A Government at War with its People: France Legalizes Gay Marriage

Ay 101377277 France legalized gay marriage today. According to a Reuters news report “legions of officers and water cannon stood ready ahead of the final vote,” bracing for pubic reaction. 

The vote came after the Claude Bartelone, President of the French National Assembly ordered the expulsion of a protester. In one of the most ridiculous statements I’ve read in a while, he said, “Only those who love democracy are welcome here.”

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This is not the way to pass legislation of this magnitude. It is also not the way to work for social change. Several states in America have passed gay marriage referendums by popular vote. This has been accepted by everyone, including those who opposed the referendums. States in which the courts or the legislature have tried to impose gay marriage have met resistance. Most of the time, these efforts have been overturned by popular votes.

Gay people certainly do have the right to petition their government for change. However, governments which impose draconian changes in social practice on an unwilling population are not representing their people.

When a government has to call in the police and set up high-pressure water hoses to protect itself from its own people before a vote, it maybe needs to consider that the vote itself is unwise.

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The French politicians who have voted for this measure were elected to their positions, but they are not behaving like representatives of the people. They also, in my opinion, are creating unrest and discord in their country which can only harm it.

American government has made similar mistakes. The Brady Bill of the early 1990s was a mistake because the American people did not want it. I’m not talking about the merits of the bill. I am talking about the merits of government of, by and for the people.

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Roe v Wade was a judicial fiat which stopped the on-going public debate on abortion by imposing a “decision” on the people that they were not ready for. The resulting culture wars have fractured this country and done enormous harm to it. None of this would have happened if the Court had simply let the democratic process in the states work this issue through.

With very rare exceptions (I can think of only one in the history of this country) the people, if they are allowed to do so, can and will work these things out in a manner that allows everyone to live together in harmony. However, when governments begin to impose unwanted solutions to debates that reach into the intimate lives of their citizens in the manner that the French government did today, they harm the country they claim to love. They also step over the boundaries of their moral authority as representatives of the people.

From Reuters:

PARIS (AP) — France legalized gay marriage on Tuesday after a wrenching national debate and protests that flooded the streets of Paris. Legions of officers and water cannon stood ready near France’s National Assembly ahead of the final vote, bracing for possible violence on an issue that galvanized the country’s faltering conservative movement.

The measure passed easily in the Socialist-majority Assembly, 331-225, just minutes after the president of the legislative body expelled a disruptive protester in pink, the color adopted by French opponents of gay marriage.

“Only those who love democracy are here,” Claude Bartelone, the Assembly president, said angrily.

 

Orthodox Bishops Kidnapped in Syria

Kidnapped Archbishop Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim

Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syrian Orthodox Church and Archbishop Paul Yagizi of the Greek Orthodox Church were kidnapped April 22 near Aleppo, Syria. Their driver was killed.

Kidnapped Archbishop Paul Yagizi

The archbishops were on a humanitarian mission to try to secure the release of hostages who had been kidnapped previously.

A Vatican spokesman said that Pope Francis is following this situation closely and with “intense prayer.” The Vatican Press Director, Fr Federico Lombardi, said:

The assault on the archbishops “and the killing of their driver, while carrying out a humanitarian mission, is a dramatic confirmation of the tragic situation faced by the people of Syria and its Christian communities.”

Pope Francis, he said, is praying that, “with the commitment of all, the Syrian people will finally discover effective answers to the humanitarian tragedy and see on the horizon real hopes for peace and reconciliation.”

On April 17, Greek Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregory III Laham said that 2 million Syrians have been forced to leave their homes and over 1,000 Christians have been killed and 20 churches destroyed in Syria’s conflict. 

Christians make up between 5 and 10 percent of Syria’s population.

As often happens in these situations, there is confusion about who is responsible for the kidnapping. According to an article in the Gaurdian:

The Syrian opposition coalition has accused the Assad regime of being behind the abduction of Bishops Yazigi and Ibrahim.

In a statement it said all kidnappings, particularly those against the clergy, were a blow to its attempts to build a new Syrian society based on freedom from tyranny.

It said there were indications that government was to blame for abductions after Bishop Ibrahim’s interview with the BBC when he stated that the fate of Christians in Syria was not linked to the survival of the Assad regime.

“Initial investigations conducted by the Syrian Coalition regarding the kidnapping and killing of Father Ibrahim’s bodyguard implicate the Assad regime in this crime. The Assad regime was angered by Father Ibrahim’s latest statement, in which he stated that the survival of Christians in Syria is not linked to the survival of the regime. The Free Syrian Army categorically denies any responsibility for this kidnapping.”

The statement urged Syrians to work with the Free Syrian Army to try to secure their release.

Deacon Greg Kandra has more details here

Nearly 15,000 French Mayors Say They Will Refuse to Marry Gay Couples

What they are hiding from: 1.4 million French march in protest of gay marriage legislation.

It seems to me that there is a wee bit of resistance to French President Francois Hollande’s plans to legalize gay marriage.

First, the government re-scheduled the gay marriage vote to a different day. They were trying to avoid their own citizens’ protests against the vote. It seems that the previous marches with over a million participants got on their nerves.

I’ve seen videos and photos of the earlier marches. The marchers were moms and dads with their children, little old ladies and gray-haired priests. Their sheer numbers were impressive. But it’s even more impressive that they looked like the kind of people who form the backbone of a country. If the government is afraid of them, then it is afraid of its own middle class.

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Civil wedding. France. 

 

Ditto, or maybe double ditto, for the mayors. The Association of Mayors for Children has announced that, if this law passes, its 14,900 members will refuse to perform gay marriages.

I don’t want to rush to judgement here, but it’s beginning to look like the French government is running over its people with this vote. Let’s look at the situation. We have a national government that is moving votes around because it is so overwhelmed by citizen marchers against an issue. We also have a large number of local officials — people who are part of the government — flat-out saying that they will not abide by the law if it passes. Is the French government strong-arming its people with this law? It sounds that way.

I think that duly elected officials who have even half a brain would take note of this much resistance from the electorate. But then I’m assuming that these duly elected officials have half a brain. Maybe they don’t. Maybe they checked their brains to their party when they ran for office and don’t remember where they left them. I can’t think of any other reason for forcing a law this divisive on an aroused citizenry.

I am well aware that the com boxes on this blog are going to fill up with comments trying to equate gay marriage to human slavery and miscegenation, but those analogies don’t hold up. I realize why they do this. It’s because there really isn’t some innate right to gay marriage. They’re forced to link their cause to some other cause to give it legitimacy. It doesn’t stand on its own.

The reason there isn’t an innate right to gay marriage is because the concept itself is something of an oxymoron. Gay people have sex with one another and fall in love with one another. But theirs is a sterile union. For that simple reason, it serves no larger purpose to the overall society to call their pairing “marriage.”

Marriage between a man and a woman, by its very nature, produces other human beings. Marriage is the institution by which we nurture and raise our young to become stable and productive citizens who can nurture and raise the next generation after them. 

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The pitiful mess that heterosexuals have made of marriage these past few decades doesn’t negate that. It underscores it. Look at the messed up kids our messed up marriages are producing. We have degraded family and home life to the point that we have raised a generation of young people who appear to be unable to bond to form marriages and raise children of their own. They have never known a stable home and because of that, they can not create one for themselves.

This doesn’t mean that marriage is unimportant. It shows how drastically important it is. Nothing can replace it.

Degrading marriage further will only shove us further along in our cycle of social and cultural self-destruction.

The French people seem to understand this a lot better than the rest of the Western world. They understand that children matter. 

They are trying their best to tell this to their government. Meanwhile, the government appears to have put stoppers in its ears so that it won’t have to listen. I would not be surprised if the French find themselves subjected to another lecture like that the New Zealand statesman du jour delivered to his constituents, explaining to them what an ignorant and bigoted bunch of backward hayseeds they are for thinking for themselves instead of seeing things the way their government wants them to.

It’s a mistake when elected officials start to assume that people stupid enough to elect them must be complete idiots. There is every possibility that they will discover that their election was just a momentary lapse in judgement.

From CNA:

.- A group of at least 14,900 French mayors has said it will not perform “gay marriages,” even if the government moves ahead with plans to legalize the practice.

The administration of French President Francois Hollande has put forth a measure that would legalize “gay marriage,” allow gay couples to receive medical treatment for artificial procreation and to adopt children.

“It is foolish to think that the mobilization of the elected mayors would stop if the law is passed,” said Franck Meyer, spokesman for the association Mayors for Children.

“As citizens, we elected officials will not give up,” he emphasized in statements to the media.

Meyer, who is mayor of Sotteville-sous-le-Val in northern France, observed that some of the mayors in the group have said they “would resign if the law is adopted,” while others “have said they will refuse” to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples.

On April 12, the French Senate passed the measure sponsored by President Hollande, but it has yet to go before the French National Assembly. (Read the rest here.)

Will Pope Francis Put More Women in Key Vatican Roles?

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Pope John Paul II blesses Mother Tekla, head of the Brigittines. Image from the Vatican website

According to a NewsMax article, Pope Francis is being advised to move women into senior positions in the Vatican. This is part of his effort to reform the Roman Curia, and is seen by Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi as “a natural step.”

Will Pope Francis follow through with these ideas and put more women in key Vatican roles?

I hope so.

I say that as both a woman and a Catholic. The Church is Universal, which means that it exists to bring Christ to all the world. Every human being, of every race or language, belongs in the Universal Church which is the Body of Christ in the world. That includes the female half of the human race.

More to the point, an institution which only uses the male viewpoint to inform its deliberations is an example of humanity, thinking with half its brain. The Church teaches that men and women have unique gifts. God did not make us duplicates. He made us complimentary. Men and women are incomplete without one another.

We need both men and women to participate in His Church because that is the only way to access the fullness of human wisdom. Men cannot replace either the viewpoint or the wisdom of women.

Neither sex is complete in itself. We were not created to be complete in ourselves like, say, a bacterium. Men and women, working together for the common good, is what creates civilization. Either one of them working alone creates chaos.

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It is the same with Christian witness. Women, no less than men, are children of God. They are imbued by their Creator with unique talents and viewpoints. When I watched videos of the aftermath of the tragedy in Boston last week, I was struck, as I always am in these times, by the sheer physical courage of men. If you look at the earliest videos, you see mostly men lifting those barricades and barreling in to clear the way. In Aurora last summer, it was men who gave their lives by using their own bodies to shield their wives and girlfriends from the bullets.

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On the other hand, I am constantly reminded on my job of the moral courage of women. It is so much easier to use social bullying and go-along-to-get-along arguments on men than it is women. Physical courage comes naturally to men. They don’t have to think about it; they just react. In the same way, moral courage comes naturally to women.

We need each other to survive. The Vatican, no less than the rest of the world, needs women and women’s unique gifts. 

I am not writing this to take anything away from men. We are both exactly who God made us to be. Men and women each make necessary contributions to the whole that is humankind.

But I am very glad to know that there is a possibility that devout Catholic women will have the chance to bring their feminine viewpoint to the higher levels in our Church. We are facing interesting times. We need to think with both halves of our brains.

From Newsmax:

Pope Francis is being advised to appoint more women to senior positions as part of his efforts to reform the Roman Curia — a move the Vatican describes as a “natural step.”

Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras, who Pope Francis recently chose to coordinate a privy council of eight cardinals advising him on governance and reform, told Britain’s Sunday Times he was backing more posts for women.

Responding to the cardinal’s comments, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said it was “a natural step – there is a move towards putting more women in key roles where they are qualified.”

Benedict XVI had already begun efforts to appoint more women to senior positions at the Vatican, most notably at the semi-official Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.  Women also hold some key roles at the Vatican, although the number is small and they are not the most senior positions. Sister Nicla Spezzati is undersecretary of the Congregation dealing with nuns and religious, and laywoman Flaminia Giovanelli, is undersecretary at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. St Peter’s basilica is administered by Maria Cristina Carlo-Stella.

Italian journalist and historian Lucetta Scaraffia is one of L’Osservatore Romano’s regular writers who also helped found the supplement. She suggested last year that if more women were in positions of authority in the Church, the cover-ups of the clerical pedophilia scandal would not have happened.

A proponent of more women leaders in the Vatican, she believes that one day a woman will head a Vatican department. Traditionally such roles have been held by bishops and cardinals, but as the work is administrative and not sacramental, there is nothing in canon law to prevent a woman from occupying such a position. (Read the rest here.) 

Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/pope-vatican-women-greater/2013/04/22/id/500749#ixzz2RDUlfMqS
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Gay Marriage and Politicians Going In Your Face With the People Who Elected Them

What they are hiding from: 1.4 million French march in protest of gay marriage legislation. Photo from LifeSiteNews

When a government starts changing the date for votes to avoid its own people, something is wrong.

This is evidently what is happening in France concerning the move to legalize gay marriage. According to a Reuters news report, the French government moved the date for a vote on legislation to legalize gay marriage to avoid a big rally set by opponents for later this month.

The French people responded with a hastily-put-together rally to which “only” 50,000 people were able to come.

When a government starts re-scheduling votes on major legislation for the purpose of avoiding its own people, it clearly is time for that government to take a good, long, look at itself. There is a tendency for governments to take an in-your-face attitude toward their own citizens whenever and wherever they legalize gay marriage.

In the debate over legalizing gay marriage in New Zealand, an MP made an extremely witty and intelligent speech which, despite the good fun of it, did essentially that. This MP has become an international sensation and the toast of the media. I’ve read that he’s even going to have a guest spot on Ellen.

 

While I enjoyed his speech, I also saw through it to the core reason behind it: He was going in-your-face with his constituents, and exhorting his colleagues to do the same. I’ve sat in on a number of witty and intelligent speeches urging legislators to ignore their constituents. I remember quite clearly watching and listening while Democratic House Speakers in the Oklahoma Legislature urged the passage of large tax increases which the public had made abundantly clear they did not want.

These tax increases were passed largely for one special interest.

The short-term result was that the tax increases went through, a number of Democratic legislators lost their house seats to Republicans, but the Democrats maintained their huge dominance in state government. The long-term result was that Oklahoma is now the reddest of red states in the Union.

Aside from the simple shift in party politics, this has meant replacing one set of special interests for another in our government. The process of going in-your-face with the electorate on behalf of these special interests has already begun again, just from a different direction.

When a government starts dipping and dodging, running and hiding to avoid contact with the people it governs, there is something seriously wrong with its governance. When legislators take to the floor to lecture the electorate on their ignorance for opposing what that legislator is doing, there is something out of whack with that action.

It is so easy for government by consent of the governed to turn into an elected dictatorship. There’s no great trick to standing up and giving a four-minute speech aligning yourself with an issue that is being hard-sold by the media against your constituents. It gives you the chance to be, as this mp has become, the statesman du jour. Often the celebrity will carry you over any anger your constituents might feel.

I don’t know about this particular MP, but it’s entirely possible that he isn’t going so much in-your-face with his constituents as he is those of his colleagues. He may represent an area that either supports what he is doing, or that is willing to re-elect him despite it. If that is true, what he is doing here is lecturing his colleagues’ constituents and convincing these same dim-witted colleagues to go against their own people.

I see a lot of that, too. Extreme liberals push more moderate Democrats into suicidal votes. Extreme conservatives push more moderate Republicans into the same sort of thing. The interesting thing is that the extremists get re-elected because of the districts they represent, while the ones they push into these votes get defeated.

I don’t know that this will happen in New Zealand. But I do know I’ve seen it happen over and over again here in America.

As for France, when you have a national government re-scheduling a vote to avoid contact with the people it governs, something is really wrong with that government. If you’re an elected official, and you are doing something that the people you govern find so egregious that you have to hide from them to do it, you’re not doing your job right.

I’m going to put an excerpt from the Reuters article below and a link to the New Zealand mp’s speech below that. Notice that, despite the sarcasm and humor of this mp’s speech, he really doesn’t say anything of substance.

From Reuters:

PARIS (Reuters) – Thousands of gay marriage opponents wavingpink and blue flags marched through Paris on Sunday in a last-ditch protest before a law allowing same-sex union and adoption is passed next week.

Chanting “We don’t want your law, Hollande!”, some 50,000 protesters massed behind a banner reading: “All born of a Mum and a Dad” and said it was undemocratic to bring about such a fundamental social change without holding a referendum.

Hastily organized after the law’s passage was sped up to circumvent a big rally set for late April, Sunday’s march capped months of protests by a dogged opposition movement that has sullied President Francois Hollande‘s flagship social reform.

“We warned the president back in November that we would not give up and that we would do everything to stop this law being passed, or to get it repealed if it is adopted,” one of the protest organizers,Alberic Dumon, told Reuters. (Read the rest here.)

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What Is God’s Purpose for My Life?

I know people who search for “God’s plan” for their lives all the time. They spend days in prayer, “seeking the Lord” over what they should do next.

I am not criticizing that or even commenting on it except to say that I know there are people who approach things this way. My way of walking with God is much more passive. My experience has been that if God wants me to do something, He’ll tell me. In fact, if God wants me to do something, He’ll pursue me. I won’t be able to get out of it.

I’m not someone who has ever hungered to do great missions for the Lord. I am so grateful that He forgave me and lets me be part of Him. That is enough for me. All I want is just to live my life in His grace, and when I die to get my toe onto the lowest rung of Purgatory. I trust Him completely with my life. I’ve been in the palm of His hand since the moment I was conceived, and I will be in those same hands through the passage of death and onwards through eternity.

However, as I said, there are those who “seek the Lord” asking for a ministry or cause. This video is for them. It’s also for all of us in that it gives some good common sense Christian guidelines for discerning how to live, whatever you do.

For instance, if you feel that the Holy Spirit is leading you in directions that oppose 2,000 years of Church teaching, then you need to do some more honest praying. It’s time for you to listen to God instead of telling Him.

The only vocation I ever prayed for was the vocation of motherhood. God gave that to me, but after a time of trial and sorrow. Then he has added other, complimentary vocations on top of it. He took me out of the world and let me spend wonderful years as a full-time wife and mother. Then, He put me back in the world where I “mothered” a broader swath of people … my constituents.

Now, he’s leading me beyond that.

God does not waste anything about us, including our deepest sins. He doesn’t obliterate our sinful acts or undo them. He transforms our weakness and our sinfulness into an instrument of His purpose.

But before He will do this, He first puts us through a deep-cleaning, a personal Gethsemane. I suffered deeply in this period when I faced the full horror of my sins. God gave me the gift of letting me see who I really was and what I had done. He removed the self-protective illusions of being a good person that I had sheltered behind and let me see the depth of my own depravity.

I think sometimes that the people who are praying for God to use them do not know that before He can use you, He has to first break you of your self-sufficiency. They think they’re good to go just as they are.

Active vocation is not a higher blessing that simply being still in the Lord. The most generous gift the Lord ever gave me was those years at home, removed from the spotlight, with my husband and babies.

Never forget that our first vocation is just to let Him love us.

Enjoy the video.

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London Marathon Pays Tribute to Boston

The London Marathon was today. London Marathon runners paid tribute to their brother and sister marathoners in Boston with a moment of silence before the race began, wearing black arm bands and by placing their hands over their hearts when the crossed the finish line.

 

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Whoever Did This is Going to Be in Big Trouble

Sign put up by Boston IBEW local union after the bombing Monday.

“Whoever did this is going to be in a lot of trouble.”

Carlos Arredondo, made this comment after the bomb went off in Boston earlier this week. Of all the comments I heard last week, this one resonated with me the most.

The response to this tragedy has been magnificent, from the first moment until now. Mr Arredondo was part of that magnificent response. He immediately went into the danger area to help people. Doctors say that one of the people he aided, a young man who lost both his legs, would probably have died with the immediate first-aid and quick action of Mr Arredondo.

Carlos Arredondo lost a son, Alex Arredondo, in Iraq. He lost another son to suicide after that. Mr Arredondo is a peace activist. I’ve read that he tried to kill himself when he heard his son had died in Iraq. People are alive today who wouldn’t be because he failed in that.

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Faith in the Trenches: The 911 Call You Will Never Forget

A mother who works as a 911 operator gets a call from her own house. The shooting victim is her son. This is a real-life walk of faith.

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Praise You in This Storm

Where is God when we’re hurting?

He’s right beside us.

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Song Praise You in This Storm by Casting Crowns

They’ll Know We are Christians

They’ll know we are Christians by our love.

How tragic for us if that is not true.

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3 Quick Takes: Vampire Atheists, Jesus Stomping Class Assignments and Gay Marriage

Religious freedom and gay marriage have taken a couple of turns while we were looking at other things. Here are 3 Quick Takes.

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1. Vampire Atheist Case Against 9/11 Cross Tossed by Judge

The bizarro case filed by American Atheists claiming that the sight of the 9/11 Cross caused them to experience  “depression, headaches, anxiety and mental pain and anguish” was tossed out of court by a federal judge. The case had sought to have the cross removed from the 9/11 Museum in New York City.

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2. Florida Atlantic University Drops Charges Against Student Who Refused to Stomp on Jesus’ Name

Ryan Rotela, a devout Mormon student, refused to stomp on the name of Jesus as he was requested as part of a class exercise. After complaining to administrators, Rotela says he was suspended from the class. The university has now dropped all charges against Rotela and apologized.

3. New Zealand, Uruguay, legalize gay marriage. 

New Zealand’s Parliament voted 77-44 to legalize gay marriage on April 17. Uruguay Chamber of Deputies voted to legalize gay marriage on April 10.

West, Texas and a Failure of City Planning

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West, Texas is not a region of the State of Texas.

West is the name of a town that almost blew itself off the map this week through a combination of poor city planning and lax enforcement of safety laws.

Fertilizer makes plants grow. It also explodes. Remember the nitroglycerin in dynamite? The “nitro” part of that is the same “nitrates” found in the fertilizer you sprinkle on your rose plants. The difference is quantity and, hopefully, the stability of compound.

I won’t go into the sad history of fertilizer bombs. But I will say that the town of West, Texas played host to a humongous fertilizer bomb in the form of West Fertilizer plant.

There is nothing wrong with having a fertilizer plant as part of your town’s economy. People have to make a living, and fertilizer, if it’s used properly, allows us to grow the crops that feed our planet’s population. We need the stuff, and making it is an honest living.

But it can also be dangerous. That’s why government officials have a responsibility to plan how they allow a town to grow around plants like these. For reasons unknown, the town of West allowed a school and a nursing home, along with a number of private residences, to be situated near a fertilizer plant.

I know full well that the people of this little town are shattered over what has happened. They’ve lost people that, in a community of this size, they all knew and most of them probably loved. Many more were injured. Others have lost their homes. There is no reason for a janey-come-lately from Oklahoma to butt her nose into this and tell these people that they made some mistakes in how they situated this fertilizer plant.

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I am not writing this post to chide or criticize the hurting folks of West. I want to use it to forewarn the rest of us. City planners in lots of places, including my own town, often seem to make their decisions in a sort of moral isolation tank where the preservation of communities and the safety and well-being of residents doesn’t enter into their deliberations. 

Likewise, government inspectors are often either too lax or too punitive in their approach to businesses. I’ve read that the West Fertilizer plant had not been inspected since 1985. 

We need a housecleaning at the local level about things like this.

If you are a Christian and you hold one of these jobs, you have a responsibility to do it honestly and with concern for the common good. I realize that a lot of people who hold these positions would lose their jobs if they tried this, but that doesn’t change what Jesus asks of us.

It also doesn’t ameliorate the responsibility of elected officials to oversee these processes and guarantee that the citizens’ needs are not overlooked. That is their job, even if it means going against the local Chamber of Commerce and getting beat in the next election. Whatever our job, we ultimately answer to God for how we do it.

I’m sure there will be recriminations and ugliness about the tragically wrong-headed city planning that took place in West, Texas. I am equally sure that after the news cycle has moved on, little will change in the future Wests around the country.

We really need to stop driving our government by looking in the rear view mirror and face forward. If you are in city government, you need to replay the videos of West, then give some serious thought to the potential Wests in your town.

We can’t undo things like this once they happen. We can’t bring the dead back to life. I also know that we will never be able to stop terrible things from happening altogether. From the Tower of Siloam to West, Texas, people die in tragedies like this.

But that does not excuse us from doing our best. It does not exempt government officials from careful thought and planning that places the welfare of the citizens it governs as its primary concern.

If you don’t understand that, then you shouldn’t be in government at all.

Hello Samaria. It’s Bergoglio.

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It appears that Francis, the phone-call-making Pope, also will continue as the black-shoe-wearing Pope — the black-old-shoe-wearing Pope.

Rather than replace his old shoes, the Holy Father called the man who has been making and repairing his footwear for some 40 years, 81-year-old Carlos Samaria, of Buenos Aires.

True to form, Pope Francis placed the call to order the repairs himself.

“Hello Samaria. It’s Bergoglio,” he began. “Who is this?” the shoemaker asked. “Samaria, it’s Francis, the Pope!” came the answer.

The shoemaker said that Pope Francis told him “No red shoes, black like always.”

It sounds as if our Holy Father takes a mischievous delight in these conversations. Maybe it lessens the isolation of his new life when he picks up the phone and reaches out to people, especially to old friends like Señor Samaria.

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Pope Francis’ Sister, Maria Bergoglio

I read an interview Pope Francis’ sister gave shortly after his election in which she spoke of the loneliness of the Papacy, describing the time she met Pope John Paul II.

“When I fell to my knees to kiss his ring, I looked up and saw a gaze of such love, but at the same time of infinite loneliness,” she said.

Pope Francis lives in community rather than the isolation of the papal apartment and he makes his own phone calls. I hope these things give this good man some measure of community to comfort him as He shepherds us through the times ahead.

From CNA:

.- Pope Francis, who has quickly become known for his austere style, will continue using his simple black shoes and has called his shoemaker from his hometown of Buenos Aires, Argentina to repair them.

For 40 years, 81 year-old Carlos Samaria has provided shoes from his store on the outskirts of the Argentine capital for Pope Francis, who was known before his election to the papacy as Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio.

“Hello Samaria, it’s Bergoglio,” the phone conversation began.

“But who is this?” the shoemaker responded with surprise.

“Samaria, it’s Francis, the Pope!” the Holy Father replied.

Read the rest here.

Boy Scouts Leadership Pushes Revised Plan Allowing Homosexual Members

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Boy Scouts of America’s executive committee produced yet another attempt to change the organizations long-standing ban on homosexual members Friday.

They announced a resolution that would reverse the ban on homosexual boy scouts as individual members, but keep the ban on homosexual scout leaders. The resolution will be voted on by national council at the end of May. 

This comes on the heels of a sometimes rancorous debate about an earlier plan to allow across the board participation in the Boy Scouts by openly gay men and boys.

The state of California has been considering a change in its tax laws that would revoke the Boy Scouts non-profit tax status if they do not admit homosexuals to the organization. This proposed law is called The Youth Equality Act. 

Boy Scouts of America

Supporters of the Boy Scouts’ current position which refuses membership in the organization to openly homosexual members or leaders raise concerns about openly gay members using the Boy Scouts to promote homosexual political and social agendas.

A CNA article describing the situation reads in part:

In an April 19 statement, the Boy Scouts said that “the Executive Committee, on behalf of the National Executive Board, wrote a resolution for consideration that would remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation.”

It added that the resolution would “maintain the current membership policy” of prohibiting openly gay men to serve as adult troop leaders.

The resolution will be receive a vote at the organization’s annual national council in late May.

The announcement of the resolution follows several months of policy review after the Boy Scouts lost funding from high-profile donors such as UPS over the current rules, which bar openly homosexual members.

… Eagle Scout John Stemberger warned that the resolution would create “a myriad of problems for how to manage and ensure the safety of the boys in the program.”

Stemberger is the founder of OnMyHonor.Net, a nationwide coalition of scouts, parents and leaders who support the Boy Scouts’ current policy.
 
“The current membership policy of Scouting, which is backed by more than 100 years of tradition, allows anyone to participate irrespective of sexual orientation, but only disallows the open and aggressive promotion of homosexuality and political agendas,” he explained in an April 19 statement.

Arguing that “parents should still have the final say on the issues of sexuality and politics,” he cautioned that a policy change “injects both those topics right into the program.”  (Read the rest here.) 

Did I Ever Once Pray?

Alfred P Murrah Federal Building before destruction

I am trying to remember if I ever once prayed for the perpetrators of the Oklahoma City bombing.

I know I prayed — and fervently — that the FBI would get the right person or persons. The only thing worse than being a victim of one of these things would be to be accused of it and not have done it.

I wanted the right people to get got.

I think I prayed before the execution of one of the perpetrators. I remember I was upset about the idea of them strapping him down and killing him like he was an animal in a slaughter house. I never confused him with an animal. I always knew he was human and that what he had done was a specifically human act.

I did not want him executed. But once he was dead, I was glad that I would never have to hear any of his comments or words again. I was glad his ashes were scattered. I did not want him to have a grave where people would go and take photos of each other standing beside his marker. I wanted him forgot.

But … did I ever pray for his soul? I think I did, on the day of his execution. But I’m honestly not sure.

I’ve never prayed for it since then. I can tell you that.

I spent far too much time back then, thinking about the perpetrators of this mass murder. It was so premeditated. They planned it and worked toward it for months, robbing for money and resources that they stockpiled until they had enough to build a bomb. This was beyond deliberate. It was something these men worked toward the way better people work toward college degrees or buying their first home. It was a long-term goal for them.

I couldn’t wrap my mind around that. I could not fathom that someone would get up in the morning and go to work building a bomb to kill other people and that they could do it for months. Why would anyone think this was a good idea?

Then, one day, I realized that I would never understand and that I didn’t need to understand. 

I can’t understand Beethoven, either. But for different reasons. I hear the Fifth Symphony and I know that he heard it before he ever wrote a note. He heard all of the instruments in his mind. He heard them individually and together simultaneously. He heard it and he wrote it down with musical notes on a piece of paper so that we could hear it too.

How did he do that? How can anyone do what Beethoven did? I don’t understand because I do not have the talent to fly that high.

Conversely, I don’t understand these cold-blooded killers because I can’t bend down that low. You have to squeeze yourself into a painfully small box to think like these murderers do. You have to amputate large parts of your soul and psyche to shrink it down to something small enough to even begin to comprehend why and how they could decide that doing something like this was a worthy project.

Every time one of these things happens, we are inundated with comments from people who tell us that the killer seemed like one of us. But of course, that’s not true. They’re not like us, at least not in the only thing about them that matters to the rest of us; their murderous desires. The “normal Joe” mass murderer is an ironic viewpoint perpetrated on the rest of us to titillate and engage us. It is not true.

I don’t know and I don’t care why and how they are different. That’s the job of FBI profilers and others with a calling and a dedication that I don’t have.

I suppose, after I write this, I’m going to have to pray for the perpetrators of the Oklahoma City bombing. It’s not going to be easy. I will first have to dig them out from the box where I put them long ago.

The one labeled “Trash.”

220px Oklahomacitybombing DF ST 98 01356

Second Suspect is in Custody

Police took the second suspect in the Boston bombing in custody tonight. 

I watched it from about 5 pm CST. Reporters had to fill the airtime with commentary while the police worked to arrest the suspect without killing him. That gave me a chance to hear all the rumors and web-spinning that surrounds this case. This is an inevitable fog-of-war thing that happens naturally with these tragedies. Most of these rumors will prove to be inaccurate, so I’m going to let that shake itself out without adding to the confusion here on this blog.

The FBI did a great job, and I imagine they are going to continue doing a great job throughout the rest of this investigation. This person is in custody. They say he is injured and in serious condition. The story is that 3 other people have also been arrested, but no one in the press knows why.

It took four days to get the photos of the murderers to the public. It took five days to get them both out of circulation and either in the morgue or in custody.

I will never put the names of these killers on this blog. I ask everyone else to respect that and do the same in their comments. Do not curse or revile them. They aren’t worth it.

God bless Boston. God bless America. 

Victims officer sean collier

Martin Richard, 8

Krystle Campbell, 29

Lingzi Lu, 23

Officer Sean Collier, 26

Four Days

Four days.

That’s how long it took for the FBI to sift through the evidence and identify two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing. 

I read a story earlier, which I assume is true, that one of the bombing victims, Jeff Baumann, said “That’s the guy. He looked right at me,” when he was shown a photo of the one of the suspects. He described how the man placed a bag of explosives at his feet. Two and a half minutes later, the bag exploded.

Four days. 

I am impressed and grateful for law enforcement that follows the evidence and investigates thoroughly. I don’t want them to find just someone, I want them to find the right ones. 

Law enforcement searches for one of these suspects while I am writing this. The other suspect is dead. The suspected terrorists have added two more casualties to their list: One young police officer is dead and another is in critical condition. I have no doubt that they will find the suspect who is at large. 

Four days. 

The message here, for those who want to hear it, is Don’t mess with the USA. 

 If you see this man, call 1-800-CALL-FBI. 

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