Book Review: Polemic Trying to be a Satire

The join in the conversation about Operation Screwtape, The Art of Spiritual Warfare, or to find a link to buy a copy, go here

BC OperationScrewtape 1

To be honest, I stopped reading Operation Screwtape about 20 pages or so before the end because I just found it too tedious to go on. That action (or in-action) highlights one of my two major criticisms of the book. It’s not interesting.

I’ll get to the other criticism in a minute, but I want to focus first on the not very interesting part. 

Operation Screwtape, by best-selling author Andrew Farley, is a frank imitation of the fictional technique C.S. Lewis used in his classic, The Screwtape Letters. The Screwtape Letters is a work of fiction in which a veteran demon named Screwtape attempts to instruct his protégée, Wormwood, in the methods needed to lead a new Christian away from the faith. It is illustrative satire at its best.

I wouldn’t compare Lewis’ book to this one except that the author invites such comparison by his choice of names and that one of the reviewers who made it to the book jacket says, “Operation Screwtape channels the creativity and wit of C. S. Lewis.”

That, in my humble opinion, is not true. Operation Screwtape has none of the creativity and wit of The Screwtape Letters. For starters, it does not have a story line. It does not have characters, unless you assume that anything that is written in the first person has a “character.” 

The Screwtape Letters is satire. Operation Screwtape, on the other hand, is polemic that claims to be satire. The target of this polemic is, as nearly as I can tell, organized Christianity. That’s fine, if you want to write it. There’s plenty of meat there. But it takes more than ironic expressions to make a good satire. 

The other problem I have with the book is what I think is it’s viewpoint. The viewpoint is clothed in the ironic way it’s expressed, so I have to more or less derive it. But it appears to me that the author is pushing his own brand of Christianity, which is divorced from the 2,000 year tradition of the institutional church. Again, I have no problems with him holding this viewpoint. I just don’t share it. 

My feeling is that Operation Screwtape has some good and valid points mixed in with an individualistic Christian teaching that, in at least some ways, flies in the face of what has been constant Christian teaching for 2,000 years. I am aware that many sincere Christians share the author’s beliefs. However, I can not recommend the book for anyone who doesn’t.

If you are not one of the “I love Jesus but hate the Church” crowd, there’s little here that would make it worthwhile to plow through this book. If the book was an interesting read, I could recommend it on that basis. For instance, Mark Twain’s Letters from the Earth uses the same device to attack Christianity. But it’s such a good read, that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it on its literary merits. If, on the other hand, Operation Screwtape advanced new ideas, or even old ideas with a new twist, it would be easy to recommend the book based on that. 

But I found it tedious to read and basically more of the same old stuff I’ve seen on many blogs and in essays and magazine columns. 

My advice is to get a copy of The Screwtape Letters and read it if you want satire of this sort. Or you might read Letters from the Earth and The Screwtape Letters back to back and compare them with one another. That would be fun. 

This book is not. 

Two Men Euthanized in Belgium Because They Were Losing Their Sight

Speak of slippery slopes and it will never happen.

Identical twin brothers were recently euthanized in Belgium because they were losing their sight. This, in a country which allows doctors to legally murder (euthanize) children and people who are suffering from Alzheimer’s. Neither one of these two groups of people is competent to give informed consent.

Also, the practice of harvesting organs for transplant from the corpses those who have been murdered by euthanasia complicates things since it gives doctors a financial motive for killing their patients.

The question: When you pass laws that make your doctor your executioner, how do you ever trust your doctor again?

The Blaze article describing the twins’ medical murder reads in part:

Twin brothers in Belgium who were deaf since birth, lived in the same apartment and worked as cobblers were euthanized by lethal injection last month after they learned they were losing their eyesight as well.

The identical 45-year-olds couldn’t bear the thought of eventually not being able to see each other any more, the Daily Telegraph reported. It was an unusual cased based on Belgium’s law, which allows euthanasia by request if the doctor also considers the patient in unbearable pain.  New additions to the law also allow for euthanasia of children and patients with Alzheimer’s, according to the Telegraph.

These men, though, were not terminally ill or physically suffering in the traditional sense …

… The Telegraph pointed out that in 2011 about 1,133 patients were euthanized. If euthanasia as a practice wasn’t controversial enough, it also noted that some of the organs of patients euthanized in the country were being harvested. With a shortage of some organs for transplant, this would raise the issue of patients who might not otherwise be candidates for euthanasia potentially being cleared anyway. (Read more here.)

Gay Marriage Trumps Freedom of Conscience in European Court

Standing Against Christian Persecution

Gay marriage trumped freedom of conscience in the European Court of Human Rights yesterday.

The Court handed down rulings on four contentious cases which had been brought before it by British citizens. In three of the cases, it ruled with the British government and against the citizens.

Here’s how it went:

1. British airways employee Nadia Ewelda won the right to wear a cross around her neck to work without being fired. Part of the reasoning was that other British Airways employees were allowed to wear religious symbols of other faiths, including turbans and scarves.

2. A British nurse lost the right to wear a cross around her neck to work. The Court based this ruling on the idea that the cross might somehow pose a job hazard by accidentally touching an open wound or something.

3. Two other British citizens, a registrar and a relationship counselor, lost their cases. They had been fired for refusing, on the basis of their religious beliefs, to participate in civil partnership ceremonies for gay couples.

Religious groups are hailing these rulings as “victories,” based on the lone case that allowed a flight attendant to wear a cross to work. This which confounds me. Christians consistently lose in the courts, as the many atheists who buzz by this blog every time I write on the subject try to remind us, and I think these rulings are no exception to that.

One of the things that struck me about these rulings is that they were so specific. Evidently, the European Court of Human Rights does not rule on broad issues of law in the same manner that our Supreme Court does. These rulings were basically, “We uphold this case, but not this.” If the court ruled on principles of law rather than just the specific cases, it didn’t come through in the news stories I read.

I’m not sure what that means in terms of the scope of these rulings. If these truly are specific rulings on specific cases and not on broad points of law, then that could be significant in terms of impact. I’m not saying that’s how it is. I don’t know.

I may not understand the scope of these rulings, but I do know that they were not a “victory” for Christians or freedom of conscience. I also think they were a harbinger of what’s to come for all of us.

Advocates of gay marriage here in the United States are quick to say that re-writing the legal definition of marriage will not impact religious liberty, that no one will be forced to perform gay marriages if it is against their conscience. This clearly flies in the face of the collective experience throughout the Western world.

So far as I know, in every country that has legalized gay marriage, or, as in the case with this ruling, civil partnerships, it is just a matter of time, and usually not much time, before people are losing their jobs because they do not want to participate in performing these marriages.

The Los Angeles Times article describing these court cases reads in part:

By Emily Alpert
January 15, 2013, 1:14 p.m.
A Christian employee was wronged when British Airways insisted she remove the small cross she wore around her neck, the European Court of Human Rights ruled Tuesday.

But judges rejected claims by three other British Christians who claimed they had been discriminated against in the workplace, including two who had refused to provide their services to couples of the same sex.

Religious freedom is “one of the foundations of pluralistic, democratic societies,” the European court wrote, but religious freedom can nonetheless be restricted where it “impinges on the rights of others.”

Judges decided 5-2 in favor of Nadia Eweida, who was sent home without pay for violating the British Airways uniform code more than six years ago. At the time, its rules banned any visible jewelry. Eweida returned to work several months later after the company changed its policies, but continued to press her case against the British government for failing to protect her freedom of religion.

The European court found that British courts had failed to strike a fair balance between her rights and British Airways’ wish to “project a certain corporate image.” Other employees had already been allowed to wear other kinds of religious apparel, including turbans and head scarves, without any impact on the British Airways brand, it added. The court ordered the British government to award Eweida more than $2,600 in damages and $40,000 for expenses.

“I feel vindicated, that Christians have been vindicated, both here and in Europe as well,” Eweida told the BBC after the decision was issued, a cross visible around her neck.

Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted that he was “delighted” by Tuesday’s decision, a rare bit of British government praise for the European court. The ruling was also cheered by rights groups.

“Nadia Eweida wasn’t hurting anyone and was perfectly capable of doing her job whilst wearing a small cross,” said Shami Chakrabarti, director of the civil liberties group Liberty. “British courts lost their way in her case and Strasbourg has actually acted more in keeping with our traditions of tolerance.”

Religious conservatives were also pleased Eweida had triumphed, but their enthusiasm was dampened by the fact that the European judges turned down the three other discrimination claims. Although it sided with Eweida, the court said a British hospital was justified in barring a nurse from wearing a crucifix because it could touch an open wound or a patient might pull on it. Protecting health and safety were more weighty reasons to ban the cross than buffing a corporate image, it concluded.

Judges also rejected the claims of a relationship counselor and a former registrar who balked at providing their services to same-sex couples. The counselor was fired for violating company policies that he had agreed to; the registrar was disciplined and warned that if she did not perform civil partnerships, she would be terminated.

Christian groups argued that other registrars could have performed the service. “What this case shows is that Christians with traditional beliefs about marriage are at risk of being left out in the cold,” said Mike Judge, spokesman for the Christian Institute, in a statement Tuesday. (Read more here.)

Stop Slogan-Voting. Stop Hate-Voting. Stop Being Manipulated. Part 1: Your Vote = Their Power

Your Vote = Their Power 

Politics is about power.

The two political parties are not political parties as we once knew them. They are consortiums of special interests. They operate on behalf of these interests for one purpose: to get and keep power.

Everything else they say is a lie.

The next time you feel like bowing down to your political party, remember this, and stand upright.

Don’t bend your knee to the R and the D. Register for whichever party, or as an independent, as you please. Vote according to your own understanding and conscience. I have no desire to influence you in that. But do not confuse your party’s trumpeting claims of moral superiority with actual moral superiority. Do not, ever, take the cross down off your mantelpiece and put the Republican elephant or the Democratic donkey in its place.

Both parties actively encourage such idolatry. They do it because they benefit from it. They win elections with the votes of people who slavishly follow them and believe in them as if they were Christ Himself. Winning elections is how political parties get power. Power is how they control the purse strings and the facilities of government. Power is the payback for lying to you.

They get power by lying to you. They keep it by almost but not quite fulfilling their promises. Holding you on a leash of unfulfilled expectations by always trying but failing to do the things they promised when you voted for them is axiomatic to making sure that you keep coming back to them again and again. If they actually did what they said they would do, the vote-getting engine would go dead. It takes showmanship and adept political choreography to create an unending series of cliff-hanger battles that will keep you focused and rooting for your team.

It also requires an excuse for repeatedly failing to deliver. Political parties have to hide the obvious. They can’t just say, sure we’re the party of life, but even after 40 years of trying, we’re still too dumb to find a way to overturn Roe. The other guys can’t say, of course we’re the party of the American worker, but we’re such idiots that after 40 years of deep thinking we still can’t come up with a way to stop exporting your jobs. Even the most besotted kool-aid-drinking party loyalist might gag on this.

So … what’s a political party to do when it has no intention of doing anything it says but it wants to make sure that the voters don’t figure this out? Easy. They tell you that the Other Party is the Devil. They claim that they are still your white knight, trying desperately to ride to the rescue, but the Other Party, those black-hearted wraiths from the deepest pit of political hell, overcome them in spite of their heroic efforts. The only way to make this work is if the two parties play off against one another so they can keep the attempt-failure cycle spinning. If either one of them decided that the thing to do was represent the people, the jig would be up.

In truth, political parties have no use for working people except for their votes. Political parties don’t care about either a woman’s right to chose or an unborn baby’s right to life. What they do care about is using those issues to motivate you to send them money and march to the polls on election day to deliver your vote.

That’s how they get power. Power is what they want, and they will tell you anything it takes to get you to give it to them.

It’s a simple equation: Your Vote = Their Power.

What about the various alliances political parties form with religious groups? You know, the lefty churches who have mutilated the Gospels one way to suit the Ds, and the righty churches who have mutilated the Gospels the other way to suit the Rs.

Here’s how that works when the television cameras are off. Religious groups don’t have the power of government. They can’t enact taxes or call up armies. They can’t pass laws or issue mandates. Those are all powers of government. However, religious groups do have a potent power of their own. People think their religious leaders speak for God. They listen to religious leaders because they believe in their prophetic and moral voice.

We live in a country where the way you get control of the power of government is to win elections. You win elections by getting lots of people to vote for you. You can’t win elections by telling voters “I’m going to go in there and represent special interests and do things that will take away your livelihood, cost you your home and that fly in the face of every moral belief you cherish.” That’s not a winning strategy. So, they lie.

But lies, when they are such obvious lies as these have become, need a cover. What better cover than the moral gloss of religious leaders, lending their prophetic and moral voice to your self-serving, special-interest-supporting agenda?

Party leaders don’t care about religion and they don’t respect the religious leaders they con into supporting them. I know this. Let me repeat that: I know it. I’ve seen heads of denominations go in to talk to legislative leaders. These preachers are all puffed up and sure of themselves when they walk in. They are certain that these men who they got elected and who promised them, gave them their word, that they would be for something like, say, pro life legislation, just don’t understand what they are doing when they are killing this legislation. These religious leaders are sure they can set things right. I’ve had them tell me so in just those words.

“I’m going to talk to him and set things right,” they say. They are so sure, so certain of themselves and their relationship with these powerful men.

Then, I’ve seen them come back out of those meetings on their knuckles and their knees, totally bamboozled and beaten.

What’s even more disheartening is that I’ve never, with the single exception of the Catholic Bishops, seen even one of these religious leaders stand back up like men and go to war with the legislative leader. They smarm around to me and tell me things like “I’ve got to maintain contact with the Speaker,” or “I don’t want to lose access.” One of them even told me, “He lets me have his personal cell phone number.”

They keep on supporting these liars. What’s worse, they let them kill the pro life bills behind closed doors and never call them to task over it. They support them in the next election, proclaiming as if it was true that this is a 100% pro life politician.

I want to emphasize that I have seen and heard this myself. I’ve seen it not once, but over and over with different legislative leaders in different sessions of the legislature. If you want to know why nothing ever changes, this is a big part of the reason.

This is painful to witness. It hurts. I’ve argued with these religious leaders and tried unsuccessfully to get them to grow spines. I’ve railed at these legislative leaders for being hypocrites and bullies. When I do this, religious leaders hang their heads and shuffle their feet. The politicians usually turn mean and try to take revenge on me inside the process somehow. As for me, I go home and pray and go to confession and then pray some more.

I cling to certain scriptures. One of my favorite Psalms has the words, “If I fly to the highest heaven, You are there. If I make my bed in hell, You are with me. Your right arm sustains me.” Another one begins, “Contend, Oh Lord, with those who contend with me.” And a third says, “Oh Lord, how many are my foes … many are saying to me, ‘There is no help for you in God. But you are a shield around me.”

I pray these Psalms and I ask God to remind me of my own sins, to not let me sink into the pit of self-righteousness or bitterness, but to help me remember that I am just an instrument in His hands, to be used as He sees best.

That’s how I get through it. But it is difficult, and it’s getting more so. The government is doing more and more harm to the people. It is even attacking the Constitution and our basic freedoms. Religious leaders who have allowed themselves to become shameless political groupies for the two parties feed the contempt that supports a surging secularism. There is a war on, and we are losing it.

If you are a Christian, the only side you have in this war is Jesus’ side.

We all want someone else to come in and do the dirty work for us. We want “them” whoever they might be, to save our country, protect our freedoms and work in our interests. That’s probably why we are so eager to believe the absurd, repetitive lies the two political parties tell us. But the fact is that if we want to be saved we’re going to have to do it ourselves, and some of the first people we need to be saved from are both these pernicious political parties and their lying manipulations.

My first bit of advice as I wind down Part 1 of this series is to take down the donkey or the elephant and put the cross back up on your home altar. Give up your false idol of political party and turn back to the Only God, the only One Who can save you, and me, and our great nation, America.

 

 

GPS Leads Woman 900 Miles Out of Her Way

Sabine Moreau, a 67-year-old women from Belgium, wanted to go about 90 miles to pick up a friend at a train station. But instead she followed the directions from her GPS all the way to Croatia, 900 miles away.

She told the press that she wasn’t paying attention.

Here’s the story:

Put too much faith in technology and you may wind up in Croatia. A 67-year-old woman from Belgium learned that the hard way after she followed (faulty) directions from her GPS device.

The woman only wanted to go about 90 miles from her hometown of Hainault Erquelinnes, Belgium, to pick up a friend at the Brussels train station. Her GPS device sent her about 900 miles to the south before (during the second day of driving) she realized that something was amiss. It’s unclear if she entered the address incorrectly or if the GPS was faulty.

Discovery explains that the driver, Sabine Moreau, stopped twice for gas, slept on the side of the road, and “even suffered a minor car accident” along the way. She told El Mundo that she wasn’t paying attention. (Read more here.)

Gorgeous George, the Vatican’s First Pin-Up

Public stardom is difficult for anyone to handle. Based on the outcomes we’ve had with several “star” priests, I would say that clergy don’t handle it any better than anyone else.

That said, I have to admit that I’ve noticed the nice-looking man standing in the background in several photos of Pope Benedict XVI. I wasn’t aware until today that the Italian press had dubbed the good father “Gorgeous George.”

I tend to associate the moniker “gorgeous george” with a small monkey who is the lead character in a series of children’s books. A reader pointed out that, even though I remember him as “Gorgeous” the monkey is actually “Curious George” and that “Gorgeous George” was a famous wrestler. Somehow, that makes it funnier to me.

For all that, I have to admit that the priest in question is, as I said, a nice-looking man. But I don’t faint or anything when I look at him. Of course, I’ve got an exceptionally good-looking fellow that I see across the dinner table every night.

Maybe that’s why I can’t get beyond “nice-looking” in my description of the new Vatican hunk.

My reserved assessment is evidently a minority report. Not only has the Italian press gone loopy over him, but Vanity Fair has now put Archbishop Georg Ganswein on its cover.

I wish Archbishop Ganswein good luck with his new international pin-up status. It’s not easy, being a religious celebrity.

Reuters has the details:

ROME (Reuters) - Archbishop Georg Ganswein, Pope Benedict’sprivate secretary, who has been dubbed “Gorgeous George” by the Italian media, is now a real-life cover boy.

The prelate has landed on the cover of Vanity Fair.

The cover on the Italian edition of the magazine shows the 56-year-old archbishop smiling, his blue eyes beaming, above a headline that reads “Father Georg – It’s not a sin to be beautiful.”

The magazine calls Ganswein “The George Clooney of St Peter’s” and says it dedicated a cover story to honor his recent promotion to the rank of archbishop and as recognition of his growing power inthe Roman Catholic Church.

A spokeswoman for the magazine said Ganswein was not interviewed for the article and did not pose for the cover photo, which she said was a close-up of an existing picture. (Read more here.)

Obama Says He Will Use Executive Orders as Part of Gun Control Package

President Barack Obama, official portrait

President Obama has indicated that he will use executive orders to side-step Congress in his push for gun control.

The use of executive orders has grown over the decades. In my opinion, it has reached the point that it verges on making Congress obsolete. Aside from whatever issue is in question at the time executive orders are used, there is another, underlying issue.

Is Congress going to be reduced to a bombastic cypher? Are we in effect electing a dictator for four years when we elect a president? Has agency rule-making power, as in the case of the HHS Mandate, become a sort of unelected shadow government?

Congress has ceded its natural functions to other entities by virtue of its unwillingness to perform those functions itself. Congress has the power to belay executive orders and agency mandates. But it won’t use it because it is chasing its own legislative tail by focusing all its efforts on constant partisan wrangling. This partisan brinksmanship has reached the point that it is damaging this country directly and destroying the balance of powers indirectly.

Nature and government abhor a vacuum. If Congress refuses to use the powers it is given under the Constitution, some other governmental entity will take them up. In this case, the president, by means of executive orders and faceless agency bureaucrats, by means of regulations and mandates, are usurping Congress’s rightful function.

That means that we the people are being dealt out of the discussion. The president is the one official who should be elected by all the people, but thanks to the electoral college and modern targeted campaigning, that is no longer true.

Both presidents Bush and Obama were elected by means of targeted campaigns aimed at sections of the voters in electorally important states. These campaigns ignored the rest of the country. In November 2012, this resulted in a win for President Obama that was achieved by the odd combination of an electoral landslide coupled with a razor-thin win in the popular vote.

More and more, the president is not elected by all the people, but is, just like members of Congress, elected by targeted coalitions of special interest groups in key areas.

The result is a government so fractured and focused on itself that it no longer even attempts to govern the country. Both sides in these contentious debates about gun control, the deficit and our unending cycle of wars are focused on winning, not on governing. What I mean by that is that they are focused on what it takes to enact the law. Period.

So we have the sorry spectacle of a president who flat-out says he will use executive orders to wire around Congress on one of the most contentious issues facing the country. This is a disastrous move for the country. It can and will create more divisiveness and anger in an already divided and angry nation.

The Associated Press article discussing President Obama’s plans for the upcoming gun control debate reads in part:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing powerful opposition to sweeping gun regulations, President Barack Obama is weighing 19 steps he could take through executive action alone, congressional officials said. But the scope of such measures is limited.

The steps could include ordering stricter action against people who lie on gun sale background checks, seeking to ensure more complete records in the federal background check database, striking limits on federal research into gun use, ordering tougher penalties against gun trafficking, and giving schools flexibility to use grant money to improve safety.

Obama is expected to unveil his proposals Wednesday, barely over a month since the massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., thrust the gun issue into the national spotlight after years of inaction by Obama and lawmakers.

At the same time Obama is vowing not to back off his support for sweeping gun legislation that would require congressional backing — including banning assault weapons, limiting the capacity of ammunition magazines and instituting universal background checks — despite opposition from the influential gun lobby.

“Will all of them get through this Congress? I don’t know,” Obama said at a news conference Monday.

“My starting point is not to worry about the politics,” he said. “My starting point is to focus on what makes sense, what works.”

The president said he would unveil a comprehensive roadmap for curbing gun violence within days. His plan will be based on recommendations from Vice President Joe Biden’s gun task force and is expected to include both legislative proposals and steps Obama can implement by himself, using his presidential powers.

White House officials believe moving swiftly on gun proposals at a national level, before the shock over the Newtown shooting fades, gives Obama the best chance to get his proposals through Congress. (Read more here.)

God Sells Magazines. God and Obama Sell Lots of Magazines.

Big names sell magazines.

Eye-catching covers sell magazines.

Eye-catching covers with big names sell lots of magazines.

Who’s got the biggest name of all?

Let’s look

Double big names, with an Asian twist. How New Age.

The biggest name of all.

And of course, our ultimate destination.

Stop Slogan-Voting. Stop Hate-Voting. Stop Being Manipulated. Introduction

Stop slogan-voting. Stop hate-voting. Stop being manipulated.

We are in a fight for religious freedom in America. Religious freedom is sometimes called the “first freedom.” It is, after all, enshrined in the First Amendment. But there is another reason to call it the “first freedom.” Religious freedom is the basic human freedom on which other freedoms are built. It strikes to the core of our souls, of who we are as individuals and how we view ourselves and other people. All the questions of human worth and the proper relationship of government to the individual person have their genesis in the right to religious freedom.

If the government takes on itself the power to subjugate religious institutions, to bring them under its heel, it will also take onto itself the power to, as Elizabeth I said, “open a window” into its citizen’s souls. That is what is at stake.

The only hammer we the people have in this debate is our vote. Like the good citizens we are, we do vote. We vote. And then the people we elect proceed to represent the same special interests they represented before we voted. We change the people who hold office, but we can’t change the direction of government. It’s as if we pull a lever and find it’s not connected to anything.

I’ve spent the past few days thinking about all this; praying about it, and trying to decide what I can do in my small Oklahoma world to aid in this fight. I think that the truth is our best weapon.

I am going to write a series of posts which I will publish here on Public Catholic every Monday. I want to use this series to tell you the truth about politics as I understand it. That means I’m going to tell you some things you don’t want to hear, including things about we the people that we don’t want to face. What I’m going to say isn’t The Truth. It’s not absolute. It’s not part of the eternal verities by which we all should seek to live. It’s not anybody’s gospel, not even mine. It’s just how I honestly understand the process and what I think is true about our situation.

While what I say is not The Truth, my ideas are certainly informed opinions. I’ve spent many years in elected office and many more on the political sidelines. I’ve been on the inside of at a least one of the critical issues we face as a nation,

You can disagree with me all you want. It doesn’t bother me in the least. My goal isn’t to manipulate you into thinking as I think. My goal is to jump-start your understanding and to inspire you to begin thinking for yourself.

We the people are giving away the power of our vote by letting ourselves be manipulated into hate-voting and slogan-voting. It’s time to stop.

Bishops Call for Nine Days of Prayer, Penance and Pilgrimage for Life

Nine Days Of Prayer, Penance And Pilgrimage

On January 22nd and January 25th our nation will remember the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Since that tragic decision, more than 55 million children’s lives have been lost to abortion, and the lives of millions of their parents have been shattered.

As part of the bishops’ recent call to prayer, “Nine Days of Prayer, Penance and Pilgrimage” will take place January 19-27, 2013.

This time period, focusing on the theme of pilgrimage, includes:

Blessings of pro-life pilgrims (en español)
(See page 10, 2012 Respect Life Program Liturgy Guide)

Novena – Sign up for daily emails below, or text “9days” to 99000 to receive it through daily text messages!

Youth and young adult activities (“Pro-Life Profiles” and a high school age video contest)

Closing Eucharistic Holy Hour
Text “9days” to 99000
To receive this novena by daily text messages!

To sign up for the Novena, go to the USCCB website or click on the link in the sidebar to the right of this post.

It’s Not About Us or This Country. It’s About Them.

It is not, ever, about us.

It is not, ever, about this country.

Congress is once again heading for another titanic fight over a deadline. This time it’s the debt limit.

Now, I ask you, what would you consider important enough to shut down the government, damage America’s credit rating (all you credit card holders out there, think what happens to your payments when your interest rate goes up) and further traumatize an already traumatized citizenry?

The HHS Mandate? Would saving the First Amendment be enough reason?

Nope.

Ending our cycle of continuous wars? Would stopping the hemorrhage of money and lives that results from always being at way with somebody, somewhere be worth it?

Nope.

What would matter enough to our elected officials for them to push this country to the brink of a full-blown economic shut down and depression. Here, in the words of one of these elected officials, is what’s good enough for them:

“I think it is possible that we would shut down the government to make sure President Obama understands that we’re serious,”

That’s it, folks. Mano y mano. Show the president that we’re for real. Get our side up on the political score board.

We’re talking respect for us from the big guy. Anybody stupid enough to elect us is probably also a total fool. We can “frame our message” so that they’ll let us get away with it.

The Politico article discussing the latest looming nation-endangering political temper tantrum reads in part:

“I think it is possible that we would shut down the government to make sure President Obama understands that we’re serious,”

House Republicans are seriously entertaining dramatic steps, including default or shutting down the government, to force President Barack Obama to finally cut spending by the end of March.

The idea of allowing the country to default by refusing to increase the debt limit is getting more widespread and serious traction among House Republicans than people realize, though GOP leaders think shutting down the government is the much more likely outcome of the spending fights this winter.

“I think it is possible that we would shut down the government to make sure President Obama understands that we’re serious,” House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state told us. “We always talk about whether or not we’re going to kick the can down the road. I think the mood is that we’ve come to the end of the road.”

Republican leadership officials, in a series of private meetings and conversations this past week, warned that the White House, much less the broader public, doesn’t understand how hard it will be to talk restive conservatives off the fiscal ledge. To the vast majority of House Republicans, it is far riskier long term to pile up new debt than it is to test the market and economic reaction of default or closing down the government.

GOP officials said more than half of their members are prepared to allow default unless Obama agrees to dramatic cuts he has repeatedly said he opposes. Many more members, including some party leaders, are prepared to shut down the government to make their point. House Speaker John Boehner “may need a shutdown just to get it out of their system,” said a top GOP leadership adviser. “We might need to do that for member-management purposes — so they have an endgame and can show their constituents they’re fighting.”

The country would eventually default if House Republicans refuse to raise the debt limit, which the Treasury estimates will hit in late February or early March. The government would shut down if House Republicans instead were to refuse to extend the law funding current government operations on March 27.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/01/behind-the-curtain-house-gop-eyes-default-shutdown-86116.html#ixzz2Hy7M9Fpw

If Your Computer Goes Wacko, Don’t Blame Obama

If your computer goes wacko, don’t blame Obama.

NASA scientists say the sun itself is getting testy these days, and the way things are turning (literally) we might be in line to get a blast of that testiness here on planet Earth.

Solar flares, which have been relatively quiescent in recent history, are revving up. Not only that, but the sun is rotating and the planets are aligning in such a way that one of these blasts might be on a trajectory to collide with us. Thanks to the ozone layer, all we’re likely to notice are Northern lights, cranky computers and other electrical glitches.

Given our computer-dependent, electronics-controlled way of life, that could make for some interesting happenings.

Here is the forecast, straight from SpaceWeather.com:

CHANCE OF FLARES: NOAA forecasters estimate a 65% chance of M-classsolar flares, and a 10% chance of X-flares today. The probable source would be big sunspot AR1654, which is squarely facing Earth. Solar flare alerts: textvoice.

ARCTIC AURORAS: A stream of solar wind is blowing around Earth and buffeting our planet’s magnetic field. Although the pressure of the wind has not been strong enough to trigger a full-fledged geomagnetic storm, auroras are nevertheless dancing around the Arctic Circle. Peter Rosén sends this picture from Kiruna in the Swedish Lapland: 

Ohio School District Defies Freedom From Religion Foundation

It isn’t civil disobedience. It’s disobedience of bullies with a word processor.

Refuse to let them tell you what to do.

That’s all it takes to stand up to the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the self-appointed United States Supreme Court in absentia who rains down threatening letters on unsuspecting government officials at laser printer speed.

Just don’t do what they tell you to do.

A case in point is the Jackson Country School District in Ohio. They’ve decided to keep a portrait of Jesus right where it is, despite receiving their personal copy of the ubiquitous FFF threat.

The Christian Post article describing this situation reads in part:

By Anugrah Kumar , Christian Post Contributor
January 12, 2013|2:55 pm

Hundreds of community members hailed a school district in Ohio for deciding to let a portrait of Jesus Christ stay at the hallway of a middle school, which was threatened with a lawsuit by Freedom From Religion Foundation.

“I’m certainly not going to run down there and take the picture down because some group from Madison, Wis. who knows nothing about the culture of our community or why the picture is even there, wants me to take it down,” Jackson County School District Superintendent Phil Howard told WKKJ.

In a Jan. 2 letter to the district, the FFRF demanded the portrait, which hangs in the Jackson Middle School building, be removed, saying it is unconstitutional government endorsement of Christianity.

Howard said the portrait – placed in 1947 by a local chapter of the Young Men’s Christian Association – is one of several displays in the school’s Hall of Honor. “We’re not violating the law and the picture is legal because it has historical significance. It hasn’t hurt anyone.”
Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/jesus-portrait-to-stay-at-ohio-school-defying-atheist-demands-88147/#XigDdUag7uk2vOat.99

BBC Video of Paris March for Marriage

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French Official Says ‘No’ to 800,000 Marchers, Will Push Ahead with Gay Marriage

Supporters estimate 1 million.

Official estimates range as high as “at least 800,000.”

That’s how many people showed up to support marriage in Paris Sunday. They came from all over the country, and they engaged in a peaceful march through  the streets of Paris carrying signs that made it clear they were not attacking gay people, but supporting marriage. 

The reason for this protest was a proposed law that would re-write the French legal definition of marriage, changing it from one man and one woman to Parent 1, Parent 2. 

The government response was much the same as what Americans are becoming accustomed to: “Harlem Desir, the leader of Hollande’s Socialist Party, said the protest would not affect the proposal’s progress.”

The question is whether enough other French lawmakers are willing to follow along. Despite the usual characterizations of the marchers as homophobic pawns of “the right,” the march brought a lot of elements of French society together on one question. Does the government really want to go in your face with all of them? 

Excerpts from the Miami Herald article describing these events say: 

Holding aloft ancient flags and young children, hundreds of thousands of people converged Sunday on the Eiffel Tower to protest the French president’s plan to legalize gay marriage and thus allow same-sex couples to adopt and conceive children.

The opposition to President Francois Hollande’s plan has underscored divisions among the secular-but-Catholic French, especially more traditional rural areas versus urban enclaves. But while polls show the majority of French still support legalizing gay marriage, that backing gets more lukewarm when children come into play …

… “This law is going to lead to a change of civilization that we don’t want,” said Philippe Javaloyes, a literature teacher who bused in with 300 people from Franche Comte in the far east. “We have nothing against different ways of living, but we think that a child must grow up with a mother and a father.”

Public opposition spearheaded by religious leaders has chipped away at the popularity of Hollande’s plan in recent months. About 52 percent of French favor legalizing gay marriage, according to a survey released Sunday, down from as high as 65 percent in August …

… “They’re talking about putting into national identity cards Parent 1, Parent 2, Parent 3, Parent 4. Mom, dad and the kids are going to be wiped off the map, and that’s going to be bad for any country, any civilization,” said Melissa Michel, a Franco-American mother of five who was among a group from the south of France on a train reserved specifically for the protest.

Support for gay marriage – and especially adoption by same-sex couples – has been particularly tenuous outside Paris, and people from hundreds of miles from the French capital marched Sunday beneath regional flags with emblems dating back to the Middle Ages, chanting “Daddy, Mommy.” …

… Harlem Desir, the leader of Hollande’s Socialist Party, said the protest would not affect the proposal’s progress. The Socialists control Parliament, where the bill is expected to be introduced on Tuesday, with a vote following public debate at the end of January.

“The right to protest is protected in our country, but the Socialists are determined to give the legal right to marry and adopt to all those who love each other,” he said. “This is the first time in decades in our country that the right and the extreme right are coming into the streets together to deny new rights to the French.” (Read more here.) 

Deacon Greg Kandra and Frank Weathers have also blogged about the Paris march for marriage. 

 


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/01/13/3180337/thousands-rally-against-gay-marriage.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/01/13/3180337/thousands-rally-against-gay-marriage.html#storylink=c

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/01/13/3180337/thousands-rally-against-gay-marriage.html#storylink=cpy

Stop Slogan-Voting. Stop Hate-Voting. Stop Being Manipulated. (Starting Again.)

Stop Slogan-Voting. Stop Hate-Voting. Stop Being Manipulated. MONDAYS
Why are Christians losing the Culture Wars?
Read Stop Slogan-Voting. Stop Hate-Voting. Stop Being Manipulated beginning Monday, August 20 for home truth on real-world politics from a Christian/Catholic perspective. The series runs every Monday.

I discontinued this series for the election and the holidays. Now, I’ll be starting it again. Public Catholic has picked quite a few new readers since I discontinued the series. So, I’ll re-run the old posts, one each day until we get caught up.

Then, we’ll start again, on every Monday.

Ten Reasons The Catholic Church is Cool

 

Ten reasons Catholic Church is cool

1. It was founded by Jesus Christ. It was founded by the Second Person of the Trinity, the Son of God, the Word of God made flesh.  Ladies and gentlemen:  Jesus Christ.

2. We don’t conform to society. Ahem:  Chastity, Modesty, Pro-life, traditional marriage, care for the poor, disenfranchised and vulnerable, defense of the right to private property and a just wage. So basically, the exact opposite of Hollywood/MTV/the media in general/and trendies on both sides of the political spectrum everywhere.

3. Jesus rose from the dead.

4. Sacrament of Confession:  We don’t have to spend the rest of our lives feeling guilty about sins, because once we go to Confession, in the eyes of God and of the Church those sins NEVER happened.

5. St. Francis of Assisi proclaimed peace and revolution before the hippies did.  And he did it without drugs.

6. The Catholic Church has preserved the Creeds and Christian teaching in the face of every opposition for 2,000 years.

7. The Church supports women. 

Mary is honored more than any other saint (and no, we do not worship  her.  We worship God; we honor Mary as His     mother.) After the Mass, the Rosary is the most popularly encouraged prayer/devotion.

St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Sienna: Doctors of the Church.

The first person to whom Jesus revealed Himself as the Messiah was the woman at the well.

In the Parable of the Lost coin, Jesus used a woman as the metaphor for God.

The first person to see Jesus after his resurrection was a woman.

St. Joan of Arc: Led France (like, in battle and in armor) to freedom in the name of God.

In the words of Flannery O’Connor, “the Catholic Church would as readily canonize a woman saint as a man.”

8. Traditions that go back to the year 33 a.d. (when Christ founded the Church.)

9. The Communion of Saints: We can ask the saints to pray for us/our intentions when we aren’t able to. There are times when we aren’t able to pray, but the saints are spending eternity in union with Christ!

10.  And finally, we can touch the Living Christ in the Eucharist and be healed at every mass. 

We’re in the Efforts Business, God is in the Results Business

My friend Judge Twyla Gray died a year ago last October after a twenty year battle with breast cancer.

A few months before she died, she gave this speech at TEDxOKC.

Twyla and I were first elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives together in 1980. She and her husband, Charles, set up the blind date that kicked off the courtship between me and my husband. Twyla was a brilliant woman whose career ultimately led her to spend many years as a District Judge.

She was also a prayerful Christian and a devoted wife and mother.

I think her comments here say quite a lot about vocation in this life.
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