Charley Chaplin said this at a grim time in history. It was a daring move on his part then, and it still is today. Definitely worth considering what he said then and how things have gone up to now, seventy years down the road.
Charley Chaplin said this at a grim time in history. It was a daring move on his part then, and it still is today. Definitely worth considering what he said then and how things have gone up to now, seventy years down the road.
Is President Obama going to unilaterally take this country to war in Syria against the wishes of the American people and without the support of our greatest ally, Great Britain?
Before I write about the situation today, I’m going to do a little re-wind and take us back to late October, 2012, and the presidential campaign debates. If you will remember, Governor Romney (the Republican nominee) was all agog about going to war with Iran. It didn’t take much of a seer to know that if he won the election, he was going to lead us into a war with them.
I think that was one reason why he lost that election.
Slowly, and painfully, the American people are beginning to get wise to the fact that these wars aren’t for us and for our protection. The reason why papa’s always gotta have a new war is to feed the demand for profits from those who make money off war.
I wrote this post back then, and I’m going re-post it and one other today to give you something to chew on before we dive into talking about Syria and why we’re being told that young Americans need to die there.
The first presidential election I actually remember in any detail was between John Kennedy and Richard Nixon.
During that election, then Senator Kennedy complained about a missile gap that America needed to fill with more military spending.
In every presidential election since then, there has been one reliable “issue.” Both candidates say we need to spend more money on the military. It was a little different last night, in that President Obama was talking about not raising the spending so fast while Governor Romney chided him for this. Obama’s defense? Military spending had gone up every year of his presidency. That was the brag.
The reason is always the same. We are told that we need to spend, spend, spend on ships, planes, bombs and guns (never, notice our troops) to “keep America safe.”
We have reached a point where military spending on top the table comes to over 50% of our budget. And that’s just the money we know about. A lot of military spending is under the table and off the record. How much of our treasure are we really putting into the military? No one knows.
Let me repeat that: No one knows.
This nation has been at war economically since Pearl Harbor in 1941. What I mean by that is that we have been maintaining a wartime military capable of defending us in an all-out world war on multiple fronts against massive enemies for 70 years. Not only that, but we have set ourselves up as the guardians of the world. Our many military bases around the world are a critical part of the economies of a large number of countries. We are draining our economy and sustaining their economy to maintain a vast network of military bases and installations all over the globe.
Is it any accident that we have also found reasons to actually be at war for most of the past 70 years?
Look back in history at the effects that decades of war has on the economies of the nations who engage in it. Consider the 100 years war and what it did. So far as economics are concerned, America has been in a 70-year war, so that’s not an outrageous analogy.
My question: What are the dangers to the people of America if we continue to blindly believe that we have to keep on increasing our military budget year after year, election after election, into perpetuity? Where is this kind of thinking leading us?
I would like to offer you a few thoughts on that matter. These are not absolutes. They are just thoughts. But I do think we need to at least start a conversation about these things. We are Americans. This is our government, and since it is a democracy, we have a responsibility engage in the questions government raises. We are tasked with thinking things through rather than just blindly accepting the rhetoric of political candidates and pundits.
1. Would we have invaded Iraq if we had a universal draft? When we went to war in World War II, President Roosevelt had sons in uniform. Wealthy and powerful men like Joseph Kennedy had one son who was killed in combat and another who was permanently disabled as a result of injuries from combat. Who does our fighting now? My kids. Your kids. The people who are making money from these wars are totally disconnected from the cost in terms of human life and suffering that our children pay for their profits.
This began in Viet Nam. I came from a poor school. It seemed for a while that all I did was go to the funerals of my friends who a few months before had been driving their cars down the strip every night and now were soldiers killed in action. I didn’t realize at first that this was not happening at the wealthier schools. No one was dying who went to those schools. No one was even serving in the military at all. And this was a time when we did have a draft. But it had become corrupt. If you had money, you could get out of it.
A few years ago, I was at a meeting about how to help the kids in my district. It was convened by then Father, now Bishop Anthony Taylor of the Diocese of Little Rock. People from many walks of life were there. One of them was a recruiter for one of the military services. He said to the kids who were at the meeting, “Would you rather join the military and go to Iraq and die a death with honor, or die on the streets here with no honor?”
What he said resonated with these kids. They saw it as true.
Is that the America we want? Is the new American dream a dream where the “opportunity” we offer a large segment of our population is a choice between death with dishonor on our streets or a death with “honor” in an unnecessary war that was started under false pretenses?
2. How can we spend so much on “defense” and still not provide adequate care for our troops? Our soldiers tell me they don’t have adequate equipment in the field, such as body armor, that many of the sophisticated weapons they are given malfunction in actual combat conditions with dust, rain, heat and cold. They fight one war over there and come home to fight another war for treatment for their injuries here. How can we spend so much money and not take care of our troops?
3. Does “privatizing” military services amount to graft and corruption; to giving contracts to your pals so they can make even bigger bucks off our wars? I know what my answer to this will be. I believe emphatically that this is what is happening.
4. How can we balance the budget if we won’t even talk about cutting in the area where we’re spending over half of our money? How much are we willing to impoverish the American people to finance our military? When does the money we’re spending on it start doing us more harm than good?
5. Does all this vast expenditure of our capital on war making actually keep us safe, or does it endanger our economic survival while keeping us at war with somebody all the time? The young people I represent are fighting our wars. They are not getting rich. But somebody is making money beyond the dreams of avarice out of their service.
I am not advocating that we disarm. I am not a pacifist. I believe in self-defense, both for individuals and nations. But I do not want to see my sons killed and my country bankrupted for wars of empire that serve to advance the interests of multi-national corporations.
That is not self-defense. It doesn’t keep my country safe. It endangers us all.
I haven’t discussed the moral issues involved in all this. But they are some of the most important and least discussed of any moral issues facing this nation.
Last night’s debate was predictable in that no one talked about or was even asked if being economically in a world war for 70 straight years might be harming our economy. No one suggested that wars which are fought by kids from the poor neighborhoods while everyone else sits home safe, fed and fat are not democratic wars. I didn’t hear a peep about the graft and corruption involved in military contracts.
Not one word.
All I heard was the usual electioneering blather about who was spending the most to “keep America safe.” Maybe it’s time we at least asked other questions that demand different answers.
But … what does it mean?????
Here is my bullet-pointed reaction to the latest pornifying of a young woman in the name of entertainment.
I guess that’s about it for the Miley Cyrus dust-up. Before I sign off on this, I want to emphasize two things:
This trash is not for children, including teens. Your kids should not be watching MTV and most other television. Try spending time with them in conversation, board games and even — shock! — reading books, instead.
We need to protect our little girls from this predatory culture that sexualizes them and reduces them to sexual things.
Don’t just shake your head and moan about how horrible it all is.
Do whatever it takes to protect your daughter from this amoral, predatory culture that wants to reduce her to an object and a commodity.
I wrote this post in response to the sexist coverage of the summer Olympics in 2012. I’m re-posting it now as a run-up to my next post, which will be on Miley Cyrus.
Prominent news organizations blazed past their critics to take home medals from the 2012 Olympics despite complaints of unsportsmanlike conduct. Opponents claim that the publications emphasized women athletes’ weight, appearance and body parts rather than their athletic performance. According to the editor in chief of a major news outlet, this criticism is unfair.
“Sure we spiced things up a little,” he said. “So what? Journalism is a competitive business. If these gals want to step out there, it’s our right to try to medal off them.”
This spirit of journalistic competitiveness was evident when the New York Times drummed the competition for the Misogyny Medal by sweeping the field with two articles they entered in the all-misogynist girl-baiting competition. Despite heroic effort from some of the sewer dwellers in the blogosphere, (who are the farm teams for this event,) the supposedly credible New York Times took the gold, followed closely by Melbourne Australia’s Herald Sun.
The Herald Sun made a bold opening move with an article claiming that one of Australia’s female swimmers was “too fat,” and setting up an online poll where readers could vote on the young woman’s appearance. Not to be outdone, the New York Times made a strong counter with an article criticizing one of the American women for being “too pretty” to be taken seriously. They followed this with an article discussing women water polo players’ breasts. This daring maneuver sealed their win.
Skirmishes occurred further back in the pack as other “legitimate” publications tried to make up for lost time by re-printing the bulk of these articles and discussing whether or not they actually “had a lot of truth in them.” Salon took home the bronze with this effort. There were excellent efforts by other outlets who discussed whether or not pretty women athletes were cheating by looking so good and if women athletes really are too fat. But, salacious as they were, none of these medaled.
After the medal ceremony, the team captain for the New York Times indicated that the publication would enter “every event out there” in the upcoming months, stating that it was part of the publication’s standard to maintain a high level of misogyny in all of its coverage at all times. He said that he intended to sharpen the Times’ edge by eliminating the sublety, which he felt slowed his team down. “Next time, we’ll just say that it doesn’t matter what women do or what they achieve, they are still second-class citizens.”
The Herald Sun’s captain broke into the interview to announce, “We’ll do better than that. Next time, we’ll skip the article and run a full-page headline saying, “No Matter What You Accomplish Girl, You’re Still Just A Piece Of Meat.”
When informed that the women athletes in question claimed to feel humiliated and degraded, both team captains said this was an “overreaction” and an example of the emotionalism of women. “I think it’s caused by them thinking about their breasts too much,” the New York Times team captain stated. “Also, carrying around all that fat,” the Herald Sun captain added. “Those girls need to drop about 40 pounds.”
“Yeah,” the Times’ Captain said. “Then we can do an article criticizing them for being too skinny.”
The team captains seemed to forget about the reporter at that point and wandered off together, re-hashing the competition and looking for a brewski.
As for the female athletes, after crying their eyes out, they competed in their events.
Every Christian has a vocation. In a real sense, we are our vocations.
I’m thinking of the mentally-challenged teen who attends my parish. She’s almost puppyish in her expressions of affection with the other teens.
In my public school, I saw teens like her get roughed up pretty routinely. In fact, one of the cruelest things I ever saw in a school involved the football team boys and a mentally challenged young man. This young man styled his hair in a way that the football boys found offensive. So, they took him down in the hall and cut his hair.
A yelling crowd formed around them while they did this. I remember I came up on them and stood at the back of the crowd, unable to see what was happening. When they finally finished and backed off, this young man was lying on the floor in a fetal position, his hands over his head, crying. I will never forget that all the men teachers ran the other way when this happened. The only teacher who tried to intervene was a tiny female journalism teacher who got shoved back and ignored.
That’s the law of the fittest in action, btw, right down to the male teachers high-tailing it out of there at the first sign of real trouble.
What I have seen in my parish is the polar opposite of this behavior. The other teens are not only kind to this girl, they return her affection. It’s not at all unusual to see them sitting with her during mass and letting her hug them and talk to them when everyone should be quiet.
My point here is that this mentally challenged girl has a vocation, just the same as you and I and the Pope have vocations. She is full of love. She knows that God loves her, that Jesus loves her, and I have no doubt that she will go easily on a straight path to heaven when her time comes. That’s her vocation: To let God love her from death to life and to live in that love all her days.
Our vocation, part of it, is to take care of her, protect her and make sure she can live without ever ending up lying in a hallway sobbing helplessly because of the cruelties that people inflict on her.
The boys who humiliated and crushed that mentally challenged young man weren’t monsters as we usually think of human monsters. They were ordinary teen-aged boys who had developed a good dose of male tribal bonding during their time as members of the same football team. There are few things on this planet more dangerous than male tribal bonding, especially in adolescent boys.
Without it, we could not fight our wars. There would be no gang rapes, no drive-by shootings and raves.
Masculinity is beautiful. I am one of its greatest appreciators. But this propensity to form a pack and then do things none of the members of that pack would do alone can be incredibly cruel and destructive.
This same pack instinct is in all of, in a more verbal and less physically violent way in women, but it’s there in all of us. Human beings need other human beings. We hunger for one another’s company, for the solace of touching other people on an emotional and spiritual level. We find much of our affirmation and pleasure in life in our relationships with one another.
All this is what makes the realization that Christian vocation is not just taking vows or beginning an apostolate, or even raising a family so critical to our formation as His followers. Christian vocation is at its base a relationship with the God Who made us. But it is not what we normally understand when we think of relationship.
In a human relationship, there is give and take. But in our relationship with our creator, it’s all take. He gives, we take.
Think about it. What exactly can you give God that He would need?
To put it in an understandable perspective, what can your toddler give you that you need?
All your toddler has to do is let you love them. All they need to do is follow your lead and let you guide them.
It’s like that with us and God. When we do these good things that come from the love He pours out on us, we are not doing it as a gift to Him. We are simply expressing the love that is our birthright as children of God.
That’s why we can look at the admittedly disruptive chattering of a mentally challenged teen and respond to her with affection. We can love because we were loved first.
So, what happened with those football playing teenagers who shoved a harmless mentally challenged boy onto the floor and publicly degraded and humiliated him? Probably most of then didn’t go to church, but if you asked them I imagine to a person they would have said they believed in God.
So why didn’t their belief in God stop them from doing this thing that was so obviously devil-inspired? I don’t know for sure, but I would guess that they hypered one another into it through the black magic of group-think. To put it bluntly, they chose the group over basic humanity. They chose the group over Christ. They chose the group over their own souls and spiritual well-being, because when it’s all said and done, they wounded themselves, as well as the boy they attacked.
I am not damning these young men to hell for what they did. But I am saying that a lifetime of choices like this will send you there for the simple reason that this would be a lifetime of refusing to follow Him.
Vocation is not just for special people who take vows or form apostolates and ministries. It’s not even confined to the more competent among us who hold down jobs, raise families and can make our way in the world. Every Christian has the vocation of accepting God’s love and passing it along. Every Christian has the vocation of choosing Him over the group, over the world.
I know that what I’m saying here is not exactly the hubba-hubba-go-out-and-evangelize pep talk that people have come to expect when we talk about vocation. But I think it’s the essential first understanding to true Christian vocation.
All the things we normally associate with the word vocation come after this essential first vocation of allowing ourselves to be loved to life by God. I’ll go a step further and say that even if God eventually wants you to take on the kind of activity we more usually associate with “vocation” that will probably only come to you after you’ve spend quite some time living in His love and growing in it.
It is quite possible to be very sophisticated in the world and a helpless baby in Christ. It takes a good bit of time living in God’s love to mature enough as a Christian to be of any use with a more traditional vocation.
Eggsploitation, or, as I call it, egg harvesting, is a deadly new form of prostitution, made possible by a combination of modern science, doctors who are willing to exploit, sell and endanger healthy patients in order to make money for themselves and a culture that regards women as a commodity to be bought and sold.
A recent death in India highlights the dangers:
SAN RAMON, Calif., July 13, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ – News is just breaking in India aboutSushma Pandey, a 17-year-old young woman who died in 2010, two days after her third “egg donation.” Her death is being attributed to the procedures used to extract eggs from healthy, desirable young females like Ms. Pandey. These eggs are often resold to affluent westerners for use in commercial production of their children. Her post-mortem report states she had “one abrasion, four contusions and a blood clot in the head, plus six injection marks” as well as “congestion in the ovaries and uterus.” The possible cause of her death was listed as shock due to multiple injuries.
This most recent exposure of the daily exploitation of females offers yet another wake up call to the truth of the real, repeat, and often lethal harms of invasive egg removal procedures, which masquerade under the lie of donation. These transactions are anything but “donations” as young females — nearly children themselves — all over the world, desperately fall prey to offers of money like those made to Ms. Pandey. (Read more here.)
Here in the United States, egg harvesters run ads on Craigslist, college campus newspapers, Facebook and other social media, enticing healthy young women to undergo this dangerous procedure and allow egg harvesters (i.e., “infertility doctors”) to harvest their bodies for their eggs. The eggs are then sold for embryonic stem cell research and for “family building,” usually for gay couples.
The doctors who do this in Oklahoma misrepresent both the dangers and the suffering involved in submitting to egg harvesting. I assume they do this other places, as well. Based on conversations I’ve had with many of them, the young women in question often experience life-long health problems, including subsequent infertility, as a result of allowing doctors to harvest their bodies for eggs.
Jennifer Lahl, of the The Center for Bioethics and Culture is a remarkable woman who is fighting this evil. I have had the honor of working with her on legislation in the past. She is selfless in her dedication to end the exploitation of young women at the hands of unethical and predatory medical professionals. You can learn more about her work here.
We have been faced lately with the defection of a number of highly-placed American Christians on serious matters of faith.
In particular, there has been a large retreat among political and intellectual Christian leadership on the question of the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. They are either tossing marriage out the door altogether, or they are, as I was once counseled concerning abortion, urging the rest of us to leave our beliefs at home or inside our houses of worship.
I’m not talking about one, specific, runner. I’m talking about a whole group of people who have grown fat off denouncing other people for not supporting the very values they are now running from themselves. Excuse me please if I won’t go along with their self-serving patter.
But I’m not going to.
I think they’re self-serving phonies.
I also think that they should consider persecuted Christians around the world who are holding fast to the cross in the face of horrific suffering.
“Faith in Orissa is growing because of the persecution. This mission, in the face of violent persecutions, has become the focus of religious and priestly vocations.”
Consider, for a moment, what sincere Christians face in India. According to Archbishop Barwa,
… the district of Kandhamal, where the majority of Catholics of the Archdiocese live, has faced untold persecution”. The highest point were the pogroms of 2008: “During the persecutions, there was an ethnic cleansing of all Christians in 400 villages, more than 6,000 houses, 340 churches and chapels, clinics and schools were burned and destroyed. Thousands of believers were injured, several women and girls, including a nun, were raped and about 60,000 men, women and children were left homeless”. The Bishop recalled that 75 Christians (22 Catholics, 28 Baptists, 12 Pentecostals, 5 of independent churches) and 8 non-tribal Christians were brutally murdered.
The text continues: “Five years after the persecutions, visiting the affected communities, the faithful say to the Bishop: the persecutors burned our houses, property, and killed our loved ones, but they did not manage to destroy our faith and cannot separate us from the love of Jesus Christ .We are proud to be Christians and proud of our faith”. Words and actions of this kind “are clear signs of growth in faith. They may be poor and illiterate, but rich people of faith”, he comments.
The Archbishop explains that still there is no guarantee that persecution will not be repeated: “We live trusting in God and making every effort, as individuals and communities, to build peace in Kandhamal, but we surrender to God and say: Let there be your will”.
He goes on to describe what I believe is beginning to happen here in the “Christian” West when he says, “Each growth is a process that requires pruning, trials and suffering.”
The devil is collecting the low-hanging fruit with the runners who are running away from traditional marriage in America today. These folks don’t need persecution to make them tuck tail and skeedaddle. If you stop and think about it, they’ve never really talked about following Jesus. Their focus for decades has been on denouncing other people. They haven’t urged us to live by our faith or even to bring people to Christ. Their entire focus has been on manipulating us into believing that being a Christian was summarized by how we vote.
The purpose of all this wasn’t our souls or the conversion of our culture. It was their power.
All they needed to switch horses on these issues they were pushing in lieu of actual Christianity was for the manipulations to stop delivering enough votes to give them the power. They are switching — and trying to get us to switch along with them — on 2,000 years of Christian teachings because denouncing people over those teachings has stopped being profitable. The minute they see the money is leaving the fight, they leave the fight right behind it.
Christianity is growing in India because the Christians there are following Christ.
Cowardice and Christianity don’t mix. Opportunism and political manipulations don’t mix with Christianity, either.
They never have.
Christianity was so ascendent here in the West that its popularity covered for the manipulators and cowards in our midst. But things are changing. Faithfully following Jesus is beginning to be a career breaker, rather than a career maker.
We shouldn’t be surprised when people who were only pretending to follow Jesus in the first place fall away under these circumstances. It is inevitable.
I am humbled by the persecuted Christians in our world today, those in Orissa among them. I know that God holds them close, because I know that none of us has the courage to stand toe to toe with satan incarnate and not run unless the Holy Spirit is empowering them.
We need to help our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ in every way we can, including by praying for them every single day. I hope they in turn will pray for us.
Because their prayers avail much.
Because they walk with God.
The link to this article is courtesy of reader Fabio.
I published this post last spring. I’m posting it again in response to a reader’s question. Allowing non-physicians to perform abortion is all the rage among the “reproductive health” folks. They’re introducing bills to allow this in states all around the country.
I wrote a post earlier today, Woman Sues Planned Parenthood for Forced Abortion and Medical Malpractice in which I made the following statement:
“Based on my experience with this issue, any attempts to impose regulations on abortion clinics will be met with cries of “anti-choice” and “pushing women into the back alleys again.” Even the most common-sense reforms such as requiring doctors who perform abortions to have hospital privileges at a nearby hospital, or requiring that those who perform abortions be licensed physicians, are characterized as “attacks on women’s health care” and “driving women into the back alleys.”
Abortion proponents do not want women to be given accurate information about the child they are carrying. They do not want parents of minor children to be told that their daughters are going to undergo surgery. They do not want requirements that licensed physicians perform abortions, or in the case of abortion drugs, that licensed physicians administer the drugs. They do not want the abortionists to be required to have hospital privileges. I could go on and on. Abortion proponents appear to want a caveat emptor situation so far as abortion is concerned. I do not believe that this attitude reflects concern for “health care for women” or for women’s well-being.”
One of Public Catholic’s readers asked in the comments section if I could name a state where abortions can be performed by people who are not licensed doctors.
The answer is, yes, I can.
California’s Governor Jerry Brown just recently signed a law that will allow midwives, nurses and other non-physicians to perform surgical abortions. One abortion technique that was specifically mentioned in the articles I’ve read is vacuum aspiration. According to news reports, Planned Parenthood, that self-proclaimed bastion of women’s health care, along with the California ACLU, lobbied for this legislation.
In my time as a legislator, I have had discussions with Planned Parenthood representatives who either wanted similar legislation in Oklahoma, or who were opposed to legislation that would require that doctors who run abortion clinics have hospital privileges at the hospitals in the communities where they do the abortions. I do not believe that doctors who run abortion clinics in Oklahoma are required to have hospital privileges as of now.
Also, the Reproductive Health Act which is being pushed by New York Governor Cuomo would allow abortions to be performed by “any licensed medical practitioner.” According to New York Right to Life, this would mean that medical personnel other than physicians would be allowed perform abortions. The bill is supported by Planned Parenthood, NARAL and the New York ACLU.
All these organizations claim that their motive in working to pass legislation that will allow non-doctors to perform surgery on women is to make sure that abortion is “available.” None of them mention that licensed physicians are probably more costly to employ than midwives and other non-physicians, even though one of the firms pushing for this “reform” is the largest abortion provider in America.
I published this post about 10 months ago. I’m re-running it today because of the combox discussions on birth control.
I am, as I’ve said many times on this blog, a feminist. I’m also no spring chicken. I remember back when feminists actually agitated for safer forms of contraception for women and criticized the marketing of dangerous chemical birth control to women without regard for their health and safety.
The “feminism” of today equates any form of chemical contraceptive — no matter the health dangers to women — as not only ok, but an absolutely imperative and vital part of “women’s health.” They have turned the phrase “women’s health” into a synonym for abortion and the massive application of a chemical band-aid to the sexual exploitation of women and sexualizing of young girls.
They are, in short, exactly who they used to oppose.
I’ve lost count of the Yaz commercials I saw. Here are a couple of examples. Notice the lack of warning about side effects and the age of the girls this pill is marketed to in the first one.
And another ad pushing Yaz, but this time with warnings:
And the FDA finally takes note of the young women who are dying because of this totally unnecessary medication:
The important thing to remember is that none of this is necessary. Yaz is not being used to treat cancer or any other illness. It is marketed for mild teen-age acne, pre-menstrual emotional upset and to prevent pregnancy. It is an entirely elective medication with fatal side effects, being marketed directly to young women and girls.
After Yaz had been on the market a number of years, and probably damaged the health of many young women, ABC News finally wrote a story about it.
The 2011 ABC News article reads in part:
The blockbuster birth control pill with benefits, Yaz was pitched as the choice for women desperate for relief from severe PMS and acne. But now, new independent studies have found that Yaz carries higher blood clotting risks than other leading birth control pills.
ABC News investigated whether tens of millions of women switched to a more potentially risky pill that, as it turns out, was never proven to treat common PMS.
In 2007, Carissa Ubersox, 24, was fresh out of college and starting her dream job as a pediatric nurse in Madison, Wis. On Christmas day, while working the holiday shift, her boyfriend surprised her at the hospital with a marriage proposal.
Wanting to look and feel her best for her wedding day, Carissa said she switched to Yaz after watching one of its commercials that suggested this pill could help with bloating and acne.
“Yaz is the only birth control proven to treat the physical and emotional premenstrual symptoms that are severe enough to impact your life,” claimed the ad.
It “sounds like a miracle drug,” Carissa said she remembers thinking.
But just three months later, in February 2008, Carissa’s legs started to ache. She didn’t pay much attention to it, assuming, she said, that it was just soreness from being on her feet for a 12-hour shift.Birth Control Medication UnderInvestigation Watch Video
By the next evening, she was gasping for air. Blood clots in her legs had traveled through her veins to her lungs, causing a massive double pulmonary embolism.
Her fiance called 911, but on the way to the hospital Carissa’s heart stopped. Doctors revived her, but she slipped into a coma for almost two weeks.
Carissa’s only memory of that time is something she refers to as an extraordinary dreamlike experience. She said she remembers a big ornate gate and seeing a recently deceased cousin.
That cousin, Carissa said, told her, “You can stay here with me or you can go back.”
But, she recounted, he told her if she goes back she’ll end up blind.
“I just remember waking up in the hospital and I was like, ‘Oh, I guess I chose to stay,’” Carissa told ABC News.
Like her cousin in her dreamlike experience foretold, she actually did wake up blind, and remains blind to this day.
(Read more here.)
Rub shoulders with Al Kresta, Michelle Buchman and other Catholic writers.
Pick up a few tricks of the writing trade and grow closer to the Lord through the sacraments at the same time.
The Catholic Writers Guild is sponsoring a retreat for Catholic Writers that sounds like a skill and career-builder for anyone who wants to take advantage of it.
Here are the details:
When: October 13-17, 2013
Where: St Francis Retreat Center, DeWitt, MI
You can find the schedule for the retreat here. Click the “special offerings” tab to have a look at the schedule.
Don’t be alarmed by defecting Christians.
It’s just the Holy Spirit, pruning the dead wood.
Christianity in America suffers from a blight that is choking out the Word and covering up the Light of Christ.
That blight is the heresy of conflating Christ the Lord with partisan politics. This has gone on so long and become so endemic that a lot of people actually think that they are following Christ by how they register to vote.
Even worse, people who confuse Jesus with the R and the D always seem to end up lopping off parts of Jesus in order to make Him fit into the partisan box. If you’re an R, this has historically meant that the Sermon on the Mount is just jesus (little j) blather that comes from the First Century and doesn’t mean much. I’ve had the experience of using the phrase “If you’ve done it to the least of these, if you’ve done it to Me,” in debate and seeing the bored, patronizing expressions cross those Republican faces.
They don’t want to hear it.
Likewise, anyone who has ever gone into a Democratic Party what-not with the idea that gay marriage or abortion or any trendy social sin is not a “human right” is going to learn what the word “cut” means in the Victorian sense. They will cut you dead. And that’s if they’re in a good mood.
My point, which I’ve made over and over again, and which I’ll keep on making until it’s no longer pertinent, is that the R and the D aren’t Jesus. Party platforms aren’t the Gospels.
We are now living with the inevitable consequences of this decades-long heresy of political jesus. People are increasingly sick and tired of the heresy. They find — quite rightly — that it is a sham and a flam and that partisan politics jesus is a bogus god not worth their time.
Many outspoken Christian leaders have maintained so loudly and for so long that this perversion of the Gospels that they’ve been preaching is, in fact, the true Gospels of Christ, that they’ve managed to convince not only their besotted followers, but the larger population, as well.
A lot of people believe that political jesus; political party apologist jesus, mean and heartless django jesus, is actually Our Lord.
Why do they think this?
Because Christian religious leaders and their followers have been telling them so for decades.
This group of disenchanted, disaffected-with-Christianity reactors to political django jesus, has grown to the point that they are now able to affect the outcome of national elections. Which means that they are now players.
That also means that the same political parties who’ve used and abused the name of Christ for so long are now trying to get shed of Him. The stampede for the exit ramps among politicians and professional Christians of every stripe has become such a crowded field that it is a parody of itself.
The National Review published a whimsical essay today titled “A Form Letter for Defecting Conservatives.” This humorous article is an accurate representation of what is happening and the flabby, flimsy lies these runners are using to explain themselves.
What interested me the most, however, is that the National Review’s title underscores the heresy I’m talking about. The “issues” these running rabbits are dumping are the same issues that traditional Christians have fought for these past decades. They are the issues that put the Rs in the winner’s circle. Hence, the use of the word “conservative” to describe these folks.
However, what they are, are sham Christians who’ve used a faked fealty to Christ to win elections or build big careers in publishing, think-tanking or some other moneyed and powered endeavor. As anyone who isn’t wearing a mental blindfold can tell just by looking around, they haven’t done much good. But they have certainly done well.
The reason they are hitting the door on these “issues” now is because they never believed them in the first place. I’m not saying that people can’t experience a change of heart, that they can’t be converted. But this mass stampede of political opportunists for the higher ground of a different take on traditional Christian teaching has nothing to do with conversion. It is pragmatic people being pragmatic and taking care of themselves.
They never believed it in the first place, and whatever they tell you now, they don’t believe that, either.
The heresy here is that none of this — none of it — has anything to do with Jesus. By conflating politics with the Gospels, we have corrupted politics and defamed the Gospels. These aren’t “defecting conservatives. ” The reason they aren’t is that issues like the sanctity of human life and marriage are not issues. They are truths. The sanctity of human life and marriage are not “conservative” values. “If you have done it to the least of these, you have done it to Me,” is not liberal spin.
These are the law and the prophets of God Almighty. They are the teachings of Christ the Lord.
We are beginning to reap the whirlwind that we have sown by lying about the nature of God for political gain.
My advice is don’t be alarmed or dismayed by all these recanting Christians and born-again nihilists.
Let them go their way and don’t worry.
The Holy Spirit is pruning the tree of life so that it can bloom anew.
Here, from Monty Python, is an anthem for the runners.
The cheap grace of following the world in Jesus’ name is not grace at all. It is a lie we tell ourselves to keep from having to “chose this day whom” we “will serve.”
Sadly, it is also a delusion. Trendy jesus, pragmatic jesus and all the other false messiahs these theological snake-oil salesmen are selling having nothing to do with the real Jesus Christ Who was crucified on Calvary and calls each succeeding generation of Christians to “pick up your cross and follow Me.”
Following the real Jesus exacts a price. As the Light is smothered by the ever-encroaching darkness of humanity’s fealty to its own passions rather than the living God, the price for those who do not accede to the darkness goes up exponentially.
We may be willing to be friends with those who serve other gods, but they will not be friends with us. We may find our careers truncated, our friendships forfeit, our lives troubled in many ways when we follow Christ. He told us this would happen. If the world hates you, remember that it first hated me, He said.
The anger directed at us is just a side-blow, a glancing near miss of the object of the real hatred, which is satan’s hatred for the Savior of Humankind. Those who attack people for following Christ, even if they only do it with rudeness and exclusion, are the unwitting pawns of this evil.
Our task is always to be the witting servants of the good. God has no use and no desire for “unwitting pawns.” We can blunder into following satan, but we always chose to follow Christ.
Life in Christ is an intentional, moment by moment, living out of the faith. It can only be done through grace, and that grace does not come from us. There is no intelligence, courage or intuition we possess in and of ourselves that can equip us for following Jesus in a post Christian world.
The capacity to follow Him is a free gift of divine grace. He equips us to run the race that is before us if we ask Him daily and trust Him constantly. When we fail, all we have to do is reach out to Him and ask for forgiveness. That’s all there is to life in Christ: Just say “yes” to Him, and keep saying “yes” as each new challenge arises.
This is the Living Lord Who stood before Pilate, endured the blows and humiliations, hung from the cross and died. He understands everything He is asking of us because He has already endured all of it and far worse for us. He can help us on the Way as someone who has walked it Himself.
First, you’ve got to go to Rome.
Here’s what to do next if you want to be part of one of Pope Francis’ General Audiences while you’re there.
It began with a young man who decided that the American people had the right to know that their government had them under surveillance.
Not, mind you, that the government had possible criminals under court-ordered surveillance by virtue of having produced evidence of probable cause. Our government has been sweeping all of our emails and cell phone convos into a big database and sifting through it looking for crimes, potential crimes, or anything it deems “suspicious.”
In the brave new world of Fourth-Amendment?-What-Fourth-Amendment?-Patriot-Act-land, we’re all potential criminals and we’re all under government surveillance.
The amount of data that our government has swept into its intelligence gathering maw has become so vast (remember these are electronic 1 and 0s, not piles of space-consuming paper) that the NSA is building a gi-normous file cabinet in the Utah desert to warehouse it all.
The minute that this young man stepped up and made this information available to the general public, the government smear machine and its trusty operatives in the press (perhaps I should say, it’s trusty operative, the press) swung into action, claiming and proclaiming that this young man, Edward Snowden is his name, was the worst American traitor since Benedict Arnold.
Shortly after giving this interview:
Michael Hastings died in a car crash,
The public was interested in Mr Hastings’ too convenient death until the same press that pushes the government line on us distracted the public with a trial about a shooting in Florida. This trial so transfixed the public that it completely forgot that Uncle Sam was watching its every move.
Unfortunately for the government, Mr Snowden decided to run rather than take his chances in a kangaroo court.
The president of the United States brought out all his big bully artillery and fired it off at every nation that might give Mr Snowden sanctuary. He huffed and he puffed and one by one the various nations put up the No Vacancy sign in front of Mr Snowden.
Russia finally took the wandering whistle-blower in, and President Obama promptly cancelled a scheduled G4 Summit talk with President Putin. I don’t know if President Putin cried himself to sleep that night or not. But I do know that the world is balanced on a razor’s edge. It might be nice if these two guys talked things over, even if President Putin is sheltering that dreadnought Snowden.
But then, that would presume that somebody involved in the government end of this mess actually cared about this country. It seems safe to say that they only care about covering their own backsides.
Meanwhile, our ally, the United Kingdom, decided to get into the act. Rather than huff and puff, they picked up their guns and clubs and went a-huntin’ and a-smashin’ in the offices of the British publication, The Guardian.
The Guardian had actually had the temerity to behave like a — I know this is hard to believe — member of the free press, and report Mr Snowden’s revelations about the work our governments were doing to put all of us on both sides of the Atlantic in the surveillance crosshairs.
The Brits, who are not troubled by niceties like First and Fourth Amendments, evidently took advantage of their government’s relative freedom to oppress its citizens and barged into The Guardian’s offices like Elliott Ness raiding a gin mill. They smashed computers and generally, as we say in these parts, tore up jack.
Of course, these tyrannical nitwits forgot (as tyrannical nitwits often do) the very essence of what they were dealing with. Evidently, nobody told them about backups.
I doubt that The Guardian lost a lot of data in this raid. But the British people lost a tremendous amount of freedom.
The question on this side of the Atlantic, not to even try to put it nicely, is did members of our government use the computer in Michael Hastings car to murder him because he was a danger to their careers?
It’s not even a question on the other side of the Atlantic. The answer is yes, the UK is in the bag for Obama and his spying on the populace of this country and probably theirs, as well. They don’t need a whistle blower to come forward and release evidence that their government has become a danger to the freedom of its citizens.
They went over to The Guardian’s offices and demonstrated that fact for all the world to see.
What is happening here?
Are we going to sit around and watch trashy televised trials and allow ourselves to be flim-flammed out of all our freedoms? Does anybody see how outrageous it is that the government has the entire American populace under surveillance?
He’s got the whole world in his files.
That means you.
What happened in Britain isn’t a fluke. It’s a harbinger.
There seems to be a dedicated group of abortion advocates who don’t care about human life, except, perhaps, their own.
I am not saying that everyone who thinks abortion should be legal falls into this category. But I have no other way to characterize people who would oppose the requirement that babies who survive an abortion be given medical care.
What am I supposed to say about these people?
One of Public Catholic’s readers went all apoplectic over Obama’s Lowest Moment in the 2008 Campaign. He denounced Infant Born Alive Acts as “garbage” and “thinly-veiled” attempts “to encroach on Roe v Wade.” Then, I guess to add what he thought was the cherry on top this little statement, sputtered at me to get out of the Democratic Party.
Not only is he confused about the Democratic Party — (It’s not an invitation-only private club run just for him.) — but his grip on what the Infant Born Alive Acts are about is tenuous, as well.
The video below is a sweet reminder of what Infant Born Alive Acts are addressing: The human lives of real human beings.
Whenever political ambitions cut across Christian beliefs, the result is predictable.
It’s like watching one of those flickering silent movies of yesteryear as the train roars up on Little Nell who lies tied to the tracks. You just know that Little Nell is going to get out of the ropes and off the tracks before the train arrives, but it’s soooo fun watching her kick and mouth silent pleas for help as she awaits her rescuing hero.
When politicians get bit by the big-time bug, sincere Christian beliefs are kind of like Little Nell’s ropes, tying them down. Big-time national politics and sincere beliefs don’t mix. If you doubt that, consider what we’ve been electing these past few decades.
Once a politician feels the frisson White House Ambition running down his or her spine, all basic Christian beliefs become unnecessary ballast that may — probably will — need a heave-ho.
Some politicians handle this with a deft, even stylish touch. Some of them are stone, cold liars. Others flub their lines at first. It takes a while for them to get the hang of it. That, and if they’ve been around politics for a while (and most White House Fever types have) they’ve got earlier versions of themselves to sweep under various political rugs.
We used to call it flip-flopping. Before that, we called it lying. The new term is “evolve.” Today’s politicians don’t turn their backs on everything they told voters to get elected to earlier offices. They “evolve.”
The pull of White House Ambition signals that it’s time to Start Evolving.
It’s up to we the people to see if we can figure out what they are going to evolve into.
Because they won’t tell us.
Because they don’t know.
Until they read the latest polls.
Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, is, as everyone knows, a desperation hope for the Republican ticket for president in 2016. He put in a boffo performance during Hurricane Sandy, one that convinced a lot of people — including me — that he had an actual sense of responsibility to the people of New Jersey.
That alone was so refreshing — dare I say unique? — among today’s elected officials that it made him an immediate possibility in the upcoming fight for his very own front door key to the big white house on Pennsylvania Avenue. It also, if his recent performance is any indicator, flooded his brain with political laughing gas.
Governor Christie is on record opposing gay marriage. He’s also on record supporting civil unions. So the water has always been murky in Christie land. But now he’s faced with running for nomination to the presidency in a Republican Party that is trying to “re-frame” itself on several critical issues. While the Rs have historically used the gay marriage issue as a vote getter in conservative states, they have begun to find it less than useful in certain big-state electoral vote mother lodes. Hence the “re-framing.”
As I’ve tried repeatedly to tell people on this blog, political parties are about getting and keeping power and everything else they say is a lie. That includes the lie of either party about supporting traditional marriage (or gay marriage, for that matter) if it becomes a loser in the vote-getting department. An internal report earlier this year recommended that the Republican party back off on its position against gay marriage.
The reaction of the party faithful was strong enough that the Republican National Committee approved a resolution reaffirming that marriage should be between one man and one woman.
But potential presidential candidates can and must be more coy than party committees. They’ve got to thread the vote-getting needle.
So, of course, there’s going to be some “evolving” taking place in their positions on hot-button issues.
In Governor Christie’s case, that meant signing a new law that would ban certain types of psychological therapy for children and announcing that being gay is “inborn and not a sin.” He even managed to conflate this statement with Catholic teaching.
The truth is, nobody really knows what causes homosexuality. And of course being tempted to homosexual acts is not a sin. The next big leap into saying that actually going ahead and participating in homosexual acts is not sinful and that the Catholic Church teaches this is, well, just a Christie-ism.
News articles are now taking what the Governor said and putting it together with Pope Francis’ earlier statements to create a whole new teaching for the Catholic Church.
I wish the bishops would chime in with a correction. But until they do, I guess it’s up to us bloggers to do our best.
Here’s Catholic teaching as I understand it, which, since I am not running for president, is almost certainly going to be more accurate and less self-serving than anything Governor Christie will come out with.
As I said, it’s not a sin to be tempted to sin. If the sin is homosexual acts, the temptation is still not a sin. But committing the sinful act, even when that act is something as culturally sacred as having illicit sex, is a sin. Sex outside marriage is sinful. Period.
Second, Pope Francis did not say anything that contradicts this. He also did not overturn what Pope Benedict XVI taught.
Priests — both homosexual and straight — are supposed to be chaste, which, if you’re not married, means no sex. Both popes agree on that.
As for Governor Christie, my advice to him is to relax. It’s not anywhere near 2016. There’s plenty of time for him to “evolve” more gracefully than this.