“I knew that bullets don’t have a name.
“I knew that at that moment, he was ready to take my life along with his. I knew that if I didn’t say the right thing, I would be dead.
“I just started praying for him.
“I give it all to God.”
“I knew that bullets don’t have a name.
“I knew that at that moment, he was ready to take my life along with his. I knew that if I didn’t say the right thing, I would be dead.
“I just started praying for him.
“I give it all to God.”
In one of his morning homilies a few months ago, Pope Francis talked about societies that put company profits above human dignity, or even human life. “What point have we come to?” he asked.
This kind of talk disturbs cafeteria Christians on the right, just as the Church’s insistence on the fundamental right to life of all human beings and the sanctity of Holy Matrimony disturbs cafeteria Christians on the left.
Each “side” of the culture wars wants the Holy Father to affirm them and their half-Gospel as righteousness so that they can use what would amount to an amputated, phony Jesus to score “gotcha!” points off those on the other side of the various political debates.
But Pope Francis is the Vicar of Christ, not the apologist for the false idols of various religious/political heresies.
Jesus was a worker. A carpenter. By doing that, He elevated work far above the animalistic fight for survival that those in power often try to make it into for working people.
Human beings are made in the image and likeness of Almighty God. As such, we each have a transcendent dignity that extends beyond this life and into eternity. The things we do here, including the work of our heads, hands and hearts, is an expression of that innate, God-given dignity.
All people are entitled to the privileges of owning private property and to have the labor of their lives respected. Part of that respect is a living wage and decent working conditions. When these values are compromised by a moneyed few who mis-use the powers of government to seize the treasure of a nation to satisfy their personal rapaciousness, then those who govern must oppose those actions.
Elected officials who do otherwise may profess Christ with their mouths, but they deny Him by what they do.
Our corporate media lines up hard against working people. They extol the virtues of the rich and proclaim the necessity of robbing the worker in every situation, from maintaining an unequal tax structure that permits some to pile up great wealth while forcing workers to pay more than the Biblical ten percent on every loaf of bread and gallon of milk they buy.
They yammer constantly about the totally fallacious “necessity” of cutting Social Security or putting it into the stock market where the wealthy can get a bite of it, but they say nothing about the vast corporate welfare and “privatization,” (Which is just a form of graft that attaches corporate profits to the tax base.) that is actually bankrupting the country.
You would think, listening to them, that a living wage was robbery and robbing retirements and social security so that we go back to the practice of putting our elderly people in poor farms was righteousness.
Who are working people?
I believe that would be you and me. And a few others in our past and present.
We are so blessed to the Catholic!
The Church is a gift Jesus gave us to sustain and guide us until He comes again, or until we go to Him.
The gym at my parish was home this summer to Catholic young people from all over the United States who came to help with the clean-up and restoration after the tornadoes last spring. They were Christ’s representatives in a hard time for people here.
We are all Christ’s representatives when we reach out to other people in their need. That is the deep meaning of Catholic Social Teaching: Being Jesus to other people.
Catholic social teachings have their roots in the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes.
One would think, watching this video, that every person, everywhere, would unite with all others behind these teachings. However, Catholic Social Teachings are the reason that the Church is attacked from so many quarters, including, sadly, from the pews and even from behind the altars of its own parishes.
Everyone has someone they want to exploit, abuse or even kill for their own privilege. This impulse is evil from its core, and like all evil it responds to anything that seeks to limit it with anger and rage.
Nothing makes people more angry than telling them that their most precious little sin is, in fact, a sin. Of all the angers I have encountered as an elected official, none is so vicious, hate-filled and unreasoning as the rage of people who are being told they can’t kill or exploit other people they have deemed not human enough to matter.
I think the reason for this is that, by defining other people as not human enough to matter, and taking on themselves to power to kill and exploit them, they have already aligned themselves with the darkness.
And the darkness hates the light, even it is just a flash of the tiniest flame of another person telling them that they are wrong.
This beautiful video describes Catholic Social teaching with colors.
Watch it and pray that Kingdom come, His will be done.
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.
My husband and I went to Sunday vigil mass a couple of hours ago. We followed that with dinner in a nice restaurant. My Sabbath has begun, which means that I’m not going to blog on events in the next 24 hours unless events themselves force me to it. However, I want to leave you with a few things to think about before next week, when we take up the question of Syria in earnest. Be assured that when we do get back to this, I am going to give every courteously-stated viewpoint a hearing in the comboxes. This is a serious matter. I will not try to bamboozle Public Catholic’s readers into one outlook or position. I want all of us to pray and think for ourselves. In the meantime, please pray that God will lead this nation. Here is some information for you to think over.
1. Pope Francis on US intervention in Syria. From LifeSiteNews:
ROME, August 28, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pope Francis, as well as other Christian leaders in the Middle East and around Europe are sounding the alarm of a possible global conflict should the US and other western powers launch an attack on Syria.In an interview with Vatican Radio yesterday, the Syrian Chaldean Catholic bishop of Aleppo, Antoine Audo, said that armed intervention in Syria could unleash a “world war.” “If there is an armed intervention, that would mean, I believe, a world war. That risk has returned,” he said.
The comments follow an urgent appeal by Pope Francis this weekend for the world’s powers not to intervene in the escalating Syrian conflict. On Sunday, Pope Francis called on the international community to do everything they could to avoid military action, calling for them “to be more sensitive to this tragic situation and make every effort to help the beloved Syrian nation find a solution to a war that sows destruction and death.” “The increase in violence in a war between brothers, with the proliferation of massacres and atrocities, that we all have been able to see in the terrible images of these days, leads me once again raise my voice that the clatter of arms may cease,” he said during the Angelus. “It is not confrontation that offers hope to resolve problems, but rather the ability to meet and dialogue.”Bishop Audo added to Vatican Radio, “We hope that the Pope’s call for real dialogue between the warring parties to find a solution can be a first step to stop the fighting.”L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s quasi-official paper, also criticised the threats by Western powers, accusing US President Obama of pursuing a policy of “political expediency” rather “than of substance.”
2. Great Britain on US Intervention in Syria. From Fox News:
British lawmakers on Thursday voted against military intervention in Syria, in a major setback for both British Prime Minister David Cameron and the Obama administration in their push to punish the Assad regime for an alleged chemical weapons strike. Cameron, who has been aligned with President Obama in advocating a tough response, indicated after the vote that he would abide by the outcome. The measure was narrowly defeated, by 285 votes to 272 votes. The outcome raises serious questions for Obama, who has not yet made a decision on the way forward in Syria but had indicated his administration would need international support for any strike. After failing to win support for an anti-Assad resolution before the U.N. Security Council, U.S. officials were looking to allies like Britain and France to build a coalition for action in Syria.
3. President Obama’s statement on Syria. From the White House:
Statement by the President on Syria
1:52 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. Ten days ago, the world watched in horror as men, women and children were massacred in Syria in the worst chemical weapons attack of the 21st century. Yesterday the United States presented a powerful case that the Syrian government was responsible for this attack on its own people.Our intelligence shows the Assad regime and its forces preparing to use chemical weapons, launching rockets in the highly populated suburbs of Damascus, and acknowledging that a chemical weapons attack took place. And all of this corroborates what the world can plainly see — hospitals overflowing with victims; terrible images of the dead. All told, well over 1,000 people were murdered. Several hundred of them were children — young girls and boys gassed to death by their own government. This attack is an assault on human dignity. It also presents a serious danger to our national security. It risks making a mockery of the global prohibition on the use of chemical weapons. It endangers our friends and our partners along Syria’s borders, including Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq. It could lead to escalating use of chemical weapons, or their proliferation to terrorist groups who would do our people harm.In a world with many dangers, this menace must be confronted. Now, after careful deliberation, I have decided that the United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets. This would not be an open-ended intervention. We would not put boots on the ground. Instead, our action would be designed to be limited in duration and scope. But I’m confident we can hold the Assad regime accountable for their use of chemical weapons, deter this kind of behavior, and degrade their capacity to carry it out.Our military has positioned assets in the region. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs has informed me that we are prepared to strike whenever we choose. Moreover, the Chairman has indicated to me that our capacity to execute this mission is not time-sensitive; it will be effective tomorrow, or next week, or one month from now. And I’m prepared to give that order. But having made my decision as Commander-in-Chief based on what I am convinced is our national security interests, I’m also mindful that I’m the President of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy. I’ve long believed that our power is rooted not just in our military might, but in our example as a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. And that’s why I’ve made a second decision: I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people’s representatives in Congress. Over the last several days, we’ve heard from members of Congress who want their voices to be heard. I absolutely agree. So this morning, I spoke with all four congressional leaders, and they’ve agreed to schedule a debate and then a vote as soon as Congress comes back into session. In the coming days, my administration stands ready to provide every member with the information they need to understand what happened in Syria and why it has such profound implications for America’s national security. And all of us should be accountable as we move forward, and that can only be accomplished with a vote. I’m confident in the case our government has made without waiting for U.N. inspectors. I’m comfortable going forward without the approval of a United Nations Security Council that, so far, has been completely paralyzed and unwilling to hold Assad accountable. As a consequence, many people have advised against taking this decision to Congress, and undoubtedly, they were impacted by what we saw happen in the United Kingdom this week when the Parliament of our closest ally failed to pass a resolution with a similar goal, even as the Prime Minister supported taking action. Yet, while I believe I have the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization, I know that the country will be stronger if we take this course, and our actions will be even more effective. We should have this debate, because the issues are too big for business as usual. And this morning, John Boehner, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell agreed that this is the right thing to do for our democracy. A country faces few decisions as grave as using military force, even when that force is limited. I respect the views of those who call for caution, particularly as our country emerges from a time of war that I was elected in part to end. But if we really do want to turn away from taking appropriate action in the face of such an unspeakable outrage, then we must acknowledge the costs of doing nothing. Here’s my question for every member of Congress and every member of the global community: What message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price? What’s the purpose of the international system that we’ve built if a prohibition on the use of chemical weapons that has been agreed to by the governments of 98 percent of the world’s people and approved overwhelmingly by the Congress of the United States is not enforced? Make no mistake — this has implications beyond chemical warfare. If we won’t enforce accountability in the face of this heinous act, what does it say about our resolve to stand up to others who flout fundamental international rules? To governments who would choose to build nuclear arms? To terrorist who would spread biological weapons? To armies who carry out genocide? We cannot raise our children in a world where we will not follow through on the things we say, the accords we sign, the values that define us. So just as I will take this case to Congress, I will also deliver this message to the world. While the U.N. investigation has some time to report on its findings, we will insist that an atrocity committed with chemical weapons is not simply investigated, it must be confronted.I don’t expect every nation to agree with the decision we have made. Privately we’ve heard many expressions of support from our friends. But I will ask those who care about the writ of the international community to stand publicly behind our action. And finally, let me say this to the American people: I know well that we are weary of war. We’ve ended one war in Iraq. We’re ending another in Afghanistan. And the American people have the good sense to know we cannot resolve the underlying conflict in Syria with our military. In that part of the world, there are ancient sectarian differences, and the hopes of the Arab Spring have unleashed forces of change that are going to take many years to resolve. And that’s why we’re not contemplating putting our troops in the middle of someone else’s war. Instead, we’ll continue to support the Syrian people through our pressure on the Assad regime, our commitment to the opposition, our care for the displaced, and our pursuit of a political resolution that achieves a government that respects the dignity of its people.But we are the United States of America, and we cannot and must not turn a blind eye to what happened in Damascus. Out of the ashes of world war, we built an international order and enforced the rules that gave it meaning. And we did so because we believe that the rights of individuals to live in peace and dignity depends on the responsibilities of nations. We aren’t perfect, but this nation more than any other has been willing to meet those responsibilities.So to all members of Congress of both parties, I ask you to take this vote for our national security. I am looking forward to the debate. And in doing so, I ask you, members of Congress, to consider that some things are more important than partisan differences or the politics of the moment. Ultimately, this is not about who occupies this office at any given time; it’s about who we are as a country. I believe that the people’s representatives must be invested in what America does abroad, and now is the time to show the world that America keeps our commitments. We do what we say. And we lead with the belief that right makes might — not the other way around.We all know there are no easy options. But I wasn’t elected to avoid hard decisions. And neither were the members of the House and the Senate. I’ve told you what I believe, that our security and our values demand that we cannot turn away from the massacre of countless civilians with chemical weapons. And our democracy is stronger when the President and the people’s representatives stand together. I’m ready to act in the face of this outrage. Today I’m asking Congress to send a message to the world that we are ready to move forward together as one nation. Thanks very much. END 2:02 P.M. EDT
A commenter in The Debate: When Does Military Spending ENDANGER America? referred to President Dwight Eisenhower’s military industrial complex speech. Here is the full text of the speech. I had never read it completely through before tonight. I think it was prescient. We owe this old warrior a great deal, not the least of which is what we owe him for the honesty and love of his country exhibited by this speech.
Public Papers of the Presidents, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1960, p. 1035- 1040
My fellow Americans:
Three days from now, after half a century in the service of our country, I shall lay down the responsibilities of office as, in traditional and solemn ceremony, the authority of the Presidency is vested in my successor.
This evening I come to you with a message of leave-taking and farewell, and to share a few final thoughts with you, my countrymen.
Like every other citizen, I wish the new President, and all who will labor with him, Godspeed. I pray that the coming years will be blessed with peace and prosperity for all.
Our people expect their President and the Congress to find essential agreement on issues of great moment, the wise resolution of which will better shape the future of the Nation.
My own relations with the Congress, which began on a remote and tenuous basis when, long ago, a member of the Senate appointed me to West Point, have since ranged to the intimate during the war and immediate post-war period, and, finally, to the mutually interdependent during these past eight years.
In this final relationship, the Congress and the Administration have, on most vital issues, cooperated well, to serve the national good rather than mere partisanship, and so have assured that the business of the Nation should go forward. So, my official relationship with the Congress ends in a feeling, on my part, of gratitude that we have been able to do so much together.
We now stand ten years past the midpoint of a century that has witnessed four major wars among great nations. Three of these involved our own country. Despite these holocausts America is today the strongest, the most influential and most productive nation in the world. Understandably proud of this pre-eminence, we yet realize that America’s leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.
Throughout America’s adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among people and among nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people. Any failure traceable to arrogance, or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt both at home and abroad.
Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention, absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile ideology — global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily the danger is poses promises to be of indefinite duration. To meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle — with liberty the stake. Only thus shall we remain, despite every provocation, on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment.
Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defense; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research — these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.
But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs — balance between the private and the public economy, balance between cost and hoped for advantage — balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration.
The record of many decades stands as proof that our people and their government have, in the main, understood these truths and have responded to them well, in the face of stress and threat. But threats, new in kind or degree, constantly arise. I mention two only.
A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction.
Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.
Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.
In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.
Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.
The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present
Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientifictechnological elite.
It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system — ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.
Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society’s future, we — you and I, and our government — must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.
Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.
Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.
Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war — as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years — I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.
Happily, I can say that war has been avoided. Steady progress toward our ultimate goal has been made. But, so much remains to be done. As a private citizen, I shall never cease to do what little I can to help the world advance along that road.
So — in this my last good night to you as your President — I thank you for the many opportunities you have given me for public service in war and peace. I trust that in that service you find some things worthy; as for the rest of it, I know you will find ways to improve performance in the future.
You and I — my fellow citizens — need to be strong in our faith that all nations, under God, will reach the goal of peace with justice. May we be ever unswerving in devotion to principle, confident but humble with power, diligent in pursuit of the Nation’s great goals.
To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America’s prayerful and continuing aspiration:
We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.
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.
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