I hope you are all having a blessed Lent. Our family is having quite an eventful one that has involved many opportunities to learn…incuding how to blog via Xbox. Yup, that is the only way that I can blog at the moment. This is not exactly my cup of tea, so I shall return when I can get my PC back online. BLESSINGS!
Conservatives on Twitter have managed to get the hashtag #StandWithRand to trend on Twitter, apparently oblivious to the reality that a majority of Americans voted for Obama and, as admirers of the president, are likely to think the conservative movement has gone completely crazy.
A word of advice for conservatives: If you’re going to make the case that the president might start killing you with drones, at least try to do it on a night when he is not shelling out big money from his own pocket for a swanky meal for Republicans.
I’m sure many will claim this means I don’t care about civil liberties. To the contrary, what I see is a lot of people making an argument that (whether true or not) is going to have the opposite effect that you desire.
Remember back in olden times when most people who identify as conservative understood human nature and acted as such? Good times. Good times.
In November, I wrote an article stating: For Catholics, Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. This was not well-received by some Catholic readers. For some reason, I am receiving angry emails about that article today. That reality, coupled with what is happening over at the conservative blog American Thinker, makes my unapologetically Jew-loving radar go up. (Yes, I love Jews. I love everyone. I’m a Christian, so loving everyone is part of my job description.) Since my radar is telling me that anti-Semitism is what the “cool kids” are doing these days, it’s time to revisit the topic and explain when anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, and why.
My friend Daniel Greenfield makes an excellent point about Nancy Pelosi, Andrew Cuomo, et al. Although his point has nothing to do with Zionism per se, it remains relevant to my point about Zionism and anti-Zionism.
“Attacking [Michael Bloomberg's] policies by conflating them with Orthodox Judaism is just as offensive as criticizing Cuomo or Pelosi’s legislative activities in terms of Catholic doctrine.”
Anyone who understands that the views of Pelosi and Cuomo should not be interpreted as being “Catholicism,” should also understand that the existence of anti-Zionist Jews does not mean that Zionism is not a Jewish belief. Zionism is absolutely a Jewish belief, even if all Jews do not ascribe to it. Having said that, I will grant you that not all anti-Zionism is anti-Semitic. The existence of anti-Zionist Jews who are faithful, in the sense that their beliefs are of a Jewish nature and they appear to be sincere in them, does mean that not all anti-Zionism is inherently anti-Semitic. Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism when it is offered as a theological belief. It is when it is offered as a political argument that it becomes anti-Semitic.
Perhaps the best way to explain this concept to Catholics is by using the calls for the excommunication of Nancy Pelosi as an example. These calls for her excommunication are clearly politically-driven. There are large numbers of people who identify as “Catholic” who agree with Nancy Pelosi on abortion, the issue that prompts calls for her excommunication. I know of no one who is calling for all of those people to be excommunicated. Rather, it is Nancy Pelosi’s excommunication they call for, because she is a high-profile political figure. It is not appropriate for our bishop to use excommunication as a political weapon. Rather, excommunication has a purpose that is devoid of politics. It is intended to be used as a means to call sinners to repentance, not to change our political landscape. If a bishop believes that excommunication is necessary to bring someone back into full communion with the Church, then by all means, he should employ his right to excommunicate the person in need of it, but it is ultimately his call, not ours, and it should never be done for political reasons. If you argue for excommunication of a politician so that you can obtain a political victory, you have become part of the problem, not part of the solution. Our duty is to call people to Christ, not to purge sinners from the Church. If we purge all the sinners from the Church, then there would be no members left.
In like manner, it is not appropriate to use the theological belief against Zionism among some Jews as a political weapon against Jews who are Zionists. Catholicism is, and should remain, neutral about Zionism precisely because Catholicism is tolerant, at worst, of Judaism. At best, Catholicism is decidedly accepting (not merely “tolerant”) of Judaism as we understand it is the very root of our own Faith. To lay the axe to Judaism is to lay the axe to the root of the tree from whence came the Catholic Faith. It is not for me to say whether anti-Zionist Jews or Zionist Jews are “true Jews.” Let them work that out with each other, theologically. When it comes to the political sphere, we would all do well to recognize that Zionism (1) is a mainstream Jewish belief; (2) is unlikely to go away anytime soon; and (3) is not a threat to anyone as a theological belief.
One might argue that Zionists use Zionism politically, therefore opponents should be free to make the argument against Zionism from a political perspective. Because Zionism deals with geo-political boundaries, there is no way to remove the politics completely from the argument. This is true, but it is also true that the political anti-Zionist clings just as strongly to geo-political boundaries as the Zionist does. The Zionist claims that God has given the land to the Jews. The anti-Zionist insists that it should be taken away. There is no theological argument in favor of revoking God’s promise to the Jews. Christian belief is that the New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old Testament, not the revoking of the Old Testament. Catholics, especially, whose Masses more closely resemble Jewish tradition than protestant services do, should understand this concept of fulfillment, as opposed to revocation.
The Catholic Church (on an official level, if not communion-wide) has made great strides in our relations with the Jewish people. Personally, my friendship with Daniel Greenfield and other Jewish people who are involved in politics, has only strengthened my view that we have nothing to fear from Zionism and much to gain from being tolerant of Zionism. Zionism threatens no one. I am confident that any who look at Zionism objectively and with a sincere respect for the dignity of Jewish people, without being encumbered by political considerations, would come to the same conclusion that I have about it.
Let us pray for peace among all people, but especially among those who share in adoration of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Are you frustrated by the incompetence evident in much of the reporting on the papal conclave? You are not alone. Fr. James Martin, S.J., has vented a bit about this on his Facebook page. Enjoy a moment of sanity coupled with a teeny tiny bit of snark.
The conclave hasn’t even started, and I’m already submerged by a sea of stupid articles, idiotic commentary and boneheaded op-eds about the Catholic Church, by people who have no clue what they’re talking about. I’m not talking about people with whom I disagree, or who challenge me with new ways of thinking about the church, but writers who seem completely clueless about the most basic concepts. Some of this is to be expected: the church is a highly complex institution with 2,000 of history behind it.
But the number of misinformed articles I’ve read about celibacy, the priesthood, the papacy, the church in this country, the causes of the sexual abuse crisis, church authority, papal infallibility, the role of the magisterium, life in a religious order, the vow of chastity, and Benedict XVI, just boggles the mind. Or at least my mind, which perhaps is too easily boggled. Needless to say, I don’t expect commentators to know everything about the church. (I sure don’t.) But I think it’s a reasonable to expect that people should refrain from commenting (especially publicly) on stuff that they clearly don’t know much about.
In response, I’m going to start writing pieces and submitting op-eds about the most recent developments in quantum physics, the challenges of the last three months of pregnancy, the most efficient way to install a dishwasher and what it’s like to be the following: a single mother working in a low-paying job, an elementary-school teacher working in a wealthy suburb, and an African-American living in the inner city.
I know nothing about any these topics, or about the lived experiences of these people, but hey, I have an opinion.
LifeSite News has been covering the so-called “homoheresy” in the Church. See here and here. There is advice on what can be done about this. I have given my own advice on this already: You Either Believe Our Identity is in Christ…Or You Don’t.
I agree with the Holy Father that the “filth” must be cleaned out of the Church, and also agree with the measures he has taken to facilitate this. On the other hand, I disagree with those who are using this term “homoheresy” to describe the problem. People are not “homos” and that is entirely the point.
What you can do about the “homoheresy” is stop thinking of people as “homos” or “gay” or any other thing that is decidely not what we are all called to be. Both sides of this debate err in believing that homosexuality is something that can be used to define someone. God defines us. If we define ourselves or others in accordance with anything that is not of God, we fail in our duty to become what God has called us to be: saints.
There is a “homoheresy” in the Church only in the sense of people accepting homosexuality as a gift, as morally neutral, or as reason to reject people altogether. We are all sinners. All of us. Homosexuality is not a gift, it is not morally neutral, and it is also no reason to reject people as if they themselves are “filth.”
It takes a deep understanding of the Cross, redemptive suffering and mercy to understand these things. You either get that our identity is in Christ, or you don’t. You either live in God’s reality, or you don’t understand or refuse to accept God’s reality. In the end, the only true reality is God’s reality, and identity is at the core of it. As it says in today’s readings:
Moses said to God, “But when I go to the Israelites
and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’
if they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what am I to tell them?”
God replied, “I am who am.”
Then he added, “This is what you shall tell the Israelites:
I AM sent me to you.”
God is “I AM.” He is the one true reality.
There is a story from St. Faustina’s diary (.pdf) about a boy with diseased eyes. We should approach disorders from this perspective.
401, Notebook One, Divine Mercy in My Soul, St. Faustina’s Diary:
What also cost me a lot was that I had to kiss the children. The women I knew came with their children and asked me to take them in my arms, at least for a moment, and kiss them. They regarded this as a great favor, and for me it was a chance to practice virtue, since many of the children were quite dirty. But in order to overcome my feelings and show no repugnance, I would kiss such a dirty child twice. One of these friends came with a child whose eyes were diseased and filled with pus, and she said to me, “Sister, take it in your arms for a moment, please.” My nature recoiled, but not paying attention to anything, I took the child and kissed it twice, right on the infection, asking God to heal it.
We are all naturally averse to disorder, but we should all seek to heal disorder, not recoil from those who have disorders, especially if healing can only come through the grace of God. When St. Faustina kissed the diseased eyes of a child, she was expressing compassion which is seeing the gift of the child as God sees him, and desiring the healing that comes from God.
So, what can you do about the “homoheresy?” Do as Pope Benedict did. Recognize that our identity is in Christ, above all, not in titles or labels that we, or others, attach to us, whether related to order or disorder. Where we find our identity, and how we see others’ identity, is the most important message of God Who is “I AM.” He is all there is with value to know. All things that are placed in importance over His will can only lead us to destruction.
The Twitter acccount of Pope Benedict XVI now reads “Sede Vacante.” That makes my little Passionist heart go throb throb throb.
Here are some tweets from some of my favorite Catholics on Twitter. By the way, you can still vote for me in About.com’s Best Catholic to Follow on Twitter category.
In Sede Vacante bit.ly/Wk3IFX
— Rocco Palmo (@roccopalmo) February 28, 2013
— lukecoppen (@lukecoppen) February 28, 2013
— Matthew P. Schneider (@22Catholic) February 28, 2013
— Stephanie Potter (@Sjgpotter) February 28, 2013
— Deacon Matt Tretina (@Dcnmatthew) February 28, 2013
Let us pray for Pope Benedict as he enters a new life chapter, & pray for the continued unity of our church. Goodnight #ThanksPontifex
— Card. Peter Turkson (@TurksonCardinal) February 28, 2013
I miss B16. #ThanksPontifex
— Arleen Spenceley (@ArleenSpenceley) February 28, 2013
— Curtis Weisenburger (@Curtis_Credo) February 28, 2013
The papacy of Benedict XVI has ended.The Chair of Peter is vacant. Thank you, Holy Father, for your faithful service. #ThanksPontifex
— Cardinal Wuerl (@Cardinal_Wuerl) February 28, 2013
SEDE VACANTE – the Swiss Guard has left. We have no pope. Whatever you’re doing, stop and pray. #ThanksPontifex
— St. Peter’s List (@StPetersList) February 28, 2013
— Catholic Drinkie (@CatholicDrinkie) February 28, 2013
In gratitude for the faithful service of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. #ThanksPontifex
— Catholic Husband (@CatholicHusband) February 28, 2013
This Lent has been a tough one for my family, as I mentioned briefly here. Considering that so many are asking for help on our behalf– including Father Z, George Vogt, and Sofia Guerra — I thought it best that I give an overview and a thank you for all the help. I am hesitant because the last time I blogged about being in need, a social worker came knocking on our door and did a home and finance inspection to see if we needed to be put on the government dole. Since that happened, I remain hesitant to write on my blog that we are in need. At the same time, if you don’t tell people that you’re in need, no one will help. I will share as much as I think is reasonable, given the circumstances. Also, this is not just about me, but also about three of my five brothers. (UPDATE: The other two are disabled and in nursing homes. One of them is a veteran.)
The situation is that our furnace went out, as well as the electricity in two rooms. We had to shut off the main power switch due to the risk of fire, and turn off the water to prevent the water pipes from freezing. Technically, we are homeless. One of my brothers (Brother A) who was living with us, is also now left to find another place to stay. Technically, he is also homeless.
We were living in my parents’ home. My dad passed away in 2000 and my mom now lives with one of my brothers (Brother B) in another state. That brother has been paying our utilities. When the furnace and some of the electricity went out, we had to act quickly to find a place to stay, because it is quite cold. Another of my brothers (Brother C) took us in temporarily while we looked for other (affordable) housing. Brother C has a property tax bill that he cannot afford to pay. If it is not paid, his home can be sold to pay the tax. (In my mind, it is criminal to tax someone out of their home, but it’s the law.) Brother C is a teacher whose class budget was just cut to zero, which makes it more difficult to justify his job. Brother B, who has been paying our utilities, is retired military. He has served in combat situations, but this situation “hits home,” if you will. Brother B works for a defense contractor which, ironically, provides electricity generators for our troops in the field. With the military budget cuts, his pay has been cut in half. He is fortunate because his company has let 300 people go. Brother B cannot really afford to continue paying our utilities for us, even if we got the furnace and electricity fixed. Also, he does not want to sell the family home. It is there precisely so that if anyone in the family is ever unable to find affordable housing (such as me and my kids, at the moment), then we can always stay there.
Since Father Z, George and Sofia put out the call for help, a total of $2300 has come into my PayPal account. We are very grateful for this assistance as it has given us breathing room. At this point, we’re trying to decide what is the best way to use this money. We don’t know how much it will take to get the heat and electricity fixed at my mother’s house. If a new furnace is necessary, we will not be able to afford it. Perhaps alternative heating is an option. We have raised enough to get into a rental apartment, but then comes the problem of being able to afford that long-term. Plus, to do that, we have to get rid of all of our chickens and our pets. This is very hard on children who are already going through a great deal.
This is our situation at the moment. We are kind of “stuck” in determining exactly what to do. It is pretty clear that we are going to be okay for a while, but we’re not sure about six weeks or six months from now. There are a lot of other details that impact this situation which I am not sharing here, so please don’t send me advice on what to do. We will figure this out eventually. I do ask for prayer and am most grateful for what has come in so far.