Is this really the hill some U.S. Christians want to die on, though? That someone in a place of business is not being allowed to wish people “a blessed day”?
If so, are these same Christians going to take it well, when a cheerful bank teller ends a transaction with a Wiccan “Blessed Be!” (or the Gaelic “beannacht ort” preferred by some); will they be fine hearing a religious Pagan say “May the gods bless you!” or “May Hecate have your back!” as they conclude their deposit? Will they be okay with “May Allah smile upon you” at the drive-through or with hearing a cheerfully atheistic, “Enjoy your godless day!”
This all puts me in mind of Saint Therese, who was fervent in her faith but often as not blessed others by interiorly lifting them up to God in secret, keeping it between God and herself, as it were. This quiet act of asking the Lord to bestow a blessing upon the other would become, then, an intimate exchange between the Bridegroom and the Beloved — quite possibly a more efficacious prayer than one spoken in a business setting, where its reception may be uncertain, or even unwelcome.
Offering a blessing interiorly would certainly keep it real and prevent it from becoming as trite, automatic, mindless and meaningless as “Have a Nice Day!” And too, an interior offering seems to me an altogether more loving, courteous and grace-filled way to bless another because it doesn’t put them on the spot; it does not risk making someone feel awkward, or forced to respond in kind when doing so might not conform to either their nature, or their faith, and thus lead them into an occasion of sin.
This bank teller said, “I don’t think there’s any better kind of day you can have than a blessed day.” Well, neither do I, and a world where everyone is constantly offering blessings, or good wishes, or positive feelings to each other from their religious perspectives actually sounds like it could be a good thing, doesn’t it? Bring on the blessings from Jesus, and from Muhammed and the Goddess and the Buddha and Kwan Yin, because people actively blessing each other are not people actively warring against each other, after all, yes?
But how to then deal with, say, a satanist smilingly wishing something upon you while calling evil “good”? Personally, I don’t need my bank teller to orally bless me, or to ask me to declare myself, or to openly speculate on my sinfulness, gauge the state of my soul or pleasantly proselytize me in any way while I’m trying to make a deposit. If she were to silently ask the Lord to bless me, however, I can only imagine that the Lord would bless her, in return, for the generosity of her spirit, for she would be doing exactly as Jesus had taught: making her prayer in secret, without drawing any attention at all to herself, or in anyway showcasing her own holiness.
She's got more... including links at the end of the piece to that which ought to make the bank teller hang her head in shame.
It’s not a Declaration of Happiness or the pursuit of it. It’s not a Declaration of Do Whatever the Hell You Want. It’s a declaration of independence from tyranny. It’s this independence that is the cause of our joy. Our freedom as a nation, as free people, is the source of happiness.
It’s such an important document that Abraham Lincoln considered the Declaration to be the foundation of his political philosophy. Lincoln thought the Declaration’s principles should be the same principles used to interpret the United States Constitution.
And yet most of never read beyond the first sentence and use it as their right to self indulgence.
To celebrate this Fourth of July let’s read on a little farther.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.“
In a battered car loaded with blankets and clothes, Hassan Abbas and his mother left a dusty town in northern Iraq, fleeing this week's violence and joining what the United Nations says is the largest worldwide population of displaced people since World War II.
The U.N. refugee agency's latest annual report, released Friday, found more than 50 million people worldwide were displaced at the end of last year, reflecting an ever-expanding web of international conflicts.
Last year's increase in displaced people was the largest in at least two decades, driven mainly by the civil war in Syria, which has claimed an estimated 160,000 lives and forced 9 million people to flee their homes. Now Iraq is adding to that tide.
And so the title of this post asks the pertinent question... how much of this can be laid at Obama's feet?
I would posit a butt-load however I'm open to others attempting to disusade me of that opinion.
I don’t often comment on politics because, quite frankly, I’m both uninterested and ignorant. My opinions of the president himself I will keep to myself because they are only opinions.
However I can comment on the religious implications of what is happening however, and it seems to me that the American secular ignorance about religion is partly to blame for the present nightmare in the Middle East.
Secularists simply do not understand the religious person’s mindset. Religious people really do believe in the afterlife. They really do believe their religion is from God and that they must spread that religion at all costs. They really do believe that the future of the world and the eternal future of souls is at stake.
While there are tribal and historic, economic and political dimensions to the conflict, the religious dimension is the main motivator. Without understanding the religious motivation there is no real understanding of the reasons for such fanaticism. The religious dimension means that the Muslim extremists will not compromise, will not negotiate, will not engage in diplomacy of any kind.
He's not quite done. Do finish with him as he has to say that which is most unpopular but necessary.
I continue to struggle with whether Obama's foreign policy decisions are willful and strategic or merely one blunderous and incompetent mistake after another. Fr. Longenecker, it seems, thinks the latter. I have my doubts.
What I do know is that we live in dangerous times and they are getting more dangerous, particularly for Christians in those regions reeling under the impact of the Obama administration's choices.
Pray for them. The Christians... and those involved in making these decisions.
As I write this, the Invocation for Peace is going on at the Vatican. This is being widely panned by the faithless, the stony hearted, the cynical, the doubters. I wonder as well as to its effectiveness if truth be known yet I hold out hope that God will work in the hearts of those who play an influential role in what goes on in the Middle East and it's that hope that spurs me on to believe that something effectual could come.
. . .Vatican officials also confirmed that Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople will participate in the prayer service [and] stressed that the prayer service should be seen not as a political gesture, but in fact as a “pause from politics.” Apart from the two heads of state, no Israeli or Palestinian government officials will participate.
The prayer service will also preserve the integrity of the separate religious traditions, noted Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa. . .”We do not pray together, but we stay together to pray,” he said.
Peres and Abbas will arrive at the Vatican separately, and the Pope will speak to each man privately before they join together for the service in the Vatican Gardens. The service will have three sections, with prayers for forgiveness and prayers for peace said in each of the three religious traditions: first Jewish (in Hebrew), then Christian (in English, Italian, and Arabic), and finally Islamic (in Arabic).
On Twitter, someone responding to Katrina’s post wrote
Still not sure how this will help the “peace process”.
Really? That’s kind of like saying “what? Prayer? How dumb! That has no power!”
Fine for an atheist, but we people of faith understand — or should — that prayer has more power than all of our military and diplomatic efforts combined; that prayer offered in good faith, in simple, trusting faith, has the power “to move mountains,” as Christ Jesus said.
Unless of course, one thinks he was talking through his hat — just speaking pretty for the scribes. But we don’t really believe that, do we? Even as so many Christians pretend that “meh, he didn’t really mean what he said about marriage,” and divorce again and again, or “meh, he couldn’t possibly have meant what he said about his Flesh and Blood” and therefore dismiss the Eucharist, we don’t really believe that he was pitching blarney on something as basic to the life and practice of faith as the power of prayer, do we?
If so, what was the point of his teachings? Why bother with the whole bloody sacrifice and resurrection and all the subsequent martyrdoms and miracles, if Christ’s discourses were nothing but fillers for a bad spiritual salami, comprised of 90% faith by-products, and prayer had no truck with the Father?
Do we believe that sincere and faith-filled prayer has power? Yes, we do. Do we think that only Christian prayer is acceptable to God? I’m sure some do believe that, especially since Jesus said “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life,” and “no one comes to the Father except through me.”
But does that mean the prayers of billions are never heard in heaven? Does it mean the prayers of a little child, not yet capable of fully comprehending (as if any of us can) what it means to “accept Christ”, never reach the Father? That hundreds of millions of people are created each year who go through their whole lives making heartfelt prayers that shift to some sort of spiritual sidebar, where angels perhaps raise them as far as they may go without Christ’s mediation? What if Christ — as Mediator in heaven, and in whom resides all Judgement — decides, “yeah, I’m the mediator; let the prayers come to me, and through me to my Abba.”
Because he actually can do that! Beyond all of our doctrine, and dogma and our dictates, he is the ultimate Decider. If the Creator can decide, through the pleadings of Abraham, that he will spare a nation possessing one faithful man, then the Redeemer can decide whether prayers will ascend to the Father, through himself, no?
‘I never used that word ‘dumped’,” Catherine Corless, a local historian in Co Galway, tells The Irish Times. “I never said to anyone that 800 bodies were dumped in a septic tank. That did not come from me at any point. They are not my words.”
The story that emerged from her work was reported this week in dramatic headlines around the world.
“Tell us the truth about the children dumped in Galway’s mass graves” – TheGuardian.
“Bodies of 800 babies, long-dead, found in septic tank at former Irish home for unwed mothers” – The Washington Post.
“Nearly 800 dead babies found in septic tank in Ireland” – Al Jazeera.
“800 skeletons of babies found inside tank at former Irish home for unwed mothers” – New York Daily News.
“Almost 800 ‘forgotten’ Irish children dumped in septic tank mass grave at Catholic home” – ABC News, Australia.
Corless, who lives outside Tuam, has been working for several years on records associated with the former St Mary’s mother-and-baby home in the town. Her research has revealed that 796 children, most of them infants, died between 1925 and 1961, the 36 years that the home, run by Bon Secours, existed.
Between 2011 and 2013 Corless paid €4 each time to get the children’s publicly available death certificates. She says the total cost was €3,184. “If I didn’t do it, nobody else would have done it. I had them all by last September.”
The children’s names, ages, places of birth and causes of death were recorded. The average number of deaths over the 36-year period was just over 22 a year. The information recorded on these State- issued certificates has been seen by The Irish Times; the children are marked as having died variously of tuberculosis, convulsions, measles, whooping cough, influenza, bronchitis and meningitis, among other illnesses.
The deaths of these 796 children are not in doubt. Their numbers are a stark reflection of a period in Ireland when infant mortality in general was very much higher than today, particularly in institutions, where infection spread rapidly. At times during those 36 years the Tuam home housed more than 200 children and 100 mothers, plus those who worked there, according to records Corless has found.
What has upset, confused and dismayed her in recent days is the speculative nature of much of the reporting around the story, particularly about what happened to the children after they died. “I never used that word ‘dumped’,” she says again, with distress. “I just wanted those children to be remembered and for their names to go up on a plaque. That was why I did this project, and now it has taken [on] a life of its own.”
“When I think of the beaches of Normandy choked with the flowers of American and British youth and when, in my mind’s eye I see the tides running red with blood, I have my doubts, Ike. I have my doubts.”
- British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to Supreme Allied Commander Dwight Eisenhower on the eve of D-Day
It is hard to imagine these words were ever uttered by the jowly, defiant, cigar-champing lion of resistance, Winston Churchill. But they were. And who could blame him? The ruthless Nazi juggernaut which dominated the majority of Europe in less than one year had fortified its French and Mediterranean coasts. A multi-front war (Western European/North African front, Eastern European/Soviet front and Pacific theater) was being waged with an odd alliance of countries led by a conservative aristocrat, an idealistic liberal and a despotic communist. An enterprise of unparalleled ambition, unmatched resources and uncertain outcome aiming to cross the English channel and liberate Europe was being undertaken. And if that weren’t enough, there might be bad weather. It led Churchill to anxiously approach his wife as they were retiring the night of the invasion and ask,
“Do you realize that by the time you wake up in the morning 20,000 men may have been killed?”
She could offer no answer.
Please read the rest. God bless and rest those who served and sacrificed for the rest of us on that day 70 years ago today.
Dempsey also told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from his plane that Bergdahl’s next promotion to staff sergeant, which was set to happen soon, is no longer automatic because Bergdahl isn’t missing in action any longer.
Speaking publicly for the first time about the case, Dempsey said he does not want to prejudge the outcome of any investigation or say anything that might influence a commander’s decision.
But he said U.S. military leaders “have been accused of looking away from misconduct, and it’s premature” to assume they would do so in Bergdahl’s case, despite the soldier’s five years as a Taliban prisoner.
There are a variety of offenses related to an absence without proper approval, and a number of potential actions could be taken by the military. He could be tried by court martial under the Uniform Code of Military Justice for desertion; he could be given a non-judicial punishment for a lesser charge, such as being away without leave. And he could be given credit for time already served while he was a prisoner.
Dempsey stressed that any decision would be up to the Army.
The more we learn about the Bergdahl saga, the more troubling the story becomes.
I want to believe that truth and justice will prevail here, I do, but the fact is that we're dealing with an administration that seems to get away with everything, that successfully deflects, dodges and otherwise subverts what ought to take place and so I'm very skeptical.
The father of an American soldier who was just released after spending five years in the hands of the Taliban says his family is starting on the next step of a long mission: Helping Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl recover from his ordeal.
"We're still in recovery mode ourselves, let alone our concern about how Bowe is going to come back, and what we need to work on," Bob Bergdahl told dozens of journalists and supporters during a press conference in Boise on Sunday.
"Someday there will be a time for interviews and books and whatever. I have a lot to say about this. I know Bowe is going to have a lot to say about this. But that's still a distant, future thing, and I won't let things get in the way of Bowe's recovery," he said.
Bowe Bergdahl was captured in 2009, and questions remain about the circumstances of his capture and the U.S. government's decision to release five Guantanamo terrorism detainees in exchange for his freedom.
Bob and Jani Bergdahl declined to answer questions about that and other matters on Sunday, but they both expressed joy and gratitude for Bergdahl's safety, at times choking back tears.
Bob Bergdahl said he admired his son's patience, perseverance and ability to adapt during nearly five years as a prisoner of the Taliban. Bowe Bergdahl was freed Saturday in exchange for five Guantanamo terrorism detainees.
"But most of all, I'm proud of how much you wanted to help the Afghan people, and what you were willing to do to go to that length," Bob Bergdahl said, fighting back tears during a press conference in Boise.
"And I think you have succeeded," he added.
Bob Bergdahl didn't elaborate.
At some point, he should elaborate.
I'm willing to wait until after he's reunited with his son.