direct citations of their behavior.
It’s our right to do it, they say when you shut them down and refuse to give them a platform to attack Christians at will.
But we don’t do it, they circle back and proclaim, after their personal attacks don’t bully you into doing what they are demanding.
This is standard stuff in the Christian-bashing blogosphere. I’m writing about it here so that Public Catholic readers will understand it and not be overawed by it.
The first time a jerk throws a pie in your face, it will leave you stunned and speechless. But when the jerks just keep throwing those pies, you’ve got to learn how to stand up for yourself.
The media is hard-selling abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage and now polygamy and polyamory. It is also pushing farming women’s bodies for eggs and using women as pregnancy surrogates.
That is the real-world situation. We need to be aware of it. We need to do what we can to make other Christians aware of it, so that they see it for what it is. But what, beyond that, should we do?
We must learn how to communicate our message in today’s world. We can, you know. We’ve just got to stop bemoaning the situation and start thinking about what we can do.
This video gives a brief discussion of how Christianity has historically communicated its message. That’s a good place to start as we move forward to how we will communicate it in today’s world.
Marshall McLuhan famously said, “The medium is the message.”
Our use of the phrase “the media” as shorthand for all journalistic endeavors reflects the truth of that.
This media/”message” is hard-selling abortion, euthanasia and the destruction of marriage.
This video contains a reflection about this situation.
Please pray for me.
That is Pope Francis’ tweet for today.
I think we should certainly pray for our Holy Father.
We should also pray for all priests.
I am part of a prayer group. It began when we were homeschooling mothers with small children and has held together through the years as our children have grown up, gone to college, married and had children of their own. Our daughters have now joined us.
The purpose of this Rosary group is to pray for our priests. This is a prayer we pray at every Rosary. I think it is a prayer we should all pray. I can think of no better practice to begin this Lent.
God our Father, please send us holy priests, all for the sacred and eucharistic heart of Jesus, all for the sorrowful and immaculate heart of Mary, in union with St Joseph. Amen
Gilbert Chesterton famously said, “The problem with Christianity is not that it’s been tried and found wanting, it’s been found difficult and not tried.”
If you change the word Christianity for Catechesis, you have a description of the problem with the “unfaithful laity” in many parts of this country, if not the world.
As exhibit A, let me point you toward the mess at Eastside High School in Seattle. This school, which is nominally Catholic, appears to cater to rich little kids and provide them with a full blast of self-actualizing claptrap with a layer of do-gooderism and little c catholicism on top to make them feel good.
When their openly-gay vice principal “married” his partner, the school, in what was probably a stunning display of unexpected fidelity to Church teaching, decided to enforce its school contract and employee guidelines and dismiss him. The student body, which had clearly been catechized more by the vice principal and his supporters than anyone imparting Catholic teaching, reacted by staging a walk out.
Instead of expelling the students for walking out of class, the school pretty much caved on a later problem with another teacher.
Now, for all their what’s-happening-now weak-as-water Catholicism, the school is being sued by said vice principal.
Exhibit B would be the Seattle priest who wrote a column for a national magazine, taking a public stand against the teachings of the Church whose collar he wears.
Exhibit C would be the many Catholic politicians I know whose knowledge of what the Church teaches on issues such as the sanctity of human life and the sacrament of marriage is limited to slogans, and most of them come from the media which is openly hostile to their Church. You can place the parish priests who’ve told them it’s ok to vote against pro life legislation and for gay marriage, even while their bishops are begging them to do the opposite, alongside the politicians on the exhibit table.
What’s wrong with catechesis?
1. It stops at the little-kid-in-Sunday-school level.
2. Despite the fact that most priests are faithful to the Church, nobody with authority in the Church says a word to disagree with those who aren’t. Don’t any of these guys answer to superiors in this hierarchical Church of ours? How, exactly, can the bishops expect the laity to respond to their leadership when their own priests are either ignoring the bishop or flat-out telling their parishioners that their personal ideas trump Church teaching in matters of mortal sin?
3. Nobody seems interested or able to answer the onslaught of attacks from the world at large that the laity is facing. We need leadership, and we’re not getting it. At the very least we need an acknowledgement of what the laity must endure in this post Christian America.
4. Too much catechesis in more liberal parishes preaches a little g social gospel that is almost totally silent on Church teaching about justice. On the other hand, too much catechesis in conservative parishes focuses on sanctity of life and marriage to the exclusion of social issues. Worse, they do this in a political, rather than a moral manner.
The American Church has grown soft. It is no longer the Church Militant. It seems more like the church self-indulgent.
I keep wanting to shake people and paraphrase the line from the movie Aliens, “Maybe you haven’t been keeping up with current events, but we’ve been getting our rear ends kicked.”
There is no reason to panic or sink into depression because of the recent losses in the courts and at the polls on social issues. We can turn that around. All it takes is the will and determination to do it on the part of the laity.
That is the key, you know: The laity.
We’ve got the task of changing the world. The clergy has the task of catechizing/inspiring/leading us so that we are equipped to do that. Unfortunately, before the laity can convert the world, the laity itself needs to be converted. Too many Catholics treat Jesus as their cop-out instead of their Lord.
I know that’s a tall order for our priests. I also know that it most decidedly is not what a good many of our men in collars thought they were signing up for when they took their vows. Most of the priests we have today entered a priesthood rolling in automatic respect and trust for their calling which spilled over onto them personally. They saw themselves giving homilies, administering parishes, providing comfort, healing hurts, taking on an occasional pilgrimage and basically doing predictable and rewarding work throughout the long slide to safe and predictable retirement.
What has changed is that they now have to do all those things, with a call to battle heaped on top of it. They must somehow find a way to deal with demoralized and angry parishioners while they play catch up in preparing their people to be strong in their faith in the face of hostility, and learn how to convert a self-dissembling culture.
They’re not up to it. I know that.
But this is the our time. These are our challenges. And the job in front of us is the one the Holy Spirit has chosen for us.
We’ve got to support our priests who are trying to be faithful while learning how to do a whole new job and add it on top the job they already have. As for Catechesis, the parish and diocese which needs it the most are probably also the ones which will mount aggressive resistance to it. When priests try to teach what the Church teaches, parishioners who are also faithful to the Church need to stand by them absolutely, especially in the face of hostility from parishioners who have grown accustomed to the Church teaching what the world teaches.
Catechesis as we’ve been doing it is failing our children, our families, our Church and Our Lord. The evidence is all around us.
That’s the first fact we have to face. The second, which is that we must change our way of doing Catechesis, follows on its heels. Everything after that is detail.
American Atheists have filed suit to block inclusion of the ground zero cross in displays at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.
An earlier lawsuit against use of the cross in the memorial was tossed out of court. The basis of that suit was the extreme trauma atheists experience when they view a cross. This suit is filed on the grounds that there is no projected monument for atheists at the memorial.
Perhaps we could have an empty box for atheists. Since modern atheism is a militant unbelief system in nothing, expressed as nihilism, what else would represent it?
As for atheists who died in this tragedy, and atheists who helped in the rescue and clean-up, we should list their names and give them the respect they deserve. But there is no reason to erect a memorial to nothing.
More to the point, the ground zero cross is a historic artifact. It is part of the actual history of 9/11. Are we to re-write history and edit out those portions which might accidentally pertain to Christianity? Is that the new interpretation of the First Amendment?
Most people were horrified when Muslim extremists blew up ancient statues of buddha a few years ago. The ground zero cross is just as much an artifact of history —albeit, more recent history — as those buddha statues were.
Atheism has become a dogmatic unfaith of sorts. It insults those who disagree and seeks by all means available to silence opposition. There is a tyrannical underpinning to the overbearing insistence that no one anywhere can include artifacts which might have linkage to established Christianity in public displays. There is also a tyrannical underpinning (and a good bit of what is either extreme ignorance or deliberate misinformation) in proclaiming loudly, rudely and incessantly that any elected official who uses the name God in their converse is violating “separation of church and state.”
I personally have lost count of the number of times that zealous Christian bashers have tried to censure my speech and writings, or to direct my votes as an elected official, by this ruse.
Suppression of other people’s free right to speak of their beliefs in public, or vote according to their conscience, is tyranny. Using verbal hazing and bullying tactics to silence people of faith is also tyrannical.
Atheists advance the idea that any artifact, statement or idea that has its aegis in Christianity is, by their overbearing and tyrannical definition, a violation of what they call “the separation of church and state.” By the logic of their arguments, the militants who blew up the buddhas were right to do so. I suppose we should also remove the Thunderbird from the historic insignia of the 45th Division.
From 4New York:
A group of atheists is seeking to stop the 9/11 museum from displaying a cross-shaped steel beam found among the World Trade Center’s rubble because they say it is an endorsement of Christianity, and an appeals court heard arguments in the case Thursday.
A judge last year tossed out a lawsuit on the cross, rejecting the arguments of American Atheists, which sued the National September 11 Memorial & Museum’s operators in 2011 on constitutional grounds, contending that the prominent display of the cross constitutes an endorsement of Christianity, diminishing the contributions of non-Christian rescuers.
The 17-foot-tall steel beam was found by rescue workers two days after the terror attacks. It is scheduled to be displayed among 1,000 artifacts, photos, oral histories and videos in an underground museum that will also house the staircase workers used to escape the towers as well as portraits of the nearly 3,000 victims and oral histories of Sept. 11. The museum is still under construction and scheduled to open this year.
Edwin F. Kagin, a lawyer for the atheists group, said the cross “violates the First Amendment because atheists are not represented equally.”
My friend Kathy Schiffer, who blogs at Seasons of Grace, has an inspiring story about how Christians in the community of Stratton, OH are staging a private resistance to this type of bullying. I think we should all take a page from their book.
Pope Francis has given another interview and the internet is ga ga.
According to things I’ve read, the Holy Father has come out in favor of civil unions for homosexuals.
Cardinal Dolan gave another interview, and, again according to reports I’ve read, he agreed that the Holy Father is favoring civil unions.
This is a real show-stopper for Catholics who depend on the Church to not compromise on the basic teachings of the faith. Is the Holy Father planning to overturn Blessed John Paul II’s teaching when he said,
IV. POSITIONS OF CATHOLIC POLITICIANS
WITH REGARD TO LEGISLATION IN FAVOUR
OF HOMOSEXUAL UNIONS
10. If it is true that all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are obliged to do so in a particular way, in keeping with their responsibility as politicians. Faced with legislative proposals in favour of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are to take account of the following ethical indications.
When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic law-maker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favour of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral.
When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is already in force, the Catholic politician must oppose it in the ways that are possible for him and make his opposition known; it is his duty to witness to the truth. If it is not possible to repeal such a law completely, the Catholic politician, recalling the indications contained in the Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, “could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality”, on condition that his “absolute personal opposition” to such laws was clear and well known and that the danger of scandal was avoided.(18) This does not mean that a more restrictive law in this area could be considered just or even acceptable; rather, it is a question of the legitimate and dutiful attempt to obtain at least the partial repeal of an unjust law when its total abrogation is not possible at the moment.
If this letter by Pope John Paul II is now to be discarded, why should Catholic politicians pay attention to other letters by succeeding popes, or, for that matter, bishops? I’m here to tell you that I took it very seriously, and taking it seriously has exacted a great cost on me and my life. If the new story is basically April Fool, it was all a joke, I’m not laughing.
I honestly think that one reason so many other Catholic politicians have failed to heed what Blessed John Paul II and later, Pope Benedict XVI, taught us is that no one bothered to teach them about it. For reasons that I do not understand, Catholics are left to find these documents, read and interpret them themselves and then act according to them all on their own. The Church does not teach what it teaches to the people in the pews.
I think that if their pastors and bishops had taken the trouble to teach Catholic teaching — including what Pope John Paul II said in this letter — to our elected officials, a good many of them would have behaved differently in the past couple of years. I also think a lot of good Catholic people would not be so flim-flammed by what the world teaches.
Despite everything I just said, I don’t expect that we will see Pope Francis overturn what Blessed John Paul II taught in this matter. I think this is just another flap caused by a reply to a question in an interview. If you read what Pope Francis actually said, it becomes clear that the only definitive statement he made is that marriage is between one woman and one man. He then goes on to enumerate a few of the many manifestations of civil unions around the globe and ends with a political sounding “we’ll take it under advisement” type comment.
Now that I’ve said my say, I want to let you decide for yourself. Here is a video of the salient portion of Cardinal Dolan’s interview. Notice that the Cardinal says he hasn’t read the Holy Father’s actual words. He’s basing his comments entirely on press reports about the interview and not the interview itself. (Mistake.)
If you want to read the full text of Pope Francis’ interview, you can find it at Catholic News Agency.
If you want a quick take, here is the question on civil unions, and the Holy Father’s answer:
Many nations have regulated civil unions. Is it a path that the Church can understand? But up to what point?
Marriage is between a man and a woman. Secular states want to justify civil unions to regulate different situations of cohabitation, pushed by the demand to regulate economic aspects between persons, such as ensuring health care. It is about pacts of cohabitating of various natures, of which I wouldn’t know how to list the different ways. One needs to see the different cases and evaluate them in their variety.
Jen Fitz, who blogs at Sticking the Corners, offers her take on the Pope Fancis/Civil Unions debate here.