Reflections on loving God, being Catholic, being a woman, being ill, loving life and anything else that comes to mind.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
I haven't time to wrte my Green post at the moment (I've been sick quite a lot and otherwise occupied these past two weeks). One or two things must be said though.
First, there are poor, developing nations that have neither the funds nor the infrastructure to care for their citizens. I would love to research nations one-by-one and write about those that are developing and those that are like Brazil:
"Speaking as the voice of the developing world," Brazilian President Lula da Silva gave a passionate speech where he scolded the developed world for not negotiating on climate change in good faith with poorer nations. He also said this conference is not about climate change, but about economic opportunities for the developing world."
Brazil is not a developing nation. It is, and for long has been, a corrupt nation. A nation that denies 98% of it's citizens the opportunity to rise above a level of poverty that no one in this country can imagine, even those who live in the Appalachians. In this country, we can choose to change our lives. Hard work, patience, creativity, faith, hope and often a hand up are all necessary. But in the United States of America, we can create lives for ourselves and our families.
In Brazil, particularly in the cities, many, many children live on trash heaps. Those who have families are fortunate as are those who live in favellas. Many children are left on their own, sometimes while they are just toddlers. They band together and survive but without the socializing influence of family and community, they become feral and very, very dangerous. There is a small middle class that is happy not to live as the poor do; mostly they are silent; the favellas are given a nice bright coat of paint just in time for Carnivale. And then there are the fabulously wealthy who have been known to hire death squads to kill homeless children as they sleep in shop doorways; one doesn't want to frighten the tourists away. Without the Church* and other charitable organizations, many, many Brazilians would be consigned to utter hopelessness.
Brazil is a beautiful country with abundant resources. But those who govern Brazil desire only their own wealth, their own comfort. Brazil and Mexico and Argentina and so many other developing nations need to look to their own misdeeds, to their own failure to acknowledge the dignity of the human beings who also just happen to be the citizens of their countries. Instead, Brazil is demanding handouts. And Europe and North America are planning to donate $100 billion to line the pockets of corrupt officials who go by many names but never provide a framework which will foster "domestic tranquillity and the common good"?! It's indecent! It's evil.
In the last paragraph of the article UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown sums it up beautifully:
"Without common action," extreme temperatures will create a new generation of poor with climate change refugees driven from their homes by drought, climate change evacuees fleeing the threat of drowning, the climate change hungry desperate for lack of food," Brown said. "Hurricanes, floods, typhoons and droughts that were once all regarded as the acts of an invisible god are now revealed to be also the visible acts of man.
That's their story and they're sticking to it. So nations have no responsibility for themselves. Instead, breathing causes all the problems that exist from warts to typhoons. CO2 makes up 4% of what we exhale with each breath. It's not a poison nor is it a pollutant. It's what causes plants to grow and actually helps filter harmful radiation. The world's climate changes because God created it to change: this is part of "the whole creation ...groaning in travail together." (Romans 8:22)
Evil men are perpetrating monstrous evil on the world. The truth is being revealed but most people I encounter are so steeped in the belief that simply living in a prosperous country is destroying the earth and that an apocalypse is just around the corner. God is no longer in charge. We are alone. Redemption is a lie. There are even those who trumpet: "It's too late to change! We're all doomed."
Yesterday I finally finished reading Sarah Palin's autobiography, Going Rogue: An American Life. I may have mentioned before that I like this woman. I will admit that I tend to like anyone who believes in baking cakes - cake may be my second favourite food, after butter. But when I learned her favourite verse of Scripture, I saw more clearly why I like her so much. Fallen Sparrow's often reminds me of this:
...God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.** (2 Timothy 1:7)
Our job is to be witnesses to the truth. God is in charge. We are not. It's as simple as that. We can wreck havoc with bombs but not with breathing. We must be good stewards of our world, we must not foul it with garbage and real poisons and pollutants (like hormones from birth control pills which actually harm fish), but we can exhale, without fear. Anything else is monstrous madness and we have been given the soundness of mind to know it. God has not created a zero sum game wherein my good prevents yours. Instead, he has given us a world full of abundance, of minds with the ability to care for the gift of this world and provide for our needs - both, at the same time. We must rouse ourselves and each from this silly dream and do our jobs as witnesses to the Truth.
* As in much of Latin America and most poor countries, many different Christian denominations minister to the needs of the poor. The Catholic Church is in the forefront (and everywhere else too) but my use of the term "Church" here includes all denominations.
** [for Nerds only] Translation from the King James Version. The RSV has "self-control" rather than "of a sound mind." Other translations use self-discipline, good judgement, sobriety, etc. Had I more time I'd conduct further research but for now, I'll depend on Liddell and Scott which includes them all but offers "soundness of mind" first. That translation is appropriate to this particular piece.
*** I can documentat the statements I've made in this post.
Friday, December 18, 2009
I've added advertisements after my posts. My big fear is that some thing I find utterly abhorent, like "Green" garbage or birth control will be advertised. Supposedly I can filter some of that out so we'll just give this a try. I may see if I can find more precise ads to replace these (like I saw an Ad for eCards from a community of the Poor Clares) and if any of you know of sources, please comment. This isn't to make money - at least not necessarily. Rather, it's to broaden things a bit.)
(NB: I don't know what happened there but this is the way it should have been.)
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
"They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger?
Will it be the next week, or the next year?
Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house?
Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction?
Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?
Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power.
Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of Liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us.
Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us.
The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave."
---- Patrick Henry, given at the Second Virginia Conference, Richmond, Virginia on March 23, 1775 (the "Grant Me Liberty or Grant Me Death" speech)
You may have noticed the "Donations Now Accepted" button I placed in the right section not long ago. It was rather a scary thing to do even though I know other bloggers "rattle the tin cup" from time to time. Blogging is a gift and one doesn't charge for a gift. It makes no sense to me that I should charge anyone who wants to read my writing - at least not in this forum. But, times have changed and my tentative request for donations is now a genuine appeal.
I've been out on disability since July which has been fine because I've had some level of salary continuation and have been able to cover my bills. Now that is over and I've been trying to get straight answers from my firm re my relationship with them. If I am no longer an employee, I have access to the money I need to pay my December and January bills while I wait for my long term disability policy to begin (that begins as of 1/5/10 but won't be paid out until later in the month because firms and organizations don't do their jobs in a timely fashion). Those funds will also cover my move to Texas where the weather is warmer and easier on my joints, and the doctors I've encountered are focused on helping me get well rather than on just medicating me into a zombie.
If I am an employee of the firm, I must wait until they decide to release me and can't use the funds in my profit sharing account and those are the only savings I have left. After being out sick last year and paying the expenses so that I could make it through work this year (including $200+/week for taxis so I could get a little more rest on the way to and because I was so exhausted and in pain returning from work), I have no other savings left. I've been going back and forth for a while with my firm and may well need to have an attorney write them and get a straight answer. Fortunately, I have a friend who has been volunteered to help me.
Not too many years ago, I could just wait it out but I can't now. I'm already beginning to delay refills on certain prescriptions and visits to certain doctors - $10, $15 and $25 copays add up very quickly; I'm trying to avoid spending as much as possible. This will all be resolved: because I have a policy and needn't wait for SSI; I'm certainly in a more fortunate place than many I know. Right now though, I could use financial help.
So if my writing gives you anything good and you can afford it, I'd appreciate any donation you care to make. And if you do decide to donate, please know that I am very grateful. Of course if you don't decide to donate, you're still welcome. Please also keep me in your prayers, especially pray that I will have the courage to do the task that is before me this minute and not worry about anything else. I'll keep you updated and in my prayers.
Thanks so much.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
This article is important because it shows the attitude of those at the Copenhagen conference. I don't think most of them realize the evil they are representing, the evil they are playing with as children play with toys. The desire to control, to destroy millions of human beings, to prevent the birth of millions more, to make a world without people is madness and, at the same time, evil.
This is the revelation of what we have been asking God to heal in our world. Somehow being people who worship God, who thank God, who value God's gift of a land where God may be worshipped in peace is fighting this madness. The 40 days may be ending today but the job is only beginning; today, we have been shown the enemy and are asked if we will continue to fight.
Friday, December 04, 2009
It has been a bad day and I should be asleep but I did one last email check, found this article and realized I must post it. It's a response to why there are those who actually hate Sarah Palin.
I'm slowly making my way through her autobiography and I must say, I really like this woman. She asked God to make certain that she is always conected to Him, even if by just a string; that she would be a kite under His control. (I'll provide the exact quote when I have a chance.) How could I not like someone who has such an intimate relationship with God? And who's a mother and, often, has amazing style?
Anyway, before I begin rambling, read the piece and let me know what you think.
Thursday, December 03, 2009
Every one deceives his neighbor,
and no one speaks the truth;
they have taught their tongue to speak lies;
they commit iniquity and are too weary to repent.
Heaping oppression upon oppression, and deceit upon deceit,
they refuse to know me, says the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:5-6)
We do it so early:
"Mom! May I have a cookie?"
"No, it's too close to dinner."
"Dad! May I pleeeez have a cookie? I’m so hungry!"
"Okay, but just this one time. And don't tell your Mother! She'd say it's too close to dinner."
Result: A cookie.
Learned: If one authority says No, another will say Yes! Keep going to authorities until the right one agrees.
Skill: Lie to yourself about the existence of authority so as to protect the secret that you are your own ultimate authority; you decide for yourself what is right and what is wrong.
Abby Johnson volunteered to escort women into the facilities in Bryan, TX, she interned with the group and, after college, began working for Planned Parenthood (PP) – an organization that she felt helped women and gave them alternatives, provided them with gynecological care and reproductive services such as birth control and, when absolutely necessary, abortion. But Abby believed that women should have choices so when her Southern Baptist church “felt there was a spiritual conflict in what [she] was doing” and when it and a nondenominational one told her she could not join, Abby and her husband made the sort of choice many, many self-respecting people make today, they began worshipping at an Episcopal church that welcomed them. “Though she was raised Southern Baptist… [she] just [began] to rationalize it. [She] didn’t want to leave these women without options, so [she began] to think [she was] doing the right thing, although it [didn’t] feel right.”*
Abby worked her way up to director of PP in Bryan, TX and found herself responsible for twelve service areas including contraceptives and abortions. At PP, Abby learned many things. She learned that non-sonogram guided, surgical abortions cost about $475, that the doctors who performed them were paid about $75, that other costs were minimal and so PP earned nearly $400 each for these types of abortions; medical (RU486) and surgical abortions brought in more money than contraceptive and healthcare services. Abby learned to reconstruct the pieces of dismembered babies on a tray to ensure there were no parts of the body left in a woman’s womb; it was dead tissue. When the economic climate changed she learned that there was no need to be concerned because abortions offset losses from contraceptive and healthcare services which were being used less frequently.
Eventually, Abby was told to increase the number of abortions because PP was unhappy with it’s balance sheet. When she mentioned that reproductive and women’s healthcare services were PP’s mission, she was told to focus on getting in as many abortions as possible. Doing so was simple. PP, which had previously provided abortions only on alternate Saturdays, began to provide medical abortions every day while it continued to provide surgical abortions only on alternate Saturdays. The more abortion was available, the more women came to have them. One day, a married couple came in planning to have an abortion because they said they could not afford to have more children. They wanted to know if the mother was pregnant with twins and when a sonogram revealed that in fact the mother was carrying two babies, they were elated and realized they couldn’t abort. Abby counseled them to trust that decision. After the couple left, she was asked if she had at least collected the fee for the sonogram – she had forgotten. Abby began to realize there was a problem with PP and she was right in the midst of it.
Then came the Saturday that Abby was asked to assist with a sonogram guided abortion. Those cost more and were more rarely performed. The mother was sedated and unaware of the drama playing out around her and her child. Abby’s job was to move the probe on the mother’s abdomen to locate the child in his mother’s womb. What she saw on the screen was astounding. Abby, the mother of a three year old child, saw a perfectly formed thirteen week-old baby; she had seen the same image while having a sonogram when she was twelve weeks pregnant with her own daughter. “What am I doing here!” she asked herself as the doctor inserted the instrument. As soon as it touched the placenta, the baby jerked, Abby jerked. Then she watched in horror as the tiny infant frantically paddled his feet trying to escape. Abby realized the baby was alive and desperately fighting for his life. The doctor brought the instrument up against the baby’s perfectly and delicately formed spine and turned on the suction. Abby watched the tiny spine crumple and then whoosh! The baby was gone. She dropped the probe.
Abby’s hand was resting on the mother’s abdomen and she realized, there was a life here and now he is gone. The doctor looked at her in anger because she had dropped the probe. Abby picked it up and told herself, “I will never do this again.”
* I felt it important to change Abby's quotes from second person to third person so that her words would be directly describing her own personal experience.
** Part III coming soon.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
I tend to forget that I can only do one thing each day. Then laundry day comes around and with it I inhale many puffs of various breathing meds & am ustterly wiped out by a task that I once did in an hour and a half, early in the a.m. before running off to do so much more. Today was laundry day (6 - 7 weeks since the last one) and I am exhausted. But then I read the Sisters of Life Advent meditation & realized I could share it without demanding too much more of myself. Here it is; may God bless every one of us:
Dear Coworkers of Life,
During Advent, in contemplation of Christ’s entrance into the world, one finds light in many unexpected and hidden places. The extraordinary is clothed with the ordinary, full of the mystery of the light that is Christ. We begin with the Holy Spirit, who will always point the way to Christ. We begin with a quote from Cardinal O’Connor, who spoke so beautifully of The Holy Spirit, Our Lady and the mystery of the Incarnation.
“The first Pentecost took place within Mary and the result of the first Pentecost was the conception of Christ in the womb.”
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you. The child to be born will be called the Son of God.” When Mary accepted Gabriel’s message with her “yes”, she received the Holy Spirit, and this moment, the first Pentecost, was the moment of the Incarnation. From that moment, when she received the Holy Spirit and Jesus Incarnate, she would see everything in light of Christ. Cardinal O’Connor continues, moving from Pentecost Sunday to the time of the Annunciation…
“So when we find them on Pentecost Sunday they’re still locked together in an upper room. It’s not until the Holy Spirit comes down upon them that they receive the courage and strength the fortitude, the perseverance and interestingly we are told in confirmation, in the sacrament of confirmation, the gift of reverence. That’s the gift that Mary received when the Holy Spirit came upon her. Henceforth nothing would again be casual or small. Everything with light invested overspilled with terror and divinity. So the apostles received that same gift of reverence…”
The Sisters of Life wear a medal of the Madonna of the Streets. On the back of the medal is inscribed the words “and nothing would again be casual or small,” a line from a poem by Father John Duffy on the Annunciation, The words speak of the moment that Christ came into the world and changed everything! He is the light that shines in the darkness!
“Once Mary conceived the Word beneath her heart, she comes to recognize as never before that not one thing had its being but through Him…nothing will ever again be casual or small, but everything with light invested…”
This mystery is meant to be carried out in us, the mystical Body of Christ. As Mary and the Apostles received the Holy Spirit, we can call on the same Holy Spirit to enlighten us and show us Jesus, growing in our hearts. We can utter our “fiats” many times through the day and His light will grow within us until we become so transparent that His light bursts through and touches the lives of those we meet. We nurture Him within us through prayer, little sacrifices, and especially through gratitude. When we receive Christ in the Eucharist, we carry him ‘beneath our hearts’ just as Our Blessed Mother carried Christ beneath her heart. By regularly receiving the sacraments, especially the sacrament of the Eucharist, we are strengthened and we come to see with the eyes of Christ, with His heart. The extraordinary is found in the ordinary.
What a wonderful season is Advent, the expectation, the silence, the growth. May we all be touched by the Holy Spirit and come to see that “nothing would again be casual or small.”
PS - The SOL make the best chocolate covered toffee I've ever eaten - even vbetter than I've had in England. If you have an opportunity to go to the Advent reception (a grand "thank you" celebration for all their helpers great & small) trays of it will be passed. Eat as much of it as possible. At this point, I don't think they sell it - though I hope I'm wrong. It's amazingly delicious.