Book Review: Trusting God on the Rocky Bottom of Life

To join the discussion about Rock Bottom Blessings, or to order a copy, go here RockBottomBlessings 1

Rock Bottom Blessings is Karen Beattie’s autobiographical description of finding the hidden blessings in the losses that everyone faces in life.

The rock bottom for Mrs Beattie was losing her job and her dream of adopting an Ethiopian baby.

Mrs Beattie married at the age of 40. She and her husband were both in the grip of delayed dreams they wanted to fulfill while life still gave them enough time to do it. They heard their life-clocks, ticking away the time they had to do these things.

For her husband, the delayed dream was a career change from journalism to counseling. Since his new wife had a well-paying job, they couple decided he should pursue this dream. He was accepted into a good school and received a scholarship to pursue his studies.

At the same time, the couple began trying to fulfill Mrs Beattie’s delayed dream of having a baby. After infertility treatment and two miscarriages, she accepted that she would not be able to have a baby herself, and immediately turned to international adoption.

The couple ran head-on into the spider’s web of government regulations and expense which has grown up around these adoptions, but moved ahead with the process, anyway. Then Mrs Beattie lost her job, and the financial wherewithal to adopt along with it.

Ultimately, they were faced with a decision as a couple as to whose dream they would go for: The husband’s dream of changing careers, or Mrs Beattie’s dream of international adoption. They chose to go for the career change.

I won’t spoil the book by telling you what happens next. What I will do is say that the needs of children are being lost in these adoption regulations.

While we debate what are essentially red herring issues such as whether or not homosexual couples should be allowed to adopt, we ignore the overwhelming adoption issue, which is the red tape and expense we have hung on this process. This spider’s web of regulations often make it impossible to place children in loving homes.

The truth is, children languish in situations which are destructive to them as human beings while their potential parents grieve because they can’t adopt.

Private adoptions have become fraught with the peril of emotional devastation for adoptive parents. So much so, that many people simply won’t try it anymore. I personally know a couple who arranged a private adoption, only to have the birth mother change her mind later and take the baby away from them.

This is hell for the adoptive parents, and hell for the baby.

I do not want to see young women coerced into giving their babies up for adoption. But neither the birth mother nor the birth father should be able to change their mind after the baby goes to the adoptive home. I also think that we need firm limits on how long parents who have had their children taken from them for drug addiction or mistreatment of the children will have to demonstrate changes in their lives. If the parents do not care to change, these children should be placed for permanent adoption so they can have a chance at life. 

This is a difficult issue for the simple reason that social workers are sometimes ham-handed in removing children from homes. I know of instances where this was done for trivial or even bogus reasons. Other times, they leave children in abusive situations so long that the children end up getting killed.

There is one thread running through all of this: The needs of the children come last in our system.

We have developed a “rights based” system of government in which children are not given the power of “rights” of their own to defend themselves.

Mrs Beattie’s book is a small window on this world of adoption. That is not the book’s primary focus. The main storyline of the book is Karen Beattie’s attempt to grapple with the disappointments of her life through her Christian faith.

Don’t be bitter. She admonishes herself at one point, which is good advice for all of us. She struggles to understand how God can love her and still deny her the gift of children.

All in all, the book is an interesting read. The narrative moves well and keeps you interested as you wait to see if this good woman will be able to realize her dream of adopting a child.

Don’t Stop Praying, But We May Be Out of the War-Making Woods

Way out

I don’t think there are any lambs in this particular gathering, but it appears as if the lions may decide to, if not lie down together, at least make war another day.

Presidents Putin of Russia, Rouhani of Iran and Assad of Syria have been talking about a proposal to remove chemical weapons from Syria to Russia for several days now. I first read about this before the weekend, but didn’t write about it because the sources were publications inside Russia that I didn’t know anything about.

Haaretz, an Israeli news outlet, has also been running stories about it. The proposal became quasi official yesterday and today the New York Times wrote that President Obama has “tentatively embraced” the idea.

I expect that the war-promoting members of the press (which is a substantial portion of the press) will react to this with an analysis that President Obama has been “weak” and went to Congress “looking for a way out,” etc. I want to say, in anticipation of that, that if this compromise works, a good portion of the reason why is that this president made the decision to involve the American people, through their representatives, in this debate.

I’ve been critical of this attempt to take this country into another unnecessary war from the outset. I expect that I am going to be equally critical of the inevitable future attempts to do the same thing. Our press has become a powerful lobby for armed intervention all over the globe. There is one cable news network in particular that never stops agitating for war. The place where they want this country to use armed force changes, but the demand that we do it is almost constant.

I am not a pacifist. I believe in self-defense.

I am most definitely a patriot. From the soles of my feet to the hair of my head, I am an American.

I believe without equivocation that if we do not take an honest and critical look at this situation, we are dooming ourselves. I’ll write more about this, but we are spending ourselves into bankruptcy to finance a war machine that is out of touch with reality. Then, we are being sold on wars and “military actions” one right after the other to use it and justify it.

War has become our major industry.

This cannot go on if we are to survive. We need an economy that is based on manufacturing the goods and services of the people of this country, not an economy that is based on manufacturing weapons.

As I said in the title of this post, Don’t stop Praying.

We are not out of the woods on this yet.

And the peacemakers in this situation are hardly peaceable people.

But it looks as if there is a real possibility that we will be able to avoid firing Tomahawk missiles at the people of Syria. There may even be a possibility that we can let them work out their own civil war without shedding American blood.

We need to continue praying for peace, and for our Christian brothers and sisters who are so very vulnerable in this war. I’ve read that President Assad has treated the Christian minority in Syria with tolerance and that the rebels have targeted Christian villages for attacks and attempts at forced conversions to Islam. Again, this information has come largely from the Russian press and the Russians have a stake in this war, so I’ve been slow to write about it.

But, the Christians in Syria who have contacted me have said much the same thing.

I am grateful to the Holy Father for his powerful leadership in this matter. I am also grateful to President Obama for making the decision to allow Congress to vote on it.

I hope that is a precedent-setting move that future presidents will take seriously.

Don’t stop praying. It appears to be working.

What We Need: Divine Mercy

I pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet every Friday. I also pray the main prayer after Communion. It is a beautiful prayer of atonement and Christ’s unending mercy towards us.

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The Burden of Sin: What Jesus Endured on the Cross

The One Who knew no sin became sin for us.

 

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Graphic images, not for children.

What is Wrong With Our President?

I wrote earlier about President Obama’s pique against Russia because President Putin decided to give sanctuary to whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

President Obama cancelled a pre-summit talk with President Putin. Perhaps he should have pulled up his big-boy pants and gone ahead with the talk. It might have forestalled the wasted opportunity of this G20 meeting.

There’s an ugly undertone to these events that should disturb anyone.

At a press conference Friday, President Obama issued a needless and adolescent snipe at President Putin, saying that Putin is a “slouch … looking like that bored boy in the back of the classroom.”

Is the president out of his ever-loving mind? International relations involving wars and more wars that kill who knows how many people are not the place for world leaders to indulge in personal rudeness. When I read this, I literally could not believe it. Why would he place this nation in the position of infuriating a world power, not for matters of consequence, but by this sort public childishness?

According to a fine post by Kathy Schiffer, President Putin has said that a US Military strike against Syria would be considered “an act of aggression.” He also flat-out accused Secretary of State Kerry of lying to Congress when Kerry testified that al Queda is not involved with the Syrian rebels.

My advice to President Obama is to stop getting personal with President Putin. Focus on the issues at hand. Personal insults at this level of government are not just childish, they are dangerous to the whole of humankind.

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Vigil for Peace: Pope Francis’ Homily

Pope Francis called the world to negotiation, not war, yesterday. He also called all Christians to follow the Gospel teaching of reconciliation.

Thousands of people responded by standing reverently for four hours throughout the lengthy Vigil for Peace.

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How Great Thou Art

These padres can sing!

Enjoy.

EWTN Nightly News on the War in Syria

I just learned about this new effort from EWTN.

It’s an impressive beginning that I will watch as often as I can. Compared to the unprofessional approach the most of the cable news networks take, EWTN’s Nightly News is a breath of fresh air.

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Nine Out of Ten Americans Back Bold New Strategy for Syria

The link for this article came from reader Ken. I think The Onion may very well have found a solution for Syria, as well as many other problems this country faces.

Enjoy.

Poll: Majority Of Americans Approve Of Sending Congress To Syria

 Sep 5, 2013

A majority of U.S. citizens believe congressional leaders in both the House and Senate must be sent to war-torn Syria immediately.

WASHINGTON—As President Obama continues to push for a plan of limited military intervention in Syria, a new poll of Americans has found that though the nation remains wary over the prospect of becoming involved in another Middle Eastern war, the vast majority of U.S. citizens strongly approve of sending Congress to Syria.

The New York Times/CBS News poll showed that though just 1 in 4 Americans believe that the United States has a responsibility to intervene in the Syrian conflict, more than 90 percent of the public is convinced that putting all 535 representatives of the United States Congress on the ground in Syria—including Senate pro tempore Patrick Leahy, House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and, in fact, all current members of the House and Senate—is the best course of action at this time. (Read more here.)

Schedule for Pope Francis’ Vigil for Peace

EWTN will carry full coverage of Pope Francis’ Vigil for Peace today, beginning at 1 pm, Eastern time. 

The schedule for the Vigil is below. 

God bless Pope Francis. 

(Vatican Radio) On Saturday, 7 September, Pope Francis will preside over an evening of prayer in Saint Peter’s Square as part of the international day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria and the world. The evening will include Eucharistic Adoration, recitation of the Rosary, and a period of silent meditation. Priests will also be available during the evening for those who wish to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

See below for the full schedule of the evening vigil:

5:45: Priests will hear confessions under the colonnade of Saint Peter’s Square.

6:30: Pope Francis’ appeal for peace will be read aloud.

7:00: The Pope begins the prayer service as Veni Creator Spiritus is sung. The icon Salus Populi Romani will then be processed into the Square, carried by four Swiss Guards. 

Pope Francis will then lead the recitation of the Rosary, followed by a meditation.

After a period of silent meditation, the Holy Father will then preside over Eucharistic Adoration, during which there will be readings from Scripture and responsorial prayers. 

Following the guided period of Adoration, there will be the recitation of the Office of Readings from the Liturgy of the Hours.

10:15: A period of silent prayer will be held before the vigil concludes with Benediction.

Text from page 
of the Vatican Radio website

http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/09/07/prayer_vigil_for_peace_with_pope_francis:_schedule/en1-726478 

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Pray and Fast for Peace: What Would Peace Look Like?

The Holy Father Pope Francis has called on all Catholics to pray and fast for peace tomorrow.

What exactly, other than “peace,” are we praying for?

The video below gives a few ideas, and I think they are good ones. What if the president used his considerable powers to convince other leaders around the world, beginning with our great ally Great Britain, and moving onward through the list of nations, including Russia to come together to demand a negotiated peace in Syria?

I don’t see, how, if everyone got together, that they could resist.

That would save lives, and it would prevent this nation of ours from enmeshing itself further in the cycle of violence that is tearing the Middle East apart. I am mindful of what President Dwight Eisenhower said:

Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties.

America has reached the point where we seem to react to every problem around the globe with an almost automatic call to arms. There are teens in this country today who have never lived in a peacetime nation. We can not continue to try to solve every problem by firing off missiles.

The Holy Father is absolutely right: We should give negotiation an all-out effort.

War should be the last option we consider when faced with a crisis, not the first.

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The Marine Times Answers My Questions, and They Didn’t Even Know I was Asking

Obama syria

The  Marine Times answered a couple of the questions I have about this rush to war in Syria, and they didn’t even know I was asking.

Frank Weathers, a former Marine who served in the Middle East, passed the article US considers training Syria rebels along, and the minute I read it, I thought So that’s why we’re being pushed to war in Syria.

It turns out that the president is

“… considering a plan to use US military trainers to help increase the capabilities of the Syrian rebels, in a move that would greatly expand the current CIA training being done quietly in Jordan.”

That one sentence answers just about all the questions I raised in this morning’s post. I asked what we would accomplish by hitting the people of Syria with Tomahawk missiles, given the paucity of legitimate military targets in the country.

While I was typing and musing, I wondered aloud, Is the plan to devastate the infrastructure so that the government crumbles and the rebels win this civil war?

Then, this afternoon, I had time to read the article Frank had found and it was one of those Spoing! moments when the pieces fall into place.

Of course the plan is to destroy the infrastructure of Syria so that the government falls and the rebels win. That is the only military objective for firing Tomahawk missiles that makes any sense. All this stuff and nonsense about “red lines” and “chemical weapons” has always had a How dumb do they think we are? quality to it. 

After all, chemical weapons have been used on civilian populations a number of times in past years and there were no “red lines” and no talk about bombing people for humanitarian purposes. That never added up. 

Our government knows the goodness in the American people. They know that we can be motivated, even against our own self interest, by calls to save innocent people from terrible suffering. They know that we are ignorant about our military, how much it costs us in dollars and lost growth to our economy and our nation. They know that we are so disconnected from these realities that they can feed us any sort of gobbledy-goop imaginable about how bombing people “helps” them, and we will believe it. 

I don’t think there is any other people on this planet who are willing to sacrifice so much to help others as the American people. Our government knows this and it is using it to try to push us into intervening in the civil war in Syria to help the rebels win.

I have a small question. Who are these rebels?

Do we really want them to win?

Why do we want them to win?  

And don’t give me any more lies about humanitarian needs. Tell me the truth. 

That would be refreshing, wouldn’t it, if our government tried telling us the truth? 

Pope Francis: Pray and Fast for Peace

Blessed are the peacemakers. Jesus Christ

 

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For more information, check out Why I am Catholic and Seasons of Grace. 

Late Night Catechism

I need a break from war and rumors of war.

Enjoy.

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Atheists Don’t Got No Songs.

A

I don’t advise checking them out, but if you do, you will notice that the atheist blogs never talk about anything else, and I mean, they never talk about anything else except Jesus Christ. 

Christian bashing is their only interest and their only reason for existing. They are God-obsessed people. 

Given that, it’s sorta sad that, as this little ditty points out, they don’t got no songs. 

Enjoy.

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A Slide on the Ice is No Reason to Go to War

War

Much of the news media has been hard-selling war in Syria to their viewers for quite some time now.

Economic issues are the toughest issues to discuss with traditional Christians. I believe this is because far too many of our religious leaders have aligned themselves and their teaching with the Republican party rather than with Christ.

I am well aware that there are many religious leaders who have done the same thing with the Democrats. But when it comes to false teachings about money, the worst offenders are the heretical religious leaders who follow the Rs.

I believe quite firmly that money is playing a decisive part in this push for war-war-any-war-we-can-find that is coming out of certain opinion-makers’ mouths. Not so long ago, these same folks were pushing us to go to war with Iran. If we don’t go to war in Syria, they’ll be looking for another war someplace else before you can say bottom line.

There are real issues involved with this debate about Syria, but you won’t find them on the cable news. That is because the various cable news stations are, as I said earlier “opinion makers.”

Think about that.

Noodle with it.

Let the idea roll around in your mind as you look at it from different angles.

Opinion makers.

Not journalists. Not reporters of the news.

But opinion makers, which is, I think, a nice phrase for propagandists.

They’re not trying to inform you. They are trying to use you. Their “discussions” always go one direction, and that is war, war, more war.

I am not, as I have said many times, a pacifist. I believe in defending this nation. I understand the lessons of World War II when those in power were so hungry for peace that they became enablers of actions that resulted in the most destructive war in human history.

On the other hand, I sort of understand the side-step, two-step of the war that to this day nobody can really explain: World War I. The world slid into World War I like a line of cars rear-ending one another on an icy road.

One salient point that is usually overlooked is that World War I and World War II were not isolated events. They are actually one event. I have always regarded World War I and World War II as the same war with a 20-year, depression-wracked truce between engagements. The world oh-noooed its way into World War II by letting the bullies have their run-up. But the real causes of that war were in the first world war and its inconclusive and destructive pause. In a real way, the horrors of the 20th century began with a slide on the ice.

The moral of all this, at least for me, is that a slide on the ice is no reason, ever, to go to war. We need to think things through.

War is evil. It is destruction. Even when it must be fought, it is always a tragedy, and it always destroys precious lives. I have stood beside enough graves, I have witnessed the psychological deaths of enough parents standing like hollowed out husks of themselves beside those same graves, to be very slow to say that we should commit America to war.

War makes money, big money, for some. But I am from the economic class that fights these wars. I have talked to the men and women who’ve come back and can’t stop remembering. I have, as I said, stood beside graves into which we lowered coffins containing bodies so mutilated their parents were told not to look.

Kimdie zps9984cde2

War is not a video game.

There are three points I want us to consider in this post.

1. Should President Obama have asked Congress to authorize action in Syria, or should he have acted unilaterally?

2. Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons on the Kurds in Iraq, yet the world did nothing. Why is Syria different?

3. Can the American people resist the “opinion makers” who are trying to hard-sell them on war with somebody/anybody and think for themselves?

A couple of days ago:

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One year ago:

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Eleven years ago:

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Bookkeeper Stops School Shooting

“I knew that bullets don’t have a name.

“I knew that at that moment, he was ready to take my life along with his. I knew that if I didn’t say the right thing, I would be dead.

“I just started praying for him.

“I give it all to God.”

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Pope Francis Discusses the Dignity of Work

In one of his morning homilies a few months ago, Pope Francis talked about societies that put company profits above human dignity, or even human life. “What point have we come to?” he asked.

This kind of talk disturbs cafeteria Christians on the right, just as the Church’s insistence on the fundamental right to life of all human beings and the sanctity of Holy Matrimony disturbs cafeteria Christians on the left.

Each “side” of the culture wars wants the Holy Father to affirm them and their half-Gospel as righteousness so that they can use what would amount to an amputated, phony Jesus to score “gotcha!” points off those on the other side of the various political debates.

But Pope Francis is the Vicar of Christ, not the apologist for the false idols of various religious/political heresies.

Jesus was a worker. A carpenter. By doing that, He elevated work far above the animalistic fight for survival that those in power often try to make it into for working people.

Human beings are made in the image and likeness of Almighty God. As such, we each have a transcendent dignity that extends beyond this life and into eternity. The things we do here, including the work of our heads, hands and hearts, is an expression of that innate, God-given dignity.

All people are entitled to the privileges of owning private property and to have the labor of their lives respected. Part of that respect is a living wage and decent working conditions. When these values are compromised by a moneyed few who mis-use the powers of government to seize the treasure of a nation to satisfy their personal rapaciousness, then those who govern must oppose those actions.

Elected officials who do otherwise may profess Christ with their mouths, but they deny Him by what they do.

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