“Turn Me Over. I’m Done On This Side!” Says A Man Condemned To The Flames

10 08 2013

Lawrence was a deacon in charge of giving help to the poor and the needy. On Aug. 10, 354, a persecution broke out and the Prefect of Rome, a greedy pagan, thought the Church had a great fortune hidden away. So he ordered Lawrence to bring the Church’s treasure to him. Lawrence said he would, in three days. Then he went through the city and gathered together all the poor and sick people supported by the Church. When he showed them to the Prefect, he said: “This is the Church’s treasure!”

In great anger, the Prefect condemned Lawrence to a slow, cruel death. They tied him on top of an iron grill over a slow fire that roasted his flesh little by little, but Lawrence was burning with so much love of God that he almost did not feel the flames. In fact, God gave him so much strength and joy that he even joked. “Turn me over,” he said to the judge. “I’m done on this side!” And just before he died, he said, “It’s cooked enough now.” Then he prayed that the city of Rome might be converted to Jesus and that Faith might spread all over the world. After that, he died and went to heaven to receive his reward of Everlasting life.





Top Ten Films that Provide Insights into the Nature of Faith

9 08 2013

Top Ten Films that Provide Insights into the Nature of Faith

NEW YORK (CNS) — Since the advent of cinema in the late 1800s, faith has been treated on film in a wide variety of ways, from the respectful to the satiric. Here in alphabetical order are capsule reviews of 10 films that engage with this often elusive topic in an accomplished and illuminating manner. Sometimes directly, in other cases only by subtle implication, these screen parables provide viewers with insights into the nature of faith — as well as its effects.

“Andrei Rublev” (1969) Russian production about a 15th-century monk (Anatoli Solonitzine) who perseveres in painting icons and other religious art despite the civil disruptions and cruel turmoil of his times. Director Andrei Tarkovsky visualizes brilliantly the story of a devout man seeking through his art to find the transcendent in the savagery of the Tartar invasions and the unfeeling brutality of Russian nobles. Subtitles. Stylized historical violence.

“Babette’s Feast” (1988) Screen version of a story by Isak Dinesen, set in a rugged Danish fishing village in 1871, shows the impact of a French housekeeper (Stephane Audran) on two pious sisters who carry on their late father’s work as pastor of a dwindling religious flock. The conclusion follows the preparation and consumption of an exquisite French meal, with focus on its sensual and religious implications and its healing effect on the austere sect and the Frenchwoman who prepares it. Danish director Gabriel Axel’s low-key and understated work is rich with detail and fine, controlled performances. Subtitles. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G — general audiences.

Brother Orchid” (1940) Seriocomic tale of a gang boss (Edward G. Robinson) returning from a vacation in Europe to find his mob has a new leader (Humphrey Bogart), but he escapes being rubbed-out by hiding in a monastery where he works as a gardener while plotting his come-back — until he has a change of heart. Director Lloyd Bacon mixes some droll comedy and a bit of spiritual uplifting into a standard crime melodrama, with surprisingly agreeable results. Stylized violence and criminal menace.

“The Fugitive” (1947) Underrated screen version of Graham Greene’s novel, “The Power and the Glory,” about an all-too-human priest (Henry Fonda) who is hunted down by a puritanical officer (Pedro Armendariz) after the Mexican Revolution proscribes the free practice of religion. Director John Ford‘s flawed masterpiece uses deeply felt religious symbolism in telling the story of a weak man who, despite his fear of death, continues ministering to the spiritual needs of a poor community. Menacing atmosphere may be inappropriate for young children. TheCatholic News Service classification is A-I — general patronage.

Henry Poole Is Here” (2008) Moving little fable of a depressed loner (Luke Wilson) whose life is changed when a warmhearted Latina busybody (Adriana Barraza) discerns a miraculous image of Christ’s face on his stucco wall, after which he slowly opens up to her and the other neighbors: an empathetic widow (Radha Mitchell), her sad child (Morgan Lily), a nearsighted grocery clerk (Rachel Seiferth) and the local priest (George Lopez). Despite some formulaic turns and occasional platitudinous dialogue, director Mark Pellington sustains a suspenseful, sometimes poetic, generally unsentimental mood, not without humor, solidly anchored by Wilson whose transformation from spiritual emptiness to redemption is fully believable, with themes of faith and community strong plusses for the Catholic viewer. Two instances of profanity and a few crass words. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

“Lilies of the Field” (1963) When an itinerant jack-of-all-trades (Sidney Poitier) stops to help a group of German nuns newly arrived in New Mexico, his cheerful generosity is disdained by the stern, demanding Mother Superior (Lilia Skala) until he builds them a chapel with the aid of the local Mexican-American community. Directed by Ralph Nelson, the movie’s simple little story of the triumph of faith coupled with good will has enormous charm in the winning performances of the two principals, some good-natured comedy and an infectious theme song that will leave viewers humming “Amen.” The Catholic News Serviceclassification is A-I — general patronage.

The Miracle of Marcelino” (1955) A foundling left at a Franciscan monastery in 19th-century Spain is spoiled by the attention of all the monks who raise him until, as a mischievous five-year-old (Pablito Calvo), the lad’s disobedience leads to a miraculous encounter with the crucified Christ. Directed by Ladislao Vajda, the Spanish production’s story of childhood innocence and the power of faith is told simply but with sincerity and good humor. Dubbed in English, the movie’s miracle may tax the credibility of some, but all can enjoy its picture of a child in unusual circumstances. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I — general patronage.

“Ordet” (1954) Challenging Danish production about different kinds of faith and various sorts of miracles, one of which restores a dead woman to life. Directed by Carl Dreyer, the austere narrative centers on a farming family troubled by the madness of a son (Preben Lerdorff Rye) who believes he is Jesus Christ until, regaining his balance, his faith in God achieves the miracle which brings the story to a positive though less than convincing conclusion some may find disappointingly ambiguous. Mature themes. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults.

“Three Godfathers” (1948) After robbing a bank, an outlaw trio (John Wayne, Pedro Armendariz and Harry Carey Jr.) pause to help a dying woman (Mildred Natwick) deliver her infant son on Christmas Eve, then take the babe with them as they are pursued across a desert wasteland. Dedicated by director John Ford to Western actor Harry Carey, Sr., the story may be unabashedly sentimental and the action romanticized, but its lyrical images and religious resonances celebrate the myth of the Old West and its rugged heroes with good hearts. Off-screen suicide of one of the principals.

“Wise Blood” (1980) Screen version of Flannery O’Connor’s novel about a God-haunted young man (Brad Dourif) who on his way to Taulkinham, Tenn., to preach a new religion, meets such bizarre characters as a failed preacher pretending he is blind (Harry Dean Stanton), his mildly depraved daughter (Amy Wright) and a jovial evangelist (Ned Beatty). Director John Huston has made a powerful and provocative movie whose spiritual implications are as compelling as its artistic excellence. The incidental violence and moral complexity are more appropriate for adult viewers. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

 





The Pill Made Same Sex Marriage Inevitable

5 08 2013

The Pill Made Same Sex Marriage Inevitable

Opponents of legalized same-sex marriage say they’re trying to protect a beleaguered institution, but they’re a little late.
The walls of traditional marriage were breached 40 years ago; what we are witnessing now is the storming of the last bastion.
Marriage is primarily a social institution, not a religious one. That is, marriage is a universal phenomenon of human cultures in all times and places, regardless of the religion of the people concerned, and has taken the same basic form in all those cultures. Marriage existed long before Abraham, Jesus or any other religious figure. The institution of marriage is literally prehistoric.
The three monotheistic faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) actually recognize this explicitly in their holy writings. The book of Genesis ascribes the foundation of marriage in the very acts of God himself in the creation of the world: “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him. . . . A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:18, 24).
The three great religions base their definition of marriage on these verses and others that echo them. In Christian theological terms, the definition of marriage is part of the natural law of the creation; therefore, the definition may not be changed by human will except in peril to the health of human community.
Psychobiologists argue that marriage evolved as a way of mediating the conflicting reproductive interests of men and women. It was the means by which a woman could guarantee to a specific man that the children she bore were his. In biological terms, men can sire hundreds of children in their lives, but this biological ability is limited by the fact that no one woman can keep pace.
Siring kids by multiple women is the only way men can achieve high levels of reproduction, but there is no adaptive advantage for women in bearing children by men who are simply trying to sire as many children as possible. For a mother, carrying and raising a child is a resource-intensive, years-long business. Doing it alone is a marked adaptive disadvantage for single mothers and their children.
So the economics of sex evolved into a win-win deal. Women agreed to give men exclusive sexual rights and guaranteed paternity in exchange for their sexual loyalty and enduring assistance with childbearing and -rearing. The man’s promise of sexual loyalty meant that he would expend his labor and resources supporting her children, not another woman’s. For the man, this arrangement lessens the number of potential children he can sire, but it ensures that her kids are his kids. Guaranteed sex with one woman also enabled him to conserve his resources and energies for other pursuits than repetitive courtship, which consumes both greatly.
Weddings ceremoniously legitimated the sexual union of a particular man and woman under the guidance of the greater community. In granting this license, society also promised structures beneficial to children arising from the marriage and ensuring their well-being.
Society’s stake in marriage as an institution is nothing less than the perpetuation of the society itself, a matter of much greater than merely private concern. Yet society cannot compel men and women to bring forth their replacements. Marriage as conventionally defined is still the ordinary practice in Europe, yet the birthrate in most of Europe is now less than the replacement rate, which will have all sorts of dire consequences for its future.
Today, though, sexual intercourse is delinked from procreation. Since the invention of the Pill some 40 years ago, human beings have for the first time been able to control reproduction with a very high degree of assurance. That led to what our grandparents would have called rampant promiscuity. The causal relationships between sex, pregnancy and marriage were severed in a fundamental way. The impulse toward premarital chastity for women was always the fear of bearing a child alone. The Pill removed this fear. Along with it went the need of men to commit themselves exclusively to one woman in order to enjoy sexual relations at all. Over the past four decades, women have trained men that marriage is no longer necessary for sex. But women have also sadly discovered that they can’t reliably gain men’s sexual and emotional commitment to them by giving them sex before marriage.
Nationwide, the marriage rate has plunged 43% since 1960. Instead of getting married, men and women are just living together, cohabitation having increased tenfold in the same period. According to a University of Chicago study, cohabitation has become the norm. More than half the men and women who do get married have already lived together.
The widespread social acceptance of these changes is impelling the move toward homosexual marriage. Men and women living together and having sexual relations “without benefit of clergy,” as the old phrasing goes, became not merely an accepted lifestyle, but the dominant lifestyle in the under-30 demographic within the past few years. Because they are able to control their reproductive abilities–that is, have sex without sex’s results — the arguments against homosexual consanguinity began to wilt.
When society decided — and we have decided, this fight is over — that society would no longer decide the legitimacy of sexual relations between particular men and women, weddings became basically symbolic rather than substantive, and have come for most couples the shortcut way to make the legal compact regarding property rights, inheritance and certain other regulatory benefits. But what weddings do not do any longer is give to a man and a woman society’s permission to have sex and procreate.
Sex, childbearing and marriage now have no necessary connection to one another, because the biological connection between sex and childbearing is controllable. The fundamental basis for marriage has thus been technologically obviated. Pair that development with rampant, easy divorce without social stigma, and talk in 2004 of “saving marriage” is pretty specious.
There’s little there left to save. Men and women today who have successful, enduring marriages till death do them part do so in spite of society, not because of it.
If society has abandoned regulating heterosexual conduct of men and women, what right does it have to regulate homosexual conduct, including the regulation of their legal and property relationship with one another to mirror exactly that of hetero, married couples?
I believe that this state of affairs is contrary to the will of God. But traditionalists, especially Christian traditionalists (in whose ranks I include myself) need to get a clue about what has really been going on and face the fact that same-sex marriage, if it comes about, will not cause the degeneration of the institution of marriage; it is the result of it.

Rev. Sensing is pastor of the Trinity United Methodist Church in Franklin, Tenn. He writes at DonaldSensing.com. Donald Sensing.

 





A Paralyzed Woman on The Front Line

31 07 2013

A Paralyzed Woman On The Front Lines

Every morning Connie opens Diane’s door to begin the long routine of exercising and bathing her severely paralyzed friend. She has to be fed everything, pushed everywhere. The creeping limitations of multiple sclerosis encroach further each year; her fingers are curled and rigid.The sun’s rays slant through the blinds, washing the room in a soft, golden glow. The folds of the covers haven’t moved since Connie pulled them up around Diane the night before. Yet she can tell her friend has been awake for awhile.
“Are you ready to get up yet?”
“No…not yet,” comes the weak reply from under the covers.
Connie sighs, smiles and clicks shut the door.
The story is the same each dawn of every new day at Connie and Diane’s apartment. The routine rarely changes. Sunrise stretches into mid-morning, by the time Diane is ready to sit up in her wheel chair. But those long hours in bed are significant.
In her quiet sanctuary, Diane turns her head slightly on the pillow toward the corkboard on the wall. Her eyes scan each thumb-tacked card and pieces of paper carefully pinned in a row.
The stillness is broken as Diane begins to murmur. She is praying. She moves mountains that block the paths of missionaries. She helps open the eyes of the spiritually blind in southeast Asia. She pushes back the kingdom of darkness that blackens the alleys and streets of gangs in east LA. She aids the homeless mothers…single parents…abused children…despondent teenagers…handicapped boys…and dying and forgotten old people in the nursing home down the street where she lives.
Diane is on the front lines, advancing the gospel of Christ, holding up weak saints, inspiring doubting believers, energizing other prayer warriors, and delighting her Lord and Savior. This meek and quiet woman sees her place in the world; it doesn’t matter that others may not recognize her significance in the grand scheme of things…
Some would look at Diane—stiff and motionless—and shake their heads. People might look at her and say, “What a shame. Her life has no meaning. She can’t really do anything. But Diane is confident, convinced that the Merciful Heart of Jesus cannot but hear her prayers, her labors of love.

 





Why Do We Suffer? A Clue From The Apple Tree

31 07 2013

Why Do We Suffer? A Clue From The Apple Tree

In the apple-growing state of Maine in America, I was visiting a farmer friend and saw an apple tree so loaded down with fruit that the branches had to be propped up to keep them from breaking under the weight of apples. When 1 remarked about the fruitfulness of the tree, my friend said to me, “Go over and look at that tree’s trunk down near the bottom.”
There I saw that the tree had been badly wounded by a big gash across its side. The farmer explained, “That is something we have learned about apple trees. When the growing tree tends to run to wood and leaves and not to fruit, we stop it by wounding it, by cutting into its bark. And we don’t know why, but almost always the result is that the tree turns its energies to producing fruit.”
Could that be a parable for some of us human apples trees in the God‘s orchard? Christ‘s death on the cross bore the fruits of our redemption. Some of the best people in the world suffered a lot; wounded, and purified by the pain, they bore great fruits of goodness.

 





Heavenly or a Hellish Creature?

28 07 2013

heaven or hellPeople often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says, “If you keep a lot of rules I’ll reward you, and if you don’t I’ll do the other thing.”
I do not think that is the best way of looking at it. I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself.
To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.
That explains what always used to puzzle me about Christian writers; they seem to be so very strict at one moment and so very free and easy at another. They talk about mere sins of thought as if they were immensely important: and then they talk about the most frightful murders and treacheries as if you had only got to repent and all would be forgiven. But I have come to see that they are right.
What they are always thinking of is the mark which the action leaves on that tiny central self which no one sees in this life but which each of us will have to endure—or enjoy—for ever. One man may be so placed that his anger sheds the blood of thousands, and another so placed that however angry he gets he will only be laughed at. But the little mark on the soul may be much the same in both. Each has done something to himself which, unless he repents, will make it harder for him to keep out of the rage next time he is tempted, and will make the rage worse when he does fall into it. Each of them, if he seriously turns to God, can have that twist in the central man straightened out again: each is, in the long run, doomed if he will not. The bigness or smallness of the thing, seen from the outside, is not what really matters.
One last point. Remember that, as I said, the right direction leads not only to peace but to knowledge. When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse, he understands his own badness less and less. A moderately bad man knows he is not very good: a thoroughly bad man thinks he is all right. This is common sense, really. You understand sleep when you are awake, not while you are sleeping. You can see mistakes in arithmetic when your mind is working properly: while you are making them you cannot see them. You can understand the nature of drunkenness when you are sober, not when you are drunk. Good people know about both good and evil: bad people do not know about either.
C.S Lewis





He died for me, a man said at a boy’s grave

27 07 2013

This boy died for me, says a man at a boys grave

For many years after the Civil War an Illinois farmer used to visit a soldier’s grave at Nashville, Tennessee, tending it and planting flowers with much devotion every day. If some stranger asked him: Is that your boy?’ he would answer: ‘No, he just lived in our town. You see, when the war came I had seven small children, and my wife was not strong. I was drafted for the army, there was nobody to carry on the farm, and they would have nearly starved without me. We were in terrible trouble about it, and the very day I was going to report at camp my neighbour’s boy came and offered to go to the war for me. He said he had nobody depending on him, so he could go better than me. He went, and was wounded at Chickamanga, and died here in hospital. This is his grave.’

Then he would point to a rough inscription, which he had cut with his own hand on the tombstone: He died for me.
Christians are a bit like the Illinois farmer. They believe that Christ died for them. Thus, they in turn, live for Christ.





‘Good old Jack-I knew you would come!’ said a dying soldier to his friend

27 07 2013

The Soldier Who was Ready To Die For his Friend

In the War, two friends were out with a night patrol together. When the party returned under heavy fire to their trenches, one of the friends was found to be missing. By this time it was getting light, and almost certain death to be out on top, but the one friend insisted on crawling out to look for the other, and reluctantly the officer gave permission. He was watched slowly working his way into no-man’s-land, from shell-hole to shell-hole, and at last could be seen no more. When it became dusk again he crawled back and dropped into the trench, himself mortally wounded. While the stretcher-bearers were attending to him, the officer said: ‘Well I hear you found your friend.’ ‘Yes, sir, but he only lived for a few minutes.’ ‘ I’m afraid it was hardly worth it-I wish I hadn’t let you go.’ ‘Oh, yes, sir, it was worth it.’ He said: ‘Good old Jack-I knew you would come!’

 





Warning: Next Generation of Children Might be Idiots

26 07 2013

American kids, dumber than dirt

Warning: The next generation might just be the biggest pile of idiots in history
I have this ongoing discussion with a longtime reader who also just so happens to be a longtime Oakland high school teacher, a wonderful guy who’s seen generations of teens come and generations go and who has a delightful poetic sensibility and quirky outlook on his life and his family and his beloved teaching career.
And he often writes to me in response to something I might’ve written about the youth of today, anything where I comment on the various nefarious factors shaping their minds and their perspectives and whether or not, say, EMFs and junk food and cell phones are melting their brains and what can be done and just how bad it might all be.
His response: It is not bad at all. It’s absolutely horrifying.
My friend often summarizes for me what he sees, firsthand, every day and every month, year in and year out, in his classroom. He speaks not merely of the sad decline in overall intellectual acumen among students over the years, not merely of the astonishing spread of lazy slackerhood, or the fact that cell phones and iPods and excess TV exposure are, absolutely and without reservation, short-circuiting the minds of the upcoming generations. Of this, he says, there is zero doubt.
Nor does he speak merely of the notion that kids these days are overprotected and wussified and don’t spend enough time outdoors and don’t get any real exercise and therefore can’t, say, identify basic plants, or handle a tool, or build, well, anything at all. Again, these things are a given. Widely reported, tragically ignored, nothing new.
No, my friend takes it all a full step — or rather, leap — further. It is not merely a sad slide. It is not just a general dumbing down. It is far uglier than that.
We are, as far as urban public education is concerned, essentially at rock bottom. We are now at a point where we are essentially churning out ignorant teens who are becoming ignorant adults and society as a whole will pay dearly, very soon, and if you think the hordes of easily terrified, mindless fundamentalist evangelical Christian lemmings have been bad for the soul of this country, just wait.
It’s gotten so bad that, as my friend nears retirement, he says he is very seriously considering moving out of the country so as to escape what he sees will be the surefire collapse of functioning American society in the next handful of years due to the absolutely irrefutable destruction, the shocking — and nearly hopeless — dumb-ification of the American brain. It is just that bad.
Now, you may think he’s merely a curmudgeon, a tired old teacher who stopped caring long ago. Not true. Teaching is his life. He says he loves his students, loves education and learning and watching young minds awaken. Problem is, he is seeing much less of it. It’s a bit like the melting of the polar ice caps. Sure, there’s been alarmist data about it for years, but until you see it for yourself, the deep visceral dread doesn’t really hit home.
He cites studies, reports, hard data, from the appalling effects of television on child brain development (i.e.; any TV exposure before 6 years old and your kid’s basic cognitive wiring and spatial perceptions are pretty much scrambled for life), to the fact that, because of all the insidious mandatory testing teachers are now forced to incorporate into the curriculum, of the 182 school days in a year, there are 110 when such testing is going on somewhere at Oakland High. As one of his colleagues put it, “It’s like weighing a calf twice a day, but never feeding it.”
But most of all, he simply observes his students, year to year, noting all the obvious evidence of teens’ decreasing abilities when confronted with even the most basic intellectual tasks, from understanding simple history to working through moderately complex ideas to even (in a couple recent examples that particularly distressed him) being able to define the words “agriculture,” or even “democracy.” Not a single student could do it.
It gets worse. My friend cites the fact that, of the 6,000 high school students he estimates he’s taught over the span of his career, only a small fraction now make it to his grade with a functioning understanding of written English. They do not know how to form a sentence. They cannot write an intelligible paragraph. Recently, after giving an assignment that required drawing lines, he realized that not a single student actually knew how to use a ruler.
It is, in short, nothing less than a tidal wave of dumb, with once-passionate, increasingly exasperated teachers like my friend nearly powerless to stop it. The worst part: It’s not the kids’ fault. They’re merely the victims of a horribly failed educational system.
Then our discussion often turns to the meat of it, the bigger picture, the ugly and unavoidable truism about the lack of need among the government and the power elite in this nation to create a truly effective educational system, one that actually generates intelligent, thoughtful, articulate citizens.
Hell, why should they? After all, the dumber the populace, the easier it is to rule and control and launch unwinnable wars and pass laws telling them that sex is bad and TV is good and God knows all, so just pipe down and eat your Taco Bell Double-Supremo Burrito and be glad we don’t arrest you for posting dirty pictures on your cute little blog.
This is about when I try to offer counterevidence, a bit of optimism. For one thing, I’ve argued generational relativity in this space before, suggesting maybe kids are no scarier or dumber or more dangerous than they’ve ever been, and that maybe some of the problem is merely the same old awkward generation gap, with every current generation absolutely convinced the subsequent one is terrifically stupid and malicious and will be the end of society as a whole. Just the way it always seems.
I also point out how, despite all the evidence of total public-education meltdown, I keep being surprised, keep hearing from/about teens and youth movements and actions that impress the hell out of me. Damn kids made the Internet what it is today, fer chrissakes. Revolutionized media. Broke all the rules. Still are.
Hell, some of the best designers, writers, artists, poets, chefs, and so on that I meet are in their early to mid-20s. And the nation’s top universities are still managing, despite a factory-churning mentality, to crank out young minds of astonishing ability and acumen. How did these kids do it? How did they escape the horrible public school system? How did they avoid the great dumbing down of America? Did they never see a TV show until they hit puberty? Were they all born and raised elsewhere, in India and Asia and Russia? Did they all go to Waldorf or Montessori and eat whole-grain breads and play with firecrackers and take long walks in wild nature? Are these kids flukes? Exceptions? Just lucky?
My friend would say, well, yes, that’s precisely what most of them are. Lucky, wealthy, foreign-born, private-schooled … and increasingly rare. Most affluent parents in America — and many more who aren’t — now put their kids in private schools from day one, and the smart ones give their kids no TV and minimal junk food and no video games. (Of course, this in no way guarantees a smart, attuned kid, but compared to the odds of success in the public school system, it sure seems to help). This covers about, what, 3 percent of the populace?
As for the rest, well, the dystopian evidence seems overwhelming indeed, to the point where it might be no stretch at all to say the biggest threat facing America is perhaps not global warming, not perpetual warmongering, not garbage food or low-level radiation or way too much Lindsay Lohan, but a populace far too ignorant to know how to properly manage any of it, much less change it all for the better.
What, too fatalistic? Don’t worry. Soon enough, no one will know what the word even means.
By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
This article was first published in 2007





At last the world agrees that a baby is a baby says a broken hearted man

23 07 2013

At last the world agrees that a baby is a child, says a broken hearted man

Kate Middleton, gave birth to a baby boy and the entire world is rejoicing. Yet there is a man who is not rejoicing, his name is Martin. Here he tells his story:
“My girlfriend was less than 20 weeks pregnant… by a few days. The Sonogram showed two little babies, with fingers and hands and feet and faces and heartbeats; alive and waiting to be born. Yet, late one night, when we were talking and she said, “I’m not ready to be a mother.”
I told her that nobody is. She said, “I’m scared.”
I told her that every mother is scared. Although she wasn’t enrolled in college at the time, she wanted to go. I was enrolled in a Bachelor’s Program and was working toward my degree. She said, “But I want to finish college and do something with my life.”
I told her that I would help with the baby and somehow we’d both finish college. “It might be harder. We may have to make some sacrifices but we’ll get through it.”
She said that she was going to college and I could stay home and watch the baby. I was working for Lockheed Martin at the time and a condition of my employment was that I had to be enrolled in a Bachelor’s Program. So we disagreed on who was going to finish college first. The fear and the anxiety and the uncertainty led to a small disagreement that ended with us going to bed not talking. She faced one way. I faced the other.

Next morning I got up and was getting ready to go to work. I thought everything was going to be fine. We made it through the storm. She came downstairs and said, “I’m going through with it.”
“What?”
She said, “I’ve made up my mind. I’m going through with it.”
She asked me to drive her to the clinic. I tried to reason with her. She wasn’t having it. I refused to take her. She called a cab. I thought to myself, “If I let her get in that cab, she’ll surely go through with it.”
So I agreed to take her to Planned Parenthood in hopes of talking her out of it. She wasn’t having any of that. I tried to talk. She was silent. Not a word. I drove. She stared out the window. She was stubborn. She was a “modern woman”, nobody was going to tell her what to do… Not me… Not God… Nobody.

So we got to Planned Parenthood and I pulled into the parking lot and parked as close as I could to the protesters. She was unfazed. I walked with her through the small group of protesters. I took a pamphlet and tried to give it to her. She was determined. I said, “Look those are fingers. That’s a head. They were alive. Our babies are alive.”
She was walking briskly… She pretended she didn’t hear me. We got to the security gate of Planned Parenthood and rang the doorbell. A woman came out and unlocked the gate and then locked it behind us. We went into the lobby of the building. I grabbed my girlfriend’s hand, “Don’t do this.”
She tried to pull her hand back and said, “I’m not ready to be a mother.”
“Please, don’t do this. Reconsider” The lady who escorted us in told her the clinic was on the second floor. “Please, We can get through this. Don’t kill our babies.” She pulled her hand back, turned away from me and went up toward the clinic.

I was defeated. I left the clinic and got in my car and drove way too fast down the street. I ran a couple of red lights. I was so scared and angry and hurt and lost and all the emotions like a broken damn came flooding through me. I wanted to scream. I was helpless to protect my babies. I was completely unable to do a single thing to protect them. Where were my rights? Where were the rights of those two beautiful babies? What in the hell did rights have to do with murder? Nobody has the right to murder!!! All of these thoughts flooded my emotions like a freight train… with each box car a thought… And it was going 500 miles per hour through my head. And then…. like an explosion… A tragic horrific wreck… A screeching scraping explosion of thought…

Everything went high pitch… And then went silent….

The moment my children were murdered, a ripple, a shockwave went through my body. Though I wasn’t there… I felt it. I knew something terrible had just happened in that moment. She felt it too.

I turned around and drove as fast as I could back to that clinic. I parked my car in the middle of the road in front of the clinic, nearly on top of the protesters. I rang the doorbell by the gate. I rang it again… and again… Finally the same lady came out. She let me in… She said, “You can’t leave your car there, the police will have it towed.”
“They can have it, please open the door, let me in.” She opened the door. I ran to the top of the stairs. Up to the clinic. I ran through the doors. I went up to the little window. I asked where my girlfriend was… “She’s in recovery.”
My heart sank, “Can I see her?”
“Let me check,” the nurse said. A few agonizingly long minutes later she returned and escorted me to the recovery room.
My girlfriend was crying. She said, “I was wrong. I felt them when they died. They pulled my heart out with our babies.”
I cried. She cried. She said, “Oh God, what have I done? I feel horrible, empty… I feel barren… Like a dead flower”
I cried. She cried. I stayed with her for a few minutes but needed some air. I went down and moved my illegally parked car. I parked away from the protesters in the parking lot. Then went back up. When they finally let her leave… We cried. We walked past the protesters. She could barely stand. She cried the whole way home. “Why didn’t I listen?”
“What was I thinking?” And on and on and on… The emotional pain was unbearable.

She was expressing her “legal rights”. She was expressing her “Womanly Rights”. She was a “modern woman”. Her life was about her. Not about the inconvenience of the “fertilized eggs” that were inside her. They weren’t babies yet. But it’s hard to keep my heart from breaking up each time I hear in the news that Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, was carrying a baby. That’s right, a child, not a “a fertilized egg” as my children were. At last, a child is a child.
Those who support the legal killing of unborn human beings in the womb have used political language for decades, cloaking their morally indefensible position in innocuous-sounding terms.
Some say it is the men who want their partners to have abortions; they neglect many man who desperately want their children. These men may beg and plead, may fight for their children’s lives – but in the end. We have no say
…Martin

Thanks to LiveAction for this story





Homosexual declaration “contradicts” our commitment to freedom, says World Body, stuns Gay lobby

20 07 2013

Gay declaration “contradicts”  our commitment to freedom, says U.S Congress man

U.S Congress man, Chris Smith, during the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation of Europe (OSCE) helped shoot down a resolution recognizing a controversial declaration on homosexuality by a vote of 24 to 3. Even lawmakers from countries that are usually friendly to homosexual groups deserted them.

The non-binding declaration, known as the Yogyakarta Principles, declares comprehensive special new rights for individuals who identify as lesbian, homosexual, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). The 29 principles were prepared in 2006 by activists, academics and former unelected officials of international bodies.

Proponents insist the principles are authoritative interpretations of existing international law, and have asked international organizations to endorse them. They have had varying success. Getting the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly on board would have been a significant victory because representatives at its meetings are elected officials from the legislative branches of OSCE member states.

Having garnered the signatures of 31 co-sponsors, the Belgian sponsoring the resolution was confident the resolution could pass. Moreover, the Council of Europe, composed of the same countries as the OSCE, recognized some of the same principles in a 2010 resolution.

But the initiative turned into a nightmare when even lawmakers from countries that side with homosexual groups did not support it. Only three representatives voted in favor of the resolution after it was discussed. Chief among its opponents, and surprisingly to many, was the United States representative.

When the resolution came up for debate, the atmosphere in the room became tense.

U.S. Congressman Chris Smith was the first to speak and said the Yogyakarta Principles “contradict” OSCE commitments to religious freedom and freedom of speech. He mentioned conflicts with the principles and the tenets of major religions, as well as binding international law and pointed out that governments never negotiated the principles.

The statement from the congressman highlights the conflict between the legislative and executive branch in the United States. The Obama administration has declared LGBT rights a priority for the United States. Recent public statements by U.S. President Barack Obama in African countries confirmed that position. The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly gathers representatives of the legislature, not the executive branches of government.

Smith was not alone in criticizing the Yogyakarta Principles.

The Polish representative motioned to remove the resolution from the agenda and not even debate it. She made a surprisingly forceful intervention, saying the principles contradicted Poland’s constitution, and no international body has ever defined the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”.

Lawmakers from countries that grant special new rights for individuals who identify as LGBT, like Italy, which grants homosexual couples special status through civil unions, also spoke against the resolution.

Promoting partisan advocacy would “diminish” the authority of OSCE according to the Italian representative. He said the OSCE recognizes the rights of all individuals to be free of discrimination, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. But he observed that it is inappropriate for the OSCE to even discuss the merits of the Yogyakarta Principles, because the principles go beyond the accepted normative framework for human rights embraced by OSCE states — echoing legal experts who say the Yogyakarta Principles do not accurately reflect international law.

Representatives from Russia and Armenia also made comments opposing the resolution. No one offered words in support of the resolution, not even Belgium.

A previous version of this article on July 18 did not mention that it was the “Parliamentary Assembly” of the OSCE that rejected the resolution. This  rare and commendable display of courage and good sense by a World  body could mark the beginning of an effective resistance by other members of the United Nation  to pushy  gay lobbies.

Written by Stefano Gennarini, J.D.

ISTANBUL, July 19 (C-FAM)





The man who blessed his killers

19 07 2013

A Man blesses those about to shoot him

In 1927, the Mexican government’s persecution of Christians took a cruel turn. They arrested a priest called Miguel Pro for preaching and ministering to the poor inspite of government ban on religion.

“What do you plan to do with this priest?” a junior minister asked in confidence.

“We will put him before a firing squad, watch him deny his faith in an attempt to save his life, then capture his cowardice on film and thereby disgrace Christians throughout the world,” replied President Elias Calles with a smirk while signing the order for Pro’s execution.

The president then invited government officials, members of the press and photographers to be present for the execution to witness and to capture on film the spectacle of disgrace that he was certain was about to occur.

On the morning of execution, a guard appeared at the cell door and called for Pro. Uncertain of what was awaiting him, Pro got up from the game that he was enjoying with the other inmates, squeezed his brother Roberto’s hand, and then turning to the other prisoners exclaimed, “Good-bye, brothers, till we meet in Heaven!”
The policeman who escorted him out was filled with remorse over the whole affair, and asked Pro to forgive him for his part in this injustice. Pro, by now easily guessing his fate, threw his arms around the officer and said, “Not only do I pardon you, but I am grateful to you, and I shall pray for you.”

The thirty-six-year-old Pro was led onto the firing range. He was still squinting, having come from a dark cell into the morning sunlight. But he could see from the outlines before him where he was. The major asked him, in a matter-of-fact way, whether he wished to express any last will. Pro answered firmly, “Permit me to pray.” Pro then knelt down, totally oblivious to the fact that he was on film and was having his picture snapped repeatedly. He very slowly blessed himself for the last time, kissed the crucifix that he held tightly in his right hand and crossed his arms over his chest. While in this posture he moved his lips in inaudible prayer.

Refusing a blindfold, the prisoner stood erect, and said calmly, “Lord, you know that I am innocent.” He raised his hand, blessed the spectators. Then, addressing himself to those who were about to kill him, he said, “May God have mercy on you. May God bless you?”

He walked briskly to the wall, faced the rifles, held out his arms so as to perfectly resemble the Crucified, and exclaimed, “With all my heart I forgive my enemies!” Then just before the order to fire rang out, he quietly, though not provokingly, spoke the immortal ejaculation of the Mexican martyrs, Viva Cristo Rey! The guns sounded, and he fell dead, riddled with bullets. To make sure he was dead, the soldier fired a shot at close range into his head just to make sure.
Ana Maria, Pro’s sister was the only one of her family present at the execution. When she heard the shots, all she could do was stand beyond the fence and weep.
Then something strange began to happen, something the Mexican government had not anticipated. Hundreds of spectators knelt down in the road Pro’s remains passed by in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. When the bodies were laid out for view Ana Maria was the first to venerate them. Crowds of mourners immediately gathered outside the hospital.

On the following day, thirty thousand people swelled the funeral procession. As they silently drove along, flowers were strewn before the martyrs’ path and dropped down from hundreds of balconies. Then the chanting started. Before long, thousands of people chanting in unison a thundering roar that shook the capital city, “Viva Cristo Rey!Long Live Christ The King!”Long live the martyrs! If you want martyrs, here is our blood!” This was the beginning of the end of the Calles’ government.

Miguek pro 3

pro funeral 1The crowd in Pro’s Funeral





The Boy Who saved a General : The Story of the Courage of Jose Luis Sanchez.

17 07 2013

The boy who saved the life of a General

In 1927, the Mexican President, Elias Calles, began persecuting Christians throughout Mexico. This violent Atheist sent soldiers to kill priests and burn Churches. To defend themselves, Christians formed a small army called “The Cristeros,” because whenever they went into battle they shouted: “Viva Cristo Rey!” “Long live Christ the King!”

Many of the Cristeros were captured and murdered and among them was a young boy whose name was Jose Luis Sanchez. When Jose heard of the Cristeros who were fighting for freedom, he joined them. In one battle, Jose was rushing to bring supplies to a fellow soldier; he caught sight of a General whose horse had been shot dead. On foot, without a horse, the General was extremely vulnerable, so Jose gave him his own horse. Moments later, José was captured by Calles soldiers and locked up. Soon, the soldiers decided to kill him.

On the way to execution, they struck him savagely with a sharp machete. With every blow, the young boy cried out, “Viva Cristo Rey!” When he got to the cemetery, he was bleeding heavily. His torturers had also cut off the soles of his feet and forced him to walk on salt. The boy screamed with pain but would not give in. As the road was nothing but rocks and dirt, the stones where he had walked were soaked in his blood.

“If you shout, ‘Death to Christ the King’, we will spare your life,” said one of the soldiers.
But the boy repeated, “Long live Christ the King!”

The commander ordered the soldiers to bayonet the boy and they pierced his body several times. But with every stab he only shouted louder and louder: “Viva Cristo Rey!” The commander was so enraged that he pulled out his pistol and killed Jose on the spot. There was no trial.

Jose is an outstanding example of faith and courage in defense of freedom. His story has been made into a film, “For Greater Glory” starring Andy Garcia. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1566501/








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