Book Review: Building Christian Family by the Sacred Rules

To join the conversation about Six Sacred Rules for Families; A Spirituality for the Home, or to order a copy, go here

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Family life will either be the salvation of America, or the death of it, depending, almost entirely on whether or not American Christians begin living their home lives like the Christians they say they are. 

That has long been my opinion about both family life in this country and the future of the country itself. We are imploding as a nation because we have allowed our homes and families to implode along trendy lines. 

The authors of Six Sacred Rules for Families; A Spirituality for the Home, have written a simple how-to book for husbands and wives who want to create true Christian family and home for themselves and their children. There is no more important work than the rearing of little children to be strong, Christian adults who can take their place as the shepherds of the next generation after themselves. 

That is what parents are: Shepherds of the home. If they fail with their little flock, then nothing else they do in life matters. 

Let me repeat that: If you fail in raising your kids, then all the other things that seem so important — career, houses, cars, expensive vacations — all of it is for naught. I don’t believe that God ever created a person for the purpose of having a big house, driving an expensive car and taking lavish vacations. Those things, if they come your way, are the garnishes. They are not life. 

Child rearing is becoming a lost art. We are inundated with childcare books for the early years, when things are easy, and a stale silence for the drug-infested, sexual-experimenting later years of childhood, when they are not. Our cultural role models are all about dissolution, parental selfishness, broken homes and designer babies. 

True parenting is not about taking. The me-first, kids-are-tough-and-can-take-it philosophy has led us to the where we are today, which is the place where a huge number of our young people are not able or willing to form families and raise children of their own. From the throwaway kids of the inner cities to the trophy children of the rich and shameless, family life has far too often devolved down to a sad manifestation of the narcism of self-satisfying adults. 

How are Christians, especially those who were themselves shaped by this malformed and malfunctioning social milieu, going to learn the techniques for raising their kids in a true Christian home?

Possibly, from books like Six Sacred Rules for Families. 

This is not an in-depth book. It is rather, a faith-filled starting point. Sue and Tim Muldoon wrote a book that shares both their personal experiences of child-rearing, and the humility they faced in having to accept that they would not have children of their bodies, but would rather adopt children of their hearts. All this is informed by their professional work in the areas of faith formation and counseling. 

They built the book around six rules that can get parents started in a dialogue about how best to build a Christian home. The rules are:

  1. God brings our family together on pilgrimage.
  2. Our love for one another leads to joy.
  3. Our family doesn’t care about ‘success.’
  4. God stretches our family toward His Kingdom.
  5. God will help us.
  6. We must learn which desires lead us to freedom. 

If you want to learn what these rules mean, you will have to read the book. I will say that I found number 3, “Our family doesn’t care about success” thought provoking in a personal way. I’ve got some changing to do myself, and reading this book helped me see that. 

We’re going to have to be Christian in new ways in this post-Christian society. Perhaps the best way to begin that project is by resurrecting the lost art of Christian homemaking. Six Sacred Rules for Families provides simple direction on how to start down that path. 

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The Bishop of Bling and the Pope

 

Government money is not free.

It is a hammer than can beat people and institutions into the government mold. It is also a great corruptor.

The Church in Germany has been dealing with one particular manifestation of this corruption in the person of the bishop the press and people have dubbed “The Bishop of Bling.”

Germany levies a church tax on those who register as members of a recognized church. The government then cuts a big check to the church where these people are registered.

What that means is that the Catholic Church (among others) does not have to deal with the messiness of the people in the pews in order to get their do-re-mi. The government sends them a check to the tune (in the Catholic example) of billions of dollars. Not only does this lead inexorably to a Church that is out of contact with its people and content to be fat and indifferent, but it can and does lead to the personal corruption of individual bishops.

Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, bishop of Limburg, Germany, has been called to Rome to explain his actions regarding the finances of his diocese. The reason is that he has used the vast government monies that are dumped in his coffers for himself. He’s spent tens of millions renovating his house, flies first class, drives an expensive car and otherwise lives large.

There is also a question as to whether or not the bishop lied under oath about these expenditures. That is something I want to let the courts — rather than public outrage — decide.

All this runs counter to the kind of Church that Pope Francis is calling for. It harkens back to the embarrassing excesses of half a millennia ago.

It is also entirely different from the behavior of the bishops I have known. My own archbishop lives in an unpretentious ranch-style house and flies in the we-hate-our-passengers class at the back of the plane. I know. I’ve coincidentally ended up on several flights with him. He’s patient and kind to the people — including me — who come up to him in airports, and he stands in line with his roller bag along with the rest of us.

Behavior like that of Bishop Tebartz-van Elst denies the people in their diocese the rightful use of their monies, harms the trust that people should have in their Church and smears good bishops like mine whose behavior is the antithesis of these abuses.

The Holy Father has requested a report concerning Bishop Tebartz-van Elst’s activities. In the meantime, Bishop Tebartz-van Elst has been called to Rome to explain himself.

This is one time I would not want to be a fly on the proverbial wall while a conversation is going on. I’m happy to leave the bishop in the hands of our pope. I believe that the Holy Father will sort this out in a way that only a follower of Christ could.

From ABC News:

After being kept waiting nearly one week for an appointment, German Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst was able to meet with Pope Francis today at Vatican to explain his lavish use of church funds.

The Bishop of Limburg – now known as the Bishop of Bling — has spent some $42 million to renovate his official residence and is accused of falsifying expense reports.

The pope, who has used the Throne of St. Peter to preach for a “poor” church and has set the example by rejecting the opulence available to his position, released no statement following the meeting.

Pope Francis had been briefed last week by the head of the German Bishop’s conference. German press reports say the Vatican has asked Archbishop Robert Zollitsch to file an official report on the affair, speculating that the fate of Bishop Tebartz van Elst may only be decided after it is filed.

The bishop of Limburg admits using church funds to restore his residence but has defended his actions, saying the renovations of the church property involved 10 different buildings that had to be upgraded according to historical preservation laws. But the scandal has caused a great uproar in Germany, where a mandatory church tax for members brings in billions of dollars the German Catholic Church each year.

Christian Weisner, of the lay organization We Are the Church, said the bishop’s actions seriously damaged the reputation of the church.

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Pope Francis: There is No Way to Avoid Growing Old

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

This one is for my precious Mama.

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Projecting the Popes: A Look Inside the Vatican Film Library

 

The Vatican has a film library. Who knew?

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This Way of Life Fulfills Me. I am Very Happy.

 

Only God would use lung cancer as a opportunity to offer a vocation.

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Nigerian Christians Want Peace, Not Vengeance

 

Nigerian Christians call for peace, not vengeance. They even talk of forgiveness. The Nigerian Christians I have corresponded with have — every single one of them — asked for prayer.

Our resolve to help them and stand by them must not falter. What that means — among other things — is that we must not allow ourselves to bullied into silence by personal attacks against us from those who want to turn a blind eye to Christian persecution. We must never allow them to divide us from other Christians.

We all stand in solidarity before the cross. We in the West are called to show that solidarity when it comes to the violent persecution of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

We need to lift up the witness of these martyred Christians and their families and friends for all the world to see.

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What Would You Say to Pope Francis?

 

I can’t imagine me being able to choke out any words at all if the pope shook my hand. But if I could manage to speak, I think what I would like to say is just “thank you for your life of service to our Lord,” and “God bless you.”

What would you say?

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Who You Are

 

A message to all women.

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Southern Baptist Convention Files Suit Against HHS Mandate


The Southern Baptist Convention has joined dozens of other religious organizations by filing suit against the Obama adminstration’s HHS Mandate. Southern Baptists are the second largest denomination in America, with over 16 million members.

My question: Where are you Marymount Loyola?

From the CBN News:

The Obama administration has said churches and a narrowly defined category of religious organizations are exempt. But the administration is still threatening devastating penalties to many other ministry organizations, like Christian colleges, missions organizations, and family ministries.

“The government’s refusal to treat these ministries as ‘religious employers’ is senseless,” Mark Rienzi, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said in a written statement.

“These people spend their lives teaching and preaching their religious faith – if they do not qualify as ‘religious employers,’ the government needs to get a new definition,” Rienzi said.

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Christian Persecution: The Deadly Worldwide Plague

Precious in the sight of God is the death of His saints. Psalm 116


Christian persecution is a deadly worldwide plague.

The evidence of massive, international Christian persecution is abundant.

What, exactly, causes some groups of people to be so vociferous and ugly in their denial of Christian persecution? What would cause someone to stoop to the level of personal attacks against those who speak of Christian persecution?

These attacks, which are often slanderous, are crude attempts to silence those who would speak out for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. Given what is happening, why would anyone do this?

I had a long talk about this with one of my sons a couple of weeks back, and he said something that I think is more pertinent than we would like to admit. People who do things like this are at one with the persecutors. 

What he meant by this was that those who try to silence people who speak out for persecuted Christians are fellow travelers and enablers of the persecutors themselves. There is nothing new under the sun, and that is especially true when we talk about the great evil of violent persecution of whole groups of people.

The persecutors could not act without their enforcers in the larger world demanding and coercing the silence of those who would speak against them. Evil, like cockroaches, needs darkness.

That’s why Hitler set up phony concentration camps to show the Red Cross. It is also why the Red Cross and the rest of the world bought it. No one seems to have questioned the rationale behind putting an entire population of people in concentration camps in the first place. Without that compliance, the lie would and could not have stood.

It’s also why I get attacked just about every time I publish a post about the persecution of Christians. Persecutors always have their apologists. They need the darkness of obfuscation to continue their deadly work.

It is painful to be attacked, but in this case, it is also an honor. I would far rather be the person who gets attacked for taking a stand against the persecution of Christians than the person who does the attacking. They are a sad lot.

I regard these slurs and jibes as small attacks on me for doing my best to follow Christ. I am a little shy about saying this, because what I am doing by writing posts about Christian persecution is such a small thing that it embarrasses me. But by attacking me for trying, however feebly, to follow Christ, these people are giving me the Kingdom of Heaven.

So, what I will say to those who go at me personally for trying to speak out about the persecution of Christians is thank you. I forgive you from my heart for your attempts to harm me personally and I pray for you daily.

However, what I say to them about their support for the persecutors is shame on you. To use a quote from the McCarthy hearings of long ago: Have you no decency?

Here are a few examples of Christian persecution:

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Congressional hearings on Christian Persecution.

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National Organization for Marriage Sues the IRS for Disclosure of Tax Returns

 

If the government starts breaking its own laws to give out information from our tax returns for the purpose of allowing a favored group to punish their enemies, we are all in trouble.

In March 2012, the Human Rights Campaign, which is a gay rights organization that supports gay marriage, publish the National Organization for Marriage’s 2008 tax returns.

That, my friends, is clear evidence that somebody somewhere committed a felony. Yet, no one has charges have been brought and if there’s an investigation, it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.

When the Human Rights Campaign published this list of donors, it laid these people open to harassment and reprisals of all sorts.

As I said earlier, when the government starts violating its own laws for the purpose of allowing a favored group to punish their enemies, we are all in trouble.

From The National Catholic Register:

National Organization for Marriage Sues IRS for Disclosure of Tax Returns (2085)

The lawyer for the organization says the measure is ‘in order to discover who committed these felonies against us and then hopefully get them prosecuted as a deterrent to future abuse by IRS officials.’

WASHINGTON — In March 2012, the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s leading homosexual-rights group, posted the National Organization for Marriage’s (NOM) confidential 2008 tax returns, including the names of donors.

The disclosure of tax returns without permission is a felony, and NOM quickly cited evidence that allegedly pointed to an Internal Revenue Service official as the likely source of the confidential data.

But a year and a half later, after repeated inquiries elicited no satisfactory response from the IRS, NOM has filed a lawsuit demanding answers and damages.

“Our confidential tax returns were disclosed to the Human Rights Campaign, which posted our confidential list of donors (Schedule B of the tax return) on its website as part of its effort to harass and intimidate our donors into silence,” said John Eastman, NOM’s chairman and law professor at Chapman University School of Law, explaining the group’s decision to file the lawsuit on Oct. 3.

“Computer forensics discovered that the document had originated from within the IRS. Disclosure of a confidential tax return is a serious felony, yet no charges have been brought.”

 

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/the-national-organization-for-marriage-sues-the-irs-for-disclosure-of-tax-r?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NCRegisterDailyBlog+National+Catholic+Register#When:2013-10-18%2014:22:01#ixzz2i6cJl7kz

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Slander is Murder with Words

 

Slander is murder with words.

It can lead to the social death of the person who is slandered, which is exactly what its perpetrators are trying to accomplish.

I am not talking about venting to your best friend or your spouse about your dreadnought of a boss. I don’t mean idle chit-chat gossip that intends no harm. I also am not referring to slander as an actionable legal term. I am referring to the deliberate, malicious use of lies — or even truths — to degrade and destroy the reputation of another person with the intent to isolate, punish and hurt them.

That is slander, and it is a mortal sin. You can go to hell for it.

Running a blog opens up the temptation to slander for profit for those who are so inclined. The power to publish any thought that crosses your nasty little mind with the knowledge that it will be read by literally tens of thousands of people is inebriating to a certain kind of person.

Add to that the fact that blogs become a kind of virtual family with regular commenters who form online relationships with the blogger and with one another, and you have a ready-made set-up for hashing and bashing other people around the internet campfire.

I think that slander, at its base, is a form of sick narcissism. Certain kinds of people think that everything that happens is about them. If someone refuses to play one of their games, they see that as an attack on their overweening sense of entitlement. That’s why some people become enraged when they can’t comment on a blog. Their narcissistic sense of entitlement sees whatever they want to do as a “right,” and anyone who tells them “no” is “the enemy” who must be punished and destroyed.

When one of these types has their own blog, they have a ready-made platform for using slander to punish and defame those who dare cross them. The only payback is that they are endangering their immortal souls by committing a grave sin against another person. That, and they become a public jerk.

Slander is murder with words. It can — and it has — wounded and isolated people so deeply that the pain forced them to withdraw from interacting with others. That is probably one of the reasons malicious slanderers engage in their craft. Not only do they get the dark pleasure of acting out their viciousness, but they can silence the person they are attacking and scare others who might come to their defense into silence along with them.

Anti bullying

When this happens, it’s called bullying. But I think that word is too mild for it. It is deliberate cruelty, and it is intended as such.

The fact that this sort of bullying is so often directed at women by men surely has a sadistic sexual component in it. I’m not well enough versed in psychology to define it. What I do know is that I have seen this over and again in my life as a female public figure.

The internet is a place where people can act out their worst verbal impulses with absolute evil abandon. Rapists post photos of their rape victims. Everyone everywhere seems to get into the game of shaming young girls by labeling them sluts and whores and such. Politicians and advocates for such things as pro choice, atheism and gay marriage have a heyday slander-shaming people who disagree with them.

It all goes back to one simple thing: Slander is murder with words. You can use slander to kill someone you don’t like, at least socially, and come out of it feeling all-powerful and victorious.

The interesting thing is that slander is a knife with no handle. It is murder with words, and it does wound the person who is slandered. But it cuts the the slanderer himself even more deeply. There is no explanation which justifies deliberate slander of another person. It is mean and cruel to the core. It also begs the question of whatever reasoning drives the anger behind it.

Once you enter into slander as a means of punishing those who disagree with you, or who you simply do not like, you have tossed in the towel on your own position.

Slander is an admission that you don’t have anything else worthwhile to say. It is a clear indication of both your personal emotional bankruptcy and the paucity of whatever arguments you are advancing.

You might as well say to the person you are slandering “You are right. I am wrong. So here’s a fistful of mud in your face to change the subject.”

These are the reasons why I delete name-calling and vicious attacks on anyone, including public figures, from this blog. This is a Christian blog. I want it to teach and empower Christians to follow Christ in the world.

If I allowed those things, I would be destroying my own purpose.

I would also be committing the sin of slander by default myself.

Because, you see, slander takes two. It takes a slanderer, and a willing listener. In fact to be really damaging, it takes a chain of slanderers who eagerly repeat and embellish the first slanders. If no one listens to slander and no one repeats it, slander dies and the damage it does is nullified.

Unfortunately, what happens in real life is that groups of people get into slander parties. You see it acted out on the internet in a graphic fashion. They join in with the original slanderer trading additional slanders, trying to top one another in the insults they heap on the object of their derision.

There is a word for this: Sin.

In fact there is a phrase for it: Mortal sin.

As I said earlier, you can go to hell for deliberate slander.

You also cancel out your Christian witness. If you are deliberately degrading and destroying the reputation of another person for vengeance, gain, or simply because you enjoy doing it, you are not following Christ.

You either follow Christ, or you engage in slander. You cannot do both.

Slander is murder with words. It can lead to the social death of its victim.

It can also lead to the eternal death of its perpetrators.

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Book Review: How to Lead Like Francis

To join the discussion of Pope Francis: Why He Leads the Way He Leads, or to order a copy, go here

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Pope Francis has set the world spinning around the Catholic Church in a way that hasn’t happened for a long time. Like all great leaders, he has also inspired criticism from some quarters, most of it, ironically, from devout Catholics who fear change.

I understand these discomfited change-fearers. When it comes to the Church, I’m a bit of a change-fearer myself. I draw comfort from the liturgy and the teachings. What some people see as intransigence on the part of the Church, I see as stability and strength; something I can count on in this crazy world.

However, the Church is a living organism, the great Body of Christ in the world. As a living organism, change, however slowly it happens, is part of its essential nature. The key to successful change is the guidance of the Holy Spirit, primarily, but not entirely, through the leadership of the Pope.

Everywhere I look, everyone I read, is chattering about the Catholic Church these days. The reason? Pope Francis’ straightforward leadership style of going to people and meeting them where they are.

It is a simple fact that you can’t be a leader if nobody follows you. In our power-hungry world where so-called leaders insulate themselves from everyone except other leaders of their same rank and place, true leadership, as opposed to simply holding a position with a leadership title, is rare.

Witness our latest Congressional debacle. Was there any leadership in it? None that I saw, not from either side. It was a pie-throwing contest in which the pie throwers absolutely did not care if anybody followed their so-called leadership.

In truth, no one can be more alienated from their “followers” that those who occupy positions of “leadership” in commerce, industry, politics, and yes, religion, in America today.

That, more than anything else, is why the whole world is responding to Pope Francis. He is reaching out to them, and they are responding by reaching back.

Pope Francis: Why He Leads The Way He Leads, analyzes Pope Francis’ leadership through the author’s knowledge of Jesuit formation and the Holy Father’s own biography. As such, it is a fascinating read for anyone who wants to learn more about our pope. It is also just plain good advice for those who want to lead other human beings.

I have a master’s degree in management, and I’ve spend 18 years of my life holding a leadership position in the public sphere. I have never seen a better book on how a true leader gets people to follow him or her.

It’s simple actually. Leadership is service. Leadership is about the people you want to lead, not you. True leadership begins with a foundation of personal character and segues into a focus on serving others.

What that means is building products, providing services, writing books, making movies, enacting laws, preaching sermons, repairing plumbing and planting crops that enrich and elevate the people who use your wares. In commerce, it means that if you build a better mousetrap, it will sell. In child-rearing, it means that if you spend time with your kids, they will flourish. In politics, it means that if you put the people first, the country will thrive. In faith, it means that if you reach out to people in love, as Pope Francis is doing, they will reach back.

The author makes a strong case that Pope Francis’ leadership style is heavily influenced by his Jesuit training. But I believe it is even more heavily influenced by that other hands-on leader — Jesus of Nazareth.

He, like the Pope, did not refuse to dine with sinners, to speak complex truths simply, to reach out to sinful people in ways that the more persnickety of the religious of His day found scandalizing.

Pope Francis: Why He Leads the Way He Leads is an excellent analysis of our Holy Father’s leadership style. It provides insight into the origins of this pope’s thinking in a format that connects all this to our own leadership challenges in our workaday lives.

Pope Francis is more than just a rule-meister who issues guidelines like thunderbolts. He is a leader who gets down in the pits with the rest of us and leads by example and by inclusion.

This book makes that explicable. I highly recommend it.

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Doctor Urged John Paul II’s Mother to Abort Him

 

We owe a great deal to Emilia Kaczorowska.

Emilia Kaczorowska is the mother of Blessed John Paul II. According to a new book, The Mother of the Pope, her doctor advised her to abort the future pope when she was pregnant with him. Evidently, she suffered from the after-affects of rheumatic fever, which often include damage to the heart valves.

In the days before antibiotics, rheumatic fever was fairly common. Damage to the heart valves was treated mostly by bed rest and efforts not to strain the heart. Pregnancy, as anyone knows, puts a strain on the entire body. I would guess that this is what led the doctor to advise abortion to the pope’s mother.

It almost certainly was not a trivial suggestion, and the possible consequences were extreme. It takes courage for anyone to risk their life for another person. That includes mothers who are willing to die for their children.

Emilia Kaczorowska refused the doctor’s advice and gave birth to a baby boy that she and her husband named Karol. She survived the pregnancy, but died nine years later, leaving the little boy without a mother. I’ve often thought that Pope John Paul’s intense closeness to Our Lady may have begun with his longing for the earthly mother he lost when he was a little boy.

Blessed John Paul II was a great pope. Among other things, his fearless stand for the sanctity of human life ennobled and empowered a worldwide resistance to the evils of abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, and the many ways in which humanity attacks the dignity and value of those who can’t fight back.

Judging by his mother’s courageous determination to give him life, the apple did not fall far from the tree.

From LifeNews.com:

A new report out today suggests Pope John Paul II’s mother rejected an abortion when pregnant with him.

Under the headline “Blessed John Paul II was in danger of not being born,” the Vatican Insider web site says the information was revealed by Milena Kindziuk in the book just came out.

The report suggests that the future Pope John Paul II was in danger of not being born because of the precarious state of health of his mother Emilia Kaczorowska. The book, “The Mother of the Pope,” indicates Emilia Kaczorowska, married in 1905 with Karol Wojtyla, the army of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, rejected an abortion.

John paul

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House Stenographer Cracks During Debt Limit Vote

I don’t think I’m going to drink the water the next time I go to the Capitol building in Washington.

I also might need to make myself a nice little aluminum foil hat.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any crazier, a member of the United States House of Representatives staff, identified in press reports as a stenographer, jumped to the podium during the debt limit vote and began shouting.

She had to be removed from the room. Reporters heard her shouting something about “He can not be mocked,” and the nation having been founded by freemasons.

Someone turned on a recorder during this last part. If you want to hear it, you can find it on CNN. The Daily Beast identified her as Dianne Ready, but it sounds like the people who were trying to calm her down were calling her Molly.

Jokes aside, I’m guessing that the tension and hatred in the Capitol building right now are so thick you could build a bridge with them. I can sympathize. I’ve never been in a legislative situation as messed up as this one, but I’ve done enough to know that these people need to get away from one another for a while. Nothing good is going to come from any of them until they get past this and settle down.

And, oh yes, craziness aside, they did manage to pull this country back from the brink of default … for a while. This deal expires after the first of the year.

From The Daily Beast:

A stenographer climbed the dais of the House of Representatives and started shouting in the last minutes of a House vote to end the government shutdown.

The House stenographer, who has been identified by other outlets as Dianne Reidy, “had kind of a crazed look” in her eyes according to Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) when she ascended the dais—just below Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) who was presiding over the House at the time—as the minutes ticked down in the crucial vote. The microphones in the chamber were off so that what she was saying was unintelligible on the floor and to viewers on C-SPAN.

After Reidy was escorted out of the House chamber by several staffers from the House Sergeant at Arms office, she shouted  “He will not be mocked” referring, presumably to God. She went on to proclaim that the United States “was not one nation under God, had it been, the Constitution would not have been written by Freemasons. They go against God. You cannot serve two masters. Praise be to God. Lord Jesus Christ.” Her outburst visibly disturbed a number of members and staffers, including House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), both of whom ran out of the chamber after her. Reidy was eventually hustled into an elevator by staffers. 

Once the vote concluded, both reporters and congressmen seemed more eager to talk about this incident than the final tally.

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House Balks. Senate Restarts Talks. Debt Default Looms.


I am out of words for this stupidity.

It appears that the hermetically sealed brains in Congress really do think that this crisis they’ve manufactured is all about them.

I’ve got news for them.

The causes are all about them. But the consequences are about everybody but them.

This reminds me of one of those movies where the bad guy takes a hostage, usually the hero’s best girl or his child, and holds a gun to the screaming, terrified victim’s head while shouting “put down your gun, or I’ll kill ‘em!”

The difference here is that the bad guy is the Congress of the United States, the hostage is the American people, what they’re threatening is great harm to our country, and there is no hero.

You can find your member of Congress here.

From The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — With the federal government on the brink of a default, a House Republican effort to end the shutdown and extend the Treasury’s borrowing authority collapsed Tuesday night as a major credit agency warned that the United States was on the verge of a costly ratings downgrade.

After the failure of the House Republican leadership to find enough support for its latest proposal to end the fiscal crisis, the Senate’s Democratic and Republican leaders immediately restarted negotiations to find a bipartisan path forward. A spokesman for Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, said Mr. Reid was “optimistic that an agreement is within reach” with Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader.

With so little time left, chances rose that a resolution would not be approved by Congress and sent to President Obama before Thursday, when the government is left with only its cash on hand to pay the nation’s bills.

“It’s very, very serious,” warned Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona. “Republicans have to understand we have lost this battle, as I predicted weeks ago, that we would not be able to win because we were demanding something that was not achievable.”

House speaker, John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, and his leadership team failed in repeated, daylong attempts to bring their troops behind any bill that would reopen the government and extend the Treasury’s debt limit on terms significantly reduced from their original push against funding for the health care law. The House’s hard-core conservatives and some more pragmatic Republicans were nearing open revolt, and the leadership was forced twice to back away from proposals it had floated, the second time sending lawmakers home for the night to await a decision on how to proceed Wednesday.

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Convent Site of Possible Arson, Police Investigating Fire as a Hate Crime

 

Police are treating a recent fire at the Daughters of Divine Charity community on Staten Island as a hate crime. One of the sisters is in intensive care, due to injuries as a result of this fire. 

The Daughters of Divine Charity web site describes the sisters’ work:

“We the Daughters of Divine Charity of Holy Family Province, make God’s love visible in the world by reaching out to those in need, especially to women, youth and the elderly.”

If you would like to help the sisters, you can find an address by following the links above. 

In addition to the story about the Staten Island fire, I’ve included a few other examples of vandalism directed at churches. This is a sample of the church vandalisms I found with a quick Google search.  I searched for attacks in the last week. It’s not meant to be exhaustive. 

.- A convent and chapel in New York City were the site this weekend of a suspicious fire, in which two nuns and four firefighters were injured.

Sister M. William McGovern, provincial superior of the Daughters of Divine Charity community on Staten Island, explained in an Oct. 12 press release that the fires were “a true tragedy.”
        
“The historic portion of our home – with our chapel, sacristy, archives and provincial offices was destroyed – and is now a crime scene.”

Early in the morning of Oct. 12, firefighters responded to fires at St. Joseph Hill Convent and Chapel. According to multiple local news sources, Sister Regina Gegic and another older sister were staying  in the building when the fire started, the former jumping from the second floor of the building to escape the flames.

Sister McGovern explained that Sister Gegic “is in intensive care at Staten Island University Hospital,” with injuries sustained from the fall. The other sister in the building at the time of the fire was not reported to have been harmed.

Other sisters in the order, including several visiting the United States for the 100th anniversary of the Daughters of Divine Charity’s presence in the United States, were staying in another building at the time, and were not harmed.

The fire is being investigated by the New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force.

Jackson TN Eyewitness News 7:

JACKSON, Tenn. — For the third time in a few weeks, a church has been broken into and vandalized. 

Investigators say that on or around September 29, 2013, shortly after 10:30 a.m., deputies responded to a report of vandalism at Lebanon Methodist Church, located at 643 Tige Hopper Road, Jackson, TN. 

Police say that at approximately 8:45 a.m., the congregation observed several crosses hung upside down, the numbers “666” written in the Bible on the church altar. Also, craved on the church altar were the words “Smoke Meth & Hail Satan,” along with the number “666.” 

CARROLL COUNTY, Tenn.- Carroll County deputies are investigating after one West Tennessee church and cemetery were the target of vicious vandals. 

Cedar Grove residents said told WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News that the Old Palestine Church, a Christian place of worship has recently become a playground for vandals.Deputies said there is rumor that the church and cemetery are haunted, making it a target for trespassers who are drawn into investigate possible paranormal activity.Gail Carr who has several family members laid to rest in the cemetery, said almost every time she visits her loved ones she finds evidence of vandalism.”It’s just unbelievable how could somebody come and destroy a cemetery it’s just unbelievable,” resident Gail Carr said.

Jim Thompson, the Old Palestine Cemetery groundskeeper, said he’s recently had trouble with people knocking over and breaking marked graves. Thompson said some of the headstones in the cemetery date back to the early 1800s. He said the sacred area has been attacked at least three times, destroying nearly 24 headstones. Some graves reportedly had marks stolen off of the property.

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. – An Okeechobee church became the target for vandals on Tuesday, causing about $20,000 worth of damage, according to Okeechobee Police.

The vandals ruined almost everything, but took nothing from The Pentecostals of Okeechobee

Church members say they were heading to a prayer service Tuesday night when water came pouring out of the doors.

One member spent hours cleaning the mess up on Wednesday. “I felt violated. I honestly didn’t feel safe, and when I come here I always feel safe.”

Reverend Raymond Warren says the vandals first clogged three sinks in the church and left the water running for hours.

They’ve had to pull up all the wood floors, and have to replace damp carpet. 

The vandals then went for the church’s cleaning supplies, and poured bleach on the chairs and carpet. They also knocked over an organ, and cut the cords attached to speakers and microphones. They also poured bleach on instruments.

“The laptop computer that was on the pulpit, they poured bleach in that,” pastor Warren said.

Whoever broke in, however, didn’t complete the damage without leaving a mark. Reverend Warren says residue left from a fire extinguisher that was sprayed in the church revealed footprints. He says the shoe size is an 11 1/2.

FRANKLIN TWP. — Nine statues at St. Mary’s Catholic Church were vandalized overnight when their heads were removed.

According to Diocese of Camden spokesman Peter Feuerherd, the vandalism occurred sometime in the early morning hours and has been reported to the Franklin Township Police Department and the church’s insurance company for possible repair.

The incident is under investigation and no motive has yet been determined.

“Obviously it’s something that is disturbing and something that is obviously the product of a twisted mind of some sort,” Feuerherd said.

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Poll Results: Hemorrhoids, Toenail Fungus and IRS More Popular Than Congress

86% of the American people disapprove of the job our Congress is doing. Public Policy Polling tested Congress head to head with various entities. According to the results, all these things are more popular than Congress. Hemorrhoids 52 Congress 31 IRS 42 Congress 33 Mothers-in-Law 64 Congress 20 Dog Poop 44 Congress 41 Toenail Fungus 44 Congress 42 Department of Motor Vehicles 58 Congress 24
Congress did beat out one contender (drum roll): Charles Manson 18 Congress 56

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