27 January 2011

Life and Faithfulness on American Idol

Gotta love this!

I didn't see the show, but I saw this video and wept.  God bless Chris Medina!  He's got my vote!  Great voice to go along with his heart.

17 January 2011

40 Years

I'd like to say something poignant, something insightful, something brilliant.

But my only words today are Thank You, Lord, for these 40 years.  I know perhaps I haven't lived them as well as I could have.  Yet they are the clay I'm now made of.  Lumped, spotted, stained and broken clay that You have fashioned into more than it is.  Your gentle, nail-scarred hands have sifted through my ashes and found rose petals.  You have filled my clay pot with Yourself and made it holy.

Grant me this, please.  Let every year to come bring me closer to Your side.  Let every day You give me bring me closer to Love.  And let me put a smile on Your face.

Thank you for my life.  Thank you that it is overflowing with blessings and joys.  Thank you for everything.

12 January 2011

Tragedy in Tucson: Dishonest Political Blame-Game Must Stop

At Catholic Online

Hatred is in the air this week.  Everyone’s talking about it.  Some are capitalizing on it.  Words and pictures are being denounced.  Laws are hastily being written in response to an unthinkable tragedy, out of a desperate need to prevent another unthinkable tragedy.  As though we can prevent all unthinkable tragedies with enough laws and prohibitions… but we cannot legislate the end of hatred and violence.

A deeply disturbed man walked into a shopping center parking lot, took out a gun and killed six people, including a 9 year-old child.  His apparent target, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, is fighting for her life.  Nothing about what Jared Loughner did will ever make any sense.  There will never be a satisfactory “why.”

The answer is certainly not political, nor is the blame to be laid there.  Sarah Palin is not responsible for this madman’s actions.  President Obama is not responsible.  Rush Limbaugh is not responsible.  Neither the Left nor the Right is responsible for the violence that erupted first in Jared Loughner’s heart and finally in a Safeway parking lot.

But now we find ourselves in the middle of a shouting match over who is to blame, and whose words and actions motivated this man to go on a killing spree.  “Tone down the rhetoric!” some say.   “Shut down Talk Radio!” others demand.  “From now on no one is allowed to carry a gun within 1000 feet of a public official!” says one politician.

Now, I haven’t yet lived even a half century, but it seems to me there’s nothing new about lunatics shooting people in public.  Many public officials have been the victims of such heinous attacks, going back at least to Abraham Lincoln.  Was “vitriol” to blame for Lee Harvey Oswald shooting President Kennedy?  Was John Hinckley, Jr.’s attempt on President Reagan’s life the result of “heated rhetoric?”

I make no defense of Palin’s crosshairs graphic nor do I blame her for the shooting in Tucson.  I find it amazingly disingenuous that so many are rushing to condemn the “vitriol” of the Right, blaming every visible conservative for the escalation of hatred in American politics while very conveniently forgetting things like:

Comedian Sandra Bernhard saying that if Sarah Palin came to New York she would be “gang-raped by my big black brothers.”

The graphic art image of Sarah Palin being punched in the face by a man’s fist under the heading, M.I.L.P. (Mothers I’d Like to Punch).

The numerous images of President Bush with a gun to his temple, or the T-shirt image of blood running down over the words, “Kill Bush.”

The protest signs with Bush’s cut-off head dripping blood, and the sign that said, “Bush, the only Dope worth shooting.”

And let’s not forget the bloody, violent, environmental “green” ads of last year that featured children being blown up in the classroom, or shown with a noose around their necks.

That’s only a small sampling of the disgusting garbage that’s been spewed in recent memory.  All of it should be condemned.  That’s not political discourse; it’s just childish, mean-spirited, shameful vomit.

Those so eager this week to blame Palin and any other conservative who voices their anger over the current state of our government seem more like ambulance-chasing lawyers, just trying to turn a senseless tragedy into a political opportunity.

Crosshairs on a map are not to blame here.  Remember, it was Barack Obama, back in 2008, who said of Republicans, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.”

Was he suggesting that Democrats in America start shooting Republicans?  Of course not!  It was hyperbole, an analogy to signify his intent to defeat the enemy.  (And yes, he did call Republicans “the enemy” not the opposition.)

There are scathing words being carelessly thrown around by everyone.  But the underlying problem is more than a lack of civility.  The real trouble is spiritual, not political. 

The fact is we have constructed a society whose laws do not value human life, whose entertainment teaches even the very young to glorify violence, worship at the altar of sexual pleasure, and live for immediate self-gratification while shunning responsibility. We have purposefully, systemically evicted God from our homes, our businesses, our laws and our lives.  We’re paying the price.  We may arrogantly think we can thrive without Him, but we will perish in flames as we thumb our noses at Him.

We’re sick with hatred, all right – hatred of sacrifice, of self-denial, of obligations, of morality, maturity, honesty, patience, humility, and love.  We spurn all these things because they require we put others first.  Mostly, we have grown to detest these things because they come from God and we’ve decided we are tired of Him and His demands.  In rejecting God, we are given over to anger, selfishness and violence.  Without Him, we are emptied of love.

There will be a memorial service on Thursday for Christina Green, the little girl who was murdered in that parking lot last week.  And perhaps the most distressing thing I’ve heard so far is that this poor grieving family may have to contend with true hatred once again while they gather to mourn their beautiful child.

There are Angels who will be present to intervene to protect the family from the hate-mongers of the Westboro Baptist Church, who just may show up to picket this little girl’s memorial.  Why would these people do such a thing to the Green family?  Again, there is no sane explanation for hate.  There is no logical explanation for lunacy and evil.

But anyone looking for perpetrators of raw hate and vitriol need look no further than the members of the WBC.  To every rational and decent person, they are anathema and should be eschewed.  Cruelty is their creed.  They are a disgrace to our nation.  Let’s hope they stay away.

My prayers go out in a special way to the Green family because their parish in Tucson was my childhood parish.  I grew up in that church.  I pray the Green’s will have nothing but calm, solemn peace as they remember their daughter on Thursday.  May the Lord protect them, keep them and give them His healing.

The political blame-game must cease.  No elected official from either party sanctions the shooting of our public leaders, nor encourages violence to be carried out against another American.  Let’s stop the ridiculous opportunism and yield to honesty and mature reasoning. 

I know we all pray the Lord’s comfort and peace will be with each of the families who grieve their loved ones, and His healing power will be with those recovering from injury, especially Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Have mercy on us, Lord.  Turn our hearts back to You and bring us peace.

10 January 2011

Bill O'Reilly Needs Some No-Spin Truth: The Child in the Womb is Fully Human!

at Catholic Online

The No-Spin Zone is once again in need of some actual truth.  I tuned in on Friday night to hear Bill O’Reilly read a letter from a viewer in New York who asked him why he keeps referring to the fetus as a “potential human being.”  This viewer reminded Bill that as a Roman Catholic, he should know better!  How absolutely correct.  O’Reilly, however, responded this way:

“I’m absolutely factually correct when I say a fetus is a potential human being and no one can deny that.  I respect your opinion but until you become a Supreme Court Justice, it remains your opinion, your belief.  I can’t run this program based upon my religious beliefs, so I try to put up arguments based on facts and I believe we are successful in doing that.”

Bill, in that one small paragraph you have gone so very, very wrong in so many ways.

It is not “factually correct” to say that a fetus is a “potential human being.”  It isn’t scientifically correct.  The fetus is an unrepeatable, unique human child, created from the joining of a woman’s egg and a man’s sperm, possessing a brand new DNA never before seen in the world.  Human beings can only make human beings.  The fetus is never anything other than human.  The child is never a plant or animal.  This seems so obvious as to not need pointing out, but clearly, the obvious must be stated.

O’Reilly’s reasoning is unfortunately, a favorite of the abortion peddlers – that the fetus is not fully human, but only potentially human and therefore, extinguishable without moral wrongdoing.  It’s not actually a person being killed, they say, but only tissue that at best vaguely resembles a human.

Those who perpetuate this false argument justify it by placing subjective value on the child based on the stage of development, health, and ability to survive outside the womb.  But none of those things has anything to do with humanity.  The humanity of the unborn child is inherent from the first moment of conception, simply because the new person is an unrepeatable human being, endowed by their Creator with the right to life.  Humanity is not a function of utility!  Humanity is not merely an expression of size, ability, quality of health or even intelligence.

Every child in the womb – whether in existence for one day or fifty days or 200 days – is fully human, not “potentially” human. 

This is not an insignificant distinction.  It’s not semantics.  It reveals the heart of two very different philosophies; one diametrically opposed to the other; one true and one false.  Those who refuse to acknowledge the full humanity of the child in the womb will eventually deny the full humanity of any person whose life becomes too inconvenient, too expensive, too unproductive to justify within their limited and selfish definition.  It is inevitable.  Once a human being can be justifiably eliminated at one stage of life, he can be eliminated at any stage.  Once the sanctity of life is put up for grabs, no one is safe.  Sooner or later, we are all vulnerable.  To declare the child in the womb only “potentially human” is a false, de-humanizing tenet that leaves no life at all sacred.

It’s distressing that Bill continues to subscribe to the lie that this is merely a “religious” belief and not a knowable, undeniable truth.  He fails to see that abortion is the ultimate human rights issue, not simply a personal opinion based on cozy theology.  He tells his viewer that the only opinions that matter in the U.S. are those of the Supreme Court Justices, and anything else is relegated to “religious beliefs” that carry no weight and hold no value where laws are concerned.

In this he not only helps the cause of the abortion vendors but also those who insist that religious beliefs and principles have no place in the public square.

Bill asserts that he can’t run his program based on his religious beliefs, but instead must present facts to support his arguments.  Well Bill, the good news is that you never need to check your faith at the door in order to do your show and present the facts, especially when it comes to abortion.  And since you brought it up, what are those religious beliefs?

Since you are Catholic, I assume you accept Church teaching regarding the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death.  I assume you accept the fact that every abortion kills a human being and is therefore always morally wrong.  I also assume that you understand your obligation to God’s revealed truth and the duty each of us has to live our faith authentically out in the world (even on television).

This means that each of us who wear the name Catholic and claim to follow Christ must defend the revealed and knowable truth of the sacred humanity of every life, from conception to natural death.  We have only just celebrated the most incredible event in human history – the Incarnation, the Word made flesh.  Our God came to inhabit our humanness in every way, declaring it sacred.

Christ began his human journey the same way each of us did – as a child in the womb.  From the moment the Holy Spirit overshadowed the Virgin Mary, Jesus was fully human in order to fully redeem our humanity.  If it were not so, then His coming and His death gained us nothing.  This is the core of the Catholic Christian faith, Bill!  This is the heart of the faith you profess!  Would you yet insist that Jesus was only “potentially” human in Mary’s womb?

Your passion for a solid argument is admirable, Bill, but in this case your pursuit of what you call “facts” is not leading you to the truth. 

You needn’t be a Supreme Court Justice to defend the truth of the sanctity of all human life.  When the law of our land violates the revealed truth, when it violates the fundamental right to life that every human being must be granted, then our law is wrong and must be changed.  You can and should be part of the effort to hasten the day when U.S. citizens in the womb are protected by the law of the land.  In fact, given your influential platform, your voice could be a powerful ally. 

But as long as you continue to perpetuate the falsehood that the child in the womb is merely a “potential” human being, you are giving aid and comfort to those who profit from exterminating babies.  You’re a smart man, Bill.  Figure it out.

The truth is not elusive or hard to comprehend, but it will require some courage to defend.  I’m praying that you will live your Catholic faith without compromise or fear.  That’s your sacred duty as a Catholic Christian.  That’s the no-spin truth.  (I’m just looking out for you, Bill.)


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