Tag Archives: Faith

What Does Chastisement Look Like?

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From Romans:

chastisement18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; 21 for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23 and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. 29 They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters,[f] insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.

 

Reading this gives an interesting view of Chastisement.

I think our tendency in reading this is to focus on verses 26-32 and think about these things in terms of the target of God’s unhappiness with us – as the source of God’s wrath.   And certainly, these actions are noted as sinful and depraved so there is some element of truth to that.

Often enough, we see lamentations of the world around us – its immodesty and impurity, the continued degradation of social norms that were previously founded on Christian principles, but are now redefined by secular humanism, relativism, and liberal progressivism.   We view all these things and think that, surely, chastisement cannot be far behind.

What we are missing, I think, is that these things are chastisement.

Reading above, the real sin that brought on chastisement is:

  • those who by their wickedness suppress the truth.
  • for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him
  • they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened.
  • Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23 and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.

 

OK, so the last bullet point is a bit archaic, but the modern equivalence of it is money, self, and power.    It is also anything we spend our time on that detracts us from God and the responsibilities He has given us.   To some extent, we are all likely guilty of that.

A spiritual social decay does not start with sexual perversion or confusion.   It starts with a much more subtle turning from God.   It first starts by moving God out of the public square.   By discouraging prayer.   By being ungrateful.   By considering your own personal needs before the needs of others.   By greed.   By turning Sunday into a day spent on yourself with maybe some little sliver of time for God, or maybe not.

At some point, the relationship with God changes, but this change is a disaffection of the real valid relationship that we should have and becomes something of a fantasy.   When this becomes our own pervasive reality, we’ve lost our way.

Pretty soon, this whole thing morphs into either an unbelief, or some weird belief that what we do doesn’t really matter because God loves us and that’s that.   Our own “wisdom” in assessing our relationship with God is borne of just that – our own wisdom – and is not a reflection of the reality of what Scripture has to say, what the Church teaches is true, or from any study of the wisest of Saints that went before us.   We decide that God is Who we want Him to be.

This is the real sin that separates us and invites chastisement.   The question is, what does chastisement look like?

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

Notice that in Romans 1, we don’t get into the sins of impurity until after the “Therefore.”    The chastisement God sends us is not typically fire and brimstone.   It is ourselves apart from God.   Until this time, Paul seems to be saying that God recognizes that we are weak and protects us against ourselves.   He knows what brings us emptiness, heartbreak, desolation, and loneliness.   He doesn’t want that for us.   So He helps us, blesses us, gives us the grace to deal with many of life’s temptations and disorders.   He loves us.

But when we do not recognize any of this, and we are ungrateful for it, this is a sin against the very goodness of God Himself.   When we decide that God can be secondary in our lives, we are not loving God back.   The more and more we send God the message that we really don’t care that He is an instrumental part of our lives and culture, the more likely He will be to eventually give us what we desire – as stupid as that desire may be.

Paul writes that “God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts.”   Paul does not say that God imposed those lusts.   God basically said – OK, you want to do things without me, then go ahead.

One of the first evidences of this abandonment of God to ourselves is homosexual activity.   We too often fall into the trap of judging those who are imposing the acceptance of the homosexual agenda as a major root of the problem in this country.    In reality, this is a fruit of the problems that led God to removing His blessings from us in the first place.  But accepting sexual impurity outside of marriage became the norm well before homosexuality became the social revolution of our time.   The latter does not happen without the former preceding it, so it’s hardly the case that we can start hurling stones only with the advent of the gay marriage agenda.   No, the sexual revolution led to weaker families, fewer children, abortion on demand, and the beginning of the end of a healthy and functioning society.  Having made that bed, God turned us over and gave us the direct evidence of His handing us over to ourselves with the acceptance and celebration of homosexuality.   To blame gays for chastisement without recognizing the sinfulness that brought is to the point of accepting it is like blaming the sinking of the boat on the last gallon of water that bubbled up through the hole in the side.

But it doesn’t end there.

They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters,[f] insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.

The push for acceptance of the gay lifestyle started in earnest less than two decades ago.   We went from most people believing that marriage should be between a man and a woman to the Supreme Court signing off on it as law of the land.   We put our stamp of approval on this “progress” when we voted for Barack Obama the second time after this agenda became perfectly clear.    Shortly thereafter, the rest of society followed with basically that entire list.

And note the last line:  “they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.”   Think of the way Christians are now considered bigoted for their beliefs, and how “courageous” the practitioners of different sins are.   We openly encourage gay marriage as a good thing, and even a Godly thing.   Those who are against abortion are labeled as haters of women, while those who support abortion are considered to be on the higher moral plane.  Having only one or two children is considered more moral than welcoming a larger family – I’ve actually been called “selfish” for daring to have nine children.

No, I hate to say it, but Chastisement is not on its way.  It’s been unfolding before us for some time.   And the unfortunate result is that God will not step in and save us until we ask Him to do it.    And while it may be true that many among us are asking, if the country as a whole continues to act in defiance of Him by the way we act and the people we elect to serve as the example of what we stand for, then God will continue to allow us to live under our own “wisdom.”  And do any of us see a sudden welcoming of God back into our lives on a collective basis?   We can pray and hope for a miracle, but as of this point there is no such indication.

How bad will things need to get before we come to our collective senses?   Unfortunately, there is every likelihood that we are about to find out.

 

 

Male and Female He Created Them

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It’s one of the most fundamental aspects of creation.   Aside from all the theology of it all, God created us to procreate.   The mechanism by which He did this was to create man and woman.   This is not just true of the human race, but of all living creation, save certain exceptions that are either single-cell organisms or random things God seems to have created just because He can and enjoys messing with us a little bit.

Yes, it’s true that certain elements of creation are either non-gender (bacteria, for example) and propagate through cell division, or are hermaphrodites (both male and female) and reproduce all by themselves through some sort of kinky process I don’t really care to dwell on.   But there is one common characteristic that every aspect of reproducing creation shares:  the way you reproduce is the way you’re designed, and the way it’s meant to be.

Man, of course, is our focus here.   We are made in the image and likeness of God.   It may seem strange that God the Father, a Spirit and neither solely masculine nor feminine, created us as male and female.   But we need to keep in mind that our image and likeness is our spiritual nature.  God has no body, so there can be no physical form at all that would be a perfect reflection of God.    Further, God is not just the Father, but the Son and the Holy Spirit.

It has long been theologically accepted that the family is a reflection of the Trinity.  While the Trinity’s oneness is spiritual and not physical, our humanity requires a way to commune with each other physically in order to physically propagate.  The Holy Spirit is the result of the love between Father and Son, while our children are the result of the love between mother and father.

One thing that has been apparent from the beginning of the first moment of man’s existence is that the devil realizes that the best way to undermine God, to mock God, to pull people away from God, is to attack humanity precisely where we most reflect God’s design for us, and most reflect His very essence.

People have often pointed to “End Times” study – such as in Revelation – and noted that there seems to be a false prophet (mockery of John the Baptist) who precedes the Antichrist (mockery of Christ).   The Family is, of course, attacked continuously throughout all of salvation history.

One thing that has also been easy to see throughout all of history is the attack on the procreative aspect of sexuality.   Whether we are talking about sex outside of marriage, or sex for pure pleasure, or contraception, or homosexuality – when the procreative act takes place without the procreative aspect of it willfully and purposefully in play, then this is an attack and a mockery of the very love between Father and Son that produces the third Person of the Trinity eternally.   It’s a mockery, then, of the Trinity itself.

This has always been a human struggle, and in different times these things ebb and flow and rise and fall.   It is probably worse in our time than it has ever been, but it is not a new attack.   The attack just seems to be more successful in its acceptance and effectiveness in drawing people into error and away from God.

However, we are now seeing an attack that I believe is unprecedented in all of world history.   It is an attack on the very existence of human being being male or female.    It is so absurd on its surface that it is easy to not take it seriously.   And quite frankly, we shouldn’t even be having a debate about it.   It’s is self-evident that we are male and female.   But it shows how easily duped we humans are, particularly among the supposed intellectual elite – that this is even something we are now discussing.

The deception is insanely diabolical.   Homosexuality is problematic, but it does not by its nature deny the gender of the person, whether male or female.    Even someone who feels like they are a man trapped in a woman’s body or vice-versa is recognizing that there is such a distinction – male and female.

I am talking about people who are now believing, and convincing others to believe, that they are neither male nor are they female.   They dismiss gender as “binary.”

This may at first be viewed with a bit of eye-rolling and easy to dismiss.  Quite honestly, I am not sure I even heard of the concept as non-binary genderism until a year or two ago. But we ignore this heresy at our peril.   This is more than an attack on family, it is more than a mockery of the Trinity, it is more than any of the previous confusions in the realm of human sexuality and family.  This is new, and it is an attack on the very nature of humanity itself.   It is the utmost mockery of the human person, and of God’s design, and of God.

It is already the case that Canada is considering the passage of – and very well may pass – a bill that will make it a criminal offense to address a person by the pronouns “he” or “she” in lieu of “they.”    I’m not making this up.     Within the last year or two – really as soon as the Supreme Court OK’d same-sex marriage – the entire issue of transgenderism reached a fever pitch, and transgenderism evolved in meaning from a man feeling like he needs to become a woman and going through some action or process to make that happen, to now being able to just say he’s a woman because he feels that way regardless of his biological design, to being no such thing as a man or a woman.   We are all just non-binary creatures who have no business calling ourselves one thing or another because it offends the sensibilities of those around us who don’t accept that we are one thing or another.

This is such a devious attack on human nature by the devil that I don’t think any one at any time ever saw it coming.    I have read countless accounts – fictional and predictive – of what the world would become as we near the End Times or Chastisement or whatever.    Most of those accounts properly foresaw a world falling away from God, becoming more selfish and violent, increases in sexual perversions, and so on.    I never recall seeing anyone accurately forecast that a good chunk of humanity would devolve to a state where we utterly ignore our physical attributes and refuse to recognize our gender, and further that this group would gain acceptance and relevance to the point where governments would promote this idea, outlaw opposing views, and completely turn the argument around and call all those who oppose it from the very simple arguments of observation, reason, and logic immoral bigots.

It’s quite mad, and it’s the world we live in.

We all know, in the end, that God has His ultimate victory over the Devil.   We may or may not see that in our lifetime, but one wonders how long we can sustain such a path of utter disregard for humanity.   The one remaining step to absolute perdition seems to be laws that criminalize the belief that humans are any different than plants or animals.   We’ve seen people argue this in the past, and they’ve been dismissed as the lunatics that they are.    But we may soon see the day where they are no longer dismissed, but accepted and celebrated, and their ideas legislated in some form or fashion.

If I were God, I likely would have wiped us out long ago.   Thankfully for all of us, I am not God (despite what the Relativists think).   But the only way for Him to gain the ultimate victory here on earth can’t be pretty for anyone.

 

Relativism is Not New

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Someone I love dearly is a friend on Facebook, but I have to admit that I sometimes lose sleep and appetite over the way he lives his life, the choices he’s made, the agenda he proclaims, and what he posts.

In response to a post he made recently, which suggests that unconditional love means “accepting who he is” without question (which in his mind means celebrating his lifestyle, his choices, everything he believes, and so on) I responded accordingly:

“Unconditional love is some things and it is not other things.   By definition it means we are loved regardless of what we do, say, think, and believe.   It means we are loved whether we love God back or we neglect God and focus only on ourselves.   What it does not mean is that love is only love if we accept as true what another says, does, and believes.”

The response was frustrating, but unsurprising.   I’m going to dissect it piece by piece.

“My innate disagreement with your definition of unconditional love is that it is conditional.”

OK.  Got that?   This is why argument is futile.   Take something, turn it upside down, establish that as a premise, and all arguments flow from there.   The issue is that the premise here is poppycock.    It completely renders all subsequent arguments absurd.   And yet, this is his mindset.   How can unconditional love mean anything other than the fact that I (or God, or anyone) will love you no matter what.   You may be right, you may be wrong, you may be wonderful, you may be obnoxious…   but I love you anyway.

“…that stems from our idea of what the idea of “God” means.”

God is not an idea.   God is real.    It is true that we develop our own ideas of what the reality of God is.    So I kinda sorta maybe get what he’s saying here.   But I think he falls short of admitting the reality of an actual God, and I think he has succumbed to the idea of “God” actually being equivalent to “the idea of God.”

“In my eyes, as the very experience of God (which is love) in action, every single one of us are all true in what we say, do, and believe.”

This sounds wonderful.   It’s also nonsense.   It is pure relativism and it is amazing to me that anyone in his or her right mind can actually believe this.   The entire concept of all of us being all true in everything logically collapses on itself the moment I say I disagree with his statement.    If I disagree with him, then it means I don’t believe that we are all true in what we say, do, and believe.   Which either means I’m right about that or I’m wrong.   but according to him, I can’t be wrong, so I might be right.   But then that makes him wrong.   It’s an unwinnable position of paradox that is utterly simple to dismantle using lessons learned on Day One of logic class.

“That is what makes unconditional love – which really is a redundant term, if you break it down, because love cannot be conditional – so important.”

I’m not exactly sure what everyone being all true has to do with love being unconditional, but I will grant that real love is probably redundant with unconditional love.   I still think the term has explanatory merit.

“It allows all things to exist as they are.”

I really don’t get this line.   All things exist as they are regardless of whether I love you or hate you.   But whatever.

“It allows us to recognize the God essence of the perfection in what one another says, does, and believes, understanding that on the level of truth in which that being exists, it is perfect, it is “right,” and it is good.”

So, do you understand that?   Yeah…  me neither.    He does like to get all flowery with the language, and it is a Facebook response, so it probably was just a flowage of thought and words.   But, I think I can boil it down simply to the following:   Everyone has the essence of God, which makes us perfect, which makes us right in everything.   Which, of course, is utter nonsense.   But how do you go about convincing someone that they epitomize the perfection of God that they are wrong?   This is one problem with relativism – it defies all logic, but once embraced, there is no logical offense against it.

“Whether or not what another says, does, and believes rings true for another God essence makes no difference as to its “rightness,” because God does not evaluate itself based on the polarities of “right” and “wrong,” as love automatically transcends both polarities in the act of being expressed to a place where all beings’ choices are beautiful and perfect for them.”

Sigh.   It’s actually amazing to me, but in a sad way.   There is no acknowledgment here of an actual God.   Everything is an idea of God, a God essence.   The statement that “God does not evaluate itself” is actually true, but he is not talking about the being of God judging Himself.   He is talking about us all being God, which means we can’t judge each other, because we are all God and we can’t judge God.    I’ll be honest, this actually makes me a bit queasy when I really think about it.

“By loving unconditionally, we allow all perspectives to exist and evolve into their highest form.   Mandates of “right” and “wrong” pervert this allowance by judging what is good and bad, inducing guilt and fear, which is not God, which is not love.    Judgment, or condition, only indicates a lack of God in the being who is judging, not the one being judged.”

And here we go.   There is no right or wrong.    To judge anything at all induces guilt and fear.   And what does that mean?   It means that if you judge any thing at all – not a judgment of the soul or of a person’s salvation, but even anything they do or say – anything at all – then you are NOT God.

This is insane.

You may wonder how I responded.   I didn’t.   First of all, this person is family.   It’s a peacekeeping response by me to not respond.   Second of all, I know with certainty that he believes my view on things to be archaic.   He will not listen to me.   My job at this point is to pray that someone comes into his life that will help him realize this erroneous and dangerous path that he’s on.    He receives so much support from others when he posts that I am worried it won’t happen, but with God all things are possible.

Now, why did I mention that relativism is nothing new?

It’s because I am pretty sure he thinks that what he believes about God – or the God essence, or idea, or whatever the hell he believes – is a progressive idea.   It’s an evolution of thought.  It’s an evolution into self-divinity.

This is the oldest heresy.   It’s vanity and pride, and it’s the very first sin.   Satan tempted Adam and Eve by appealing to the very idea that by eating the fruit they will have the knowledge of God.   They bought into it and ate the apple, or apricot, or pear, or pomegranate or whatever that forbidden fruit happened to be.

So the flowery language and appearance of deep thought aside, relativism is more ancient and archaic than Catholicism is.

So,all you Relativists, put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Charlotte’s Web

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If one pays attention to the world about, it is often apparent that there is a strange dichotomy in place, nearly side by side.   It’s that old traditional saw about the battles between good and evil, it’s the wheat and the weeds, etc.    Sometimes, it’s the crucifixion and resurrection – something good somehow coming from something bad.

Charlotte has suddenly been thrust into the darkness of civil unrest following another police shooting.    It matters not that the police officer was black, all that matters is that the victim was black.   It seems we are now in a state where chaos will be triggered no matter what the circumstances.   Here is the image of Charlotte America now sees:

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To be clear, I do not know what happened.   I don’t know if the shooting was justified or unjustified.   I don’t know if the victim was truly a victim because no gun was involved, or if he was in fact a criminal who threatened the officer with a gun, reaping what he sowed.   What I do know is that I don’t know, and what I do know is that few, if any at all, of the protesters know at this point, either.   The police department is being criticized today for not releasing the video of the incident.   I don’t know enough about it to judge it myself, but I am nearly certain that we have reached a level of discord that the video could clearly show an man pointing a gun directly at police and there would still be people ignoring it, so that they can use this unfortunate circumstance to do harm to others.

And yet, I read another article today about Charlotte’s boom in seminarians.

Here are a couple excerpts from the article.

“For the first time in its 44-year history, the Diocese of Charlotte has 24 men in formation in three seminaries. A contributing factor to the record number of seminarians this year has been the establishment of a minor seminary in Charlotte, St. Joseph’s College Seminary.”

“Under the steady and orthodox leadership of Bishop Peter Jugis the diocese has fostered a strong devotion to the Eucharist. Just this past weekend Charlotte hosted its 12th Eucharistic Congress.  15,000 people participated this year, many arriving early Saturday to join in the annual Eucharistic Procession through the streets of downtown Charlotte.”

Now, the article I linked to tends to think it’s all about Traditionalism.  That’s OK.   I don’t disregard the fact that those who prefer a Traditional Liturgy will tend to be more orthodox.   I do think it’s a mistake to equate orthodoxy with Traditionalism.   I consider myself entirely orthodox when it comes to submitting to the magesterial teachings of the Church, while considering certain elements of worship as preferences.   I think we fight too much about things that are preferences.   But I digress.

The reason I point out the article is as a juxtaposition of the anger and hatred on display right now.   In the heart of it is the following picture of Charlotte:

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I’m often reminded of the stories of hope during World War II, even among those in concentration camps or those threatened with that possibility.    The images above and those stories serve as a reminder to us that we are a world in constant opposition.   God wants us, and  the Devil wants to take us away from God.   Evil manifests itself in countless ways.   But no matter how much darkness there seems to be, and no matter where you are and what is happening, God has pockets of light.   A little light can break through a lot of darkness.

The men above are the men who can help heal Charlotte.

Boycotts – Who, Where, When, How, and Why

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I’m not a huge boycotter.   It is not that I have anything particularly against them.  In fact, I think they could be effective in many cases.   The main reason I tend not to boycott is because, in my own jaded view of the world, everything seems so screwed up and – to use a Hillary Clinton term – “unredeemable” that in order for me to be consistent in judging where my dollars should go I’m not sure I’d step foot in just about any store, and I would probably not buy products from nearly any brand.

Having said that, I have moved beyond that generally sense of hopeless response to warming up more and more to the idea that selected boycotts are a good thing.    I think my mindset was incorrect that it is necessary to boycott every evil all at once.   It is probably more realistic, and possibly even more effective in changing the culture,   to take selective action for specific reasons where it can have the most impact.    This not only presents a more specific message, but it also serves as a warning shot to all those who were not on the receiving end of the boycott to clean up their act or they may be next.

I think it’s all fine and well and good to take principled stands, but I think one also needs to understand that not everyone will (or reasonably can) avoid every place everyone else might want them to avoid.   I know many people are boycotting Hardees/Carl Jr because of racy ads.   Many people are boycotting companies that came out as supportive of gay marriage during that whole fight.   And the list goes on.   I say, go for it.   But if your friend isn’t boycotting Hardees then don’t whack that friend on the head in judgment.   He or she may well point out this thing or that thing about a company you are not boycotting where it could be argued that it is just as meritorious to do so.

I guess, to me, it is most effective if all of us Christians can get together and collectively come to grips with the fact that all of culture is broken and is in various states of decay, and instead of just trying to fix everything all at once and ending up with only a handful of people boycotting any particular place, there needs to be a bit more thought and actual strategy behind it.

That is one reason I loved the Target boycott.   It was kind of cool to see something so well organized that tugged on the boycott levers of a large swath of people.   The other good thing about it is that they knew exactly why they were being boycotted.   It is then up to them to decide what to do, or not do, as the case may be.   And despite their own resolve, it is almost certain that other major corporations took notice and thought “Uh, yeah…  think we’ll not wade into those waters right now.”

So, ultimately, there are two kinds of boycotts.   (1) You, as an individual, feel strongly about something and you are not going to patronize some place.   There is no real organized movement afoot.  (2) A critical mass of people have signed up through an organized effort to boycott.   In the first case, depending on your approach, it is unlikely that your boycott will impact anything at all, and may in fact do you more harm than anyone else if you are foregoing a product or service you enjoy.   That may well be a worthwhile sacrifice, but that is all your boycott will likely product.   But there could be exceptions to this.

So, taking a look at those words often heard in terms of journalistic enterprise:

WHO – I think it’s probably a losing battle to boycott everything.    So it is probably important to focus either on a particular issue you feel very strongly about or a limited number of companies that have particularly upset you.

WHERE – If you take your boycotting to the peaceful protest stage to try and educate others, keep some things in mind:  (1) do not harass other patrons.   (2) do not judge other patrons. (3) keep in mind that the people working there likely need a job and your actions may be indirectly hurting their future job prospects – particularly if a boycott is successful.   Treat them with dignity and respect even if they aren’t all that nice to you.    They may be seeing you as an enemy not so much because of the issue, but because they are concerned for their own job.

WHEN – As I said, it’s completely up to you.   But I would  look for organized boycotts that have built up steam and can actually have an impact on the financial results of the company being boycotted.   It may not even be your primary issue or main focus, but if it’s a cause you can get behind and can help send a greater message, this makes better strategical sense than proverbially carpet-bombing everything in sight.   But you may feel very strongly about other issues as well.

HOW – I think the most important element of boycotting is to make sure companies realize you are boycotting them and why.    And it also probably helps to let them know how much you would have otherwise patronized them.  Sure, they may dismiss you as a nutjob or may simply not even care that you will not patronize them, but if 1000 other people send them the same note or email they will be forced to take notice.    They may not even want to capitulate, but with enough pressure they just might because they are still a business.   If you personally boycott Hardees and have never told them how much you would likely spend there in a year and why you are taking your dollars elsewhere, they don’t even know that they are missing out on sales, or even if they notice a decline they don’t know what the reason is.   A few years ago I happened to see the sponsors of a local gay pride event.    I saw a jeweler my wife uses on the list.   I sent an e-mail, not even to boycott, but to express my disappointment that they would sponsor such an event.   As far as I know, my email was the only one they received and it prompted the owner to take sponsorship duties from his store manager and promise me that it would never happen again – and it hasn’t.   A note can mean a lot, or it may not mean much, but if they don’t know then your actions likely mean even less.

WHY – I encourage people to stay focused on the fact that it is executive management who decides the corporate approach to things.   I work for a very large company.   I don’t agree with some of the public stands taken by my company.    I am an employee who wants to do a good job providing a good product for people who need it.    Taking the torches and pitchforks out against all company employees is a disservice to what you are trying to accomplish.   You are trying to change the culture by getting people to reconsider the damage they may be doing to it by the actions they are taking.   If you are angry and hateful in doing so, then you will fail miserably, will bring disrespect to the cause, and will only help further the deterioration of our culture.   You are boycotting because what they believe and what they are doing is causing harm to society.   That needs to be said, but in a charitable, clear, concise, and logical way.

 

A Medical Year to Remember

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The last year has been an interesting one for me on the medical front.   While this is getting somewhat personal, there really isn’t anything I feel needs to be kept to myself on it.   And there’s a couple reasons I’m sharing, from just thinking that my experience may help others figure out some other options in their health care to a spiritual component, keeping all things in perspective.   Kind of the theory that there are no true coincidences – everything has a purpose.

Around October 2015, I started feeling tired all the time.   Nothing specific, just didn’t feel right.   I decided to schedule a hair mineral analysis test and then do a consult with a Doctor who specializes in that area.   My consult, though, wasn’t until the end of March 2016.   OK, whatever.   I can deal.

It was Christmas 2015.   Anyone who knows me knows that Christmas is my favorite day of the year.   I love absolutely everything about it.   I love what it means from my Catholic perspective – the birth of the Savior of the World, the humility in how He came to us, the joy that accompanied His arrival…  everything.   I also love all of our celebratory traditions.   I am not a person opposed to the gifts, the treats, the decorations, the lights, the music…   oh, the MUSIC!    I find it all enjoyable, awesome, and in no way detracting from the real meaning of Christmas.   Yes, people can go overboard and lose focus, but that is an issue with the person, not the thing.

So, it’s Christmas morning and…   I’m in pain.    And I know the pain.   Kidney stone.   I’ve had them a few times and have become intimately familiar with the drill.

OK, so in the past I’ve gone to the E.R., but now I know what to do.    Get ahead of the pain with pain meds.   Except this time I have an accompanying symptom.   My bladder feels so full I swear it is going to explode, except that I have continually emptied it.   This did not alleviate, and it was a tossup as to what was more uncomfortable – the pain associated with the stone itself or the unceasing feeling of a bladder that has no more room at the Inn.

This whole thing concerned me to the point where, once again, it was off to the E.R.    You need to understand here that I am cheap (I personally believe it should be lovingly referred to as prudently frugal).   A trip to the E.R. costs money, which now also causes psychological distress.   But it is what it is, and I needed to find out what was going on.

So, while the kids were celebrating their new presents I was in the hospital, as was my wife who was there to pretend she wanted to be there with me on this most celebrated day of our Lord.

OK, fast forwarding a bit, the docs were concerned about the bladder symptom as well and I had a CT scan.   The good news was that my bladder was in no danger of exploding, the bad news was that this was apparently my body’s current reaction to having the stone near it.   Yay.   In other words, suck it up and deal with it because there’s really nothing to be done, and there are no drugs that really take away the sensation of needing to urinate.

Oh, and by the way, it looks like you have some fat in your liver.   Eat less fat.

And so it was.   And I passed the stone that night, and life went on.

I had my hair mineral analysis.    And then my consult in late March as scheduled.    My analysis showed some interesting things.   Most of my readings were either low, or at the low end of normal range.    A few things didn’t show up at all.   I began a general protocol addressing my HMA results, along with the general knowledge of the Kidney Sotne issues, my propensity towards headaches, my general fatigue issues, and general GI/stomach issues.

Around that time, I had pain in my lower abs area.  OK, yes, near the groin if you must know.    I also had a bulge in the area previously unknown to me.   I’m thinking possible tumor or a hernia.   So I scheduled a doctor’s appointment for late April.

The night before my doctor’s appointment, I passed another kidney stone.   I didn’t go to the E.R. this time – I got ahead of the pain with the leftover meds I have.   Man, those things suck.

Doctor’s appointment – good news…  no hernia or tumor.   Looks like a fatty tissue deposit that I don’t really need to worry about, and the pain is likely a groin muscle strain.

Oh, but we need to talk…   the CT scan you had…  the diagnosis is SEVERE fatty liver.

Um…  what?   They just said I have some fatty liver and to eat a little better.

No, it’s severe.   Which is a bit odd, since all liver function tests are normal.   So, I want to run some more detailed tests to see what’s going on that aren’t as typical.   Oh, and by the way, back in 1996 when you had knee surgery your orthopedic surgeon ran a blood test that showed borderline underperforming thyroid function,.    I have no idea why an orthopedic surgeon would have run that, but since he did let’s do that too and see what’s going on there.

I won’t go into how I pass out with blood tests.

Fast forward to results:   (1) My thyroid is wonky.   Hypothyroidal.  (2) Copper is low.   Weird.   Alpha-1 % and Alpha-2 % are both low.   Weird again.   Outside of my doc’s expertise – see a GI doc.   Oh, and suddenly my blood pressure is really high.

GI doc – normal overall liver function, nothing to see from physical exam.   Probably nothing, but let’s run a couple other tests to rule everything out and be done with it all.   And, oh by the way, anyone reading a CT scan and trying to proclaim liver conditions as anything specific and assigning severity is guessing.   You can only do that from a biopsy, which we’re not going to do.   So don’t lose too much sleep over it.  And, oh, you need to pee into this bucket for the next 24 hours.

Fast forward to further tests:   Wilson’s disease, no.   But you actually do have low antitrypsin.   Interesting.   We need to do a genetic panel.

Final answers: (1) Thyroid is likely contributing to fatigue issues – I am not doing medication yet.   Talked the doc into giving me a few months.   Working with the hair mineral analysis doc on ways to address that, including putting iodine tincture on every day.  (2) I have a genetic condition that I won’t even try to describe in medical terminology.   Basically, I only produce 60% of normal antitrypsin levels.  Antitrypsin is produced in the liver.   I also produce a defective protein that is not recognized by the liver.   This might be difficult for the liver to eliminate, and could produce scarring and liver damage.    Antitrypsin also is what protects the lungs from all sorts of things.   A deficiency could lead to lung problems, including emphysema.   The good news is that 60% production should be enough for a normal and healthy life as long as I minimize my exposure to things that can cause lung issues.   No smoking for me…    I also may be more susceptible to prolonged cough symptoms that accompany colds and flu and may have more difficulty recovering, so I need to do my best to stay healthy in the first place and avoid as much of those circumstances as I can.  (3) High blood pressure is not quite where they’d recommend medication (I wouldn’t go on it anyway) but I need to monitor.   Buy a band.

Since then, I have no passed any more kidney stones.    I have a follow-up thyroid function blood test in November.   I have been on varying protocols with the HMA doc as new information has emerged from all these tests.

Here’s what is interesting to me.   There is almost no way under normal circumstances that I would have ever looked into or otherwise discovered that I have this genetic condition.   But now that I know I have it, I can eat certain foods and take certain supplements and do certain things that will really help me live a healthy life with this condition.   This all came about because of bladder sensation while passing a kidney stone, combined with thinking I had a hernia that I didn’t have.   Also, had my orthopedic surgeon 20 years ago not done a TSH test, I likely would not have pressed for one, and I probably didn’t give my doctor enough general information that would have led him to believe I needed one.   But now I know I have that issue and can deal with it.

I guess you never know what to expect, but I feel that this all came about in such a unique way that there was some guiding hand out there that decided it was time for me to get healthy and deal with these somewhat hidden issues.   As uncomfortable as it was, as much as I didn’t want to spend Christmas Day curled up in pain, and as much as it cost me I am nonetheless thankful to be where I am at.

I am a believer in both conventional medicine and alternative medicine.   I want to find a way to cure or help my body first through natural remedies, but also think there is a time where you accept the blessings of modern medicine as well.    I have followed the advice of the HMA doc and been doing some interesting things.    I feel better overall, my recent Hair Mineral Analysis shows improved mineral readings, and I think this is the first major step to getting back to where I need to be.   I’m drinking a juiced lemon every day that I can and taking a number of supplements.   I am using tanning beds to get natural Vitamin D and avoiding D supplements.    I have learned that the Vit D/Vit A/Vit K needs to be in balance, and it is likely mine was not.   I need to produce D naturally and I need A to remove excess D, and I need K to deposit my Calcium where it is supposed to go, and not in my Kidneys or arteries.    I am supplementing with copper to get that level up.   Exercise and sleep are very important – I am trying to do better with both, but old habits die hard.    Interestingly, my blood pressure is now back to normal levels.

I am also having my amalgam fillings removed.   I know this is a point of debate, and to be honest I am not certain how convinced I am that it is necessary.   But I’ve decided that if I do it, then any question about it is gone and I don’t have to worry about it.

I am willing to try just about anything that makes some kind of potential sense to me.

So, to finalize my thoughts on this, why did I blog about this today?   Well, first, from the standpoint of faith and trust, i am not saying there is no such thing as coincidence, but I think we tend to overstate what might be coincidence because – for whatever reason – it is difficult for us to believe that God is directly intervening in our life to bring something about.   What I think is interesting about this aspect of God in our lives is that seldom does He just give us a direct answer via a dream or something.   It’s not like He sent me a note, saying “Get your antitrypsin levels checked.   And your thyroid.   K, thx…   God.”    He finds a way to bring it about that may not even be all that pleasant, but nonetheless gets us where we need to be.   It’s almost like His price tag to giving us this information is an opportunity for us to join in Christ’s redemptive suffering on the cross.   Even on Christmas!

The other thing that is interesting to me is the timing.   I have been referring to Charlie Johnston and what he says is coming.   I don’t want to overdo it with that, but it’s worth keeping in mind.   If he is right, then the timing and the timeline needed to get all this straight for me is difficult for me to write off as entirely coincidental.   It could be that the time has come to prepare myself for the times ahead and be ready physically for whatever it is my family and others will need me for.

In any case, interesting times for me, and for all of us.

 

 

 

 

Moral Implications of Social Conformity

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The above video is fascinating.    It is also very revealing.

The experiment above is relatively benign.   But when i watched it, I couldn’t help but immediately tie the results into an answer to a question I have often asked myself:   “How could the acceptable standards of what is moral and what is not decline at the precipitous pace it has in the last few decades?”

We are all conditioned in many ways.   This doesn’t make us unthinking robots, but it is a natural part of our sense of community.    And I think God wired us that way so that we can condition ourselves rightly so that we can do good as a natural reaction without even thinking.   Of course, in a world where both good and evil resides, one can also be conditioned wrongly.

We need to take responsibility for our own conditioning, but it is without question that we are also greatly influenced by others, and we may not even realize it.    Parents try to form good habits in kids so that these kids just learn to do them.   Saying “please” and “thank you” is an act of conditioning.   I remember arguing with someone once about the value of doing simple things like opening the door for someone.   He argued that it wasn’t really “doing good” because it wasn’t so much an act of kindness or will as it was conditioning.   I argued that if someone cares enough to be conditioned or to have conditioned themselves to do a perpetually good thing that it doesn’t lose its value because you’ve made it a natural habit.  That’s ridiculous.

Unfortunately, as much as we’d all like to argue that TV, billboards, advertising, movies, music, etc. do not affect us, the reality is that it is probably nearly impossible to make that case.   Now, I will say that if you are morally grounded, confident in your faith, and resilient then it is entirely possible that you can consciously recognize when things are projecting their influence upon you, and it is more possible to ward off their impact.   But it would be silly to believe you cannot be influenced in the things you do, think, and believe by the culture and other influences around you.

And, truth be told, as God has been moved out of the public sphere and the minds of others, the moral code that people live by is a hodge-podge of ideas to start with.    So, now you start to introduce an acceptability to immodesty, different views on marriage, on sex, on violence, and so on can it really be as amazing as it seems to be that we’ve flipped our thinking upside-down on previously long-accepted ideas?

A perfect example of applying the concepts of the video above to the acceptance of cultural decay as something well and good is the typical University.   While there are some outstanding Catholic, Christian, and Conservative Universities we all know that these are exceptions.   It is a fact of the day that most Universities hold progressive views of what the rest of us see as cultural rot.   The administrations and faculty not only accept it themselves, but are open about it, promote it, and will in many cases shout down opposing opinions – ironically enough – in the name of tolerance.

If those who agree join in the vocalic of those positions while those who disagree stay silent, it will not take long for the pressure of conformity to kick in.   How many parents have lamented the fact that their “good kid” came back home after a year or two at school with all sorts of goofy ideas that go directly against the values they were raised with?    All those years, undone in nearly an instant.

As a parent, I watch this video, and I realize I need to share it with my kids and explain this very thing.    This happens not only with meaningless physical response, this is a very real and natural inclination.    Whenever your thinking and your beliefs are challenged and you seem to be standing alone, it still doesn’t mean that everyone else is right, or even makes any sense.   And they may not even know why they believe what they believe.

And on the flip side, this may be a good opportunity to evaluate whether or not any of us are accepting what we shouldn’t because it was just so easy to…

The Diabolical Deception of Self-Love

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It all sounds really good – you need to love yourself.   And that is absolutely true.   But I think  – no,  I know – that we have largely lost the truth in application of what that actually means.    And it’s a very difficult discussion to have in these times when we define “who we are” by so many thing, most of which are things that should not define us.

I’m going to share in its entirely a post that showed up on my Facebook timeline.   This friend of mine is a family member who grew up in a Catholic family but in adulthood came out as gay and left the Church.   He is not a person who spews agenda and vitriol.   He often talks of love and peace and acceptance, and even desires good for those who will treat him badly.    All of which says a lot of his personal character in many ways.   He talks of God, but in a sense that is far from Catholic and mainline Christian.   To my shagrin, though, he has fully embraced the “goodness” of “who he is” (i.e. gay) and all that goes with it from a lifestyle perspective.   He is in Hollywood and has produced films, one of which was featured at the Cannes film festival, which is about his story growing up gay in a Catholic family.   While not outright anti-Catholic, the undertones are there – he simply believes the Church’s teachings are wrong, not loving, and archaic.   He is actively promoting the goodness of living “who you are” as an expression of self-love.   Unfortunately, he is in a position to influence and affect the way others think as well.   As he does this, he believes he is professing truth.

I am reproducing the post he made today to demonstrate where he is coming from:

“This weekend I will take a vow of silence.

For the words, clotted in the tormented throats of those told they are loved unconditionally, but cannot be who they are, because it will send them to an eternity of fire.

For those raped physically, mentally, and emotionally by the guilt and fear of an ideology that taught them to keep their beauty silent, and utter a string of Hail Marys instead.

For those carrying the weight of an unspeakable defilement in their bodies, minds, and spirits and have never since been able to connect God and Love, because they cannot understand how these two synonyms can feel so horribly different.

This weekend I hold silence to hear the screams that still linger in the air, audible when you stop to lend a sobered and reverent ear.   I hold silence to hear the voices and the stories they never got to tell.   I hold silence for those who wander, lost and lightless, on this Earth, in for and out, due to the false representation of unconditional love that has stolen the inner children and turned them to husks of what were once powerful, unquestionably self-loving beings.

This weekend, if it resonates with you, and even if it just for a small chunk of time, I invite you to join me in respecting those who have been conditioned by ideologies of all kinds with silence.  And if not, quieten and listen whenever you can.  Collective awareness can heal the deepest energetic wounds , and our woprld needs it now.

I love you, truth warriors.”

This is not the ramblings of someone who is unloving and ill-intentioned.   And not everything in that post is wrong.   And it also highlights how important it is that we do a much better job of finding ways to characterize God’s love for us in a way that can reconcile the tough questions about what that means in the context of the very real existence of Hell.

But he has been misled in a very diabolical way.

I’ve mentioned this before, but the term diabolical conjurs up imagery of demons and monsters and ugliness.    And for good reason, for that is what lies behind the mask of it all.   But something that is diabolical does not have that appearance to one who is swayed by the diabolical.   The very nature of the diabolical is to take something that is evil and disguise it and present it as good.   Or to take something good and pervert it and re-present it as something else (e.g. traditional marriage is about being happy, people want to marry people of the same sex, therefore same-sex marriage is good.   The premise here is faulty, but is widely accepted.)

The post above perverts the entire idea of what self-love is.   The problem is that the entire underlying baseline is now faulty, so all other arguments and conclusions that stem from it are faulty.   Regardless of how thoughtful, well-meaning, emotional, and even loving the case is, if the case is made on a faulty premise everything else is flawed.

In this case, there are a couple faulty premises.   The first is that unconditional love necessarily implies that there are no expectations of behavior attached.   This is wrong.   Unconditional love, by definition, means that you are loved despite your flaws and your behavior.   Unconditional love in no way dismisses anything bad as acceptable.   It means that I love you anyway.   Unconditional love could even mean that you find ways to point out issues of belief, faith, behavior, etc. but always in a spirit of charity.   It also means that if all these attempts fail, you will still love that person.   This is different from accepting behavior as good and right.   It can be a difficult distinction when emotion and humanity of the individuals is involved, but from a purely logical standpoint, this is really not all that difficult a distinction to make.   The main issue is that we want our children, brothers, in-laws, and friends to be happy.   It is difficult to see someone struggle with their weaknesses and tell them they need to control this thing or that thing, especially when all the world is telling them that it’s OK, and what you were taught is just an archaic ideology.   It is much easier from a relationship standpoint to relent, and let be what be.

The second problematic premise here is that self-love is about what makes you happy.    “God made me that way” is a common refrain.    God made all of us with infinite dignity, and it is true that we are His creation, warts and all.   But never has this been an excuse to purposely give in to our own weaknesses.   We all have them.   Some weaknesses society has decided to celebrate and some weaknesses, not so much.   Those who are prone to anger are asked to control that urge.   And this is the right thing to do.   Some people really struggle with it.   We are asked, in our maturity, to keep it under wraps.    But if someone has a weakness in the area of sexual perversion (of any sort, really – both heterosexual perversion and same-sex attraction, among many other things) it is difficult to find anyone admit this is a weakness that needs to be controlled, other than when issues of violence is involved.    We suppress other things and say it’s for our own good, but in this area it is claimed that suppressing it is a horrible thing.   There is no consistency.

The issue at hand is that we tend to define ourselves – and thus the self we love – according to what we feel, think, and do.   I am sorry, but this is a flawed idea of self.   It is true that our experiences, thoughts, feelings, education, urges, etc. form our character.   But that is not us.   We can, at any time, change our opinions.   We can change our behavior.   We can control our urges – perhaps with help in doing so.    This is not “us.”    What we are is human.   What we are is body and a soul.   What we are in baptism, quite literally, is an adopted child of God.  What we all are is an image of God.   All the rest takes who we are and puts it to work in what we do, what we say, and how we act.   I am not defined by my heterosexuality, my marriage, my kids, my job…   these are all outward signs to people around me what I think and feel and believe and what is important, and may very well then indicate to them who I actually am.    But who I am is actually fundamentally the same as who everyone else is.   The question is, are we exhibiting this outwardly or aren’t we?

I don’t want to make it sound like we’re all clones.   Obviously, the last item of “who we are” is our particular and unique DNA.   Between the genetic code and the soul, we are all individuals and unique.   It is said that no two snowflakes are alike, and yet every snowflake is made through the same process and is made of the same components.   How a snowfall drifts or flies or melts or sits does not define what that snowflake is.   It is a snowflake, pure and simple.

I fear that fewer and fewer people understand this, and even if explained, would accept it.

If you really want to “be who you are” then you need to be a child of God.   And if you are to act like what you are, then what you think and do and say needs lead with “am I thinking of self-love in terms of what I want or in terms of what God wants for me? “    That is not an easy question, because sometimes God calls us to suffer, to struggle, and to use those weaknesses to utterly rely on Him for our happiness, and not the things of this world – even relationships.

A Shout Out to the Shrine in my Home State

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The shrine in Champion, Wisconsin, home of the only approved apparition site in the USA has received a National Designation.

I don’t really have much to add.   Just thought that was cool.