Saturday, June 28, 2014

Review: Making Gay Okay

How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior is Changing Everything
Robert Reilly’s Introduction notes that this book is not religion based, but reason based.  He concedes that anyone who does not distinguish between a person and his actions will find this book hard to believe.  That said, he proceeds to discuss man’s nature, actions, reason, and rationalization --- with many, many examples and data to illustrate his points.
Reilly begins by discussing rationalization, concluding as I have, that no one thinks of themselves or their actions as evil.  They rationalize what most think as evil, and it starts with their assumptions over what is normal/natural versus what is unnatural.  He notes that Aristotle said: “The basic societal unit is the family,” whereas the French philosopher Rousseau claimed that “man is not a rational, political animal and that society in any form is fundamentally alien …  In his origins, man was isolated and essentially complete on his own and in himself.  Greek philosophy discovered that “all activity seems governed by a purpose, by ends, to which things are designed to move.”   Further, “We can know reality, or what is, because it was made by logos or reason.”  We can see a thing’s purpose.  Rousseau, however, said there is no purpose or ends in Nature, “It is man, not Nature, who gives things their purpose.”  Rousseau claims that what any man wants is his right, for it is in his nature to want what he feels give him pleasure --- without regard to anyone else.

Rousseau’s philosophy is the underpinning of modern liberal thought.  “I want it, therefore it must be good --- for me.”  It recognizes no fixed moral imperatives; they can be changed at anyone’s whim:  “They have a right to their beliefs and actions.”  Mr. Reilly quotes the changing views and “rights” espoused by our president and vice president.  Mr. Obama wrote: “Implicit in (the Constitution’s) structure … was a rejection of absolute truth… that might lock future generations into a single unalterable course.”  Reilly summarizes Obama’s words thusly: “In other words, truth leads to tyranny.  Truth does not set you free; it imprisons.  Moral relativism sets you free.”
The above are thoughts from just the first 40 pages of this excellent book.  Further chapters discuss Justice, Biology, Morality, and Science.  He then discusses the growth of Rousseauian liberal philosophy into our judicial and educational systems.  I think perhaps more than any other book I’ve recently read, this book explains how our culture has gotten to this point, and the liberal-conservative divide:  two sides each of which is confident in its thinking that it knows what is best.
While there are many examples and facts in this book, I liked the data Reilly put forth about the medical results of homosexuality versus smoking.  From their nature, he notes, lungs are not designed to inhale smoke, nor the anus to accept sexual male sexual organs, and when used against their nature, the human body revolts.  We hear so much about the dangers of smoking and lung cancer, yet Reilly quotes studies citing a 4000% increase of anal cancer among homosexuals and, in one study, “the probability of a 20-year old gay or bisexual man living to 65 was only 32%, compared to 78% for men in general.  The damaging effects of cigarette smoking pale in comparison – cigarette smokers lose on average about 13.5 years of life expectancy.”  Many, many other studies are quoted in this book and its appendix, yet, as it points out, this country is on a course of promoting a morality and life style significantly more dangerous than smoking.
Reilly concludes:  “The key to democracy is not free choice… The key, as our Founding Fathers knew, is virtue … People who are enslaved to their passions inevitably become slaves to tyrants … A society can withstand any number of persons who try to advance their own moral disorders as public policy.  But it cannot survive once it adopts and enforces the justification for those moral disorders as its own.  This is what is at stake in the culture war.”
Read this book, if you are a thinking individual wondering how we got here, and what we can do about it.  As Christians, we CAN distinguish between people and their actions, and we can understand God’s purpose for creation and man.  God’s purposes define our nature, truth, and right, not every individual man. 
We are not God.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Center of Your Life

“What is the center of your life?”  That is the question asked of us on this feast day of Corpus Christi, the feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.  Christ is meant to be the center of our lives --- and nothing else.  He came to give us new life.
This feast focuses on the Eucharist, the simple host we can receive at every mass, but it is not simple.  Jesus Himself said:  This is My Body; This is My Blood.  What is the center of your life?  It is meant that He be the center.
The center of my life is how I lead my life, what I think important, why I do what I do.  Is it for me and my happiness that I act --- is that the center of my life?  That is the question we need to honestly ask ourselves.  That wasn’t the example that Jesus gave us.  He put anyone BUT Himself first.  He showed us how to live a life of love.  He loved the Father.  He loved His neighbor.  He gave us commandments to do the same, to live life as He did.
What is the center of your life?  Today is a day meant for us to consider this question.  We need to kneel more often, to look at our life honestly, before the Lord --- to ask Him to show us our lives as in a mirror, to see what He sees.
What is the center of my life?
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On the radio on the way to church, the news mentioned that our Secretary of State, John Kerry, was in Egypt.  “He is there to promote a more inclusive government in Egypt,” the announcer said. 
I smiled.
Then I thought that perhaps I should send a letter to the editor of the newspaper.  I could sarcastically write: “I’m sure this is just what the people of Egypt need, an inclusive government.  Will it be as our government defines that term, with one that includes people of every minor personal inclination, and each of the 50 sexual identities?  I’m sure that would bring peace to their country, like it has ours.  And to make them happier, perhaps we could open our borders to them, and if they can’t get here, well, we’ll just mail their welfare and subsidy checks to them.  Oh yes, we know how to make a perfect, inclusive government.  It is the focus of all we do, and look how happy we are.”
Sarcasm.  Yes, a letter like that might get printed in some paper, and some people would laugh and see my name --- see me.  But looking at this action, as in a mirror, what does it show about the center of my life?  Is it implying that I am the center of my life?  Oh no, of course not ---- surely not me.  But what would be the value of proposed letter-writing sarcasm?  Our government wouldn’t change; people’s attitudes wouldn’t change; the only purpose would be to make people look at me.  Is that an example of putting the Body of Christ at the center of my life?
I soooo often do not see my words and actions as others do.
And what of YOUR actions, your words, your anger, your speaking out, or your sarcasm?  By YOUR example, which all of us can see, who is the center of your life? 
All of us have a human vocation, things we must do, as parent, as spouse, as employee, and these things require our mind’s focus.  But what of our heart’s focus, when those obligations are fulfilled?  Data says that a huge portion of our lives are spent focused on electronic gadgets of one type or another.  Why?  Who for?
Lest you forget, there was a supreme God, the Father.  He chose to offer, in sacrifice, the life of His only Son.  Why?  Who for?  By that action, who was the center of His life, His heart? 
It was us.
He gave us an example.  He doesn’t expect us to sacrifice our children or so love the whole world.  But He does say: My yoke is easy, and my burden light.
All He asks for is your love, for you to love God and neighbor, as Jesus showed you ---- and to put others, not yourself, as the center of your life.
Corpus Christi, the Body and the Blood, offered for us 2000 years ago, and still offered to us each day.  Who do you think He does this for?  Who do you think is the center of His life?
Think some, this day, on what is the center of yours.   

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Two New Priests

Sunday was a wonderful day.  I’m reading Fr. Gallagher’s book on Discernment of Spirits right now --- a very good read, especially for his examples --- and this morning I saw so many of the spiritual consolations he described reflected in my day --- and even carrying over today.
On Sunday, Holy Trinity Sunday, it seemed every word of the liturgy, every hymn, and every silence brought me peace and awareness of God’s presence and love.  I cried through virtually the entire mass, very joyful tears.  And it WAS a special mass, even beyond the feast day celebrating the Trinity.
On Saturday, two more young men from our small parish were ordained --- that makes about 5 or 6 this year.  The two guys said the parish’s two Sunday masses.  In the early mass, the one I attended, one man led the liturgy, while the other assisted and preached the sermon, while at the second mass later in the morning, they reversed their roles.  I can’t tell you how impressed I was with the young man’s first homily.  He was great!  You can listen to it here ( ).  I don’t know of his future parish assignment, but I know the people of that parish will be very blessed.  After mass, the celebrant called up his mother and father in front of the altar, and thanked them one by one.  To his dad, he gave the vestment he wore to hear his first confession as a priest --- his dad’s confession.  He said when the time came that the vestment would be placed in his dad’s coffin, as an eternal reminder that this man was the father to a priest.  And to his mother, he gave the cloth, which was used to wipe the oil from his hands, after he had been anointed a priest.  It too would be buried with her.  It was a most touching gift he gave to them, and his parents hugged him and cried in joy --- as did much of the church, and me.
After mass, my unadopted daughter bought me brunch, and we had a delightful few hours, relaxing and talking together --- something there never seems enough time for, but Sunday we both made the time.  Back at her house, she gave me a new clothing wardrobe, “So you can toss all the shirts with stains on them,” she said.  And then I helped her with some yard work, and afterwards we watch a movie together.
I went home, cut my grass --- my usual Sunday chore --- and then stopped in the chapel for Night Prayers.  And to give thanks.  God is so good to me.  And as I saw with Him, as with my friend earlier, I felt a great peace.
I know love.
Today, reading Fr. Gallagher’s book, I was reminded of how great a day yesterday was, and as the sun showed through the church windows, on this day predicted to have showers all day, I felt His presence.  And tears just can’t stop.  I am so blessed.
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I wrote the above on Monday, but it was a busy day for me and friends, and so I could not post it.  We attended a golf outing for the benefit of a new Catholic girl’s high school.  As I said, rain and thundershowers were forecast all day, and even as we drove the 45 minutes to the golf course, some wondered if we would get to play.
But it was blue skies and puffy white clouds all day long.  It was an absolutely beautiful day.  Doing God’s work, He watches over us.  How often have I seen this to be true.  How I wish more had faith, when dark clouds seem inevitable.   

Saturday, June 14, 2014

7 Slow Takes Saturday

I never could understand the 7 Quick Takes Friday posts by bloggers, especially when some of them seemed double the length of their usual posts.  I tend not to post on Fridays because there always seems to be something going on, hence this Slow Takes Saturday post.

1.      Thursday night at the caregiver’s support group meeting we had a newbie show up, late.  He apologized, saying he had to get there, even if late, because he was so stressed out caring for his mom, who had dementia.  Recognizing his need first, we asked him what he was doing for himself to handle the stress.  “Well, if I hadn’t come here tonight, I’d be doing what I do most nights at this time, drinking myself to sleep.”  We, and he, had lots to talk about.  His presence was a reminder to all present how we once were --- confident we could handle things, alone. 

This blog is titled “Do Not Be Anxious,” to tell you, and remind myself, never to sit home in anxiety and worry.  There is ALWAYS someone willing to listen, and to help.  You are never alone.

2.      In this anniversary month of mom’s death, I did a reading yesterday of the posts I had labeled “My Life,” and found that reading these old thoughts was a very good thing, reminding me of MY stresses in caring for mom, and of the blessings.  I shall do that more often.

3.      Last night I helped man the United Way booth during the Friday night free “Concert in the Park” in downtown Plymouth --- and froze my butt off!!!  There was great 60 – 80’s rock music, true, but there were also lots of blankets, hoodies, kids, dogs, a weird Elvis impersonator, and temps in the 50’s with a 20 mph wind.  It was great fun for the 500 or so people braving the cold night, but I put the heater on in my car on the way home.

4.      After a couple glasses of wine to further warm me up, bed seemed like a fine idea, but then I woke at 3AM from a dream, wide awake.  I went downstairs and, with nothing but ads on television, switched to look at available re-runs, choosing an NCIS oldie at random.  It was the episode where Gibbs learns his dad is dead, and re-lives memories.  What a great blessing to watch that one, and be reminded of memories of my dad, on this Father’s Day Weekend.

5.      My duck FINALLY hatched her brood of ducklings.  I saw them marching around the yard one afternoon, the duckling heads just barely above the long grass.  I made a point to watch closely as I cut the grass a couple of days later, but I never saw them again. 

6.      These past days saw me attend graduation celebrations of three of my Godchildren, two graduating Summa from college, and the one from high school telling me that she won a full ride soccer scholarship at Grand Valley State, a fine college.  And today my Goddaughter niece, who finished college, ah, quite a while ago, turns past another decade number, which shall be un-named (but it’s half way to 100, which I hope she at least lives to.)  She called me to laugh and say she received the black rose arrangement I sent her.  Ha, ha.  (But I recognized that laugh; it’s the “I’m thinking” laugh, as she plots what to do for MY next birthday.  Do you think I shouldn’t have told the florist to delay sending the nice arrangement for a couple of hours, “so she can stew on the black ones a while?”  Oh well, I hope she likes them also ---- soon.  Ha, ha.)
They are all fine individuals, and I love them all.

7.      And the local nursery completed the planting of mom’s memorial garden plot, in downtown Plymouth, with lots of purple, of course.  It looks a little sparse right now, but it will fill in when the flowers grow and bloom as they age, as she did.