Friday, May 11, 2012

The Death of the Republic

There are those who claim that we have witnessed the death of the American Republic. I am not one of them, but I can sympathize with their pessimism. I realize that the Republic is in serious danger; she lies comatose, the victim of the inept bungling of the political elite and the apathy of the electorate. There is hope of her recovery, though the medicine will be stern stuff. So long as the Constitution remains, even nominally, the law of the land, we the people can restore her to her former glory.

I believe we are now, in the words of the Roman historian Livy, in those "last days when we could tolerate neither our vices nor their remedies." Our vices are manifold and complex; their remedies simple, but demanding and uncomfortable. We have substituted license for liberty. We have placed individual welfare above the common good. Illegal and ill-advised wars of imperialism have distracted us from our domestic woes. Men and women of action who would act against our degeneration have, with the best of intentions, devoted their energies in the prosecution of these wars. We as a people have swallowed hook, line and sinker, the idea promulgated by colonialist hawks that we must sacrifice our God given rights in order to achieve security. We have placed our financial well-being in the hands of a cabal of bankers intent only on their own well-being with the result that our economy has grown stagnant as it struggles under the weight of a staggering government debt, a large chunk of which is owned by China, a commercial adversary. China has demonstrated a perfect willingness to use that debt as leverage to apply diplomatic pressure on these United States as demonstrated by the recent Chen Guangcheng incident.

You ask, what is the remedy to these ills? I'll tell you. Return to Constitutional government. As painful as it may be, it must be done. The chief executive must not hesitate to enthusiastically employ the veto in defense of the rights of the people and the several States. There is no excuse for legislation like the National Defense Appropriation Act to become law when it contains provisions revoking the rights of citizens to a air and speedy trial. The Congress must use the power of the purse to restrain the executive branch from employing the armed forces as a tool of imperialism. The judicial branch must end legislating from the bench and return to its role as the protector of the Constitution. We are now in very real danger of sliding into an age of empire which will lead to the death, not only of our rights, but of our existence as a polity.

Above all, we must resist the growing clamor from those who call for call for a Constitutional Convention to "fix" our problems. I will make a bold prediction here. That is that, if not during the current election cycle, then some time during the first year his term, the occupant of the Oval Office, regardless of the party in power there will begin to agitate for a Constitutional Convention in order to amend and "update" our Constitution. The Constitution as it now exists is our salvation as a nation, not the author of our woes. The Constitution has not been tried and found wanting, it has been found difficult and left untried. There is no methodology for Congress to limit the authority of such a convention. Remember that the convention which produced our current document in 1787 was called into being only for the purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation. We got lucky with that one, but I'd not be willing to bet we'd win again. A rewrite of the basic laws would be the death of the Republic for certain. We would in all likelihood end up with an overly powerful executive branch ruling via "administrative law", rather than through a representative body. We'd end up with a technocracy ot bureaucrats akin to the European Union, rather than a federated republic of states.

With that in mind, I ask you to redouble your efforts on behalf of our Party and its candidates. Let's not allow the further erosion of the rights endowed in us by our Creator. I ask your time, your talent and your treasure in our effort to save this Republic.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Paranoia or Common Sense

I am considered by some to be a “right wing nut job”.   I’m somewhat proud of that title.  Here’s why.

If I had told you ten years ago, that the President of the United States would authorize the government to assassinate US citizens, you’d have called me paranoid.   Yet President Bush did so following the September 11, 2001 attacks.  Reportedly the Bush administration never executed any such actions, but Dana Priest, writing in the Washington Post, reports that

 The Obama administration has adopted the same stance. If a U.S. citizen joins al-Qaeda, ‘it doesn’t really change anything from the standpoint of whether we can target them,’ a senior administration official said. ‘They are then part of the enemy.’”

Priest continues:

“Both the CIA and the JSOC maintain lists of individuals, called ‘High Value Targets’ and ‘High Value Individuals,’ whom they seek to kill or capture. The JSOC list includes three Americans, including [New Mexico-born Islamic cleric Anwar] Aulaqi, whose name was added late last year. As of several months ago, the CIA list included three U.S. citizens, and an intelligence official said that Aulaqi’s name has now been added.”

In a similar vein, on December 31, 2011, the President signed into law the National Defense Appropriation Act, whose Section 1021 authorizes the detention without trial of any person "who was part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners," and anyone who commits a "belligerent act" against the U.S. or its coalition allies in aid of such enemy forces.  Under the provisions of this Act, non-citizens are to be detained by the military until cessation of hostilities.  We lucky US citizens are to be detained by civilian authorities for a like term.  You’d think the GOP would be all over this, being the opposition party and all, but not so.  A proud co-sponsor of this legislation was none other than the senior senator from Arizona, John McCain, the GOP’s last candidate for the Presidency.

Don’t lose any sleep over this blatant trampling of the 6th Amendment to the Constitution though.  President Obama (remember him? He’s the guy from the above paragraph who’s bent on assassinating US citizens.) has promised not these powers against his fellow citizens.

I have to ask what’s happening to the due process of law.  Where are the good old days when no citizen could be deprived of “life, liberty or property” without a hearing in a court of law?

We all know from the “Obamacare” controversy exactly what the President’s word is worth.  Remember when Rep Bart Stupak (D-Mich) stood in the way of its passage over conscience protections?   Rep Stupak sold his soul to the administration in exchange for an Executive Order guaranteeing the right of religious organizations and churches to select plans which didn’t include “family planning” services. The US Department of Health and Human Services has overseen the inclusion of those “conscience protections”, but the definition of religious affiliation is so narrow that it is likely that Jesus Christ and the twelve Apostles probably wouldn’t meet the HHS requirements.

There goes the 1st Amendment.

Meanwhile, the Speaker of the Indiana General Assembly, Rep Brian Bosma (R-88) is too busy ridiculing members who take strong conscientious stands to deal with protecting the rights of Hoosiers.  Perhaps his time would be better spent by seeing to it that emergency legislation is introduced mandating that the good citizens of Indiana be protected against a bloodthirsty and anti-religious Federal government.  And don’t look to Indiana House Democrats to save us.  They can’t even make it to work.

But then again, what do I know?  I’m just an old soldier sworn “to uphold and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic”.  So did President Obama and Senator McCain.  So did Speaker Bosma and the Democratic majority of the Indiana House of Representatives.

This is not “right wing paranoia”.  This is fact.  Both parties are complicit in the dismantling of the Constitution.   Neither party has the “general welfare” of the people in mind.  And worst of all, we, the People, continue to fiddle while Rome burns.  Let’s change that.   For our own sake, for the sake of our children, for the sake of the Republic let’s change that now.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Called to Conversion

The busy Lenten season culminating in the wonderful celebration of the Easter Triduum is behind us.  Hopefully this will leave me time to write more here.  I really just want to post a short note here to welcome my new friends whom I met helping with the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) at my parish both as friends into my life and home to the Church of Jesus Christ.

I apologize for the times I was caught short or seemed unprepared for your questions.  If ever in the future you have questions or concerns about the Faith, feel free to contact me. 

I also want to thank you, for in teaching I learned so much.  You made me delve deeper into the faith with your questions.  This has been a great gift and I don;t know how I can ever repay you for that.

Now the task before you is great.  You must live the Gospel.  To this end, never stop learning, never stop questioning and seeking answers.  You are the heirs of two thousand years of thought pondered by some of the greatest minds the world has known. 

Preach the Gospel.  And, when necessary, use words.

Pray without ceasing.  Remember that our work can be our prayer when we perform our work for the greater glory of God.  Place yourself with Jesus Christ becfore the Father for the sake of your loved ones and the whole world.

Persevere.  My favorite Catholic writer of the last one hundred years, G.K. Chesterton once wrote that "the Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting, but has been found difficult and left untried."

Finally, know that you and yours are in my prayers daily.  I ask that you do the same for me.

God bless you all, and til next time, all the best.  Joe

Monday, April 5, 2010

Truly, He is Risen!

What an incredible seventy hours the Easter Triduum is! All the mysteries and perplexities, all the hopes and dreams of the Church compressed into a three day period of prayer and contemplation. Numerous reflections have been written on various aspects of the Triduum by better minds than mine, so I won't dwell on any of those right now. I do, however, want to relate to you what, for me, was one of the most moving episodes.

My parish, St Mary's, is an old parish downtown. The population of the parish is about 60% Hispanic, and special Masses are celebrated in both Spanish and English. At the Easter Vigil Mass, the church was filled to capacity and we had failed to reserve enough pews for the RCIA catechumens and candidates and their families, and since I was busy helping prepare for the Mass, I found myself sitting in a side pew by myself. In front of me a sizable Hispanic family filled the pew to overflowing. The oldest son, a boy of maybe 11 or 12, was forced to sit next to me, a stranger. I prepared to be distracted, as one must especially at the three hour Easter Vigil Mass, to be distracted by fidgeting and fussing youngsters. This isn't a complaint, simply an observation. And there was indeed some fidgeting on the part of a toddler, there was a seven year old who made about three restroom trips.

But the boy next to me was the joy of the night. I've never seen such attentiveness and devotion apparent in a youngster, I've seen it very few times in adults. I think my attempts to participate with my weak "liturgical" Spanish were pretty amusing to him and he was kind enough to help me keep up with the readings and hymns. I was amazed, especially during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. This kid, this child, was quite clearly in love with the Mass. as we knelt side by side on the bare floor, his eyes never seemed to leave the hands of the priest and he quietly whispered the words of the Eucharistic Prayer along with Father. He was tranfixed by the drama unfolding before him on the altar and through him I too was taken into that mystery. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever experienced.

Near the end of Mass, the strangest thing happened. As the boy paged through our shared missal looking for the closing hymn, I leaned down and barely aware that the words were coming out of my mouth, but not feeling the least bit awkward about it I said, "God is speaking to you. You should think about being a priest." He smiled a broad and beautiful smile and replied, "Thanks, I am."

As the closing strains of Jesus Christ Has Risen Today echoed through the church, the boy turned to me and extended his hand. As we shook hands he said, "Happy Easter. He is risen."

"Truly, He is risen", I replied.

Truly, He is Risen.

Til next time, all the best. Joe

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Naked on the Golf Course

Don't ask me what nudity and the golf course have in common. I really have no idea. But my 15 year old friend has somehow experienced these two things together. I must really give him credit since he seems to have done so recently and lives in the middle of Montana. Now that's fortitude of the type that one only finds among adolescent males. I'm glad his clothes were nearby.

He has other problems right now, of course. We all do. His other problem is rooted in that oldest of human issues, the problem of evil. It seems that he's abandoned his faith in God because of evil, specifically because of the fact that two young girls he knows were killed by a drunk driver. "Where was God," he demands to know, "when this happened?"

I must admit that this an easy question to ask. Of all the reasons for doubting the existence of a benevolent and powerful God, the old "problem of evil" is certainly the most sympathetic. We've all wondered the same thing. I asked this question long ago and I abandoned God myself. I sought other solutions. The idea of a loving God didn't make sense when I held the hand of my dying mother; it didn't make sense when my wife died in my arms; it doesn't make sense in the suffering of my daughter in her illness.

But giving up on the notion of God poses a new and serious perplexity. We've gotten rid of God, but the evil, the suffering, still exists and we seem to be powerless to do anything about it. We have made ourselves gods, and a pretty sorry excuse for gods we are. There is no God, and hurricanes ravage our coasts, we can't stop that. There is no God and illness strikes down our loved ones, we can't stop that. There is no God and drunk drivers plow into teen aged girls, we can't stop that. Now what? Our suffering is meaningless. Where is our hope?

In order to find our hope, I would suggest that we have to re-examine the question of God. For us to have hope in the face of the evil and misery in the world any deity we seek would have to have suffered for and with us. Only in the Christian tradition do we find such a deity, that is Jesus Christ and "Him crucified." Only in the Christian tradition, and most especially in the Catholic tradition, are we exhorted to join our sufferings to that of our God. In this way, and only in this way, does suffering, does evil, have any meaning whatsoever. In fact, our suffering takes on an infinite meaning.

Without that hope, left to our own devices limited as we are by our faults, we're left as naked as a fifteen year old boy on a Montana golf course in the dead of winter.

Til next time, all the best. Joe

Friday, February 5, 2010

Do You Think Jesus Would Like All the Crosses?"

The title of this post is taken from a question I was recently asked on an atheist forum I visit occassionally. My answer to the question was simply "yes". One poster responded wanting to hear further explanation and commenting that my belief was a bit presumptious. I offer further explanation here.

In fact, I think it is the crucifix, with the corpus hung upon it which is the most potent symbol. 'The man known as Jesus' spoke repeatedly of crosses.

Matthew 16:24 'Then Jesus told his disciples, 'If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me...'' Then He proceeded to set the example by doing exactly that. When taunted by bystanders to save himself and to come down from the cross, He desn't. He remains and fulfills His mission.

St Paul in his letter to the Romans speaks of the Cross as a a scandal to the Jews and a stumbling block to the Greeks, yet he continues to preach '...Jesus Christ and Him crucified...'

For Christians, specifically for Catholic Christians, one of the great lessons of the Cross is that suffering has a real value. Suffering came into the world through an act of the will of Man via the Fall, for some reason that suffering cannot be alleviated, but must be endured. Somehow, suffering figures into God's plan of salvation and is so central to salvation history that even God is not above suffering. Like Christ, we do not seek suffering, but when it is necessary, when it is unavoidable, we accept it willingly. Like St Paul, we unite our sufferings to the sufferings of Christ; hence that uniquely Catholic concept taught to Catholics by their mothers to 'offer it up'.

In the heaveny liturgy revealed to St John in the book of Revelation it is the sacrificed Lamb who sits upon the throne. It is the crucified Christ who reigns as King."

It is the Cross of Christ, then, whic becomes for Christians the central point of history, the focal point of all that has transpired and all that is to come. We view the world through the lens of the Passion, but not just the Passion, since the Passion of Christ is inextricaly linked to His Resurrection. It is through the suffering of the Cross that the hope of the Ressurection, that promise of Christ to make all things new, is realized. There, at the Cross, the "scandal" and the "stumbling block" become our hope.

And, as Pope Benedict XVI tells us, "He who has hope lives differently."

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What's Wrong with the World

Cade, my 17 year old stepson, and I met to celebrate his enlistment in the US Army. The discussion, naturally enough since Cade is a senior in high school, turned to his plans for the future. Cade wants to be an archaeologist which requires him to first study history or anthropology. His goal in studying these fields is to discover , he says, "What's wrong with the world?"

I couldn't resist answering with GK Chesterton's reply to The Times when asked to write on essay on the same subject, "I am". Cade smiled, thinking it a joke. So I repeated myself, unsmiling, "I am what's wrong with the world."

I think Alexander Solzhenitsyn summed it up nicely, "If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to spearate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

The Socratic notion that who knows the good, does the good fails miserably, especially when we try to live it as individuals. Time after time we deny the common good in pursuit of personal desires.

I, Cade, am what's wrong with the world.

Til next time, all the best. Joe