Friday, June 22, 2012

Supporting Freedom, and Other Subversive Activity

Americans have important decisions to make. I think they boil down to the sort of options Joshua presented:
" 'Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve him completely and sincerely. Cast out the gods your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.

"3 If it does not please you to serve the LORD, decide today whom you will serve, the gods your fathers served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are dwelling. As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.' "
(Joshua 24:15-15)
A couple dozen centuries later, deciding whether or not to follow Joshua's example is just as important. And just as difficult. My opinion.

The reasons I became a Catholic are the same ones Peter gave for staying with my Lord:
"Jesus then said to the Twelve, 'Do you also want to leave?'

"Simon Peter answered him, 'Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.

"We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.' "
(John 6:67-69)
I've been over that before. Fairly often. (April 1, 2012)

Religious Freedom and 'My End of the Boat'

I don't see the point in believing something and not acting as if the belief matters. That's part of why I think being free to practice religion is important. More to the point, the Catholic Church says I have to support religious freedom: for everybody. I'll get back to that.

Catholics are the obvious targets of an attack on religious freedom in America. I think quite a few folks who aren't Catholic realize that 'my end of the boat isn't sinking' isn't a sensible attitude. 'The masses' are getting uppity. Or are waking up, depending on your point of view.

My take on the week's news:
  1. "The Faith Community" - But Whose?
  2. Knights of Columbus Partisan? Yes and No
  3. School Bus Firebombed? Ignore it, They're Catholic
My views, and values, are counter-cultural. These posts may explain what I believe, and why:

1. "The Faith Community" - But Whose?

"Leaked e-mail shows media campaign against US bishops"
Kevin J. Jones, CNA/EWTN News(June 21, 2012)

"A leaked e-mail shows that the Democratic-leaning organization Faith in Public Life is running a behind-the-scenes media effort to undercut the U.S. bishops and the 'Fortnight for Freedom' events intended to rally opposition to the HHS mandate.

"Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, released the e-mail detailing the campaign on June 18. He said a copy of the e-mail had been leaked to him.

"Donohue said 'fair minded persons' may disagree with the religious freedom effort 'but there is something unseemly going on when those who work for a George Soros-funded group are quietly providing talking points to the media.'..."
I don't have a problem with folks "quietly providing talking points to the media." Providing press releases, and touching base with reporters and editors, us one way to 'spread the word' in this culture.

I'm not offended when a dairy company tells editors about a new kind of butter, and I don't think it's unethical for someone who's concerned about public safety to prepare a list of 'talking points' about pot holes, or whatever specific issue they're aware of.

Freedom of speech is important, and "providing talking points" cab help get discussions going.

'The Pothole Plot'

Let's imagine that the 'important' folks in some city assume that 'those people over there' like pot holes. It's 'well known' that 'they' go out at night and make pot holes.

That's a hypothetical - and ridiculous - situation. But if a city's mayor, newspaper editors, and influential citizens, were convinced that pro-pot-hole people were a menace: I think that providing talking points to unmask the malefactors might not be a good idea.

Catholics and America's Cultural Baggage

America has a long tradition of distrust, at best, toward Catholics and the Catholic Church.

(From Thomas Nast Portfolio, Ohio State University, used without permission.)

More recently, America's 'important' folks have embraced a way of life which devalues the very young, the very sick, and the useless. That's contrary to Catholic teaching: which makes the Catholic Church an enemy of America's establishment. (September 15, 2011)

In this sort of situation, I don't think establishment news media needs help. They're doing a fine job of attacking the Catholic Church on their own.

"Adversarial" - No Surprises Here

"...The June 7 e-mail from John Gehring, Faith in Public Life's Catholic Program Director, is addressed to reporters, editors and columnists. It describes itself as a 'backgrounder' and contains talking points, adversarial questions for Catholic bishops and recommendations of experts to interview.

"It appears aimed at shaping a narrative skeptical towards Catholic objections to a Department of Health and Human Services mandate that requires employers, including many Catholic institutions, to provide insurance coverage for sterilization and contraception, including some abortion-causing drugs...."
(Kevin J. Jones, CNA/EWTN News)
Like I've said before, the Catholic Church has counter-cultural ideas about who is a human being, and killing innocent people. I think that's starting to change, now that some folks started noticing gaps in the population. (June 6, 2012)

You Won't Kill? How Selfish!

"...'Are you willing to sacrifice Catholic charities, colleges and hospitals if you don't get your way on the contraceptive mandate?' reads one proposed question for a bishop.

" 'Are you willing to drop all health insurance for your employees?' reads another.

"The e-mail encouraged journalists to 'ask critical questions' about the bishops' 'sweeping claims' in light of a 'charged political backdrop' ahead of the 2012 election. It noted that both the June 8 'Stand Up for Religious Freedom' rallies and the June 21-July 4 'Fortnight for Freedom' campaign include Catholic dioceses.

"CNA sought comment multiple times from Gehring and Faith in Public Life but did not receive a response...."
(Kevin J. Jones, CNA/EWTN News)
The lack of response isn't surprising. Today's establishment has as much trouble making its preferred reality seem reasonable as the WASP nest of my youth did. My opinion.

It's much easier to be a staunch defender of 'women's health care' against those 'sexist,' 'racist,' 'homophobic' 'oppressors' if the 'oppressors' keep quiet.

'It's Okay: They're Not Real People'

A major problem with "contraception," as practiced in America, is that the process often kills very young people. Euphemisms like 'plan B,' or 'morning after' pills describe drugs which take the life of a unborn baby.

This is legal in America, since we're supposed to believe that human beings don't become people until we get to an arbitrary age.

On a related topic, what the Catholic Church says about sex and related topics isn't what you may have read in the papers:
Maybe you know someone who's Catholic at the top of his lungs, and hates everybody who isn't just like him. Some of the world's billion-plus living Catholics are jerks. That doesn't change what the Church teaches. Moving on.

Getting a Grip About "Progressive"

"...On its website, Faith in Public Life describes itself as 'a strategy center for the faith community advancing faith in the public square as a powerful force for justice, compassion and the common good.' It runs strategic communications and 'narrative-setting' campaigns. The organization says it can identify 'moments of opportunity when a targeted event or campaign can effectively broaden or shift the values debate.'

"It works to insert its perspective into political debates and to highlight 'progressive and moderate people of faith at key moments.'..."
(Kevin J. Jones, CNA/EWTN News) [emphasis mine]
I'm a practicing Catholic, so I'm not "progressive." I'm not conservative, either: and I'm certainly not "moderate." I'm Catholic. (November 3, 2008)

The Catholic Church isn't "progressive" in the contemporary political sense. For two millennia we've been passing on the same message:
Folks seem to be realizing, slowly, that 'those people over there' are people. (May 6, 2012) That, I think, is "progress."

"Deep Pockets" - Those Nasty, Rich, Catholic Oppressors?

"Deep pockets" is a nifty little phrase, appealing to the notion that 'anybody with more money than I have is greedy and dishonest.' 'Otherwise, how could he have more money than I do?'

I don't think wealth, or poverty, are indications of virtue or vice: and that's another topic.
"...Reporters should consider asking about the Knights of Columbus, an organization with deep pockets,' the e-mail advised. Gehring tried to paint Supreme Knight of Columbus Carl Anderson as a political partisan, noting his work in the Reagan administration and his time as a legislative assistant to Republican Sen. Jesse Helms in the late 1970s and early 1980s....

"...The Catholic League's Bill Donohue was critical of the media effort, saying Gehring's e-mail encouraged the media to 'the victim' and target those who refuse to compromise their principles."
(Kevin J. Jones, CNA/EWTN News)
In a way, the "progressive" Faith in Public Life is upholding a fine old American tradition: hostility toward the Catholic Church.

(from H.E. Fowler, via Wikipedia, used w/o permission)
"Crowley, Jeremiah J. (1913) 'The Pope: Chief of White Slavers High Priest of Intrigue,' p. 430"

That sort of thing makes me glad that 'the good old days' aren't coming back. More topics.

2. Knights of Columbus Partisan? Yes and No

"Archbishop Lori: labeling Knights of Columbus partisan is an 'injustice' "
Michelle Bauman, CNA/EWTN News (June 14, 2012)

"Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore argued that it is an 'injustice' to imply that the Knights of Columbus' support for defending religious freedom creates a sense of partisanship.

"At a June 13 press conference at the U.S. bishops' spring general meeting in Atlanta, the archbishop was questioned by Jerry Filteau of the National Catholic Reporter about funding for the bishops' campaign to defend religious liberty.

"Filteau said that he had heard 'rumors' that much of the funding for the bishops' effort is coming from the Knights of Columbus, whose head, Carl Anderson, is a former Reagan administration official.

"He suggested that there may be 'a partisanship aspect to the whole thing.'

"'Oh my goodness, Jerry,' Archbishop Lori responded...."
Please bear with me: I think it's important to know what words mean, and how they're used. Here are 'dictionary' definitions of "partisanship" and "partisan:"
  • Partisanship (Noun)
    • An inclination to favor one group or view or opinion over alternatives
    (Princeton's WordNet)
  • Partisan (Noun)
    • A fervent and even militant proponent of something
    • An ardent and enthusiastic supporter of some person or activity
    • A pike with a long tapering double-edged blade with lateral projections
      • 16th and 17th centuries
  • Partisan (Adjective)
    • Devoted to a cause or party
    (Princeton's WordNet)
Words have at least two sorts of meaning. One is the 'dictionary' meaning: what the word literally means. Another is what the word implies:
  • Denotation (Noun)
    • The act of indicating or pointing out by name
    • The most direct or specific meaning of a word or expression
      • The class of objects that an expression refers to
    (Princeton's WordNet)
  • Connotation (Noun)
    • What you must know in order to determine the reference of an expression
    • An idea that is implied or suggested
    (Princeton's WordNet)
For example: if I said that a dachshund was a dog, I'd be using "dog" in it's literal, or denotative, sense; but if I called another person a dog, I'd be using the word in one of its connotative senses. In that case, I'd either be complimenting the person's unswerving loyalty; or, more likely, insulting the person.

I've noticed that "partisanship" is what 'the other party' does. "Partisanship" has negative connotations, implying that 'those partisans over there' care more about some nasty idea they've got, than about putting a chicken in every pot, saving the environment, sustainable tofu, or whatever the 'right-minded' folks prefer.

Supporting Freedom, and Other Subversive Activity

"...'Think of what the Knights of Columbus does for the Catholic Church and for many other humanitarian causes,' he [Archbishop Lori] said. 'To try to say that is in some way partisan is, in my opinion, sort of an injustice.'

" 'It seems to me the Knights have been very generous to a whole variety of causes,' the archbishop observed.

"He acknowledged that the organization has contributed to the bishops' religious freedom efforts but added that 'other groups have as well,' including Our Sunday Visitor, the Order of Malta and many others.

" 'So it is not just one group,' he said. 'It is not in any way partisan, either in its spirit or in its funding.'..."
(Michelle Bauman, CNA/EWTN News)
I think it's clear that Archbishop Lori was using "partisan" in its connotative, negative sense: and that he clearly understood what the reporter was doing.

I'm part of the Knights of Columbus, and agree with the archbishop. I do not think that Knights of Columbus are "partisan," or exhibit "partisanship" in the conventionally negative sense.

On the other hand, I think Knights of Columbus is "partisan," in the literal sense of the term.

We favor the view that God exists, and matters. We also support freedom of religion: even though the establishment doesn't approve. In both cases, we don't have many options. We're a Catholic organization. We're stuck with the values that go with being Catholic. I've already mentioned some of these counter-cultural values:

Religious Freedom, Acting Like God Matters

"...Recent months have united Catholics from across the country in efforts to defend religious liberty from numerous threats, including a federal mandate that will require employers to offer health insurance that covers contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs.

"The mandate has drawn widespread criticism for violating religious liberty. The bishops have worked with individuals and groups of various faiths to speak out against the regulation and ask the Obama administration to respect the rights of those with religious objections...."
(Michelle Bauman, CNA/EWTN News)
I think what "religious freedom" means depends on who you listen to.

The establishment seems to think that "religious freedom" means letting those religious people go into a building once a week, where they do religious stuff.

I think that "religious freedom" should include letting folks who think God exists act as if God matters: 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year. It looks like quite a few folks see "religious freedom" the way I do: and this has the establishment worried.

I can see why.

3. School Bus Firebombed? Ignore it, They're Catholic

A tip of the hat to Patty Garza, for the heads-up on this article. ("Anti-Christian Terrorists Bomb #Prolife Bus in Rockford,ILL;Media silent" Patty Garza, Google+ (June 18, 2012))
"Pro-life Catholic school bus allegedly firebombed in Illinois, media silent"
Joe Newby, Spokane Conservative, via (June 18, 2012)

"According to a report at the Pro-Life Corner, a Catholic school bus belonging to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Academy was allegedly firebombed Friday night. The bus is well known in the area for its pro-life messages and calls to end abortion.

"Pictures posted by the Pro-Life Corner shows windows broken in on both sides with extensive fire damage inside the bus.

" 'It has been speculated that this bombing of a pro-life Christian school bus is in retaliation for the closing of the Rockford abortion mill that is located not far from where the school bus was attacked,' the Pro-Life Corner said, however, that has not been corroborated.

"Adding insult to injury, the local media has so far refused to report on the incident, but the Rockford Register Star managed to report on an incident that took place twelve years ago...."
I'm not surprised that a Catholic school bus getting firebombed is a non-event that never happened - as far as establishment news is concerned.

Maybe it's an intentional effort to skew pubic perceptions by filtering out 'irrelevant' information.

Maybe editors and reporters have mental blinders keeping them from seeing what doesn't fit their preconceptions. Maybe it's both, plus other factors.

Whatever the reason, the results are the same. (April 1, 2010)

Criminal Investigation: Maybe

"...On Monday, the Rockford Fire Department confirmed the attack with The Blaze.

" 'An employee also said that when authorities arrived at the scene to put out the fire, a bottle was found nearby. This fact, teamed with footage of broken windows and damage inside of the vehicle, seems to corroborate the notion that a firebomb (i.e. molotov cocktail) was employed,' Billy Hallowell wrote.

"The Department also confirmed that authorities arrived on the scene around 3 a.m. Saturday and Hallowell suggested that the attack 'may not yet be on reporters' radar,' as it was first reported early Saturday morning.

"The Pro-Life Corner, however, says that is not the case, and notes that the paper reported on another vehicle that had been set afire early Friday morning.

" 'Arson is the suspected cause of a car fire around 1 a.m. today in the 600 block of North Winnebago Street,' the Register Star reported Friday...."
The term "Molotov cocktail" is in the Register Star's headline:
I think the implication that public officials are acknowledging the attack - and apparently investigating it as a possible crime - is a hopeful sign. Authorities don't always view violent attacks on folks who don't have the 'right' ideas as criminal. Or even unreasonable. (March 23, 2011)

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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.