All Saints Day: Grains of Falling Wheat

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. John 12: 24

 

All Saints Day is a Holy Day of Obligation for American Catholics. It’s also one of my favorite feasts. I love that this solemnity for the many saints who have given their lives, either by dying for Christ or by living for Him comes at this time of year when the seasons are changing. The fact that we pause to remember our faith through memories of these many saints who have gone before us seems like a fitting way to prepare, once again, for the Coming of the Lord.

All Saints Day, All Souls Day, Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas; it’s like a wheel spinning us through the old story backwards. We begin by contemplating the great saints, then our own family and friends who have passed, to a family day of feasting and Thanksgiving. The wheels turns and we are in the period of self-examination and cleansing of Advent, then on to the day when we remember that God was made human for us and He is born again.

How could anyone not love that?

This year, the wheel spins through another quadrennial rite that is uniquely American. We will elect our president a few days after All Saints and All Souls Days.

I’ve been thinking about specifically political saints. Saint Thomas More, my name saint and a martyr for the faith, Saint Joan of Arc and Blessed John Paul II come to mind.

I also have thought about six saints, none of whom have been canonized, who were martyred in this hemisphere, at the hands of people who, many people believe, were trained and armed by our own American government. They died in the last few decades and their blood cries out to heaven to this day. They are, Archbishop Oscar Romero, Father Stanley Rother, Sister Dorothy Kagel, Sister Maura Clarke, Sister Ita Ford, and lay sister Jean Donovan.

Their stories are especially poignant because they are martyred saints who died at the hands of death squads and assassins who were most likely trained by the United States, ostensibly for the purpose of fighting communist insurgents in Central America. Whoever trained these men, (our government has assiduously blocked inquiries and denied involvement) it appears that the people they ended up “fighting” were the unarmed civilian population of those countries and the Church who tried to defend them.

One thing stands out in each of these stories: These were people who lived out their faith in Christ by walking in solidarity with the poor, the disenfranchised, the “disappeared.” They stood against torture, rape, murder. They gave their lives for this, and they did it in the name and service of Christ the Lord. As such, their lives and their deaths are a testament to the love of Christ and the power of faith in our world today.

I believe that Christians in America are rapidly approaching a time when we can no longer hide in our private piety. We are going to have to “choose this day whom we will serve.” When that day comes, I can think of no better models than Archbishop Oscar Romero, Father Stanley Rother, Sister Dorothy Kagel, Sister Maura Clarke, Sister Ita Ford, and lay sister Jean Donovan.

Archbishop Oscar Romero

Archbishop Romero was shot and while he was saying mass on March 24, 1980. He said, “I do not believe in death without resurrection … If God accepts the sacrifice of my life, then may my blood be the seed of liberty and a sign of hope.”

An article in Third World Sunday says,

“The Sunday before his murder, he denounced the military violence in El Salvador. In a rising voice, breaking with emotion, he called on ordinary soldiers to side with the people, to ignore the orders of their superiors. “Brothers, you are from the same people, you kill your fellow peasants … No soldier is obliged to obey an order that is contrary to the will of God … In the name of God then, in the name of this suffering people, I ask you, I command you in the name of God: Stop the represssion.’”

Father Stanley Rother

Father Stanley Rother was an Oklahoma priest who was murdered while serving in Guatemala, a country so rife with terrorism against the civilian population that it was known as “the land of the disappeared.” He was brought back to Oklahoma after it became known that he was considered a marked man in Guatemala. After three months, he told his family that he didn’t want his parishioners in Guatemala to feel that he had deserted them during the fighting. He didn’t want them to ask “Where were you when we needed you?”

In a letter to the people of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, he said,

The shepherd cannot run at the first sign of danger. Pray for us that we might be a sign of the love of Christ for our people, that our presence among them will fortify them to endure these sufferings in preparation for the kingdom.”

An article in the August 9, 2010 National Catholic Reporter said,

“Stanley told me that he would not be taken away and killed in the shadows,” said his friend, then Father, now Archbishop Harry Flynn. “Stanley was a strong man and intended to fight his assassins.”

In the early hours of July 28, 1981, Rother was attacked in the rectory by three men in ski masks, shot and killed. Rother’s knuckles were rubbed raw by the fight.

 

Sister Dorothy Kagel, Sister Maura Clarke, Sister Ita Ford,  lay sister Jean Donovan

Sister Dorothy Kagel, Sister Maura Clarke, Sister Ita Ford, and lay sister Jean Donovan were not only murdered, they were tortured and raped, as well, which makes them martyrs to violence against women as well as the people of Guatemala. They were kidnapped on the evening of December 2, 1980. Their bodies were left to rot on the side of the road. Stories have circulated since their deaths that their murderers were from death squads that were trained and equipped by our own country.

 

 

 

Join the Discussions of the Year of Faith

Click here throughout the Year of Faith, as the Catholic Channel at Patheos.com invites Catholics of every age and stripe to share what they are gleaning and carrying away from this gift of timely focus.

I’m Tired of Bronco Bama ….

I wrote about this earlier. Now it’s come to pass.

How many of us agree?

YouTube Preview Image

Calling Evil Good: Dr Death, Euthanasia and Rights Talk

Evil begats evil. It also glorifies it.

Dr Jack Kevorkian, the serial killer with a schtick, died the old-fashioned way, under medical care, fighting for his life. Before his death, he was lionized, promoted and considered a martyr. Sixty Minutes played a tape of Dr Kevorkian administering death-dealing drugs to Thomas Youk of Michigan on prime time tv, along with a favorable interview. HBO spent millions producing and promoting You Don’t Know Jack, a film honoring Kevorkian. Academy award winning actor Al Pacino portrayed him in this sales piece for euthanasia of the elderly, the ailing, the disabled, or anyone else who might become inconvenient and unable fight back.

Kevorkian, who spoke of establishing “obitoriums” where people would go to die and doctors would harvest organs and perform medical experiments, didn’t confine his killing to people who were near death. Some, such as the man whose murder Sixty Minutes televised, had serious illnesses which could, after many years, lead to death. But they weren’t dying. They needed help, support and love, not to be murdered.

According to the Patient Rights Council, Kevorkian testified under oath that he favored doing medical experiments on candidates for euthanasia. In a startling parallel with Nazi death camp practices, he “described a process by which ‘subjects,’ including infants, children and mentally incompetent people would be used for experiments ‘of any kind of complexity.’ Then, ‘if the subject’s body is alive’ after experimentation, ‘death may be induced’ by such means as ‘removal of organs for transplantation’ or ‘a lethal dose of a new and or untested drug.’”

None of this derailed the press support of euthanasia. HBO followed You Don’t Know Jack by running a documentary in support of one of Kevorkian’s stepchildren, the Oregon euthanasia law. Ironically, Kevorkian spoke against this law. He considered it too mild.

Why does so much of the media support making our doctors into our executioners? What is it about the elderly, the sick, and the disabled that renders their lives valueless in the eyes of the rich and powerful? Why do they “sell” euthanasia this way? Why are these people so in love with killing that they use all their talents and their enormous resources to peddle it to the rest of us?

Maybe it’s because evil not only begats and glorifies evil. It sells it.

Before his death, Kevorkian made as much as $50,000 dollars per engagement for speaking on our college campuses.

Dr Peter Singer, the Princeton “ethics” professor who promotes extending the right to kill the unborn to a legal right to kill infants after birth, also earns princely sums for speaking at our government-funded universities.

Evil evidently not only sells evil; it teaches it … and makes money in the process.

We, and our children — especially our children — are being “sold” on the sweetness of the fruits of the culture of death by some of the most talented and powerful people in the world today. While it may have begun with abortion, dealing death has become emblematic of what passes for intellectualism and trendiness throughout the American edutainment empire.

Child sacrifice/Human sacrifice are as much a part of our culture today as they were when people put their children through the flames for the Baals and Molochs of the ancient world. We’ve just changed the names of the gods.

For a long time, these death-dealing initiatives found their voice in what Mary Ann Glendon calls “rights talk.” Abortion was cast as a necessary human right for women. Euthanasia was given the advert of “death with dignity” and sold to us as the answer for suffering.

No one ever asked “whose suffering?” Were we, in fact, trying to alleviate the suffering of the dying person, or were we lifting the responsibility off the rest of us to take better care of them?

Abortion and euthanasia were marketed as “rights.” They were promoted as regrettable but necessary remedies for other evils. In recent years, the marketers of death have dropped the pretense of “rights.” They’ve moved to handing us the promises of gods by other names in direct and unapologetic form.

The new gods that demand human sacrifice sound a lot like the old ones. People put their children through the flames to propitiate the Baals and the Molochs. They offered human life in exchange for hope of a good harvest, or to end a plague, or for long life. The marketers of embryonic stem cell research promise economic development, cures for every known disease, and, maybe, just maybe, cracking the genetic code that dooms us to die. To paraphrase the songwriter, everything old is new again.

Today’s gods resurrect the ancient promise of life from death. They proffer the same things in exchange for becoming murderers that the demon gods of ancient times promised. They promise us what Christ alone can give: abundant life. But where Jesus taught us that life comes through the cross, through a willingness to suffer for one another and to love, cherish and care for each other, these new/old gods of expedience and greed promise us that they will give life in exchange for us becoming murderers of those on the fringes of life who can’t defend themselves in the court of public opinion.

They tell us over and again in many ways and through many venues that these are non-people, or that they’re not “real” people; that they don’t feel, think, look like us. In the morally bankrupt patois of our times, this is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that their near-human-but-not-quite-human lives are valueless. Our old/new gods of this world claim that this not-quite-human status of those on the fringes of life makes killing them an ok thing, a good thing, a kindness.

Horrifying as this is, it is not the bottom. Their arguments are in the process of morphing to the next step. The new arguments in the forward march of the culture of death revolve around the notion that it’s not just a “right” to kill those on the fringes, it’s a civic and moral responsibility. The elderly, it is said, use too much medical care, cost too much money. They are using “valuable resources” that should go to others who are more deserving. So … they have a “duty to die” for the good of future generations. Human embryos, so we are told, hold in their tiny bodies the Rosetta Stone of perfect health and unending life for the rest of us. Slaughtering them for their body parts is not just a right of scientists, it is the responsibility of politicians to pay for it.

This is how rights talk has become responsibility talk when it comes to killing. It’s how those of us who say no to the slaughter are cast as “nuts” and “irresponsible.” Murder has come a long way when the best and brightest among us openly argue that doing murder to those who can’t defend themselves is not a crime, but a civic responsibility, when they claim that opposing the murder of innocents is immoral. We are told that we can kill other people and it’s not even killing when we do it. It’s … “science.”

In truth, it’s a simple thing to kill. Anyone can do it. If you remove the legal penalties, killing appears to ask nothing of the killer, not even public condemnation. In the garden of lies that public discourse in this country has become, we are not allowed, ever, to say the obvious. Murder is a crime against humanity and against God, the real God. The blood of its victims cries out to heaven, just as Abel’s did. Murder, unrepented, will send you to hell.

A society that legalizes and funds the murder of its own people kills its own soul. Our society is disassembling itself. We are drowning in the lies we are told and that we tell ourselves. We have been propagandized and brainwashed to the point that we are fearful, on peril of slander and public attack, of simply saying who and what is a human being. That is not science. It’s not progress. That is insanity.

God told the ancient Israelites, “I set before you today life and death.” In this, as in so many things, everything old is indeed, new again.

Originally published in The Sooner Catholic. Reprinted here with permission.

John Paul II: No Authority Can Justify Euthanasia


Euthanasia is an attack on life that no human authority can justify, because the life of an innocent person is an indispensable good.

NO AUTHORITY CAN JUSTIFY EUTHANASIA
Pope John Paul II

Life of the elderly must be respected, Holy Father says in address to international conference
“The respect that we owe the elderly compels me once again to raise my voice against all those practices of shortening life known as euthanasia…. Euthanasia is an attack on life that no human authority can justify, because the life of an innocent person is an indispensable good”, the Holy Father said on Saturday, 31 October, to those attending an international conference on the elderly sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health-Care Workers. The Pope spoke of respect for the elderly and encouraged families to benefit from the wealth of experience that their older members have to offer. Here is a translation of his address, which was given in Italian.

Your Eminences,

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. It is a pleasure to welcome all of you who are attending the international conference organized by the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health-Care Workers on a theme that is one of the traditional aspects of the Church’s pastoral concern. I express my gratitude to those of you who dedicate your work to the complex problems facing the elderly, who are becoming ever more numerous in every society of the world.

I thank Archbishop Javier Lozano Barragan for his noble words expressing the sentiments you share. Your conference has wanted to address the problem with that respect for the elderly which shines brightly in Sacred Scripture when it shows us Abraham and Sara (cf. Gn 17:15-22), when it describes the welcome that Simeon and Anna gave Jesus (cf Lk 2:23-38), when it calls priests elders (cf. Acts 14:23; 1 Tm 4:14; 5:17, 19; Tt 1:5; 1 Pt 5:1), when it sums up the homage of all creation in the adoration of the 24 elders (Rv 4:4), and finally when it describes God himself as ‘the Ancient One” (Dn 7:9-22).

2. Your studies emphasize how great and precious is human life, which retains its value in every age and every condition. They reaffirm with authority that Gospel of life which the Church, in faithfully contemplating the mystery of Redemption, acknowledges with ever renewed wonder and feels called to proclaim to the people of all times (cf. Evangelium vitae, n. 2).

Scripture promises long life to those who fulfil God’s law

The conference did not only deal with the demographic and medical-psychological aspects of the elderly, but also sought to examine the matter more closely by focusing its attention on what Revelation presents in this regard and comparing it with the reality that we experience. The Church’s work over the centuries has also been emphasized in a historical-dynamic way, with useful and fitting suggestions for updating every charitable initiative, in responsible collaboration with the civil authorities.

3. Old age is the third season of life: life that is born, life that grows, life that comes to an end are the three stages in the mystery of existence, of that human life which “comes from God, is his gift, his image and imprint, a sharing in his breath of life” (Evangelium vitae, n. 39).

The Old Testament promises long life to human beings as the reward for fulfilling the law of God: ‘The fear of the Lord prolongs life” (Prov 10:27). It was the common belief that the prolonging of physical life until “good old age” (Gn 25:8), when a man could die “full of years” (Gn 25:8), should be considered a proof of particular goodwill on God’s part. This value must also be given renewed attention in a society that very often seems to speak of old age only as a problem.

To devote attention to the complexity of the problems affecting the world of the elderly means, for the Church, to discern a “sign of the time” and to interpret it in the light of the Gospel. Thus, in a way suitable to each generation, she responds to the perennial human questions about the meaning of present and future life and their mutual relationship (cf. Gaudium et spes, cf. 4)

4. Our times are marked by the fact that people are living longer, which, together with the decline in fertility, has led to a considerable ageing of the world population.

For the first time in human history, society is faced with a profound upheaval in the population structure, forcing it to modify its charitable strategies, with repercussions at all levels. It is a question of new social planning and of reviewing society’s economic structure, as well as one’s vision of the life-cycle and the interaction between generations. It is a real challenge to society, whose justice is revealed by the extent to which it responds to the charitable needs of all its members: its degree of civilization is measured by the protection given to the weakest members of the social fabric.

5. Although often regarded as only the recipients of charitable aid, the elderly must also be called to participate in this work; over the years the elderly population can attain a greater maturity in the form of intelligence, balance and wisdom. For this reason Sirach advises: “Stand in the assembly of the elders. Who is wise? Cleave to him” (Sir 6:34); and again: “Do not disregard the discourse of the aged, for they themselves learned from their fathers; because from them you will gain understanding and learn how to give an answer in time of need” (Sir 8:9). It is clear that the elderly should not be considered merely an object of concern, closeness and service. They too have a valuable contribution to make to life. Thanks to the wealth of experience they have acquired over the years, they can and must be sources of – (cf. wisdom, witnesses of hope and love Evangelium vitae, n. 94).

The family-elderly relationship must be seen as a relationship of giving and receiving. The elderly also give: their years of experience cannot be ignored. If this experience, as it can happen, is not in harmony with the changing times, their whole life can still become a source of so much guidance for their relatives, representing a continuation of the group spirit, of traditions, of professional choices, of religious beliefs, etc. We are all aware of the special relationship that exists between the elderly and children. Adults too, if they know how to create an atmosphere of esteem and affection around the elderly, can draw from their wisdom and discernment to make prudent decisions.

6. It is in this perspective that society must have a renewed awareness of solidarity between generations: a renewed awareness of the sense and meaning of old age in a culture only too dominated by the myth of productivity and physical capacity. We must allow the elderly to live with security and dignity, and their families must be helped, even economically, in order to continue being the natural place for inter-generational relations.

Further observations must also be made regarding social health care and rehabilitation, which often can be necessary. Advances in health-care technology prolong life, but do not necessarily improve its quality. It is necessary to develop charitable strategies that put a priority on the dignity of the elderly and that help them, as far as possible, to maintain a sense of self-esteem lest, feeling they are a useless burden, the eventually desire and ask for death (cf Evangelium vitae, n. 94).

Life is God’s gift and must always be protected

7. Called to prophetic deeds in society, the Church defends life from its dawn to its conclusion in death. It is especially for this final stage, which often lasts for months and years and creates many serious problems, that I appeal today to the sensitivity of families, asking them to accompany their loved ones, to the end of their earthly pilgrimage. How can we not recall the tender words of Scripture: “O son, help your father in his old age, and do not grieve him as long as he lives; even if his is lacking in understanding, show forbearance; in all your strength do not despise him. For kindness to a father will not be forgotten, and … in the day of your affliction it will be remembered in your favour” (Sir 3:12-15).

8. The respect that we owe the elderly compels me once again to raise my voice against all those practices of shortening life known as euthanasia.

In the presence of a secularized mentality that does not respect life, especially when it is weak, we must emphasize that it is a gift of God which are all obliged to protect. This duty particularly concerns health-care workers, whose specific mission is to become “ministers of life” in all its stages, especially in those marked by weakness and illness.

“The temptation … of euthanasia” appears as “one of the more alarming symptoms of the ‘culture of death’ which is advancing above all in prosperous societies” (cf. Evangelium vitae, n. 64).

Euthanasia is an attack on life that no human authority can justify, because the life of an innocent person is an indispensable good.

9. Turning now to all the elderly of the world, I wish to say to them: dear brothers and sisters, do not lose heart: life does not end here on earth, but instead only starts here. We must be witnesses to the resurrection! Joy must be a characteristic of the elderly; a serene joy, because the time is coming and the reward that the Lord Jesus has prepared for his faithful servants is approaching. How can we not think of the touching words of the Apostle Paul? “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Tm 4:7-8).

With these sentiments I impart an affectionate Blessing to you, to your loved ones and especially to the elderly.

Taken from:
L’Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
25 November 1998, page 7
L’Osservatore Romano is the newspaper of the Holy See.
The Weekly Edition in English is published for the US by:

The Cathedral Foundation
L’Osservatore Romano English Edition
320 Cathedral St.
Baltimore, MD 21201
Subscriptions: (410) 547-5315
Fax: (410) 332-1069
lormail@catholicreview.org

Provided Courtesy of:
Eternal Word Television Network
5817 Old Leeds Road
Irondale, AL 35210
www.ewtn.com

HOME-EWTNews-FAITH-TELEVISION-RADIO-LIBRARY-GALLERY-CATALOGUE-GENERAL
ESPAÑOL

Romney vs Obama: Secret Ballots and Reasons Why

I may have a higher regard for the secret ballot than most Americans. To me, the secret ballot is the core freedom that allows Americans for vote freely.

We didn’t always have a secret ballot in this country. It’s not in the Constitution. The secret ballot first came into use in the United States as a means to protect the votes of newly-freed slaves in the Reconstruction South. It passed into law in each of the states in turn, often as a response to the practice of vote buying.

Grover Cleveland was the first President elected by secret ballot. That happened in 1892.

Rep. Mark B. Cohen of Philadelphia, a supporter of the secret ballot said, “The secret ballot guarantees that it is one’s private opinion that counts. Open ballots are not truly free for those whose preferences defy structures of power or friendship.”

That is one reason why I don’t make public statements about my private votes. The other reason is that I enjoy drawing a line and saying, “This is my private concern and I will not answer questions about it.” That may be an emotional symptom of someone who has lived too many years as a public person. I don’t know. I do know that the emotion is real.

I am not going to disclose how I intend to vote in this election. I would like, instead, to focus on the issues that will shape this vote that I am going to cast.

How do the two candidates stand on the issues that matter most to me? I think, as you read through my answers, you’ll see why I keep saying that no matter who wins this election, Christians have a real fight on their hands.

These assessments are my own thoughts. They are not definitive. They are not even necessarily right. I’m wrong about things from time to time just like everyone else. They are also not an attempt to persuade you or to determine your vote. What I hope they will do is to get you in the game of thinking for yourself.

Here, in the order in which they come into my head, are the issues I see as most important and where I think the two candidates stand on them.

HHS Mandate and Religious Freedom

President Obama signed the mandate and has stuck with it through thick, thin, and a close election. It appears he is willing to face defeat in this election, if that is what is required, to defend it. If he does this now, I can only wonder what he will do when he has no fear of re-election.

Governor Romney has promised to rescind the HHS Mandate as soon as he takes the oath of office. I believe him about this. He would be a total fool not to follow through. As for other religious freedom issues, while I don’t expect the total all-out war on faith that might come from President Obama, I expect Governor Romney would continue the process of co-opting, weakening and regulating that has brought us to this pass in the first place.

Sanctity of human life.

The sanctity of human life is under attack from so many directions, I have to address them separately to make sense of where the candidates stand.

1.   Abortion.

President Obama is the man who never met an abortion he didn’t like. I don’t see him as pro choice. I think he is pro abortion. I could elaborate, but I think his views on the subject are clear-cut.

Governor Romney is the man who believes whatever the next election requires. I don’t think he will actively work to increase abortions as President Obama has done, at least not openly. But that’s about it. His one visible act on the subject of abortion that I know of since he changed to pro life has been to persuade Congressman Ryan to change his position to allow abortions in the case of rape. It should be noted that the pro life Congressman obliged easily enough. After all, this is the vice presidency. Right?

So what we have is a choice between abortion and lots of abortions.

 2.   Embryonic stem cell research and other ways to kill, degrade life and reduce women to chattel through science.

President Obama has pushed embryonic stem cell research with the federal dollar. One of the first things he did as president was to sign a bill into law that would give enormous federal funding for it.

Governor Romney, on the other hand, has a son who has used women as surrogate mothers to supply him with children. Just writing this makes me mad. I think both these guys stink to high, high heaven on this.

1. Euthanasia.

President Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act pushes people toward agreeing to end their own health care. I’ve experienced this with my mother. Every trip to the emergency room must include a hassle in which they try to get her to broaden her advanced directive to allow them to cut off her water and food if they see fit. It is disgusting. The law’s provisions for determining which treatments are “cost effective” and basing care on that are health care rationing that, I believe, will lead to untimely deaths.

Governor Romney, on the other hand, according to a LifeSiteNews article Governor Romney has supported the death by starvation and removal of fluids of Terry Shiavo. He also, during his tenure of Governor of Massachusetts, stood by while the state’s Department of Social Services petitioned to terminate life support for an 11-year-old victim of child abuse.

War

Which candidate is most likely to get us into an unnecessary war? Based on his calls for extravagant increases in military spending, saber rattling at Iran and all-out commitment to the multi-national corporations, I have no doubt that Governor Romney takes the prize on this one. We haven’t had a peacetime president in decades. I’d like to see one.

The Economy

Until and unless our government stops being the government of the corporation, by the corporation, and for the corporation, there is little hope for a genuine improvement in America’s economy. We need to re-industrialize our country. We also need to start putting America’s national interests ahead of the multi-national corporations.

Governor Romney is, in my opinion, 100% in the bag for the multi-national corporations. I think that is the real frame for what his presidency would be.

President Obama is somewhat in the bag for them. He actually will do something now and again that opposes their interests in favor of the interests of the American people.

There you have it. Those are the major issues so far as I’m concerned. I will vote, as I said, by secret ballot. Then, like some of our atheist/vampire friends, I may have dyspepsia.

 

 

Content Director’s Note: This post is a part of our Election Month at Patheos feature. Patheos was designed to present the world’s most compelling conversations on life’s most important questions. Please join the Facebook following for our new News and Politics Channel — and check back throughout the month for more commentary on Election 2012. Please use hashtag #PatheosElection on Twitter.

Hurricane Sandy: Prayer for Our Friends in Her Path

Internet Self Defense and Locust Trolls

Every so often a post I write gets picked up by one of the 800 pound gorillas of the internet.

It’s almost always a very simple post that took no effort to write and which has, at most, one idea without any nuances or development.

I’m still quite new at this blogging stuff, so my opinions about it are forming, not formed. One of my forming, but not quite formed opinions is that if you want mega huge traffic numbers, you need to dumb your writing down.

I’m not going to do that, mainly because I don’t care about mega huge traffic numbers. That has nothing to do with the purpose of this blog. I don’t want every reader. I want readers who are interested in building a community of people who want to stand up for Jesus.

That said, whenever one of these internet gorillas links to one of my posts, I first become aware of it by the sudden influx of profane, foul-mouthed insults that appear in my com boxes. That’s what happened Saturday.

Two of my posts got picked up by other blogs with large followings. One of them was just another blogging colleague. But one was a major news service who keeps their numbers up by trashifying their coverage.

It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what was happening. I literally sat and watched the comment numbers tick up, one after the other, 44, 45, 46, 47 … 200, 300 …, just about as fast as the little meter could register them.

The two posts that got this loving attention were the humorous one where I compared atheists to vampires and the not-so-humorous one where I said that President Obama’s The First Time ad demeaned women and was beneath the dignity of his office.

I let any comment that I thought would lead to some sort of intelligent discussion through. I deleted comments that attacked Christians, Christianity, cursed, called me names (there were a lot of these), or which advanced arguments that I’ve learned are just come-ons for circular agenda-stealing, blog-destroying verbal wrangling that has no end.

The result: only a smattering of comments made their way through, and my trash file is blushing from shame about what I dumped into it.

I’ve learned that when I get one of these nasty-comment storms, the easiest way to delete is to use my cell phone. That way, I can just use my thumb to touch that little trash icon and send the f-bombs and you are a (insert misogynist name for a woman’s body part) away to virtual oblivion.

These surges of nut case comments don’t usually last too long. These people aren’t actual readers. They’re more like plagues of locusts. They fly through, destroy your blog if you let them, and then fly on, searching for somewhere else to behave like abusive wackos.

Before I went to bed last night, I studied the various stats from these two particular locust clouds. The Obama locusts almost all flew in on a mobile device, primarily either an iPhone or an iPad. The iPhone had by far the highest numbers of all the devices they used. I own both these gadgets. In fact, I used my iPhone to delete these little darlings. I’m not making a connection between Apple and internet nut jobs.

What I am thinking is that these are most likely internet savvy people. They evidently read internet news services on their mobile devices and then one-off a few foul-mouthed assaults in what appears to be an almost reflexive manner. I’m guessing that most of them don’t even remember making a comment on Public Catholic.

I think the atheist-vampire locusts are a much older crowd than the Obama locusts, and also much more intentional. They tend to fly in on their computers, and on Internet Explorer. Again, this has nothing to do with Microsoft. I think it’s more of a generational thing.

The Obama locusts focused almost exclusively on sexual thinking, which is not surprising, given the nature of the ad I wrote about. Their language was what you’d expect. A number of them were women. Most of their comments were focused on me personally. About the nicest thing anybody called me was “prude.” It went downhill — waaaayyyyy downhill — from there.

The atheist locusts came in with angry diatribes against Christians and Christianity. Some of them referenced their many victories in the courts limiting Christians’ freedom of speech and expression (not that they called it this) and angry comments about how vile they found the symbolism of the cross. None of them that I can remember actually attacked the Lord Himself. And most of them weren’t aimed at me. So far as I can remember, they were all male.

I don’t remember an atheist who called me any of the ugly names our society uses for women, which is certainly more than I can say for the Obama locusts. Instead, they gave full vent to their hatred of Christianity.

The Obama Locusts just buzzed in, dropped their load of insults and flew on by. The atheist locusts stayed to argue. When I deleted their comments, they circled back with insults and threats demanding that I undelete them. A couple of them went over the top with this.

All in all, it was an interesting exercise; my own little laboratory for the study of internet trolls in action. I’m not saying that all Obama supporters or all atheists behave like this. Obviously most of the members of both these groups were out enjoying their weekend. I’ve written other posts that got me zapped from Christian trolls who just flew in to quote canon law and tell me that I’m not pro-life enough.

The internet gives people a cloak of anonymity that lets them behave as they really want to, rather than as they feel they have to. For most people, that doesn’t mean much of anything at all. But for some, it’s a ticket to verbally act out their lower passions without regard for consequences. I also think that for some of them trashing other people on the internet is their primary recreation.

When I study the comments on other blogs and talk to other bloggers, it rapidly becomes apparent that Christian blogs are a primary — not exclusive, but primary — target of these attacks.

I’ve never seen a blog where a man gets called the kind of names that I get called. Of course, we are such a misogynist society that our language doesn’t even HAVE those names for men.

It’s no surprise, really, that two of the primary targets of these foul-mouthed internet attacks should be women and Christians. After all, our politically correct society has limited the targets. Who else can you call filthy names and be intolerant of except women and Christians?

My point is that we don’t have to let internet trolls take over our conversations, destroy our on-line communities and keep us from accomplishing what we want to accomplish with our blogs. We can stop them.

All we have to do is use that delete button.

Supreme Court Won’t Hear Personhood Challenge to Roe v Wade

The United States Supreme Court has refused to hear a challenge of legalized abortion based on so-called Personhood statutes. 

I expected this. The Court basically ruled by refusing to rule on the question of personhood in Roe when it said that it need not consider the personhood of the unborn child. If they opened this up now, it would place the Court in the position of having to rule one way or the other on the question of whether or not an unborn child is a person under the law.

They didn’t want to do that 40 years ago, and it appears they don’t want to do it now.

So far as I’m concerned, this underscores my belief that the pro life strategy of packing the Supreme Court has been a failure.

 

Stop Slogan-Voting. Stop Hate-Voting. Stop Being Manipulated. AFTER THE ELECTION

I am going to delay moving forward with this series until after the election. I am concerned that some people might think that I am writing these posts to influence the outcome on November 6. In truth, Public Catholic is a response to what I experienced as something akin to a call to arms after President Obama signed the HHS Mandate. That mandate may turn out to be one of the turning points in my life.

All I know for sure is that this country, especially followers of Christ, are going to have a lot of work ahead of us on November 7, no matter who wins. What I’m attempting to do with Public Catholic is for a much longer haul than this one election. I don’t want that to get washed away in the election obsession that is going to overtake all our thinking for the next week.

My writing is going to be focused more — not entirely, but more — on November 6 issues. I plan to advocate rather strongly for and against certain issues and even certain votes on those issues. But I will NOT try to tell you which candidates to vote for, and I will not tell you how I’m going to vote. My votes in the legislature are absolutely public. What I do as a citizen in the voting booth is absolutely private.

I wish there was some way Public Catholic-ers could all have a big watch party together election night. Whatever happens, I know we’ll all need a break afterwards. Americans do their politics large. Then, we go celebrate a uniquely American holiday called Thanksgiving.

That sounds right, doesn’t it?

Miracle Story: The god Who Doesn’t Care

I’ve written about other people’s miracle stories. Now, I’ll tell you about one of my own.

I think most Christians have miracle stories. Mine is the fundamental Christian miracle, the accessible and universally available miracle. I am going to tell you about the day I stepped, blundered actually, from death to life.

I lived about 17 years of my life in an anti-God mindset. There were reasons for this. To this day, I understand myself and accept that when I made the turn away from God, I did the only thing I could have done under that circumstance.

I didn’t decide that there was no god. I tried. I read the atheist books of the day; Passover Plot among them. I went back a few decades and read Why I Am Not A Christian. I actually wanted to believe there was no god. It would have been a great simplifier for me in those days.

But the books I read were essentially self-refuting. You can’t think them through too seriously and miss the train-sized holes in their line of reasoning.

In truth, I knew there was a god. I’m not sure how I knew. But I did. My problem wasn’t that I thought he wasn’t there. It was that I thought he didn’t care.

I didn’t come to a point where I decided Today I Will Become Anti-god. I just sort of segued into it, one decision, one discussion, one opposing commitment at a time.

By the time I was into my 20s, I was thoroughly launched on my anti-god way of living, thinking and reacting. The fight to defend Roe v Wade and legal access to abortion pushed me hard toward an aggressive anti-god mode.

What had been a walking away became, through the catalyst of my pro-abortion stand, a fierce resentment. I detested the various churches for their opposition to Roe. I thought, believed to my core, that they were utterly indifferent to the sufferings of women.

This wasn’t all just a web I wove in my own mind. I knew of actual instances of churches turning away from women who were in great distress; of them abandoning these women or even attacking them.

To say I was angry over this hardly touches it. I was enraged, bitter and hard as a diamond about it. I knew there was a god. But I also thought I knew that he didn’t care. I had no use for him.

I did a lot of things in this period of my life that I regret now. I wish I could tell you that everything I ever did that I regret I did then, but that isn’t true. However, my most dastardly deeds, including the one time I ever hurt another person deliberately, selfishly and with full intention, happened during those years.

I was, in the way I judged myself at that time, certain that I was a good person and that everything I was doing was not only right but morally superior. Even the one thing that I absolutely knew was wrong didn’t bother me.

This peculiar moral certitude of moral ingrates is, I believe, a direct consequence of being your own god. If you decide what is right and wrong, it’s pretty easy to be morally proud 24/7. I encounter it in people who are their own gods all the time. The difference being that now I know it for what it is.

As time went by, this one thing I couldn’t justify to myself ate at me. I knew I had hurt another person. Worse, I knew that I had decided to hurt another person and done it for entirely selfish reasons. I stood convicted in my own court by my own rules. That brought me face to face with one of the sadder realities of living life as your own god: When you come to that place where you see that you have really been wrong, you can’t make it right.

You are stuck there, you and your guilt, in a battle for your peace of mind that you can only win by hardening your heart and “going on.” If you do that, of course, it will be much easier to do the wrong again. And again. And again forever until you die. You become wedded to your sin and in time it becomes who you are.

I was stuck there, at that precise fork in the moral road. I could either tell myself to forget about it, or even, as many people do, blame the person I had hurt, or I could face my own fault. It’s never an easy thing to face the fact that you are really not such a good person. But in truth none of us are. We only pretend, and mostly we pretend to ourselves.

Fortunately for me, I wasn’t able to take that sharp turn into the abyss and send my healthy and completely justified guilt away. I knew what I had done.

I didn’t talk about it. Didn’t share it with anyone. I kept it inside me.

The tension grew.

I have tried many times to find the words to describe what happened next. But I can’t do it. I’ve come to the conclusion that there are no words.

I was alone in my car, driving to Enid Oklahoma to make a speech. Without thinking about it or really understanding what I was doing, I blurted out two words. Forgive me, I said. I said it out loud. But I wasn’t talking to myself. I was talking to the God who didn’t care.

Here’s where words fail me. I’ll try, but please understand: I have no words for what happened next.

I said Forgive me, and it was as if someone, some Being, Who had been right beside me all along without my knowing of it, reached out to me. I felt this Being’s joy for me, experienced His absolute, ecstatic love. I had a physical sensation of this love, pouring into me, filling me with His joy.

As I said, there are no words. I didn’t understand exactly what was happening. But I knew it was real. I also learned in one instant that the god who doesn’t care was my own creation. God, the real God, loves us beyond anything we can comprehend, or, in my case, describe.

I didn’t understand what had just happened. I went on to my meeting, made my speech, and said not a word about it to anyone. But it wasn’t an apprehensive silence. The Being I met in the car that day stayed with me. He kept me enveloped in love and I basked in it.

I also waited. Waiting is not something that comes naturally to me. I am most definitely not the waiting around kind. But this time, waiting came easily. I didn’t know what to do next, so I waited, with complete peace of mind that the answers would come, for this Being to tell me what to do.

About a month later, it came into my head to go to a large metropolitan church. I did, and over time, that path has led me to where I am now.

As I said, this is the most prosaic and commonplace of miracles. It is freely available to anyone who asks for it with a sincere heart. It’s free for the asking. But I wouldn’t say that it’s cheap. I’ll talk about the cost in other posts at other times.

Today, I just want to add one of my miracles to the ones I’ve been sharing. I also want to make it clear that the real miracle here isn’t that I experienced these things, but what they meant. I said two words from my heart to a God I had come to believe didn’t care, and I stepped from death to life.

That is the miracle that lasts for eternity.

 

Join the Discussions of the Year of Faith

Click here throughout the Year of Faith, as the Catholic Channel at Patheos.com invites Catholics of every age and stripe to share what they are gleaning and carrying away from this gift of timely focus.

This Came From the President of the United States? Part Two

That didn’t take long.

There is already a parody of the First Time ad that President Obama’s campaign put out.

The parody is titled, My First Time in a Sexist Ad and is put out by TokenLibertarianGirl, who evidently has 71 videos on YouTube. I haven’t watched any of her other videos, but I did look at their titles. Based on those, I am guessing that she’s a strong supporter of Governor Romney’s bid for the presidency.

I agree with the parody’s assertion that the Obama Campaign ad is sexist, and that it implies that women are only interested in laws that affect their reproductive capacities. The new political mantra from the Obama Campaign seems to be that all women really want is an abortion and a packet of birth control pills.

I don’t agree with a number of things the parody says. But I agree wholeheartedly with the primary contention of the parody that the President’s ad demeans and sexualizes women. I also think it is beneath the dignity of the office of President.

Here, if you’re interested, is My First Time in a Sexist Ad.

YouTube Preview Image

 

 

Porta Fidei, The Door of Faith

These are excerpts from Porta Fidei (The Door of Faith) which was issued by Pope Benedict XVI on October 11, 2011 calling for this Year of Faith. The emphases are mine.

Have a blessed Sunday.

 

The Door of Faith

During this time we will need to keep our gaze fixed upon Jesus Christ, the “pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Heb 12:2): in him, all the anguish and all the longing of the human heart finds fulfillment. The joy of love, the answer to the drama of suffering and pain, the power of forgiveness in the face of an offence received and the victory of life over the emptiness of death: all this finds fulfillment in the mystery of his Incarnation, in his becoming man, in his sharing our human weakness so as to transform it by the power of his resurrection. In him who died and rose again for our salvation, the examples of faith that have marked these two thousand years of our salvation history are brought into the fullness of light.

By faith, Mary accepted the Angel’s word and believed the message that she was to become the Mother of God in the obedience of her devotion (cf. Lk 1:38). Visiting Elizabeth, she raised her hymn of praise to the Most High for the marvels he worked in those who trust him (cf. Lk 1:46-55). With joy and trepidation she gave birth to her only son, keeping her virginity intact (cf. Lk 2:6-7). Trusting in Joseph, her husband, she took Jesus to Egypt to save him from Herod’s persecution (cf.Mt 2:13-15).

With the same faith, she followed the Lord in his preaching and remained with him all the way to Golgotha (cf. Jn 19:25-27).

By faith, Mary tasted the fruits of Jesus’ resurrection, and treasuring every memory in her heart (cf. Lk 2:19, 51), she passed them on to the Twelve assembled with her in the Upper Room to receive the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14; 2:1-4).

By faith, the Apostles left everything to follow their Master (cf. Mk 10:28). They believed the words with which he proclaimed the Kingdom of God present and fulfilled in his person (cf. Lk 11:20). They lived in communion of life with Jesus who instructed them with his teaching, leaving them a new rule of life, by which they would be recognized as his disciples after his death (cf. Jn 13:34-35).

By faith, they went out to the whole world, following the command to bring the Gospel to all creation (cf. Mk 16:15) and they fearlessly proclaimed to all the joy of the resurrection, of which they were faithful witnesses.

By faith, the disciples formed the first community, gathered around the teaching of the Apostles, in prayer, in celebration of the Eucharist, holding their possessions in common so as to meet the needs of the brethren (cf. Acts 2:42-47).

By faith, the martyrs gave their lives, bearing witness to the truth of the Gospel that had transformed them and made them capable of attaining to the greatest gift of love: the forgiveness of their persecutors.

By faith, men and women have consecrated their lives to Christ, leaving all things behind so as to live obedience, poverty and chastity with Gospel simplicity, concrete signs of waiting for the Lord who comes without delay.

By faith, countless Christians have promoted action for justice so as to put into practice the word of the Lord, who came to proclaim deliverance from oppression and a year of favour for all (cf. Lk 4:18-19).

By faith, across the centuries, men and women of all ages, whose names are written in the Book of Life (cf. Rev 7:9, 13:8), have confessed the beauty of following the Lord Jesus wherever they were called to bear witness to the fact that they were Christian: in the family, in the workplace, in public life, in the exercise of the charisms and ministries to which they were called.

By faith, we too live: by the living recognition of the Lord Jesus, present in our lives and in our history.

 

Join the Discussions of the Year of Faith

Click here throughout the Year of Faith, as the Catholic Channel at Patheos.com invites Catholics of every age and stripe to share what they are gleaning and carrying away from this gift of timely focus.

Less of Me: Week Four

Gimpy the Foot.

Less of Me is going to be a little unusual for a while.

There may be a blessing in this unusualness, since I’m being forced to search for ways to live healthy in a wheelchair. I know I’m not the only person who needs this information and if I figure out anything useful, I’m going to share. 

If you’ve followed this series, you know that I resolved to do more exercise and get healthy and promptly fell down and broke my foot and cracked my hip.

The first week was kind of lousy. But this week the pain backed off and I began to feel golden. I hefted myself up, kicked the wheelchair aside with my good foot and reached for the walker.

Now there are probably those among you who associate walkers with feeble, slow-pokey type locomoting. But you’ve got it all wrong. If you doubt that, I challenge you to spend a week or so trapped in the bottom floor of a two-story house in a wheelchair. Kicking that wheelchair aside was powerful.

I clomped around the house with the walker. I even went into the kitchen, whose entry is too narrow for the wheel chair. I was like a step-clomp-step-clomp bird let out of her cage. When my husband came home from work, I persuaded him to take me for a drive and I step-clomped my way to the car.

There is no Olympic Gold Medalist who is any happier with their athletic achievements than I was with that step-clomp walk to the car. I came home and started planning my new life of freedom.

The next day, I got up and noticed that the hardware in Gimpy the Foot was sticking up. It made an ugly bulge through the bandages. Didn’t hurt. Or at least not much. (I quit taking pain meds so I would know if I was hurting Gimpy when I used the walker.) But it wasn’t where it had been.

I called the doc and he said go to the er. Said they had my old x-rays, could take new ones and see what I’d done to myself. I didn’t do that. I just didn’t want to spend another half-day in the er. I think I also didn’t want to hear any bad news. I’ve got Gimpy propped up and am waiting for my doc’s appointment Tuesday. And I’m back in the wheelchair.

If I moved that hardware and they have to do anything over, I’m …. well, I’m gonna do it over. But, boy, I don’t want to.

The question remains: How does anybody get healthy in a wheelchair? Frankly, if I was going to do this permanently, the first thing I would do is get rid of this house. No more two-story. No more narrow doorways. No more high cabinets and steps up the front porch. (You haven’t lived until you’ve had your son and husband lift your overweight self, in your wheel chair, up the front steps just a few hours after surgery. It’s the scariest ride in town.)

I can tell you that the men I live with don’t cook. They also don’t like healthy take-out. They like junk food. I am scared to think how much weight I’m gaining, sitting here with Gimpy propped up and swilling down the junk.

I’ve started doing some upper body workouts that a reader (Thank you Theresa!) linked for me. They work great in a wheelchair. I’m also going to peruse Amazon for a wheelchair workout cd.

I’m going to send one of my girlfriends out with a list of things that I can eat that aren’t junk food. I’m sending a girlfriend because, if I sent my husband, I wouldn’t get any food. It wouldn’t matter how meticulously I wrote the list. It wouldn’t matter if I sat down and went over it with him before he left. He’d still come back with ice cream, chocolate bars, dip, chips, four liters of soda, and a fire starter for the charcoaler.

After thirty years of marriage, I know these things.

Whatever I ask my friend to buy for me, it’s got to be something I can prepare without going into the kitchen. That’s where you come in.

I’m not much of a domestic goddess, even when I have both my feet. How do I do this with a microwave and a refrigerator?

I’m calling on all you cooks out there for ideas. Send me good ones. If the doc says I’m stuck in this wheelchair for the duration, I’ve got to figure out how to do the wheelchair thing in health.

The Election: Bishop Brandt Discusses the Key Issues for Catholics

Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt of Greensburg Pennsylvania wrote a recent pastoral letter to his diocese discussing some of the issues in the upcoming election, including the HHS Mandate and the issue of pro-abortion advocates taking communion. The article below describes his letter in more detail. I am going to reproduce the entire article. For more fine articles like this one, go to Catholic News Agency.

Pennsylvania bishop highlights issues at stake in election
Greensburg, Pa., Oct 26, 2012 / 02:07 am (CNA).- The right of the Catholic institutions to exist with integrity is threatened by the Health and Human Services contraception and sterilization mandate, Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt of Greensburg said in a pastoral letter to his diocese.

The mandate “relegates religious freedom to the sacristy, and will not allow it to exist or be operative outside of the Church and in the public square,” the Pennsylvania bishop wrote in “Integrity and the Political Arena,” which was issued on Oct. 11.

“This corresponds to a conception of religious freedom which means only freedom of worship. But those who share the same faith also have the right to a collective or institutional religious freedom which is public,” he stated.

Bishop Brandt’s comments come with the elections only two weeks away, and Pennsylvania is expected to play a key role as a battleground state. Though Democrats won the last three presidential votes there, the Republican Party won the governorship and Senate elections in 2010.

Under the contraception mandate, “religious freedom becomes just a type of privacy right which can be given, restricted or withdrawn as the government sees fit,” wrote Bishop Brandt.

“The founding documents of this country, however, clearly indicate that religious freedom is an inalienable right which comes not from government but from the Creator Himself.”

Much of the letter was dedicated to the importance of integrity among politicians, particularly on the issue of abortion. Bishop Brandt said citizens can use their right to vote to “bring our faith perspective … to evaluate the integrity of the candidates and the validity of the positions they advance or support.”

The bishop said that a Catholic politician who has “an established pattern of voting in favor of abortion legislation and an established pattern of public rejection of a core teaching of the Church” is “engaged in public cooperation with a grave moral evil.”

The bishop said he also believes that Catholic politicians who continue to receive Communion “should be challenged to take ownership of the consequences of a lack of integrity by publicly acknowledging that what they do contradicts who they say they are,” he said.

“Any individual who says he can advocate for and enable the practice of abortion and claims that he can still be a Catholic in good standing, has a very serious problem with integrity which any community can ignore only at its own peril.”

Politicians who live in such a disintegrated way are a matter of concern not only to Catholics, but to “society itself,” Bishop Brandt said.

“It is a cause of very serious concern for all the citizenry about a matter of integrity. It is a very serious concern about placing public trust in a person who has demonstrated public misrepresentation.”

 

This Came From the President of the United States?

 

President Barack Obama, official portrait

In a new low for campaign ads, President Obama’s campaign released an ad in which actress Lena Dunham likens voting for Obama to losing her virginity.

The President’s campaign ad uses a juxtaposition of double entendres to create the impression that the actress is talking about sex.

“Your first time shouldn’t be with just anybody.” she says. “You want it to be with a great guy. Somebody who cares about and understand women.

“Who cares about whether or not you get health insurance, specifically if you get birth control … you don’t want to do it with a guy who doesn’t think that gay people should never have beautiful and complicated weddings of the kind we see on Bravo and TLC.”

Further on she adds, “My first time voting was amazing. It was this line in the sand. Before, I was a girl. Now, I was a woman. I went to the polling station and pulled back the curtain. I voted for Barack Obama.”

In what appears to be an effort to heap sleaze on top of creepy, Obama for America Campaign Manager Jim Messina announced the ad by tweeting “Your first time voting is important. Trust @lenadunham — you are ready.”

I am not going to link to the ad and I don’t encourage you to go to it. I have no interest in pushing this. The ad is clever, and it does grab you at first. The actress does a good job and the production is good. However, it’s content is trashy and demeaning to women.

The idea for it is also copied from someone else’s work. According to a LifeSiteNews article, the ad concept appears to mimic an ad used by Vladimir Putin in his last campaign.

I watched it and thought: This came from the President of the United States?

 

Christian Persecution: Are Atheists Vampires?

I haven’t written about the recent flap over the 9/11 Cross. I’m not going to say much now. I just want to share a theory I have that might clear up a small mystery.

For those who don’t know, the 9/11 Cross is a cross that formed by two pieces of rubble falling together amidst the collapse of the Twin Towers in New York on September 11, 2001.

The 9/11 Cross has great meaning for many people, and so far as I can see, harms none of those who do not find it meaningful. However, the American Atheist Foundation disagrees. They filed suit against use of the 9/11 Cross, which was dedicated to the World Trade Center Memorial.

According to a September 11 article in Charisma News, their claims of the “damages” they have suffered because of the 9/11 Cross include,

David Silverman, president of American Atheists, contends that atheists are experiencing horrible physical reactions after seeing the rubble cross, such as “inter alia, dyspepsia, symptoms of depression, headaches, anxiety, and mental pain and anguish.”

The atheists claim that the cross makes them “feel officially excluded from the ranks of citizens who were directly injured by the 9/11 attack.” (Read more here.)

As they used to say on the old Laugh-In show, “let that percolate through your being.”

These folks are seriously taking the position in a court document that the mere sight of a cross causes them to experience, among other things, “dyspepsia, symptoms of depression, headaches, anxiety and mental pain and anguish.” 

Atheists aren’t very hardy people are they? It makes one wonder how such delicate little flowers managed to survive millions of years of natural selection. One would think that they’d have just dyspepsiad away some night after witnessing an unshielded baptism.

I’ve thought about this. Not a lot. But I have thought about it. I can only come up with two possible conclusions.

1. Atheist organizations are set on harassing, insulting and attacking Christians at every turn in an attempt to drive us underground and silence us.

or ….

2. Atheists are vampires. I mean, who else reacts like that to the sight of a cross? 

These not-so-well-thought-out conclusions, if followed to their own conclusions, lead us inevitably to two possible plans of action.

1. We can fight back. Maybe sue them for harassment or wanton stupidity or something. 

or ….

2. We can try putting a couple of them in front of mirrors.  See if they have a reflection. If they don’t, well, we’ve all watched enough vampire movies to know what comes next.

Whichever way we go on this, I think it’s important to never invite an atheist into our homes. You know what happens when you invite a vampire in, don’t you?

Anyway, I guess that’s all for now. Remember: Next time you see an atheist, whip that mirror out. And keep your garlic, backup holy water and crucifix handy. Even if they don’t turn to ash or anything, the crucifix alone is documented to produce crippling dyspepsia.

Patheos Election Month: The Most Important Issue For Catholics Is …

I almost took a pass on this one.

Something about Catholics picking out one issue and saying “That’s it! That’s the only thing you need to care about in this election!” seems wrong to me. I don’t think you can trim the Gospels down to an issue, or for that matter to an election, or the democratic process itself.

Following Christ means giving all of you, your whole life, and not just your vote. Too many people these days have convinced themselves that voting right is the equivalent to living right, and living right is all the grace or goodness any of us will ever need. My main complaint about that tidy little approach to Christianity is that I don’t believe it’s Christianity at all.

What kind of Christianity can it be that leaves out Jesus, the Gospels and the Cross?

However, no matter how broad our call, we are also tasked with living out our faith by the decisions we make when we go to the polls and cast our votes. We do this not as a substitute for following Christ day by day, but as part of it.

Clearly, the one issue that threatens my Church, which is the Catholic Church, above all others is the HHS Mandate. I would argue that this Mandate threatens not only Catholics, but all churches. I would follow that argument with another; that the HHS Mandate threatens not just religious people, but secularists, as well.

The HHS Mandate is a broadside fired straight through the First Amendment. The First Amendment not only protects the right of religious people and churches to practice their faith without government interference, it also protects the rights of those who are not religious to ignore and argue against faith without religious interference.

The First Amendment is a wall built around individual conscience and freedom of belief which has allowed us to believe and not believe in harmony with one another for over 200 years. It’s ironic that the forces which seek to tear down this wall are the ones who benefit from it the most.

Atheists are fond of pointing to the excesses of religious practice in the hands of fallen people, even while they seek to practice those same excesses themselves in their attacks on religious faith. What they leave out of their calculations is that the same First Amendment they are working so hard to turn into an instrument of oppression can, once it is fashioned, become an instrument to be used against them.

We live in a time when political activists have become so enamored with their various visions of a brave new tomorrow that they seek to abandon the basic freedoms of speech and religion on which they base their own claims. They would deny those who disagree with them the same freedoms of self-expression and right to organize that they used in their own march to a successful presentation of their arguments.

Thus we have laws and campus rules that deny Christian clubs the right to organize on college campuses because they require their members to express a commitment to traditional Christian principles. The argument is simple: Those principles are opposed to views that other people want to further, in particular same-sex marriage and abortion. So, the clubs must either bend to those views or disband.

All these acts of religious oppression were forerunners and foundation builders for the HHS Mandate. They created a large group of people who have been taught to hate Christianity and Christians so much that they are willing to toss away their own freedoms, if those freedoms also protect the rights of Christians. When these people were presented with the HHS Mandate, they rallied around it in a knee-jerk, hating-Catholics-is-cool reaction.

That leads us back to the question of our votes in two weeks. There is no single issue that, to my mind, trumps the HHS Mandate. I view it as one of the most serious challenges to our Constitutional government since the Civil War.

All this is not to say that we should abandon every other issue and ignore whole chapters of the Gospels in order to fit our faith to political party dictates. Whoever wins this election, Christians are in for a real fight. Political candidates who patronize Christians in order to co-opt them are just as dangerous to our faith as those who attack us outright.

My hope is that no matter how this election turns out, Christians will awaken to the threat the HHS Mandate represents and realize that, even if it should be overturned in the future, it still represents a current threat.

To continue with my use of nautical terms, the hull has been breached. Simply rescinding this mandate does not change the fact that government has stepped over this line. It most certainly will happen again. We can not trust our freedoms to electoral whim, nor can we vest our defense of them in politicians.

We must begin, as Christian people, to take on the responsibility of standing up for our faith ourselves. Every time we have acceded to a diminishment of our rights, we have been faced with another, more extreme, demand that we accede further.

Catholicism is a comprehensive approach to the Gospels. If we are to be true to our Catholic faith, we must work to bring the Kingdom  by our faithful attempts to follow the whole Gospels. The reason why is simple: Jesus doesn’t ask for what’s left over after we give ourselves to everything else first. He wants all of us.

 
Content Director’s Note: This post is a part of our Election Month at Patheos feature. Patheos was designed to present the world’s most compelling conversations on life’s most important questions. Please join the Facebook following for our new News and Politics Channel — and check back throughout the month for more commentary on Election 2012. Please use hashtag #PatheosElection on Twitter.

When Your Doctor Is Your Executioner

Euthanasia is a growing problem throughout the Western world. I would guess that this is due in large part to the overall decline in respect for human life. We no longer see a human being as uniquely valuable in and of themselves. We do not grant anyone an intrinsic right to life.

We opened the doorway to legalized killing when we decided that all people may be killed without compunction before they are born. By granting one simple “choice” to kill their own child to women, we swept away all our responsibilities to address the violence and misogyny that made abortion seem necessary.

Abortion made killing those who are inconvenient, or whose lives forced us into a moral conundrum, an acceptable “solution.” We killed the unborn rather than give up our misogynist ways. We turned the noble cause of human rights on its head and claimed that the legal freedom to kill the most helpless humans was a basic human right. We discarded 2,000 years of Christian teaching and proclaimed that abortion was actually a moral option.

It was a short step from there to deciding that illness and suffering needed a quick and “merciful” end. Rather than use the pain medications we have and care for those who are elderly or infirm, we quickly moved to the argument that killing them was the “moral” and “humane” thing to do. First we called it “mercy killing.” When that gentle phrase became tainted, the advertising folks supplied a new one. Today we call it “death with dignity.”

Somewhere along the line, we lost the understanding of just how dangerous a doctor who no longer feels a responsibility to be a healer can be. Doctors are rapidly becoming the new executioner class of our society.

Abortion, euthanasia, much medical research, are all killers. They kill people. These changes in our legal structure that the nihilists among us keep pushing are metamorphosing a medical license from a license to heal into a license to kill.

We have trusted our doctors so completely for so long that I think a lot of us can not fathom the sheer killing power of modern medicine. If these drugs, devices and treatments we trust doctors to wield in good faith fall into the hands of a medical profession that has been cut lose from any legal responsibility to act in their patients’ best interest, what fate awaits us all?

I remember back when abortion was first legalized, pro life people said it would lead to euthanasia. I thought they were nuts. I thought they would say anything to make their point. They talked about the dangers of cloning, the destruction of the family, the eventual rise of euthanasia and the concept of human beings as disposable.

And I thought they were nuts.

I can tell you now, I was the one who was nuts.

They were right. They were absolutely, dead-on accurate in their predictions of where this new power to define a group of people as having no right to life would lead us. They understood it, but no one, including me, would listen to them. They were the cranks. The religious nuts. The woman haters.

I used to rant about fanatics who thought that a fertilized egg should have more rights than a 14-year-old girl. I was furious about this. I mean irate.

God changed me. Changing me wasn’t easy, not even for Him. I fought Him hard on this. I argued. I debated. I prayed. I hid from it. I fought because my feelings about women’s rights, in particular as they pertain to violence against women, are so strong that they cut right through me.

These feelings are so strong that I fought God rather than just obey Him. But love is patient and it is kind. Rather than bring down lightning bolts on my stubborn head, He just kept showing me I was wrong. It took a while, but He got through to me. And now, I’m trying to get through to other people.

Killing is never the answer to anything. All human life matters. Every single human being has an intrinsic value and right to life and we may not tamper with it. That is the order of things. The first premise. We must, as Christians, reason our actions from there.

Largely because of women like me, abortion as a legal right prevailed back in that day. It is holding on strong now. But the predictions of the pro life people are all coming true alongside it.

Abortion is just the smallest part of the burgeoning culture of death that surrounds us today. Sadly, most of it has its beginnings in our medical research facilities and our institutions of medical care. Euthanasia is legalized medical murder. It moves the death dealing from the unborn, who we cannot see and can allow ourselves to think is not real, to the sick, the infirm and the elderly. Euthanasia is the legal power to kill the men and women who are entrusted to our care by virtue of their various weaknesses.

You cannot deny the reality of the life you are taking with euthanasia. There is no “it’s just tissue/it can’t feel pain” wiggle room here. This is cold-blooded, face-to-face, undeniable murder of a human being by medical means.

Euthanasia turns your doctor into your executioner. It our responsibility as Christians to oppose it absolutely.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X