This Bears Repeating

We are locking up asylum seekers, intentionally traumatizing their children in order to traumatize their parents, and then calling it “security.”

Forgive the length but this bears repeating:

Trump overwhelmingly won the Catholic and evangelical votes. They were warned about this. Prophetically. The man in the White House is not a man of God nor even a Christian (at the very least you have to believe you need redemption to be one). They voted for him anyway. Some it appears lusted for power (and now feel some sense of it, read racists). Others were single issue voters on issues like abortion. I said this election and presidency would be one long civics lesson for these people and I was right. This is what you get when you vote for a sociopath. Kids forcibly removed from their parents, locked in cages by the dozens, hundreds.

A sociopath is “a person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience.” This certainly applies to Trump. He is not “the lesser of two evils.” Hillary was. But that’s like saying speeding is the lesser of two evils when compared to driving your car into a crowd of protestors. (And spare me the canard of abortion. It’s legal now and it’s going to stay quite legal for decades to come given the trends in women running for office. Trends instigated by you know who.)

Our nation has always done evil like this: slavery, Wounded Knee, the Tuskegee Experiment, and so on. No nation is God. Evil exists everywhere and in all of us. In particular, racism and greed are at root in this situation. And that makes our nation much like Sodom which BTW was not turned to ash for having gay pride parades:

Ezekiel 16:49 (NABre)
“Now look at the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters were proud, sated with food, complacent in prosperity. They did not give any help to the poor and needy.”

We are locking up asylum seekers, intentionally traumatizing their children in order to traumatize their parents, and then calling it “security.” Was such wonton callousness secure for Sodom?

For those who voted for Trump, you bear responsibility for this. For those who I know personally, understand that this is not a political issue. It’s a moral one (for me it always has been). Support for this tells me who you are. I will be watching.

A Better God than the One We Have

Amen. a.co/eFAksF9

I was once saying mass at the San Fernando Juvenile Hall. With nearly three hundred detained minors—mostly gang members—a homie reads from Psalm 138. I’m seated, vested, eyes closed, choosing to listen to this kid’s proclamation, rather than follow along in the liturgical sheet that rests on my lap. He reads, with an overabundance of confidence, “The Lord . . . is EXHAUSTED.” What the hell? I open my eyes and hurriedly refer to my sheet. It says, “The Lord is exalted,” but I think “exhausted” is way better. I’m not sure I want to spend eternity with a God who wants to be exalted, who longs to be recognized and made a big deal of. I would rather hope for a humble God who gets exhausted in delighting over and loving us. That is a better God than the one we have [made in our own image].

I am a Techie. Through and through.

This is why I practice Jesuit spirituality. They speak right to and for me! This quote is exactly me.

“First of all, we always recognize that we could be wrong. Logic can be flawed. Tables have been known to contain misprints. Hunches sometimes turn out to be mistaken. Next, we allow our beliefs to be tested by results. If we get an answer that works, it confirms our trust in the data, and it strengthens our preconceptions the next time we’re looking for a hunch. We allow our beliefs to be confirmed by our experience. And finally, we’re a whole lot more comfortable with our results if there is more than one line of evidence leading to the same conclusion.”

from “God’s Mechanics: How Scientists and Engineers Make Sense of Religion” by Guy Consolmagno.

I Just Want to Do God’s Will

This MLK Day, I read someone comment on King’s optimism and how it animated his work, basically him as the Dreamer. But he was the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and God is what animated him. He did not mince words about this. The night before he died he said,

Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!

And the next day he was shot and killed.

Loving Your Neighbor is Communal

This conservative “Christian” idea that the Bible demands individual acts of charity and this government programs aimed at social and economic justice is flat out idolatry. Jesus himself spoke communally about justice and Judgment.

This conservative “Christian” idea that the Bible demands individual acts of charity and thus government programs aimed at social and economic justice can be resisted is flat out idolatry. Jesus himself spoke communally about justice and Judgment.

Mark 7:6-13 (NABre)

[Jesus] responded, “Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written:

‘This people honors me with their lips,

but their hearts are far from me;

In vain do they worship me,

teaching as doctrines human precepts.’

You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.” He went on to say, “How well you have set aside the commandment of God in order to uphold your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘Whoever curses father or mother shall die.’ Yet you say, ‘If a person says to father or mother, “Any support you might have had from me is qorban”’ (meaning, dedicated to God), you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother. You nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many such things.”

And in one of the few places where Jesus condemns people to hell:

Matthew 25:31-33,41-46 (NABre)

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left…Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

In a country where government is of the people, by the people and for the people, the people are responsible for its morality. If your are Christian, as in an actual follower of Christ, then the government must act in certain ways for you to support it. If you want it to ban abortion, you better accept it should provide poor children with healthcare. Otherwise stop pretending to be a follower of Christ.

Let Us Make this Week Holy

Let us resolve to make this week holy by claiming Christ’s redemptive grace and by living holy lives. The Word became flesh and redeemed us by his holy life and holy death. This week especially, let us accept redemption by living grateful, faithful, prayerful, generous, just and holy lives. Let us resolve to make this week holy by reading and meditating Holy Scripture. So often, we get caught up in the hurry of daily living. As individuals and as families, reserve prime time to be with Jesus, to hear the cries of the children waving palm branches, to see the Son of Man riding on an ass’ colt, to feel the press of the crowd, to be caught up in the “Hosannas” and to realize how the cries of acclamation will yield to the garden of suffering, to be there and watch as Jesus is sentenced by Pilate to Calvary, to see him rejected, mocked, spat upon, beaten and forced to carry a heavy cross, to hear the echo of the hammer, to feel the agony of the torn flesh and strained muscles, to know Mary’s anguish as he hung three hours before he died. We recoil before the atrocities of war, gang crime, domestic violence and catastrophic illness. Unless we personally and immediately are touched by suffering, it is easy to read Scripture and to walk away without contacting the redemptive suffering that makes us holy. The reality of the Word falls on deaf ears.

Let us take time this week to be present to someone who suffers. Sharing the pain of a fellow human will enliven Scripture and help us enter into the holy mystery of the redemptive suffering of Christ. Let us resolve to make this week holy by participating in the Holy Week services of the Church, not just by attending, but also by preparing, by studying the readings, entering into the Spirit, offering our services as ministers of the Word or Eucharist, decorating the church or preparing the environment for worship. Let us sing, “Lord, have mercy,” and “Hosanna.”
Let us praise the Lord with our whole heart and soul and mind and strength, uniting with the suffering Church throughout the world — in Rome and Northern Ireland, in Syria and Lebanon, in South Africa and Angola, India and China, Nicaragua and El Salvador, in Washington, D.C., and Jackson, Mississippi. Let us break bread together; let us relive the holy and redemptive mystery. Let us do it in memory of him, acknowledging in faith his real presence upon our altars. Let us resolve to make this week holy by sharing holy peace and joy within our families, sharing family prayer on a regular basis, making every meal a holy meal where loving conversations bond family members in unity, sharing family work without grumbling, making love not war, asking forgiveness for past hurts and forgiving one another from the heart, seeking to go all the way for love as Jesus went all the way for love. Let us resolve to make this week holy by sharing holy peace and joy with the needy, the alienated, the lonely, the sick and afflicted, the untouchable. Let us unite our sufferings, inconveniences and annoyances with the suffering of Jesus. Let us stretch ourselves, going beyond our comfort zones to unite ourselves with Christ’s redemptive work.

We unite ourselves with Christ’s redemptive work when we reconcile, when we make peace, when we share the good news that God is in our lives, when we reflect to our brothers and sisters God’s healing, God’s forgiveness, God’s unconditional love. Let us be practical, reaching out across the boundaries of race and class and status to help somebody, to encourage and affirm somebody, offering to the young an incentive to learn and grow, offering to the downtrodden resources to help themselves. May our fasting be the kind that saves and shares with the poor, that actually contacts the needy, that gives heart to heart, that touches and nourishes and heals. During this Holy Week when Jesus gave his life for love, let us truly love one another.

—Sr. Thea Bowman FSPA

Defeating Abortion

A more important driver of the declining abortion rate, Jones said, appears to be improved access to contraception, particularly long-acting birth control options like IUDs. She noted that women in the United States have been using the highly effective devices in growing numbers for more than a decade, and said the declining birthrate suggests more women are preventing unwanted pregnancies.

U.S. Abortion Rate Falls To Lowest Level Since Roe v. Wade

And that’s why I support effective contraception 100%. This issue is where the Church has lost just about all moral authority. Not only is next to no one listening for practical reasons. It’s schizophrenia over the obvious moral need for birth control (not frankly ridiculous euphemisms like “birth spacing”) and trying to call “artificial” contraception evil, leave even fewer listening on moral grounds. The fruits are clear. Even with sexually active couples who wouldn’t abort, using birth control reduces those (hundreds? thousands?) of conceived children that fail to implant. Why should we support more of that given the choice?

If the Church really wants to talk about the theology of the body, let’s talk about those conscious decisions about using our bodies in God’s service honestly, intentionally, and responsibly rather than playing games with birth control efficacy natural or otherwise or euphemisms designed to hide the truth about what we are doing.

Healthcare is a Responsibility 

Luke 10:29-37 (NABre)

The Parable of the Good Samaritan.
But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’ Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.

I’ve long condemned the attempts by the GOP to repeal Obamacare. Mostly because they have no intention of replacing it with anything. As the above story illustrates, it’s patently immoral. They’ve tried to doublespeak their way around this by the canard “healthcare is a responsibility not a right” in line with the mantra of so-called personal responsibility. Notice the Samaritan nit only displays charity, he goes the distance and pays for the traveler’s care. No mention is made of the man’s ability to pay. And we can reasonably infer he cannot. And what does Jesus tell us to do? 

Go and do likewise.

Healthcare is a responsibility. Conservatives have it wrong whose it is.

Tim Kaine, Abortion, and Faith

With Hillary Clinton picking Tim Kaine for vice presidential candidate, abortion and how Kaine reconciles his faith with the law and enforcing it is back as a front burner issue. I think his balancing act highlights the real moral dilemmas at play and why both sides of the issue are intellectually dishonest to the degree they claim sole hold on the moral high road.

But first, I categorically dismiss the charges that Kaine is “pro-abortion.” Not only is the charge partisan and worldly, it is a lie. You don’t have to support a law to enforce it. And for an elected official or civil servant, it’s your job. Civil disobedience is for protestors, i.e. private citizens. If you can’t do your job, the honorable thing to do is resign.

Basically, Kaine’s position is similar to mine. We agree that making abortion illegal is wrong. If my reading of his support of the Hyde Amendment is correct, then he feels the government should be neutral about abortion. It neither supports it through funding nor does it act against it by criminalizing the practice. It makes neither side of the abortion debate happy (but I don’t think they deserve to be).

I feel the same way with one proviso. I can accept the premise of saving lives by banning abortion if we apply that brand of justice equally. But be warned there is no free lunch. It would require a serious degradation of personal liberty to make an abortion ban fair and just. In short, if the government can commandeer a woman’s body to save the life of her unborn child, it can do likewise to mine toward equivalent ends. For example, I have two health kidneys, I can live with one and there is no shortage of people dying of kidney failure. Extreme I know but that’s what it would take to ban abortion and actually be pro-life rather than merely pro-unborn.  That’s why I object to abortion bans. Casual and unequal justice is no justice at all. Ends do not justify means.

So like Kaine, I’m “pro-life-choice.” Yes, women should be (and are) free to choose. But it is a fiction that that choice is without moral valence no matter what rationalizations of privacy we make or claims that the decision itself is deeply personal. Of course it is a private and personal decision. It changes nothing. Abortion at bottom is ending a life, and short of saving another life, I can think of no reason that would make such an act just. Having said that just because my faith teaches that an act is immoral, it doesn’t automatically follow that it should be illegal. My Catholic faith teaches marital infidelity is a grave sin. We could make infidelity illegal for all sorts of laudable goals but I doubt  anyone agrees that it should be done.

So save the charges of being pro-abortion or the need to be “educated” into thinking one’s moral convictions are false. What’s required is wrestling with the moral dilemma as anyone of good conscience should.

Beast Mode Christian Formation

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Proud of you, son.