Saturday, December 12, 2009
The psalm I found, is Psalm 45, which expresses the Church's trust in God amidst persecution. Note that this is Psalm 46 in the New American Bible and most other translations. I quote the following from my favorite translation of the Bible, the Douay-Rheims Version of 1752:
Deus noster refugium.
The church in persecution trusteth in the protection of God.
Our God is our refuge and strength: a helper in troubles, which have found us exceedingly.
Therefore we will not fear, when the earth shall be troubled; and the mountains shall be removed into the heart of the sea.
Their waters roared and were troubled; the mountains were troubled with his strength.
The stream of the river maketh the city of God joyful: the most High hath sanctified his own tabernacle.
God is in the midst thereof, it shall not be moved: God will help it in the morning early.
Nations were troubled, and kingdoms were bowed down: he uttered his voice, the earth trembled.
The Lord of armies is with us: the God of Jacob is our protector.
Come and behold ye the works of the Lord: what wonders he hath done upon earth, making wars to cease even to the end of the earth.
He shall destroy the bow, and break the weapons: and the shield he shall burn in the fire.
Be still and see that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, and I will be exalted in the earth.
The Lord of armies is with us: the God of Jacob is our protector.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
SATURDAY DECEMBER 5th
RALLY IN FOLEY SQUARE STOP THE TERROR TRIAL IN NYC!
NEW YORKERS TO ATTORNEY GENERAL HOLDER: “WE WILL FIGHT YOU ALL THE WAY!”
The 9/11 Never Forget Coalition http://www.911neverforget.us/, a diverse group of 9/11 victims, family members, first responders, active and reserve members of the military, veterans, and concerned Americans, will hold a December 5th rally protesting the plan to bring the 9/11 terrorist conspirators to trial in New York City.
The Coalition formed to fight the decision of President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to try the 9/11 co-conspirators in New York City’s federal court, effectively giving war criminals the same rights as American citizens while endangering the safety of all New Yorkers. Two weeks ago, we sent a letter signed by 300 family members of 9/11 victims to the President, Attorney General and Defense Secretary Robert Gates asking them to reverse course. The letter has now been signed by over 120,000 Americans and is posted at [such and such a website I do not wish to promote]. Please visit the site and add your signature.
What: Stop The Terror Trials in NYC Rally
Where: Foley Square, Manhattan
When: Saturday, December 5th
Time: 12 noon
Here is the letter I have sent to Catholic League president Bill Donohue in response:
Dear Mr. Donohue:
As a 23-year-old American Catholic author who has been on your email list for several years, I would like to express my gratitude for the existence and activity of the Catholic League. Although at times I may find your personal style a bit overbearing, I nonetheless appreciate your loyal defense of the rights of the Catholic Church in the United States; your robust leadership of this crucial organization; and your unshakable fidelity to the principle of fairness in representing Catholic interests in our radically secularist culture.
In virtually every case of anti-Catholic bias you have confronted in recent months, I have been heart and soul with the Catholic League's position and efforts, and have applauded your notable successes with Kentucky Christmas trees, Christopher Hitchens, and expelling abortion from a health care bill.
However, I must respectfully take issue with a press release I received yesterday from the League entitled, "RALLY IN FOLEY SQUARE STOP THE TERROR TRIAL IN NYC!" Here I feel the Catholic League has overstepped its bounds as the defender of our faith, since the issue in question has much to do with politics and little to do with the Catholic Church in the United States.
In the press release, you informed us that the 9/11 Never Forget Coalition will be holding a rally in New York City on December 5 to protest the trial of 9/11 terrorist suspects in a federal court there. You explained that the Coalition "formed to fight the decision of President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to try the 9/11 co-conspirators in New York City’s federal court, effectively giving war criminals the same rights as American citizens while endangering the safety of all New Yorkers."
In my recently published book, America's Back-Door Enemy: Unmasking the Unknown Terrorists, I explain that terrorism--even on the horrific scale of 9/11--is a crime under U.S. law, not an act of war as the Bush administration contended. Therefore terrorist suspects remain noncombatants who have the same rights as other criminal suspects, including the right to a trial. This position is also in accord with international law, which our Holy Fathers John Paul II and Benedict XVI as well as our Catholic bishops have consistently urged us to abide by in confronting terrorism.
As for the second problem you raise with the imminent 9/11 trial, it is difficult to see how weaponless terrorist suspects who have spent eight years in the Metropolitan Detention Center, and who will now be transferred to a civilian U.S. court building, all the while under surveillance and maximum security of law enforcement, can pose a tangible threat to the safety of New Yorkers. I even argue in my book that if the United States ever finds Osama bin Laden, he should be captured, publicly tried and convicted before receiving his just punishment.
I have arrived at these conclusions about terrorism and terrorists through much prayer, study and research (America's Back-Door Enemy contains over 500 references). Our Lord has entrusted to me a stewardship--valuable knowledge and the responsibility to act on that knowledge. Thus I cannot in good conscience align myself with the Catholic League in this matter, support the 9/11 Coalition, or sign the online petition.
I feel that in this case, you have allowed emotional partisan fervor to overwhelm clear thinkng and good judgment, resulting in the inappropriate involvement of a religious advocacy organization in a political issue that the Church regards as subject to the prudential judgment of our national leaders and the individual lay faithful.
I would be happy to discuss this issue further or answer any questions you may have. For more information about international "Islamic" terrorism and America's response to it from a Catholic perspective, I'd encourage you to check out America's Back-Door Enemy from Tate Publishing, available on Amazon and through your local bookstore.
In the meantime, please be assured of my continued prayers and support for the Catholic League and its mission. God bless you.
Monday, November 30, 2009
1. Awesome turnout for the pro-life rallies. The 37th Annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. in January drew some 310,000 people, who marched up Constitution Avenue in a powerful witness of the right to life of the unborn to the newly inaugurated administration of President Barack Obama. Negative pro-abortion pundits in the media pointed out that this figure was 28,000 people lower than the 338,000 marchers who peacefully demonstrated last year. However, these commentators neglected to account for the devastating economic crisis that had begun to grip the whole nation and the world at the time. It speaks volumes that in spite of this turmoil, almost as many citizens showed up for the pro-life cause this year as in 2008. When adjustment is made for the country's economic condition and all the people who wanted to attend the 2009 March but were unable because of financial difficulties, this year's turnout can actually be considered an increase, in keeping with the trend seen thruout this past decade.
If the traditional, well-established March for Life leaves any lingering doubt as to the sentiments of the American public regarding abortion, the more recently founded Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco doesn't. California is a bellwether state for the nation, which means that the trends we see occurring there serve as a good indicator of the general direction the nation as a whole is taking. In 2005, the first annual Walk for Life event drew an estimated 7,000 participants. Next year 15,000 people showed up. In 2007 23,000 individuals took part; last year there were 28,000 walkers. This year, the fifth annual Walk for Life drew 36,000 demonstrators, a substantial increase from the number recorded last year. Rising from humble beginnings, in just five years the Walk for Life has quickly mushroomed into a national phenomenon in its own right, becoming a destination for pro-life advocates across the western half of the United States. Both the D.C. and San Francisco rallies demonstrated that the pro-life movement in America is healthy and vibrant despite some political setbacks in the election of 2008.
2. FOCA was defeated. For more than twenty years, a radical coalition of senators and representatives in the U.S. Congress has been trying to enact certain provisions regarding abortion into law. These include the use of federal tax dollars to fund "abortion coverage"; legalizing the performance of abortion procedures by someone other than a licensed physician; forcing all U.S. hospitals and physicians to provide abortion services regardless of their objection to the practice; the repeal of all state restrictions on abortion; and the establishment of abortion as a "fundamental right" subject to unlimited government funding and support. All of these horrifying provisions were incorporated into a single nightmare bill called the Freedom of Choice Act, which was introduced into Congress in 2007. On July 17 of that year, at a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood, Illinois senator Barack Obama infamously declared, "The first thing I'd do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act." With the advent of the Obama administration, Congress finally had a real chance of passing this horrendous legislation. Thanks to the United States Catholic bishops and the American people, who registered their overwhelming outcry against FOCA in postcards, letters, phone calls, faxes, emails and online petitions, President Obama was unable to keep his promise upon entering the White House because the bill never reached his desk. Congress gave up its attempt to pass FOCA, and Obama's first act as president was to sign an economic stimulus bill instead.
3. Traditional marriage wins again. In November 2004, California voters had easily passed a statewide referendum which defined marriage exclusively as the union of a man and a woman. All was well until June 2008, when the California Supreme Court gave in to the urging of radical homosexual pressure groups and declared that the 2004 referendum adopted by 66 percent of the voters was un-constitutional. Supporters of traditional marriage quickly responded by placing a new bill, Proposition 8, on the state ballot, which rejected the high court's decision and reaffirmed the previous referendum banning any government recognition of homosexual marriage. In November 2008, the state's voters adopted Proposition 8 by a margin of 52 to 48 percent. This past May, California's Supreme Court again got involved, taking up the question of whether the new proposition approved by the voters was constitutional. On May 26, the high court ruled that Proposition 8 was constitutional, and thus the state of California from then onward would only recognize marriage between a man and a woman. This makes California the first state in the country to legalize "gay marriage" and then de-legalize it--and as with abortion, this is a pretty reliable indication of the direction our nation is taking with regard to homosexual marriage. State courts will continue trying to force legalization of homosexual "marriage" on a par with traditional marriage, and the people will continue turning it down.
So far, this trend is holding: In November, Maine became the 31st consecutive state in the union to approve a referendum preserving the legal institution of marriage as between a man and a woman.
As usual, my post has grown longer than I originally intended, so you will pardon me if I confine myself to one-liners for the rest.
4. Tate Publishing releases my first book, America's Back-Door Enemy. (June 23)
5. Pope Benedict XVI releases his first social encyclical, Caritas in Veritate. (July 7)
Lastly, and the biggest of all:6. The United States House of representatives amends H.R. 3200 (America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009) to prohibit the use of federal taxpayer funds for "abortion coverage" and to reaffirm longstanding federal laws that protect the conscience rights of physicians and other health care professionals who object to conducting or participating in abortions. (November 7)
I was grateful for all of these blessings and many others this past Thanksgiving holiday. There is no denying that our country has been dragging through a lot of serious problems this year. However, at the same time we should not fail to duly appreciate the significant blessings recounted above. Nor should we forget to thank God, "from whom all blessings flow," or neglect the fact that these good things have been obtained from Him through the prayers and sacrifices of so many nuns and monks in convents and monasteries thruout this nation and the world.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Yes, the Obama administration might have dismissed this loss and moved on, had it not been for another top-level Republican victory in New Jersey. Here a Republican candidate for the governorship, Chris Christie, defeated Democratic incumbent governor Jon Corzine by a margin of 49 to 45 percent. This victory was considered more significant, however, because New Jersey is a highly urbanized East Coast state that in recent years has been just as blue as California. Moreover, just last year New Jersey voters selected President Obama by a landslide of 66 percent.
This one-two punch was certainly a test of President Obama's influence, as the media correctly admitted. And I think it is fair to say, that these two Republican pickups in an election off-year are evidence of a much broader dissatisfaction with the Obama administration that has already permeated the American public just in that administration's first year in office. Americans may have elected Barack Obama with a rush of gushy feelings because he was a handsome, positive orator who offered hope and change, as well as to show their disappointment with certain aspects of the Bush administration and Republicans. But when it comes down to concrete issues such as abortion, traditional marriage, health care, taxes, and the economy, during 2009 it has been President Obama versus the American people. On abortion and traditional marriage, important victories have been won in spite of the administration. On health care, Americans don't want an expensive "public option" that would create a vast new government bureaucracy and jack up their taxes to further heights. On taxes, the American people want a real tax cut; the administration has not given it to them. On the economy, unemployment rates continue to rise, small businesses are closing much faster than new ones are opening, and the average Joe is no better off than he was a year ago. No wonder our president's nationwide approval rating is now in the 40s.
I myself do not profess to be a Republican or a Democrat, but am independent of political parties. Thus I find the election results in these two states significant not so much because Republican candidates won, but because both of the Democratic candidates who lost were pro-abortion. In other words, the Democratic ship is sinking because most of its passengers insist on continuing to promote an evil practice that Americans no longer support. Nationally, the election results taken together are a backlash against Democrats in Congress and the White House for championing abortion and raising taxes.
Oh, and did you hear the rest of the good news from Election Day? Voters in Maine turned down a referendum that would have allowed "gay marriage" in their state. This makes Maine the 31st state in a row to reject homosexual "marriage" by popular vote.
More good news in the next column.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
I personally find the autumn environment more conducive to relaxation than that of summer. As I gaze at the natural beauty of a perfect autumn day, I observe that nature is slowing down, and this invites me to slow down as well. As fall moves on and the sun gradually traces a lower arc across the sky, the golden orb seems to be descending graciously toward the earth and bathing the forests in some of its light. The striking sight of a tree blanketed in yellow leaves especially evokes this impression. Then as October melts into November, the leaves silently drop off the tree branches as though they are surrendering with resignation to the approach of winter. This encourages me to prepare for the freezing weather that will soon be upon us.
While growing up in the temperate, semi-arid climate of coastal California, I did not really know what seasons were. We never had snow where I lived, and a hard frost was rare. The local farmers benefited from a twelve-month growing season for many of their crops. Also there were few deciduous trees that could turn color in fall. When I first moved to Ohio at the age of sixteen, I was initially shocked by the Midwest weather, which seemed extreme: humid with highs in the 90s in summer, mountains of snow and slippery ice with temperatures reaching thirteen below zero in winter. I could mention also the dozens of yearly thunderstorms with their deadly lightning and resulting thunder banging the windows of the house, or the tornado watches that frequently accompanied these storms. Over time, however, I gradually became adjusted to the meteorological conditions of the Buckeye State, and I learned to appreciate the more sedate weather that spring and fall offered. After about five years of living in Ohio, I felt that the rhythm of the seasons had finally sunk into my bones. It has been an interesting experience to see what “real” weather is like outside of California.
Lately I've been enjoying the sight of fall leaves adorning the ground around the house and getting my outdoor Christmas lightstrings ready for the joyful season ahead. There is something about brown fallen leaves and Christmas lights that makes the two go well together. This mimics the blending of fall and winter weather patterns that typically marks the month of November.
I enjoy putting up Christmas lights on the house just as my father used to do every year as I was growing up. My enthusiasm for this annual hobby has not waned with my entry into adulthood. Like a Christmas tree and other decorations inside the home, outdoor lights add cheer to the celebration of Christ’s birth, and they can lift the spirits of other people passing by in the evening too. Moreover, while the heavy, energy-consuming C9 lights of my childhood had to be stapled to the eaves of the roof, you can do just about anything with the miniature lights, and the energy costs are much lower. (And now the latest and greatest are LED lights, which use even less energy.)
Another trait that fall and winter share is dark, starry night skies. This is partly due to clearer, colder air and partly to the fact that the brightest stars in the heavens are found in the winter sky. Just as I admire the awesome sight of a dark winter sky filled with countless glistening stars, I take delight in the picturesque scene of little red, orange, green, pink, blue and purple lights contrasting with the black darkness of a winter evening. They remind me of Christ, the true Light of our lives, Who came down from Heaven into this world to lead us out of spiritual darkness.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Undoubtedly, one of the most important events of this year was the long-anticipated release of our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI's third encyclical, Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth). This is the first social encyclical to emanate from the Vatican since Pope John Paul II published Sollicitudo Rei Socialis in 1987. Pope Benedict's first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est (God Is Love), drafted by John Paul II a few months before his death, had been completed and released in December 2005 within the first year of the new pontificate. Two years later in November 2007, Pope Benedict had issued his second encyclical, the first written entirely by him, Spe Salvi (Saved by Hope). This led some observers at that time to wonder whether a reverse pattern of the theological virtues was being set: with the new pope's first encyclical on love and a second about hope, would the third deal with faith? The late Father Richard John Neuhaus said in an EWTN interview with Raymond Arroyo that he did not think this would be the case. Although Father Neuhaus did not live to see the release of our present Holy Father's third encyclical, it turned out that he was correct.
Early in 2007, Vatican sources informed the press that Pope Benedict XVI had begun working on his second and third encyclicals. The topics of these documents engendered various surmises ranging from marriage and family life to religious fundamentalism--areas in which His Holiness was devoting considerable energy at the time. Meanwhile, curial officials close to the Pope soon confirmed that the third encyclical letter would apply Catholic social teaching to globalization and poverty. A cardinal in Rome also made clear in the summer of 2007 that His Holiness was not in a rush to write and release this particular document, but that because of the complexity of the subject matter, the Pope was devoting much time to prayer and study as he drafted the piece.
Indeed, I am glad that the Holy Father took his time in preparing this document, to ensure that it would carefully address all of the modern interrelated global social issues. To synthesize these multifarious issues into a coherent perspective would be a challenging task for anyone given the interdisciplinary nature of the subject. Yet in Caritas in Veritate, our Holy Father has aptly set globalization and its effects within the clear perspective of Catholic social doctrine. Furthermore, in a few concise lines he has laid out for the Church of this era the theological basis for Catholic social teaching, in itself an invaluable treasure. With this landmark encyclical, Pope Benedict has accomplished even more: in a simple, orderly fashion, he has placed social teaching and issues within the context of love and truth, faith and reason, life, marriage and the family. Indeed, there is hardly a single aspect of the Catholic faith that is not woven into this beautiful tapestry. Caritas in Veritate is like the key to a code or the instruction manual of a celestial telescope kit in which the Holy Father shows how everything fits together and works. It is a long document, but to the point and jam-packed with information. As a papal encyclical, it presents the infallible magisterium of the Church on a subject of hard-to-exaggerate significance; as a work of theology, it is a distillation of Joseph Ratzinger's theological riches mined over the past sixty years; as a rationally sound philisophical treatise, it offers one of the finest examples of our Holy Father's intellectual giftedness; as a blueprint for the Church's social mission in the twenty-first century, it offers not just theoretical groundwork for the hierarchy but practical tips for the laity; as a letter from a spiritual father to his children, it is touched with the childlike humility and charming graciousness for which Pope Benedict has come to be known; as a work of literature, it must surely rank among the great classics of human history. Caritas in Veritate may have been long-awaited, but the wait was well worth it.
Public anticipation of this encyclical was certainly heightened by unstable economic conditions worldwide, leading to the economic crisis that struck the globe like an asteroid in 2008. Just as the United States nonchalantly reveled in its seeming indestructibility prior to 9/11, a widely accepted notion held that the new post-Cold War global economy was immune to recession and failure. In both cases, when the popular myth collapsed, people were left with a sense of disillusionment and started hunting for truthful answers to the question of "what went wrong." In the current case, Catholics and non-Catholics around the world expected that the new social encyclical in the works would have some answers regarding the shortcomings of our contemporary globalization system and how these flaws might be remedied. Thus they looked forward with respectful eagerness to whatever words of wisdom our Holy Father would impart on this complicated issue. Caritas in Veritate does not disappoint at all in this respect either, as we will see.
Critics of Pope Benedict (who are a phenomenon unto themselves, as they have no rational basis for their criticism) foretold that this encyclical would be chiefly a condemnation of Communism or unrestrained capitalism, or both. But these folks ought to know by now that scolding and reviling are not the trademarks of Benedict XVI. While taking accurate and forthright account of the major problems with the current system of globalization, Caritas in Veritate is primarily a positive document. It is an exciting document, because here for the first time we have a truly insightful and accurate analysis of the phenomenon of globalization, enlightened by the full splendor of the Catholic faith, together with a vision of the vast potential that worldwide interdependence has for building a true human family on the basis of charity in truth. It is nothing less than a new vision of globalization that Pope Benedict is presenting to the Church and the world.
The introductory paragraphs of the encyclical, numbers 1 through 9, constitute the solid foundation on which Pope Benedict builds his thesis. In these passages, the Holy Father defines charity and truth, and succinctly explains the link between the two. Both have their origin in God, Who is Eternal Love and Absolute Truth, and both are fully revealed in Jesus Christ. Thus "to defend the truth, to articulate it with humility and conviction, and to bear witness to it in life are... exacting and indispensable forms of charity" (no. 1). In paragraph 2, Pope Benedict says that charity "is the principle not only of micro-relationships (with friends, with family members or within small groups) but also of macro-relationships (social, economic and political ones)." In subsequent chapters of his encyclical, the Pope makes abundantly clear the importance of both the "micro-relationships" and the "macro-relationships" to human society, and that as Catholics we have a responsibility to promote charity and truth in both spheres. Charity and truth are two sides of the same coin: "Truth needs to be sought, found and expressed within the 'economy' of charity," says His Holiness, "but charity in its turn needs to be understood, confirmed and practised in the light of truth." Furthermore, this light is lit by both reason and faith (no. 3). In paragraph 5 the Holy Father defines charity as "love received and given" (note the order of the words: love is first received from God and then given to others), and then points out that this dynamic of charity gives rise to the Church's social teaching, "which is caritas in veritate in re sociali: the proclamation of the truth of Christ's love in society."
In paragraphs 6 and 7, Pope Benedict examines two of the criteria that govern moral action which are relevant to human development in our increasingly globalized society: justice and the common good, respectively. First he deals with the interconnection between charity and justice, noting that we cannot be charitable to others unless we are first just towards them. Moreover, he says that "justice is inseparable from charity, and intrinsic to it" (no. 6). The pontiff quotes Pope Paul VI in calling justice the "minimum measure" of charity. In other words, to give people the basic requirements of justice is not a separate issue from charity, but an integral part of it. Then he explains that besides the good of the individual person, there is the good linked to living in society, the common good. "To desire the common good and strive towards it is a requirement of justice and charity" (no. 7).
But how do we strive towards the common good? In these same two paragraphs, the Supreme Pontiff weaves his answer to this question into a beautiful "theology of the city." Here the Pope is using the word "city" to mean "human community," and he identifies charity and justice as essential ingredients in building this community. He says in number 6 that the earthly city is built up not merely by relationships of rights and duties (justice) but "by relationships of gratuitousness, mercy and communion" (love). Pope Benedict explains what striving for the common good means: "To take a stand for the common good is on the one hand to be solicitous for, and on the other hand to avail oneself of, that complex of institutions that give structure to the life of society, juridically, civilly, politically and culturally, making it the pólis, or “city” (no. 7). He says that every Christian is called to practice charity "in a manner corresponding to his vocation and according to the degree of influence he wields" in public life. He then adds: "This is the institutional path — we might also call it the political path — of charity, no less excellent and effective than the kind of charity which encounters the neighbour directly." Putting politics and charity together in the same breath might strike some people as odd, but after all the whole business of politics is to promote the common good. Here the pontiff also confirms the error of some misguided Catholics who have chosen to opt out of political life altogether, and he proclaims that active citizenship is a duty of charity. Thus the Pope echoes the Catholic bishops of the United States, who maintain that "responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation" (Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, no. 13). In an increasingly interconnected world, says our Holy Father, the concept of the common good and efforts to obtain it must be broadened in corresponding measure to embrace the entire human family, "that is to say, the community of peoples and nations." Pope Benedict goes on to say that "man's earthly activity, when inspired and sustained by charity, contributes to the building of the universal city of God" in unity and peace (no. 7); it is a prefigurement of the heavenly city, the ultimate goal of human existence.
(This article remains to be continued in a future post.)
Monday, October 26, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
But despite the grave flaws in Thoreau's philosophy, there are precious nuggets of sound doctrine and timeless truth in his writings. Take, for example, his favorite motto, "Simplify, simplify," a message that the bewilderingly complex modern world would do well to heed. Most of us, most of the time are far too busy for our own good. Allow me to quote from the biography of Thoreau in the book I am reading: "He believed that civilization creates artificial needs, that luxuries become necessities, that men hurry forward in a feverish existence until they lose all purpose in life." (Roy J. DeFerrari et al, ed., American Literature, Seton Press, 1998) Isn't this true of us today? We work so hard for so many years just to make a profit so that we can buy more and more material things that we want, and as a result our whole goal in life becomes to satisfy our never-ending whims and desires. This vicious circle leads to weariness and feelings of emptiness and unhappiness, even to the point where "life is not worth living." The successful billionaire CEO materialist finds to his bitter disappointment that his life has no meaning. Why? Because God created us for more than just material things. He designed our lives for a spiritual purpose, and therefore only spiritual goods--love of God and love of neighbor--can make us truly happy on earth.
But how do we love God? One way we can do this is to enjoy the gifts He has given us, such as the beauty of nature. Thoreau was correct in his appreciation for this gift, which moved him to build a small home amid natural surroundings. I wouldn't recommend living perpetually in the wild as Thoreau did, and most of us couldn't even if we wanted to. However, we can all take a little time now and then to enjoy some natural beauty, and often we don't have to go far from home to find it. It might be a fishing trip to a nearby lake, a nature trail hike, a vacation to a national park or even a birdwatching session in your own backyard. Whatever it is, an experience of God's creation always leaves us with a sense of awe and wonder; it refreshes our spirit; and it refocuses our attention on what matters most in life. We come to realize the truth that God's creation is more important and meaningful than our handheld video games or the milion and one things we can do with our iPhone. Man-made products should improve, complement and enhance our lives, not turn into replacements for what God has made.
One way we can love our neighbor is by sharing some of our excess money and goods with those who are less fortunate. This is where charitable and humanitarian agencies, cordially despised by Thoreau, come in. From the local food pantry to diocesan relief programs to the Missionaries of Charity and Catholic Relief Services to the Boy and Girl Scouts, Red Cross, other Christian charities and even nonreligious organizations such as the Relay for Life, charitable institutions play a very important role in society. They enable those who have everything they need and then some to help those who lack even the basic necessities. Furthermore, many for-profit corporations are now donating a share of their income to programs that benefit people in the poorest parts of the globe. The key to loving your neighbor in this way is to realize that you do not need everything you have or wish to have, and then you find yourself free to give some of that to another person. If instead of unlimited greed and materialism we learned to set limits for ourselves and be content with less, our human civilization would be very different and our world would be a much happier place.
A tantalizing glimpse of this next best thing to paradise on earth is available in the award-winning film Into Great Silence. This intrepid two-hour masterpiece from German film director Philip Groning takes you inside a cloistered Carthusian monastery situated high in the French Alps. The monks who inhabit this enclosure live according to the most strict rule for a Catholic religious order in the world, which demands rigorous lives of prayer, work and contemplation, with conversation virtually prohibited altogether and no CD players, radio, TV or visitors. Yet in spite of their "stern and more than Spartan simplicity of life" (Thoreau), the monks are happy, as evidenced by their laughter during Sunday recreation and their playful games in the winter snow. Why? Because the monks possess spiritual treasure in their exalted love of God and neighbor. Moreover, the movie itself is almost exclusively a succession of candid scenes as it contains no music, no digital special effects, no discernible plot, no explanations of mysterious scenes, almost no dialogue and, as the title suggests, a bare minimum of sound. Yet this film somehow managed to pack theaters across Europe and also has enjoyed significant popularity in the United States. Why? For the same reason the monks are happy: because materialism has failed to satisfy people even in the modern age, leaving them empty and hungry for spiritual goods. Into Great Silence is truly a feast for the spirit that satisfies their hunger.
In the midst of this chopping sea of civilized life such as the clouds and
storms and quicksands and thousand and one items to be allowed for, that a man
has to live, if he would not founder and go to the bottom and not make his port
at all, by dead reckoning; and he must be a great calculator indeed who
succeeds. Simplify, simplify. --Henry David Thoreau
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Saturday, September 5, 2009
We Americans don't want a system of socialized medicine. Yet our Democratic representatives in the House, Senate and White House have been attempting to build just such a system by marketing it to us as "reform" of the current system. However, the American people are not fools. They understand that a government-run health care system costs money. The hundreds of millions and billions of dollars that federal health care would cost is going to have to come from somewhere. Where will it come from if not from the pockets of the American people and their children and grandchildren? In the long run, the only way to support any new federal government program is through tax increases. The economy is on eggshells as it is. If the Obama administration dares to raise taxes on the American people, the economy will grind to a halt.
Of course, many Americans have fortunately wised up to the fact that Democrats (before elections) routinely talk about lowering taxes, and then (after election) break those promises and raise taxes. I would like to ask President Obama: Where is the tax cut you promised for 95 percent of working families? Before election, then-Senator Obama remarked that "the folks out on Main Street" need a hand, and government should extend them a hand with a stimulus package. That much-vaunted stimulus package appears to have instead been a temporary stimulus for Wall Street. Sorry, but I and most other Americans would rather have the government extend us a real, true helping hand--not the greedy open hand of Uncle Sam, but a hand in the form of generous and permanent tax cuts.
One year ago, then-Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin said:
We do need tax relief and Barack Obama even supported increasing taxes as
late as last year  for those families making only $42,000 a year. That's a
lot of middle income average American families to increase taxes on them. I
think that is the way to kill jobs and to continue to harm our economy.
I couldn't agree more, and I think this statement rings even truer now.
Americans in general are opposed to abortion, but they are more strongly opposed to any expansion of it, and they are overwhelmingly against it when it is to be funded with their own hard-earned tax dollars.
My next post will be about a different topic--I promise!
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Well, for one thing, everyone recognizes that the U.S. health care system is in dire need of reform (and frankly, just about every other system in this country run by the federal government is in the same boat). The percentage of Americans who lack health insurance has grown substantially in recent years, medical costs have skyrocketed, and many people are not getting the health care they need. Health care is a complex multifaceted issue that involves both the public and private sectors and directly affects all Americans sooner or later. Thus, reform of this system is a big project likely to draw wide attention.
But more than that, health care reform is in the spotlight right now because the administration of President Barack Obama has made it a priority. "Health care reform can not wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year," as President Obama famously declared near the middle of his first year in office. The president has been pushing Congress to quickly pass new legislation that would supposedly deliver better and more accessible health care to the American people.
I have to wonder, though: Why such a rush to health care reform? You can't fix a broken system overnight, whether it’s the economy or health care. Reform is a major undertaking that requires careful research and accurate analysis of the situation, together with a generous period of honest public discussion and debate concerning short-term, medium-term and long-term measures that should be taken to correctly address the situation. Moreover, these elements of reform need the foundation of common moral and ethical guiding principles.
None of these requirements are being met in the current rush to draft and pass health care bills. As a result, U.S. health care reform is on the road to disaster.
So again, why this hurried effort by the Obama administration to enact health care reform? The administration has its reasons for hurrying. One is that they have a semi-secret agenda to accomplish, and this agenda collides head-on with the will of the American people. Whether the mainstream media will acknowledge it or not, there is in fact a fundamental issue even more important to Americans than the twin heavyweights of economic recovery and quality health care. That issue is the right to life of every human being, especially the most innocent and defenseless--the unborn child in the womb.
In Washington, health care reform is being touted merely as a ruse. It serves as a convenient vehicle to advance the Obama administration’s ever more urgent hidden agenda. That agenda is to increase federal funding of, and expand public access to, abortion. And this is the most important reason why health care reform has drawn the scrutiny of Americans right now.
The urgency of this semi-secret agenda from the viewpoint of its proponents becomes clear when we look at trends in recent years. Since 1993, the annual number of abortions and abortion providers in the United States has been in steady decline. U.S. voters across this country (a majority of whom are women) have built and continue to support a vast infrastructure of state restrictions on abortion, from parental notification laws to bans on state funding for abortions to sonogram viewing and waiting period requirements for pregnant girls prior to their scheduled abortion procedure. These laws, together with adoption, crisis pregnancy care centers and various outreach programs, have been wonderfully beneficial for women, for their unborn children and for society itself. Meanwhile, polls have confirmed that an increasing percentage of American citizens oppose the legalization of abortion through the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision of 1973. As of this writing, survey reports indicate that a majority of the American people are pro-life.
However, in Congress the overall trend with abortion has been moving in the opposite direction, especially since a Democratic majority came to power in 2006 in the House and Senate. In 2007 Representative Jerry Nadler and Senator Barbara Boxer introduced an infamous joint resolution deceptively named the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). The contents of this revolting abortion bill are so evil and frightening that it could only have come straight from Hell and been conceived by the Devil himself. It would have, at one stroke, demolished all state restrictions on abortion. Moreover, this draconian bill would have far surpassed Roe v. Wade in elevating abortion to the status of a “fundamental human right” subject to unlimited government funding and support. Apparently our Congressional representatives intended to remove every legal barrier and provide every possible incentive for Americans to murder their offspring.
So a rift has opened up between the American people and their federal government on the issue of abortion, and in the past few years this rift has been growing increasingly wider. The Obama administration may have given up on FOCA due to massive public opposition (thank God), but it is still bound and determined to enact at least some of FOCA’s provisions into law—for example, the sickening concept of “abortion coverage” as a “health benefit”—whether the American people support them or not.
And what is driving this wicked agenda to ram abortion down our throats? The answer is money. Abortion is still a big, $100 million-per-year business that makes a handful of people and companies in the U.S. quite wealthy. But with the gradual nationwide decline in demand for killing “services” and a fervent pro-life ethic among the younger generation of Americans, abortion providers face the real threat of going out of business altogether sometime within the next decade or two. Thus to salvage a sinking enterprise, the multimillion-dollar abortion industry has turned to the rich and powerful federal government for a hand--just as the financial institutions have turned to the same government for rescue from annihilation since late last year. In both cases, the government has generously responded with legislation and fiat money. This administration is not serving our interests but the interests of rich and powerful lobby groups on Capitol Hill. In my estimation, the Obama administration is the most corrupt administration in American history.
This is another reason for the race to health care reform: President Obama and his cronies don’t want Americans to find out the truth behind their new health care policies. In a democracy, corruption has to hurry or else it can’t achieve its ends. Too much research, analysis, discussion and debate—essential for proper reform and healthy for democracy—would expose this corrupt agenda and result in its doom. The “hurried” and “evil” aspects of health care reform both result from the driving force of corruption. Transparency and accountability are crucial for the correct functioning of democracy, yet little of either is evident with our government’s rapidly coalescing health care plan.
So given the divergence between American respect for life on the one hand and governmental obsession with death on the other, our leaders are forced to pretend that they are representing the wishes of the people while they pursue an agenda contrary to those wishes. How long they can keep up this charade remains to be seen in these uncertain and unpredictable times. However, a few things are certain. The American people want affordable health care reform that respects life. Their elected representatives want a health care plan that pads their own pockets and funds murder. Sooner or later, either the abortion industry or its puppet government or both will cave in. But the pro-life movement in this country is strong, it is steadily advancing, and it is destined to win.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
HEALTH CARE BILL:
FREEDOM OF CHOICE ACT BY OTHER MEANS?
Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on the proposed health care legislation favored by the Obama administration:
On July 17, 2007, President Obama told his pro-abortion fans at Planned Parenthood that “the first thing I’d do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA).” Two years later, FOCA has yet to be reintroduced. But there are no signs that Planned Parenthood is disappointed, and that’s because Obama is delivering FOCA by stealth.
The principal reason why FOCA was not reintroduced was due to opposition from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Under the tutelage of Francis Cardinal George, head of the USCCB, and Justin Cardinal Rigali, head of the pro-life committee of the USCCB, the bishops made it clear that they would fight tooth and nail any attempt to get FOCA signed into law. Obama got the word, as did the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Jerry Nadler and Sen. Barbara Boxer. But that didn’t derail the pro-abortion forces from trying some back door maneuvering.
The USCCB believes, as does the Obama administration, that health care is a human right. The health care bills that have been served up by supporters of Obama, however, have provisions that mirror the most draconian elements found in FOCA. To be specific, in the past week, an amendment by Sen. Mike Enzi explicitly denying abortion coverage was defeated. When Sen. Orrin Hatch asked Sen. Barbara Mikulski if she would clarify her amendment so that abortion services would not be mandated, she said no; the amendment passed.
In other words, stealth politics is at work. No, FOCA is not on the table, but central provisions of it have made their way into the health care reform bills. What is most disturbing about all of this is that the public is being hoodwinked: most have no idea of the games that are being played. All the more reason why a national discussion on this issue needs to begin immediately.
First of all, thank you to our bishops for their moral strength and fortitude in courageously defending the right to life of the unborn.
I would like to add to this, that another principal reason why the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) has not been reintroduced in the U.S. Congress is due to overwhelming opposition from the American people! As of this writing, more than 700,000 people have signed the Fight FOCA Petition (at www.fightfoca.com), a project of Americans United for Life (AUL). Why? Because Americans do not want all restrictions on abortion nationwide removed. They do not want abortions to be carried out by non-physicians (which would be extremely dangerous for women!) They do not want religious hospitals and health care facilities to be forced to kill unborn babies against their belief (doesn't sound like any freedom of choice there). And they do not want Big Government using their hard-earned taxpayer dollars to pay for other people's abortions, with the economy going down the tubes to boot.
As a result of this opposition to their bill, FOCA advocates have reverted to a more subtle strategy which AUL dubs "FOCA-by-Stealth." This involves slipping key provisions of FOCA into Congressional bills that deal with health care reform, such as the one mentioned above. If this bill passes Congress and gets signed into law by the president, every family in the United States would have access to free abortions paid for under the law by American taxpayers through Washington, D.C. I don't think Bill Donohue was exaggerating when he referred to this measure as draconian.
If this bill makes you unhappy, then this post has served its purpose. The more Americans become aware of FOCA-by-Stealth, the easier it will be to defeat. I will continue to expose FOCA-by-Stealth in future posts as the occasion arises.
Friday, July 10, 2009
The interview will be on Talk with Ron Williams this coming Wednesday, July 15, at 3:05 PM Eastern time. It will be conducted over the phone, so I won't even have to leave the house. Wonderful!
If you are not in the Lima area, you can listen to the interview live by logging onto WCIT's website, http://www.940wcit.com/, and clicking on the "Listen Live" icon. If you happen to miss the live broadcast, you can still listen to the interview by clicking on "Talk with Ron Williams" and then "Hour 1 of the July 15 Show."
I look forward to talking about my book with Ron, and I gladly appreciate your prayers that all goes well!
Thursday, July 2, 2009
From my viewpoint as author, the release date represents the culmination of a long and involved process that includes researching, writing, rewriting, submitting, finding a publisher, editing, and getting a book published. But for the staff at the publisher, things are only just beginning. They accepted the manuscript, helped me prepare it for publication, printed the book, prepared it for distribution, and developed a marketing strategy to get bookstores interested in the book. Now, finally, Tate Publishing can begin marketing and distributing the book to thousands of bookstores across the United States, giving it a chance to succeed.
There's a lot more to it than that, but it all boils down to this: As of June 23, America's Back-Door Enemy is now widely accessible through both traditional and online bookstores.
1. The book is available from Borders, Barnes & Noble or your local bookstore if that store is plugged into the Ingram/Spring Arbor distribution system (more than 25,000 bookstores in the U.S. are part of this system). If this store does not happen to have the book in stock, you may order it through them and expect delivery within a few weeks.
2. The book is available on Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, Target.com and other websites.
As always, I welcome your comments and questions regarding the book and my blog.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
I'm excited to inform you that my first book, America's Back-Door Enemy: Unmasking the Unknown Terrorists, has finally been published! It is now available from Tate Publishing & Enterprises at http://www.tatepublishing.com/. It is also available in the form of an audio book (set of CDs) and as an electronic book (e-book) that you can read on your computer.
Based on two years of extensive independent research, America's Back-Door Enemy offers a fresh look at terrorism and America's response to it. Starting with the horrific terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, it begins to explain what terrorism is, what Osama bin Laden is really up to, how the Taliban sheltered al-Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan, why the United States invaded Iraq, and much more. Also, as the title implies, this book lifts the lid on a conspiracy involving certain members of the U. S. and Israeli governments--a conspiracy in which terrorism is exploited to serve their own political and financial ends. All this and more is discussed from the clear moral perspective of Catholicism and America's Founding Fathers.
Stay tuned for more information about the book in upcoming posts. In addition, I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have about the book.
Friday, June 5, 2009
I am what may be described as a very traditionally-minded young person. When I first heard of "blogs" about seven years ago, I thought they were exotic, outlandish or a waste of time. But since then, the popularity of blogs and blogging on the Internet has exploded exponentially (just like the Internet itself and every other invention of the Digital Age). I resisted getting my own blog because I felt strongly that the "blogosphere," as it has come to be called, was just another symptom of modern cultural decay. The few blogs I had visited confirmed my generalized opinion: they were full of banal, meaningless chatter ridden with twenty-first-century slang that actually passed for "writing" about immoral subjects or topics that did not interest me in the slightest. Well, generalized negative opinions are often wrong, and this one was no exception. The realm of blogs is not uniformly dark. At best, the type of blog I just described can serve purely educational or recreational purposes; at worst, it is simply (like the Internet itself) another agent of the culture of death.
As the blogosphere expanded, I gradually got to know, and occasionally even visit, some really good blogs (which I will be recommending here). It dawned on me that the instrument of the blog can be used for good or for evil. So why not use it for good? After all, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have given us a challenge: They have called on us to use all the modern means of social communication available to evangelize the world, to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ, to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, and to foster a renewal of the Christian culture that gave birth to our Western civilization. I'm ready to answer that challenge right here on my first blog.
The main topics I currently plan to write about here are my first book, abortion & the pro-life movement, American politics and elections, the economic crisis, U.S. and world news stories that grab my attention, the Catholic Church, and anything else that interests me.
Enjoy the site, and feel free to post your comments below.