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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Praying In The Car

I was with some brothers in Christ this morning, praying the Divine Mercy chaplet, and I looked out the car, seeing all the other people on their way, wondering if somebody was really struggling. Maybe at that very moment, they feel totally alone, as if no one cares if they live or die.

Cars are like sanctuaries. You might pick up a work colleague or two, but honestly, the people you ride in cars with are your people. Have you ever seen someone driving alone, and wondered?

I'd like to think we are dropping Divine Mercy bombs on people when we pray for them. You know that person who would be most annoyed at the very thought of imploring Heaven on their behalf? Pray for that person. That disdain is the leading edge of this, and there's no worse outcome.

The singer Jewel said she believed bathrooms were sanctuaries as well, and I think she's right. [This is totally random.--ed.] We need people, but we need quiet also, to hear God who loves us. Let's be intercessors for others, too, so they know God loves them, no matter how far or how fast they are running away.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Thought For Today

 Here's an idea: The GOP House and Senate will pass the "Land Of The Free Act", ostensibly to prevent foreigners and terrorists from having access to our ERs and things, by forcibly deporting all migrant Mexicans, no matter what. We'll trot out Boehner and McConnell to talk about how important it is. Smart, good people will say that it's going to be harmful, expensive, and at best, like dropping a nuclear bomb on an hill of fire-ants. The supporters will say, "Don't you care about keeping us safe?!" and Boehner will say,--after we've nearly forced it through both chambers at record speed--"We have to pass the bill to see what's in it." Also, a chemical tagging system we will use to track our targets, paid for by a new compulsory fee, has the unintended effect of killing spotted owls and other waterfowl. Numerous environmental, religious, and community groups protest, objecting to being compelled to participate. Boehner figures, "Well, there aren't that many people in those groups; who cares?" There will be a new system for tracking legal residents, too. Critics say that it will lump all immigrants together, and possibly be the end of immigration itself. In response, the president says memorably, "If you like your green card, you can keep your green card." However, the INS determines that the new costs make working with the old cards and honoring them unsustainable. Millions of legal residents are mistakenly deported, also. Leaders promise that it will work out eventually, and that everyone will love the law by then. Oh, and they botch the waiver system set up for groups whose mission it is to protect the birds. Most people realize it's not broad enough, and the government is sued on First Amendment grounds all over the place. The supporters shame the vast array of critics by repeatedly pointing out that the law was duly passed by Congress, and signed by the president. Besides, this is a huge problem, right? DON'T YOU CARE about freeloaders and killers destroying the lives of Americans?! Well, of course, say the critics, but this is draconian. If this scenario makes sense to you, and makes you angry, you'll have some idea about the opposition to the Affordable Care Act. But it's worse, because we're not killing waterfowl; we're killing people. I wouldn't kill birds, either. But I know I wouldn't force Greenpeace to help me do it, either.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Cry Of The Day

Call it boasting, and maybe it is, but I'd rather endure a thousand Hells than corrupt these little ones! I just can't even take it. I think I met Fr. Gerber once. Thank you, Fr.

[Sigh]

Hey, Alan Noble, I Had A Few Thoughts!

I took your survey; let's see if you can tell which one is me! I suppose I would rank as a "critic," although that sounds absurd in my ears. Christ and Pop Culture is better than Christianity Today. I believe in your mission, and I like your tone, although my main criticism is that I know you don't want that tone to be an end in itself.

If this magazine had a genesis as a cultural counter-reaction to the rise of the Religious Right--even if not consciously from the Left--this would explain the criticism from the Right, some of which I share, when I'm in the mood. I think the most important thing to say is that the Religious Right can't be faulted for being involved; they can be faulted (maybe) for losing the message of Christ while they became involved.

Art makes culture, and culture makes politics. As I think about it, it's not only the political Right that lost the true Christian anthropology; the Left did, too. You're not only speaking into a culture; you're creating one. What culture are you trying to create?

What does "evangelical" mean? If it must mean, "non-Catholic," then CaPC is already dead. The culture created by a Protestant conversionist soteriology died at least a decade ago. But the culture has done for us what 500 years of dialogue has never done: they made us one. They see us as united in the mission of killing their buzz, taking away their freedom, and being the voice of what they perceive as condemnation. Pardon the us-vs.-them tone here, it's just that, well, the limit of cultural engagement is exactly at the places where the culture is not in Christ.

You can't call the "Church" back to the "gospel," because, on both counts, there isn't one. The people you want to reach have made you one with Christ and the Church in their minds, but you haven't. There might even be a kind of unity internally at CaPC, but it is only supposed. What if the alleged timidity of CaPC is a product of this ecclesial reality, as much as a conscious choice?

A few thoughts. Keep up the good work. Reflectively, of course.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

5 Uncouth Thoughts

5. I really like Steve Nash. Doesn't his retirement announcement feel about 2 years too late? Is it harsh to say that?

4. I love Charles Barkley. I think he might be the frankest, funniest guy on TV.

3. Does CBS really think "The Late, Late Show" still matters without Craig Ferguson? Contrary to the thinking of TV executives, we will not laugh at any British person. Ferguson was legitimately hilarious.

2. Yes, I will cop to having the maturity level of a 12-year-old. Quit kidding yourself; you laughed at him.

1. I was once fond of saying that I was from the Republican wing of the Republican Party. With apologies to Mr. Reagan though, if I have to live in a political world where I have to take Ted Cruz (or Rand Paul) seriously, then perhaps I am "The Establishment," and I'm OK with this. It's not that he never says things I agree with; it's that he follows those things with either: (1) moonbat crazy things, or (2) the worst political optics of all time, making the current president--arguably the worst president since LBJ--seem reasonable. That takes a special kind of stupid. And absolutely the worst thing about the Tea Party is that, because it really was a movement from the people, it was easily hijacked by libertarians, while still retaining a legitimacy that political movement has never deserved. I used to think they were just really edgy conservatives; now I realize that it has the potential to destroy any hope of a just society. Why, you ask? Because libertarians give you the false choice between collectivist tyranny, and individualism. Some Tea Partiers are not libertarians, and fair enough. But if you were attempting to describe the base of the GOP today, would you imagine educated bankers, or libertarians? How many of them know the difference between a government that interferes with the rights of its people, and thus, should be limited, and no government at all? Does the phrase "common good" sound like a Democrat plot? If so, God bless you, but we're not on the same side. I'd rather be slurred as a collectivist than sell morality down the river for an illusory "freedom." Just so we understand each other.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

No, Seriously: God Loves You

Call me a hippie, but I seriously don't think we talk about this enough. Some people think the problem in the American Catholic Church is that we talk too much about it, that we should talk about sin more. Well, that's true also. The reason we don't talk about sin is that we don't talk about God's love.

God is Love. God is immutable--that is, unchanging--and what He unchangingly is, is Love. When the Sacred Scriptures say, "For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God," what they mean is that we do not love as God does. There are a million different ways to botch it up, but at the end of the day, that's the story. In another way, we can't love the way God does, because He is supernatural Love, and we are but creatures; we're just people. That's why we need grace. Grace is the favor of God, and the presence of God living in us to do what we cannot do: love supernaturally. We cannot love God in the way we are supposed to, unless He brings us to His level, so to speak. Yes, we absolutely need forgiveness, but the only way we are seated in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, as St. Paul tells us and the Ephesians, is grace.

I'm gonna just shoot it straight: Some people have just enough knowledge and wisdom to scare the Hell into themselves. Here's the truth: Sin is nothing more and nothing less than the opposite of supernatural Love. If we find that we are sinners--and this is what we always find--we should think, "I must be meant for a great destiny, if I am aware of falling so short. God must really love me!" It's by grace that we know this! The grace of repentance is a grace. On this side, wicked sinners seldom hate God; they are indifferent. Listen to the priest. There might be somebody--or a great many somebodys--who are presuming upon the mercy of God. Fair enough. But if you're in the Confession line weekly, (or close) this isn't you.

I am convinced more and more each day that we really do need this New Evangelization we've been talking about. There are dozens of people walking down the streets of our parishes, who think that Sunday is a Funday, who don't necessarily think they owe God anything, much less see also their debt of sin. If I had the authority, by contrast, I would forbid all scrupulous people from reading or speaking about mortal sin for a month (or more). Without God who is Love, all other things are meaningless.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Read Of The Day

I see Confirmation Sponsor Guy in my daydreams (day-mares?) yelling stuff like, "A popular argument doesn't mean it's a good one!" when I read stuff like this.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Ed Peters, Call Your Office!

There has been a dust-up since that editorial against the death penalty co-authored by the editors of the 4 Catholic newspapers. And maybe Bruenig is getting too big for her britches, in other contexts. But the Left is right on this one. Capital punishment has never, and is not now, forbidden in the abstract by the Catholic Church. And since I agree that murderers deserve death, we don't need all this whining from the Catholic Right about their motives being impugned. I trust that your motive is the same as mine: justice. Does the capital punishment system in the United States further justice?

No.

It systemically ignores its own safeguards; it is arbitrarily enforced; it gives political rewards to those who trample on the rights of defendants. It is both agonizingly slow, and not slow enough. The guy in Ohio who waited 39 years to die for a crime he didn't commit can tell you all about it.

There is nothing symbolic about this penalty; if you can't make sure you've got the right person, and that the guilty have every access to capable representation, especially after the verdict, you can't do it. We're not even close to that.

In fact, even a cursory glance at the system reveals that the killing of the innocent is not only possible, but likely. That should trouble everyone. It doesn't, though. It's almost enough to make you question motives.