Having just gone to confession after mass this morning, it was not my intention to get into a little
tiff with a media outlet on Twitter, but being who I am, I couldn’t let it go when I saw one of those lazy, thoughtless sneers cross my timeline, to the effect that Pope Francis (good guy) was refusing to stay in (bad guy) “Pope Benedict’s luxurious apartments.”
I needed to disabuse the writer of the notion that Pope Benedict owned anything, including a “luxurious apartment” but that the papal apartment in the Vatican was simply that — the apartment of whoever happens to be pope, used by every pope since 1906, until now. Francis has chosen not to use it, and that’s perfectly fine, but I find myself objecting strenuously when I see people trying to use Francis’ simple tastes as a kind of hammer against his predecessors. “See,” they imply, “he’s a good, humble pope who is united to the poor, not like all of those other wasteful, pampered popes who didn’t care about the poor, before him.”
They would pretend that before this month, the poor weren’t on the church’s radar, or the pope’s. To what purpose? Well, mostly to warp a narrative and foment the easiest sort of hate, which is hate rooted in empty cynicism and ignorance.
I asked some of those who engaged me on twitter whether they would soon be divesting themselves of all luxuries, since owning luxuries, or pretty things, or well-made things is insensitive to the poor.
No one answered.
Since they seemed to feel strongly that as long as the poor exist, a person in leadershipshould set his tent among them, resisting luxuries or comforts for himself, I asked whether they thought the American President should forego a round of golf, or an expensive dinner, or a “luxury” vacation, for as long as there are people in his country struggling to get by.
No one answered.
I didn’t bother asking whether — since simplicity is now admirable and finer things are not — they would be surrendering their Starbucks coffee for a humble cup of Folgers, each morning.
I didn’t ask because, being a coffee snob, myself, I already know the answer. In a world of rampant materialism and fading prosperity, Pope Francis’ example of simplicity is already challenging me in my own not-extravagant life, and he’s challenging others, too. Eventually, those carrying on about how admirable a model he is for the rest of us will — unless they have no consciences to prick — find themselves roiled by our pope’s humble tastes, because they’ll either have to address their own consumption or face a truth about themselves that they can currently hide beneath righteous moralizing.
A relationship between any two people, whether they are hetero- or homosexual, having as its purpose
the mutual expression of love and affection can take many forms and does not require any legal framework whatsoever for its support and encouragement. To any extent two individuals desire, they may formalize their relationship with binding legal agreements that include the combining and sharing of their wealth and assets. Or, as so many who cohabit well know, couples without such agreements are free to leave everything as loose and whimsical as their hearts desire. Love and the expression of love does not need the social institution of marriage to thrive.
But marriage is not principally about love, though love is unquestionably crucial to its success. The institution of marriage is society's way of demonstrating its commitment to future generations by creating a safehouse for procreation and child rearing.
This is why marriage includes public vows of commitment, in which the couple and those who witness the ceremony pledge to support and safeguard this relationship for life. This is also why marriage has historically been established and sanctioned by the church, where a commitment is made before God to faithfulness and sexual fruitfulness, just as the first couple, Adam and Eve, were joined together by God to love and support each other, and to enjoy sexual intimacy aimed at producing children to populate God's earth.
The fact that not all marriages produce children only underlines and highlights the fact that children are the normal and expected result of every marriage. That same-sex "marriage" is a non-sequitur can be shown quite simply: if everyone married someone of the same sex, life on earth would quickly die out. Same-sex marriage is a corruption of a long-held societal norm and a distortion of the fundamental design and intent of the marital commitment.
Americans have generous hearts. The shift in opinion in light of the gay rights media blitz of the past decades is proof of the generous, but entirely emotional (read: irrational), response to the heartfelt pleas of those who have chosen to embrace their homosexual desires in very public ways. This widespread change of heart is built on a reflexive but misplaced sense of compassion among heterosexuals for a very vocal homosexual minority. It represents a complete failure to consider the damage that will result from changing marriage into something it was never meant to be.
Liberalized divorce laws have already done terrible harm to children and the stable, nurturing environment that the two-parent family was intended to provide. Study after study confirms that children of single-parent families do worse on a wide range of metrics than their peers in two-parent, heterosexual families.
Our societal understanding of marriage has already been damaged by high levels of divorce and children born to unmarried, cohabiting couples. If we further erode the cultural understanding of marriage's procreative roots by including a non-procreative set of relationships under the same umbrella, marriage will ultimately cease to mean anything at all. Same-sex marriage will be one more cultural message to young men and women that we are not really serious about creating and parenting the next generation.
Minnesota state legislators considering a same-sex marriage bill for the state did not have an answer
to an 11-year-old girl’s question on which parent is not needed.
“Since every child needs a mom and a dad to be born, I don’t think we can change that children need a mom and a dad. I believe God made it that way,” Grace Evans, 11, said before the Minnesota House Committee on Civil Law last week. “I know some disagree, but I want to ask you this question: Which parent do I not need – my mom or my dad?”
She paused for eight seconds as the legislators on the committee sat silent.
Evans then said, “I’ll ask again, which parent do I not need – my mom or my dad?” She paused again, this time for 13 seconds of silence from state lawmakers.
Evans concluded, saying, “I hope that you can see that every child needs a mom and a dad. Please don’t change your law on marriage to say otherwise.”
Nevertheless, the House committee voted in favor of the gay marriage bill and sent it to the full House. A similar bill is also before the state Senate.
There's video of the young gal's speech at the link.
It's poignantly cutting.
Pray for her for you know she will be pilloried by the self-described tolerant and open-minded.
In our sometimes misguided efforts to expand our freedom, selfish adults have systematically
dismantled that which is most precious to children as they grow and develop. That’s why I am now speaking out against same-sex marriage.
A few days ago I testified against pending same-sex marriage legislation in Minnesota’s Senate Judiciary and House Civil Law Committees.
The atmosphere at these events (I’ve also testified elsewhere) seems tinged with unreality—almost a carnival-like surrealism. Natural law, tradition, religion, intellectual curiosity, and free inquiry no longer play a role in deliberations. Same-sex marriage legislation is defended solely on grounds of moral relativism and emotions.
Pure sophistry is pitted against reason. Reason is losing.
Here’s the problem: The national discussion of same-sex marriage treats the issue like a game of checkers, where opponents can quickly gain each other’s pieces without much forethought about the consequences. This unreflective view of the discussion has prevented any real debate.
In years past, defenders of marriage found it easy to win the battle on the checker board. Appeals to religion and tradition won hands down almost effortlessly. While same-sex marriage advocates argued for a more thoughtful consideration of the topic, they were mostly just bulldozed over.
The tide has turned. Same-sex marriage proponents now have all the “kings” on the board, and rule it. One only needs to consider media headlines from the last few weeks. We are bombarded with approvals of same-sex marriage. To the casual onlooker, not steeped in this issue, it would seem that conservatism has embraced same-sex marriage. Each day brings fresh news of Republican political elites, Fortune 500 companies, NFL members, and even Dirty Harry himself, Clint Eastwood, throwing their support behind genderless marriage.
The game we are actually playing is chess, not checkers. This sounds confusing, because chess and checkers are played on the exact same sixty-four square game board. Checkers is easy and it’s fast. It’s one of the first games children learn how to play. Chess is hard, requiring thought about the intended and unintentional consequences of every single move that may or may not be made.
In developing their goals for policy and law, politicians often look no further than the next election cycle. They’re concerned about votes. Supporting same-sex marriage now looks like a winner for them.
It also looks like a winner for media outlets, concerned about revenues and readership, and for large corporations, eager to polish their images and create goodwill. Few of these outlets are interested in playing chess because a quick win at checkers is more important to them.
The sense of urgency regarding same-sex marriage, now palpably frenetic, is in itself a sign of our national discussion’s devolution into nothing more than slogans and emotions.
Same-sex marriage will not expand rights and freedoms in our nation. It will not redefine marriage. It will undefine it.
The Kentucky senator’s recent ascent to prominence, which achieved escape velocity with last week’s
13-hour filibuster delaying the confirmation of President Obama’s nominee to lead the C.I.A., hasn’t just made the younger Paul one of the most talked-about politicians in Washington today. It has offered the first real sign that the Republican Party might someday escape the shadow of the Iraq war and enter the post-post-9/11 era.
Officially, Paul’s filibuster was devoted to a specific question of executive power — whether there are any limits on the president’s authority to declare American citizens enemy combatants and deal out death to them. But anyone who listened (and listened, and listened) to his remarks, and put them in the context of his recent speeches and votes and bridge-building, recognized that he was after something bigger: a reorientation of conservative foreign policy thinking away from hair-trigger hawkishness and absolute deference to executive power.
Exactly where such a reorientation would take the party is unclear. Depending on the context, Paul can sometimes sound like a libertarian purist, sometimes like a realist in the Brent Scowcroft mode and sometimes like — well, like a man who was an ophthalmologist in Bowling Green, Ky., just a few short years ago.
But if his ideas are still evolving, his savvy is impressive. Paul has recognized, as a figure like Huntsman did not, that to infuse new ideas into a moribund party you need to speak the language of the base, and sell conservatives as well as moderates on your proposed course correction. (There’s a reason his recent foreign policy speech was delivered at the Heritage Foundation — normally a redoubt of Cheneyism — and his two big interviews after his filibuster were with Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.) And he’s exploited partisan incentives to bring his fellow Republicans around to his ideas, deliberately picking battles — from the Libya intervention to drone warfare — where a more restrained foreign policy vision doubles as a critique of the Obama White House.
Those incentives, rather than an intellectual sea change on the right, explain why his filibuster enjoyed so much Republican support. (Most of the senators who gave him an assist were just looking for a chance to score points against a Democratic White House.) But if Paul hasn’t won the party over to his ideas, he’s clearly widened the space for intra-Republican debate. And if he runs for president in 2016, that debate will become more interesting than it’s been for many, many years.
There’s a lesson here for his fellow Republican politicians — though that lesson is not, I repeat not, that they should all remake themselves as Paul-style libertarians. One can appreciate the Kentucky senator’s evolution away from his father’s crankishness without completely trusting that it’s genuine, and on domestic policy a swing to libertarian purism is something the present Republican Party doesn’t need.
Rather, the lesson of Paul’s ascent is that being a policy entrepreneur carries rewards as well as risks — and that if you know how to speak the language of the party’s base, it’s possible to be a different kind of Republican without forfeiting your conservative bona fides.
This is something that the party’s other ambitious officeholders have been slow to recognize. Since the 2012 election, a number of prominent Republicans — Eric Cantor, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, and so on — have given speeches that tiptoe toward new ideas, new policies, new visions of what their party might stand for and support. But ultimately they’ve all stopped short of actually breaking with the policy consensus that sent Romney down to defeat.
Paul, by contrast, has actually challenged that consensus in a substantive and constructive way. And far from being excommunicated for it, he’s been rewarded with greater prominence and increased conservative support.
Nic Davidson is a Catholic convert, crossing the Tiber after growing up in the Assemblies of God. He's also a fan of Penn Jillette, being hooked on magic after being introduced to it by Penn and his partner Mr. Teller. After watching the video of Penn sparring with Piers Morgan over Catholic doctrine, he was moved to pen Penn a letter.
Thank you, Mr. Jillette. Thank you for being the unusual type of person who realizes that you can’t truly
disagree with someone until you understand their position. More specifically, thank you for being a man of such backbone and character that you will defend a tenet of the Catholic Church from misrepresentation and error, even though you disagree with said tenet.
Furthermore, thank you for seeing through the flimsy, theologically absurd belief that Christianity should bend to the whims of culture, which change by the minute and are generally dictated by the selfish desire for immediate gratification of any and all wants. If real, eternal, objective truth can be found in the Catholic Church and her members, then, as you so beautifully put it, “why would society move them?” Instead of bowing to a given population’s estimated value of the dollar, Christians are supposed to “impregnate culture and human works with a moral value” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 909). You said it best, yet again, ”There’s not supposed to be modernizing, it’s supposed to be the Word of God.”
I joined the Catholic Church in 2008 after growing up in an Evangelical denomination, attending Bible College, becoming atheist, and spending a few years floundering in the choppy sea of personal opinion applied to Scripture. I found myself unable to swallow the inherent chaos which very clearly resulted from the belief that “your interpretation is as good as mine” and “if it works for you, then great!”
I came to agree that, as you put it, “if you have someone who is a conduit to God…even if you can’t understand exactly what God’s plan is…that still doesn’t mean you get to vote on what God actually believes.” It didn’t seem to me that truth, religious or otherwise, should–or could–be relegated to the anarchic realm of personal opinion. It seemed more logical and right to embrace Aquinas’ statement that, “if there is anything true, there must be truth,” and then approach that truth with the beautiful philosophy of Mr. Penn Jillette and say, “You either agree or you don’t.”
There is a desperate, pressing need for more people like you to hold the line against the subversive gibberish and rhetoric of a culture which says you don’t have mean what you say or be what you are. The Church is rife with thousands who loudly profess to be Catholic and, in the same breath, unequivocally deny teachings which are intrinsic to Catholicism. Thank you for being one person who won’t stand for the paradox and contradiction.
I hope, and my heart prays, that you soon leave the ranks of those who believe “in the pope’s position more than most Catholics”, and join the merry band of actual Catholics who truly believe what the Church teaches. I desire this, not so that we have one more notch on our theological belt, but that your restless heart, starving for and relentlessly pursuing truth, may rest in the Truth that is Christ and His Church.
I hope you are taking care of yourself during this busy session. I know it is a challenging, compressed time.
I am writing to express my grave concern about House Bill 105. Ample evidence has shown that schools and guns do not mix, and in particular, guns in the hands of amateurs/non-professionals is extremely dangerous, especially in any highly-charged situation. to expose our children to greater risk in their schools by encouraging more guns on campuses is something that we cannot allow.
My husband and I moved to Wyoming not too long ago. We believed it was a good place to raise children. With the recent and reactive expansion of gun laws and the profoundly serious dangers of fracking, we find we are seriously reconsidering our decision, which is wrenching to all of us. However, the safety of our family must come first. We are waiting to see what the legislature does this session. I know of other new-to-Wyoming families in similar contemplation. Your choices matter. It would be sad to see an exodus of educated, childrearing age adults from Wyoming as a result of poor lawmaking.
Rev. Audette Fulbright
Mr. Hunt's response:
I’ll be blunt. If you don’t like the political atmosphere of Wyoming, then by all means, leave. We, who
have been here a very long time (I am proudly 4th generation) are quite proud of our independent heritage. I don’t expect a “mass exodus” from our state just because we’re standing up for our rights. As to your comments on fracking, I would point out that you’re basing your statement on “dangers” that have not been scientifically founded or proved as of yet.
It offends me to no end when liberal out-of-staters such as yourself move into Wyoming, trying to get away from where they came from, and then pompously demand that Wyoming conform to their way of thinking. We are, and will continue to be, a state which stands a head above the rest in terms of economic security. Our ability to do that is, in large part, to our “live and let live” mentality when it comes to allowing economic development, and limiting government oversight. So, to conclude, if you’re so worried about what our legislature is working on, then go back home.
Today I've read a number of post-election articles vowing to continue the fight.
While I concur that it is a righteous, necessary, and worthwhile fight, it might be well to take a moment to review the character of this fight.
The fight that wins this is not one of arms. It is one of thoughts, of ideas, of communications.
Who educates your kids? Who entertains them? Do they get their news from Comedy Central? What do they believe in? Why is that? What are their truths? Where did they get them?
This election wasn’t won in speeches. It wasn’t won in TV ads. It was won in cartoons. It was won in movies. It was won on Sesame Street. It was won in schools.
Yes there is a fight ahead of us, and it does not look like a short or clean one. The fight is one of belief, of principle, of culture. We have been infiltrated and compromised over decades.
Are you a religious person? Do you entrust the emotional well-being and mental health of your family to Psychology & Psychiatry? Why would you do that? Do you not grasp that a “science” which classifies your core beliefs as a “mostly harmless” delusion is a poor vehicle for the preservation of a moral culture? Do you not know their history, their background, their cultural foundation? Or have you simply accepted that they are the “authority” in all things mental and emotional? They’ve had fifty years of unfettered access to our schools, and with that as their crown jewel, what is the state of that school system?
Yeah, we have a fight ahead of us. It is our challenge to communicate core values in spite of schooling. It will be our campaign to teach real history into the teeth of disinformation. We have the truth on our side, but only if we are effective in communicating it.
Take heart. Even with the lead they have, we are not helpless, and even with all the brainwashing that’s been splashed around, truth can penetrate and bring illumination.
We must become educators, not just “smart” people. We must arm ourselves with real facts, real history, real reasoning and logic.
Sometimes in life, circumstances can…well, let’s not beat around the bush folks, they can suck. We can decide to let them define us and how we live our life. Or we can envision how we want life to be and how we will deal with the adversity.
This video is about that. But first a little setup is needed.
The man you’ll see speaking is Chuck Pagano. Chuck spent 28 years toiling as an assistant in college and the NFL before becoming the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts this year. Chuck hasn’t been on the sidelines since late Sept. when he found out he has a treatable form of leukemia.
Also relevant, the Colts were a dismal 2 & 14 last year. They completely rebuilt the team, less a handful of veterans they kept, and are just a bunch of rookies and castoffs nobody wanted. They were picked by everyone, including this diehard Colts fan of 40 plus years, to win no more than 5/6 games.
Chuck is about to receive his second round of treatment but managed to go see his team play yesterday. They won to improve to an improbable 5 & 3 and are in the hunt for the playoffs.
Here is Chuck Pagano addressing his team post game.