Friday, May 25, 2012

Overdue For a Change

Like Yogi Berra said, "It's déjà vu all over again."

It's been about a half-century since America's establishment lost track of what the rest of America thought, felt, and believed. I remember 'the good old days:' and they weren't. I've posted about "Happy Days" America, nostalgia, and AWOL fathers, before.

I think America is in the start of another major cultural adjustment. It's not going to be easy, or pleasant: but I think we're overdue for a change. Maybe this time around we'll do a better job of reforming the country.
  1. NAACP and Same-Sex Marriage: Nostalgia, or Simply Nuts?
  2. In Defense of Religious Liberty

1. NAACP and Same-Sex Marriage: Nostalgia, or Simply Nuts?

"African American leaders blast NAACP 'gay marriage' support"
Michelle Bauman, CNA/EWTN News (May 23, 2012)

"The NAACP's recent endorsement of 'gay marriage' drew harsh criticism from within the African American community for misrepresenting civil rights and undermining families.

"Pastor Derek McCoy, executive director of the Maryland Marriage Alliance, said that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's 'unfortunate' stance on the issue will contribute to the 'further demise of the family.'

"McCoy told CNA on May 21 that the NAACP is 'endorsing an epidemic' of fatherless households, a 'tragic' phenomenon in the United States and particularly in the African American community.

"On May 19, the association released a statement in support of redefining marriage to include gay couples. The announcement came ten days after President Barack Obama announced his unprecedented support for 'gay marriage.'...
As a practicing Catholic, I have to think that marriage is an exclusive, committed, permanent, sexual and social relationship between a man and a woman.

That may not mean what you think it does. There's quite a bit of 'what everybody knows, that just ain't so' floating around.

Marriage, Catholic Style

The Catholic Church has quite a bit to say about marriage. Basically, marriage is:
  • A good idea
    (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1601-1658)
  • A sacrament of the Church
    (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1601)
  • Ordered for the good of
    • Spouses
    • Children
    • Society
    (Catechism, 2201-2203, 2363)
  • The union of a man and a woman
    (Catechism, 1601-1608, 1614)
If marriage was a strictly private affair, that had no effect on anybody except the people, pillows, or whatever, involved, maybe what government leaders decide they'd like marriage to be wouldn't matter to me. But that's not the way it works. Marriage involves the spouses, children, and everybody else: so what the government wants to believe it is matters to everybody.

Love, Hate, and Getting a Grip

The Catholic Church also has something to say about love, hate, and people. Quite a great deal, actually, including this:
  • We should love
    • God
    • Our neighbor
    (Matthew 22:36-40, Mark 12:28-31)
  • Everybody is our neighbor
    (Matthew 5:43-44; Mark 12:28-31; Luke 10:25-30)
    (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1825)
  • Hating people is very wrong
    (Catechism, 1033)
  • Homosexual acts are wrong
    (Catechism, 2357)
  • People who feel like committing homosexual acts
    • Often experience the tendency as a trial
    • Must be accepted with
      • Respect
      • Compassion
      • Sensitivity
    • Must not be shown
      • Any sign of unjust discrimination
    • Are called
      • To fulfill God's will in their lives
      • If Christians, "to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition"
    (Catechism, 2357-2358)

NAACP, Marriage, and Fathers

There was a time when the NAACP wasn't part of 'the establishment.'

When I was a teenager, Americans with influence in politics, education, media, and business, were almost all white men - and often either WASPs or trying to be WASPish. That was then, this is now, and, sadly, folks in today's establishment are as out of touch as their pale counterparts were back in the '60s.

The NAACP was successful, it reformed or removed unfair and unreasonable barriers to folks who didn't 'look Anglo.' Maybe the folks in charge of the old outfit want a replay of the glory days, when the NAACP was heroically struggling. Or maybe they've simply lost it.
"...According to an April 2012 survey by Pew Research Center, only 39 percent of African Americans are in favor of redefining marriage. Voters across the country have consistently affirmed measures to defend marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

"McCoy said that redefining marriage is redefining the family in a way that is 'hazardous' for children.

" 'Gay marriage' teaches that fathers and mothers are both dispensable, he explained, and 'this is absolutely going to harm the family.'

"The absence of a father has been linked to higher rates of crime, poverty, drug abuse and teenage pregnancy throughout the U.S.

"In his 2011 Father's Day proclamation, President Obama noted the importance of fatherhood..."
About fatherhood: I remember the 'good old days' when many American fathers spent most of their time at work, commuting, and not dealing with 'the children.'

That wasn't a good idea: but removing fathers entirely from the household doesn't seem to have been a practical solution. I think it's time for America to try something else: and, like I keep saying, there's an election coming in November.

2. In Defense of Religious Liberty

"Cardinal Dolan Applauds Church Agencies As They Challenge HHS For Violating Religious Freedom"
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) News Release (May 21, 2012)

"With time running out, dioceses, agencies resort to the courts
"Church united in defense of religious liberty
"Diversity of church ministries at stake

"Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), in a May 21 statement applauded 43 dioceses, hospitals, schools and church agencies for filing 12 lawsuits around the nation saying the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate violates religious freedom.

"His statement follows.
" 'We have tried negotiation with the Administration and legislation with the Congress - and we’ll keep at it - but there's still no fix. Time is running out, and our valuable ministries and fundamental rights hang in the balance, so we have to resort to the courts now. Though the Conference is not a party to the lawsuits, we applaud this courageous action by so many individual dioceses, charities, hospitals and schools across the nation, in coordination with the law firm of Jones Day. It is also a compelling display of the unity of the Church in defense of religious liberty. It's also a great show of the diversity of the Church's ministries that serve the common good and that are jeopardized by the mandate - ministries to the poor, the sick, and the uneducated, to people of any faith or no faith at all.' "
The Catholic Church has a mandate to feed the hungry, satisfy the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the ill, and visit those in prison. (Matthew 25:35-40) Helping folks kill someone, or themselves, isn't part of that package. Neither is paying an assassin to do the job.

When "Health" Coverage Kills

America's ruler says that we are supposed to provide "health" coverage that includes terminating people who aren't on the government's 'approved' list. I posted about Franciscan University, Steubenville's, decision to drop health care coverage last week. (May 18, 2012)

I see that another Catholic university has decided to drop "health" coverage, rather than be involved in the killing of innocent people:
As a practicing Catholic, I have to follow some very counter-cultural teachings. Some of them are downright inconvenient. For example, the Church says that it's wrong for a boyfriend, professor, employer, or husband, to have one of his women 'fixed' if she gets pregnant. It has to do with the Church's assertion that women are people, and should be treated with respect and dignity: not as sex machines.

Like I said, the Church holds some very counter-cultural positions.

Defending Life and Conscience: Online Resources

Catholic Bishops in America, all of them, think religious freedom and being alive are good ideas. They've got resources on their website that may help us regain what America has lost, and is losing:
Conscience Protection, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

"The proposed 'accommodation' is not current rule, but a promise that comes due beyond the point of public accountability; the original rule was finalized "as is." Find out the rest of the twelve things you should know!"
(May 17, 2012)

USCCB Submits Comments on Proposed HHS Rulemaking, Urges Re-Opening of Final Rule Defining Mandate, Exemption (May 15, 2012)
{Full Text

Judging, Arrogance, and Trusting God

Like I've said before, this lot isn't Catholic:

(ArizonaLincoln (talk), via Wikipedia, used w/o permission)

I've run into some heated and extreme assertions about the American president. Before I get into what I think of the Obama administration's recent behavior, an explanation for why I'm not making wild claims about the eternal destiny of this country's chief executive:
" 1 2 Stop judging, that you may not be judged.

"For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you."
(Matthew 7:1-2)
Somewhere in the next few decades, I'll get some very serious face time with my Lord. The particular judgment is a sort of final performance review, and I can't say I'm exactly looking forward to it. (August 27, 2011) The point is that I've got quite enough on my plate right now, without adding a direct violation of the "stop judging" directive.

One of the footnotes to that bit from Matthew has a pretty good discussion of what sort of "judging" is a really bad idea, and what is okay:
"This is not a prohibition against recognizing the faults of others, which would be hardly compatible with ⇒ Matthew 7:5, 6 but against passing judgment in a spirit of arrogance, forgetful of one's own faults."
(Footnote 2, Matthew 7, New American Bible)
You've heard this sort of thing before: 'love the sinner, hate the sin:'
"although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1861)
Moving on.

Faith: Worship AND Practice

I do not think it is right for a secular ruler to decide what his subjects' religious practices are. Sadly, that is what the Obama administration is doing.

I think part of the problem with America's president and religious freedom may be that President Obama sees 'religion' as something that a few Americans do: inside churches; for a few hours; once in a while.

As a practicing Catholic, I have an obligation to be at Mass weekly. But - this is where I think America's president and others are clueless - as a practicing Catholic I also have to act as if God matters. Every day.

"Worship" is important. But "practicing" my faith is something I am supposed to do 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year long.

I don't see the point in having 'religious beliefs,' and then acting as if they don't matter.

Power Grab?

I could be wrong about this, and I hope I am. But one of President Obama's ideas seems to be that Americans can't be trusted to decide how we practice our faith: or lack of it. I am not making that up. (March 16, 2012)

If the President succeeds in establishing a government agency that determines which religious practices get the Federal stamp of approval, and which don't, this could be the biggest power grab since Henry VIII of England started going through wives.

Catholics Vote

On the other hand, maybe President Obama is just clueless. He may believe that the priests and bishops of the 195 archdioceses in America are the only Catholic in this country who read, write, and care about our faith.

Silly as that sounds, President Obama's actions might be a calculated political move. I've run into the idea that defying 'those Catholics' might be intended as a way to show how resolute the President is: defending 'intelligent' folks from the religious rabble.

I think I see how someone living in America's 'better' neighborhoods might get the idea that Catholics and other 'poor, uneducated, and easily-led' lowlifes don't matter. I think that's not an accurate perception.

The national election this November is going to be - interesting.

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

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.