Tuesday, January 20, 2009

For those of you who were watching HBO's coverage of Sunday's "We Are One" concert and wondered what happened to Bishop Gene Robinson's opening prayer and what he might have prayed for, I offer the following transcript. The video can be accessed here.

Welcome to Washington! The fun is about to begin, but first, please join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God's blessing upon our nation and our next president.

"O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will bless us with tears - tears for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women in many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless this nation with anger - anger at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort at the easy, simplistic answers we've preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth about ourselves and our world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be fixed anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.
Bless us with humility, open to understanding that our own needs as a nation must always be balanced with those of the world.
Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance, replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences.

Bless us with compassion and generosity, remembering that every religion's God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable.

And God, we give you thanks for your child, Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, inspire him with President Lincoln's reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy's ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King's dream of a nation for all people. Give him a quiet heart, for our ship of state needs a steady, calm captain.

Give him stirring words; We will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters' childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we're asking far too much of this one. We implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand, that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity, and peace. Amen."


Depending on which story you read, the lack of televised coverage of Bishop Robinson was either a direct snub by Obama's Presidential Inauguration Committee, or an inadvertent confusion between HBO and the PIC. In any event Bishop Robinson's opening prayer will be rebroadcast today during the actual inauguration, not just on TV, but also to the attending throngs. I wish I could be there.

It's hard for me to get really upset about this, whatever it was, treatment of Bishop Gene. It is being rectified. I much prefer to rejoice in the certain knowledge that we are leaving some really really odious stuff behind. Stuff we got used to dealing with and kind of passing off as that's how things are done. To remind us all of how far we have come, I offer the Republican party's treatment of South Carolina Senator Max Cleland. Senator Clelend's seat was up for grabs in 2002 and his seat represented, in the eyes of the Republicans, potential control of the senate.

The usual suspects came out on the offensive, and I mean that in both senses of the words offensive. Here is an article by Matt Givens written in 2004:
We'll get to the loathsome likes of Little Miss Treason (Ann Coulter) shortly, but first let's look at the man she has libeled: Max Cleland.

Cleland lost both legs and an arm in Vietnam, wounds that could have destroyed a lesser man. Instead, he not only kept his life together, he made it all the way to the United States Senate. In the fall of 2002, control of Congress hinged on his seat, and the GOP leadership poured its black heart into his defeat. President George Bush visited Georgia five times to campaign against him, and a Republican ad campaign likened Cleland to -- of course -- Osama bin Laden. Old-school Republicans like John McCain and Chuck Hagel, who both served in Vietnam, were appalled. But the new-school Bushies, morals all a-AWOL, were pleased to do whatever it took to pick up Cleland's seat.

Fast-forward 18 months. Today, George W. Bush is scrambling to put a good face on how he spent the Vietnam war. (To recap: States-side, in a cush gig brokered by his daddy just 12 days before he'd have again been eligible for the draft, he learned at taxpayer expense to fly a fighter jet, then announced he wanted to campaign for an Alabama pal of Richard Nixon's, stopped showing up, then declined to provide that embarrassing urine sample and so lost his flight status, then "arranged it with the military" to leave early to go get an M.B.A. Mission accomplished!)

Those asking harsh questions about the President's frivolous relationship with his military duties include Cleland. This is driving the Bush Republicans crazy. After all, it's embarrassing to have a true-blue war hero point out that your guy is a true-blue phony.
So the new strategy is the old strategy: Smear Cleland.
How dare he question our President!
He must be a traitor!

And he's certainly no hero, says Ann Coulter. After a spit-fleckled rant against those who have permitted themselves to question the Great Leader's National Guard service, she says: "If we're going to start delving into exactly who did what back then, maybe Max Cleland should stop allowing Democrats to portray him as a war hero who lost his limbs taking enemy fire on the battlefields of Vietnam.

"Cleland lost three limbs in an accident during a routine non-combat mission where he was about to drink beer with friends. He saw a grenade on the ground and picked it up. He could have done that at Fort Dix. ... Luckily for Cleland's political career and current pomposity about Bush, he happened to do it while in Vietnam. ...

"Cleland ... didn't 'give his limbs for his country,' or leave them 'on the battlefield.' There was no bravery involved in dropping a grenade on himself with no enemy troops in sight."

Coulter's account has already been applauded by someone named Mark Steyn who writes for The Washington Times. "As Ann Coulter pointed out in a merciless but entirely accurate column, it wasn't on the 'battlefield.' It wasn't in combat," Steyn writes. "[Cleland] was working on a radio relay station. He saw a grenade dropped by one of his colleagues and bent down to pick it up. It's impossible for most of us to imagine what that must be like -- to be flown home, with your body shattered, not because of some firefight, but because of a stupid mistake." (The clear implication is that Cleland was stupid enough to blow himself up and has to live with that.) Steyn goes on to say Cleland is happy "to be passed off" as a hero, because that makes him "a more valuable mascot."
* * *
It's hard to know how to continue, because all I want to do is direct an awful string of insults and profanity at Coulter and Steyn.
Instead, I'll just lay out Max Cleland's record.
First of all, Cleland was wounded during the siege of Khe Sanh.
Khe Sanh, for Christ's sake!
I know the smug Bush Republicans are utterly ahistorical, but surely they've heard of Khe Sanh?
Let's help them out.
Here is a fine timeline by PBS of the Vietnam war for 1968. I'll quote a three-month stretch of it here, February, March and April:

February 23, 1968 -- Over 1,300 artillery rounds hit the Marine base at Khe Sanh and its outposts, more than on any previous day of attacks. To withstand the constant assaults, bunkers at Khe Sanh are rebuilt to withstand 82mm mortar rounds.

March 6, 1968 -- While Marines wait for a massive assault, NVA forces retreat into the jungle around Khe Sanh. For the next three weeks, things are relatively quiet around the base.

March 11, 1968 -- Massive search and destroy sweeps are launched against Vietcong remnants around Saigon and other parts of South Vietnam.

March 16, 1968 -- In the hamlet of My Lai, US Charlie Company kills about two hundred civilians. Although only one member of the division is tried and found guilty of war crimes, the repercussions of the atrocity is felt throughout the Army. However rare, such acts undid the benefit of countless hours of civic action by Army units and individual soldiers and raised unsettling questions about the conduct of the war.

March 22, 1968 -- Without warning, a massive North Vietnamese barrage slams into Khe Sanh. More than 1,000 rounds hit the base, at a rate of a hundred every hour. At the same time, electronic sensors around Khe Sanh indicate NVA troop movements. American forces reply with heavy bombing.

April 8, 1968 -- US forces in Operation Pegasus finally retake Route 9, ending the siege of Khe Sanh. A 77-day battle, Khe Sanh had been the biggest single battle of the Vietnam War to that point. The official assessment of the North Vietnamese Army dead is just over 1,600 killed, with two divisions all but annihilated. But thousands more were probably killed by American bombing.

April 8, 1968, was also the day that Captain Max Cleland lost both legs and an arm. He had less than a week earlier already earned commendations for heroism during some of the bloodiest combat of the whole Khe Sanh siege -- combat missions for which he had volunteered, so as to relieve stranded Marines and Army infantry. The order in which the President awarded him the Silver Star reads:

"Captain Cleland distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous action on 4 April 1968, while serving as communications officer of the 2nd Battalion, 12th Calvary during an enemy attack near Khe Sanh, Republic of Vietnam.

"When the battalion command post came under a heavy enemy rocket and mortar attack, Capt. Cleland, disregarding his own safety, exposed himself to the rocket barrage as he left his covered position to administer first aid to his wounded comrades. He then assisted in moving the injured personnel to covered positions. Continuing to expose himself, Capt. Cleland organized his men into a work party to repair the battalion communications equipment, which had been damaged by enemy fire. His gallant action is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army."

Here, in a speech he was invited to give about character, is how Cleland himself tells what happened next:

"I remember standing on the edge of the bomb crater that had been my home for five days and five nights, stretching my six-foot, two-inch frame, and becoming caught up in excitement. The battle for Khe Sanh was over, and I had come out of it unhurt and alive! Five terrible days and nights were behind us. In spite of dire predictions, we had held Khe Sanh. I had scored a personal victory over myself and my fears. ... My tour of duty in Vietnam was almost over. In another month I'd be going home. I smiled, thinking of the good times waiting stateside.

"On April 8, 1968, I volunteered for one last mission. The helicopter moved in low. The troops jumped out with M16 rifles in hand as we crouched low to the ground to avoid the helicopter blades. Then I saw the grenade. It was where the chopper had lifted off. It must be mine, I thought. Grenades had fallen off my web gear before. Shifting the M16 to my left hand and holding it behind me, I bent down to pick up the grenade.

"A blinding explosion threw me backwards."

Ann Coulter, the facts be damned, calls this "a routine non-combat mission where he was about to drink beer with friends," and says "there was no bravery involved." Mark Steyn says Cleland is happy "to be passed off" as a hero. And both, incredibly, characterize Cleland's wounds as good fortune.

But just because these two hacks think losing limbs to advance their Republican political careers would be a lucky trade -- hell, they've already given away their souls, what's an arm or a leg? -- doesn't mean the rest of us share their warped priorities.
I mean, Khe Sanh!

I am so thankful this kind of character assassination will no longer be part of our incumbent government under Barack Obama. President Obama will make mistakes, but he's already shown his willingness to try and correct them. As far as I've been able to tell, no official apology was ever extended to Max Cleland. He was defeated by Saxby Chambliss in 2002.

Now I'm off to watch the inauguration. There's a perverse part of me that will be waiting with some anticipation for the prayer offered by Rick Warren. Just to see if he's gotten the message that Bishop Robinson made so clear. We, the people of the United States of America, have called Barack Obama to be president because WE WANT CHANGE.

PS: The sweat was fantastic and the prayers offered meaningful in the extreme. The operative feeling was one of hope and solidarity by everyone for everyone--Black, White, Native, liberal or conservative, gay or straight. We were truly one like we had never been before. I am jacked.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Purification, Hope, And Closing Circles Of Old Energy

I'll be participating in a sweat lodge this afternoon, which answered a prayer of mine. I wanted to contribute something to the start of President Obama's call for change. It seems a lot of my friends were on the same wave length, and even though we haven't kept in touch with each other for most of the winter, we'll all be together this afternoon in a ceremonial sweat--a purification sweat.

I've thought quite a bit about the Miracle on the Hudson. The landing of a passenger jet on the Hudson river without a single loss of life is about as antithetical as one can get from the events of 9/11.

The pilot, Captain Chelsey Sullenberger, seemed to have two choices, downtown Manhattan (again) or try a belly landing on the Hudson. He chose the Hudson, acting from his competence, not panicked fear, and thereby spared all his passengers. He also spared any unsuspecting people who may have been in the plane's path had he tried the land approach. His choice is the exact opposite of the choices made by the 9/11 'pilots'. Captain Sullenberger purified some serious energy around Manhattan. He closed a circle of energy, an important circle of energy.

The photo which I chose for this piece, centers the Statue of Liberty in the background, as passengers are being rescued by the numerous commercial vessels which instantly surrounded the downed plane. Not one single person suffered exposure from the waters of the frigid Hudson. Amazing.

Lady Liberty watching over Americans, and those who aspire to be Americans, is also a Marian image.

There are other signs that things will be different in the energy of Obama. Just as predicted, Israel and Hamas have called for a cease fire three days before Obama's swearing in. I get the feeling though, that this time things are different. Both Israel and Hamas have taken a bath in the world press. The world is making distinctions between the issues and the appropriate response. Israeli security needs don't justify their actions in Gaza, and Hamas is being treated as the criminal, not political outfit, it really is. Whatever either side hoped to accomplish, it won't be what they desired.

The other hopeful energy sign I have seen regarding Palestine, is coming from Northern Ireland. Clerics in Northern Ireland are offering their expertise in helping to solve the intractable division between Palestine and Israel. Who better understands the futility of this kind of war than the people who lived through 'the troubles'. A Palestinian solution would go along way towards purifying Northern Ireland of the energy associated with their own history. It's an important gesture because factions in Northern Ireland were heavily involved in gun running and other assorted criminal activity in conjunction with Arab jihadists. There is a big energy connection between the two situations. Closing this circle of energy is important.

Yesterday's opening inauguration celebration was truly inspiring. Estimates of those in attendance exceeded the 500,000 expected. Hope is high that the American Eagle will rise once again. It will take all of us though, each contributing in our own way, out of our own talents. Captain Sullenberger has done his part, it's time we do ours. We can make a difference. We can bring change. It's not all on President Obama, and it's not just about Americans. We are all connected, and that might be the biggest change America will undergo. Finally understanding it's not all about us.

So today in a sweat lodge in a pasture in Montana, those of us who participate will be joined in consciousness with those in Washington DC who are doing a purification rite for the White house. In a sweat lodge, as in any sacred area, time and space are irrelevant variables. We will be as present at the White House as those who are actually present. Our ceremonial sage will mingle with their ceremonial sage in a unified purification prayer. It will be our small contribution to the Obama inauguration--to closing the circle of energy associated with the Bush White House.

When President Obama takes the oath of office tomorrow, it will symbolically represent the closure of another energy circle. It's taken a long time to close this particular circle and it's involved incredible human beings like Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr, and millions of unknown individuals who did what they could to close the circle of racism.

It looks to me like there are circles of old energy being closed all over the planet. These closures won't happen over night, but they are happening, and new energy will fill the void. It's an Armageddon, but not in the way that Armageddon was ever predicted. And yet the question of the separation of wheat from chaff is still in play. Will we go with the new flow, or desperately hang on to the old, and get trapped as circles close. As for me, I'd rather be a closer, than closed off.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Modern Marian Visionary

Our Lady of the Rockies over looking beautiful Downtown Butte, Montana. Some day I'll tell this story

For any number of reasons I've been thinking about the Vatican's crackdown on Marian visionaries. Something kept picking at me, some stray thought that I had already come across a post which I think speaks loudly about this new crackdown. This morning, after much meandering around, I finally found it.

Not surprising me, it was an article written by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Dr. Estes is my concept of a true Marian visionary. She tells it the way it really is.

If one were to cease dreaming bold dreams, then bold and much needed actions on earth would also cease, for dreams are the primary fuel for the engine of doing. If it cannot be dreamt, it cannot be done. Thereby, protect rather than pre-empt the dreamer in your own soul.

Massacre of the dreamers

In our family it is said, that once, long ago, Moctezuma, cacique, chieftain of Mexico, in or about 1519, had been hearing constant rumors about pale-skinned warriors descending fully armed from the east coast of Mexico. Moctezuma, uncertain what to do or believe, sent for all tribal dreamers from all villages across the empire.

From every valley and volcano, the dreamers traveled overland dressed in their belts, leathers, mother-handed linen, feather capes, their gourds, jade stones, quipis, knotted counting strings, their bark prayer scrolls, their walking sticks, staffs of authority, their labrettes piercing their lips, their tattooed skin.

These muscled travelers, old, middle aged and very young, came before Moctezuma to tell the dreams they’d been dreaming about a most mysterious thing: The Future.

The Future was understood in dreams as a plain of possibilities. By the preponderance of dreaming similar images repeatedly, one trajectory or another was prophesied to come to pass.
The tribal dreamers took their calling to dream for “the people of the earth,” as their serious troth to care for and protect souls. Dreamers led lives without rancor or vengeance, all in order to be lucid messengers between heaven and earth. Thus, one of the holiest prayers one could pray was to ask the highest source of dream vision to be granted an immaculate heart.

Even though Moctezuma had already heard the distant thunder of immense change bearing down upon the Nahua (Aztec) empire, he is said to have wanted to be told otherwise. He wished that the world he had put together by feast, conquest and marriage, would never end.

But the tribal dreamers could not support Moctezuma’s fantasy. The dreamers, instead, remained true to the dreams they’d been given from a force greater. They told Moctezuma that they dreamed he and all of Aztlan would fall, great fires would explode throughout the land, huge stones would crash to the earth, blood would run, the soul of Mexico would suffer greatly.

What Moctezuma ordered next could perhaps be understood as a man of great ego not wishing to be deposed. However, more so, he may have tried to do something no man can do: Pretend to be God by trying to stop time, to delay the natural cycle of decline, entropy, death -- and rebirth.
Despite being merely human, he may have thought, similar to emperors, armies, the misguided and despots since, that if he could stop dreamers from dreaming, if he could stop people from inaugurating preparation for change, perhaps he could stop this relentless end of his world as he knew it.

Ancient times sometimes show up in modern garb.

To this end of preserving his world, Moctezuma did the unconscionable in full knowledge. He ordered the slaughter of all the dreamers.

Moctezuma is said to have murdered every last dreamer who had spoken of his or her dream that the end of the empire was at hand, that a new day was coming and that there would first be a terrible cost. Thus, the red blood of every last gentle, innocent dreamer ran into the ground.
And not that far off, approaching on horseback, girded in cotton batting armor overlaid with leathern plates, carrying sword blades made from Toledo steel, with leather saddles squeaking and stirrup buckles jingling, the stranger advanced from the east anyway. Relentlessly so.

Moctezuma’s grave sin of the massacre of the dreamers caused also to be lost across the empire those who dreamed for everyone, not just for themselves. By killing the holy people, he silenced the living, walking, talking spiritual libraries of his own empire.

Entire tribal groups lost their messengers whose lives were dedicated to standing sacerdotally between the mundane world and heaven in order to deliver images, ideas, blessings, care, regard for right conduct, sweet honey on wafers of prayers.

The modern and ancient losses of those who dream for everyone, is ever great. If one dies in heart or spirit, one might lie in the grave for a time, but then the moment will come to refuse to remain dead any longer.

Like other parts and places and times of our world, Moctezuma did not quite realize that by murdering his dreamers, he had in fact hastened the death of himself and his empire, for there was no one left to dream new life.

This story would be bleak if not for the symbol of the blood of the dreamers sinking into the earth. For in the generations of Mexicans forward, still from those bloody fields, came golden grain.

The people who tilled those martyrs’ fields, though enslaved, people who cared for the crops to their maturity, though under the lash of oppressors, people who harvested crops under demeaning overlords, still ate of crops fed by the blood of holy dreamers.

Thus, it is also said, of the most humble people who were enslaved, that each carried inside himself and herself, a portion of the noble ability to dream, which is the most radical thing of all. Like the crops that grew from the blood soaked earth, hope sprang up in them most strongly -- not from ambition but from the root of hope, which is grief.

All of us who have eaten from the golden crop nourished by the bloodspilt earth might sometimes be called to dream for others besides ourselves: to see the good, the not so good, to dream ideas, helps, ways in, ways out, hopes that can nourish people, prepare them, but most of all, sustain their souls come what may.

Perhaps it was this legend of the Massacre of the Dreamers arising in post-Cortez Mexico that gave rise to another now ancient ritual, the beginning of healing in the next phase of the life/death/life cycle, the night between two days, that occurs after dearest beliefs and dreams are massacred.

Dar el pésame and the Imitatio Maria

Pésame -- the giving of condolences, a special, highly personal sharing of comfort -- is a ritual of Good Friday. In the rite I know from rural backwoods, the statue of La Nuestra Señora/The Blessed Mother is carried down from her nicho or her altar and placed in “the people’s tierra,” outside the altar rail.

There she stands then, often with a rebozo or mantilla draped over her head and shoulders. She stands in her agonistas for her son’s literally nearly being beaten to death before being crucified.

Her only child whom she suffered to give birth to alone on a cold desert night, and whom she fled with at night to avoid a slaughter of innocents, is dying. She now, like dreamers who dreamed so well and so hard, yet were slaughtered, sees the end of her child’s life as she knew it, an end she would never, as a mother heart, desire for her beloved in any way.

In ritual pésame, people come to church to be with her in her time of torment, just as dreamers came to Moctezuma, not to be his governmental advisors, but as comforters to aid his suffering soul. Maria, Mary, Mir-yam understands this as Moctezuma did not. And, she receives with gracious sorrow, all that the dreamers -- who are we -- have to give to her, our condolences and our comforts as well as our own personal sorrows, which in some ways mirror hers.

In this way, we are brought body, soul, mind, spirit, emotive being, to the underlying meaning of loss -- and eventual rebirth. In pésame, we do not witness the Passion with intellect or even only eyes, ears and heart. We share in it all the way down to our grief and courage bones.

This is to my mind, what I’d call an Imitatio Maria, a following of Our Lady, insofar as we who are only human, can become a Mary on earth, giving birth to the holy child every day, protecting, guiding, helping, learning, eventually suffering the unspeakable loss, grieving, bewildered, wandering, and finally finding the child again, in an entirely new way.

No despair forever. Instead, an often odd configuration of new life, at least odd to us who are fairly leaden rather than completely mercurial in making quick turns in new behaviors regardless of how quicksilver our thinking might be.

So, one by one at pésame, people come to sit in the little pews, staying close to La Señora; they will not leave her. Some bring her water. Some bring food. She will not eat or drink; we all know. But it is the offering, the preparation of that green chili, that posolé that matters as a source of caring shown.

Then gradually, each person will come to her one by one, perhaps wipe her feet with their tears, touch her cheek, tell her in their own words how they understand her grieving, for they too have their own grief -- for her, for their savior, for those they love in their own lives who suffer so, for their own suffering souls.

People will ask please to also receive a resurrection of health or heart or mind or soul or spirit. Many a time a man or a woman or a teenager or a child or an old woman or old man will break down sobbing while speaking to her, giving a barren wasteland kind of howl. And the rest of us, well, you can feel it, like one giant collective sob pushing back the walls of the church as all of us are in union with one another -- in mysterious ways, one mind, one heart, one soul. The way it’s supposed to be; the way it is.

I suppose an observer might say the people are playing pretend with a statue. But those devout souls who touch her cheek feel the ancient and timeless Mary Maria Mir-yam far away in time up close; flesh warm, tears wet, love deep.

They will tell you she comforts them as they comfort her. And some of us will say, she prays her ancient blessing over our torn parts, the same one she once spoke to mend up the fear of the frightened Cuauhtémoc, Santo Don Diego, at Tepeyac. Then as now today, she still says:
Have your forgotten? I am your mother, and you are under my protection.

Massacre of the dreamers behind us.

Pésame beside us.The new dawn just ahead.
May all of us, with infinite tenderness, comfort each other in this special lacuna of time and escape the hubris of either withholding comfort or else suffering in silence refusing to be comforted. May we all find certainty, each in our own way, that the clearest of the dreamers are still fully alive inside us despite the dark, and that the Immaculate Heart is not for hire by acts of perfection, but is inherent and comes when called. In case anyone might have forgotten for just a moment, it is also known by the name: Beloved.


I hope all my readers have a great weekend and I will be back Monday. In the meantime more of Dr. Pinkola's thoughts can be accessed here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Really Big Sins

The Apostolic Penitentiary, or "tribunal of conscience", has been shrouded in secrecy ever since it was established by Pope Alexander III in 1179 and until now has never provided details of the cases it scrutinises.

They are considered so heinous by the Catholic Church that only the Pope can grant absolution to those who perpetrate them.

But in an effort to present a more transparent image and to encourage more people to make confessions, the tribunal held a two-day conference in Rome in which it discussed its purpose and inner workings.

"Even though it's the oldest department of the Holy See, it's very little known - specifically because by its nature it deals with secret things," said Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, the tribunal's second most senior official.

While priests and bishops can deal with confessions of sins as grave as murder or even genocide, the tribunal is reserved for crimes which are viewed by the Church as even more serious.
They include attempting to assassinate the Pope, a priest abusing the confidentiality of the confessional by revealing the nature of the sin and the person who admitted to it, or a priest who has sex with someone and then offers forgiveness for the act.

A third type of case that comes before the tribunal involves a man who directly participates in an abortion - even by paying for it - who then seeks to become a priest or deacon.

"That is an irregularity and it means he should not receive the ordination without a dispensation from the Pope," said Cardinal James Francis Stafford, the American who heads the Apostolic Penitentiary. (But what if he's already ordained? Does this then become a lesser sin?)

Defiling the Eucharist, which Catholics believe is the body and blood of Christ, is also considered a sin of extreme gravity and one which is on the increase, the high-ranking members of the tribunal said.

Cardinal Stafford said there had been a rise in incidents in which people would receive Communion and then spit it out or otherwise desecrate it, sometimes in Satanic rituals.

In July last year an American academic, to make a point about freedom of thought and religion, drove a nail through a Communion wafer and then threw it in a rubbish bin.

Paul Myers, from the University of Minnesota, said later: "I pierced it with a rusty nail. Then I simply threw it in the trash. Question everything. God is not great, Jesus is not your Lord."

Such sins, which can only be dealt with by the Pope, acting through the tribunal, bring automatic excommunication from the Church. If the Pope decides to grant absolution, the excommunication is lifted. (These are hardly the only offenses which bring automatic excommunication.)

A study by Italy's Sacred Heart University found that 47 per cent of Italians either never go to confession or last did so a long time ago.


It's kind of hard for me to get my head around the fact that the Church considers the actions of Paul Meyers to be a worse sin than genocide. Paul Meyers is not Catholic, never has been and never will be, so I guess Benedict won't be faced with lifting an excommunication.

One has to have a very Catholic mind set for this to make sense. Most of these grievous offenses are not sins against man, they are sins against sacraments, which is why it makes perfect sense to treat an aspirant to Holy Orders involved with an abortion more harshly than an ordained man, or to excommunicate people for attending 'illicit' ordinations.

These are sins against the proper reception of Holy Orders, making one more sinful than if one had committed murder.

In short, sacramental respect is more important than respect for one's fellow man and there for lack of sacramental respect is a more grievous offense. Paul Meyers would have committed a less grievous offense had he put a rusty nail into a priest--excluding the pope--than into a consecrated wafer. I guess this makes the Pope equal to a consecrated host in sacramental significance.

This is why soliciting sexual favors in the confessional or absolving one's sexual partner is determined to be more grievous than the sex itself. These are violations of the Sacrament of Penance and take the offender way beyond notions of immoral sexual predation. I suspect this last is the reason that pedophile priests were first investigated for sins against the Sacrament of Penance before any thought was given to secular accountability.

In the Church's reasoning, these violations of Canon Law were more important than the violations of the secular law. The behavior of most bishops followed this line of reasoning and they treated pedophilia as a crime against Canon Law opting for rehabilitation, silence, and forgiveness. I guess you could say they live in and operate from a totally different world view, one in which the sacred most assuredly trumps the secular.

The on going battle in Ireland over the fate of Bishop Magee is following this pattern of thinking. Since Bishop Magee didn't violate any of the 'biggies' in his mishandling of sexually abusive priests, his immediate superior Cardinal Brady doesn't think Bishop Magee should stand down. Cardinal Brady thinks Bishop Magee's apology is enough to show his remorse and willingness to follow the secular rules in the future and put the safety of children first.

Cardinal Brady's willingness to forgive Bishop Magee is not going over well in Ireland. Most laity don't buy the logic in the mindset which places Canon Law over secular law. I wonder how many of the laity actually think desecrating a host is more grievous than genocide, or that abortion in the case of an ordinand somehow needs the absolution of a pope, but the transmission of AIDS by a bishop to unsuspecting multiple partners doesn't.

The more I think about these 'most grievous' sins, the more I begin to understand why the Apostolic Penitiary has remained in the background for a millennium. It really does represent a different world and a different mindset. No wonder abuse victims have trouble understanding the Church's response in the pedophile crisis. It's unique to a church dancing to a different drum. It's a church which defines sacraments and sacramental authority as having more intrinsic worth than people. Sometimes Catholic identity comes with a steep price.

I wonder what Jesus would think about placing more importance on sacrament than people. I think I know.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pilgrimages have historically been good sources of income for dioceses, monasteries, and the Vatican. Especially in bad times.

Two days ago I wrote that I thought one of the biggest contributing factors to the Vatican's new guidelines for visionaries was money--specifically Medjugorge, but also including other Marian sites which have not received Vatican approval. Today I find this interesting announcement on clericalwhispers:

Rome is banking on its centuries-old ties to religion to boost tourism, with a four-day fair expected to draw thousands to the Italian capital this week. The Eternal City is one of the most popular destinations in the world for Catholic tourists but the first edition of the Journeys of the Spirit Fair (JOSP) aims to broaden the capital's spiritual appeal. Running from Thursday until Sunday, JOSP Fest will celebrate spiritual journeys and pilgrimages in all forms, with conferences, workshops, concerts, film screenings and cultural events.

Over 500 exhibitors from four continents will be present at the fair, which is expected to draw around 40,000 visitors. The goal of the fair is to shake off the slightly musty reputation of pilgrimages, introducing a range of concepts linked to journeys, both physical and metaphorical, to a wider audience. In particular, JOSP Fair will seek to engage with global issues, looking at how religion and spirituality affect geopolitics, with seminars on Tibet and China and a series of meetings exploring Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.

On a more conventional note, feature films, documentaries and personal accounts will explore the attractions and experiences of Christianity's 'mega-sites': St Peter's Basilica in Rome, Lourdes in France, the shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico city, Santiago de Compostela in Spain, and Jerusalem. (Shock, no mention of Medjugorge, no mention of San Giovanni Rotondo and Padre Pio, two of the more profitable pilgrimage destinations, and both in the hands of monastic orders, not dioceses.)

RELIGIOUS TOURISM A FAST-GROWING SECTOR Figures released by the World Trade Organization suggest the religious tourism industry generates some 18 billion dollars each year, 4.5 billion of which in Italy alone. Around 3-3.5 billion trips are made each year for religious purposes, the WTO calculates. A month after JOSP Fair, Milan's prestigious International Tourism Fair (BIT) will pick up the baton, with a brand-new section devoted solely to religious and spiritual tourism.

Fabio Majocchi of Expocts, BIT's organizer, explained that religious tourism was a surprisingly fast-growing sector. ''It brings important economic advantages for destination areas,'' he said.''Furthermore, our research also shows that travellers are no longer just heading for the traditional sites but are also searching for alternative destinations, spots that combine historic and religious significance with a warm welcome''.

'Nuff said about this particular reason for the visionary guidelines.


Yesterday I wrote that Benedict should probably pay more attention to what is happening in the fields of human consciousness and quantum physics, because it impacts both the Church's theology and cosmology. He took some of this on in his Angelus address yesterday, referring to two of Paul's letters, one to the Ephesians and one to the Collosians:

"It is only here," he observed, "that the term 'cefa', head, is used for Christ. It means first of all that Christ is head of the Church": he is "the director" who "guides the Christian community as its leader and master. The other meaning is that he is like the head that is connected to and enlivens all the members of the body to which it is attached."

"He not only commands, but he is organically connected to us."

"In both cases, the Church is considered as subjected to Christ in order to receive both his instructions and the vital forces that emanate from him."

"In the second meaning, Christ is the head not only of the Church, but also of the celestial powers and the entire cosmos. Paul says that God places Christ above every principality and power. His words assure us that Christ is above every hostile power, so that if we are close to him we have nothing to fear."

The two letters offer "a highly positive and fruitful message. Christ has no competitor to fear, because he is above any other form of power that presumes to humiliate men," "if we are united to Christ, we need not fear any enemy or adversity, he who is with Christ has nothing to fear." (Interesting choice of language. Christ has no competitor because competition was not His frame of reference. Jesus seems to have had an ego that didn't recognize personal humiliation. He had transcended notions of the need to defend His ego.)

"Today as well, the world is full of dangerous powers, but Christ is the victor, and the one who is united to Christ need not fear anything." For the pagan world, which "believed in a world full of dangerous spirits, from which it had to defend itself, this announcement was a true revelation. This is also the case for the paganism of today, which believes that the world is full of dangerous powers. We as well," he added, "in a world full of so many fears must learn that Christ, beyond any domination, is the true Lord of the world." For this reason, "we must remain close to him." (This is quite a statement from a man who just issued guidelines whose main purpose, at least stated purpose, is to root out Satan and his deceptions.)

But Jesus is also the master of the cosmos, and "with the blood of the cross he has reconciled the things in heaven and on the earth."

"Everything is one in Christ." (I suspect I understand this truth way differently than Benedict does. So would a quantum physicist.)

"If we begin to understand that the cosmos is the imprint of Christ, we learn the proper relationship to the cosmos, to all the problems of the conservation of the cosmos" and "to act in the right way" toward it.

So how are we to understand the proper relationship of man to the cosmos? Benedict explains this further in his message:

Finally, the Holy Father touched on the recurring theme of "the Church as the bride of Christ.” According to St. Paul, the Pope said, Christ has "won" his bride, the Church, by giving his life for her, “the greatest possible demonstration of love." (Jesus didn't WIN anything. He CREATED a new idea of a spiritually grounded community, which St. Paul chose to describe with a number of interesting metaphors.)

“What greater sign of love could there be than this,” he remarked. Christ “is concerned for her beauty; not just the beauty acquired through Baptism, but also the beauty that must grow every day through a life of irreproachable moral behavior, without spot or blemish.” (It seems to me Jesus actually said, the two greatest laws were love of God and love of one's fellow man. 'Irreproachable moral behavior' is an interesting way to describe love.)

"From here to the shared experience of Christian marriage is but a short step," he observed. “And in fact it is not clear what the initial point of reference was for the author of the Letter: whether the Christ-Church relationship provided a light in which to consider the union of man and woman; or whether experience of conjugal union was the light in which to examine the relations between Christ and the Church.”

(Off hand I can't think of one Gospel reference of Jesus's in which he compared anything about the Kingdom to exclusive sexual expression between a man and a woman. This is not one of Paul's better metaphors if Benedict has this kind of interpretation.)

"These two Letters are a great catecheses, from them we can learn how to be good Christians," Pope Benedict concluded. (Good straight Christians who subscribe to a specific set of gender roles.)

"If we begin to understand that the cosmos is the mark of Christ, we understand what our relationship with the cosmos is, what problems are involved in its conservation. We learn to see it using reason, but a reason moved by love, respect and humility. If we remember that the Church is the Body of Christ, that Christ gave Himself for her, then we learn to live with Christ in mutual love, a love that unites us to God and brings us to see the image of Christ in others. Let us ask the Lord to help us meditate well on Sacred Scripture, his Word, and to really learn to live well.”
(Sometimes I have great difficulty following Benedict's reasoning. Maybe it's the translations. The metaphor of the Body of Christ implies a whole different concept of Church than the Bride of Christ. This is a glaring jump in thinking and takes all the bogus conjugal sexuality out of the Church equation. What's a Catholic to do?)


It sure does look to me like Benedict is going to pound a few hobby horses this year. Coupling ecology with traditional marriage is a biggy, no matter how far the stretch. I have a difficult time believing Paul had conjugal sex in mind when he wrote his take on the Church as the Bride of Christ. I think it was more a hopeful attitudinal thing, rather than a procreative sex thing.

Benedict seems to need to continually shore up the Church's institutional authority, so now we have a competitive Christ who is above and beyond all things material---the whole of the cosmos in fact. Jesus is the biggest baddest dude in creation, who has nothing to fear from any principality or power, and He can't be humiliated either.

But then Benedict does give some credence to the idea of the inner connectedness of Christ and the vital forces which emanate from Him, and the notion that everything is one in Christ. Except this is a two way street, the forces emanate both ways and Christ is also one in us. In this way it's not about authority, it's about sharing as best we can with Jesus. Emphasising just one side of this relationship may benefit Benedict's notions of top down authority, but it's not what Jesus actually said about Himself or His relation to us. He's not our father or our groom, He's our brother. He is in us and we are in Him, as brothers and sisters, equal participants in the quantum sense of things.

By the way, there is no 'traditional marriage' in heaven, and probably not in any of the other entangled universes in which we share our energy. There is however, one great big all inclusive family-------whether our egos are humiliated or offended by this fact has nothing to do with the truth of it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Real Threats From The Quantum Visionaries

Yesterdays Vatican announcement concerning 'rooting out' of fraudulent visionaries is not just another step in Benedict's campaign to rein in rambunctious elements of Catholicism. In as much as it has opened the Church to more ridicule, and painted a picture of Benedict as an illiterate believer in silly debunked medieval myth, it was a dangerous step for him to take.

It completely undercuts his 'faith grounded in reason' commentary, and his carefully styled persona of highly cultured benign intellectual professor. This new initiative never needed to be publicised. Catholicism is a highly secretive hierarchical structure which could easily have kept this in house. So why do it? Before I get into my reasons for why I think Benedict took this self destructive step, I offer the following thread from another of my NCR Cafe family.

Dennis is an impassioned advocate for the People of God as a model of Church, and equally impassioned about how the current model can not possibly reflect the Church Jesus may or may not have intended to start. The following is an extract of a longer reflection, but is really timely in the aspects I will hi light below. The bold sections indicate some of my suspicions concerning the coming guidelines for visionaries.

Protect the faith, retreat to the basics (interpreted as dogma or as biblical literalism, simply and rigidly held and enforced); ostracize and demean the intellectual independents; exclude the seekers and the searchers; sanctify compliance; resurrect and idolize the symbols and trappings of the age of obeisance; redefine dialogue as negotiation; redefine terms of convenience like natural “law” to absolute; reintroduce fear as a teaching instrument (excommunication/dismemberment or “left behind”) for high and low; reward medievalism (plenary indulgences “advertised” for the year of St. Paul). These are the tactics, the politics, the strategies of fear, of dislike, of desperation - retreat behind the walls that are crumbling in the deception of strength and in the vain hope that the cavalry will come

What has all this to do with Christmas? I almost forgot. Over the season, I thought often about Mary. A teenager vulnerable in so many ways, pregnant by someone other than her husband, away from home about to give birth for the first time without medical or experienced family or community support, most likely without much more than a penny to her name; at the mercy of strangers, weather and so on and so on.... So small, having so little, being so insignificant yet burdened by and acceding to “voices” who challenged her to be the mother of someone who would be so significant that she couldn't imagine. I have no idea what she might have or have not comprehended about her son and the more immediate political/religious swirl that they would be embroiled into within weeks of giving birth. Is she our exemplar? Is she the Church's exemplar?

Did she flee into the temple or find a fortress or crawl into a hole; did she ring herself with guards, did she even lock the door? Did she insist that the “voices” protect her privacy, keep strangers away and guard her from whatever? Quite the contrary they blabbed it to anyone who was up and about that night and she welcomed these as well as real strangers who, we are led to believe, might have been Arabic? Was she so certain, so absolute in her son, her role, her significance her responsibility that she defined the events and directed their playing out? Did she define the terms of the strangers access to the child (other than maybe “don't wake the baby”)? Maybe the story is embellished but it seems to me that she remained open, offered herself and her Son, as Jesus would ultimately offer Himself, in the fullness, the simplicity and the realism, the potential of His message, His person and the perversity as well as the goodness of his community, of his history. She taught Him well.
Dear God, I love that woman. (Me too, Dennis)


When I was reading through Dennis's post the first time, I couldn't help myself from thinking about the consequences which would have ensued for Mary, had she been subjected to the Vatican's new guidelines. She would have been in big trouble for not controlling the 'voices' who surrounded her, making her an instant fraud. Instead of being visited by Magi bearing gifts who refused to do Herod's bidding, it would have been exorcists and temple priests visiting to do precisely Herod's bidding.

And poor Jesus, even He was unable to shut up the people he healed, or stop inner dimensional things from happening around Him, and a great deal of what he taught would not pass the doctrinal and dogmatic mustard demanded by the Vatican. He was after all, crucified for blasphemy. The only thing that would be different for Him now, is the public crucifixion part. Modern zealots prefer the assassination route. His resurrection, now that might become big news, as most of His disciples would probably have cameras on their cell phones. It would be hard for the Vatican to deal with that kind of publicity.

All joking and sarcastic speculation aside, see Huffington Post, the guidelines may indicate something else about Vatican fears. There are some very important things going on in scientific disciplines which have some serious consequences for Catholic theology and our understanding of human consciousness and the universe we live in.

The first is the concept of observer effect in quantum physics. This states that the behavior of sub atomic particles will reflect the observer's point of reference. To put it simply, the observer observes what he/she expects. This seems to imply that intentional thought impacts the organization of matter at the quantum level. In a very real sense we do create our reality. It is not all about a creator God who sits up somewhere pulling all the strings. We seem to be string pullers ourselves. This does not support notions of our powerlessness in the face of sin.

The second concept comes from String Theory, which theorizes that our universe may be entangled with up to 11 other universes. In this theory, those universes may also contain other sentient life forms whose consciousness is not necessarily expressed in the three dimensional matter of our experience. Can anyone read angels here? I keep going back to the first time Michael actually spoke to me. He defined himself not as an angel, but as a non organic sentient being. He was the one who forced me into attempting to gain what limited understanding I have of string theory. (OOPS, I have now admitted violating the education clause in the new guidelines.)

Michael's insistence on upgrading my understanding of quantum theory had another point. If it's true our universe is entangled with others, the reverse is also true. They are entangled with ours and have a vested interest in upgrading our understanding of our own consciousness and it's impact on the much greater creation. It's why they have been communicating with all kinds of human spiritualities in all kinds of manifestations for a long long time. (See Nativity of Jesus.)

The third concept which may also cause some angst in the Vatican, is the work of Masamura Emoto. Work I have mentioned more than once. His work seems to show the power of love on the quantum level. This is not romantic love, which is essentially selfish in nature and biologically driven, but the love Christ taught, which is unconditional and ego less. This love is driven from a maturing spirituality/consciousness and is subsequently felt in a bilogical sense. In this love, consciousness drives the biological expression, not the other way around.

Masmura Emoto's work plainly shows this process of consciousness driving molecular organization. Romantic love is more or less a product of molecular organization driving conscious perception. Until the Church processes these understandings, John Paul's Theology of the Body is mixing apples and oranges and calling it natural law. For instance, in my thinking, celibacy is not a gift from God, it's a product of maturing in consciousness and spirituality. (OOPS, I just failed the dogma/doctrine test. OK this isn't the first time.)

The kind of love Jesus spoke about has real power to effect real change. It orders matter to a higher level of organization and beauty. It's God's gift to creation and the life blood on which it operates. Exactly what Jesus taught. Love, freely chosen, makes the world go where God wants it too (the Kingdom come), not obedience. Exactly what Jesus meant when He spoke about the spirit of the law taking precedence over the letter of the law. Obedience is about the Newtonian reality, unconditional love is about the quantum reality.

Finally, messages from other dimensions are not about validating specific religious doctrine, they are about moving mankind forward in conciousness and awareness, in knowledge about just how innerconnected we are with ourselves and other universes. Michael once told me the thing which is most unique about Earth is that we were placed in a material matrix in which we can freely choose to be driven by our percieved reality and biology, or we can choose to work the Newtonian reality the other way around, letting our sentient conciousness create our reality from the quantum level.

This last is where mankind is being guided. If we get there, the change in the over all quantum picture will be vast. Earth really is important, and not because God got pissed at us because we messed up with our free choice. It's important because it's about concsious sentient beings discovering the vastness of God and His plan, and freely choosing to further it. Mary got this, it's why I love her.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What's a macho dude like Mark thinking by wearing a Mickey Mouse T Shirt. Seems more like something Richard Simmons would wear.

Gosh, I just found a totally enlightening piece about Pastor Mark Driscoll of Seatle's Mars Hill mega congregation. Pope Benedict may want to start his new inquisition with this particular ex Catholic. To wet your appetite for more about Mark, I offer his insight into how contemporary churches portray Jesus:

"God called Driscoll to preach to men — particularly young men — to save them from an American Protestantism that has emasculated Christ and driven men from church pews with praise music that sounds more like boy-band ballads crooned to Jesus than “Onward Christian Soldiers.” What bothers Driscoll — and the growing number of evangelical pastors who agree with him — is not the trope of Jesus-as-lover. After all, St. Paul tells us that the Church is the bride of Christ. What really grates is the portrayal of Jesus as a wimp, or worse. Paintings depict a gentle man embracing children and cuddling lambs. Hymns celebrate his patience and tenderness. The mainstream church, Driscoll has written, has transformed Jesus into “a Richard Simmons, hippie, queer Christ,” a “neutered and limp-wristed popular Sky Fairy of pop culture that . . . would never talk about sin or send anyone to hell.”"

Here's the full article from the NY Times Magazine. Imagine Mark's take on women.

The Witch Hunts Are Back

Actually this is probably not a laughing matter.

Telegraph.co.uk 13/1/2009

The Pope has ordered thorough investigations to be carried out into people who claim they have seen visions of the Virgin Mary. (What happens if they don't want to cooperate with the investigation? Say like people who live in secular democracies and haven't committed any crime?)
He is hoping to cut down on an explosion in the number of bogus heavenly apparitions with new guidelines to help his bishops to root out frauds. (He'd be better off helping his laity root out bishops who are frauds.)

Benedict XVI plans to publish criteria to help them to distinguish between true and false claims of visions of Jesus and the Virgin Mary, messages, stigmata, weeping and bleeding statues and Eucharistic miracles.

In some cases exorcists will be used to determine if a credible apparition is of divine origin or whether it is demonic.

The guidelines will come in a "vademecum", or handbook, which is in its final stages and will be published soon by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
It sets out step-by-step instructions on how Church authorities should deal with claims of such supernatural phenomena. (Can't wait to read this.)

The Pope is said to be deeply concerned by the explosion in the number of pseudo-mystics who, claiming a direct line to God, set themselves against the bishops and lure the Catholic faithful out of the Church and into disobedient cults. (This is the operative motive for this modern inquisition. Right after the issue of money.)

When a claim of heavenly apparitions occurs, the local bishop will need to set up a commission of psychiatrists, psychologists, theologians and priests who will investigate the claims systematically.

The first step will be to impose silence on the alleged visionaries and if they refuse to obey then this will be taken as a sign that their claims are false. (Where have we seen this before?)

The visionaries will next be visited by psychiatrists, either atheists or Catholics, to certify their mental health and to verify whether they are suffering from conditions of a hysterical or hallucinatory character or from delusions of leadership.

The third step will be to investigate the person's level of education and to determine if they have had access to material that could be used to falsely support their claims.

The new document will also instruct the bishops to see if the visionaries and their associates stand to gain financially from making their claims. (Ideally, this should be the Vatican's only concern, but recent past history tends to show that those making money on behalf of the Vatican can do or say whatever they want. see Opus Dei, Neochatechumenal Way, Legionnaires of Christ.)

The content of any heavenly messages will also be scrutinised to see if it is harmony with the teachings of the Church. (This clause pretty much precludes any new winds blowing through the Church from the Church Triumphant.)

If the visionary is considered credible they will ultimately be questioned by one or more demonologists and exorcists to exclude the possibility that Satan is hiding behind the apparitions in order to deceive the faithful. (If you're going to accept the fact that Satan could be behind credible mystics, you also have to accept the fact Satan could be behind credible demonologists and exorcists, hiding behind them in order to deceive the Pope and his poor blind bishops.)

The Pope decided to act because instances of private revelations continue to multiply, with new cases reported around the world every year. (And some of these revelations, such as Medjurgorge, are diverting vast sums of money from the Church. The Pilgrimage industry is a significant part of the tourist economy and a lot of priests are lining their bank accounts leading pilgrimages.)
The vast majority of this modern inquisition appears to be aimed at the visionary, when in fact the abuses are propagated by the ever ubiquitous 'spiritual advisor' or clerical hanger on who makes good money involving himself in the process. Spend any time researching Marian visionaries and you can't help but notice the "Father" figure behind the visionary.
The visionaries of Medjugorge will be in for a rough time of it, especially as they are surrounded by a group of Franciscans who have a long history of ignoring the Vatican in favor of their own agenda. That and the fact, Medjugorge is it's own economic force in Croatia assures Medjugurge will be the first in the line of attack. There are others, some of whom I have reported on in the past, that have also devolved into lucrative schemes to bilk the pious. And these too, have had clerics organizing the bilking.
This latest witch hunt will have far less to do with orthodoxy and far more to do with money. If the Church was really serious about this, it would start with the visionaries behind Opus Dei, the Legionnaires, and Kiko Arguello and his crew at Neocatechumenal Way. That won't happen because these groups are instrumental in bringing vast sums of wealth into Vatican coffers, and were started by Spanish fascists who traded personal access to the Vatican for the money they generated.
That's why I found it most interesting that at the same time Benedict is authoring the new witch hunt, Kiko and crew are being lauded at the Vatican.
The money is one reason I viewed Archbishop Burke's fascination with Our Lady of America with a great deal of suspicion. Marian sites bring in big bucks from people who might not necessarily be predisposed to put it in parish or diocesan coffers. Mary is very often perceived to be untainted ground. (Too bad that's not always true in the long term.) By advocating for Our Lady of America, Archbishop Burke has put himself in direct line for some serious cash, no matter what his motives.
On the technical front, it appears the Vatican is essentially taking the ritual and protocol for exorcisms and applying it to mystics. This is precisely the format used in the original inquisition. One is guilty until proven innocent. In other words, this is a system which places the accused totally at the mercy of their accusers, incapable of defending themselves in any meaningful way. Exactly like what the CDF does to theologians. Nice system, but as the Pope is fond of saying, the church is not a democracy.
If the issue really is about stamping out fraud, that's much better left in the realm of secular authority.
I'm sure I'll have more thoughts on this latest salvo from Benedict, but here's my last one for today. Any psychiatrist or psychologist who gets involved in this witch hunt should turn in their accreditation. Period.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Procreation, Adoption, and Saving Western European Culture

Not the Aryan ideal of the white male. Also not eligible to adopt children in Leeds, UK.

I have blogged in the past that my biggest fear in anti gay legislation is the precedent it sets in adoption. It opens the door for discrimination in other areas, to define other classes of 'others'.

The Arkansas proposition which limited adoption to only married heterosexual couples will have repercussions which circle far wider than the gay community. It's a law which seems to have used a hand grenade approach to target a gnat.

In the UK, where adoption agencies may not discriminate against gay couples, Catholic agencies have been forced to decide between their mission to adopt children and their obedience to Catholic doctrine. Just under half of the Catholic adoption agencies have chosen to drop their affiliation with their Catholic sponsors in order to continue in their mission. Make no mistake about it, adoption law is becoming the new area for determining who is really a worthy human and who is not. Consider the following:

LONDON (AFP) - A man has been told he and his wife cannot adopt children because he is so fat that the authorities fear he will die, he said Monday.

Damien Hall, who stands six feet, one inch tall, weighs 24 and a half stone. He therefore has a body mass index (BMI) of more than 42 and is thus considered morbidly obese.

The call centre worker, 37, and his nanny wife Charlotte, 31, cannot have children of their own and approached Leeds City Council, about adopting.

But their local authority told them that Damien must get his BMI down below 40 before they can be considered as potential parents due to concerns over his weight.

"The bottom line is I'm too fat," he told BBC radio. "It's hard to lose weight under pressure. I'm not a couch potato and I don't sit eating takeaways every night.

"I just feel as though we were only judged on my weight and not all the other good things about us.
"We don't drink or smoke and we could give a child a happy and safe home." (Apparently that's no longer the main criteria in adoption.)

The letter the couple received from Leeds City Council said they were unable to process their adoption application "due to the concerns that the medical advisers have expressed regarding Mr Hall's weight. (Then they best be gettin' on down to city hall and stoppin' fat people from marryin' and havin' children with out their supervision.)

"The Adoption Panel are unlikely to approve applicants with a BMI over 40 because of the long term health risks. (Much better to keep children in foster homes and orphanages with their long term mental health risks.)

"It would therefore be to your advantage to begin the assessment with an up to date medical where your BMI is clearly recorded as being under 40 and to demonstrate that you are able to maintain this weight loss over the period of the assessment." (Mr. Hall's weight converts to about 350 pounds and a BMI of 46.3. He'd need to lose about 50 pounds to be a 'fit' parent.)
Charlotte Hall said the letter was "gutting" and "to be turned down flatly just on that, it's just harsh. (50 pounds does seem somewhat harsh, but it's easier to lose weight than change your orientation. Praise Jesus.)
"We're here ready to take a child on.
"They seem to be saying it's better for them to be in care and being shoved from pillar to post just in case Damien dies." (That's precisely what they are saying.)

In a statement, Leeds City Council explained: "The council's adoption service has a legal responsibility to ensure that children are placed with adopters who are able to provide the best possible lifelong care.

"Part of this responsibility is advice for applicants on a range of suitability criteria, including any health and lifestyle issues which may impact on an applicant's long term ability to adopt."


By this BMI criteria, probably one quarter of all American parents would be unable to adopt and those percentages would drastically rise in minority communities. Isn't that interesting?
I have already cited one white male 'scientific expert' who would deny the Native American community adoption rights based on their propensity for the same psychological profile he sees in the gay community. I'm sure this gentleman will come armed to the teeth the next time he testifies in an adoption case about how minorities fit the obesity profile and should be barred from adoption.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Adoption laws have nothing to do with the best interests of the child, they have to do with the best interests of the prevailing white European Christian culture. But adoption isn't the only smoke screen being used to further the interests of the prevailing white European Christian culture. Birth control is also right there in the forefront:

The chemist who made a key discovery leading to the invention of the birth control pill has written a commentary calling demographic decline in Europe a “horror scenario” and a “catastrophe” brought on in part by the pill’s invention. (I always find it interesting that the word 'white' is never used, as in 'white demographic decline.")
Mr. Carl Djerassi, now 85 years old, was one of three researchers whose formulation of the synthetic progestagen Norethisterone marked a key step in the creation of the first oral contraceptive pill, the Guardian reports.

In a personal commentary in the Austrian newspaper Der Standard, Djerassi said his invention is partly to blame for demographic imbalance in Europe. On the continent, he argued, there is now “no connection at all between sexuality and reproduction.” (I think the connection is strongly being made, that's why people use birth control. That's why the Church teaches the Billings method of birth control---ooops I meant Family planning.)

“This divide in Catholic Austria, a country which has on average 1.4 children per family, is now complete,” he wrote.

Djerassi described families who had decided against reproduction as “wanting to enjoy their schnitzels while leaving the rest of the world to get on with it.” (Or maybe they just wanted to leave some schnitzels for the rest of the world.)

The fall in the birth rate, he claimed, was an “epidemic” far worse but less highlighted than obesity. In his view, young Austrians who fail to procreate are committing national suicide. (Here we go, another mention of fat people. Carl Djerassi really means white Austria is committing national suicide, but of course he doesn't' say it.)

If it is not possible to reverse the demographic decline, an “intelligent immigration policy” will be necessary, Djerassi said. (I'm sure he means allowing in immigrants who will toe the white Austrian cultural line, meaning what that culture was when he grew up, not what it is today.)

According to the Guardian, Archbishop of Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schonborn told Austrian TV that Pope Paul VI had predicted the pill would cause a dramatic fall in the birth rate. (This treating PVI as prophetic just stuns me. It didn't take a prophet to figure out men and women would jump at the chance of choosing when and how many children they would have. That handwriting was on the wall long before Humanae Vitae.)

“Somebody above suspicion like Carl Djerassi ... is saying that each family has to produce three children to maintain population levels, but we’re far away from that,” the cardinal said.
(Why Is Carl Djerassi above suspicion? I'm sure he has lived a very nice life style profiting from the white national suicide in Austria. The man is nothing more than a hypocrite, blaming others for what he himself helped create.)


It's a little late in the day for white men in their old age to be lamenting the consequences of the very ideology and technology they profited from. Using adoption laws and castigating oral contraceptives will not stop the rush of history, will not return things to 1950 when white authority figures ruled the world from the United States and Europe and attempted to create the world in their own image and likeness. No amount of smoke will cloud the truth and no amount of propositions designed to support the family of 1950 will change the tide of human progress.
Aryan white European male culture doesn't appear to be the final end point of human progress. Thank God. But how many more wars will have to be fought on how many fronts before the idea finally dies.