Sunday, November 22, 2015

Truth and the Big Picture

Pontius Pīlātus was the fifth prefect of the Roman Province of Judea. That sounds important, but Pilate was one of the Equites: Roman aristocrats, but ranking below Patricians.

Think of him as 'middle management.'

Judea was a strategically important border province, giving the empire access to Egypt's agricultural resources, and a measure of protection from the Parthian Empire.

I'm inclined to sympathize with Pilate. There he was, responsible for a strategically-important border province: without the authority a Patrician would have had.

Small wonder that he pounced on the third charge cited in Luke 23:2: that Jesus claimed kingship. That would have been a clear challenge to Roman authority. So was opposing Roman taxes, one of the charges in Luke 23:2, but the Empire didn't get much from Judea.

On the other hand, in Mark 2:14, Luke 19:1-8 I read that Jesus told Levi to leave his custom post, influenced Zaccheus: and I'm drifting off-topic.

Pilate's interview with our Lord isn't as random as it may seem. Remembering that nobody in the Praetorium was American helps. Circuitous and ambiguous aren't quite synonyms, and that's another topic.
"So Pilate went back into the praetorium and summoned Jesus and said to him, 'Are you the King of the Jews?'

"Jesus answered, 'Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?'

"Pilate answered, 'I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?'

"Jesus answered, 'My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants (would) be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.' "
(John 18:33-36)

Kings and Questions

"Are you the King of the Jews?" was a reasonable question. So was our Lord's response, although Pilate may not have seen it that way.

The Sanhedrin were, I think, seeing Jesus as a political threat: someone who wanted their political, social, and economic status. Pilate would reasonably be concerned about that, too.

I've wondered if our Lord's question, "do you say this on your own?" was giving Pilate an opportunity to see what was really going on. Maybe Pilate saw, maybe not.

What Pilate did was state the obvious: that he wasn't a Jew, and that Jesus had been handed over to Imperial authority by "your own nation and the chief priests."

I don't know how reality looks from the Second Person of the Trinity's viewpoint, but I 'hear' a trace of exasperation in our Lord's response: "My kingdom does not belong to this world...." (John 18:36)

Think about it: Jesus had been accused of trying to be king of a smallish nation between two empires. It's a bit like someone asking the American president if he's some sort of shift supervisor.

Anyway, here's the last part of this morning's Gospel reading, John 18:33b-37.
"So Pilate said to him, 'Then you are a king?' Jesus answered, 'You say I am a king. 16 For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.' "
(John 18:37)
Jesus is a king, but not a political leader. Our Lord's kingship is what Pope St. John Paul II called "another kind of kingship, a divine and spiritual kingship."1

Our Lord's kingdom is everybody "who belongs to the truth:" in Palestine; in the Roman, Parthian, Kushan, and Han empires: and beyond.

We've been learning that there's a whole lot of "beyond," and that's yet another topic.

Today's feast, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, is quite new: started by Pope Pius XI in 1926. I put a few 'background' links at the end of this post.2

The Man Who Wouldn't Stay Dead

(From Piero della Francesca, via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)

I've been over this before. (October 18, 2015; April 5, 2015)

Jesus was tortured, executed, buried: and a few days later, stopped being dead. It took some convincing, but the 11 surviving apostles eventually realized that they weren't seeing a ghost. (John 20:26-27; Luke 24:30-31, (41-43)

Then our Lord had a final meeting with the 11, described in Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:10-11, and left. I've been over that before, too. (October 5, 2014)

In a way, the Resurrection wasn't the most remarkable part of those events. It's what the apostles realized, after they looked at what our Lord had said and done: God loves us, and wants to adopt us. All of us. (Ephesians 1:3-5; John 3:17; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 52, 1825)

That's the best news humanity's ever had. I've been over that, too: a lot. (October 4, 2015; September 6, 2015; August 30, 2015)

I've often repeated this, too: as adopted children, acting like part of the family makes sense. It's pretty simple: I should love God, love my neighbors, see everybody as my neighbor, and treat others as I want to be treated. (Matthew 5:43-44, 7:12, 22:36-40, Mark 12:28-31; Luke 6:31 10:25-27, 29-37)

I said simple: not easy. (October 12, 2014)

Truth and the Long Run

(From NASA/ISS, used w/o permission.)
"Love and truth will meet; justice and peace will kiss.

"Truth will spring from the earth; justice will look down from heaven."
(Psalms 85:11-12)

"Teach me, LORD, your way that I may walk in your truth, single-hearted and revering your name."
(Psalms 86:11)
Our Lord's mission was "to testify to the truth" — which brings me to Pilate's question in John 18:28: "What is truth?"

God is love, but God is also truth. (1 John 4:8-16, 14:6; Catechism, 144, 214-217, 218-221, 1814)

Faith is personal loyalty to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: three persons, one God. It is "a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed." (Catechism, 150), 233, 238-248)

Okay, so I believe in God, and decide to follow our Lord. So what?

In the short run, the outlook is pretty close to Churchill's "blood, toil, tears and sweat." Matthew 16:24 makes that clear.

In the long run, though, the outlook's pretty good for those of us who take God seriously. (Matthew 16:25-27; 1 Corinthians 13:12; 1 John 3:2; Revelation 22:1-5)

That bit in Revelation 22:4, about having a name written on our foreheads, puts me in mind of an over-the-top college party: and that's yet again another topic.

I'm looking forward to no more tears, death, mourning, wailing, or pain.
"1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2

"I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, 3 coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

"I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, God's dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people 4 and God himself will always be with them (as their God).

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, (for) the old order has passed away.' "
(Revelation 21:1-4)
Meanwhile, like I've said before, we have work to do. Lots of work.

Part of our job involves truly respecting the "transcendent dignity" of humanity, and each person. That is not easy: but it's something we must do. So is building a better world for future generations. The job starts within each of us, with an ongoing "inner conversion." (Catechism, 1888, 1928-1942)

We've made some progress over the last two millennia: and we have a very great deal left to do.

My guess is that we'll still be watching and working when the 8.2 kiloyear event, Y2K, and Y10K are seen as roughly contemporary. (December 28, 2014; November 23, 2014; October 26, 2014)

On the 'up' side, we're already in "the last hour," and have been for two thousand years. The war is over. We won. This world's renewal is in progress, and nothing can stop it. (Matthew 16:18; Mark 16:6; Catechism, 638, 670)

More of my take on life, love, and light:

1 Homilies for this solemnity:
2 Solemnity of Christ the King, background:

Friday, November 20, 2015

Europe’s Complex Heritage

I stopped using the term "Caucasian" several years ago. I've discussed the "Anglo-Teutonic" race, Neanderthals, and getting a grip, before. (September 25, 2015; October 31, 2014)

Turns out, folks from the Caucasus moved into Europe at least once — along with many other folks.
  1. Georgian DNA, Homebodies, and Wanderers
  2. Basque Background
We're still learning more about humanity's family history. It's a lot more complicated than we thought. (July 11, 2014)

Thinking is Not a Sin

If you've read my 'science' posts before, you know why I think the universe is billions, not thousands, of years old; Earth isn't flat; Adam and Eve weren't German; poetry isn't science; and thinking is not a sin.

Briefly, I think the universe follows knowable rules: which means we can learn how it works. This is okay. We're supposed to study this universe, and use what we learn. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 32; 339, 2292, 2295)

Scientific discoveries invite us "to even greater admiration for the greatness of the Creator."(Catechism, 283)

I also think that this world is changing, in a state of journeying — in statu viae — toward an ultimate perfection. (Catechism, 302-305)

Humility is accepting reality — including scientific discoveries — also remembering that God's God, I'm not.1 (Catechism, 283, 2540, 2559)

1. Georgian DNA, Homebodies, and Wanderers

(From Eppie Jones, via BBC News, used w/o permission.)
("DNA was retrieved from this 10,000-year-old skeleton in Western Georgia"
(BBC News))
"Europe's fourth ancestral 'tribe' uncovered"
(November 16, 2015)

"Geneticists have detected a fourth ancestral 'tribe' which contributed to the modern European gene pool.

"Research shows Europeans are a mixture of three major ancestral populations - indigenous hunters, Middle Eastern farmers and a population that arrived from the east in the Bronze Age.

"DNA from ancient remains in the Caucasus has now revealed a fourth population that fed into the mix...."
The photo's caption says "Western Georgia," which could mean somewhere near the Apalachicola River — but doesn't.

This Georgia is on the east side of the Black Sea, north of where Urartu used to be. "Georgia" is my culture's name for the country. Folks who live there call their land საქართველო, Sakartvelo — I think.

Greeks and Romans called the folks living there Colchians and Iberians, depending on whether they were in the western or eastern part. I'll stick with "Georgia," and figure that you know what area I'm talking about.

Anyway, Eppie Jones and other scientists have been studying DNA from two men who lived in western Georgia 13,300 and 9,700 years back, three centuries shy of "10,000 years;" and another man who died about 13,700 years ago, where Switzerland is now.

Comparing their DNA with folks living in western Eurasia, the scientists found that today's Georgian DNA is a lot like the samples they have from a dozen millennia back.

They also discovered that folks living throughout Europe — particularly northern Europe — are genetically similar to the early Georgians.

My fairly-recent ancestors are from southern Norway and the northern British Isles: so it looks like I'm related to the Georgian subjects of this study.

DNA: Still Learning

(From Eppie Jones, via BBC News, used w/o permission.)
("A view from the Satsurblia cave in Western Georgia, where a human bone dating from over 13,000 years ago was discovered."
(BBC News))

We've learned a lot since 1928, when Frederick Griffith's experiment suggested that DNA carried genetic information; and 1944, when the Avery-MacLeod-McCarty experiment showed that DNA, not proteins, carries genetic information in bacteria.

More recently, research like the Human Genome Project has mapped the human genome. We've mapped the billions of DNA base pairs in our chromosomes — but we don't know what many of them do.

Not yet.

Scientists have developed new ways to recover DNA from increasingly old burials. Back in the 1990s, it looked like we could extract DNA from insects caught in amber: and an 80,000,000-year-old dinosaur.

Scientists double-check results: with disappointing results in this case. Early research hadn't taken environmental contamination and DNA's chemical stability into account. The "dinosaur DNA," for example, was from a human Y chromosome.

These days, it's rare for researchers to identify DNA that's more than several hundred thousand years old. (Wikipedia)

Quite a bit's happened in the last 200,000 years, though. That's when anatomically modern humans showed up. That's what scientists call folks who look pretty much like us.

For one thing, we're learning that today's genetic patterns aren't much like they were in the past. That's hardly surprising. As I've said before, humans travel. (July 11, 2014)

In a way, I'm a bit surprised that so many of the folks who lived in the Caucasus a dozen millennia back stayed where they were.

More recently, about 5,000 years ago, another group — herders we call the Yamna or Yamnaya — formed when hunter-gatherers from the Caucasus and eastern Europe moved into land north of the Caucasus: joining folks from the Mal'ta-Buret' culture.

Genes, Norwegians, and Steppe Pastoralists

(From Joostik, via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)
"...The Yamnaya transformed the gene pools of northern and central Europe, such that some populations, like Norwegians, owe around 50% of their ancestry to these Steppe pastoralists.

"But the Yamnaya were themselves a mixed population. Around half of their ancestry came from a sister group to the hunter-gatherers who inhabited Europe before farming, while the other half appears to be from a population related to - but noticeably different from - the Middle Eastern migrants who introduced farming.

"Researchers have now analysed genomes from two hunter-gatherers from Georgia that are 13,300 and 9,700 years old. The results show that these Caucasus hunters were probably the source of the farmer-like DNA in the Yamnaya...."
(BBC News)
It looks like Yamnaya brought the early version of most European languages with them when they moved west into my ancestral homelands, about 5,000 years ago. Wikipedia has a pretty good write-up on Proto-Indo-European language.

They also brought horses, metal-working tech, and plague. We've found plague DNA in Yamnaya burials: and Europe's population dropped after they arrived. (BBC News (October 23, 2015))

We recovered, though.

People may be "allergic to change," but for the last 2,000,000 or so years, humans have been coping with a changing world. And that's another topic. (February 20, 2015; July 11, 2014)

Humanity on the Move

(From Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)
(Map of Georgia, Abkhazia, Ajara, and South Ossetia; showing Dmanisi, a townlet and archaeological site in the Kvemo Kartli region.)

Folks have been living in cities like like Faiyum and Jericho for millennia. Sorting out exactly how long isn't easy, since inhabited cities keep getting rebuilt. Excavations for an embassy in Londinium, for example, unearthed 10,000-year-old tools. (June 6, 2014; April 4, 2014)

Getting back to the Caucasus region, the Homo erectus version of humanity was living there 1,800,000 years ago. We look different now, but folks still move around.

I'm an anatomically modern human, descended from folks who left Africa more than six dozen millennia back. My ancestors reached central North America recently.

I'm prone to sunburn, thanks to an ancestral stopover in northwestern Europe, I'm related by marriage to folks who came here after heading east across Asia — and that's yet more topics.

Maybe you've seen enough about Dmanisi, Upper Palaeolithic genomes, and all that. if not, there's more at the end of this post.2

2. Basque Background

(From AFP/Getty Images, via BBC News, used w/o permission.)
("Two men saw a tree trunk with a 'tronza' (traditional Basque saw) during a rural sports championship"
(BBC News))
"Ancient DNA cracks puzzle of Basque origins"
(September 7, 2015)

"DNA from ancient remains seems to have solved the puzzle of one of Europe's most enigmatic people: the Basques.

"The distinct language and genetic make-up of the Basque people in northern Spain and southern France has puzzled anthropologists for decades.

"One theory proposed that they were an unmixed pocket of indigenous hunters...."
Basque Country is between Spain, France, and Andorra.2 It's a mountainous place, tucked into the southeast corner of Europe's Bay of Biscay. Quite a bit of traffic goes through the Port of Bilbao, but Basque valleys aren't particularly on the way to anywhere.

Folks have been living there for at least 32,000 years. Today's Basques have a unique language, Euskera, and unique customs.

The BBC News article says Euskera "is unrelated to any other spoken in Europe, or indeed the world."

That's possible, although Basques may have picked up bits and pieces of Iberian and other Indo-European languages as the millennia rolled by.2

Torsten Günther and other scientists filled in a few pages of the Basque story recently: showing that ancestors of today's Basques were local hunters, plus farmers who moved in between 3,500 and 5,500 back. The farmers had been living in around the Atapuerca Mountains.2

Folks have been living in the Atapuerca region for 430,000 years, give or take. We haven't changed much, sadly. (June 5, 2015)

More from me, accepting reality:

1 More about humility and thinking:
"CONSCIENCE: The interior voice of a human being, within whose heart the inner law of God is inscribed. Moral conscience is a judgment of practical reason about the moral quality of a human action. It moves a person at the appropriate moment to do good and to avoid evil (17771778). An examination of conscience is recommended as a preparation for the reception of the Sacrament of Penance (1454)."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, Glossary, C)

"HUMILITY: The virtue by which a Christian acknowledges that God is the author of all good. Humility avoids inordinate ambition or pride, and provides the foundation for turning to God in prayer (2559). Voluntary humility can be described as 'poverty of spirit' (2546)."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, Glossary, H)

"SIN: An offense against God as well as a fault against reason, truth, and right conscience. Sin is a deliberate thought, word, deed, or omission contrary to the eternal law of God. In judging the gravity of sin, it is customary to distinguish between mortal and venial sins (1849, 1853, 1854)."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, Glossary, S)
2 More than you may wan to know about:

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Attacks in Paris: People Matter

(From BBC News, used w/o permission.)
("The names of victims have started to emerge. Top left to right: Nohemi Gonzalez, Marie Mosser, Djamila Houd. Middle left to right: Juan Alberto Gonzalez, Guillaume Decherf, Nick Alexander. Bottom left to right: Mathieu Hoche, Thomas Ayed, Valentin Ribet"
(BBC News))
"Paris attacks: Who were the victims?"
(November 16, 2015)
"Information about the 129 Paris terror victims has been emerging over the last two days, with France saying more than 103 bodies have now been identified.

"More than 20 foreigners from a number of countries were killed.

"Desperate for any news, relatives and friends of the missing have turned to Twitter to search for their loved ones...."
Another article tells about efforts to find folks who are still missing: either dead, or hospitalized and not able to say who they are. I'll get back to that.

This article gives Djamila Houd's age, and where she was from, but no other details. Marie and Manu's employer had given their personal names, but not their surnames. on Twitter, but did not provide their surnames.

A few names from that BBC News article —

"Dado," the nickname of a man killed at the Bataclan. Hugo Sarrade, Cedric Mauduit, Mathieu Hoche, Quentin Boulanger, Guillaume B Decherf, Marie Lausch, Mathias Dymarski, and Lola Salines, had been at the Bataclan, too.

No pressure, and this is just a suggestion: but praying for everyone involved couldn't hurt.


(From Getty Images, via BBC News, used w/o permission.)
("More than 250 people are seriously wounded and not all have been identified"
(BBC News))
"Paris attacks: Search goes on for missing"
BBC News (November 16, 2015)
"Among the many arresting images from Paris since the Friday attacks was that of the distraught father pleading with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls for news of his missing daughter, Nathalie Jardin.

" 'I don't know where my daughter is,' said Patrick Jardin. 'I don't know if she's still alive or in which hospital she might be.' His daughter had been working at the Bataclan concert hall as a lighting director.

"Confirmation of her death emerged on Monday but the search goes on for several others missing since Islamists opened fire on the Bataclan and several other sites in Paris on Friday night....

"...Hospitals in Paris said in a statement on Monday that of the 80 people admitted in a critical condition, 29 remained in intensive care. Another 49 are still being treated but are no longer in a critical condition.

"One nurse posted a message on Sunday saying that some patients who were not in a critical condition had not been identified and were labelled as 'X'...."

(From Twitter, via BBC News, used w/o permission.)
("People took to Twitter to appeal for the search for Lola Ouzounian to continue" (top left)
"Venezuelans have also been tweeting appeals for Sven Alejander Silva" (Top right)
"For days, appeals have been put out to no avail in search of 17-year-old Remi Suquate" (Bottom left)
"One of the missing was named as Jean-Michel Ovide, the father of a friend" (Bottom center)
"Friends took to Facebook and Twitter to appeal for information about Franck Pitiot" (Bottom right)
(BBC News))

Most folks killed in Paris last Friday were French. Many were young. The BBC News article gave ages for 18 victims: nine in their 20s, five in their 30s, three in their 40s, and a man in his 60s. Many were among the 89 killed at the Bataclan concert hall.

Many folks killed at the Garissa University College in Garissa last April were young, too. It may be easier to feel bad when someone with most of life still ahead dies, and that's another topic.

I think it's wrong to kill folks because they're at a restaurant or rock concert. As I keep saying, murder is wrong. (September 27, 2015; September 6, 2015; April 12, 2015)

Life and Love

Murder is wrong because human beings are people: all human beings. Genesis 1:27 says1 we're made "in the divine image."

We are rational and therefore like God, made in the image and likeness of God. We have free will. We can decide to act, or not act. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1730-1825)

All humans are people, with equal dignity: no matter where we are, who we are, or how we act. (Catechism, 360, 1700-1706, 1932-1933, 1935)

Deliberately killing an innocent person, is wrong because human life is sacred. Everyone's life is precious. (Catechism, 2258, 2268-2283)

By "everyone," I mean everyone: including the folks who murdered innocent people in Paris.

My faith says that I mus love God, love my neighbors, see everyone as my neighbor, and treat others as I'd like to be treated. (Matthew 5:43-44, 7:12, 22:36-40, Mark 12:28-31; Luke 6:31 10:25-27, 29-37; Catechism, 1789)

At the moment, I don't feel all warm and fuzzy about ISIS leaders and many American governors — I'll get back to that — but I must love them.

That does not mean that I think France should stop acting against ISIS.

Governments are obliged to protect their citizens, citizens have a responsibility to cooperate with their country in its defense — and governments must let citizens who are pacifists serve their country in other ways. (Catechism, 2310-2317)

My faith doesn't require me to let someone kill me. My life is important, too. Interestingly, the rules for individual defense and national defense are very similar: and nowhere near 'I thought he was going to kill me, so I killed him first.' (2263-2267, 2307-2317)
"Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one's own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow:
If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful. . . . Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one's own life than of another's.66"
(Catechism, 2264)
The basics are simple: I must love God, my neighbor, and myself. Applying those simple principles gets complicated: or difficult, at any rate:

It Could Be Worse

(Screen capture from BBC News video, used w/o permission.)
("Many US states say they will no longer welcome Syrian refugees"
(BBC News))
"Paris attacks: US states halt taking Syrian refugees"
BBC News (November 16, 2015 (November 17 in UK))

"More than a dozen US states say Syrian refugees are no longer welcome due to security fears after the Paris attacks.

"Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan said he was suspending the acceptance of new arrivals until after a review.

"Alabama, Texas and several other states issued similar statements but a State Department spokesman said the legality of this action was still unclear...."
Since a poll showed that 52% of Americans felt 'less safe' with Syrian refugees coming into the United States, I can see why state governors might want to keep those particular foreigners out. There's a major election coming up next year.

Only 17 state leaders had jumped on this bandwagon when the BBC News article came out:
  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Texas
  • Wisconsin
    (source: BBC News)
A few hour later, more than half the states were saying 'no' to Syrians seeking refuge here:
  • States whose governors oppose Syrian refugees moving in
    • Alabama
    • Arizona
    • Arkansas
    • Florida
    • Georgia
    • Idaho
    • Illinois
    • Indiana
    • Iowa
    • Kansas
    • Louisiana
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • Michigan
    • Mississippi
    • Nebraska
    • New Hampshire
    • New Jersey
    • New Mexico
    • North Carolina
    • Ohio
    • Oklahoma
    • South Carolina
    • Tennessee
    • Texas
    • Wisconsin
  • States whose governors say they will accept refugees
    • Colorado
    • Connecticut
    • Delaware
    • Hawaii
    • Pennsylvania
    • Vermont
    • Washington
      (Source: CNN)
I draw a measure of relief that governors of my two 'home' states, North Dakota and Minnesota, have had the common decency to keep quiet about this. I am not among the 52% who would feel 'safer,' knowing that my political leaders were refusing sanctuary to folks — based on national origin.

Here's a map of the situation, as of last night:

(From CNN, used w/o permission.)

It could be worse.

The President could be signing an order to round up American citizens with Syrian ancestry.

Something like that happened before.

On February 19, 1942, during World War II, Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066.

Folks whose crime was having 'un-American' ancestors were rounded up and herded into internment camps. Many had their property confiscated. About two thirds of the Japanese were American citizens, many others had lived here for decades. German-Americans and Italian-Americans were blacklisted, too.

The good news is that the roughly 120,000 men, women, and children whose ancestors were Japanese were not killed. Eventually, after wartime hysteria cooled down, they were released.

Decades later, in 1988, Public Law 100-383 even acknowledged that the Roosevelt administration might have made a mistake.

Still later, the Department of Justice got around to looking for the folks whose property was legally stolen — "Justice Department Announces Potential Eligibility of Japanese Americans Who Lived in Phoenix Area for Redress Payments."

The Department of Justice announcement was dated August 3, 1994 — 52 years after the roundup was okayed.

Exodus 20:15 and Deuteronomy 5:19 say the same thing: "you shall not steal." Respect for legitimate authority is part of my faith: but that does not mean that someone who has political or economic power can ignore rules that apply to 'ordinary' people. Stealing is stealing: even if the President rewrote part of the Decalogue. (Catechism, 1897-1917, 2401, 2408-2409)

And that's yet another topic.

'A Stranger, and You Slammed the Door in my Face'

There's a somewhat-corny poem associated with a statue in New York Harbor:
"...A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles....

"...'Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!'...
("The New Colossus," Emma Lazarus, via Wikipedia)2
That's a nice sentiment, and as a Euro-American I'm in no position to argue against letting foreigners into 'my' country.

More the point, I'm a Catholic, so I must think that "alleviating the miseries of refugees" is important. (Catechism, 1911)
"The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him.
"Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants' duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens."
(Catechism, 2241)
The last I checked, the United States is still one of "the more prosperous nations." With a population of around 322,000,000, I think we can handle the economic burden of reviewing entry requests for around 10,000 refugees from Syria.

I also think careful background checks make sense. A few of those Syrians might be terrorists. So might folks coming from France, Belgium, or any other nation.

But — governors appealing to nativism or fear notwithstanding — I am pretty sure that most of those Syrians are fleeing terrorists: and hope that the United States and countries in Europe give them a chance to live.

I'll admit to a bias. Many of my ancestors were "of low type," and regarded as a threat to America. (September 25, 2015; September 18, 2015; June 21, 2015)

A few words about strangers and getting a grip, and I'm done for today.
"5 Had not the men of my tent exclaimed, 'Who has not been fed with his meat!'

"Because no stranger lodged in the street, but I opened my door to wayfarers -...."
(Job 31:31-32)

"The LORD protects the stranger, sustains the orphan and the widow, but thwarts the way of the wicked."
(Psalms 146:9)

"Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me,

"naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.' "
(Matthew 25:34-36)
More of my take on living in a big world:

1 I must take the Bible, Sacred Scripture, seriously. (Catechism, 101-133)

But I must not pick a few verses I like and warp them around my personal preferences.
2 As a descendant of the "wretched refuse," I think this is a good idea:

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.