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.
Title of the post taken from this dated piece at Regina I stumbled across today that kept me riveted to the end... a sign of good writing and a very good story.
Here's an excerpt I hope will entice you to read the entire thing:
Looking around me, I saw that a light was on, above an old-fashioned confessional. There was a priest in there, safely concealed behind a screen.
The second I knelt behind that wooden door, a whole lake of tears I didn’t know was inside me welled up. Worse, before I could stop it, the dam broke and the lake poured out of me, in a continuous flow of wracking sobs.
“I-I’m s-sorry, F-Father,” I apologized, between gulps. I couldn’t speak. All I could do was cry.
“That’s all right, my dear,” said a sympathetic voice, with a soft Hispanic lilt. He pushed some Kleenex under the grille towards me, which I gratefully accepted. “Now, my daughter, you can start when you’re ready. I have time.”
It took me a few minutes to finally be able to speak, but when I did, all of my pain poured out. I told that priest about the grave, and the rabbi. About the hopelessness, and the despair. About Marcus, and his addiction. About my success, cold fury, and utter desolation.
“You are trapped by sin,” the priest said, when I had finally subsided. “Do you know what I mean by that?”
“Sin is addictive. Because the Devil – you believe in him? I do. Well, the Devil, he wants us to be miserable. Hopeless. Despairing. This way he can do his dirty work more easily. If we are miserable, we are open to all kinds of bad things. And so, it goes, always downward, in a spiral. Do you understand me?”
“Y-yes,” I whispered, wondering where this was going.
“Ah, so here it is. Your husband comes from a family who is angry with God. So they deny His existence. Your husband denies His existence, too. Correct? You are with me so far?”
“Yes,” I affirmed, snuffling.
“This is very dangerous for them, because it makes them miserable. They stand at the edge of a grave and ask, why? And they receive no answer. It is only the grave that they see. Nothing more. And they know it is their end, too. An open grave is a distressing thing, no?”
“Yes,” I replied, the specter of the raw earth of the grave rising before me. I shivered involuntarily.
“So they are even more miserable. Even their rabbi cannot reach them. Though I do think there is hope for them, simply because they reached out to this rabbi. But this is not enough for your husband. His pain, his despair, sends him back to the drugs, correct?”
“Y-yes,” I nodded in the darkness.
“This is a situation where the Devil is dancing with delight. He is dancing because your husband and his family are choosing despair. Like his uncle, your husband is choosing death, over life. And this is very, very sad,” he sighed heavily.
A careful reading of the two most recent entries in the Plainly Palinincredible category, each now a tad more than two years old (and accessible via the related article links below), would clearly show that the Palin schtick was beginning to get old for me then, an oldness that grew completely stale when she wholeheartedly endorsed Donald Trump in January.
Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin said in an interview that aired Sunday that House Speaker Paul Ryan could be ousted for his hesitancy to back Donald Trump, and suggested Ryan's reluctance was fueled by aspirations to run for president in 2020.
When asked for her thoughts about Ryan's stance on Trump, Palin invoked former Rep. Eric Cantor. The ex-Republican House majority leader, who was viewed as the likely successor to former House Speaker John Boehner, was defeated by a Tea Party challenger in a stunning upset in the 2014 Virginia primary. Ryan ultimately took the position after Boehner retired.
"I think Paul Ryan is soon to be 'Cantored,' as in Eric Cantor," Palin said on CNN. "His political career is over but for a miracle because he has so disrespected the will of the people, and as the leader of the GOP, the convention, certainly he is to remain neutral, and for him to already come out and say who he will not support was not a wise decision of his."
I no longer find myself thinking that Palin is capable of addressing what is or isn't wise and her full-throated endorsement of Trump is likely the flagship reason. Since Ryan is reluctant to support the bigoted, xenophobic and horrifically unqualified Trump, Palin has decided that he should be 'Cantored' which of course is her prerogative, as is my own to decide that she now joins the ranks of those who, thanks to Donald Trump, have been unmasked as anything but principled people.
Ryan, for what it's worth, impressed me not long ago when he did quite the about-face in how he perceives the poor:
"But in a confident America, we aren’t afraid to disagree with each other. We don’t lock ourselves in an echo chamber, where we take comfort in the dogmas and opinions we already hold. We don’t shut down on people — and we don’t shut people down. If someone has a bad idea, we tell them why our idea is better. We don’t insult them into agreeing with us. We try to persuade them. We test their assumptions. And while we’re at it, we test our own assumptions too.
I’m certainly not going to stand here and tell you I have always met this standard. There was a time when I would talk about a difference between “makers” and “takers” in our country, referring to people who accepted government benefits. But as I spent more time listening, and really learning the root causes of poverty, I realized I was wrong. “Takers” wasn’t how to refer to a single mom stuck in a poverty trap, just trying to take care of her family. Most people don’t want to be dependent. And to label a whole group of Americans that way was wrong. I shouldn’t castigate a large group of Americans to make a point.
So I stopped thinking about it that way — and talking about it that way. But I didn’t come out and say all this to be politically correct. I was just wrong. And of course, there are still going to be times when I say things I wish I hadn’t. There are still going to be times when I follow the wrong impulse."
Correcting your course after following the wrong impulse suggests strongly that you've been influenced by some idea, some proposition, some mindset or philosophy that has not only shown you the error of your ways but has given you the courage to change your direction.
My hope is that this influence is Ryan's Catholic faith, the same faith that finds me abandoning both the left and the right when it comes to politics, an abandoning that has accelerated with the rise of Donald Trump and the attitudes put on display by his supporters.
The following video put out by then Father and now Bishop Robert Barron, speaks boldly to what the faith teaches as it relates to what Paul Ryan, in part, is referencing above. Give it a listen. It touches on that which has given me the clarity I've been seeking for most of my life, the clarity I was not finding in political ideology.
Some people shut down discussion of HB2 by saying it is “discriminatory.” They hope the dreaded “d-word” will strong-arm levelheaded people to move against the bill.
But what’s wrong with being discriminatory? Discrimination simply means you notice a difference between two things and treat one differently than the other because of that difference.
For example, laws that prohibit men from using women’s locker rooms (and vice versa) discriminate. They notice that men are different than women and use that difference as the basis to treat men differently or, in this case, deny them access to certain facilities. If all discrimination were wrong, then you couldn’t have any segregated bathrooms or locker rooms.
It’s not discrimination that’s the problem: it’s unjust discrimination that’s the problem.
Jim Crow laws that prohibited minorities in this country from using white locker rooms and forced them to use their own facilities didn't just discriminate, they unjustly discriminated. They used a morally irrelevant trait like race to justify unequal treatment and segregation. The same would be true for restaurants that deny women service so that male customers could have “man-time.” In this case, the difference between men and women is not morally relevant to the restaurant’s unequal treatment of women or the potential harm of such discrimination.
However, as with segregated locker rooms, discrimination can be morally justified if it has a rational basis. What about the North Carolina bathroom bill? Common sense should (but, unfortunately, often does not) tell people that men and women have morally relevant differences that races or nationalities do not. They are often sexually attracted to one another or, at least, experience feelings of deep discomfort when they are forced to disrobe or engage in excretory functions near one another. Therefore, the common good is best served by segregating men and women in places where intimate bodily functions or disrobing occurs.
Now, someone might argue that he has a good reason to use the changing facility of another sex and so such discrimination is unjustified. Consider a meek, 13-year-old boy who is routinely bullied in the male locker room. He may wish to use the girl’s locker room because he does not want to be physically intimated. Let’s say further that he has deep-seated same-sex attraction. He could argue that the girls should not feel uncomfortable around him, since he isn’t sexually attracted to them.
But it should be clear that girls are justified in being uncomfortable in the presence of a nude or seminude post-pubescent boy, and their right to privacy outweighs the boy’s desire to be comfortable. In fact, all states have laws that ban this kind of “indecent exposure” between men and women. This fact also highlights a glaring problem with solutions from critics of HB2 that allow people to use facilities that match their “gender identity” and not their biological anatomy.
Let’s suppose the law is amended so critics get their wish: a person is allowed to use any public facility, including restrooms and locker rooms, on the basis of gender identity and not biological sex. Now, what do we do about section 14-190.9 of the North Carolina penal code? It says, “Any person who shall willfully expose the private parts of his or her person in any public place and in the presence of any other person or persons, except for those places designated for a public purpose where the same sex exposure is incidental to a permitted activity . . . shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.”
If a man exposes himself to two boys walking home from school, he would be guilty of indecent exposure (and possibly other crimes, since his victims were minors). If he exposes himself in the process of changing in a male locker room, he would not be guilty, since that occurred in a “place designated for a public purpose where the same sex exposure is incidental.” But if he waltzed into a female locker room and changed in front of a group of girls or women, he would be guilty of indecent exposure. How does his guilt change if the man says he identifies as a woman?
Keep in mind that this is not a mere hypothetical example. A few years ago a group of teenage girls came across 45-year-old Colleen Francis exposing “her” male genitals in the sauna of a public locker room. Whether the possessor of male genitals identifies as a man or as a woman, the women in the locker room are still exposed to the sight of male genitals, and that is what justifies indecent exposure laws. How does the fact that the possessor of male genitals may think he’s a woman, or the king of France, or any other distortion of reality, change that reality?
Many of my fellow Virginians, including more than a couple of family members, are having a tough time getting over UVA's loss last night to Syracuse, particularly after blowing a 16 point lead. A number 1 seed getting beat, in an incredible way, by a number 10 seed.
C'mon Wahoos... what the heck happened?
We'll likely never know but what is clear is that March Madness is yet again living up to its moniker.
Which brings us to a piece over at Aleteia I found rather fascinating, more particularly, the video that's featured, starring (if you will) Fr. Rob Ketcham. I think it's excellent... take a peek and let us know what you think:
Fr. Ketcham's got many more insightful, educational and inspiring videos at PetersBoat.net.
You're seriously missing out if you're not keeping up with the guy.
Donald Trump is epically unprepared to be president. He has no realistic policies, no advisers, no capacity to learn. His vast narcissism makes him a closed fortress. He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know and he’s uninterested in finding out. He insults the office Abraham Lincoln once occupied by running for it with less preparation than most of us would undertake to buy a sofa.
Trump is perhaps the most dishonest person to run for high office in our lifetimes. All politicians stretch the truth, but Trump has a steady obliviousness to accuracy.
This week, the Politico reporters Daniel Lippman, Darren Samuelsohn and Isaac Arnsdorf fact-checked 4.6 hours of Trump speeches and press conferences. They found more than five dozen untrue statements, or one every five minutes.
“His remarks represent an extraordinary mix of inaccurate claims about domestic and foreign policy and personal and professional boasts that rarely measure up when checked against primary sources,” they wrote.
He is a childish man running for a job that requires maturity. He is an insecure boasting little boy whose desires were somehow arrested at age 12. He surrounds himself with sycophants. “You can always tell when the king is here,” Trump’s butler told Jason Horowitz in a recent Times profile. He brags incessantly about his alleged prowess, like how far he can hit a golf ball. “Do I hit it long? Is Trump strong?” he asks.
In some rare cases, political victors do not deserve our respect. George Wallace won elections, but to endorse those outcomes would be a moral failure.
And so it is with Trump.
History is a long record of men like him temporarily rising, stretching back to biblical times. Psalm 73 describes them: “Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. … They scoff, and speak with malice; with arrogance they threaten oppression. Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance.”
And yet their success is fragile: “Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly they are destroyed.”
The psalmist reminds us that the proper thing to do in the face of demagogy is to go the other way — to make an extra effort to put on decency, graciousness, patience and humility, to seek a purity of heart that is stable and everlasting.
The Republicans who coalesce around Trump are making a political error. They are selling their integrity for a candidate who will probably lose. About 60 percent of Americans disapprove of him, and that number has been steady since he began his campaign.
I'm completely aware that Mr. Brooks has in the past disappointed conservatives and for that reason alone, some will dismiss this piece. Others of course will dismiss it because they're Trump supporters and there stands no one in the world today more dismissive of truth than a Trump supporter. Nevertheless, truth should be widely disseminated when it's being trumpeted (no pun intended) and so I hope you'll do your part to viralize Mr. Brooks' column.
Within Catholic ultra traditionalist circles a new wave of ugliness has arisen. Numerous traditionalist blogs, websites and publications spew disrespectful hatred towards the Catholic church. They mock the Mass by despising the “Novus Ordo” they denigrate the Holy Father referring to him as “Pope Frank” or “Bergoglio” and refer to their mother the Catholic Church with adolescent disrespect as “FrancisChurch”.
I avoid commenting on the filth because, why wallow in sewage? I’m not going to link to the aggregators and websites in question because if you’re interested all you have to do is snoop around a little and follow a few links. You’ll see how they lie, misrepresent and tear down fellow Catholics, how these self appointed prophets ridicule, gossip and slander their fathers in God, and how these self righteous, pretentious Pharisees vomit their bile on all they meet.
It is pointless to ever argue with these people because they are always right. They have no true repentance in their hearts, but are driven by the worst kind of pride: spiritual pride.
Instead of arguing I would like to point out what is going on. First of all, I think it is unfair to use the term “traditionalist” for these people because it pulls down the many good, sensible and holy Catholics who are traditionalist by nature and by their devotions and worship. These people are my friends and family. I am on their side.
They work hard for the church. They live their faith. They build up their families and their parishes in the faith. These good folks deserve to keep the term “traditionalist” and to honor it with their good, strong, faithful and humble Catholicism.
We should separate the paranoid hate mongers from the rest of the traditionalists. They are not traditionalists. They are Protestant fundamentalists wearing traditionalist Catholic clothes.
I know about Protestant fundamentalism. I was raised and educated among Protestant fundamentalists. Among them were many good and sincere Christian people, but also among them, and driving their religion–was a certain type of religious person whose attitudes mirror exactly the Catholic fundamentalists on the rise today.
Here are ten principles things that connect them...
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said on Thursday that he respects Pope Francis after bashing the pontiff earlier in the day for criticizing his plan to build a border wall.
"He has a lot of personality," Trump said during the CNN town hall on Thursday night in South Carolina. "He's very different, he's a very different kind of a guy, and I think he's doing a very good job. A lot of energy."
Earlier on Thursday, Trump said the pope publicly questioned his faith with a statement that said building walls "is not Christian." Trump called a religious leader questioning a person's faith "disgraceful."
But he told CNN's Anderson Cooper that after seeing the pope's actual statements, it seems nicer than what was originally portrayed.
"I think he said something much softer than was originally reported by the media," he said.
Trump added that the pope only knew one side of the story.
"Somehow the government of Mexico spoke with the pope. I mean, they spent a lot of time with the pope, and by the time they left, they made the statement," he said.
Asked what he thought the Mexican government's role was, Trump said, "they probably talked about 'isn't it terrible that Mr. Trump wants to have border security,' " he said.
"I think that he heard one side of the story, which is probably by the Mexican government," he said.
But Trump said the bottom line is that the country needs stronger border security.
"I don't like fighting with the pope, actually. I don't think this is a fight," he said.
The Vatican has also weighed in after the fact:
Spokesperson for @Pontifex clarifies: comments on Trump weren't "personal attack"