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.”
We are not talking about a refusal to provide service for a class of people. We are talking about businesses who routinely provide services to everyone, including homosexuals. These mom and pop businesses are owned by individuals whose religious beliefs are not only opposed to gay marriage, but that teach that participation in a gay marriage makes them part of the sin of it.
I believe that this last sentence is the real motivation behind the enormous amount of rage and political energy being expended to force what is a small subset of all the bakers, florists and photographers in this country to participate in this specific event. These people do not want to participate in gay weddings because they believe gay marriage is sinful. That fact, and not the entirely bogus claim of discrimination, is what lies behind the furor.
This is not about discrimination, which is clearly not happening. It is about a need for approval and acceptance, which is not a legal construct.
The question of linking discrimination to service by businesses only occurs when a class of people are routinely refused service because they are of that class of people. The mis-used analogy of the African American civil rights struggle actually demonstrates why these shop owners are not discriminating and why there is no legal discrimination happening in this instance.
African Americans were refused all service at what were labeled “white only” establishments. They could not drink at “white” drinking fountains or even sit at the counter in a “white” drug store. They had to live in “colored” neighborhoods, and attend “colored” schools. This was enforced both by legal penalty and tolerated mob violence, including lynchings which were attended by large crowds of people and ignored by the police.
On the other hand, the bakers, florists and photographers who do not want to participate in gay weddings routinely provide services to homosexual people in every other instance. There is no attempt or desire on their part to refuse service to any group of people. In fact, at least one of the people engaging in these lawsuits was a regular customer of the establishment prior to filling suit.
These businesses are not refusing service based on anyone’s sexual preference. They just don’t want to participate in one specific type of event, and the reason they don’t want to is their religious beliefs which have been honored and respected since the beginning of this nation.
This is not discrimination. This is an exercise of what should be an individual’s freedom of religion.
The true discrimination here is the attack on individual’s right of conscience and religious freedom in an attempt to coerce them to violate their conscience in order to provide flowers, photography services and food for a private event. There is no question that this refusal does not deny the homosexuals in question access to these services. They are available at any number of other similar businesses. There is not and never has been any attempt to deny service to homosexuals. This is not about a class of people. It is about a specific type of event.
What these activists are literally making a federal case about is wedding cakes and flowers. The business people they are attacking provide services to everyone, including homosexuals, in every other instance except gay weddings. To label this discrimination in the Constitutional sense and call it “hate” is ridiculous.
I believe that the real issue is forcing other people, specifically religious people, to provide homosexuals with a sense of social acceptance. I actually understand that longing and sympathize with it. However, the fact is that these florists, photographers and bakers are not practicing discrimination in any sane legal sense.
They are, rather, being harassed, threatened, verbally abused, legally bullied and, yes, discriminated against themselves. The aggression and “hate” appears to be on the side of the people who are attacking them.
Let there be no doubt. The culture war is advancing and those on the side of religious freedom have just lost yet another battle yet thankfully, hopefully, there are more voices like Ms. Hamilton's out there willing to speak up and hopefully there are people like you who will read her words and pass them on.
A coalition of black pastors announced on Tuesday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. that they are launching a campaign to gather one million signatures on a petition calling for the impeachment of Attorney General Eric Holder for violating his oath of office by trying "to coerce states to fall in line with the same-sex 'marriage' agenda."
"President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have turned their backs on the values the American people hold dear, values particularly cherished in the black community: values like marriage, which should be strengthened and promoted, rather than weakened and undermined," says a statement by the Coalition of African American Pastors that has been posted online with their impeachment petition.
"Our nation calls for the building up of a healthier marriage culture; instead, our elected leaders are bent on destroying marriage, remaking it as a genderless institution and reorienting it to be all about the desires of adults rather than the needs of children," says the coalition.
"In pursuing this intention, the president and his administration are trampling the rule of law.Attorney General Holder in particular has used the influence of his office and role as the chief law enforcement figure in our nation to try to coerce states to fall in line with the same-sex ‘marriage’ agenda," says the coaltion. :Millions of voters in 30 states have voted to defend marriage as the union of one man and one woman, but Attorney General Holder is attempting single-handedly to throw those votes away!
"For abandoning the oath he swore in taking office and his duty to defend the common good, Attorney General Holder should be impeached by Congress," says the coalition. "CAAP is calling on all men and women of good will to sign the following petition urging Congress to take action against the Attorney General’s lawlessness today!"
I've not yet seen any reactions from your media go to guys for all things black (Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, or anyone leading the NAACP) and frankly, doubt that I will but... what I find intriguing is that media types can't simply lay this issue at the feet of Catholic or conservative Christian 'bigots'.
Which is probably why they'll stay hands off on this story.
Disrespect for men is a joke to us now. A little while ago I stopped on the way home from work to buy my wife some flowers. As she rang me up, the cashier quipped: “Uh-oh, what’d you do?” I wasn’t particularly amused, but I chuckled. She continued. “I don’t know if this will be enough to get you off the couch tonight!”
Ah, yes, the old “husband is punished by his wife and sent to the couch” meme. I’m not sure if this actually happens in real life, or if it’s an invention of 90′s “all men are fat, witless, oafs” sitcoms, but the popularity of the stereotype is telling. Is this how we see husbands now? A man gets “in trouble” with his wife, she scolds him and puts him in time-out on the couch. Now he has to placate his alpha-bride by showering her with flowers and jewelry.
Men are painted like children or dogs. They can be shooed off of their own beds by their wives and sent to cower in the living room until she permits him to return. This is only slightly less offensive than the cliché of the sadistic wife who punitively withholds sex from her husband. “You didn’t clean the garage like I told you. No sex for you, mister! Next time, follow my instructions!”
These cultural messages aren’t harmful because they hurt my manly feelings; they’re harmful because of what they do to young girls. Society tells our daughters that men are boorish dolts who need to be herded like goats and lectured like school boys. Then they grow up and enter into marriage wholly unprepared and unwilling to accept the Biblical notion that “wives should submit to their husbands” because “the husband is the head of the wife.” [Ephesians 5]
It is a fatal problem, because the one thing that is consistently withheld from men and husbands — respect — is the one thing we need the most.
Yes, need. We need respect, and that need is so deeply ingrained that a marriage cannot possibly survive if the man is deprived of it.
Often, people will say that a husband should only be respected if he “earns” it. This attitude is precisely the problem. A wife ought to respect her husband because he is her husband, just as he ought to love and honor her because she is his wife. Your husband might “deserve” it when you mock him, berate him, belittle him, and nag him, but you don’t marry someone in order to give them what they deserve. In marriage, you give them what you’ve promised them, even when they aren’t holding up their end of the bargain.
You can imagine the gnashing of teeth in feminist circles this one is engendering.
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.
Mr. FALLON: I grew up in an Irish-Catholic family, and I think they force you to watch every James Cagney movie.
(Soundbite of laughter)
GROSS: So you went to Catholic school when you were young.
Mr. FALLON: Oh yeah.
GROSS: Did you have...
Mr. FALLON: I wanted to be a priest.
GROSS: Did you really?
Mr. FALLON: Yeah. I loved it.
Mr. FALLON: I just, I loved the church. I loved the idea of it. I loved the smell of the incense. I loved the feeling you get when you left church. I loved like how this priest can make people feel this good. I just thought it was, I loved the whole idea of it. My grandfather was very religious, so I used to go to mass with him at like 6:45 in the morning serve mass and then you made money too if you did weddings and funerals. They'd give you, you'd get like five bucks. And so I go okay, I can make money too. I go this could be a good deal for me. I thought I had the calling.
GROSS: Do you think part of that calling was really show business? 'Cause like the priest is the performer at church.
Mr. FALLON: Yeah. You know what - I really Terry, I'm, I recently thought about this. Again, I've never been to therapy but I guess that would be, it's being on stage. It's my first experience on stage is as an altar boy. You're on stage next to the priest, I'm a co-star.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. FALLON: I'm, I've got...
GROSS: Also starring Jimmy Fallon.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. FALLON: Yeah, I have no lines but I ring bells. I ring bells and I swing the incense around. But it was my - and you know, you are performing. You enter through a curtain, you exit through the, I mean you're backstage. I mean have you ever seen backstage behind an alter? It's kind of fascinating.
Mr. FALLON: So I think it was, I think it was my first taste of show business and I think - or acting or something.
GROSS: And there are comparisons, I think, between a theater and a church. There are just kind of places that are separated from outside reality.
Mr. FALLON: Yeah. And I remember I had a hard time keeping a straight face at church as well.
GROSS: Did you?
Mr. FALLON: Which - yeah...
GROSS: Did you do imitations of the priest?
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. FALLON: Oh, of course. Yeah. I used to do Father McFadden all the time. He's the fastest talking priest ever. He's be like...
(Soundbite of mumbling)
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. FALLON: And then you leave and you go, that - what was that?
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. FALLON: That guy's the best. I mean that was church? Sign me up. I'll do church I'll do it 10 times a day if that's church. He was great.
GROSS: Do you still go to church?
Mr. FALLON: I don't go to - I tried to go back. When I was out in L.A. and I was like kind of struggling for a bit I went to church for a while, but it's kind of, it's gotten gigantic now for me. It's like too, there's a band. There's a band there now and you got to, you have to hold hands with people through the whole mass now, and I don't like doing that. You know, I mean it used to be the shaking hands piece was the only time you touched each other.
Mr. FALLON: Now I'm holding now I'm lifting people. Like Simba.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. FALLON: I'm holding them (Singing) ha nah hey nah ho.
(Speaking) I'm I'm doing too much. I don't want - there's Frisbees being thrown, there's beach balls going around, people waving lighters, and I go this is too much for me. I want the old way. I want to hang out with the, you know, with the nuns, you know, that was my favorite type of mass, and the Grotto and just like straight up, just mass-mass.
I remember Mass-Mass as a kid growing up in Madrid with my mom and her family. I remember incense. Darkened churches. Women in veils. Shadows being cast on giant crucifixes. Confessional booths. Parents shshing their children. Quiet prayer. Reverence. Awe. Mystery.
“But I would say, you know, if you’re getting married -- why are you getting married?" Pelosi asked. "Why would you get married? Why would anybody get married? In that the person that they love so much, that was irresistible, that they had to get married?”
Pelosi then articulated her theory. “I’m not a big one for rushing people into marriage as wonderful and happy as mine was,” she said, giving a shout-out to her husband of 50 years, Paul.
The Democratic leader did say that children were a good reason to get hitched. “But just make sure that the person that you’re madly in love with is with the program,” Pelosi said.
Did you ever notice that dog food looks, you know, rather appetizing on dog food commercials? That’s because dogs don’t buy dog food. People buy dog food. So you pitch the content to the people, not the dogs.
In the same way, our manufacturers of information pitch their “news” to the obsessions of their viewers, not to actually telling us what’s going on. So, for instance, in our post-Christian, sex-obsessed culture, you find that NBC is spending 13X more coverage on Russian anti-gay legislation than on attacks on Syrian Christians. Why? Because the denizens of 30 Rock and their peer group are obsessed with sexual libertinism and could not care less about about a bunch of Syrian Christians getting slaughtered. And they don’t see why you would care either. So the decision is made for us as to what constitutes “news”. Sex is appetitizing. Death, not so much (unless they can get some cool footage of people being killed). But that would require NBC journos being in harm’s way and about the biggest hardship they want to deal with is a hotel in Russia.
Take what Mark's writing about there and relate it to the non-stop coverage of Michael Sam. I'm counting nearly 100,000 results when doing a Google News Search on the man. Not quite 3,400 hits when looking for Christians Slaughtered in Syria.
There's something wrong with this picture.
We are playing up manufactured victimhood while ignoring real victims.
Why is that?
Is this not an accurate indication of how sick our culture is? Michael Sam has become for many a cultural icon and hero and yet we know not the name of a single martyred Christian in Syria.
Hell-bent on arming opposition forces in Syria—despite strong evidence that they’re run by Islamic terrorists—John McCain displayed behavior unbecoming of a United States Senator during a recent meeting with Syrian Christian leaders touring Capitol Hill.
The delegation of Syrian clergy came to Washington to raise awareness among lawmakers of the growing crisis among the region’s minority Christian community. Christians make up about 10% of the Syrian population and they are being targeted and ruthlessly murdered by radical elements of the rebel forces, according to the visiting church officials. They say the media and human rights groups in the west have been largely silent on the ordeal of the Christians in Syria.
A number of churches have been destroyed or burned, children were killed when rebels fired mortar rockets at an Armenian Christian school in Damascus and countless others have been abducted by Islamic fighters, the Syrian delegation reveals in a statement published by the research group, Westminster Institute, that brought them to Washington. Eleven nuns have also been abducted and are still in captivity and two bishops are still missing after getting kidnapped during a humanitarian mission.
But Senator McCain, an Arizona Republican, evidently doesn’t want to hear negative stories about the rebels he’s working to arm. So he stormed out of a closed-door meeting with the Syrian clergy officials last week. Held in the Senate Arms Services Committee meeting room, the reunion also included senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Graham is a Republican and the rest are Democrats.
McCain marched into the committee room yelling, according to a high-level source that attended the meeting, and quickly stormed out. “He was incredibly rude,” the source told Judicial Watch “because he didn’t think the Syrian church leaders should even be allowed in the room.” Following the shameful tantrum McCain reentered the room and sat briefly but refused to make eye contact with the participants, instead ignoring them by looking down at what appeared to be random papers.
The outburst was so embarrassing that Senator Graham, also an advocate of U.S. military intervention in Syria, apologized for McCain’s disturbing outburst. “Graham actually apologized to the group for McCain’s behavior,” according to the source, who sat through the entire meeting. “It was truly unbelievable.”
He was once a war hero... and deserves our respect for that service.
But it's really well past time for the man to go sit on a porch somewhere in Arizona and contemplate life.