Friday, August 31, 2012

Divine Shore Thing

St. Luke's Catholic Church, Ocean City MD  [photo: BD Matt]

As one relaxes and recharges one's sunny perspective at the beach, it was nice to encounter a "littoral" ultimate truth. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Requiem for Nellie Gray–Funeral for a Friend of the Pro-Life Movement

Nellie Gray, the founder of the March for Life, died at the age of 88 on August 13. Gray was  given a Requiem Mass at St. Mary, Mother of God Catholic Church in Washington, DC.  Her funeral was a beautifully sung Trinentine High Mass, celebrated by Pastor Alfred Harris, with Boston Archbishop Sean Cardinal O’Malley and Washington Archbishop Donald Cardinal Wuerl in attendance. Gray had been a parishioner at St. Mary’s for sixteen years.

Nellie Gray served in the Women’s Air Corps during World War II. Afterwards, Gray earned her undergraduate degree in business, a Masters degree in Economics and went to night school at Georgetown Law School while working as a career public servant for twenty years at the State Department and the Labor Department.  In fact, Gray argued cases before the Supreme Court.  But she was so outraged by the Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade (1973), that she listened to God’s voice and dropped everything to oppose what she discerned was a travesty of justice.  In fact, she retired on a meager government pension and never took monies from March for Life to supplement her pension.

During her eulogy, her colleague from the March for Life attorney Terry Scanlon noted Nellie’s determination once her mind was made up.  Scanlon noted that Gray was the driving force in the anti-abortion movements “Respect for human life–no exceptions.”  Scanlon said that Gray was actively planning the 40th anniversary March for Life when she passed away.

Cardinal O’Malley recalled working with Gray during the early days of the March for Life, when they would exhaustingly paper Capitol Hill offices with materials protesting the virtual Abortion on Demand decision.  O’Malley, who is a Capuchin priest, quipped that today is the first time that he was around Nellie Gray not wearing sandals, which is the order’s customary vestment.

O’Malley opined that it always seemed like the coldest day of winter when the March for Life.  But memorializing January 22 as the day of infamy had great symbolic value and galvanized Pro-Life forces to spread the light for life in the dead of winter.  The first March for Life only had a couple of hundred participants.  Now, the March for Life is an annual event which the Lamestream Media either minimizes or ignores despite the fact of hundreds of thousands of participants, many young people, redress their government for this unjustice to the unborn.

Cardinal O’Malley philosophized that this world seems obsessed with celebrity, yet our real champion is a person like Nellie Gray, who discerned God’s will, abandoned all of her professional pursuits to do what she thought was right and helped build God’s kingdom.

Cardinal Wuerl offered a personal story about Nellie Gray’s outlook on life.  Wuerl was on the dais for the annunal March for Life, on what he too thought was the coldest day of the year.  Gray focused on Wuerl and asked “Where’s your hat?”  What Wuerl took from that interchange was despite the crowds and the circumstances, Gray looked at people as individuals and she was concerned about someone in trouble.  Wuerl extrapolated a probing question “Where’s your voice?” challenging people to recognize the barbarity of killing pre-born children.

When connecting scripture to the question “Where’s your voice?”, Cardinal Wuerl thought of Pentacost where the Spirit of God came down upon the Apostles, which made them bold and they began to speak.  Wuerl marveled at how Gray’s righteous indignation over the Supreme Court overturning abortion laws nationwide made one woman bold and the fruits over her work seem to reconnecting young people to the spirit speaking out for unborn babies.

Preparing the High Altar for Nellie Gray's Requiem, St. Mary Church Washington, DC [photo: BD Matt]

Casket of Nellie Gray lying in repose at St. Mary's Church Washington, DC [photo BD Matt]
St. Mary's Pastor Fr. Alfred Harris celebrating Nellie Gray Requiem Mass, Wash. DC [photo BD Matt]
March for Life V.P. Terry Scanlon offering Nellie Gray Eulogy   [photo: BD Matt]
Boston Archbishop Sean Cardinal O'Malley reminisces on Nellie Gray  [photo: BD Matt]

Washington Archbishop Donald Cardinal Wuerl's reflections on Nellie Gray's importance  [photo: BD Matt]
Celebrant Fr. Albert Harris incenses Nellie Gray's casket   [photo: BD Matt]
Washington Archbishop Donald Cardinal Wuerl offers a final benediction for Nellie Gray  [photo: BD Matt]
Pall bearers for Nellie Gray's casket as Knights of Columbus look on  [photo: BD Matt]
Boston Archbishop Sean Cardinal O'Malley comforting mourners for Nellie Gray   [photo: BD Matt]

Pope Blessed John Paul II, during a pilgrimage to Mexico in 1979, offered a prayer which captured the driving force behind Nellie Gray’s discernment of her mission from God:

Virgin of Gaudalupe, Mother of the Americas, grant to our homes the grace of loving and respecting life in its beginnings.  Loke upon us with compassion: teach us to go continually with Jeus through a great love for all the holy Sacraments.
Thus, with our hearts free from evil and hatred, we will be able to bring to all the true joy and true peace, which comes to us from your son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen

Billy Graham on Virtue

Monday, August 20, 2012

America's New State Religion?

In the wake of the Obama Administration’s HHS Qualified Health Plan Mandate (a.k.a. the Contraception Mandate), mainline churches have to come to terms with a Federal government which narrowly construes the First Amendment Freedom of Religious Expression.

While the Obama Administration exempts parishes from these objectionable regulations, no such leeway is given to religiously affiliated organizations, like Catholic colleges, religious orders, Catholic Insurers etc.  from paying for abortions, sterilizations and abortifacients.  But such groups were given a year’s reprieve from complying. As New York Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan quipped that they were given an extra year to figure out how to violate their consciences.

President Obama claimed a work around which would force a farce that insurers would give away these services so religious organizations would not have to pay.  Of course, this is a ruse as insurers would simply raise their premiums to everyone to cover these free services.  But Obama’s announcement came on the same day that the Federal Register published the original rules unchanged, so the ameliorations were a rhetorical chimera.

This move by the Obama Administration has awakened a sleeping giant.  This summer, the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops promoted the “Fortnight for Freedom”,  a coordinated nation-wide effort of prayer, fasting and educating American Catholics on the importance of preserving Americans’ First Amendment rights to the unfettered exercise of religious beliefs.

Some pastors have picked up this mantle to drive this crucial point home.  On the “Pastor’s Page of St. John the Evangelist of St. Paul (MN), Fr. George Welzbacher published this thought piece on the establishment of a nationwide first state religion–secular humanism.

It would seem that, for the first time in the history of our republic, we are witnessing here in the U.S.A. the establishment of a state religion, a religion so crafted as to delight the heart of a secularist, a religion with clearly defined dogmas, compliance with whose demands is to be enforced with all of the coercive powers at the disposal of the federal     government.  Here are the dogmas of this new faith. 
Dogma #1: A woman has the right, the unrestricted right, to make arrangements for the killing of her unborn child whenever such course of action is convenient.
Dogma #2: The chief purpose served by the institution of marriage is the securing of social recognition for romantic attraction, together with the panoply of benefits accruing to such recognition. The begetting of children, together with such subsequent upbringing as will equip them to contribute responsibly to the society in which they will spend their lives, can be dismissed as of  marginal importance. Thus every man, should this be his bent, has the right to marry another man, just as every woman, should she be so disposed, has the right to marry a woman. To suggest otherwise, to imply, for example, that a man's realigning of his reproductive powers to adapt to another man's digestive tract is in any way abnormal is to be guilty of a hate crime, in exculpation of which no appeal to the rights of conscience shall be allowed,  this being an intolerable crime, properly punishable with fines and/or imprisonment.
Dogma #3: The sovereign pontiff in this new state religion is the people's hero, Barack Hussein, now reigning gloriously in the White House.
Dogma #4: Enemy Number One of the new state religion is, by and large, the Christian faith and, with special intransigence, the Catholic Church. Measures must accordingly be taken to compel the recusant authorities of the Roman Catholic faith to genuflect at the new religion's altar. (Thus the new Health and Human Services mandate).
 All of this represents at least one way of looking at President Obama's arrogant trampling upon the First Amendment, not to mention his repudiation of God's Commandments.

If this is the case, I hope that I’m losing that religion come the first Tuesday in November.

h/t: Jerry Breen

Dogged Dhimmitude in Canuckistan

If you wondered how far political correctness run amok can lead, consider the case of Allain Eintoss, a Toronto resident who was arrested for walking his dog in a public park with his licensed therapy dog because it offended the sensibilities of a Muslim.

READ MORE at the DCBarroco website

Golda Meir on Temperament

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mickey Mouse Creeping Sharia Lawsuit

Two years ago, Imane Boudlal was fired as a hostess at Disneyland’s Grand Californian hotel Storyteller’s  restaurant.  The now 28 year old  Ms. Boudlal, a Moroccan born Muslim who is an American citizen had worked at Disneyland for two years when she began wearing her hijab (head scarf) to work.  If you totally believed the fact pattern as told by the ACLU and the Hadsell Stormer Richardson & Renick lawyers, Ms. Boudlal was fired by Disney due to anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias which religiously discriminated against her.

What the jury and the court of public opinion should take into consideration before rushing to judgment are the accommodations which where purposed and rejected by Boudlal.  All workers at Disney resorts wear uniforms or “costumes”, particularly front-line employees at thematic attractions and restaurants.  Boudlal asked that her costume at the fin de siècle themed restaurant could be modified.  Disney offered a compromise attire which should have satisfied the modesty rationale for observant Muslim women wearing a hijab.

Ms. Boudlal, however, rejected this employer accommodation by asserting “The hat makes a joke of my religion and draws even more attention to me” and "They don't want me to look Muslim. They just don't want the head covering to look like a hijab."  Disney notes that Boudlal was offered four different roles out of the public view, which she rejected. In lieu of the rejected accommodation attire, Boudlal was given a choice to take off the hijab, work in the back or go home.  Boudlal went home and tried reporting to work for several other days wearing her head scarf before being terminated.

Some may wonder why it took two years for Ms. Boudlal to file her discrimination lawsuit. The Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Los Angeles tried to use Boudlal as a cause célèbre  two years ago but attorney Ameena Qazi could not successfully try the case in public.


Even observant Muslims like Qudosi Chronicles editor Shireen Qudosi questioned Boudlal’s stated rationale for wanting to wear the hijab in “observance” of  Ramadan is ridiculous and a false act of faith.  Moreover, an observant Muslim woman who believing in it would not considered a head covering optional for over two years as did Boudlal.

It is also important to note that when Boudlal was terminated, she was represented by UNITE Local 11, which did not have a labor contract with Disney hotel employees for over two and a half years.  Hence, mocking the proposed costume accommodations made for Boudlal was good agi-prop for the Union’s perception among the public.  Well, UNITE Local 11 signed a five year agreement with the Mickey Mouse Company, and the higher wages and better health care seemed to supercede standing up for their “discriminated” Muslim union sister Boudlal.   So it was wise for Boudlal’s new legal representation before her right to sue expired.

Boudlal’s statements and actions are confusing.  Boudlal did not claim to have a spiritual conversion but was motivated to assert her religious rights as she became an American citizen.  Boudlal then complained that the sartorial accommodation drew even more attention to her and being out of uniform did not do the same.  Boudlal as an employee seems to think that she can dictate how an entertainment company that is theatric and thematic can present its employees to the public.  It does not seem that CAIR saw any accommodation for Boudlal’s modesty other than allowing her to shatter the carefully cultivated public images which Disney presents to the public and Boudlal agreed to as part of her employment.

Perhaps this is a case of creeping Sharia, where an active minority uses lawfare to dictate terms to the public.  If this case ever goes to trial, may the jury weigh all of the facts of the matter as they deliberate on this Mickey Mouse alleged discrimination case.

Helen Keller on Adversity

It's not just blind faith!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tulku--Divine Great Expectations?

Tulkus are highly revered spiritual leaders in Buddhism.  In the 1970s, a phenomena occurred where Buddhist believe that some of the great spiritual leaders had been reincarnated and reborn in the West.  The challenge is that many of these reborn tulkus do not immediately head off to Tibetan  monastaries to wear saffron robes and never be heard from again.

Ashoka Mukpo is one of the Western tulkus.  Ashoka Mukpo was enthroned in Tibet, which was an experience that he found intense and somewhat uncomfortable But this “double life” is was blessed with as a tulku proved to be disconcerting to reconcile with living in America.  Mukpo observed:

When you're 15, you can't say, 'Dude, I'm a reincarnated spiritual master from the hills of Tibet…without people thinking you're weird as fuck. Now it's just a pain in the ass.

[L] Ashoka Mukpo with [R] half brother Gesar Mukpo. Both are considered Tulkus
The karma that Ashoka Mukpo is following is not to be a teacher but to serve humanity by working for the American branch of Human Rights Watch.  While Mukpo did not adopt the life of a Buddhist monk living secularly in the West, he does have a thangka wall portrait of his previous incarnation, Khamyon Rinpoche

.Considering the great reverence which Tibetan Buddhism places on the wisdom stemming from tulkus, it is remarkable that their faith is unshaken by the reincarnation of the great spirits in Western boys who do not unconditionally embrace this karma.  The 2009 documentary Tulku by Geskar Mukpo, who himself is considered a Tulku, looks to be an interesting chronicle of the divine great expectations and how that clashes with coming to age in a different world.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas Profoundly Praises God

After winning a gold medal as the overall Best Women’s Gymnast in the 2012 London Summer Olympics, sixteen year old American Gabrielle Douglas had shown herself to have her feet on the ground yet she looked up to the heavens in thanks.

 Douglas’ recognition of divine favor did not seem gratuitous or isolated. Even before heading to London, Gabby gave a spirit filled interview with KTIS, where the young gymnist revealed how twice daily scriptural readings and meditation were part of her training routine.

Throughout the competition, Douglas had shared her strong faith through Twitter.  On July 28th, Douglas tweeted “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged; for the Lord will be with you wherever you go!”. On July 30th, she shared “I believe in God. He is the secret of my success. He gives people talent.” Another tweet on July 31st noted: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” On the day that she wonder her individual gold, Douglas wrote via Twitter: “Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me.”

Sadly, there are those on the left who find Douglas’ outspoken evangelical faith unnerving, like Salon writer Mary Elizabeth Williams, who frets that Gabby’s prominence will give her a new platform to preach. Others critics have snarked about Douglas’ hair as being unkept instead of basking in the glory that Gabrielle is the first American woman to win both an individual and a team gold in gymnastics. It makes me wonder if this is transferred aggression from less religious  gymnastics “fans”.

 After the Olympics, Gabrielle Douglas may return to her home in Virginia Beach, Virginia which coincidentally happens to be the headquarters of the Christian Broadcasting Network.

 Kudos on her achievement and Laus Deo from DC.

Rick Warren on Love

This is food for thought in the midst of this Chick-fil-A food fight

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Catholic Tertium Quid is a Dead End

A radio advertisement piqued my interest about a Renewing Christendom Conference. Quickly glancing over their itinerary, I did not recognize any of the speakers but got the impression that their religiosity was on the right end of the spectrum. I discerned that the gathering was a policy platform to advance the agenda for IHS Press, a small Catholic publisher in Virginia.

Tertium Quids is Latin for a “Third Way”. The wonk in me is familiar with the expression “Tertium Quids” from a weekly radio show by a Virginia advocacy organization the eschews traditional right/left dialectics to expand free market opportunity for individuals while reducing the size of government.

While this Renewing Christendom conference could be construed as a third way from the “Nuns on a Bus” social teaching and what is generally considered conservative Catholicism rooted within the spirit of Vatican II. However, the Catholic social teachings that will be highlighted at the Renewing Christendom conference could be likened to paleo-conservative politics (e.g. Pat Buchanan has gone so far right that he seems aligned with the left on trade issues).

The Renewing Christendom Conference seeks to recover the buried treasure of Catholic social doctrine from the early Twentieth Century. IHS Press publications are rooted in Pope Leo XIII’s 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum (“On the New Things”) which deals with labor. This bull rejected communism and unrestricted capitalism while affirming the right to private property and workers forming labor unions. The spiritually inspired political philosophies of Distributism, Sodalism, and Paleo-Corporatism by such luminaries as G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, Heinrich Pesch, S.J. et ali. Since many of these economic and Catholic Social Doctrine books are out of print, the Renewing Christendom Conference seems like an event to popularize the fin de siècle European Catholic intellectuals to contemporary audiences current social and political conversations.

 Briefly, this Catholic Tertium Quid is a reaction to modernism and the stark choices between communism and capitalism. In its stead, these theories harken back to small communities knit together by faith, “three acres and a cow” and guilds determining fair wages. While the concept of subsidiarity can be instructive on the ordering of society, unless there is an EMP which takes the world back into a pre-Industrial age driven by agriculture, it is hard to envisage how guilds of craftsmen does not “evolve” into the overgrown unionism which antagonizes against the top echelon. The Sodalism or distributism seems like an aspirational alternative which has some intellectual appeal, yet the cooperation between groups setting prices for goods seems more inspired by the irrational exuberance of the European Enlightenment from the 1789 paradigm instead of the cautious approach to ceding the people’s sovereign power enshrined in the Miracle in Philadelphia that drafted the United States Constitution in 1787.

 Alas, the anachronistic elements do not seem limited to just the Catholic social doctrine. The keynote speaker is both associated with anti-Semitic views and the still schismatic Society of (Pope) St. Pius X. While I agree with the observation of his successor, Pope Pius XI, that morality can not be disassociated from the affairs of practical life, I am not sanguine about secular governments operating under the Social Kingship of Christ. Another speaker is the editor of the Catholic Family News, which is a traditionalist Catholic publication which is sympathetic to the SSPX  but is not sedevacantist and recognizes the Novus Ordo liturgy  from Vatican II hence it is not heretical.

It is important to remember that the word Catholic means “universal” so it can include diversity of perspectives, even within the Latin rite that can include Dorothy Day Catholic Worker types, the secularized Social Justic oriented “Nuns on the Bus”, conservative Catholics and even traditionalist Catholics who respect papal authority. Yet we are all united in Christ through the Eucharist and the sacraments, but only the Lord fully understands the Divine Plan.

 Although some of these approaches are personally repugnant, such as the anti-Semitism which Pope Blessed John Paul II was instrumental in routing out from the faith, or demanding distributionism, by opening the cover on the Renewing Christendom Conference that  I better clarified and strengthened my personal pilgrimage of faith. As I approach forks in the faith, may I follow the orthodox (right way) path.

Laus Deo--Bible Museum to Be in DC

[L] Curator Dr. Scott Carroll [R] Steve Green

The Museum of the Bible, a non-governmental not-for-profit organization, has secured a site two blocks from the National Mall to open a large scale national, non sectarian gallery  to display sacred texts by 2016.

Steve Green, the heir to the the Hobby Lobby craft chain (and current President) began collecting bible artifacts in 2009.  In collaboration with his “Indiana Jones” manuscript expert Dr. Scott Carroll, Green estimates that he spends half of his time now amassing 40,000 biblical antiquities which comprise the Green Collection. Currently, the collection includes Torahs, papyri along with illuminated or decorated manuscripts which are valued at between $20 million to $40 million.  The antiquities world marveled at the rapid acquisition rate of the Green Collection.

 Traveling as part of the Passages exhibition, 400 pieces of the Green Collection is touring the world, with stops at the Atlanta and soon Charlotte, NC.  A smaller portion of the Green Collection traveled to the Vatican during Lent for a Verbum Domini, a exhibition celebrating interfaith contributions to the Bible.

The Green Collection will find a permanent home in Washington, DC at 300 D St. SW in a $50 million deal for a building which was previously  a home design center. The spokesman for the yet to be named biblical museum observed that Washington, DC was chosen over Dallas and New York City due to the ten hour driving proximity to over half of the United States.

Steve Green effuses over engaging people in Scripture.  While there are other Bible Collections in America, like Manhattan’s American Bible Society, the aim to the yet to be named Bible Museum will be to inspire people with the story of the Bible and its history. Green notes that the “[Bible] has been banned and burned more than any other book. It has over 40 writers over  a 1,500 year period.  That in itself is an incredible story.”

The average household in America owns seven Bibles and it has become somewhat common place. Yet Green feels that we have become ignorant of the Bible as it is no longer taught in the schools. The aim of making the Green Collection accessible to the public is to re-engage them with scripture and become acquainted with the God of the Bible.

Although Steven Green is evangelical and his family comes from a Southern Baptist tradition, the Bible Museum is intended to be non-sectarian.  In fact, Green hopes that atheists and skeptics of the Bible will tour the Collection and recognize that it is the most documented book from antiquity for which so many people have given their lives so there may be something to it.

When the Bible Museum is slated to open in 2016, it does plan to charge admission.  In the Nation’s Capital, paid admissions are the exception and not the rule, due to taxpayer largess with the Smithsonian Museums and the National Gallery of Art.  In the past decade, there have been a couple of successful private museums which charge admission, like the International Spy Museum and the Newseum.  Both of those ventures have dynamic and interactive presentations and somewhat specialized subject matter.

Washington's Carnegie Library
There have been two spectacular failures of paid admission museums between-the-beltways.  The City Museum in Washington in the historic Carnegie Library across the street from the Washington Convention Center, opened in 2003 to great fanfare and a Disney-like attraction.  But it closed in 2005 due to financial difficulties.
John Paul II Cultural Center

More on point was the John Paul II Cultural Center, a 130,000 square foot museum  near Catholic University in Brookland, DC sought to explore faith in the world, opened in March 2001 at a reported cost of $75 million.  It is speculated that the downturn in tourism after the September 2001 terrorist attack and economic recession doomed the project.  That may be true but personally I felt that there was not much to the collection for the proffered entry fee and it was far from typical tourist sections of the Nation’s Capital.  The JPII CC has now closed and the monumental building was sold to the Knights of Columbus for a reported $22.5  million in 2011.

While Steve Green reverse the majesty of the King James Bible, it would behoove the Bible Museum to augment the scriptural story beyond the Authorized Version, which just celebrated its quadricentenary in 2011.  Even though The Voice translation of the Bible may not work, it is an example of contemporary efforts to engage readers with scripture and should be recognized.

During the recent Restoring Love Rally in Dallas, Glenn Beck showed one of the eight surviving copies of a Bible commissioned by the Continental Congress after the American Revolutionary War that was given to soldiers as a token of gratitude, as King George had prohibited Americans from publishing their own Bibles.  Perhaps the Bible Museum could consult with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to rediscover God in America to make connections between the Federal City and how scripture shaped the formation of the nation.

h/t: Philanthropy Roundtable

J.K. Rowling on Character