Guest posted by tim, The Godless Heathen
Rick's pulling the plug on this place but we can still entertain ourselves till it's official.
Have a good weekend.
Brutally Honest has had quite the run... 13 years ago this month, I launched it as a political blog with a conservative, evangelical bent... and its popularity for a time surprised me.
It was able to garner over the years millions of visits and pageviews and I am most grateful for each and every one however, in the last few years I've seen the readership and the visit/pageview counts take a dramatic dip, likely due in large part to my decision to be more focused on Catholic perspectives, viewpoints and related topics and this played a large role in my deciding it was time to take next steps.
The blog won't necessarily disappear, at least for a while, as there are things written I'd like to keep around until I find a decent way to stow them but additional content posted here, if it happens at all, will be most rare.
So what's next for yours truly?
A new beginning over at Boldly Catholic. It's sparse over there currently but I hope to begin posting more frequently in the near future.
You're welcome to follow me on over... or not... but if you've been a long time reader, allow me to end this post, with some sadness admittedly, to say thank you for your loyalty and the time you've spent on these pages.
I am most grateful.
God's peace and blessings to everyone of you.
What makes Donald Trump a bad Presidential choice? Is it simply this leaked video of the man being... himself? No. Not at all. It's the sum total of what he has to say and what he's done and there are people in recent days finally waking up to the reality that's been present since the man came on the political scene. Should Hillary get our vote instead? I'm not ready to pull that lever. I continue to believe writing someone in or going third party is best.
It's true that we're all sinners... it's not true that this then should force us to accept/overlook/vote for a deeply flawed candidate. I'm a parent and a grandfather... do I decide that I can't hold my children and grandchildren to a higher standard because I've failed to meet those standards? I don't think so. As a parent and a grandfather, I'm willing to cut a child/grandchild slack... after all, they're my offspring, much younger (obviously) as to the ways of the world, and worthy of my correction. Donald Trump is no child. Donald Trump has a history of these sorts of things. It displays a lack of character that does not bode well as to future performance, particularly in leading these United States and the free world.
It's tough for me personally to trust what a man is now saying when his past suggests that his words mean very little. It's the same problem, only worse, that I have with Hillary Clinton. If a woman is willing to overlook, for political expedience, the breaching of the basic trust that must exist between a man and a woman in marriage, that woman is certainly going to be willing to breach any trust we're supposed to have in her as President of the United States. By that same token, if a man is willing to breach the basic trust that must exist between he and his wife, how more willing is he going to be to breach the trust of those who elected him? I cannot trust either of them to appoint right minded people to the SCOTUS. I cannot trust either of them to advance the cause of the pro-life movement. I cannot trust either of them to promote the values that have made this country great. I cannot do any of these things because past performance is the best gauge for future performance and the past performance of both these people is abysmal.
But there's a much larger reason why I can't particularly support Donald Trump. Whether people find this credible or not, whether they find it relevant or not, I have been moved, despite my flaws and failures, to take up the cause of my Catholic and Christian faith and to do that which in the end will draw others to that same cause. I will fail at times, no doubt but I am largely responsible for and obligated to that cause. How credible will the mission to uphold that cause be, how effective, if I'm seen to be someone who is willing to set aside the mission and support a man who is on record stating that he will target the families (women and children) of our enemies, who believes waterboarding is too mild a method of torture, whose pro-life record is spotty at best, who's promised to do this and that only to reverse himself days and sometimes even hours later, who has little respect for religious liberty, who is willing to walk away from the women and children fleeing the ravages of war, who has decided that your place of birth will impact how credible he'll find you to be, who has never asked God for forgiveness nor sees any real need to do so, who has skewered far too many small business people in pursuit of his own profit and gain, who, in essence, and I could've started here frankly, stands for far too many things that are in direct opposition to the Catholic and Christian mission to which I've pledged my commitment?
This is where I stand, this is my personal line in the sand.
You do what you will but please, for the sake of this country and its future, and, if you consider yourself a follower of the Risen Lord, for the sake of the mission of the universal Church and your part in it, do a very thorough examination of your conscience before voting.
I consider it an obligation. I hope you will as well.
I watched the debate last night and, particularly at the beginning, was ashamed. Ashamed to be an American, ashamed for the Republican party, ashamed for my country which is now faced with choosing between a pig and a pig's wife for President. God help us, for many reasons.
Someone whose opinions I once respected, whose opinions I've shared on these pages, who considers himself a conservative and, because of my #NeverTrump status, considers me anything but, was moved to suggest that my opposition to his political savior, particularly in light of my expressed disgust in the audio tapes released days ago, made me a bonafide member of the Party of Caiaphas, his accompanying explanation relaying that Christ fought against the power structures of His day and that I, because I opposed Trump, opposed that same fight today.
Think on that... my opposition to Trump was, in the eyes of this supporter, opposition to Christ-likeness and put me on par with the high priest and his merry band of Christ-killers. Yup. And he meant it but... didn't stop there.
My strong disgust with Trump's view of women, and oh by the way, Bill Clinton's view of women, makes me a sexist because... are you ready for this... expressing the notion that all men should treat all women with dignity "commands us to think of all women as the same" and "the truth is, you can't get more sexist than that."
Now think on that... my belief in the words expressed by St. John Paul II in the graphic above make me and by extension, every faithful Catholic and many others, sexists.
I've come to a conclusion, one I've held for some time now, that Donald Trump isn't the problem. The man's rise to stardom within the Republican Party, his support among particularly Evangelicals and especially far too many Catholics, is symptomatic of something far deeper, far more troubling, far more sinister.
This Deseret News editorial, published two days ago, is one I heartily endorse:
For 80 years, the Deseret News has not entered into the troubled waters of presidential endorsement. We are neutral on matters of partisan politics. We do, however, feel a duty to speak clearly on issues that affect the well-being and morals of the nation.
Accordingly, today we call on Donald Trump to step down from his pursuit of the American presidency.In democratic elections, ideas have consequences, leadership matters and character counts.
The idea that women secretly welcome the unbridled and aggressive sexual advances of powerful men has led to the mistreatment, sorrow and subjugation of countless women for far too much of human history.
The notion that strength emanates from harsh, divisive and unbending rhetorical flourish mistakenly equates leadership with craven intimidation.
The belief that the party and the platform matter more than the character of the candidate ignores the wisdom of the ages that, “when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” (Proverbs 29:2)
We understand that politicians and presidential candidates are human and that everyone makes mistakes. We do not believe that what is expressed in an unguarded moment of conversation should be the full measure of an individual. And we unquestionably support the principle that people deserve forgiveness, compassion and a second chance.
But history affirms that leaders' examples either elevate or demean the lives of those being led. When choosing the ostensible leader of the free world, the American electorate requires the clear assurance that their chosen candidate will consistently put the well-being of others ahead of his or her own personal gratification. The most recent revelations of Trump’s lewdness disturb us not only because of his vulgar objectification of women, but also because they poignantly confirm Trump’s inability to self-govern.
What oozes from this audio is evil. We hear a married man give smooth, smug and self-congratulatory permission to his intense impulses, allowing them to outweigh the most modest sense of decency, fidelity and commitment. And although it speaks volumes about sexual morality, it goes to the heart of all ethical behavior. Trump’s banter belies a willingness to use and discard other human beings at will. That characteristic is the essence of a despot.
They're not quite done... and no, they're not endorsing Hillary Clinton... thank God.
Read the whole thing.
Pray for these candidates, their conversion, this country and those who will be voting.
May the Lord's will be done in November.
Guest posted by tim, The Godless Heathen
Well, I came home
Like a stone
And I fell heavy into your arms
These days of dust
Which we've known
Will blow away with this new sun
But I'll kneel down,
Wait for now
And I'll kneel down,
Know my ground
And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you
So break my step
Well, you forgave and I won't forget
Know what we've seen
And him with less
Now in some way shake the excess
'Cause I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you
Now I'll be bold
As well as strong
And use my head alongside my heart
So tame my flesh
And fix my eyes
A tethered mind freed from the lies
And I'll kneel down,
Wait for now
I'll kneel down,
Know my ground
Raise my hands
Paint my spirit gold
And bow my head
Keep my heart slow
'Cause I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you
On the right, if you scratch the surface of the internet, you’ll encounter staunch xenophobia. Foreign Criminals = All Foreigners Must Go. I’m seeing a resurgence of nativist arguments among Americans like something out of 1850.
On the left, there’s worried hand-wringing and fretful apologies for those poor foreign people who just haven’t been taught their manners yet, and terrible fear that if we acknowledge any cultural aspects of this particular set of crimes then we are bad, bad people.
To make an analogy, it would be like addressing the US illegal drug trade by either banning tacos or else pretending there are no cartels south of the border.
This is not the way.
Christianity: Always Simple, Never Easy
What is the moral response to the dueling problems of strangers in need of refuge and rank wickedness? It isn’t complicated. But it does require a willingness to accept the entirety of the Gospel.
Here are the principles:
- We are obliged, as much as we are we able, to welcome the foreigner. That’s what the Bible says.
- We have a right to legitimate self-defense. (It’s in the Catechism.)
- Government authorities have a responsibility to uphold the law.
- Crime is crime. It doesn’t matter who is doing the raping, serious crimes have be dealt with frankly and unequivocally.
This creates some tension for public policy. If a nation is in fact unable to receive immigrants due to an inability to maintain civil order, that is a legitimate reason to set limits on the borders. Doing so, however, doesn’t allow us to wash our hands of our obligation to welcome the stranger. Rather, public policy should be oriented towards strengthening the institutions and general tenor of the nation so that in the future it is possible to provide more assistance to our neighbors in need.
There is much more, all of it thoughtful and persuasive... read it for yourself and decide and while doing so, read this statement put out by The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention published last week:
Terror attacks around the country in recent months have raised questions about national security. In response, some elected officials have called for dramatic changes to United States refugee policy. To be sure, there are legitimate security concerns in the United States, but when it comes how the debate about refugee policy is being framed, there’s an important element often missing.
In November 2015, 130 people were murdered in Paris by terrorists who were French and Belgian citizens. None of them were refugees or otherwise displaced Syrians. Yet, within a week of the attack the U.S. House of Representatives voted to effectively shut down the refugee program, citing fears that the refugee program would be infiltrated by terrorists. Congress has not attempted to restrict French or Belgian access to the United States.
In December 2015, a natural born U.S. citizen and his Pakistani wife killed 14 in San Bernardino. The wife had entered the U.S. on a fiancé visa. In 2015 the U.S. issued 35,559 fiancé visas and 74,150 visas to Pakistanis. To date, neither the president nor Congress have taken any action on either fiancé visas or Pakistani visas.
Instead of “pausing” or reforming visa categories that actually correlate to the cited terror attacks, several elected officials have decided to use those attacks to stoke fears about Syrian refugees. Of all the legal pathways to enter the United States, the Refugee Admissions Program features the most rigorous screening. It is correct to say the program can’t guarantee perfection (no program can), yet even those who wish to shut down the program don’t deny its security relative to non-immigrant visa entries.
If politicians claim to act on behalf of our security, and if the refugee program is the most rigorous of all U.S. visa screening, then shouldn’t they also scrutinize all the less secure ways people enter our country from around the globe? If security is all the rage this election season, why hasn’t any representative held a hearing or introduced legislation for increasing security on any of the nonimmigrant visa categories, all of which require less screening than refugees?
For example, no politician has called for “pausing” or otherwise reforming business and tourism visas. Neither the B-1 or the B-2 visas require screening at a level comparable to the refugee visas. If the refugee program is so vulnerable, then the threat we face from the relatively insecure B-1 and B-2 visas must be staggering.
Indeed, the 9/11 terrorists arrived on U.S. soil using business and tourist visas (one was a student visa). The Boston Marathon bombers arrived as minors with their parents who obtained tourist visas. Nevertheless, in fiscal year 2015 alone, the U.S. government issued over 7 million B1/B2 visas. And yet, ten months after Paris and nine months after San Bernardino, we have not seen any hearing or legislation intended to pause or otherwise modify pathways into the U.S. that would have made any difference in the terror attacks cited by those stoking fears about refugees. Visa categories for business, tourism, fiancés, and Pakistanis remain unquestioned.
Shutting down legal pathways of entry out of fear isn’t exactly the response of a confident, free nation. It’s also unlikely the federal government will meaningfully curb any pathway that would hamper industry and tourism. But political conservatives, particularly Christians among us, claim to be truth tellers. Congress reacted to Paris and San Bernardino, yes. But have they actually put forth a policy directed at the threat they identify in those attacks? The answer is no, but they claim yes. While claiming to act for the sake of our security, Congress has given attention only to what is already the most secure while ignoring what is least secure. This reveals either incompetence or dishonesty.
National security is a valid priority for the state and citizens can disagree in good faith on the particulars. Southern Baptists have passed numerous resolutions affirming both the responsibility of sovereign nation to protect its people and encouraging ministry to refugees. At the same time our statement of faith calls for us to influence government with the principles of “righteousness, truth, and brotherly love” and to “be ready to work with all men of good will in any good cause.”
Americans might disagree on specific policies, politicians have an obligation to correlate their solutions with the problems they identify. And scapegoating vulnerable people with political smoke screens and buzzwords is not the way forward.
For a better understand about how refugee resettlement works, this Q&A explains why, when and how refugees are resettled.
Refreshing stuff from Jen Fritz, a practicing Catholic and from the Southern Baptists.
Most helpful... and hopeful.
There are numerous nuggets of truth and wisdom found in Archbishop Charles Chaput's address given recently at Notre Dame... I excerpt but a piece of it here:
Listening to people’s sexual sins in the Sacrament of Penance is hardly new news. But the scope, the novelty, the violence and the compulsiveness of the sins are. And remember that people only come to Confession when they already have some sense of right and wrong; when they already understand, at least dimly, that they need to change their lives and seek God’s mercy.
That word “mercy” is worth examining. Mercy is one of the defining and most beautiful qualities of God. Pope Francis rightly calls us to incarnate it in our own lives this year. Unfortunately, it’s also a word we can easily misuse to avoid the hard work of moral reasoning and judgment. Mercy means nothing – it’s just an exercise in sentimentality – without clarity about moral truth.
We can’t show mercy to someone who owes us nothing; someone who’s done nothing wrong. Mercy implies a pre-existing act of injustice that must be corrected. And satisfying justice requires a framework of higher truth about human meaning and behavior. It requires an understanding of truth that establishes some things as good and others as evil; some things as life-giving and others that are destructive.
Here’s why that’s important. The truth about our sexuality is that infidelity, promiscuity, sexual confusion and mass pornography create human wreckage. Multiply that wreckage by tens of millions of persons over five decades. Then compound it with media nonsense about the innocence of casual sex and the “happy” children of friendly divorces. What you get is what we have now: a dysfunctional culture of frustrated and wounded people increasingly incapable of permanent commitments, self-sacrifice and sustained intimacy, and unwilling to face the reality of their own problems.
There is tons more and his subjects are wide-ranging.
Check it out. Pass it along.
Eddie and I go back a long ways. As many know, we’re first cousins born a month apart 56 or so years ago in Madrid, Spain and we in essence grew up together, off and on, through and up to our adolescent years. There were many memories made and I thought it’d be great to honor Eddie by sharing just a few of them from long ago and then briefly sharing more poignant memories made within the last few months.
I suspect many of us are familiar with the Charlie Bit Me viral YouTube video that took the Internet by storm a number of years ago.
Well, legendary stories have been told over the years at our family gatherings of the Eddie Bit Me saga that took place when we were both infants. He and I of course were spared any personal memories of this as we were far too young but to our chagrin, family members have repeated the story often enough. In the Charlie Bit Me series, the older brother was bit on the finger and cried out in pain repeatedly while Charlie giggled with delight. In the Eddie Bit Me story, one that unfolded as we were both placed within close proximity to each other on a blanket, I understand that I too cried out in great pain while Eddie, like Charlie, giggled at the aftermath. Of course there were key differences in the two incidents.
One, there was no video of our event, thank the good Lord… two, unlike Charlie’s big brother, I had to be taken to the hospital and three, it wasn’t any fingers or any toes that Eddie got a hold of. And right there I think is where we’ll leave that particular memory.
Fast forward maybe 8 or 9 years or so to a couple of quick memories involving sports. We both lived in Alexandria at the time and played on the same Little League baseball team. I still have newspaper clippings of those outings that were published in the local paper, to include one game where I was yanked by the coach while in the middle of pitching a no-hitter because he wanted to save me for a big game later in the week. The neat thing was that Eddie was brought in to relieve me and though we didn’t combine for a no-hitter, we did win the game.
Later we tried out for Pee Wee football together, again on the same team and what I remember most about that tryout was that Eddie developed an issue late during practice where he could not get his helmet off his head… turned out it was because he had somehow developed cauliflower ear… the poor guy needed two or three adults to help him get the helmet off which, once removed, scared the heck out of the rest of us as his ear had nearly tripled in size and looked horrible. I can’t recall with certainty but I think we both called it quits for football that season after experiencing that level of trauma.
As fond as those memories are and as much as I’ll cherish them, it’s what took place more recently that will always have special meaning for me personally. We were all struck by Eddie’s strength and character as he served as Diane’s caregiver during her health battles. And we marveled again at his strength and character when he was diagnosed in April and faced his own fight with this dreaded and God-awful disease but what struck me the most was near the end of Eddie’s fight, when he displayed in my view a deep inner strength by realizing and acknowledging that he needed God’s help. Eddie, having been raised Catholic, had talked to a number of us about being visited by a priest and just a few days before he passed, a priest from nearby St. Luke’s Catholic Church was able to see him, a priest who ministered to Eddie by offering him three of the Church’s beautiful Sacraments, the Sacrament of Reconciliation also known as Confession where great dollops of grace are doled out in the form of mercy and forgiveness; the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick where grace can be dispensed in the form of spiritual strength and inner healing; and of course the Sacrament of Holy Communion, where the bread and wine are miraculously transformed into the Real Presence, the body and blood of Christ and for Eddie on this particular day, the Eucharist became food for his journey home. These Sacraments are defined by the Church, as “efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed…”
Think on that for the briefest of moments.
The Sacraments are a means by which the Church dispenses divine life, through the mechanics of a priest who is acting in persona Christi or as the person of Christ. Each of the Sacraments give the grace they signify because the true minister is actually Jesus Christ. This for me is immensely powerful… and beautiful… and deep… and rich… and all the more reason why I am personally grateful I made the decision a few short years ago to return to my Catholic roots.
Though I wasn’t there that day, I heard later through family members that Eddie was moved by the experience and it’s that moving that I will hold on to as I think of Eddie now… and as I think of Eddie in the future, a man to whom I owe a great deal.
Eddie, may the angels lead you into paradise, may the martyrs welcome you in your coming, and may they guide you into the holy city Jerusalem. May the chorus of angels receive you and with Lazarus, once a poor man, may you have eternal rest.
And Cousin… pray for us!
... and are you represented in this Pew Survey?
Perhaps the most striking trend in American religion in recent years has been the growing percentage of adults who do not identify with a religious group. And the vast majority of these religious “nones” (78%) say they were raised as a member of a particular religion before shedding their religious identity in adulthood.
As part of a new survey connected to our broader Religious Landscape Study, we asked these people to explain, in their own words,why they no longer identify with a religious group. This resulted in hundreds of different responses (after all, everyone’s religious experience is a bit different), but many of them shared one of a few common themes.
About half of current religious “nones” who were raised in a religion (49%) indicate that a lack of belief led them to move away from religion. This includes many respondents who mention “science” as the reason they do not believe in religious teachings, including one who said “I’m a scientist now, and I don’t believe in miracles.” Others reference “common sense,” “logic” or a “lack of evidence” – or simply say they do not believe in God.
But there are other reasons people give for leaving behind their childhood religion.
Read the entire piece to find those reasons.
Sad stuff. And I can't help but wonder if this growing trend correlates in any way with society's seemingly increasing dysfunction.
The video (below) and the accompanying images coming out of Aleppo are so very disturbing to me personally as the young child appears to be nearly the same age as my granddaughter, perhaps a little older.
Only blackened souls, souls calloused by an ignoring of all that is holy, can look at the video and still insist that there's nothing the free world ought to do to help those fleeing the evil that is war.
And if you want to call that judgment, go right ahead.
I’ve often heard we should develop a “personal relationship” with Jesus Christ. I have tried to understand this, and have grasped at this relationship, seeking to develop and embrace it.
But it doesn’t feel natural to me: He is too great, and demanding, and the word “cross” always shows up.
Still, I’ve come to my own way of getting to know him, and it a simple way: through the saints, who all have one thing in common: they all found their way to Jesus, often after much struggle. They all got it right.
Since that’s my goal too, I look to them. Some might call that “cheating.” I say it’s more efficient to walk in the footsteps of saints than to try to plow new paths which can lead me anywhere.
The saints are my “Catholic Hall of Fame.” They’ve marked the path with examples of unconditional love, humility, patience, joy, kindness and — so many times — unimaginable courage.
Many of these Hall-of-Famers are well-known, of course, but I’m always on the lookout for one of the hidden gems whose stories are not as familiar to us so I can make friends with them; settle down and hang out, so to speak.
Here is one saintly family that met the criteria for Hall of Fame membership. Meet Joe (Jozef) and Vicki (Wiktoria) Ulma.
My new friends, Joe and Vicki, lived in southern Poland in a town called Markowa. Joe was a librarian, a photographer, and a bee-keeper. He was active with the local Catholic Youth Organization. Vicki was 12 years younger than her husband and they had six kids: Stanislaw, age 8, Barbara, age 7, Vladyslaw, age 6, Franciszek, age 4, Antoni, age 3, and Maria, age 2.
Then along came the Nazis.
During the summer of 1942, the Nazi military police began deporting Jewish families from Markow to the death camps. Joe and Vicki, good Catholics who loved their faith and Jesus, knew what they had to do. Toward the end of summer, in the darkness of night, they sneaked their Jewish neighbors, the Szall family — a mom, dad, and four kids — into their home. In addition to the Szalls, there were two young sisters from the Goldman family. Hiding in their attic, these guests remained with the Ulmas for a year and a half.
Then a neighbor who had harbored some ill-will toward the Szall family discovered the secret and informed on the Ulmas.
You'll want to read the rest... trust me.
Guest posted by tim, The Godless Heathen
Maybe it’s just me but it seems lately half the world is bat guano crazy and the other half is speaking in tongues.
Have a nice weekend, that’s an order!
Personal and timely thoughts from Archbishop Charles J. Chaput:
So what are we to do this election cycle as Catholic voters? Note that by “Catholic,” I mean people who take their faith seriously; people who actually believe what the Catholic faith holds to be true; people who place it first in their loyalty, thoughts and actions; people who submit their lives to Jesus Christ, to Scripture and to the guidance of the community of belief we know as the Church.
Anyone else who claims the Catholic label is simply fooling himself or herself — and even more importantly, misleading others.
The American bishops offer valuable counsel in their document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship(available from the USCCB), and this year especially, they ask us to pray before we vote. This is hardly new “news.” Prayer is always important. In a year when each Catholic voter must choose between deeply flawed options, prayer is essential. And prayer involves more than mumbling a Hail Mary before we pull the voting booth lever for someone we see as the lesser of two evils. Prayer is a conversation, an engagement of the soul with God. It involves listening for God’s voice and educating our consciences.
It’s absurd – in fact, it’s blasphemous – to assume that God prefers any political party in any election year. But God, by his nature, is always concerned with good and evil and the choices we make between the two. For Catholics, no political or social issue stands in isolation. But neither are all pressing issues equal in foundational importance or gravity. The right to life undergirds all other rights and all genuine social progress. It cannot be set aside or contextualized in the name of other “rights” or priorities without prostituting the whole idea of human dignity.
God created us with good brains. It follows that he will hold us accountable to think deeply and clearly, rightly ordering the factors that guide us, before we act politically. And yet modern American life, from its pervasive social media that too often resemble a mobocracy, to the relentless catechesis of consumption on our TVs, seems designed to do the opposite. It seems bent on turning us into opinionated and distracted cattle unable to gain mastery over our own appetites and thoughts. Thinking and praying require silence, and the only way we can get silence is by deciding to step back and unplug.
This year, a lot of good people will skip voting for president but vote for the “down ticket” names on their party’s ballot; or vote for a third party presidential candidate; or not vote at all; or find some mysterious calculus that will allow them to vote for one or the other of the major candidates. I don’t yet know which course I’ll personally choose. It’s a matter properly reserved for every citizen’s informed conscience.
But I do know a few of the things I’ll be reading between now and November.
Read the whole thing.
And pray sincerely about what you'll do in November.
A Facebook friend of mine put up the following status not long ago:
Recently, I've been reexamining some of my deepest political convictions out of a desire to be a more faithful Catholic. The hard truth is, I may not be able to align myself with *any* major American political movement in the near future, as long as those movements continue to conflict, in different ways, with the social teachings of the Catholic Church. I'm not withdrawing from politics, but I don't want to be a "Party man" for the left or the right anymore. I'm not a Republican. I'm not a Democrat. I'm not a Libertarian. I'm a Catholic Christian. From what I can see, the teachings of the Church don't fit in very well with virtually *any* current major American political category.
The nomination of Donald Trump by the GOP and the rabid support he's receiving by people I believed at one time I was aligned with from an ideological and even religious perspective has solidified for me something I've been reluctant to say aloud now for some time and it's pretty much what my Facebook friend has said above.
I'm no longer a Republican. I've never been a Democrat. I'm certainly not a Libertarian. I'm not liberal and sadly, I'm coming to grips with the fact that no longer can I call myself conservative... not if the yardstick used to measure conservatives is the one measuring my conservatism on whether or not I'm voting for Trump.
I'm Catholic. A practicing Catholic, meaning I don't have it down yet and likely never will but what has crystallized for me this election season is that I've shed the conservative label and though some will use that shedding to call me a liberal now (while many a liberal will continue to call me a conservative), the reality has come clearly into focus.
Help me represent Lord.
David McPherson at First Things is posing the question and offering up a possible answer, particularly as it pertains to The American Solidarity Party:
While the ASP is shaped by a Christian worldview, it welcomes all people who find its vision for society compelling, even if they do not share in the same faith. And despite what John Rawls and other liberal political philosophers say, there is in fact no worldview-neutral standpoint; we cannot and should not leave our comprehensive religious, philosophical, and moral understandings at the door when we engage in political argument.
In Habits of the Heart, Robert Bellah and his co-authors have shown the importance of the biblical tradition as a “second language” in American public life. It is hard to imagine how barren our public life would be without this tradition. (Think of what the speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. would have been like without his use of biblical language.) In the West, as Gaita notes, our languages of love and solidarity have been especially shaped by the biblical tradition and by certain saintly exemplars. Rather than ignore this cultural inheritance, we should gratefully acknowledge it, embrace it, and seek to strengthen it.
Another question for the ASP is this: Why should someone vote for a party that won’t win, especially in this election, when so much is at stake in terms of foreign relations, the economy, Supreme Court appointments, democratic rule of law, and so on? Isn’t it better to vote for the major-party candidate who seems the least bad?
Many people of goodwill are going to make this decision. But for those who cannot in good conscience vote for either Clinton or Trump—say, because of the candidates’ stances against the sanctity of human life—voting for the ASP may be seen as a protest vote against a system that presents us with such poor choices. But it is not merely a protest vote, because if we are to work fully toward the kind of politics we need, we must first break from the political status quo. The ASP should thus be understood as seeking primarily to build up a cultural movement, which ideally will come to have political influence.
So what are the long-term prospects for this politics of solidarity? In Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, Father Zosima, as a young man, asked a very similar question, to which his friend responded:[W]e must keep the banner flying. Sometimes even if he has to do it alone, and his conduct seems to be crazy, a man must set an example, and so draw men’s souls out of their solitude, and spur them to some act of brotherly love even if he seems crazy, so that the great idea may not die.
The American Solidarity Party, as I see it, is an attempt to “keep the banner flying.”
Thoughtful piece, read the whole thing.
I was raised Catholic if being raised Catholic means that I was baptized as an infant and as an 8 year old, I received my first communion. I distinctly remember as a child going to Mass with Mom. I can remember darkened churches, high ceilings, the smells of incense, ladies in veils, reverence, holiness and awe.
Sadly, what I cannot recall is being taught much about the Eucharist, about the Saints, about Mother Mary or the Church Fathers, about the richness and depth of the faith, about God's mercy abounding through the Sacraments. All that which delineates Catholicism from the rest of Christianity.
As a result, I wandered, for a period of roughly 40 years, from the Church I now embrace fully, a wandering I've come to regret for the time lost in learning and then living the faith.
In a piece that touches initially on Mike Pence's Catholic upbringing and his own subsequent wandering, Sherry Weddell delves deeper into what has become a rite of passage for too many Catholics:
Mike Pence has a lot of company in the evangelical world. The Pew 2014 U.S. “Religious Landscape Survey” found that 13% of adults raised Catholic now consider themselves to be evangelicals (roughly 6 million people). And leaving the Church as an undergrad is all too normal. White college-age Millennials (ages 18-24) are 17 times more likely to leave the Catholic Church than to enter it. Young Catholic Millennials are also 10 times more likely to leave the faith of their childhood than a college-age white evangelical, according to the 2012 “Millennial Values Survey” sponsored by the Public Religion Research Institute.
But where Catholics proactively evangelize, there is real hope. A fascinating new finding is that 6% of American adults are cradle Catholics who now call themselves Protestants or “nones,” while still feeling at least partially Catholic. Pew has a term for adults who don’t think of themselves as Catholic in terms of religious practice but who do think of themselves as “partially Catholic” for other reasons: “cultural Catholics.”
While most committed cradle Catholics don’t have a mental category for “Bapticatholic” or “half-Catholic none,” many 21st-century spiritual wanderers do. It is no accident that Mike Pence called himself an “evangelical Catholic” for years.
What is both astonishing and hopeful is that 43%, or just over 6 million, of these cradle Catholics-turned “cultural Catholics” told Pew surveyors that they were open to the possibility of returning to the faith. They either feel connected to Catholic culture or to the Church through family, or they identify with certain Catholic beliefs or practices. As evangelizers, it is essential that we remember that those who do leave often retain significant emotional, spiritual and/or cultural connections or bridges to Catholicism over which they could return with our help.
Another reason that Mike Pence’s story causes many Catholics to feel consternation has to do with the most startling finding of the 2007 U.S. “Religious Landscape Survey.” It is this: Only 60% of Catholic adults believed in a personal God, and less than half were not certain that they could have a personal relationship with God. The survey also found that 78% of Catholics who eventually left for the evangelical-Protestant world said that their spiritual needs weren’t being met. According to the survey, teens who had been raised Catholic and later become Protestant as adults experienced a huge 49% growth in the “very strong” faith category. In fact, Catholic adults-turned-Protestant measured 25% higher in “very strong” faith than those raised Catholic who had retained their Catholic identity. Catholics who become Protestant also report 21% higher church attendance. It is a terrible irony that the best guarantee of regular adult church attendance at the moment among Americans raised Catholic is to become Protestant.
I have no problem at all believing that the idea of a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ” had not been part of Mike Pence’s spiritual experience before he went away to college. That’s because the language of “personal relationship” with God sounds either odd or suspiciously Protestant to many Catholics. Since my book Forming Intentional Disciples was published four years ago, I have had many conversations with Catholic leaders — bishops, seminary faculty, priests, religious and lay leaders — who told me that they were not yet disciples when they began their ministry. A disciple is someone who is intentionally seeking to follow Jesus Christ as Lord in the midst of his Church. One man, who was in full-time ministry forming clergy, told me, “Until I read your book last month, I didn’t know it was possible to have a personal relationship with God.” When I recovered from my shock, I responded, “Help me understand why you think this came about.” He said that his parents were very faithful, practicing Catholics. “We never talked about [our] relationship with God,” he told me. “I just didn’t know.”
The wonderfully hopeful news is that I have seen an extraordinary change over the past four years. Catholic leaders at all levels are beginning to seriously deal with our failure to make disciples of our own, as the last four popes have asked us to do. Pastors and leadership in hundreds of American parishes and whole dioceses are deliberately breaking the cultural silence about having a personal relationship with Christ and banding together to make intentional disciples of the already baptized in parishes, campus ministries, families and schools. Increasingly, we get it.
In the 21st-century West, God has no grandchildren. Faith is not simply inherited, but personally chosen. Therefore, cultural Catholicism by itself is dead as a retention strategy. If we forget and fall back into maintenance mode, we now have Mike Pence as a living reminder that if we don’t make disciples of our own, someone else will do it for us.
We are pressured today, from every corner it seems, to keep our faith to ourselves, to not allow it to enter the public sphere. We are pressured externally certainly but also internally by the knowledge that as sinners, we make terrible witnesses. It becomes far too easy to be branded hypocrites or worse, to be charged with being judgmental, for merely speaking Catholic/Christian truth and so many of us decide being public about the faith isn't worth the price or we buy into the lie that keeping our faith to ourselves is what's best.
Sherry tells us things are changing and I pray she is correct... as I pray that I will change to bring about that wider change to which she speaks.
Sitting with head bowed and eyes closed, Pope Francis paid silent tribute to the victims of one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century.
The pope arrived July 29 at the Auschwitz-BirkenauNazi death camp in Oswiecim, an area now blanketed by green fields and empty barracks lined by barbed wire fences, remnants of a horror that remains embedded in history.
Used by the Nazis from 1940 to 1945, the camp was the Nazi’s largest and consisted of three parts: Auschwitz I, where many were imprisoned and murdered; the Birkenau extermination camp — also known as Auschwitz II — and Auschwitz III (Auschwitz-Monowitz), an area of auxiliary camps that included several factories.
In 1942, Auschwitz became the site of the mass extermination of over 1 million Jews, 23,000 Roma, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war and thousands of Polish citizens of different nationalities.
Among those killed were St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Conventual Franciscan friar, and Edith Stein, a Jewish philosopher who converted to Catholicism and became a Carmelite nun, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.
The pope then made his way to Block 11 to greet a dozen survivors of the camp, including a 101-year-old violinist, who survived by being in the camp orchestra. Pope Francis greeted each survivor individually, gently grabbing their hands and kissing their cheeks.
Among the survivors was Naftali Furst of Bratislava, Slovakia, who was deported to Auschwitz and was evacuated to Buchenwald in January 1945 before his liberation.
Furst, who now lives in Israel, gave the pope a photograph showing him and other inmates imprisoned in the Auschwitz barracks.
Pope Francis also signed a book for Furst before he made his way toward the “death wall” where thousands of prisoners were lined up and shot in the back of the head before their bodies were sent to the crematoriums.
Candle in hand, the pope lit an oil lamp in front of the wall, before praying and laying his hand on the wall. He then turned around and entered the barracks of Block 11.
Also known as “the death block” because the Nazis used it to inflict torture, it houses the cell where St. Maximilian Kolbe spent his final hours, starved and dehydrated before being given a lethal injection of carbolic acid.
Pope Francis entered the darkened cell, illuminated by a faint light from the corridor, revealing a candle, an engraved plaque marking the site of the Franciscan friar’s death, and countless words — even a cross — etched on the walls by those who spent their final moments in the starvation cell.
Once again Pope Francis sat in silence with his head bowed. Alone in the cell for eight minutes, he occasionally looked up to contemplate his surroundings.
Outside the cell, he signed the visitors’ book, writing a simple message: “Lord, have mercy on your people. Lord, forgive so much cruelty.”
Read the whole thing and particularly go watch the accompanying video.
I await the critics that will come forth, those who completely miss the substance of the visit while focusing on its style.
It's the nature of the world we live in.
I found it powerful. Most powerful.
Indeed Lord, have mercy. Indeed Lord, forgive.
His day began early with 7:30 Mass at St. Mary’s Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church, a short walk from the Hall of Fame. As he left the church, he met with a beaming Father John Rosson, who said, “We have a celebrity in church this morning.” Piazza asked for and received a special blessing from the priest. Piazza signed autographs and took pictures with parishioners.
In his acceptance speech Piazza thanked both his parents and described his Catholic faith as the greatest gift of all from his parents, especially his mother, Veronica:
She gave me the gift of my Catholic faith, the greatest gift a mother could give a child, which has had a profound impact on my career and has given me patience, compassion and hope. Pope Benedict the XVI said, ‘One who has hope, lives differently.’ Mom, you raised five boys, and you were always there for me.’
Piazza has often credited his Catholic upbringing as being the foundation of his life. He was one of the athletes featured in the evangelization movie, "Champions of Faith", about the journey of Christian athletes. He regularly attends special Masses held at baseball stadiums around the country for the players and is sometimes a lector.
Who among us will ever forget this moment, captured beautifully by Major League Baseball:
The Register piece closes with these words of wisdom from the man:
We want to try to get closer to God. We want to try to be like Jesus. We always want to try to get on that horse and do the right thing, and be positive. And be positive not just for yourself but for other people.
Lord, help us in that endeavor. Amen.
LATE ADDITION: While readying to hit the publish button, I came across Max Lindenman's related Aleteia piece:
In the speech marking his induction into Cooperstown’s Baseball Hall of Fame, former National League all-star Mike Piazza quoted, of all the things in the world to quote, Pope Benedict’s encyclical Spe Salvi. “Those who have hope live differently,” he said, with the authority of a 62nd-round draft pick who went on to hit more home runs than any catcher in the history of the sport, including Yogi Berra and Johnny Bench.
Read the whole thing... Max has a way with words.
Guest posted by tim, The Godless Heathen
"The function of the two-party system in our republic---where numerous unique interests compete, yet strive to coexist in peace---is to muster consensus along the broadest possible lines. Those lines in the United States are Left and Right: destruction or conservation, secularism or faith, death or life, dependency or responsibility, pessimism or optimism, relativism or objective truth, anarchy or the rule of law, state control or personal freedom.
Sure, you can form your own political party with the 5 other guys in the world who think precisely as you do, but your effect on the culture is bound to be nil, or close to it; to affect society, you must team up with people of dissimilar interests, and a two-party system is the most efficient way of doing this.
Christians like Sensing don't seem to realize that the Perfect is not just an enemy of the Good, but its deadliest enemy, and that petulantly withholding their votes until Perfection or Apocalypse comes not only hurts their fellow Christians, but also hurts every other innocent person in the world who relies upon the prevalence of Christian ideals to make their lives bearable. Think, for a moment, of the tens of thousands of Yazidis, secular Iranians, Iraqis and Syrians, and Middle Eastern Christians who would still be alive today if the Left had not prevailed in our last presidential election. They prevailed because Christians like Sensing refused to participate over some self-righteous and, frankly, selfish reservation about a candidate.
In this instance, Donald Trump, however absurd it may seem to us, is currently bearing the standard for American Christians. Voting for him is voting against all the injustice and misery that will be caused if the Left prevails---all the evil, all the chaos, all the innocent blood that is bound to be shed.
I would remind Reverend Sensing and other Christians---who really ought to know better---that the Jews of Christ's time had such a fixation on the Messiah appearing in the form of a strong military commander that when he ultimately appeared in the form of a carpenter, they were unable to recognize him. Some---hell, all---of the greatest figures in the Bible are deeply flawed: murderers, adulterers, liars, etc.
"...my power is made perfect in weakness..."
"...the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom..."
Withholding your vote is not a sign of virtue; in fact, it may be the exact opposite. Selfish pride is the worst of all sins.
Voting for the side that best represents Christian interests, however imperfectly, allows the Christian point of view to stay in the game. Abandon the field, and we lose all possibility of influence on the greater society.
I am an Eastern Orthodox Christian who is sick to death at the cowardice and sanctimony of American Christians and their self-absorbed rationalizations for not participating in the current political battles shaping our society. Because they insist on operating at such an 'exalted' ethical level, America now has atheists, statists and terrorists running the show.
Do you really believe that's something of which to be proud?"
If there were a morally acceptable candidate offered by either major party, of course you could vote for that person in clear conscience. There isn’t, and therefore many people are settling for choosing the least-bad candidate.
Don’t do this.
Vote third party.
Voting third party is the most effective way for you to bring about a change of regime.
It’s more effective than a write-in campaign (barring a massive, united, nationwide campaign, which I don’t see happening). It’s certainly more effective than abstaining — no one will notice you’re missing, and other than a few kind souls at the League of Women Voters, no one will much care that you couldn’t be bothered to show up.
When you vote third party, you send a clear, unequivocal message that is formally recorded and measured. You indicate to the major parties, and to the rest of the citizenry, which way the reform needs to go in order to field a winning candidate.
Voting third party will not cause the person you cast your vote for to win. It will, however, cause the next round of candidates, at every level of elected office, to seek to be more like what it would take to win your vote.
Candidates need your vote. They watch the polls and try to read the wind and guess which way to shift in order to ride popular opinion.
By voting third party, you most clearly communicate what your expectations are and how the next cycle’s candidates need to be different. Among other benefits, voting third party informs the major parties what kinds of candidates they should support at the local and state level — which candidates feed the system for the years ahead.
If you care about the future, don’t settle for the sick feeling that comes from knowing that you helped fuel the victory of some person whose policies you abhor. Vote like you mean for your republic to still be a functioning democracy ten, twenty, even two-hundred years from now.
She cites others who have similar ideas so read the entire piece.
I've been thinking more and more about what I plan to do in November. Earlier, I was seriously considering writing somebody, anybody, in for President as I know with certainty that I cannot in good conscience vote for Trump, whose moral failings, his lack of foreign policy knowledge and his constitutional ignorance rule him out. Nor could I vote for for Hillary who I see to be the most corrupt politician in modern history and whose party has made a complete mess of things whenever and wherever they've been in power.
Roughly a week ago, I started seriously thinking about The Constitution Party as a plausible alternative though as of this writing, they're not yet on the ballot here in my home state.
What say those of you out there who won't be voting for either Hillary or Trump? What will you folks be doing?
The country's dying to know.
Crossposted at Wizbang.
We are engaged in a war, one that has been declared against us long before 9/11 – whether we want to acknowledge that fact or not. We face an enemy that may hide its face but not its ugly motives, that talks with bravado but is nothing short of cowardly.
France seems to have taken the brunt of the most recent attacks, an onslaught that has also hit us hard here in the US and scores of other places around the world.
And France is, again, aggressively responding with military threats and actions.
So righteous anger has risen up. Fire is being fought with fire.
Are theses actions legitimate – that is, moral – for people of faith?
The obvious answer is yes. The preservation of innocent human life must take precedence.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church can help instruct us. And, while we must resist the urge to take things out of context in order to advance a particular agenda or a political point of view, the Church’s teachings are, I believe, clear when the threat to innocent human life is immediate, substantial, real, and on-going:
2265: Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility [emphasis added].
2266: The efforts of the state to curb the spread of behavior harmful to people’s rights and to the basic rules of civil society correspond to the requirement of safeguarding the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense.
So pray, yes. Most definitely pray.
But we can and should urge those who legitimately hold authority over us to use all arms necessary to quickly defeat this global and growing threat.
The stakes have never been higher or more real.
Can Tom get an amen?
Crossposted at Wizbang.
David French at the NRO with a piece I think ought to go viral in the wake of the horror that took place last night in Dallas:
We are faced with choices today. At a time when all the short-term incentives point toward unreason, our leaders, political and cultural, must choose reason. At a time when group solidarity is trumping individual accountability, we must choose individual accountability. At a time when the loudest voices don’t wait for evidence to make sweeping judgments, we must wait for the evidence.
When we tribalize conflict, we create a tribalized society. It’s that simple. Stop lying and distorting facts for your own short-term political gain. It has been extraordinary to watch so many on the left and the right disregard the truth for the sake of “larger purposes.” A known lie such as “hands-up, don’t shoot” became the slogan of an entire movement. Scaremongers refused to deal with actual statistics and instead perpetuated the claim that police officers had declared “open season” on black men. Comprehensive reporting shows that police overwhelmingly use force when they are “under attack or defending someone who [is].” Despite the millions of interactions between police and citizens (including black citizens), the number of controversial or contentious shootings is low. It’s so low that in a nation of more than 300 million citizens, we can rattle off individual names – Laquan McDonald, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner – rather than consider the horror of mass death, of a true “open season.”
At the same time, it’s just as dishonest to pretend that police abuse is a fiction or that official racism has been vanquished. It is a simple fact that some police departments have covered up police misconduct (McDonald’s case comes immediately to mind) or, typically at the behest of their political masters, systematically abused the citizens they’re sworn to protect, turning them into ATMs for the state through excessive and burdensome fines and citations. While the Department of Justice’s investigation of the police shooting of Michael Brown exonerated officer Darren Wilson, for example, it painted an extraordinarily disturbing portrait of the use and abuse of official power in Ferguson, Missouri. Police made Ferguson a hell for its residents, a place where, as I wrote at the time, “a small class of the local power brokers creat[ed] two sets of rules, one for the connected and another for the mass of people who are forced – often at gunpoint – to pay for the ‘privilege’ of being governed.” No American man, woman, or child should have to live under such a regime. But the problem will never be solved if we refuse to acknowledge its complexities. No debate that so reflexively distorts reality will ever be productive.
Condemning the evil men and women who affiliate themselves with Black Lives Matter – people who tweet out applause for cop-killings – should not stop us from acknowledging that movement’s many more protesters who abhor violence and weep sincerely for the police lives lost last night. Condemning those cops who are bigoted should not stop us from acknowledging the many more cops who willingly lay down their lives for all citizens every single day. People of good faith can and should disagree about how best to prevent more lives from being lost in the future. But nothing will get better until everyone first recognizes that those with whom they disagree are people of good faith.
French's entire piece should be read and passed around for effect.
I've seen some of this tribalization in my own social media newsfeed today. People pouring gasoline on the flames. It's sickening, depressing, disgusting. And though I agree completely with Mr. French, I go a step further.
What ails this once great country will take divine healing. There's no way to get around this. It's factual. It's obvious. It's real.
We should all cry out for that healing, and there's no better way in my view for that to take place than to petition those who've been recognized by the Church as dispensers of that healing.
Saints of God, pray for us.
In her column this week, Peggy Noonan has written about an apparent dearth of genius, an inability for anyone in power to bring any sort of creative, constructive thinking to bear on the myriad problems and true evils that are before us, threatening every nation, and every people. She says we are missing the “genius cluster” that has always arisen — “Providentially,” her friend suggests — when the world has needed it to.
Where are the geniuses who will figure out how to fight a hidden yet determined international band of beasts who are committed to death — and all too willing to “be jihad in-place” — bringing the ISIS principles to local places of business and coming to a playground near you?
What we are seeing in ISIS is what we have seen before in the death-serving ideologies of the 20th centuries; totalitarian extremism never loses its desire to destroy all that does not conform. The illness is always the same. What has changed, though, is the antibody with which the West has previously addressed this killer virus. Like the culture itself, the antibody has shifted; it no longer contains one essential component necessary to fight the evil that instigates human savagery on this level, that of a faith.
There are no “genius clusters” arising to deal with ISIS, because there are no geniuses in leadership willing to look into the medicine bag and say “we have run out of faith in anything beyond our own selves, our court systems and bureaucracies…”
Consider that when the Nazis were barreling through Europe, the majority of the western world professed – with no fear of ridicule or of giving insult, anywhere – a belief in something greater than itself. Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill were conventionally religious men of their times, not overly observant. But they were imbued with enough faith to recognize that some occasions called for more than rhetoric; some things called for enough humility to make a prayer of supplication, one calling on the Deity to guide, to bless, to sustain – to, as Lincoln said, have “firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right.”
Roosevelt led the nation in prayer on D-Day. In Britain, Churchill openly spoke of “a miracle of deliverance”: “A guiding hand interfered to make sure the allied forces were not annihilated at Dunkirk.”
Our post-Christian, post-faith Western leadership is no longer capable of making public prayer, or willing to credit heaven with anything but twinkling stars. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair was told by his own government “we don’t do God” and President Obama, who once defined the notion of “sin” as being “out of alignment with my values” has not yet, in nearly 8 years, attempted to lead a nation in prayer.
This matters in the face of ISIS, especially in its revelation that its attempts to acquire power through fear are indiscriminate: they are murdering of all peoples, whether Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or agnostic.
If this is true, one might ask, then why especially should the West reacquaint itself with the language of faith and supernaturalism?
The answer is simple: because what ISIS is doing is a true evil.
The entire piece should be read, inwardly digested and passed on, particularly today when this great country celebrates freedom, a freedom absent the tethering and mooring of the guiding hand of God that will not last long.
Think on these things but more than that, pray... pray as Ms. Scalia has asked, for a "genius cluster" to rise, one that will not overlook the helping Hand of Heaven.
Crossposted at Wizbang.
In the late 1980s, I was introduced to a self-styled Satanic high priestess. She called herself a witch and dressed the part, with flowing dark clothes and black eye shadow around to her temples. In our many discussions, she acknowledged worshipping Satan as his “queen.”
I’m a man of science and a lover of history; after studying the classics at Princeton, I trained in psychiatry at Yale and in psychoanalysis at Columbia. That background is why a Catholic priest had asked my professional opinion, which I offered pro bono, about whether this woman was suffering from a mental disorder. This was at the height of the national panic about Satanism. (In a case that helped induce the hysteria, Virginia McMartin and others had recently been charged with alleged Satanic ritual abuse at a Los Angeles preschool; the charges were later dropped.) So I was inclined to skepticism. But my subject’s behavior exceeded what I could explain with my training. She could tell some people their secret weaknesses, such as undue pride. She knew how individuals she’d never known had died, including my mother and her fatal case of ovarian cancer. Six people later vouched to me that, during her exorcisms, they heard her speaking multiple languages, including Latin, completely unfamiliar to her outside of her trances. This was not psychosis; it was what I can only describe as paranormal ability. I concluded that she was possessed. Much later, she permitted me to tell her story.
The priest who had asked for my opinion of this bizarre case was the most experienced exorcist in the country at the time, an erudite and sensible man. I had told him that, even as a practicing Catholic, I wasn’t likely to go in for a lot of hocus-pocus. “Well,” he replied, “unless we thought you were not easily fooled, we would hardly have wanted you to assist us.”
So began an unlikely partnership. For the past two-and-a-half decades and over several hundred consultations, I’ve helped clergy from multiple denominations and faiths to filter episodes of mental illness — which represent the overwhelming majority of cases — from, literally, the devil’s work. It’s an unlikely role for an academic physician, but I don’t see these two aspects of my career in conflict. The same habits that shape what I do as a professor and psychiatrist — open-mindedness, respect for evidence and compassion for suffering people — led me to aid in the work of discerning attacks by what I believe are evil spirits and, just as critically, differentiating these extremely rare events from medical conditions.
Is it possible to be a sophisticated psychiatrist and believe that evil spirits are, however seldom, assailing humans? Most of my scientific colleagues and friends say no, because of their frequent contact with patients who are deluded about demons, their general skepticism of the supernatural, and their commitment to employ only standard, peer-reviewed treatments that do not potentially mislead (a definite risk) or harm vulnerable patients. But careful observation of the evidence presented to me in my career has led me to believe that certain extremely uncommon cases can be explained no other way.
Do read the entire piece... it's simply fascinating, not just its content but the fact that it's in the Washington Post. Most intriguing indeed.
For those interested, the Catechism of the Catholic Church has this to say about demons:
THE FALL OF THE ANGELS
391 Behind the disobedient choice of our first parents lurks a seductive voice, opposed to God, which makes them fall into death out of envy.266 Scripture and the Church's Tradition see in this being a fallen angel, called "Satan" or the "devil".267 The Church teaches that Satan was at first a good angel, made by God: "The devil and the other demons were indeed created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their own doing."268
392 Scripture speaks of a sin of these angels.269 This "fall" consists in the free choice of these created spirits, who radically and irrevocably rejected God and his reign. We find a reflection of that rebellion in the tempter's words to our first parents: "You will be like God."270 The devil "has sinned from the beginning"; he is "a liar and the father of lies".271
393 It is the irrevocable character of their choice, and not a defect in the infinite divine mercy, that makes the angels' sin unforgivable. "There is no repentance for the angels after their fall, just as there is no repentance for men after death."272
394 Scripture witnesses to the disastrous influence of the one Jesus calls "a murderer from the beginning", who would even try to divert Jesus from the mission received from his Father.273 "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil."274 In its consequences the gravest of these works was the mendacious seduction that led man to disobey God.
395 The power of Satan is, nonetheless, not infinite. He is only a creature, powerful from the fact that he is pure spirit, but still a creature. He cannot prevent the building up of God's reign. Although Satan may act in the world out of hatred for God and his kingdom in Christ Jesus, and although his action may cause grave injuries - of a spiritual nature and, indirectly, even of a physical nature- to each man and to society, the action is permitted by divine providence which with strength and gentleness guides human and cosmic history. It is a great mystery that providence should permit diabolical activity, but "we know that in everything God works for good with those who love him."275
Great mystery indeed but one I believe happens more often than we let on. All the more reason to pray this powerful intercessory prayer daily:
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
Crossposted at Wizbang.
This former Marco Rubio faith advisor is likely catching a tremendous amount of grief and ill-will for his courageous act:
Eric Teetsel had intended to stand outside Donald Trump’s meeting with evangelical leaders Tuesday and talk with attendees he knew about why he thought the gathering was a bad idea.
But when Teetsel, a 32-year-old evangelical political activist who was Sen. Marco Rubio’s faith adviser during the Florida Republican’s presidential campaign, arrived at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, he felt compelled to do something more to speak out against Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president.
He walked to a Walgreens, looking for poster board, so he could create a handmade sign on the spot and hold it outside the meeting. But Walgreens didn’t have any.
“I wondered if that was a sign from God that I shouldn’t do this,” Teetsel told me, sitting at a table on the ninth floor of the cavernous hotel. “Then I walked to Staples and found some poster board.”
He used a red marker in his bag to write out a message for attendees, spectators and reporters gathered: “Torture is not pro-life. Racism is not pro-life. Misogyny is not pro-life. Murdering the children of terrorists is not pro-life.”
Teetsel included a Scripture verse, Proverbs 29:2, at the bottom, which says, “When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.”
He stood outside on Broadway, a former presidential campaign adviser holding a handwritten sign denouncing his own party’s presidential nominee amid the spectacle of Times Square.
Teetsel is not an impartial observer, politically speaking. He traveled to New York this week from his home in Kansas to participate in meetings with leaders of Better for America, a group organizing a campaign-in-waiting for an independent candidate who could give voters an alternative to both Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
But Teetsel did feel compelled to do more than just maintain a low-key presence in the lobby outside the meeting between Trump and several hundred evangelical leaders.
“Christians are called to live out the Gospel in every aspect of their lives, including politics. It matters. It’s important. But we have to be sure that we are representing the Gospel in truth,” he said. “I think we know enough about Donald Trump to know that a Christian response should be prayer for him, but also a prophetic witness about what is true.”
May the good Lord give Teetsel the perseverance and stick-to-it-iveness he's clearly going to need as he faces the fallout and wrath of the glassy-eyed Trumpetists.
Crossposted at Wizbang.