Friday, February 25, 2005

Signs of contradiction

I find it striking that this morning, there is a great contrast on two sides of the Atlantic in the battle for the hearts and minds of people everywhere on matters of life, especially as they relate to the vulnerable of society.

On the other side of the water, there is a vigorous fight for the life of Pope John Paul II, who's Parkinson's related breathing problems were enough to need a tracheotomy. At present, we know that the Holy Father cannot speak, but is governing the Church through written language and gestures. My guess is that there are very few ecclesiastical matters that need His Holiness' immediate attention, and nothing that can't wait a few days. Already, however, the forces of Antichrist are crooning, complaining that the Pope cannot govern the Church in a speechless state, and the American press, willing partners with the forces of liberalism which would love to see the Pope toppled, and often ignorant of how Church functions are normally, is already spouting "can the Pope govern the Catholic Church" as if they care whether the Church lives or dies. The prevailing attitude is that the Pope is old, sick, and without speech, and that he is useless. Yet millions are praying for him and the doctors and officials around him are fighting to keep him alive.

The opposite is true in the case of this woman:

Terri Shindler Schiavo

Her husband, living is adultery with children by another woman for as many years as Terri has been incapacitated, wants to remove the tubes that are helping Terri consume food. He claims that on one occasion Terri said "I wouldn't want to live like that" when hearing about someone who had been kept alive artificially for 20 years. Here's the rub: Terri is not in a coma. According to many who have seen her, including her father(who recounted what he knows last week on The World Over), have said that she can see them, is aware of their presence, and makes attempts to communicate with them. Father Frank Pavone has even said that when he visited Terry, she made sincere motions that indicated that she was following along in Father Pavone's prayers. Terri's parents have offered Michael Schiavo money to simply divorce her and let her family care for her. Mr. Schiavo refuses. Terri's Dad speculated that this may be because if Terri recovers, she could give an account of possible domestic abuse and other crimes committed by Michael Schiavo! Today, a Florida judge holds Terri's life in his hands. Let's pray that judge does the right thing, just as the doctors at the Gemelli Hospital are doing for the Pope, and keeps Terri alive.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

John Paul back in hospital

All over the morning headlines today (and posted about an hour ago on the Reuters wire) was the news that His Holiness Pope John Paul II is back in the hospital with a relapse of the flu. No real word on whether the Pope is experiencing the breathing problems that plagued him during his first visit to the Gemelli Hospital.

As I have stated in my earlier posts, I do not believe God will allow John Paul to leave the Petrine Chair until God decides it is time, and as such, I believe it is futile (and just plain rude and disrespectful to God and the Church) to speculate about whether the Pope will resign or when he will leave this transitory life. That said, however, there is no denying that a second trip to the hospital cannot be good news, which would explain why the Holy See Press Office is so tight-lipped this morning.

Whether God chooses to take the Pope from us within the next week or leave him with us for many years to come is not our decision, or even rightly the Pope's to make. We must leave the Church in the care of God through the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, and ask that whenever the conclave should take place, that the right man to lead the People of God into the depths of the 21st Century is chosen. We must also be disposed to pray that God's will, whatever that may be, is done.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Why Muslims can be an example to us

We often hear of the pronouncements of radical imams and mullahs, the fatwahs condemning America, and even issuing sentences of death upon American soldiers. One thing that can't be denied about these people, however, is their fanatical zeal for their faith, and willingness to spread that faith to the uttermost parts of the earth.

As a devoted Catholic Christian, obviously I believe the theological basis for Islam is pure rubbish. Indeed, I am amazed when studying the religion how much is taken from our tradition and twisted. Hagar is not Abraham's slave, she is his wife. He sacrificed Ishmail on the mountain, not Issac. "The comforter" Christ spoke of...that was the Prophet Muhammed. (I learned this from a former roommate of mine who was a Palestinian Muslim. Among other things, he showed me a video on Islam narrated by the infamous Cat Stevens.) Considering that Islam is the youngest of all the major faiths (7th Century A.D.), it is safe to say that it is a copy-cat religion for a people who have been without Christ since the 6th Century, and some of them never had him historically as a group.

However, when you listen to many Muslim leaders' rants against America and the West, as I have done, there are some recurring themes:

Media. Many Imams argue that America is filled with sex and violence in its television and media.

Worldliness. Many Muslim leaders openly complain that Americans are concerned more with their own pleasure and enrichment than with service to others, or with pleasing God.

Haughtiness: Many Muslims see Americans as proud and haughty. Rather than feeling blessed and humbled that God has chosen to bless our nation with great wealth and power, something that might otherwise be viewed as a sign of Divine favor, we are overly proud and think ourselves better, forgetting that God can take away as sure as he can give.

Cultural decay: Some Muslim leaders even say that Americans have little respect for their own cultural heritage.

Family decline. American families are never kept together and Americans often artificially limit their number of children. This is often seen as greedy.

Is it any wonder why many in the Muslim world DO view America with such disdain? Not only do their religious leadership tell them these things about America, but by and large, on the social and moral questions at least, those leaders are telling them the truth.

I have heard from multiple sources more familiar with the Middle East than I am that one of the most popular shows on Arab television is Dallas, a program about oil barons, no less. Let us see what American things the Muslim world sees from JR and Bobby:

Promiscuous fornication or adultery.
Deceit in business and public life.
Hatred for other members of one's own family.
Immodest dress.
Foul tongues.

And we wonder why the mullahs hate America...

Although I believe the theology of Islam to be misguided, I find no surprise in the fact that Islam is gaining many converts in America. It offers a belief system that sees things in black and white, and offers many in America's predominately poor black inner-cities a way out of a cycle of poverty, illegitimacy, and moral bankruptcy. Islam is a "new way" for many because Christians have not risen to the challenge. Muslims want to convert the world, and they answer a call to prayer five times a day.

Every morning at 6 am all over the Muslim world, Muslims are called to prayer. Part of that invocation "There is no God but Allah [God] and Muhammed is his Prophet" are added the words "prayer is better than sleep." Oh the zeal in such a statement...oh for the followers of Our Lord and Savior to have such unquenchable zeal!

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Bush/FDR alliance

It seems the President has an old ally in his plan to reform Social Security: Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Donald Lambro of the Washington Times recently did a search of the archives to find out exactly what it was that the New Deal Patriarch had to say about the program that was originally begun as a pension program in people's old age. From Lambro's report:

In an address to a joint session of Congress on January 17, 1935, here's what FDR had to say: "For perhaps 30 years to come funds will have to be provided by the states and the federal government to meet these pensions."After that, Social Security's financing door should be fully opened to "voluntary contributory annuities by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age," FDR said."It is proposed that the federal government assume one-half of the cost of the old-age pension plan, which ought ultimately to be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans," FDR told Congress.

Memo to Democrats: That is precisely what the President is proposing should occur. Congress never acted on FDR's proposal then because Congress wanted a huge "trust fund" that they could raid at will. (Congress in those days was controlled by Democrats.) If Democrats went along with the President's plan today, they would be collectively admitting that they have robbed the Social Security Trust Fund over the years in order to serve their own political needs. Perhaps most importantly, they would be admitting that they have done little or nothing over the years to save Social Security. While Democrats conjure up the ghost of Roosevelt, FDR would likely be supporting the President on this particular issue.

Donald Lambro of the Washington Times is the party responsible for the quotations in this post.

Monday, February 21, 2005

The gathering sports gloom

The fate of baseball may be foreshadowed in the outcome of the NHL strike. As many readers may be aware, the National Hockey League has called off its 2005 season because of a lockout. The issues on the table have included a salary cap and revenue sharing, among other things.

In Canada, hockey is the national religion. The NHL is the High Church of the Hockey Faith. The Church has lost the confidence of its laity.

Baseball is under much the same sort of strain. I sincerely hope that both the owners and the MLBPA are watching the NHL situation very closely, because if both sides do not reach a workable agreement on a reasonable salary cap and revenue sharing, baseball is headed to much the same fate as the NHL: National doom.

Canadians may be willing to forgive the NHL when there is a season next year (we hope there will be one, anyway). Americans are far less likely to be as forgiving of their national pastime. People here will merely take their time and their dollars elsewhere, and won't care to leave the Major Leagues to rot. I have to believe that both the owners and the players are well aware of this, and that another strike or lockout would be the sporting equivalent of a nuclear war with mutually-assured destruction. It may be that the prospect of Baseball MAD will be what prevents the owners and players from ever having another strike or lockout, especially after watching what has happened in the NHL. Don't you believe for a minute, however, that Bud Selig and Donald Fehr don't have their respective "nuclear footballs" at the ready, complete with launch codes.

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