Young Steve Jobs Talks About Our Future

I confess. I am a Mac.

I used to love Steve Jobs’ presentations. His sense of timing, ability to communicate and excite, were unique to him.

I find this old video of a young Steve Jobs talking about Apple at Apple’s beginnings fascinating. Even at this young age and in this overly casual environment, he already had that stage presence. He also spoke from the hippie ethos of that time. This is an interesting look backwards into our recent history. If you enjoy that sort of thing, have a watch.

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Christian Persecution: Number of Chinese Christians Detained Soars 131.8% from 2010

Christian gathering outside of Kumming, China

Springfield News-Leader, A Gannett Company 12/2/12 In China there are more than 1,000 labor camps. There are more Christians in jail for their faith in China than in any other country.

ChinaAid , an organization that tracks persecution of Chinese Protestants, reveals that in 2011, the number of Christians detained for their religious beliefs had soared 131.8 percent from 2010. Arrests and disappearances of Christians intensified immediately preceding the recent Party Congress in China.

The Cardinal Kung Foundation (which monitors persecution of Catholics) reports that the situation for Catholics in China is worse than it was five years ago, and states that almost all underground bishops (those loyal to the Vatican, as opposed to priests who are members of the government-controlled Patriotic Church) are either in jail, under house arrest, hiding, in labor camps or under severe surveillance. (Read more here.)

Supreme Court to Hear Gay Marriage Cases

The United States Supreme Court announced earlier today that it will hear two cases concerning gay marriage.

Whenever a case makes its way to the Supreme Court, the court decides whether or not it will hear the case or let the lower court ruling stand. In these two cases concerning the federal Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8, which was a ban on gay marriage that passed in California a few years ago, the Supreme Court has decided that it will hold hearings on the cases and issue a ruling of its own.

While many people are already second-guessing what the Court might do regarding these two laws, I don’t think that’s particularly useful. The Court has always been unpredictable and could be this time, as well. We will have to wait and see what ruling they hand down later this year.

A Yahoo News article concerning today’s announcement reads in part:

The Supreme Court announced Friday that it will decide two major gay marriage cases next year that could have a sweeping impact on the rights of same-sex couples to wed. The cases, which likely won’t be decided until June, mark the first time the justices will consider arguments for and against same-sex marriage.

The court will review California’s gay marriage ban, which passed in a 2008 ballot initiative months after the California’s high court had legalized same sex unions and thousands of gay Californians had already tied the knot. Two federal courts have struck down Prop. 8 as discriminatory, leaving the Supreme Court to render a final judgment.

The justices will also hear a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, a law passed under President Bill Clinton that prevents the federal government from recognizing gay marriages. Windsor v. United States was brought by Edith Windsor, a resident of New York who paid $363,000 in estate taxes after her wife died because the federal government did not recognize their marriage. New York is one of nine states (and the District of Columbia) where gay marriage is legal, so Windsor argues that the federal government is discriminating against her by not recognizing her state-sanctioned marriage.

The Obama administration decided last year to no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act, so Congress has hired outside counsel to argue on behalf of the law. Recently, two federal appeals courts had struck down the law as unconstitutional, virtually requiring the Supreme Court to take the case to settle the dispute between the courts and Congress. (Read more here.)

Christian Persecution: How Many Christians Have to Die Before We Admit That Boko Haram Are Terrorists?

Why does the US State Department resist calls to say what is obvious to so many and name Boko Haram a terrorist organization? That is the question the following Barnabas Aid article asks. According to the article, ” … calls earlier this year from the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and more than 20 American scholars for Boko Haram to be labelled a terrorist outfit largely fell on deaf ears in the US State Department, which in June named only three of the group’s leaders as foreign terrorists.”

At the same time, the terrorist attacks on Christians in Nigerian continue unabated. The bloodshed leads one to wonder just how many Nigerian Christians have to die before the organized attacks on them can be called terrorism?

The Barnabas Aid article reads in part:

As an international groundswell builds against the deadly activities of Islamist militants Boko Haram in Nigeria, why do the Nigerian government and the US State Department remain resistant to labelling the group a Foreign Terrorist Organisation?

Calls for the State Department to designate Boko Haram an FTO are intensifying as brutal attacks against Christians in the North show no signs of relenting. In the latest act of savagery, a group of suspected Boko Haram attackers went from house to house in the predominantly Christian part of the village of Chibok, Borno state, late on Saturday night (1 December). They set people’s houses on fire before slitting the throats of their victims, holding them upside down as when animals are slaughered; ten Christians were killed.
Later that night, gunmen killed five policemen as they attacked churches and government buildings in Gamboru Ngala, near the border with Cameroon. (Read more here.)

Christian Persecution: Christian Nigeria’s Witness for Jesus in the Face of Boko Haram’s Terrorists

Nigerian Christians are withstanding violent persecution at the hands of Islamic terrorists called Boko Haram. Their witness for Christ humbles me today, as if has for quite a long time. I will never forget the voice of a Nigerian Anglican Bishop’s wife as she told me “Those who persist in following Christ until the end will have eternal life.”

Eternal life in Christ was real to her. It sustained her and gave her not only a peace which passes understanding, but courage which passes understanding, as well.

When people are faced with the horror of repeated terrorist attacks as Christians in Nigeria are, and they respond with prayer and fasting as Christians in Nigeria do, I know that I am witnessing the courage that comes only from the grace of a loving God.

One of the many sins that we need to repent of in this Advent season is our indifference in the face of such magnificent courage and faith in Our Savior by our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world, especially in Nigeria.

The excerpted CNA article below describes one such act of courage among the many in Nigeria today.

Msgr. Obiora F. Ike walks in front of St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Enugu, Nigeria. Credit: Aid to the Church in Need, www.kirche-in-not.ch.

Lagos, Nigeria, Nov 13, 2012 / 12:17 am (CNA).- After his parish in southern Nigeria was desecrated on Nov. 4, Monsignor Obiora F. Ike called on his parishioners to observe a week of prayer and penance.

“Msgr. Ike has called for seven days of prayer, fasting, penance and reparation for the Christian faithfuls and for the conversion of these perpetrators,” according to a statement on his website.

Around 2:00 a.m. on Nov. 4, attackers entered St. Leo the Great parish in Enugu, vandalizing the building and destroying infrastructure and sacred items.

Everything in the church was destroyed: the altar, sacred vessels, musical equipment, seats, the pulpit, statues, religious images, and the entire microphone system.

The destruction included “the Blessed Sacrament that was desecrated,” according to Msgr. Ike’s statement.

By 4:00 a.m. security agents arrived at the parish and assessed the damage. According to Msgr. Ike, the damage done totals around $63,500.

Sunday Mass at the parish was held outside “under the heavy sunshine.” Msgr. Ike’s sermon that day encouraged the congregation to “remain steadfast in their faith despite all the persecution, religious intolerance and fanaticism.” He also urged them to remain dedicated in prayer and forgive the perpetrators.(Read more here.)

Human Trafficking and Child Labor: Raid of Indian Sweatshop Frees Slaves as Young as 8

The following Yahoo News article describes a raid on a sweatshop in India where enslaved children, some as young as 8 years, were forced to make Christmas decorations.

Many of these decorations are being sold on eBay. Read the excerpt of the Yahoo News article below for tips on how to avoid buying them yourself. Watch the video on the link at the end of the excerpt for more information.

Police and child advocates broke padlocks and busted down doors in a surprise raid of a sweatshop in India, only to find a group of children imprisoned who had been forced to make Christmas decorations.

The children were kept in rooms approximately six feet by six feet and had been forced to work up to 19-hour days making the decorations, which advocates believe may have been intended to be sold on the cheap in the United States.

Human rights group Global March for Children led the raid, but also got help from former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who now serves as the United Nations special envoy for global education.

The 14 children who were freed are now in the process of being reunited with their families, who are scattered across India.

Brown released video to ABC News and Yahoo! News revealing what he says were the illegal conditions in which the children in Delhi were discovered.

“There is no parent in the world who would ever want their child to be subjected to conditions that you see in these films of children in dingy basements, without air, without food, without proper care, being forced into child labor for all these hours of the day. I think every parent who sees these films will want this practice brought to an end as quickly as possible.”

Child advocates say American consumers would likely never know the origin of goods made with child labor, which Brown says has become a global epidemic that needs to be solved.

In a push to garner more attention on the issue worldwide, Brown’s office released a new report today, “Child Labour and Educational Disadvantage – Breaking the Link, Building Opportunity,” which says 91 million children in the global workforce are younger than 12 years old.

In the case of the children rescued in Delhi, he says they were both injured and scared.

“Some of them are lacerated because they’re working with glass. And we found these children in this basement. They were not being paid,” he said. “They had been trafficked themselves. And they were making these Christmas decorations that were being sold in our shops and our web sites in the West.”

Priyanke Ribhu of Global March says many children in India are often lured away from their parents by gangmasters who befriend their parents in the remote villages where they live. The gangmasters reportedly promise parents their kids will be taken to a better place where they will be provided a real education and many great
opportunities they could not receive in their villages. Parents are also often told the children will be able to send money back home to help their families.

Far too often, Ribhu says, the children simply end up locked away behind padlocks only to work 17-,18-, even 19-hour days with no one to help them. Ribhu says holiday decorations similar to those discovered in the recent raid can be found on eBay and in other marketplaces online or in stores.

In addition, she says, the items are often sold off into a sophisticated network of suppliers that make it nearly impossible for retailers or consumers to know whether the goods they are purchasing have been made by child labor.

Ribhu warns, however, there are some tell-tale warning signs American consumers can be on the lookout for if they wish to avoid purchasing products made with child labor. First, she says, if the holiday decorations you are purchasing are not labeled with the country they are made in you might want to be concerned. Next, she says if they have an unusually low price and are marked as “hand made” it is another red flag.

Ribhu also warns to be cautious when examining “hand made” items that are also marked as being made in India.

While child labor was largely outlawed in the United States following the industrial revolution more than 100 years ago, Brown told ABC News and Yahoo! News that India has yet to ban child labor itself. He says currently, the country only has a ban on hazardous working conditions, but he wants to pressure the government to immediately take action to protect children there. (To see a video and read more of this Yahoo News story, go here.)

Protecting Your Little Girl From Our Child Sexualizing Culture

In my opinion, the extreme sexualization of little girls that we see in our culture is a form of psychological violation. It’s also another expression of our growing cultural hostility toward innocence and the idea that any sort of sexuality is ok, no matter who it victimizes.

Adults who find this entertaining are perverse, to say the least. One of the most important things parents of little girls can do is to shield them from this childhood-stealing perversity.

A new campaign by The Parents Television Council offers parents help in the work of protecting their little girls so that they can grow up to be strong, emotionally-healthy women. Read more about it in this article from the Baptist Press.

NASHVILLE (BP) — A new campaign called “4 Every Girl” has been launched by the Parents Television Council to combat the sexualization of girls in American culture.

In recent years, PTC research has documented troubling trends on primetime television in which underage girls are more likely to be sexualized than adults, Tim Winters, PTC’s president, said.

“There is a dramatic rise in the number of teenaged girls who are depicted as victims of violence — especially sexual violence,” Winters said in a news release. “Frankly we’re tired of reporting such depressing data and we want to help do something about it.”

The goal of the 4 Every Girl campaign, online at 4everygirl.com, is “a sharp and swift reversal” of those statistics by advocating for a media environment in which girls are honored, valued and represented by healthy, respectful images, PTC said in October.

“According to the American Psychological Association, the three most common mental health problems for girls — eating disorders, depression and low self-esteem — are linked to the sexualization of girls and women in media,” Winters said. “We hope 4 Every Girl will bring increased awareness and concern and a new light to the work of other organizations in the fight for healthier media images of young girls.”
(Read more here.)

What Is the ‘Fiscal Cliff’?

What is this “fiscal cliff” that commenters and pollsters talk about? What difference does it make to you and me?

The following excerpt from a Yahoo Finance article does a good job of answering these questions.

As usual, our elected officials are taking polls to learn what we the people think about their brinksmanship politics. They use the results of these polls to determine how far they can go in endangering the rest of us and keep their jobs. I don’t read much about them putting our country first, just how they can frame their irresponsibility so that the other guy takes the political fall for it.

BOTH parties are at fault here. NEITHER party appears to give a care about this country.

Pollsters are polling us. Politicians who don’t care about governing are using those polls to determine their next move in the one thing they do care about, which is making the opposite political party look bad.

I doubt that many people who are being polled know what the “fiscal cliff” is, or why it matters to them. I don’t want Public Catholic readers to be that uninformed.

The Yahoo Finance article says in part:

The fiscal cliff refers to the potentially disastrous situation the U-S faces at the end of this year. At midnight on December 31st, a number of laws are set to expire. If the President and the Republicans don’t reach an agreement before then, Americans could face broad government spending cuts and tax increases on January 1st. The combined amount would total over 500 billion dollars. Those 500 billion dollars equal about three to four percent of the nation’s entire gross domestic product. This is what’s referred to as the fiscal cliff.
If there isn’t a resolution, here are the specifics of what will happen.
Taxes would go up for almost every taxpayer and many businesses. The Bush-era tax cuts, which tax relief for middle and upper-class tax payers, would be a thing of the past. So would President Obama’s payroll tax cut which added about a thousand dollars a year to the average worker’s income.
Government spending would be slashed. That means less money for most military, domestic and federal programs. $26 billion in emergency unemployment-compensation would be gone. Medicare payments to doctors would be reduced by $11 billion. Federal programs would take the biggest hit. They stand to lose a total of $65 billion.
If the fiscal cliff isn’t avoided, some investors will be hit hard. Those who receive qualified dividends could see the tax rate on those dividends go from 15% to almost 40% in 2013.
Many business owners believe going over the fiscal cliff will cripple the economy, triggering a deep recession. (Read more here.)

Breeding for Business: America’s Economy Needs More Babies

America needs more babies for its economic health.

At least, that’s what U.S. News and World Report says in it’s recent article “Why a Falling Birth Rate is a Big Problem.” According to the article, America has historically had high birth rates compared to our cousins in Europe. Many economists feel that contributes to our relative economic well-being.

This article, with its what’s-good-for-business viewpoint, fits in perfectly with the way people in the West have approached their children, homes and families for decades now. Its short-term, through-the-peep-hole way of looking at the situation fits this approach, as well. It’s easy to pick out one thing to be concerned about if you focus to a small enough point. In this way, the article is able to give short shrift to long-term trends and social concerns other than what’s-good-for-business.

One thing that seems clear to me is that when any group of people has a sustained birth rate that falls below the replacement level, they are acting out a form of group suicide. The U.S. News and World Report article looks to economic reasons for declining birth rates. I do think that this explanation fits sudden dips in birth rate that correlate with economic downturns, which is what the small-point perspective gives us. But while the article addresses long-term declines in birth rates in a small way, I don’t think it gives them enough consideration for its analysis to have any real meaning.

The situation which leads to what I referenced earlier — a form of group suicide by low birth rate — is not something that occurs due to short-term economic downturns. In fact, the overall trend in decline in birth rates has been steady throughout the West for almost half a century now. While rates do take a slightly less precipitous drop and may even go up a notch or two during times of economic boom, the overall trend has been a steady downward slope for decades.

One factor that correlates closely with this trend is the decline in respect for motherhood and fatherhood and the social/political dismemberment of the family. I have experienced some of this myself.

When I had my second child, there were plenty of people on hand to tell me that “two was enough” and that I shouldn’t have any more.

When I left the House of Representatives to stay home and raise my first baby, more than one person felt called to inform me that I was “wasting my life” by doing so.

Mothers don’t get any respect. Raising little children, guiding them, making a home for them, nurturing, protecting, training and loving them into productive adults, is considered the lowest form of work we can have. It’s so poorly thought of that women will leave their own children at home and go get a job at a daycare, raising other people’s children. That, the paycheck and the clear-cut employment, are what is respected; not raising their own babies.

Children are universally regarded as a burden in our society, rather than a blessing. We look at our own young and make jokes about being around a little baby will drive anyone to birth control. Why is this? Have babies stopped being cute? Are they no longer cuddly? Do our office cubicles and breakroom microwaves really warm our hearts so much that we no longer feel the need to hold our own child in our arms?

What has become of us in the West that we no longer love our own young? What is wrong with people who have no desire to create life?

Has our cultural narcissism and overweening me-ism supplanted our ability to give to the point that we no longer want and cherish our own children?

If we truly want more babies, for, as this article so crassly puts it, the sake of the economy, then we need to start treating mothers, fathers and families with a little more respect. We are a society that has sacrificed everything, including our fertility and the warmth of home and family to the almighty paycheck. In our world, God is a sideshow while the gods of commerce, like the ring of Mordor, bind and rule us all.

How ironic that the same forces for which people have sacrificed their birthright to home and family are the ones that now “need” a higher birth rate. We need babies to make money. Even though, as we’ve been told many times, babies cost money. In fact, we’ve been told that babies cost too much money. And they make us unavailable for all the other things that we are told we should want instead of children.

How to turn this around? How to undo the selfish deed of selling childlessness as a good thing in life?

Maybe we should begin by giving some respect to the people who make good, productive people: A woman and a man, united in marriage.

The U.S. New and World Report article reads in part:

It sounds like one of those stories you can safely ignore: The U.S. birth rate has hit a record low, led by a big drop in the portion of immigrant women having babies.
[Photos: Kennedy Center Honors Led Zeppelin, Hoffman, Letterman ]
This development doesn’t directly affect anybody, since it’s one of those long-term societal trends that occurs in small increments and doesn’t change the unemployment rate, the price of gas, the direction of the stock market or any of the big economic forces that make our lives better or worse today. And since the trend is strongest among immigrants, it sounds like maybe this is something happening in a shadowy part of the economy that doesn’t matter all that much.
But it does matter, and if the trend persists, it could mean lower living standards for most Americans in the future.
It may seem intuitively obvious that a slower-growing or declining population is good for the economy, especially when you think about starving children in poor parts of the world where there’s not enough food for everybody. In places where resources are severely limited–and economic policies are dysfunctional–it may be true that a growing population is a bad thing.
But that’s usually because such economies are static, and instead of creating wealth they typically just divide up what’s already there. That’s not the situation in America, which has a dynamic economy that creates wealth and more than enough resources for all of its citizens.
[See: What Keeps People Out of the Middle Class ]
On the contrary, one of the great strengths of the U.S. economy, especially compared to Europe and Japan, is a relatively high birth rate, which keep the population young, on average, and population growth robust. “Everybody comes into world with one mouth and two hands,” says economist Donald Boudreaux of George Mason University. “It’s generally true that most people produce more than they consume.”
A growing population is good for the economy when rising productivity continually reduces the amount of resources required to produce a given amount of output. Even now, with the U.S. economy in a rut and too many people out of work, productivity is rising, which means a larger population would generate more wealth per person than a smaller one. Boudreaux points out that Manhattan, one of the mostly densely populated places in America, is also one of the wealthiest, whereas rural states like Mississippi are sparsely populated, and much poorer. (Read more here.)

Philippine Govt Denounces New Chinese Maritime Policy

Map of South China Sea area affected by China’s new maritime policy. source: CIA

China recently issued a new maritime policy which, it says, allows Chinese border patrol to board and expel foreign ships (ie, non-Chinese ships) from the China Sea.

This policy expands China’s borders beyond what maritime law currently allows and would infringe on the shipping rights of neighboring nations, some of whom, such as the Philippines, are United States allies.

I am posting this because I think it’s pertinent to America’s economic policies. China’s new military and economic prowess are the weapons that we built by exporting our industrial base to a Communist country. I believe this is a direct result of the sell-out of the American people and America’s interests by both political parties in the service of multi-national corporations.

For all their demagoguery, neither political party can seriously address the deficit, our overall budget, or how to effectively govern this country so long as they continue to ignore most of the causes for these problems. In addition, China’s growing military might and its impact on our allies in the South Pacific, while they pose no direct threat to America at this time, are likely to become more serious in the future.

Our problems in this country almost all stem from poor governance by bad elected officials of both political parties who are more interested in bashing one another than doing something for the people of this nation.

The China Daily Mail article reads in part:

The Philippine Government recently denounced China‘s new maritime law that will allow its border patrol to board and expel foreign ships in the South China Sea.

In a statement through the Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippine officials described the policy as a “gross violation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea”, among other cited international agreements.

Moreover, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN has also voiced concern over China’s latest pronouncement as it may impede maritime access over the tension-filled area.

This latest round of diplomatic row comes right after China’s issuance of new passports that included a map of South China Sea, prompting the Philippines to issue a separate visa form for Chinese nationals. (Read more here.)

Pro-Life Advocates Urge GOP to Stay the Course on Pro-Life

Pro-life advocates are asking the Republicans to stand strong on their party’s pro life position. Here’s hoping they listen.

So far as I’m concerned the recent comments from various Republican leaders are just them, going public, with what they’ve been doing in private for quite some time. As an elected official, I see these things before they go public. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep on saying it until I don’t think it’s true. Many of the money people who really run the Republican Party are pro choice.

I believe we are seeing a public manifestation of that in these comments from Republican leaders that the party should stand down on its pro life position. More on this Republican post-election soul-searching here.

CNA recently published an article concerning the steps pro life advocates are taking to try to persuade the party to stay the course on pro life. It reads in part:

Sen. John McCain speaks Sept. 24, 2012 on campaign finance at USC’s Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy. Credit: Rosa Trieu-Neon Tommy (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Washington D.C., Dec 3, 2012 / 04:20 pm (CNA).- Top pro-life advocates are calling on the Republican Party to maintain its pro-life stance despite calls from some to back off from the position in the wake of the presidential election.

“A real soldier doesn’t stay on the defensive,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, which works to promote pro-life candidates and policies. “You go out and state your best case.”

“The folks that have taken the stand on this issue have taken it because we’re talking about defending vulnerable human life,” she told CNA on Nov. 30. “If it’s not about that, it’s not about anything.”

Dannenfelser was one of several pro-life leaders who responded to suggestions by some Republicans, including Arizona senator John McCain, that the GOP should drop or mitigate its pro-life stance in order to broaden its appeal after losing the presidential election.

Appearing on “Fox News Sunday” on Nov. 25, the senator – who unsuccessfully ran for president against Barack Obama in 2008 – suggested that while “I can state my position on abortion,” Republicans should “other than that, leave the issue alone when we are in the kind of economic situation and, frankly, national security situation that we’re in.”

When asked by host Chris Wallace whether his suggestion to “leave the issue alone” meant allowing “freedom of choice” to abort, McCain responded, “I would allow people to have those opinions and respect those opinions.”

(Read more here.)

Oklahoma Supreme Court Strikes Down Two Pro-Life Laws

Representative Pam Peterson and I filed an Amicus Curiae brief on an Oklahoma Supreme Court challenge to a pro life law in October.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court just handed down their opinion on this case, as well as another one involving the use of ultrasounds in abortions. The Court has ruled against both these pro life laws.

Needless to say, I am disappointed. But I am also not downcast. This is the way things sometimes go in our Democracy. Now, it’s up to those of us who want to protect unborn people to re-tool and re-think.

Other than this, I’m not going to comment on this action at this time. I may have something else to say later. I may not. But for today, this is my only statement. Feel free to express your ideas in the com boxes, however.

I’m going to attach the two rulings in their entirety. They are back to back in the file linked to below. Read them — or don’t — as you wish.

20121204142600891

25,000 Honor Our Lady in Los Angeles Procession

As I told a commenter on this blog, “Don’t count Christians out yet.”

The tales of Christianity’s demise may be a tad bit premature. Witness this beautiful response to the annual procession for Our Lady of Guadalupe in Los Angeles. Twenty-five thousand people joined the procession!

Read, and be heartened.

Archbishop Jose Gomez celebrates Mass after the Marian procession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Dec 2, 2012. Credit: Courtesy of Victor Alemán / vida-nueva.com.Los Angeles, Calif., Dec 3, 2012 / 08:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).

An outdoor procession for Our Lady of Guadalupe held Sunday in Los Angeles attracted 25,000 participants to venerate the Virgin and to express their Catholic faith.

“We want to learn from the example of faith of our Blessed Mother, as Jesus did. Jesus learned his prayers and the practice of his faith from his Mother and from Saint Joseph,” Archbishop Jose H. Gomez told the crowd assembled for Mass following the Dec. 2 procession.

“This is an example for you, my brothers and sisters! You need to be good teachers, good role models for your children…share the stories of the Gospel and the beautiful apparition of Tepeyac. Teach them how to be generous and to love.”

Despite a rainy day, thousands of people came to process through East Los Angeles from Our Lady of Solitude parish to the Mass at East Los Angeles College Stadium. This was the 81st annual procession, which was started by Mexican Catholics fleeing government persecution in 1931.

“We also remembered the Cristeros as examples, because of the sacrifices they made for their faith, giving up their lives for their faith and for Christ,” Carolina Guevara, associate communications director at the Los Angeles archdiocese, told CNA Dec. 3.

She recounted that a woman whose father was a Cristero martyr participated in the Mass, which was a marker of how Our Lady of Guadalupe “unites us in our faith.” (Read more here.)

Who Me? Are You Serious Lord?

Who me?

I’ve been a feminist for a long time.

The driving force to my feminism is violence against women in all its forms.

I was one of the six original founders of the YWCA Rape Crisis Center here in Oklahoma back in the early 1970s. Violence against women in its many forms led me into a hot-headed pro choice advocacy and ultimately to the position of NARAL Director for Oklahoma.

I’ve passed law after law trying to stop violence against women. I passed the original protective order here in Oklahoma, back in the day when the whole idea was considered radical. I even had opponents of the bill go on television and denounce me as being a Communist for passing it, something which amused me no end.

Year after year, decade after decade, I have worked to end violence against women. I’ve done everything I can. And you know what? It’s worse than ever. Women are sexualized and degraded for comic relief on mainstream television. They are pornified and reduced to objects on other channels. Movie after movie presents us with titillating scenes of women being beaten, raped, sodomized and murdered — all for our entertainment.

Type the word “rape” into your google search engine, and you’ll get page after page of hits on pornographic sites showing women being raped, tortured and murdered for fun.

The major thing that drove me away from any church and straight into my anti-God period was the indifference I saw to violence against women in the churches. I’ve seen horrific things in this regard and they drove me away from both church and God.

I don’t know of course, but I think that perhaps the reason God gave me such a knock-you-flat conversion experience is that I needed it to be able to see Him for Who He was. He poured such love on me, and by doing so, shared His real self with me in a way that wiped away all confusion as to His nature.

Even after all that, I was still so painfully hurt by all that had gone before that I actually prayed and asked God if He hated women. This prayer wasn’t a challenge. It wasn’t an attempt to argue with the Lord. It was an honest question, based on my own life experience.

God doesn’t often answer me directly, but He answered me then. It was one of those full understanding answers where He sort of downloaded a total vision of what women are to Him and how He truly feels about the abuse of women that is misogyny.

That answer was one of the most generous things He’s ever done for me. It was also life-altering. It has informed my walk with Christ and my understanding of what it means to be a Christian feminist, ever since.

Six years ago, when I was in Fatima, Portugal, God gave me another of those downloads. This time, it wasn’t an understanding. It was a commission of sorts, a commission I’ve hemmed and hawed about, that I’ve delayed acting on, ever since.

I was sitting in the cathedral there at Fatima. I wasn’t praying, exactly. I wasn’t not praying, either. I was just drifting in that Presence that saturates the whole grounds. I do that sometimes. It’s kind of like the Holy Spirit is a river, and I’m floating in it, just letting the current take me.

As I was floating in the soft waters of the Spirit, just drifting along, I understood that my life was going to change and I would be doing something different.

I won’t go into the whole of it now because I don’t think it’s time. But I will say that part of it involved writing three books; three books, that for one thing, share with the world that understanding of what women mean to God that He gave me so long ago. There’s more, but that’s enough for me to talk about now.

I’ve been so intimidated by the whole thing that I’ve delayed and put it off for six years.

There have been several times during those six years when the Lord has re-visited me about it. Each time He told me to stop waiting and begin. I’ve joked to friends that I don’t want to die and go stand before the Lord and have Him ask me “What part of ‘Write a book’ don’t you understand?”

But the truth is, I don’t want to die and stand before the Lord and have Him ask me “What part of ‘write a book’ don’t you understand?”

I’m not a kid anymore, and the Lord has given me work that I need to do before I die. So, I guess I’d better do it.

Tomorrow, I have surgery on my foot again.

It’s Advent.

How do those things connect, except by the calendar?

Well, post surgery is a great time for prayer. Thanks to the pain meds, it’s also a great time for falling asleep in the middle of prayer. But I have a number of precious little sins I need to give up. One of them is procrastination about the work that God has charged me with. I’ve been like Moses without Moses’ sanctity, complaining that I don’t have the ability to speak and besides nobody will listen to me and shouldn’t He ask somebody better????

All that over the writing part of what He told me to do. I won’t even go into my total inability to do the rest of it.

I need to repent of doubting Him. I need to repent of not doing what He told me to do. I need to stop listening to the doubting devil and start doing what I’m told.

The reason I’m telling you about this is to ask for your prayers. I need this Advent as a sweeping out, clearing away and facing forward time. I don’t think there has ever been a time in my life when I’ve needed a penitential season as much as I need this one.

As I said, I’m asking for your prayers. As Leah Lebresco would say, Ora pro me

 

 

Sifting the Lies for Truth: More on What May Have Happened to Savita Halappanavar

The following excerpt is taken from MercatorNet. I’m posting it with some trepidation, since it contains allegations in what has become a political tug of war.

My advice is to not take this article or any other article about what happened to Ms Halappanavar too literally. There are too many people with agendas who have access to the press to make sense of the claims and counter-claims. That said, I will say that the kind of collusion between the press and abortion advocates described in this article has happened here in this country and has resulted in the public being deliberately manipulated and misinformed. The attack on Komen Breast Institute when it tried to stop funding Planned Parenthood is a recent example.

I sincerely hope that the net result from Ms Halappanavar’s death will be clarification of the legal situation concerning abortion in Ireland at whatever level that needs to be done. I also hope that those who want to use her death as a pry bar to open the doorway to abortion on demand in Ireland fail in their work.

The MercatorNet article says in part:

What we do know is that on October 21 Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old dentist, visited Galway University Hospital suffering from back pain. She was 17 weeks pregnant. She was diagnosed and was told that she was having a miscarriage. She requested a termination – but, as they had diagnosed, the termination had already begun naturally.

Irish law – and the Irish Constitution – prohibits the procedure of abortion of unborn babies in the womb but it does not prohibit evacuation of the womb where the process of a miscarriage has already begun – or where a baby in the womb has already died. Such procedures are regularly carried out in Irish hospitals. Miscarriage can, however, be wrongly diagnosed and surgical evacuation offered when the baby is still alive and healthy, as Breda O’Brien noted in an Irish Times op-ed last Saturday. One such case prompted an official inquiry two years ago in which 24 similar cases were examined.

In Savita’s case surgical intervention is evidently what should have happened. It did not. Her pain continued for three days and she eventually died of septicaemia. Two investigations are now in progress as to why she died – one by the hospital itself and one by the Irish health authority.

What has been widely reported is that doctors denied her request “for an abortion” because they said that they detected a foetal heartbeat and that Irish law ruled out a termination. Further reports say someone told Savita that this was because “Ireland is a Catholic country”. That such reasons would have been given for delaying the inducement is considered extraordinary by medical and non-medical Irish people alike. But they are equally dismayed by what they see as the callous manipulation of this situation by the abortion advocates before even the most basic investigation of the facts is carried out.

The manipulation of the situation is seen by many to be blatant and premeditated. The Irish Times, which has been campaigning for changes to Irish law on abortion for many years, had this story for some days before publishing it. Within hours of the story breaking a large demonstration by pro-choice activists had assembled outside the Irish parliament building. An email has now been leaked – the source as yet unknown – showing that news of the story was given in advance to these activists. The e-mail, dated Sunday, November 11, indicates that the Irish Choice Network knew the story was going to break. The Irish Times did not break the story publicly until November 14th.

The email told ICN members that “a major news story in relation to abortion access is going to break in the media early this coming week,” and it would be the pretext for a protest calling for abortion legislation outside the Dáil (Ireland’s parliament) on Wednesday. Members were asked to attend a meeting where they would have “more definite information around which we can make some collective decisions about how best to proceed.” (Read more here.)

It’s That Time Again: Atheist Cranks Put Up Another of Their Annual Anti-Christmas Displays

Who reads the Bible more than the President of the Southern Baptist Convention?

Atheists.

Who talks about Jesus more than the Pope?

Atheists.

Who worries constantly about the fact that somebody, somewhere, might be enjoying Christmas?

Atheists.

Who misquotes the Bible and misapplies those quotes more than Archie Bunker?

Atheists.

In their annual campaign to ruin Christmas for the rest of us, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has somehow or other persuaded the government of Wisconsin to allow them to use the Wisconsin state capitol to promote their bizarro view of the world. The post, Tis the Season: Atheists stage “alternative” Nativity scene, by Deacon Greg Kandra who blogs here at Patheos at The Deacon’s Bench describes one of the many spitballs these folks throw in this annual Grinchfest. The article reads in part:

Atheists, clearly agitated that Christians purportedly “stole” various holiday traditions from pagans, have come up with a solution: A potentially-offensive “natural nativity scene” that removes baby Jesus and replaces traditional Bible characters with some eyebrow-raising alternatives. The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is behind the spectacle , which emerged this week as part of a diorama inside the Wisconsin state capitol.
The angel that typically graces the nativity is replaced with an astronaut. And the wise-men – prominent figures in the Biblical account of Jesus’ birth — are replaced with evolutionary theorist Charles Darwin, scientist Albert Einstein, anarchist Emma Goldman and author Mark Twain. The Statue of Liberty is also placed in the alternative nativity to purportedly symbolize freedom.
Rather than including Mary, whom the FFRF dismisses as “a mythical fertility figure,” the display includes Venus, the Roman goddess of love. And forget about Joseph — this depiction has Thomas Jefferson, a figure atheist groups enjoy touting for his purported church versus state views. According to the FFRF, Jefferson “would have disavowed Christian devotional scenes on state property.” (Read more here.)

My first thought on reading this is one I often have when I encounter the antics of these people: They don’t sound like adults.

My second thought is another one that I often have when dealing with them: They are obsessed with what they claim they don’t believe. I don’t know of any other group as obsessive, compulsive, negative and, finally, boring as evangelical atheists. Did I forget rude? Forgive me. I don’t know any other group of people as rude as evangelical atheists.

I don’t believe any saint in history thought about Christ and his Church as much as these people do. Based on their public utterances, they must think about Him 24/7. I would guess that when they aren’t out posting repetitive insults on Christian blogs and dreaming up equally insulting slogans to put on buses and in dioramas at Christmas, they must be perusing the Scriptures, looking for verses to take out of context and use for spears to hurl in their various attacks.

I was never a full and absolute atheist, but I did spend 17 years of my young life in an all-out anti-religion mode. I was probably more anti-God in my way than these people are. The difference is I was good at it. I didn’t spend my days obsessing over God. I didn’t read the Scriptures. I didn’t insult anybody. I just didn’t care. I left Christians alone in much the same way that I don’t now go busting into Free Thinkers’ meetings to razz at them. They’ve got a right to think what they want. And I don’t care.

You see, that’s what unbelief, or in my case, rejection, actually looks like. You don’t obsess over what you don’t believe. These people are odd. And they’re really negative and nasty in the things they say. I’ve said this before, but what they remind me of are adolescents who are searching frantically for significance. I think the reason they spend so much time driving the rest of us bonkers is because it makes them feel special and important.

All I know for sure is that Christmas 2012 is just around the corner, which makes it time for the cable networks to trot out their annual Christmas specials complete with “experts” to dismember the Nativity Story. It’s also time for the various atheist groups to file lawsuits in an attempt to suppress and oppress any ideas but theirs. Along with that they’ll treat us to ridiculous “Christmas” displays like the one in Wisconsin.

As for me, I’m just beginning Advent, which, unlike this nonsense, is a serious spiritual season. I have much to repent of, much to pray about and much to learn during this time. I don’t think I’m going to let the annual atheist attempt to ruin Christmas for everybody else distract me.

Someone’s Coming, and We Need to Get Ready

Today is the first day of Advent. A time when we prepare to meet Our Lord.

I’ve read in books and seen on television a number of first person stories from people who were faced with imminent death. Many of them relate how, when the gun is pointed at their heads or the bear was chomping at their skulls, they asked God to forgive their sins and receive their souls. Then, almost invariably, they say they thought about their families.

Not once in any of these tales of survival in the face of death have I heard anyone say that they were worried about missing a meeting at their office or whether or not they would get their next promotion. Preparing to meet the Lord strips away all the little things that take up our days and leaves us with the stark reality of who we are in light of His justice and who we love in this world. When we are face to face with eternity, eternal things — love and the state of our souls in relation to God — are what matters.

One striking element of these narratives is that these people are, even in the face of their great peril, hopeful. They don’t just bemoan the ugliness of their sins as they compare to God’s justice, they ask, with certainty of His love, for forgiveness. They ask, with expectation that it will happen, for Him to receive their souls. They even ask Him to take care of the people they are going to leave behind.

The reason they have this confidence in God’s love, this hope of His forgiveness and that He will take them home when they die is that God become human in the form of a helpless little baby. That is what we are awaiting in Advent: The hope and the promise of the only One who can save us, the beginning of the end of death.

Advent is a door opening on our eternal salvation. It is the pathway that leads us to eternal life.

Someone’s coming. And we need to get ready.

Like everyone who knows that someone’s coming to their house, we need to sweep up the dust, straighten the pillows and stock the fridge with goodies. Only in this case, the house He is coming to is the real and eternal us: Our souls. Instead of a vacuum cleaner, we need confession.

All this is somewhat symbolic, of course. Jesus is already born. He has already suffered, died, been buried and rose again. The promise of Advent is reality for us already. But at the same time, this promise is also coming and on its way. We are battered, buffeted, chip, stained and pitted by the battles of our daily lives. We are embittered by our losses, defeated by our failures and enthralled with our victories.

We are, in short, too much of this world to be ready to receive our King. We need to pause and take stock of ourselves and we need to do it now. To paraphrase a soft drink commercial, we need that pause of humility and honest self-examination that refreshes. We must, if we are to be any use to Him at all, acknowledge our sins, look honestly at our failings and turn to Him for forgiveness and conversion of heart.

We are His instruments in this world. But before an instrument can be used, it must be cleaned, tuned and brought into good working order. After this election season and its many evils, after the struggles of our lives these past few months, we need this cleaning and tuning up.

We must prepare our eternal houses, our souls, to receive our Lord once again. That is what Advent is all about. If you would be His servant in this world, it is imperative that you not miss it.


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