Friday, April 15, 2005

Tax tyranny

The Democratic Party likes to fashion itself as the champion of the little man as opposed to the privileged. Those of us who have had any experience with real life know that this is a lie, of course, but I have had firsthand experience with it this year.

My wife and I received a tax refund from our federal taxes, as well as from our state income taxes. So where will the money from those returns go? That money will be used to pay our taxes owed to the City of Cincinnati. This city was once a Republican stronghold, but because of the outmoded and outdated uniate election system in this town, a system where all City Council members are elected at-large and there is no ward or district representation, you might have four or five members of council from the same or similar neighborhoods. In Cincinnati's case, what you end up with is an inordinate number of Democrats that in no way represent the diverse political viewpoints of the city. In fact, Council is loaded with members from Bond Hill, the Price Hill area, and the West End. My neighborhood doesn't have a member on City Council. Literally, I am not being represented. The NAACP is well represented, with Charterite hate-monger Christopher Smitherman's well publicized rants against the police and against the proper application of the law. Vice-Mayor Alicia Reese and Councilwoman Laketa Cole might as well be the official representatives of Jesse Jackson. However, when I can't get a decent bus ride in this town because not enough city busses are equipped with chair lifts, I have no voice. That's alright, in the world of liberals, their interest groups may have a voice, but the real little people, law-abiding Americans, we must be deprived of one.

The liberals like to complain about how everyone is moving out of the city, and they've even made up a racist term for it, they call it "White Flight." Well, perhaps the high rate of taxation might have something to do with why it is that so many people aren't staying in town. When my entire federal tax refund must then be used to pay the city what they say I owe them (and what, in reality, they are stealing), do you suppose that might change my perspective on living in this city? I wonder if the fact that, in order to own a home in Cincinnati, I would have to pay an extraordinarily high city property tax (to support a public school system that is a consistent failure), as well as the highest county property taxes in the State of Ohio just might cause my happiness in Cincinnati to be disturbed? I wonder if giving such a large chunk of our family income (and we don't have much to give) might induce us to get out of Dodge? You think so?

Nicole and I have decided that we simply cannot afford to live in Cincinnati permanently. We can't afford the cost of buying a home here and settling down to raise a family. The property and income taxes together might bankrupt us, considering that we went into debt to finish our college education, and now must repay that debt. We'll be just fine...We might even be able to buy a home, but not in Cincinnati.

It is a shame, really. This is a great city, with a lot of potential and a lot of good people. Cincinnati is a wonderful place if you like towns that are historic, culturally Catholic, and have good chili spaghetti. It has a wonderful baseball heritage, and, despite the deficiencies in the transit system, at least it has one. The people of this town, however, deserve better than what they are getting. They do not deserve to have their livelihoods stripped away by the corrupt people downtown who purport to be governing them. However, the old adage holds true here: Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. People in this city have clamored for reform for years, but they refuse to take the concrete steps that must be taken if reform of city government is to be brought about. If city government is ever to work in this town, City Council must be a representative body by neighborhood. Most importantly, however, if the Over-the-Rhine crime wave is going to be stopped before it reaches the entire city, people who are productive must be kept in town. What that means, simply, is that this city must CUT TAXES, CUT TAXES, and CUT TAXES!

The tax-cutters will have one less proponent, though. I'll be taking my family and moving as soon as we can afford it. I can't afford to stay and pay the taxes anymore.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Does the "End of Days" change our mission?

Today we turn our attention to the question of what to do if it is true that we are living near the End of Days. Is it time to panic-quit our jobs and all move out into communes in the middle of nowhere, and hope our religious leaders join us in joyfully awaiting the End?

This is neither a practical nor a just solution to dealing with the situation in which the Christian world presently finds itself. Those of us who believe we are experiencing the Last Things in Time believe this because we find the culture around us being destroyed, or perhaps more accurately, we see a Christian culture of Life being replaced by a hedonistoc culture of Death on a world-wide scale.

The solution is neither to run from the heathen culture nor to embrace it, rather to "put on the whole armor of God." The reality is that the End of Days may require of us the ultimate forms of witness for the Truth. We should be prepared to make that kind of sacrifice, and never stop trying to be forces for good and forces for Christ, even unto the end of the world.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The futility of speculation

In the Interregnum series on prophecy here at the World, I've discussed a number of issues so far that I know cause doctrinal differences to become apparent for many. Doubtless, many Protestants who have read my musings are shaking their heads in disbelief. My point in writing some of these things, however, has been to make people think.

In my mind, it is futile to over-speculate about the End of Days. I think that any thinking and believing Christian knows what to look for when the time comes that we must worry about the Last Things in Time. In addition to the things Christ outlined in Matthew 24, we know to expect that there will be a "Man of Sin" who will arise and persecute the Church in the Last Days. Some speculate that "Antichrist" may be a system, not merely a singular person, and that the "Man of Sin" may be a different personage who represents the larger Antichrist system. I do not necessarily hold this view, but I do not think it can be easily discounted, either. Whether Antichrist is a single man or a larger system or a single man, the principle is the same: Antichrist will oppose Christ and His Church. As St. John has told us, the spirit of Antichrist is already in the world today.

Are we living at the time just before the End of the Age, can we say that we are experiencing the beginnings of the Last Things in Time? On a personal level, I will say that I am strongly inclined to believe that this is the case. However, others throughout history have also believed this about their own time, and have acted to convince others that what they believed was right. These efforts produced disaster for evangelization when the Lord did not return as predicted. Thus, it is not my place to declare this definitively, nor even to speculate, I will only say that I believe it as a matter of personal belief. I can only offer the same advice the Lord did, to be ready at all times, for the Lord will return when we do not expect him. Those readers who happen to share in the belief that we are in the Last of the Last Days will like the next installment in the series: IF we are nearing the End of Days, what are we Christians called to do?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Papabile Tettamanzi

I am not one to give credence to the media speculation about who the next Pope will be. However, some stories have surfaced in the press of late that are of some interest, however. Those who do the Petrine Charism a great injustice by attempting to bet on who will be elected have recently declared Dionigi Cardinal Tettamanzi to be their favorite. Initially, this caused me to want to shy away from the Archbishop of Milan as a possible successor. However, a story in the New York Daily News has me reconsidering my position on Tettamanzi. From this story, it almost appears as if this guy is John Paul II's Italian clone. In addition, how can you go wrong with a guy who admits to being fond of Opus Dei, while also seriously criticizing Western materialism? In addition, the good Cardinal's 94-year old mother is still healthy and peppery in Milan. He can't do anything too bad, he'll hear it from his Mama! My favorite Tettamanzi quote:

"The Devil is a liar, and the greatest lie is that he does not exist."

He also said with regard to "gay marriage:" "In this cultural situation the church must exercise the greatest vigilance."

He refers to this as "gay culture," and roundly condemns it. He also "worries" about modernity.
Sounds great to me!


Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the man who has always served as my favorite Cardinal on Earth. The Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly called the Holy Inquisition, a name which ought to be restored) Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, is a great soldier in the Lord's Army. I'd call him the Commanding General of the Old Believers' Brigades. Cardinal Ratzinger, like John Paul II, has a real heart for the poor, the impoverished, and the downcast. However, he simply won't allow heterodoxy to rear its ugly head into the Church. Heretics hate Cardinal Ratzinger, and they'd love nothing more than to see him drop dead. In spite of his age (77), that fact alone lets us know that he would make a wonderful Pope.

My favorite Ratzinger quote: "Truth is not subject to a majority vote."

The Second Advent of the Lord

Perhaps no subject has stirred more debate in modern times than the nature of the return of Christ. There are many, most prevalently in the United States, who take the belief that the Lord will return once in secret (for a second time) and then once at the close of the tribulation (for a third time). Among its detractors, this notion is known as the “secret rapture” doctrine. One of the key texts that the doctrine’s supporters use to “prove” it true is Christ’s discourse on the destruction of the Jerusalem temple and the end of the world in Matthew 24.

I don’t have time to do a verse-by-verse synopsis of this important passage of Scripture, but we can break down the more important parts that pertain to the Lord’s Second Advent. At the beginning of the discourse, Jesus warns the Apostles that not one stone will be left upon another, and that the temple would be destroyed, to which they respond in verse 3:

Tell us when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming and of the consummation of the world?

Jesus then takes the reader through a litany of the trials and tribulations. We will be scandalized, hate one another, our love and charity will wax cold. Nation shall rise against nation, kingdom against kingdom. There will be false Messiahs and false prophets, who will seduce many people, along with wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, famines, pestilences. But Christ tells us in verses 13-14:

But he that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved.
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world, for a testimony to all nations: and then shall the consummation come.

We then encounter a series of verses that clearly have double-meanings. Remember, the first question that the Apostles asked Jesus was “when shall these things be,” and they were referring to the destruction of the temple. In this chapter, Jesus is answering both of those questions, so we can apply what he says both to the early Church as well as to the last days. Verse 15:

When therefore you shall see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place: he that readeth let him understand.

Today, it is common belief that this refers to the Man of Perdition, or to the Antichrist. Doubtless, it does refer to that Person of Evil, but we must remember that the Jerusalem Christians saw their way of life destroyed, and they (as well as the Jews of their time) referred to the Roman armies, and to Titus their leader, as the Abomination of Desolation. In their mind, this was the Abomination of Desolation standing in the Holy Place, spoken of by Daniel, attempting to take the place of God. This double-meaning is so important to understanding what Jesus is telling us here that Matthew adds the explanatory note “whoso readeth, let him understand.”

In verse 21, after explaining that woe will come upon women who are with child, and give suck, and warning that those in Judea should flee to the mountains. He says in verse 21:
For there shall be then great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be.

We know what this likely refers to in terms of the very last things in time, but it was also a “great tribulation” for those people when the temple was destroyed. At this point, Jesus switches gears and we can clearly see that he is talking about the last things. He begins to answer the second question more pointedly in verse 27-31:

For as lightning cometh out of the east and appeareth even into the west: so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Wheresoever the body shall be, there shall the eagles also be gathered together. And immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened and the moon shall not give her light and the stars shall fall from heaven and the powers of heaven shall be moved. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven. And then shall all tribes of the earth mourn: and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with much power and majesty. And he shall send his angels with a trumpet and a great voice: and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the farthest parts of the heavens to the utmost bounds of them.

Beginning in verse 36 through 42 comes one of the most important apocalyptic passages in all of Scripture:

But of that day and hour no one knoweth: no, not the angels of heaven, but the Father alone. And as in the days of Noah, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For, as in the days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, even till that day in which Noah entered into the ark: And they knew not till the flood came and took them all away: so also shall the coming of the Son of man be. Then two shall be in the field. One shall be taken and one shall be left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill. One shall be taken and one shall be left. Watch ye therefore, because you know not what hour your Lord will come.

Note that Jesus tells us that his coming will be as it was in the days of Noah. They were marrying, and giving in marriage, eating and drinking, even till the day Noah entered the ark. Who were they? They were the wicked who refused to believe Noah that the flood was coming and that they had better get righteous! Christ tells us that his coming will be as it was in the days of Noah, and then describes two men in the field, two women grinding at the mill, etc. Translation: If it is going to be as it was in the days of Noah, I am not so sure I want to be snatched away!

The most important verse of the entire Chapter is verse 44, and it is the one we would do well to most remember:

Wherefore be you also ready, because at what hour you know not the Son of man will come.

Monday, April 11, 2005

The Antichrist

Today we continue our Interregnum series on prophecy by examining another controversial figure in biblical apocalyptic literature: The Antichrist.

The Antichrist is controversial largely because lots of people have their own interpretations of who he or it is and what he or it will be like. Often, people base their notions of what the Antichrist will be like in their own personal biblical interpretation. In fact, we know very little about the Antichrist. The Catechism tells us that the Antichrist will be “a supreme religious deception.”

St. Paul tells us about the Antichrist in 2 Thess. 2:3-4:

Let no man deceive you by any means: for unless there come a revolt first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.

Who opposeth and is lifted up above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself as if he were God.

Scripture calls him the “Man of Sin,” or “the Son of Perdition.”

There are some, not without cause, who believe that the “Man of Sin” and the “Antichrist” are separate entities. Some believe that the Antichrist will, in fact, be a supreme religious deception, as well as a political one. It will be a system, some say, and not merely one man. The system will be Antichrist. John tells us the spirit of Antichrist was already in the world in his time, calling anyone who denied that Christ was come in the flesh an Antichrist. (II John 1:7). In I John 2:18 John tells us:

Little children, it is the last hour: and as you have heard that Antichrist cometh, even now there are become many Antichrists: whereby we know that it is the last hour.

Clearly John believed he was living in the last days. He was right in the sense that the “last days” really began when the Church began. Since we have previously discussed God’s time clock, we know that the Lord does not reckon time in the same way that we do. It is fair to say that the Apostles understood that the spirit of Antichrist was already with them.

I do not know, nor would I presume to know, whether the Antichrist refers to a singular figure or to a system. I do believe that true believers will know him or it soon enough to refuse to accept the dictates of him or it. If the “Man of Sin” and “the Antichrist” are one in the same, what I am about to say is a moot point. If the Antichrist refers to an entire system and not to a singular person, then it might be fair to say that the “Man of Sin” would have some leadership role in that system.

Tomorrow, I will discuss the nature of the Second Coming, especially in light of Our Lord’s words in Matthew 24.

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