Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Discerning Civic Values--Chicago Style

After Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy dared to publically express support for the traditional definition of marriage of being one man and one woman, there has been a cacophonic chorus of progressive politicians condemning the chicken restaurant chain.  It is inconsequential that Cathy expressed his personal views on a public policy that is not settled law.  Moreover there is no evidence that Chick-fil-A violates the law and discriminates in their restaurants, liberal leaders are quick to fillet Chick-fil-As.

In fact, Chicago Mayor (and former Obama Administration Chief-of-Staff) Rahm Emanuel (D-Chicago) went so far as to say: "Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values. They disrespect our fellow neighbors and residents. This would be a bad investment, since it would be empty.” It is disturbing for an elected official like Emanuel to use his public office to rail against a private business. But he also seems to be applying a civic values test to conduct business in Chicagoland.

Francis Cardinal George, a native Chicagoan who just happens to be Archbishop of Chicago had some thoughts on this Chicago values test purported by Mr. Emanuel.

Recent comments by those who administer our city seem to assume that the city government can decide for everyone what are the “values” that must be held by citizens of Chicago. I was born and raised here, and my understanding of being a Chicagoan never included submitting my value system to the government for approval. Must those whose personal values do not conform to those of the government of the day move from the city? Is the City Council going to set up a “Council Committee on Un-Chicagoan Activities” and call those of us who are suspect to appear before it? I would have argued a few days ago that I believe such a move is, if I can borrow a phrase, “un-Chicagoan.” …

 People who are not Christian or religious at all take for granted that marriage is the union of a man and a woman for the sake of family and, of its nature, for life. The laws of civilizations much older than ours assume this understanding of marriage. This is also what religious leaders of almost all faiths have taught throughout the ages. Jesus affirmed this understanding of marriage when he spoke of “two becoming one flesh” (Mt. 19: 4-6). Was Jesus a bigot? Could Jesus be accepted as a Chicagoan? Would Jesus be more “enlightened” if he had the privilege of living in our society? One is welcome to believe that, of course; but it should not become the official state religion, at least not in a land that still fancies itself free. Surely there must be a way to properly respect people who are gay or lesbian without using civil law to undermine the nature of marriage.

Surely we can find a way not to play off newly invented individual rights to “marriage” against constitutionally protected freedom of religious belief and religious practice. The State’s attempting to redefine marriage has become a defining moment not for marriage, which is what it is, but for our increasingly fragile “civil union” as citizens. 

Mayor Emanuel seems to have selective indignation and criteria for doing business in Chicago.  Earlier in the month, when Mayor Emanuel was asked about the epidemic of gang violence in the Second City, “Rahm-bo” retorted:
We've got two gangbangers, one standing next to a kid. Get away from that kid. Take your stuff away to the alley. Don't touch the children of the city of Chicago. Don't get near them. And it is about values. As I said then, Scott [Pelley of 60 Minutes], who raised you? How were you raised? And I don't buy this case where people say they don't have values. They do have values. They have the wrong values. Don't come near the kids -- don't touch them.

OK, it seems that Emanuel will tolerate the illegal activities of gang bangers (robberies, burglaries, drug dealing), so long as they stay away from the kids.  If Chicago values mean just means to whole heartedly embracing homosexual marriage, then what about President Barack Obama who, up until his supposed evolution in May, had opposed Gay Marriage while supporting their civil rights?

Catholics just celebrated the “Fortnight for Freedom” which was a coordinated nationwide effort of prayer, fasting and instructions to educate Americans on the importance of preserving the sanctity of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution–namely, the right to freedom of speech, assembly and the unfettered exercise of religious beliefs. As this Chick-fil-A attacts show, unbridled government officials (Mayors, Cabinet Secretaries like HHS Chief Sebilius and even Presidents) need to be reminded of this First Freedom.

As Americans discern whether to preserve the traditional understanding of the covenant of marriage, we ought to affirm our tolerance and diversity for individuals of integrity who do not bend to the imposition of values of men rather than divine truths.

h/t: Hot Air

St. Ignatius Loyola on Theology

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Glenn Beck on Restoring Love

 For the last few years, Glenn Beck has embarked on a journey to renew our character. The first non-partisan gathering on 8-28-2010 for Restoring Honor drew 650,000 Americans on the National Mall to celebrate America's heroes and heritage as well as to raise money for the Special Operations Warriors Foundation. 

 Last Summer, Beck organized Restoring Courage at the southern wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem to “stand with Israel”. The sojourn also included stops at Auschwitz, Poland to remember the lessons of the Holocaust and stops in South Africa and South America, asking them to stand in defense of Israel, the Jewish people and responsibility. 

Today, at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, Texas, the trilogy culminates in the Restoring Love gathering.

    {"Hold Us Together" by Matt Maher, the theme song for Restoring Love}

 Left leaning critics, whose viewpoints are often informed by the George Soros funded Media Matters, are wont to engage in ad hominem attacks against Beck, charging that he is a huckster or that he is anti-Semite, as he dared to compare the fascistic tendencies of the Obama era with Nazi-ism. The latter charge is pretty laughable, considering the theme, setting and personal risk that Beck took to organize Restoring Courage at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Beck is a comedian as well as a political commentator, so his rodeo clown persona or his messy past (both of which he readily confesses) makes him the target for vitriolic ad hominem attacks. 

However, if skeptics can get beyond the mud slinging, there is much that is commendable to Beck’s efforts. Some say that Beck is only self-promoting and pining for a profit. If that were the case, then why were tickets to the 80,000 seat stadium priced at $10 with free parking? Beck may go $2 million in personal debt underwriting the event, including paying Dallas for the impuned taxes for the parking fee that Mercury One did not charge. 

Look at the action. Restoring Love did not center on a feel good rally. It involved a day of service, where 35,000 people volunteered to do a day’s charity work in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. The message there was it was only a beginning and to bring that spirit home. Although Beck’s libertarian leanings definitely wants to see change in the White House this November, he has been stressing for years that the answer can not be found in Washington or in politics but by individuals restoring love and helping their neighbors.

 Beck’s message does touch upon politics, but not in a partisan sense. Beck spoke before a packed American Airlines Arena in Dallas for FreePac on Thurday night, which gathered activists from around the world interested in spreading freedom and limited government from around the world. 

 The intelligentia loves to note that Beck only took a couple of college classes. I wonder how many elites would have the guts or the pedagogic gumption to read all of Rudyard Kipling’s poem “The God of the Copy Book Headings” to make a larger point against collectivism and progressivism. Beck hopes that the Third Great Spiritual Awaking along with inspiring Tea Party types around the world that freedom can be preserved. 

 There is little doubt that the Lamestream Media with either ignore the messages shared for Restoring Love or blindly ridicule what they consider is an easy target. It would be wise for those who preach tolerance and diversity to consider the themes coming from the Restoring Love experience and juxtapose it to their progressive prejudices.

G.K. Chesterton on Virtue

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Catholics Are Christian Too

Shane Steven, the writer of the Catholic in the Ozarks blog, wrote an insightful and personal piece about how some fundamentalist Christian faithful that he has encountered in the Ozarks consider Catholics to be in a cult and hence not Christian.  

The gist is that the way they apply sola scriptura to the practice of faith makes it logical for them to come to that conclusion. Stevens does a yeoman's job of dispelling this myth through a historical and rational apologetic.  

For those curious about comparative theology and understanding who is part of the Christian brethren, this piece "Are Catholics Christians?" is highly commended.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Contact with Scientific Certainty

Recently, I saw a snarky posting from an avowed secular humanism which mocked a Sunday School poster simplistically urging the children to turn to the Bible and listen to divine teachings. Of course such atheists are too cool for Sabbath School and condescendingly surmise that everyone should think for themselves.

 Later, I came across this idealized pedagogic dialogue showing the “subtleness” of the Socratic method in forming young skulls full of mush.

The problem with the latter exchange is that in a classroom a student rarely becomes a master without suffering a failing grade first.

 The fictitious student’s retort reminded me of a wonderful scene in the film adaptation of Carl Sagan’s novel “Contact” (1997). Dr “Ellie” Arroway (Jodie Foster) was set to intellectually eviscerate Christian Philosopher Palmer Joss (Matthew McConnoghey) for proposing that science has been incapable of delivering meaning to the world.

 But instead of Occum’s Razor carrying the day, the SETI scientist was stumped at proving her love for her father.

 Some things, including matters of consequence like love or God, can not be proven by science. Other issues, like worthy “human life”, do not have scientifically probative answers and rely upon ethics and mores.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Atheists' Umbrage at Obama's Movie Massacre Prayer

Just hours after to the Midnight Movie Massacre in Aurora, Colorado, President Barack Obama recast his re-election campaign rally into a more somber public appearance. Mr. Obama encourage Americans to put aside politics as he called for a day of prayer and reflection.

President Obama concluded his remarks in Fort Myers Florida with a brief prayer: “May the Lord bring them comfort and healing in hard days to come.” These temperate remarks to the grieving American public trying to process the 12 people murdered along with 71 others shot seemed quite Presidential.

Unfortunately, atheists expressed at Mr. Obama’s attempts to offer spiritual succor to the nation.

READ MORE at the DCBarroco website

Ralph Waldo Emerson on Virtue

Monday, July 16, 2012

Divine Friend Request

As he celebrated his underdog win in the 2012 Iowa Caucuses, former Senator Rick Santorum began his remarks by offering a paean to his wife which credited  to C.S. Lewis:

"A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words." 

The same sort of qualities certainly ought to be attributed to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

In an effort to modernize the Animus Christi (Soul of Christ), the medieval prayer which was a favorite prayer of St. Ignatius Loyola, David Fleming, S.J. recast the prayer to draw more people into a personal relationship with their messiah.

Jesus .. Best Friend
may your soul give life to me,
may your flesh be food for me,
may you warm your hardened heart.
Jesus .. Best Friend
may your tears now wash me clean,
may our passion keep me strong,
may you listen to my plea.
Jesus .. Best Friend
may our wound take in my hurts,
may your glaze be fixed on me,
may I not betray your love.
Jesus .. Best Friend
may you call me at death’s door,
may you hold me close to you,
may you place me with God’s saints,
may I ever sing your praise.  Amen.

According to James Martin, S.J. Ignatius of Loyola was neither a renowned scholar nor martyr, yet he is remembered as a mystic who loved God with an incredible intensity.  The formal name of the religious order which he help found in Paris in 1534 is the Society of Jesus (La Compagnie de Jésus in French).  The Jesuit charism is to find God in all things.  It is observed that the mainspring of Jesuit spirituality is companionship with Jesus and their confreres.

This divine friendship is not something reserved for just the consecrated religious but for all through our baptism.  To think of it in social media constructs, the question is whether we confirm or ignore that heavenly Friend request and keep up with the daily feeds, or do we ignore the entreaty or effectively negate it through neglect.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Can You Believe This?

It gives one cause to pause on the Cartegian paradigm of cogito ergo sum.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Deteriorta Inspirational (sic)

In 1927, the little known American poet Max Ehrmann wrote Desiderata, a prose poem which epitomized the past perfect Latinate etymology of  "desired things". The text became widely known when the pastor of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Baltimore used Desiderata in a devotional poem. In fact, Adlai Stevenson, the former Democrat Governor of Illinois and two time failed Presidential candidate, had the Desiderata at his bedside.

Yet despite the storied history of the Desiderata, I find more ironic inspiration in the 1972 National Lampoon  parody Deteriorata. The surreal straight rendition of this reductio ad absurdum jeremiad is oddly inspiring. In fact, Les Crain, won a Grammy for his reading of the Desiderata, yet he admits that he prefers the parody Deteriorata over the original.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Special Mass Text?

During the closing mass for the Fortnight for Freedom at the National Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, Baltimore Archbishop William Lori followed a special rubric for the mass.  Archbishop Lori asked the gathered faithful to text Freedom or Libertad to 377377.

                                Archbishop Lori's Special Mass Texting (sic.)

The assembled Catholic congregation should be happy that they weren't worshipping at Westminster Presbyterian in Burbank, California.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Prayer for the Government

Seal of John Carroll, America's 1st Archbishop, Georgetown University, Washington, DC

We pray, Thee O Almighty and Eternal God! Who through Jesus Christ hast revealed Thy glory to all nations, to preserve the works of Thy mercy, that Thy Church, being spread through the whole world, may continue with unchanging faith in the confession of Thy Name. 

We pray Thee, who alone art good and holy, to endow with heavenly knowledge, sincere zeal, and sanctity of life, our chief bishop, Pope N., the Vicar of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the government of his Church; our own bishop, N., all other bishops, prelates, and pastors of the Church; and especially those who are appointed to exercise amongst us the functions of the holy ministry, and conduct Thy people into the ways of salvation. 

We pray Thee O God of might, wisdom, and justice! Through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with Thy Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the President of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be eminently useful to Thy people over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality. 

Let the light of Thy divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge; and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty. 

We pray for his excellency, the governor of this state , for the members of the assembly, for all judges, magistrates, and other officers who are appointed to guard our political welfare, that they may be enabled, by Thy powerful protection, to discharge the duties of their respective stations with honesty and ability. 

We recommend likewise, to Thy unbounded mercy, all our brethren and fellow citizens throughout the United States, that they may be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of Thy most holy law; that they may be preserved in union, and in that peace which the world cannot give; and after enjoying the blessings of this life, be admitted to those which are eternal. 

Finally, we pray to Thee, O Lord of mercy, to remember the souls of Thy servants departed who are gone before us with the sign of faith and repose in the sleep of peace; the souls of our parents, relatives, and friends; of those who, when living, were members of this congregation, and particularly of such as are lately deceased; of all benefactors who, by their donations or legacies to this Church, witnessed their zeal for the decency of divine worship and proved their claim to our grateful and charitable remembrance. 

To these, O Lord, and to all that rest in Christ, grant, we beseech Thee, a place of refreshment, light, and everlasting peace, through the same Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior. Amen.

Archbishop John Carroll composed this prayer in 1791.  But the Carroll family had been actively involved in the miracle of American Independence as he was the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence representing Maryland in the Continental Congress in 1776.

These same words of prayer have an uncanny resonance to close the USCCB's Fortnight for Freedom.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

R.I.P. Andy Griffith

{Andy Griffith [C] with Mayberry Statue, Mt. Airy, NC}
Actor Andy Griffith, made famous for his TV role as the widowed sheriff of the fictional town of Mayberry, NC as well as Matlock, has died at the age of 86.

The Andy Griffith Show was wildly popular during its eight year television run from 1960 to 1968. Griffith left the show with a year left on his contract but served as an executive producer of the spin-off show  Mayberry, R.F.D. and appeared in a handful of episodes in its first year.

Griffith left to pursue a career on the silver screen, with less success than he hoped. Perhaps it was because he could not shake the typecasting.  When he returned to television, he partially embraced that folksy persona in the legal drama Matlock, where he played a widowed country lawyer.

President George W. Bush awarded Griffith the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 "for demonstrating the finest qualities of our country and for a lifetime of memorable performances that have brought joy to millions of Americans of all ages." So that gentile down home typecasting might not have been all bad.

While Griffith made his Democrat leanings clear with his avid support of North Carolina Governors Bev Perdue (D-NC) and  Mike Easley (D-NC) as well as a government funded endorsement of Obamacare.

That being said, Griffith never managed to ultimately polarize his public.

Griffith studied for the ministry in his youth.  This is reflected in a couple of Griffith's memorable quotes.

"I was baptized alongside my mother when I was 8 years old. Since then I have tried to walk a Christian life. And now that I'm getting older I realize that I'm walking even closer with my God."

"You know when you're young you think you will always be. As you become more fragile, you reflect and you realize how much comfort can come from the past. Hymns can carry you into the future."

May his soul revel in walking closer to his Maker.

Corrie ten Boom on Adversity

What makes this pearl of wisdom so poignant is that Corrie ten Boom was an ordinary Dutch Christian citizen who survived interment in a Nazi concentration camp for hiding Jews in her watch shop.  Yet the faith of this seemingly simple soul understands some of the transcendental mysteries of life.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Ignatian Daily Examen, Busted Halo Style

Despite the hokey graphics, this one sheet effectively diagrams an Ignatian Daily Examen. It is a handy methodology for spiritual foot soldiers in the Society of Jesus to be contemplatives in action.

Another aid in doing an Ignatian contemplation of scripture is Sacred Space from the Irish Jesuits.

h/t: Busted Halo
      Fr. James Martin, S.J.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sounding the Alarm for Religious Liberty

Eric Metaxas, the author of Amazing Grace and Bonhoeffer,  and Ruth Institute founder Jennifer Roback Morse, team up in a short but compelling video to expose the HHS mandate as not  only a threat to religious freedom but to the United States.

Some may scoff that the Obamacare qualified health plan mandate does not force individuals to go against their will in using contraception, sterilizations and abortafacients.  Besides, President Obama claims that they won't even have to pay for those services but insurance companies will bankroll the "free" services.  To add insult to injury, the same day the President announced this so called compromise in February, HHS Secretary Sebelius published the final rules that remained unchanged since August 2011. Oh, and the "free" abortions will be funded by taxing every American $2 a month for these services.

This Acton Institute video was adept at noting that it is not just insurance coverage that is repugnant to religious liberty.  The Federal Government, through the cudgel on the HHS mandate, will force Catholic Hospitals to offer services like abortion or else face crippling fines and the threat of being taken over by Uncle Sam.

Billy Graham on Freedom

This is the way America understood the First Amendment to the Constitution until the 1960s.