The Obama White House is learning the hard way that presidential power requires something more substantial than an eternal marketing campaign and an endless spin-cycle, because no matter what a utopian president thinks the world should be like, the reality is this: in human life, peace is a transient thing, and in geopolitics, it is more often than not an illusion that quickly reveals itself as one. If Europe has been “at peace” these last 60 years, it’s a profound aberration in the scheme of history.
Obama (and his Secretary of State) seem to believe that humanity has — by virtue of nothing at all, except perhaps his say-so — transcended itself and entered into a we-are-stardust-we-are-golden happy place, where (in Europe, at least) nobody wants war, because everyone is loving peace.
That is a rather terrifying demonstration of naivete. Even a so-so student of human history and behavior (like me) knows that someone always wants war. Someone alwayswants more power. Someone is always looking for a way to avenge what they believe are past insults.
Naivete gets a second hit as Obama seems not to understand that his idea of patriotism (bowing, talking and receding as much as possible from the fore) has absolutely nothing to do with how Putin understands patriotism. Obama’s kind of an introverted patriot; he’d like America to keep to itself. Putin is a kind of extroverted patriot. He wants to extend his boundaries.
He demonstrated that in 2008, when he moved into Georgia, fully understanding that President Bush was a “weak horse” without the capital to do anything. That move was enough for Mitt Romney to warn in 2012 (and Sarah Palin to note in 2008) that Russia under Putin was a geopolitical threat to Ukraine and more — a notion that Obama blew off as “’80′s ideology.”
I received an email from The Anchoress a short while ago. I perk up when she does this because it's usually something she's sending me (and let's not kid each other, she's sending many people) that is well worth the time it takes to read it.
Tonight she sent me something to not only read... but to watch.
Now before I get into this, let me tell you, very briefly, that I was once a Charismatic Episcopalian. Regulars know that I was raised Catholic and then strayed... only to come back to the church (little 'c') at the invitation of a very good friend who got me to go to his Charismatic Episcopal church in Chesapeake, Virginia, by telling me that in essence, it was... Catholic light... though... very much 'alive in the spirit'. And it was. And I went. And I was changed. Dramatically.
I experienced God in vivid ways. I manifested His presence by speaking in tongues. I experienced being slain in the spirit. I interpreted tongues. I even gave prophetic utterances.
Yes. Full disclosure. I became a full fledged Charismatic, Evangelical, Born Again, Christian... Episcopalian.
I was filled with the Holy Spirit. But... over time... I leaked. I leaked badly. Still don't undersand those years and today find myself questioning much of it but... and this is so key for me now... I am, today, where I belong. I am Catholic (big 'C')... and, thanks to my friend, I am catholic (little 'c') all of which will make more sense if you stick with me here.
So... imagine my surprise... when tonight I received something that I took the time to watch, in its entirety... and that brought so much of what I experienced back to me... in a good way... in a pleasing way... in a holy way.
I'm excerpting The Anchoress here... and I'm embedding the video as she did.
Word of caution. It's a long video... and if you're one who finds pentecostals a little... odd... it may be offputting but it's well worth every minute if you're a believer who takes Christ's call to become one seriously. And we all need to do so.
So hang with it. Watch it all. Don't fall to the temptation to skip through it or give up on it. Once the young man with the collar speaks, you'll be captivated... and then there's a bigger surprise.
Thank you Elizabeth for your ministry to me over the years... and for yet another gift.
Watch it all. Give yourself 45 minutes after supper, tonight, or before bedtime, and watch this strange, fascinating thing that has happened, and pray for where it might lead.
This is why, as I wrote earlier today, I don’t particularly want to write about politics anymore. It’s all illusion and distraction. The reality is all in Christ. The world and its princes mean to divert our attention, and to divide. As Palmer notes, Christ Jesus is not in the division.
Lifelong Catholic Ronald Plishka wasn't sure that he that he would survive when an ambulance brought him to the emergency room of Washington, D.C.'s Washington Hospital Center to treat his heart attack, so he requested a priest to give him communion and administer last rites.
Plishka told The Blade that Coelho offered to take his confession before proceeding with communion and sacramental last rights. “We started talking and I told him I was so happy with this new pope because of his comments about the gays and his accepting the gays,” Plishka said. “And I mentioned that I was gay. I said it and then I asked him does that bother you? And he said, ‘Oh, no, that does not bother me.'"
The Washington Post reported that the conversation was interrupted by another person coming into the room, which Plishka shared with another patient. Plishka said that after his revelation, Coelho simply "would not continue" with the anointing of the sick sacrament or administration of communion, offering Plishka no explanation.
“He said, ‘I will pray with you,’ but that’s all he’d do. That was it.” Plishka was shocked and angered by Coelho's reaction. He told The Blade, "He wanted to pray. That’s what he wanted to do. He said well I could pray with you. And I just told him to get the f** out of here — excuse me. But that’s what I told him.”
Color me wrong, and I'm open to the possibility, but this smells like total bovine fecal matter.
Regular readers know that I've been warning of the troubles that will soon beset the Church. The handwriting is on the wall and this story is but a foreboding.
The named priest in the piece is in for one helluva a rough ride. We should most certainly pray for him and his ministry.
Some of you may likely be wondering what excuse could the priest have that might adequately explain what took place here. I think there to be many and thankfully, I'm not alone.
This story doesn't make sense. The only explanation is that the priest in question got skeeved out at a gay man, and decided he didn't want anything to do with him -- even if it meant denying him the sacraments. That's certainly the story that fits in neatly with the current media narrative in the U.S.: gay people just want to live their lives, and the Church just wants to humiliate and wound them before consigning them to hell.
But let's step back for a moment, and return to this idea that the story, as told by Plishka, doesn't really make sense. One problem: in neither story is it clear which sacrament Plishka was hoping to receive. Just anointing? Confession? Anointing and communion, without confession?
That's kind of important, because here's what may have actually happened:
Maybe Plishka asked to receive communion, and the priest rightly asked to hear his confession, first. There is no indication that Plishka is a man who leads a chaste life according to Catholic teaching. (This is possible, of course, but seems highly unlikely, since the story that is presented by Plishka and by both newspapers is a story about how unjust the Church is to condemn homosexual behavior.) It is common to make a confession before receiving communion, especially if there is no imminent danger of death.
So let's assume the priest asked Plishka for his confession, so that he would not commit the mortal sin of receiving communion unworthily. Did Plishka refuse to confess? In that case, the priest may very well have decided that he could not, in good conscience, continue with the anointing. Perhaps he was afraid Plishka saw the sacraments as some kind of magical ritual. His approach to the sacrament seems sentimental and superstitious (and he went on to receive "sacraments" from a methodist minister).
Here's a second possibility: did Plishka begin his confession, and did he tell the priest something that led the priest to believe that -- as above -- he was not in a fit state to receive the sacrament of anointing? Look at Plishka's behavior: he curses at the priest, he calls him a hypocrite, he demands his "due." In this situation, the priest would be bound by the seal of confession not to disclose what they talked about. The priest would, in fact, even be bound to refuse to acknowledge that Plishka even confessed to him.
The priest is bound by the seal of confession. Plishka went to the Washington Blade. Tell me how this is a fair and balanced story.
Maybe the priest did the wrong thing. Maybe he should have stayed and talked with Plishka further, to help him understand why someone who refuses to repent his sins cannot receive communion. Maybe he should have called in another priest.
Or, maybe the guy just made the whole thing up. Maybe he made threats or blasphemous jokes to the priest, and it was only through heroic charity that the priest was able to stay as long as he did. Most likely of all, Plishka left out extremely important details which would entirely change the character of the story, but which the priest is bound not to disclose.
Or heck, maybe the guy is just old, agitated, and confused and does not understand what happened. In any of these cases, the story as told stinks, it limps, it gaps and wobbles and it makes no sense. Does this post sound like a lot of speculation to you? It is. That's the problem: the original stories do not provide plausible facts. They are not journalism. They are propaganda.
The Church is just taking its first steps in developing a compassionate, humane approach to serve gay people. The Church's history in this matter isn't pretty. But that doesn't mean we have to nod and say "amen" every time a gay man or woman thinks the Church is being mean. We are all called to repent. This is not an insult or a jibe or a slur. It's just a fact: we are all called to repent, especially when we are near death. This story sounds like it's told by a man who refused to repent.
“I think there comes a time when as a gay man you have to take a stand, you know? It’s just intolerable to be treated like you’re nothing. And I could have died. And all I did was ask for the rites of the church that are due to me. But because I’m gay I’m denied that.”
Or maybe he's denying it to himself, by choosing drama over the repentance that is truly "what is due" to every man and woman, gay, straight, or undecided. You want drama? It's right there, inside the confessional, where Jesus Christ washes away our sins with His very blood.
Like your sin, and my sin, and Plishka's sin to the cross.
Thank God for clarity. And for people like Ms. Fisher who have the gift of delivering that clarity with verve and vigor.
There must be something legalistic in the human makeup, because cold, rigid, unambiguous, unparadoxical belief is common, especially considering how fervently the Scriptures oppose it.
And yet there is a silent majority who experience a faith that is attractively marked by combinations of fervor and doubt, clarity and confusion, empathy and moral demand.
For example, Audrey Assad is a Catholic songwriter with a crystalline voice and a sober intensity to her stage presence. (You can see her perform her song “I Shall Not Want” on YouTube.) She writes the sort of emotionally drenched music that helps people who are in crisis. A surprising number of women tell her they listened to her music while in labor.
She had an idyllic childhood in a Protestant sect prone to black-or-white dichotomies. But when she was in her 20s, life’s tragedies and complexities inevitably mounted, and she experienced a gradual erosion of certainty.
She began reading her way through the books on the Barnes & Noble Great Books shelf, trying to cover the ones she missed by not going to college. She loved George Eliot’s “Daniel Deronda” and was taken by Tolstoy. “He didn’t have an easy time encountering himself,” she says, sympathetically. “I was reading my way from darkness into paradox.”
She also began reading theology. She’d never read anything written before 1835. She went back to Augustine (whose phrases show up in her lyrics) and the early church fathers. Denominationally, she went backward in time. She became Baptist, then Presbyterian, then Catholic: “I was ready to be an atheist. I was going to be a Catholic or an atheist. “
She came to feel the legacy of millions of people who had struggled with the same feelings for thousands of years. “I still have routine brushes with agnosticism,” she says. “I still brush against the feeling that I don’t believe any of this, but the church always brings me back. ...I don’t think Jesus wants to brush away the paradoxes and mysteries.”
Her lyrics dwell in the parts of Christianity she doesn’t understand. “I don’t want people to think I’ve had an easy time.” She still fights the tendency to go to extremes. “If I’d have been an atheist I’d have been the most obnoxious, Dawkins-loving atheist. I wouldn’t have been like Christopher Hitchens.”
Her life, like all lives, is unexpected, complex and unique. Her music provides a clearer outward display of how many inwardly experience God.
If you are a secular person curious about how believers experience their faith, you might start with Augustine’s famous passage “What do I love when I love my God,” and especially the way his experience is in the world but then mysteriously surpasses the world:
“It is not physical beauty nor temporal glory nor the brightness of light dear to earthly eyes, nor the sweet melodies of all kinds of songs, nor the gentle odor of flowers, and ointments and perfumes, nor manna or honey, nor limbs welcoming the embraces of the flesh; it is not these I love when I love my God. Yet there is a light I love, and a food, and a kind of embrace when I love my God — a light, voice, odor, food, embrace of my innerness, where my soul is floodlit by light which space cannot contain, where there is sound that time cannot seize, where there is a perfume which no breeze disperses, where there is a taste for food no amount of eating can lessen, and where there is a bond of union that no satiety can part. That is what I love when I love my God.”
That's... beautiful. And in the New York Times... amazing.
(And tim... yes, you tim oh loyal reader... the way I read this... my interpretation... is that you, Mr. Godless Heathen, and I... there's a fine line that separates us... kinda sorta... think on that.)
Anything that promotes the idea that we should self-identify and define ourselves according to our sexual attractions and or inclinations is a form of soft-coercion into a specific way of thinking. It is a unified objective across all sexual-minority advocacy groups, and thus one could loosely describe the movement to promote this way of thinkingas a religionof its own. This “New Religion” of this era does not permit (and is hostile towards) authentic Christianity – meaning it does not permit the idea that people should seek to find their identity first and foremost in Christ. It is a religion that is therefore counter to all Christianity, and if it takes root, itwill destroy all orthodox Christian nations - whether they be Catholic or Orthodox. I hope and pray that the people of Russia and all other Christian nations take notice, as to prevent it from occurring in their own countries.
Dear westernized world, are you not able to see that your value set has created a climate where people self-identify and define themselves first and foremost in terms of their sexual attractions and inclinations? Can you see how you are so fixated on sexuality even to the point that you are encouraging your own children to self-identify and define themselves in that way as well? My heart pours out for these people (I was one of them) for as our world ascribes reductionist labels and parameters on “who people are”, many of this generation will come to realize that there is no true freedom in anchoring our sense of self-concept on our sexual attractions and or inclinations.
Many of this generation will come to reject this way of self-identifying and defining themselves – but for many it may only be after being consumed by a search for validation within those identity labels. The danger of this imminent situation is that along their prior trajectories of seeking to come to fruition within these types of identity labels, unchaste activity abounds – and is often perceived to be a necessary for it is in unchaste sexual activity by which one may experience validate of self within those types of identities. This of course is not only spiritually destructive but also physiologically destructive. This, is the story of my life, and it is shared by others like me, and we literally watch in horror how our world feeds our children into the same mouth of hell that we too lived with our own lives. The cycle continues, and all we can do is pray that it be used for a greater victory in God’s time.
Sadly, we have come to know that if the worldly political climate maintains it’s current trajectory, dissenters of the worldly ways will continue to be silenced. However, on a hopeful note, we see more and more people choosing to reject The New Religion. People (like us) are sick of being deceived and are now more and more motivated by our own conviction to truth to reject the rainbow flag ideology – to reject the ideology that promotes the idea that we should self-identify and define ourselves according to our attractions and or inclinations. This quiet, yet mounting rejection is occurring, yet the mainstream media remains silent as they continue to strive to deceive the world into believing that people like us do not exist.
I hope this person is correct about the mounting rejection of what's occurring. I'm not seeing it but I pray I'm simply blind to the phenomenon.
Read the entire piece, it's lengthy but worthy, particularly when it notes that the hostility toward authentic Christianity is coupled with silence towards Islam.
“I certainly don’t think that the death required that ‘ye be born again,’ is the death of reason. If what the Church teaches is not true, then the security and emotional release and sense of purpose it gives you are of no value and you are right to reject it. One of the effects of modern liberal Protestantism has been gradually to turn religion into poetry and therapy, to make truth vaguer and vaguer and more and more relative, to banish intellectual distinctions, to depend on feeling instead of thought, and gradually to come to believe that God has no power, that he cannot communicate with us, cannot reveal himself to us, indeed has not done so, and that religion is our own sweet invention. This seems to be about where you find yourself right now."
Of course, I am a Catholic and I believe the opposite of all this. I believe what the Church teaches – that God has given us reason to use and that it can lead us toward a knowledge of him, through analogy; that he has revealed himself in history and continues to do so through the Church, and that he is present (not just symbolically) in the Eucharist on our altars. To believe all this I don’t take any leap into the absurd. I find it reasonable to believe, even though these beliefs are beyond reason…
Satisfy your demand for reason always, but remember that charity is beyond reason and, and that God can be known through charity.”
Fascinating to me.
God reveals Himself chiefly to the Catholic by way of the Eucharist and through our charitable acts. Think on that a second.
Want to know God? Receive Him in the Eucharist... give Him away by being charitable.
Daily Caller: A Buffalo, N.Y. community activist who is well known locally for pushing for a highly restrictive 2013 gun control law has been arrested for — wait for it — carrying a gun illegally at a public elementary school.
The arrested gun-control advocate, Dwayne Ferguson, caused quite a scene at Harvey Austin Elementary School, reports local CBS affiliate WIVB.
At about 4:15 p.m. on Thursday, police acted on a pair of anonymous 911 tips. A battalion of cops quickly swarmed the school. The brigade included over a dozen squad cars, the SWAT team and K9 units. The Erie County Sheriff’s Air One helicopter and what appears to be an armored vehicle also turned up. ...
He said he frequently carries a pistol. He has a license but the license does not matter under the strict state law Ferguson helped pass.
Among much else, the 2013 law, deemed New York’s SAFE Act, made it a felony to carry a gun on school property, according to The Buffalo News.
While it was always illegal to carry a gun on school grounds, the new law bumped the crime from a misdemeanor to a felony in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
The New York Times reported: A group of Sunni militants attending a suicide bombing training class at a camp north of Baghdad were killed on Monday when their commander unwittingly conducted a demonstration with a belt that was packed with explosives, army and police officials said.
The militants belonged to a group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, which is fighting the Shiite-dominated army of the Iraqi government, mostly in Anbar Province. But they are also linked to bomb attacks elsewhere and other fighting that has thrown Iraq deeper into sectarian violence.
Twenty-two ISIS members were killed, and 15 were wounded, in the explosion at the camp, which is in a farming area in the northeastern province of Samara, according to the police and army officials. Stores of other explosive devices and heavy weapons were also kept there, the officials said.
Eight militants were arrested when they tried to escape, the officials said.
The militant who was conducting the training was not identified by name, but he was described by an Iraqi Army officer as a prolific recruiter who was “able to kill the bad guys for once.”
Via Pope Francis' Encyclical Letter Lumen Fidei (Light of Faith):
Today more than ever, we need to be reminded of the bond between faith and truth, given the crisis of truth in our age. In contemporary culture, we often tend to consider the only real truth to be that of technology: truth is what we succeed in building and measuring by our scientific know-how, truth is what works and what makes life easier and more comfortable. Nowadays this appears as the only truth that is certain, the only truth that can be shared, the only truth that can serve as a basis for discussion or for common undertakings.
Yet at the other end of the scale we are willing to allow for subjective truths of the individual, which consist in fidelity to his or her deepest convictions, yet these are truths valid only for that individual and not capable of being proposed to others in an effort to serve the common good. But Truth itself, the truth which would comprehensively explain our life as individuals and in society, is regarded with suspicion.
Surely this kind of truth — we hear it said — is what was claimed by the great totalitarian movements of the last century, a truth that imposed its own world view in order to crush the actual lives of individuals. In the end, what we are left with is relativism, in which the question of universal truth — and ultimately this means the question of God — is no longer relevant. It would be logical, from this point of view, to attempt to sever the bond between religion and truth, because it seems to lie at the root of fanaticism, which proves oppressive for anyone who does not share the same beliefs. In this regard, though, we can speak of a massive amnesia in our contemporary world.
The question of truth is really a question of memory, deep memory, for it deals with something prior to ourselves and can succeed in uniting us in a way that transcends our petty and limited individual consciousness. It is a question about the origin of all that is, in whose light we can glimpse the goal and thus the meaning of our common path.
Strange as it may seem, the maker and ruler of the universe seeks out the pleasure of our company; we can please God and we can hurt him by the ways we treat him, treat ourselves and treat one another.
All this means that human beings present God with an extraordinary problem.On the one hand, we are irresistibly lovable, beautiful and, where God’s love is concerned, needy: how could we not be? Beings made by love out of love are inescapably drawn to the perfect love from which they come. No matter how grizzled and grumpy we become with the passing years, or how pimpled and snarky we turn in our adolescence, God looks at us with the kind of tender solicitude and hopeful anxiety with which we look at small children.
Yet at the same time, like many angelic looking children, we’re a fairly nasty bunch of characters, more Lord of the Flies than Little Lord Fauntleroy. Just pick up a newspaper or go to your favorite news site: genocides, starvation, vast contrasts of poverty and wealth; terror, arms races, environmental destruction; the rich and the poor cheating and stealing from one another, with the rich generally doing best because they’ve got more power to abuse; nations nursing ancient wounds as hatreds fester.
Or back off from these entrenched historical evils and look at what goes on in families, neighborhoods and among friends. Abused children grow up to repeat the cycle. Children of alcoholics and addicts grow up with psychological wounds that predispose them to repeat the same sad behavior. Widespread epidemics of cheating in school, cheating on taxes, cheating on expense accounts, cheating on spouses. It’s a bit like the national debt; each generation gets the bill for its parents’ shortcomings – and passes that bill with some additional charges down to their own heirs.
Christians talk about this situation under the heading of original sin, saying that our species has been a big dysfunctional family since the dawn of time, and that each of us repeats and adds to that cycle of abuse and betrayal in our own way even as we suffer from the damage done by those who came before. Other religions object to the kind of metaphysical structure that Christians give to the concept, but virtually everyone intuitively gets this picture of a human race somehow at war with itself and fundamentally out of whack.
This flawed race trapped in a cycle of cascading pain and wrong is what, and who, God is bound and determined to love; the question is how can he do it?
From the Christian point of view, this is not a trivial problem.
People aren’t just messy and incomplete. We are actively evil. As Reinhold Niebuhr puts it, we place ourselves at the center of the moral universe instead of God and our neighbors. We aren’t just victims of an unjust society and a tragic history; we make choices that perpetrate and even deepen injustice and add new dimensions to unfolding tragedies of our time.
God is so loving that he can’t leave us to perish in our misery and mess. He wants us with a love that will not be denied.
And there's no more proof of that sort of love than the proof found in the Incarnation, where God joined humanity's misery and mess in the person of Christ.
Read Mead's entire piece... it's thoughtfully well written and more than adequately gives us a glimpse of God's character, His grace, and a love that cannot be fully fathomed.