Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day and "The Great Santini," Col. Donald Conroy #Catholic #tcot

My husband and I recently watched the film, The Great Santini, featuring Robert Duvall as the abrasive, abusive Lt. Col. Wilbur "Bull" Meechum. The character came from Pat Conroy's novel, which used his real father's nickname and a large part of his personality. Pat's father, Marine Colonel Donald Conroy, had a darker side that only his family witnessed. He was both physically and verbally abusive to his children and wife. What was astounding was that after Pat wrote the book, his father read it and did a complete turnaround as he sought to distance himself from the story's portrayal of him.

The film is not easy to watch. "Bull" Meechum lives up to his name by barreling through whatever obstacle stands in his way to perfection -- including his family. Meechum's fiery path climaxes in a stunning scene when his son Ben (played by Michael O'Keefe) finally beats him at a one-on-one game of hoops. The problem is, no one in the family had ever beaten Bull in anything. As the family congratulated Ben, Bull gathers up steam and proceeds to throw insults and accusations at the family, alienates them and then demands another game. The wife and other children walk away in hurt and disgust while Ben refuses to play again, emphasizing he won fair and square. As Ben leaves, Bull follows him, taunting him and bouncing the basketball off the back of his head. Later during a stormy night, Bull is shown practicing his game in the pouring rain. Ben's mother tries to comfort her son by saying Bull finally realized his son had become better than him and he'd have to work harder to beat him. Playing in the rain, knowing that Ben must be watching, was Bull's way of apologizing.

Col. Donald Conroy was one of the greatest fighter pilots that ever lived. From reading about him, I'm not quite sure he'd say that. He never told his children about all the awards and decorations he had earned. He was given the Distinguished Flying Cross (with two award stars) for heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight, subsequent to November 11, 1918. Those additional stars mean he was awarded it two more times.

I thought about the kind of man it takes to win a war. Certainly not every warrior physically abuses his children and wife. But pilots are of a different breed. There is no room for error in their mission. Quick decisions have to be made and they better be the right ones or else. My husband and I had a conversation about the movie afterward. He judged "Bull" Meechum much more harshly than I did. Although I usually see things in black and white, I couldn't seem to do that with this character. Knowing it was based on the life of a man who bravely served this country made it especially difficult.

I'll leave the speculation as to why a man abuses his family to the professionals. All I know is that "Bull" Meechum, and I suspect Col. Donald Conroy; was on a personal mission to perfect their personal world. Because serving in the military is an exercise of discipline, those who have high expectations of themselves gravitate toward it, viewing it as the highest challenge to complete. Having a family of those who may not have such drive could, understandably, be frustrating. Unfortunately, some take out those frustrations on others in an abusive manner.

The good news is that after Pat Conroy's book came out and his father read it, he broke. Seeing a character act like him, sobered up Col. Conroy real fast. Suddenly, he was on the road to make amends with his son and family. For the rest of his days, he grew closer to his son and cheered a nephew as he played basketball, causing wonder in all who knew him. Reading this story showed me that redemption is possible, even in the most hardened cases. (His Winning Season: The Story of Pat Conroy, the 'Real Santini,' and the Citadel's Basketball Team's Remarkable Run)

Today we celebrate Memorial Day. It's a day to remember those who have served our country and those who have sacrificed their lives for it. There are some who protest war, claiming it's an unnecessary evil. I say it is a necessary response to evil. Men like Col. Donald Conroy served our country with pride and dedication. The very traits that make a man a fierce warrior may not always transfer smoothly to a more peaceful existence. Many men are permanently altered by war and it's difficult to see how it could be otherwise. But I am so grateful for the men who took upon their shoulders the burden of fighting for freedom. When I see a story like The Great Santini, I'm reminded of how some men viewed the battleground as a personal challenge, taking it as an affront to their ferocious sense of justice. The definitions of right and wrong are usually orchestrated by politicians.

However, for our military, it comes down to a simple concept. Our great country did not become great by sitting down with our enemies and trying to negotiate peace. It came about because we kicked their ass.

So God bless all our military men and women this day. May those who have sacrificed their lives for our country R.I.P., and may those living who wrestle with their inner demons, find peace before they leave this world to enter the next. Amen.

Col. Donald Conroy's Euology, by his son, Pat Conroy

The children of fighter pilots tell different stories than other kids do. None of our fathers can write a will or sell a life insurance policy or fill out a prescription or administer a flu shot or explain what a poet meant. We tell of fathers who land on aircraft carriers at pitch-black night with the wind howling out of the China Sea.

Our fathers wiped out aircraft batteries in the Philippines and set Japanese soldiers on fire when they made the mistake of trying to overwhelm our troops on the ground.

Your Dads ran the barber shops and worked at the post office and delivered the packages on time and sold the cars, while our Dads were blowing up fuel depots near Seoul, were providing extraordinarily courageous close air support to the beleaguered Marines at the Chosin Reservoir, and who once turned the Naktong River red with blood of a retreating North Korean battalion.

We tell of men who made widows of the wives of our nations' enemies and who made orphans out of all their children.

You don't like war or violence? Or napalm? Or rockets? Or cannons or death rained down from the sky?

Then let's talk about your fathers, not ours. When we talk about the aviators who raised us and the Marines who loved us, we can look you in the eye and say "you would not like to have been America's enemies when our fathers passed overhead".

We were raised by the men who made the United States of America the safest country on earth in the bloodiest century in all recorded history.

Our fathers made sacred those strange, singing names of battlefields across the Pacific: Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, the Chosin Reservoir, Khe Sanh and a thousand more. We grew up attending the funerals of Marines slain in these battles.

Your fathers made communities like Beaufort decent and prosperous and functional; our fathers made the world safe for democracy.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

New Church Meets in a Theatre: Now That's Entertainment! #Catholic

Today we received a mailer, advertising a new church that is launching in June. And...they will be meeting in a local movie theatre.

I know it seems cool and hip. Heck, why not eat some popcorn while grooving to the worship band? But what message does this really send to those investigating Christianity? That faith is another commodity, wrapped in glitzy marketing and Web 2.0 goodness? That experience is at a premium and they'll deliver it in truckloads? That Jesus Christ is a really cool dude who gets annoyed by "holy" sounding words but digs a worship team that sounds like Nickleback?

Welcome to yet another non-denominational church that is gearing up to be "relevant" to our culture.

The young and earnest pastor shares on his blog that he "moved here to take over this city with the gospel." He and several other young couples made the major transition of leaving jobs and homes to move to my town to plant a church. I realize they're excited and full of great, creative faith -- but I have to wonder: how much research did they do of my fair city?

I can name four churches off the top of my head that are doing exactly what they want to do. Super cool website complete with super cool YouTube videos? Check. "Relevant" teaching that uses pop-cultural references and the latest trendy books? Check. Rock-it-out worship complete with the alternative look and sound? Check. Zany-crazy fun for kids during the worship service? Well, okay - I have to admit that most churches don't have a bubble machine and a giant bounce house for the kids. (Almost makes me want to go.)

My point is that I live in a fairly large city and there are plenty of churches already doing what they're doing. Plus, I'm beginning to feel that this is the millennial version of those wacky 60's and 70's experiments in churches. I can almost see them a few decades in the future, going through a scrapbook: "Hey, remember when we thought we were so cool using hair gel to make our hair stick up and wore jeans that almost fell down around our ankles? Remember that music, the kind where we kept repeating the same phrase over and over and danced for like, thirty minutes until we spun around into our own self-induced trance and then we fell down in laughter?"

I know these young people mean well. I know they want to do a good thing by honoring God and drawing people to their service. However, I've seen the same thing now for so long that I'm not sure it makes as much as a difference to our culture as they may think. (Or hope. Or believe.)

People who don't go to church, don't decide to attend a church because it feels like going to a rock concert. People who don't go to church, don't usually decide to do so because the church's website is so stinkin' cool that they can't resist. Oh, sure. A few may wander in because it's new and they're bored. But will they stay? Typically, they don't. They just wander from church to church to continue to get that shiny, new church feeling. Those who truly desire a relationship with Jesus Christ will attend a church because they know they need something different than the world -- not a Christianized version of whatever is cool and hip in today's culture.

Over the past two decades, I have been part of a church plant with similar aspirations, and observed the spiritual development of several large congregations. I have been involved with more Bible studies than I can count, even leading a few myself. And I can say unequivocally that true spiritual growth came when a person left the world and embraced Christ with all their heart. It wasn't a question of trying to be a cool Christian. It was a question of being a Christian, dying to self, and discovering how to give to others.

To be honest, if people really knew what was in store for them when they commit their lives to Christ, I'm not sure anyone would make the decision. When I decided to get serious about God at age 20, I remember re-committing myself three months later because I realized my first declaration had been based on emotions. Faith does not ride on emotions. Faith needs a stronger vehicle and that is trust. Trust in God does not happen overnight but in time, as we release our hold on our life and trust God. Faith happens when we understand that God is in control and nothing will happen to us that will somehow not serve His purpose.

Going back to this theatre idea...

I am ultra-sensitive to environment. What we surround ourselves with will have an affect on us -- whether it's surrounding ourselves with positive friends or negative ones, noble reading material or trash. When a church meets in a movie theatre, I'm disturbed. Perhaps I'm too much of a purist, but I can't possibly conceive of meditating upon God's glory and holiness when I remember that I was in that same auditorium for "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen." (And isn't that an interesting title?)

So, the non-denominational church marches on, hoping to hype yet another "church launch" that has mirrored hundreds of others over the past twenty years. Meanwhile, there is this Church that has remained pretty popular, in spite of attempts to make it cool. There aren't any bounce-houses but I know the confessional is a pretty awesome place.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

In Praise of an Intelligent Liturgy #Catholic

Sometimes I can't help but be excited by the timing of my return to the Catholic Church. First, I am in awe by the grace the Lord has extended to me, that He would allow me to see -- really see His truth and beauty in the Mass. Second, I am thrilled to be a witness to His protection and strengthening of His Church. Finally, I admit there is a certain sense of satisfaction in knowing that the enemy's attempts to destroy the Church by introducing a worship of Self, has failed.

A friend long ago told me that if he really wanted to improve his tennis game, he didn't play with people who had his same skill level. He played with those who would wipe him out. But he learned and improved his game by playing them. This universal truth is evident in all walks of life. We attend school and are taught by teachers who know more than us. We get hired into jobs where we may not know how to accomplish a certain task but we grow into it. We surround ourselves with people who are good people because we wish to be good. In essence, in order to learn and grow, we need to be challenged.

Enter the liturgy. After Vatican II, many changes were made to it, and some of those changes were unwise. Now after forty years, many can see how damaging to the Church many of those changes were. The liturgy was "dumbed-down" because supposedly, the language that was used before was archaic and stifling. It no longer represented the new freedoms the world was embracing. To be modern, the Church agreed to throw out the beauty and mystery of our faith in order to appeal to the world. If the idea was to keep the parishioners in the pews with a new translation of the missal, it failed miserably.

Instead, by changing the liturgy into a celebration of Self, it did the complete opposite. Over the past forty years, Catholics left in droves, nuns became radicalized feminist lesbians, homosexuality became rampant within seminaries, to the point where more traditional seminarians were kicked out because they were "repressed" and narrow-minded. Catholic politicians who should have known better voted for abortion-rights and currently, are pushing for the Marxist ideal of "social justice." As Jesus said, if you want to judge a tree, look at its fruit. Although those who initially thought Vatican II was the right direction for the Church, I think its safe to say there were issues both with the plan and the strategy. I also think the heart of the Church is the liturgy and the heart was ripped out and replaced with a smaller, weaker one.

As a result, our Catholic identity was drastically changed, leaving many confused and ungrounded.

This is why I am thrilled by the new translation of the missal. I believe it is placing us in the right direction. From a great article in The Australian (emphasis mine):

The new translation places a heavier emphasis on Christ's sacrifice and underlines the dependence of individuals on God. In one of the most controversial changes, the words of the consecration in the mass specify that Christ shed his blood "for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins", rather than "for all" as the present translation puts it.

Cardinal Pell said the change reflected the official Latin version of the Roman Missal, and although Christ died for everybody, this would remind worshippers of the need for personal repentance.

In the creed, the faithful will now say "I believe" rather than "we believe", emphasising the importance of personal belief.

Most of the changes are in the parts of the mass said by priests, with changes in the laity's responses deliberately kept to a minimum to avoid confusion.

A new Latin edition of the missal was published under Pope John Paul II in 2002, and the next step was to produce authentic vernacular translations.

After a major education program that will start later this year and is already under way for priests in some dioceses, the new translation is likely to be introduced from Pentecost Sunday in June next year.


Professor Rowland, author of Ratzinger's Faith: the Theology of Pope Benedict XVI, said the new translation was "theo-centric liturgy", focused on the worship of God, rather than "self-centric liturgy", focused on community celebration of the parish, the Year 7 class, or the netball team.

She said the new translation of the mass was close to Pope Benedict's heart.

"He has complained about 'sacro-pop' and 'emotional primitivism' in liturgy, and said everything associated with the Eucharist must be marked by beauty."

Professor Rowland said the new translation was in accord with the Church's 1963 text Constitution on the Scared Liturgy. That instruction called for the rites of the mass, which dated back to the Council of Trent in the mid-16th century, to be simplified with "due care being taken to preserve their substance" so that "devout and active participation by the faithful may be more easily achieved".

Professor Rowland said the Second Vatican Council's call for renewal was widely misinterpreted in the 1960s, with pushes from some for outlandish changes that were never envisaged at the council.

In 1966, for example, an article in a prominent Jesuit magazine in the US called for Catholic worship to employ "the language of the Beatles".

"The new translation of the missal settles the issue," Professor Rowland said.

"I'm not surprised it has taken almost nine years. They had to get it right, and they have."

Amen and amen. I may add a few more thoughts later on this one.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sky Gazing

I've always loved gazing out a window.

In our home, we have a few windows but my favorite is the one pictured. It is from the second bedroom and looks out toward the trees in the back. But what I love is the shape of the window. It's narrow, but tall. As I sit at my desk (placed right alongside the window), I can look to the side and see the tall trees and lovely expanse of the sky. The trees attract all types of birds and I love having the window wide open so I can hear them sing. (Although one doesn't quite sing but almost croaks. Weird.)

It is my favorite thing to do in the mornings -- to watch the sunrise, to hear the birds sing, to enjoy an early visit with the new day. I am always filled with hope in the morning.

I think I get my love of looking out windows from my mother. I can remember when I was younger, coming home and seeing my mother talking on the phone, looking out the window, most likely watching for my brother or I to return from school. But it was a common sight that followed into my adulthood. She would seem to be looking, observing, watching. And now I find myself doing the same.

My husband gently chides me at times for peering out our windows to watch what's going on outside with our neighbors. He's the sort that thinks "it's none of our business." I never imagined myself to be the nosy "Gladys Kravitz" from the TV show Bewitched, who thought it was her business to prove to everyone something strange was going on in the Stephens' home. But I like knowing my surroundings, knowing bits and pieces about my neighbors that most likely I wouldn't otherwise. Few neighbors seem to visit with each other anymore, everyone is too busy. So I try to grab a few tidbits from sly, secret glances out the windows.

I know the father who loves his little girl so much that she waited in the truck before her school bus came and then he got out and gave her a little hug before she dashed off to board it. I know the young boys who all live together and how they like to invite their friends over and listen to rock music. I know the woman next door who has a strange son who doesn't seem to be quite right but walks her dog.

One time, we had a neighbor, Bill, who would talk to us. Maybe it was more talk at us, but he was friendly enough and I felt for him. I could tell he was very lonely so I didn't mind talking to him a little bit before I headed inside or to whatever the current destination was at the moment. One day, I returned home from work and as I walked toward our apartment, I saw two police officers outside of his place. I greeted the officers but wondered (of course) about their purpose for being there. I was a little worried.

I spent the next hour or so peeking out from the blinds as I watched various people come and go from the apartment. Finally, a long vehicle came and went into the apartment with a gurney. I gasped as I watched them wheel it out later with a body bag on top. I was thinking it may have been an intruder and perhaps Bill defended himself. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. I discovered through the maintenance man that Bill had committed suicide. I later ran into his brother and sister-in-law cleaning out the apartment and expressed my condolences to them. I told them Bill had always been friendly and we had many interesting conversations. His brother thanked me for letting them know and told me Bill had been on anti-depressant medication but stopped taking it. He was told by the doctor and his family that he needed to stay on his medication. He didn't and the brother was still angry that this was the result.

Looking out the window allowed me to experience something important and pay my respects to a life that ended abruptly. I told my husband what I saw and said a prayer for Bill.

One of my favorite things to do is to look at the window at the sky and the trees, with no other sounds around than the birds and occasional lawnmower in the distance. Maybe I like looking at the sky because ultimately, that's where my true home lives. Maybe it's the freedom that nature brings. Or maybe it's because I hope that someday, I'll be in another place above this earth, surrounded and infused with the love of my heavenly Father. My hope remains eternal.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Why Is Self-Sacrifice So Admirable? #Catholic #tcot #sgp

Think about it. We honor those who sacrifice themselves to protect others, such as firemen, police, and the armed services. We look to those who selflessly deny themselves and admire them. Such generosity is an admirable trait and one often mimicked by children when it is brought to their attention.

We look for heroes although those who traditionally have held those roles are fading away. Sports figures have been replaced by those who start non-profit organizations. But is philanthropy that heroic?

To me there is a difference between giving and sacrificing. Maybe I'm splitting hairs. I tend to think that giving is something we all do on a regular basis. We give of our time, money, and emotions to those we care about. We give our talents and skills to our jobs. But that giving is not typically "a sacrifice."

When someone makes a sacrifice, there is a cost involved. It may be losing something precious to them, whether great or small. It may be that the sacrifice is one of time and the person giving up that time realizes the time cannot be invested in other activities. Many parents sacrificed their time at home by working hard a job they didn't really like because by doing so, their families were financially supported. Those who did so without complaint showed true heroic quality, in my opinion.

However, the ultimate sacrifice is when someone lays down their life for another. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13) This is the sacrifice seen in soldiers - and the awe one feels as they witness another human being valuing someone else's life as more important than their own. And the greatest of all of those types of sacrifices is seen in Jesus Christ, as He laid down His life for us. Jesus served, did not demand elevation or condescend from his vastly superior position. He gave to the world what He had, which was an endless supply of love and mercy from His Father. He came to show us what we were created to be.

I think self-sacrifice is so admirable because it proves to us that the internal veering toward self can be overcome. Self-sacrifice irritates some people. My hunch is because they don't want to think about denying themselves anything. We live in a hedonistic world that celebrates self-indulgence at every level. "If it feels good, do it!" was the mantra of the sixties and seventies. Consequences of that indulgence were rarely examined and if so, was identified as repressive shame.

Which brings me to leftist ideology. (You knew I was going there...) The leftists are schizophrenically-minded. Look at the following contradictory beliefs:

The beliefs on the left were from the sixties. Forty years later, those same people, holding onto the same ideology, are now either limiting those beliefs or counter-acting them altogether.

Self-glorification has always been the hallmark of leftist ideology. But it is countered with a belief that "the greater good" is more valuable than the individual. This type of crazy is something I can't wrap my mind around. If you elevate self, then it would stand to reason that "self" is elevated above the common good. But as you know, reason isn't a strong point with leftists. Could it be that they are seeking the solution that only faith in God can bring? Except they're trying to do it without God.

So they run around, kidding themselves that giving money to those who should be earning it themselves is "noble" and "admirable" while criticizing independent thought and self-reliance because it doesn't accomplish their agenda of "Government Is God." Sacrifice is an unknown and unwanted concept for them. Those who willingly lay down their lives for the greater good (you'd think they'd be into that...), such as our brave men and women in the military, are mocked. Suddenly, those who do this are "deluded" by the government (when Bush was in office, natch), are jingoists who can't see the imperialistic sins of their nation, or just plain stupid rednecks who can't read or write.

But yet for all of the leftist's belly-aching, the fact remains that overall, people admire those who sacrifice themselves for a higher purpose. It's just that they can't seem to stomach that the higher purpose, is a love for God and country.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Superiority of Christ Over "Personal Liberation" #Catholic

KKollwitz provided a link in his last comment that was further commentary on the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It is a very long article, but well worth the read if you have time. ("Carl Rogers and the IHM Nuns: Sensitivity Training, Psychological Warfare and the 'Catholic Problem'" by Dr. E. Michael Jones) It presents a fascinating (albeit, sad) tale of psychotherapy in the sixties and even how some of the groundwork for it was laid in the 1940's. After reading the article, there is no doubt in my mind that what was done to those nuns in the sixties was nothing less than psychological warfare with the objective as destroying the Catholic Church and overall, Christianity.

I have had my concerns about psychotherapy for some time. I am not completely against it and have had a few therapy sessions, myself. But my concern has been with those who practice it and are anti-Christian, who look to psychotherapy as a way to be "liberated" without acknowledging that there is such a thing as sin and sin keeps us in bondage. If a therapist claims that a person is being "repressed," the obvious question would be: repressed by whom? And usually the answer to such a question is: repressed by rigid belief systems such as religion, that only seek to control an individual.

But really, who is trying to control whom? When the psychotherapists got a hold of those nuns, they knowingly sought to control them by leading them away from the Catholic Church. By claiming they were introducing the nuns to "personal liberation," they placed them in another type of bondage -- one where they were trapped within endless self-reflection and worldviews that had only their voice and the voice of their fellow therapy participants as their point of reference. Soon after the psychotherapy experiment began, the sisters were released from attending daily Mass, which before was mandatory. Consistent prayer and meditation, which occurs during Mass, was removed. It's not a surprise that the nuns began to look to one another and their therapists as their guides.

I have an apology. In my previous post, I made a judgemental comment about the Bishop at the time and questioned the leadership that would allow such experimentation to take place. Lo and behold, it was Cardinal James McIntyre, who was cast in an uncharitable light with National Catholic Reporter's article, "Vatican, U.S. Women Religious Tensions Go Back Decades": (emphasis mine)

1968 –Cardinal James McIntyre of Los Angeles demands that the Immaculate Heart of Mary sisters back down from the changes in dress, work and living arrangements approved by the community’s chapter – and submit to his control instead -- or be forced out of the order. In what became a national scandal, the great majority of sisters refused to give in, and left to form a community separate from hierarchical control.

Well, no wonder His Eminence had issues with what was going on. It was obviously clear to him that the changes at the IHM seminary were not good ones and could only lead to chaos. History has proven him right. As a matter of fact, the more I learn about Cardinal James McIntyre, the more I like him. I may be highlighting him more in my blog because I suspect this man's good character and devout Catholicism has been misrepresented in print and I'd like to honor him. Anyone who sends his priests to John Birch Society meetings to be educated about the evils of communism, is a good guy in my book.

Any type of evaluation of oneself cannot address the root source of the problem -- which is sin; apart from a thorough examination of the claims of Jesus Christ. Only by renouncing self (as opposed to elevating it), will bring the peace that is sought. In renouncing, is a beautiful and joyful embracing of who we were created to be -- in Christ. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Phil. 4:13 NKJV) If that's not an "empowerment" statement, I don't know what is. But the key component of that statement is the dependence and surrender we have with God through His Son, Jesus Christ and by the grace and power of His Holy Spirit.

Too often, people place their trust in humanistic philosophies when in fact, placing their trust in God through Christ is exactly what they need and what will bring them health, healing, and a right mind and heart. Approaching God in humility will result in an abundance of grace, which brings peace and wholeness. Apart for Christ, there simply is no peace.

Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called the uncircumcision by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands-- remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end. (Eph. 2:11-16 RSV)

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Left's Schizophrenic Battle With Self

(Photo courtesy of LIFE, Location: San Francisco, California, Date taken: April 1967, Photographer: Ralph Crane)

Earlier this morning, I read a post by the powerfully prolific Robert Stacy McCain, that exposed a dilemma of many progressives. However, because leftists are masters of self-delusion and obfuscation, it's no surprise they're unable to see the irony of their current beliefs.

McCain referenced an essay by Mark Lilla in the New York Review of Books. I'll use the same quote by Lilla:

[W]e need to see [the Tea Party movement] as a manifestation of deeper social and even psychological changes that the country has undergone in the past half-century. Quite apart from the movement’s effect on the balance of party power, which should be short-lived, it has given us a new political type: the antipolitical Jacobin. The new Jacobins have two classic American traits that have grown much more pronounced in recent decades: blanket distrust of institutions and an astonishing—and unwarranted—confidence in the self. They are apocalyptic pessimists about public life and childlike optimists swaddled in self-esteem when it comes to their own powers.

He had me at "unwarranted confidence in the self" and "childlike optimists swaddled in self-esteem."

How old is this guy? From a quick search, it seems as though Mr. Lilla is about fifty-three. Perhaps he's developing Alzheimer's or did too many drugs in the seventies but suffice it to say - our country was built upon the concepts of self-determination and independence. And in the sixties, this little idea called "self-actualization" came into play. As a matter of fact, I'm in the midst of watching a BBC documentary called "A Century of the Self." I find it fascinating but also tragic; for an obsession with self can often lead to an unbalanced life and in its extreme, mental illness.

I was stunned to find one portion of this documentary tell the story of how nuns were duped into allowing radical psychotherapists test out their harebrained idea of "personal liberation." (As the documentary stated: "The convent, anxious to appear modern, agreed to the experiment.") The result?

The nuns decided to discard their habits for ordinary clothes. And the psychotherapists found that they had "unleashed a sexual energy." (I have no idea who was driving the bus at this point but I think it's safe to say their bishop had no idea what was going on.) One nun seduced one of her classmates, and then seduced the mistress of novices. Within a year, 300 nuns (more than half of the convent), petitioned the Vatican to be released from their vows. Six months later, the convent closed its doors. All that was left was a small group of nuns and they had become radical lesbian nuns. The rest gave up the religious life. (One of the psychotherapists, when asked about the nuns giving up religious life, said, "Yes. They became persons." How amazingly ignorant.)

That's what can happen when "personal liberation" and an elevation of self meets religion. And that entire deconstruction of morals was the fruit of the fatalistic sixties. From the end of this portion of the documentary:

Self exploration was spreading rapidly in America. Encounter groups became the center of what was seen as a radical alternative culture, based on the development of the self, free of a corrupt capitalistic culture.

I highlighted the schizophrenic battle cry, the one sounded by many leftists during their youth, which was: Capitalism is bad because it "forces" a person to adhere to a rigid set of rules and has no compassion or concern for others. But the development of self? Why that was a higher ideal! Why not do whatever made one "feel good?" Sex, drugs, experimentation of any kind - all was perfectly acceptable and even encouraged by those who claimed to be "personally liberated."

Now we fast-forward to today, where Marxists walk the halls of the White House and Communists wear suits. Suddenly, according to the Mark Lilly's of the world, self-esteem is bad. Forget the fact that this is what has been spoon-fed to our children over the past forty years. The leftists now want everyone to believe that encounter groups and "empowerment" sessions were helpful to a point, but realized the error of their ways.

Quite frankly, they went too far. Now the country is too self-aware and independent for their taste. Now you have the pesky little problem of people running around, challenging the government to leave them alone and quit interfering with their lives. If I didn't know any better, I'd think I was living in a 60's redux with Holly shaking her fist at "The Man" in the Oval Office, raking him over the coals. But I suppose that kind of umbrage was fine for Holly as long as she was smoking dope and sleeping her way through the bands at Woodstock.

Now that we have responsible taxpayers (those who already have given years of productivity to our country), questioning the government and claiming self-sufficiency - suddenly they're the bad guys. The Tea Party folks are "expressing" their personal liberation mentality but gosh darnit, that just doesn't sit well with the hippie generation that now is grown up and desperate to control everything.

Ironic, isn't it?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

KKollwitz's Delightful Lessons for Children Regarding #Catholic Identity

I wasn't sure what to title this post, but KKollwitz, who has visited this blog on occasion, teaches children at his parish. (CCD?) His latest response to my post about the upcoming new translation had me chuckling. (I wish I had a teacher like him when I was a kid!)

One of the more challenging responses in the TLM is the one he is speaking about:

Dómine non sum dignus ut íntres sub tectum meum: sed tantum dic verbo, et sanábitur ánima mea/ Lord, I am not worthy that thou should enter under my roof; but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.

I have to really rip through that one because everyone says it so fast! But I always loved the phrase and remembered where it came from in the Bible.

If you've not read KKollwitz's blog yet, check out this post. Then read more. If you're a parent, you may just want to read it aloud with your little ones!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Vatican Approves New Missal, Bishops Decide When to Implement #Catholic

WASHINGTON—The Vatican has given its “recognitio,” or statement of acceptance, of the proposed U.S. version of the new edition of the Roman Missal. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) now must decide when to authorize its use in dioceses and parishes in the United States.
Full Story

I am very interested in the new missal's release. Since my return to the Catholic Church, I've been noticing everything about the liturgy - both within the Novus Ordo (or "New Mass," the one that evolved after Vatican II) and the Traditional Latin Mass (also called the Tridentine Mass and the Gregorian Rite).

I look at our liturgy as a defining element of who we are as Catholics, what we believe, and what is important. The liturgy has the power to exalt God and His Son, Jesus Christ. In humbling ourselves before that power, our souls are lifted, cleansed, and renewed.

I think almost any Catholic can agree that there have been times when the liturgy has been miscommunicated and, as often noted, abused. Instead of leading us toward worship of our heavenly Father and His Son, it has elevated Self. The problem is, Self and God cannot be elevated at the same time.

So we have a new translation of the liturgy that I believe will have more "oomph" when it comes to understanding Catholic identity. I believe it will help fulfill the true mission of our liturgy, which from my understanding to this point - is to remember what God did for us by sacrificing His Son, and the peace that is extended toward all by His great love for us.

Now, all that needs to happen is for the Bishops to decide when to roll this lovely liturgy into our parishes. I still have hope it will happen this year.