Friday, October 31, 2008

Palin The Holy Warrior Now Thinks She's Above The Constitution

It's Halloween and with Sarah Palin things are getting even scarier:

ABC News reports:

In a conservative radio interview that aired in Washington, D.C. Friday morning, Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin said she fears her First Amendment rights may be threatened by "attacks" from reporters who suggest she is engaging in a negative campaign against Barack Obama.

Palin told WMAL-AM that her criticism of Obama's associations, like those with 1960s radical Bill Ayers and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, should not be considered negative attacks. Rather, for reporters or columnists to suggest that it is going negative may constitute an attack that threatens a candidate's free speech rights under the Constitution, Palin said.

"If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations," Palin told host Chris Plante, "then I don't know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media." (Gosh, I hope you remember this when you realize some of us have been calling you out on your associations.)

Salon's Glenn Greenwald explains why this argument is frighteningly wrong:

If anything, Palin has this exactly backwards, since one thing that the First Amendment does actually guarantee is a free press. Thus, when the press criticizes a political candidate and a Governor such as Palin, that is a classic example of First Amendment rights being exercised, not abridged.

This isn't only about profound ignorance regarding our basic liberties, though it is obviously that. Palin here is also giving voice here to the standard right-wing grievance instinct: that it's inherently unfair when they're criticized. And now, apparently, it's even unconstitutional.

According to Palin, what the Founders intended with the First Amendment was that political candidates for the most powerful offices in the country and Governors of states would be free to say whatever they want without being criticized in the newspapers. The First Amendment was meant to ensure that powerful political officials would not be "attacked" in the papers. (I bet all Holy Warriors think they should be free of criticism from any of the media, including insignificant bloggers such as myself. Although come to think of it, I get about 2000 discrete hits a month from 64 countries. That might be significant in it's own way.)

Is it even possible to imagine more breathaking ignorance from someone holding high office and running for even higher office? (Well, yea, it is. This is small stuff compared to claiming she had trade negotiation experience with Russia when she hadn't. I guess she really meant Canada)


Be forewarned. I will keep posting on Sarah Palin until the US presidential election is over. If some American Catholic Bishop obviously puts himself and his diocese in the McCain/Palin camp, I will post that as well. (Or puts him and his diocese in the Obama camp on some single issue --like the Iraq war for instance. Like that will actually happen.)

I'm not unaware of the fact that when given a chance to vote on the internet, the world is voting 85% in favor of Obama. Since at least 64 countries in the world have had someone who has read this blog this month, I've been keeping up with the world wide vote.

These are figures which Americans should understand, because almost everything this country does impacts people in places we don't even know where they are geographically. To forget this is to forget one the most important things Jesus ever taught. "We are all our brothers keepers, and what you do to the least of these you do to me." It's high time some of us Americans got this in terms of our global brothers and sisters.

I will do what I can to see that our past mistakes are not repeated---at least in this election cycle.

Does Sarah Palin Really Think She's One Of God's Holy Warriors?

I suspect like many others, I didn't put much emphasis on Sarah Palin's Church affiliations. I have subsequently changed my mind. Sarah Palin is up to her eye balls in a heretical Assembly of God offshoot affiliated with the pentecostal movement called "The Third Wave".

I'm sure many of us have heard about her anointing by the African witch hunter Thomas Muthee and chalked it up to a "Pentecostal thing" which had little bearing on the current political campaign. We were wrong. The "Third Wave" has a very political agenda, and Sarah is their current standard bearer.

Last week when an unnamed source from the McCain campaign called her a 'whack job', I sensed that something important was implied in that statement. Something more than just Gov. Palin going 'rogue' on the campaign with her stump speeches. Ethical political operatives just don't do that kind of thing unless, I thought to myself, somehow it WAS the ethical thing. So I've spent some time this week really delving into Sarah Palin and her religious leanings. She is no friend of Catholicism.

The Third Wave Movement is also known as the New Apostolic Reformation, Joel's Army, and The Manifest Sons Of God. Essentially this movement believes we have entered the end times. Joel's Army sees this as evidenced by the passing of Roe V Wade in 1973, and that those born after this year are part of that army. All these linked groups believe they have a Divine Mandate to clean up the world by taking over the "seven secular mountains", as explained in this quote from Mary Glazier. Mary Glazier is the leader of Palin's 'spiritual warfare group', an admission Palin made when interviewed by Focus On The Family:

"Glazier's sermon, which featured her comments on Palin, was given at a conference Opening the Gate of Heaven on Earth that also featured a number of speeches and sermons on the plans of leaders of the New Apostolic Reformation to take control of the seven "kingdoms" of society through their "Seven Mountains Strategy."

These efforts to take control of religion, family, education, arts and entertainment, media, government, and business are clearly defined in their publicity and numerous conferences on the topic. Muthee also explains the need to take over these seven "kingdoms" in his sermon before anointing Sarah Palin."

With an agenda like this, it's no wonder that Sarah Palin is considered the reincarnation of the Old Testament's Esther or Deborah and why some McCain campaign professionals might just consider her a 'rogue' and a 'whack job'.

Other than supporting politicians of similar charismatic bent, the leaders of the New Apostolic Reformation employ various spiritual warfare techniques such as identifying areas which are under the control of demons or generational curses. They then direct part of the efforts of their respective 'prayer warriors' to the exorcising of these mapped out areas.

One such effort prompted an Australian group to camp on Mount Everest to deal with the demon which had possessed the heart of Catholicism, having turned Catholicism into an apostate christian church. They identified that demon as "The Queen of Heaven." Yes, you read that right, the very woman known to Catholics as Mary, the mother of Jesus. While not claiming to have exorcised the demon, they were pretty sure their efforts resulted in the death of Mother Theresa.

I don't suppose it should come as any shock that TV Evangelicals like the ousted Ted Haggard, or John Haggee, are linked with the New Apostolic Reformation. As is Benny Hinn and Pastor Todd Bentley. Bentley is a real gem of a faith healing pastor. He recently made headlines for kicking a colon cancer patient repeatedly in an effort to heal him, and this is after he freely admits the Holy Spirit told him to kick an older woman in the face. Nuff said
It should hardly be surprising that one of their holy and cleansed geographical areas is Colorado Springs, Colorado, the hot bed of neocon religious pacts groups like Focus On The Family. (It is also the home of the Air Force Academy, and a very pretty place. I drove through it on my little journey last month and was impressed, but I actually like Santa Fe better.)

(A short note to Bill Lyndsey: You are doing a great service to Catholicism with your work on Archbishop Chaput and his connections to Colorado Springs.)

If this is beginning to sound like a 'Christianized' version of some New World Order, it's because it is. These are people who are thoroughly committed to cleansing the world of secularists and heretics in time to turn it over to Jesus and they are world wide, and their infiltration is not centered primarily on the political world quite yet. It''s centered on infiltrating mainline protestant churches and destroying the influence of Catholicism--especially in Latin America and Africa. Here's an analysis of what they've accomplished in the Presbyterian Church:

"An Institute for Democracy report from April 2000 reveals the impact of Wagner on the current division in the Presbyterian Church USA. The report quotes Tom White as crediting Wagner and his involvement in "AD 2000 and Beyond" for advancing the ideas of spiritual warfare to conservative evangelicals in PCUSA. The report states that Presbyterian-Reformed Ministries International (PRMI) then "initiated a strategic level warfare campaign against denominational structures supporting the work of women, gays, and lesbians in the church." The report included spiritual warfare charts distributed by PRMI which mapped the "demonic strongholds" in their church. The author of the report, Lewis C. Daly, adds that those engaged in spiritual warfare do not just equate the things they see as sinful with demons, but "they believe that their opponents are literally possessed by or are the agents of Satan."

I wish I was writing about a few thousand 'whack jobs' but that's not the case. There are millions and they are very actively proselytizing. The thing is, the tools they use can be very powerful, such as intentional group prayer, but the only spiritual force that I'm aware of that actively promotes the removal of free choice isn't called the Holy Spirit.

It may be that Sara Palin hasn't bought into all of this and it may be that it would never influence her politically or in her elected duties, but it wouldn't matter, because she would still be a major focus point for their efforts, both in this world and in their supernatural dealings. This is very scarey stuff to me, and I can't believe most Catholics who do any research into her affiliations could in conscience vote for her.

For those interested in a good place to start doing more research, here's a couple of links.

This one is from Mary Glazier's website itself:

And this one is probably the best place to start with all kinds of other links:

**Lest one think the Vatican doesn't take all of this quite seriously I would just like to point out that the inroads being made in Africa and Latin American concern both the Vatican and respective bishops a great deal, and there has to be some reason for last winter's call from Pope Benedict for an army of exorcists.**

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Officially Side Tracked

I've been officially side tracked for the day and so will leave a link to a chapter in Peter Dresser's book, which was the source of controversy mentioned in yesterday's post about the nature of the Divinity of Jesus.

It's a great place from which to start to contemplate how our 21st century understanding of cosmology and our technical/rational world view impact our understanding of Jesus Christ.

Our view of the universe and humanity itself, is light years from the understandings of the Father's of the Church who wrote the Nicene Creed principally in refutation of Arianism.

When we recite the creed, how much of it makes any sense to us, how much of it is believable, and how much of our brain is essentially by passed or turned off to maintain our religious belief? Who is Jesus and what do we really believe about Him? Is Jesus just another spiritual teacher, an avatar along the Hindu concepts of the Divine descending to earth, or is Jesus the only son of God?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

On the way to looking up other things, I came across some more interesting things. One of these is Cardinal Egan's take on abortion, equating pro choice people with Nazis and Stalinists, or more accurately, falling prey to the type of thinking used by Nazis and Stalinists when Nazis and Stalinists killed Jews, gays, Cossacks, and the Russian Aristocracy. He does this by encouraging us to bypass our higher thought centers by concentrating on a photograph of a five month old fetus, and responding strictly from our emotional/visual centers.

This is the center of our brains I've referred to as the limbic system. The limbic system contains our emotions and visual cortex. To say the two are linked is an understatement. Interestingly enough it was the Nazi propaganda machine which took full advantage of this phenomenon in their efforts to define Jews and gays as 'others'. I could say with some justification that Cardinal Egan is himself using the thought processes of the Nazi propaganda machine to make his point about abortion. I was offended by his blatant call for us to suspend our higher thought processes and think only emotionally. I had intended to take him on, but instead found someone else had beat me to it. Thankyou Tonysee of Catholica AU.


Another trend I've noticed, as the Republicans look to be headed for a landslide defeat, is the sudden penchant for those involved in certain family values battles to paint themselves as victims, while authoritatively stating as absolute facts things which aren't facts at all.

The latest in this line of political activism came from the pen of Auxiliary Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of the San Diego diocese. He wrote to the San Diego city Council just before they were to take a vote on whether to endorse Proposition 8.
In it he states that "“Defining marriage as it has been understood in every society since the beginning of the human race is hardly the stuff of which unconstitutional laws consist,” This is patently absurd as his concept of marriage has a very short track record in the history and societies of the world.

He then goes on to claim victimhood: “Why are our thoughts and feelings not worthy of equal consideration to theirs, especially when we can offer many rational, cogent arguments to justify our position? We support marriage because marriage benefits everyone; we abhor violence and unjust treatment against people who disagree with us. Nonetheless, we are accused of discrimination. Who, though, is being discriminated against now?”

Marriage for Bishop Cordileone doesn't benefit everyone, precisely if you're gay. It's the whole point of his support for Prop 8: to deny gays the benefits of marriage---to discriminate against them. I guess the best defense against blatant discrimination is to claim the discrimination appellate for one's self.

After claiming victimhood the bishop then appeals for unity while assigning blame for the disunity: “Please do not divide our community any more bitterly than it already is. Please do not betray the trust the public has placed in you. Please do not disenfranchise those who worked so hard to give Californians the opportunity to decide,”

Apparently we're to believe that the Bishop and the groups which have put proposition 8 on the ballot share no responsibility for the divisions and bitterness. Should the city council not vote correctly it will be the city council's fault.

It must also be surmised that Bishop Cordileone is forgetting that part of the democratic process is for city councils to have an opinion on state propositions which will directly effect their public domain.

The good bishop also seems to think it's perfectly all right for the city council to disenfranchise gay tax payers. And all of this is justified by good of the children and so he ends with this impassioned plea: “After having made such laudatory and inspired commitments to our youth, please, do not now sell them down the river by telling them that it’s not important for them to have a mother and a father."

I wonder if Bishop Cordileone has any idea what kind of message this sends to children who are being raised in single parent homes? Not to mention how gay kids must feel. I wonder if he even cares.


Finally, I came across a very interesting discussion on Catholica Australia about the nature of the divinity of Jesus. It too came as a result of controversy, and part of the controversy swirls around the parish which devised the Eucharistic prayer I posted yesterday.
Pay close attention to the comment written by Warren if you decide to check out this thread. Warren seems to me to be onto something very important about the converging concepts of what it means to be divinely human from multiple spiritualities. I'll have more on this idea of the impact of spiritual consensus and the influence of cosmological world views on Christology tomorrow. ( Assuming I don't get sidetracked.)


In the meantime, call the Vatican and chat with one of it's operators. I've done it.

A priest friend and I got into a heated discussion one night and decided only JPII could settle our disagreement. We got the operators, who must of thought we were too good to be true, and they kept passing us up the chain.
Eventually we had Monsignor Dziwisz, the papal secretary on the line, who thought the whole thing was too funny for words, and went to actually get JPII. (Must have been a slow day in the Vatican.) At this point my priest friend panics over the thought his bishop would get wind of our phone call and that would be a bad thing. So he hung up and we never did talk to the Pope. It's still kind of mind boggling to know we could have, and consequently I'm a big fan of the Vatican operators.

I'm not going to tell you what we were arguing about, but I will say I was the de facto winner of the argument because my priest friend hung up on the Pope. I will admit to a little vino having fueled the whole thing, and it was serious in a funny kind of way. Maybe Msgr Dziwisz thought the pope needed a laugh. Anyway, I can truthfully say, on the right day, with the right operator, it is possible to get through to the Pope. It would never have happened with a computerized system.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Stage IV Eucharistic Prayer

When I was writing the posts on the different stages of spirituality, I was entertaining writing what I thought might be a Eucharistic prayer which reflected a more Stage IV spiritual understanding of the Eucharist. Instead I found that St. Mary's in Brisbane, Australia had already undertaken such a project----thus saving my readership exposure to my own pathetic attempt. Believe me, it was pathetic relative to the following:

Liturgy of the Eucharist at St. Mary’s in South Brisbane, Australia

Presider: What do you bring to Christ's table?
All: We bring bread, made by many people's work, from an unjust world where some have plenty and most go hungry

Presider: At this table all are fed and no one is turned away.

All: Thanks be to God

Presider: What do you bring to Christ's table?

All: We bring wine, made by many people's work, from an unjust world where some have leisure and most struggle to survive.

Presider: At this table all share the cup of pain and celebration and no one is denied.

All: Thanks be to God. These gifts shall be for us the body and blood of Christ. Our witness against hunger, our cry against injustice, and our hope for a world where God is fully known and every child is fed. Thanks be to God.

Consciousness Waking
Holy and Whole
Creation's stirring
Birthing anew
Now is the time
We are the space
For the Holy
To rise in our midst.

Presider: You have woven an intimate tapestry and called it life and called it good.
All: Our God, all creation calls you blessed and so do we.

Presider: In love you have formed a universe, diverse yet related. To you, each of us, as each blade of grass and each star, is an irreplaceable treasure, a companion on this journey of love

All: Our God, all creation calls you blessed, and so do we. Creator God, let your holy spirit move in power over us and over our earthly gifts of bread and wine, that they may become the body and blood of Christ. On the night before he met his death Jesus came to table with those he loved. He took bread and blessed you God of all creation; he broke the bread and said: Take this, all of you, and eat it, this is my body, which will be given up for you

Elevation of the Bread

When supper was ended, he took the cup of wine and gave thanks to you God of all creation: he passed the cup among his disciples and said: Take this, all of you, and drink from it. This is the cup of my blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me.

Elevation of the Wine


I am Inner Stillness
Deep within I am
I am Pure Love
Deep within I am

Presider: The table of bread and wine is now made ready. It is the table of company with Jesus and with all those who love Him.

All: It is the table of sharing with the poor of the world, with whom Jesus identified himself. It is the table of communion with the earth in which Christ became incarnate.

Presider: So we come to this table to renew our communion with the earth and our interwovenness with the broken ones of the world.

All: We come to this table to renew our unity with one another and with all those who have gone before us.

(A Moment of Silence)

Presider: Come! It is the risen One who invites us to meet him here.


One of the best parts of this Eucharistic prayer is that the entire congregation and the presider say the words of the Consecration. Needless to say this co mingling of the roles of priest and laity has St. Mary's under investigation for their orthodoxy.

Apparently some Stage II folk aren't really convinced this form uses enough of the correct magic words to make Jesus actually be present in the bread and wine. (Like Jesus doesn't have a choice or something.)

In any event it still remains to be seen whether St. Mary's will have to clean up their act and become more orthodox, and hence less inclusive. St Mary's is also gay and women friendly and therefore not exactly using a communion litmus test for admission to the table. I suppose one could tell that from reading the above.

I really like this prayer very much, especially the last sentence which is about the Risen Christ. It speaks far more to where I am spiritually than any of the current four Eucharistic prayers. Too bad it's probably not long for the Catholic world.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Somalia: Or Why Al Quaeda Endorsed McCain

Of all the weird things that have come out this week on the political front, the one that really got to me was the endorsement of McCain by Al Quaeda. OK, I also thought the Ashley Todd thing was way over the top. Each in it's own way makes a statement about the republican party, as least in it's behavior with regards to this election.

The Al Quaeda endorsement however, makes a much bigger statement about the international perception of McCain's foreign policy, and therefore is something I've taken much more seriously than his campaign's blatant and misguided attempt to use the blatant and misguided hoax of Ashley Todd.

McCain's campaign tried to spin the Al Quaeda endorsement as a form of reverse psychology. In this scenario Al Queada really wanted Americans to elect the more wishy washy limp wristed Obama. A limp wristed Obama, who they could test and manipulate and use to terrorize the rest of the world, was far preferable to the known and tested John McCain. On the surface this would seem to have some merit, but if one looks deeper, it doesn't hold water.

American security analysts, including Richard Clarke, the former White House counter intelligence director, think Al Queada was not using reverse psychology, but in fact stating their preference. A continuance of the Bush doctrine on Islam is exceedingly helpful in Al Aquaeda's recruitment of naive young people who will let themselves be used as human bombs. The analysts cite the Bush machinations in Somalia as an example of how the Bush doctrine fuels Islamic hate.

Since I knew nothing about the Bush machinations in Somalia, I found what actually went on to be an eye opening read. Apparently Somalia was close to finally putting together a workable government composed of extremist and moderate Islamic forces. Bush and company were terrified that a workable Islamic government in Somalia would not cooperate with the US on the terrorism front, and so they gave Ethiopia the green light to invade Somalia.
One result of this is that Somalia is now a bigger humanitarian mess than Darfur or the Congo. Another result is that anti American sentiments are through the roof, and the Islamic population is far more militant than before the Ethiopian invasion. The Bush administration actually brought about the very thing they were trying to avoid, increasing the number of Islamic terrorists in Somalia.

McCain has said nothing that would lead me to believe he would have taken any other decision in Somalia. Our irrational responses to rational fear is exactly what fuels Al Aquaeda recruiting amongst the disenfranchised Islamic youth. I'm sure the last thing Al Quaeda really wants is an Obama presidency, because Obama would represent an unknown to Al Quaeda while putting a completely different face on the American Government.

It's probably why Bush's own counter terrorism experts are refuting McCain's take about this Al Quaeda endorsement. We need to rethink our foreign policy with regards to Islamic terrorism and the Islamic world because all we are doing now is creating more of that which we fear.

Maybe it's time we were as wise as serpents, and as gentle as doves. This isn't the same as being wishy washy and limp wristed no matter how the McCain camp wishes to spin it.

Maybe this is also the time to trust intelligent patriotic experts like Richard Clarke, and quit pandering to the emotional fears of Joe the Plumber and Joe Six Pack--no matter how the Hockey Mom sees it from her porch.

Maybe it's time we voted with our heads and not from our fears....

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Another Letter, But One From The 'What Was' Perspective

Shining Some Light On Dark Arguments

Again this morning I have come across another very important article, but this one is the polar opposite of yesterday's. This is a long letter written by a Jesuit Church historian to a Catholic Massachusetts legislator at the height of the attempt to over turn Massachusetts's same sex marriage laws through a state constitutional initiative.

This is a highly relevant letter today, in that it traces the history of the development of Catholic teaching with regards to marriage and sexuality. It is not a fear based, "What if" but a dispassionate look at "What was" and how we have arrived at the Catholic understanding of marriage and relationship. The author also points out how the current argument of "It's always been this way" is far from the truth.

Just like the, "what if'" scenarios fail under the light of reason, the "it's always been this way" arguments also fail when light is cast upon them. Have a good read.
PS: I find it quite interesting that in all the time, effort and money (25 million) that Christians have put into passing proposition 8 in California against same sex marriage, I have not heard one peep about Proposition K on the ballot in San Francisco.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

When Life Validates Blogging


I came across something on the Internet this morning that's a perfect example of a process which I wrote about earlier this week---THE WHAT IF syndrome. Here's what I wrote.

"The left hemisphere's capacity to imagine the future can conjure up all kinds of fantasy futures by using the "What if" syndrome and that's the evolutionary snag. A seven year old may think, "What if daddy comes home drunk and beats me again?" The lower, repetitive levels of his brain will react to this future thought exactly as if daddy had come home and was presently beating the seven year old. Hence at a very early age we introduce the concept of self promulgated anxiety based on learned repetitive patterns. It's also important to understand that the R and limbic systems don't have the capacity to imagine anything, they just react to everything as if it's real and in the present. This is why the 'what if' syndrome causes so many problems with excessive anxiety."

It's also why political groups who want to change our votes by engaging directly with our fear centers, are all over using the "what if" syndrome for their own ends. The following is the preamble to a fantasized letter written by Focus on Family Action:

Letter from 2012 in Obama’s America

What will the United States be like if Senator Obama is elected? The most reliable way
of predicting people’s future actions is by looking at their past actions. Jesus himself
taught, “You will recognize them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16). Anyone who has hired
employees knows that – the best predictor of a person’s future job performance is not
what he tells you he can do but what he has actually done in the past.

So here is a picture of the changes that are likely or at least very possible if Senator
Obama is elected and the far-Left segments of the Democratic Party gain control of the
White House, the Congress, and perhaps then the Supreme Court. The entire letter is
written as a “What if?” exercise, but that does not make it empty speculation, because
every future “event” described here is based on established legal and political trends
can be abundantly documented and that only need a “tipping point” such as the election
of Senator Obama and a Democratic House and Senate to begin to put them into place.
Every past event named in this letter (everything prior to October 22, 2008) is established

This letter is not “predicting” that all of the imaginative future “events” named in this letter
will happen. But it is saying that each one of these changes could happen and also that
each change would be the natural outcome of (a) published legal opinions by liberal
judges, (b) trends seen in states with liberal-dominated courts such as California and
Massachusetts, (c) recent promises, practices and legislative initiatives of the current
liberal leadership of the Democratic Party and (d) Senator Obama’s actions, voting record
and public promises to the far-Left groups that won the nomination for him.
Many of these changes, if they occur, will have significant implications for Christians.

The full letter can be accessed here. Should you bother reading it you will find all kinds of catastrophic things have happened by 2012. Things like four American cities have experienced terrorist bombs, Russia has taken over the entirety of Eastern Europe, Al Quaeda has risen to political prominence in most of the Middle East and Iraq is their's and the Taliban's little fiefdom and terrorist breeding ground. Apparently Obama has been impotent to change any of this because he relies on diplomacy and the UN. Oh, and let's not forget Israel:

"In mid-2010, Iran launched a nuclear bomb that exploded in the middle of Tel Aviv, destroying much of that city. They then demanded that Israel cede huge amounts of territory to the Palestinians, and after an anguished all-night Cabinet meeting, Israel’s prime minister agreed. Israel is reduced to a much smaller country, hardly ableto defend itself, and its future remains uncertain. President Obama said he abhorred what Iranhad done and he hoped the U.N. would unanimously condemn this crime against humanity. Healso declared that the U.S. would be part of any international peacekeeping force if authorized bythe U.N., but the Muslim nations in the U.N. have so far prevented any action."

That's just foreign affairs, the domestic scene is even worse for Christians, because the Supreme Court is now 6-3 in favor of those activist liberal judges and our entire legal system has been infiltrated by godless communist homosexuals and the homosexual agenda is apparently our only social agenda, (along with tax payer funded abortions and infanticide, and making sure anyone over 80 is refused hospital access and encouraged to 'do the right thing and go home and die.')

The boy scouts have disbanded in righteous indignation over being forced to put homosexual leaders in the same tents with boys. The same kinds of righteous choices are being forced on medical personnel over the abortion issue, and therapists are quitting in righteous anger over being forced to adopt children out to gay couples. AND HORROR OF HORRORS, right wing talk radio is legislated off the air.

Anyway, you get the idea, this piece of "What if " perfectly illustrates the use of the logic of the left hemisphere to gain access to the R and limbic systems of early childhood development and tweak fear based anxiety from anyone who reads it. Obama becomes the bogey man in the closet and the only way to save ourselves is to cry in the night for our heroes McCain/Palin to come and turn on the bedroom lights and hold us in their nurturing arms.

That this tripe passes for political discourse in this country might work for Joe the plumber, but it only turns my stomach, and not because of fear based anxiety, but because of it's blatant attempt to circumvent my higher reasoning centers by appealing to my fear centers. Enough already.
Here's an article from Huffington Post which illustrates the purposeful use of psy ops to engender fear about Obama by the McCain/Palin campaign. It's sobering reading.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Church Of Two Heads

American bishops' compromise stand on political issues is breaking down

Oct. 21, 2008 ( - This campaign season, American bishops have taken a much more assertive role in public debates, openly criticizing some political candidates for their support of abortion and same sex-marriage. Now, in an even more intriguing development, bishops have begun criticizing each other as well.

Denver's Archbishop Charles Chaput, who has taken the lead in political debates throughout the year, broke new ground with his candid appraisal of Catholic support for Senator Barack Obama. Archbishop Chaput charged that prominent Catholics who have endorsed Obama, such as Douglas Kmiec (whom he mentioned by name) "have done a disservice to the Church, confused the natural priorities of Catholic social teaching, undermined the progress pro-lifers have made, and provided an excuse for some Catholics to abandon the abortion issue instead of fighting within their parties and at the ballot box to protect the unborn."

But Archbishop Chaput is not the only American bishop with strong views on political issues, and within a matter of days, there was a volley from the other side of the US hierarchy. Speaking to E. J. Dionne of the Washington Post, Bishop Gabino Zavala, a Los Angeles auxiliary, said that Catholics who emphasize the abortion issue are mistaken, because "we're not a one-issue church."

If Archbishop Chaput's statement was obviously hostile to the Obama campaign, Bishop Zavala's comments were just as obviously sympathetic to the Democratic candidate's platform. He said that voters should weigh all issues that touch on the dignity of human life, including the ways in which economic policies impinge "on the most vulnerable among us, the elderly, poor children, single mothers."

"Bishop Zavala's desire to speak out with an alternative view is a sign of how much has changed in four years," writes Dionne in his Post column. "Progressive Catholics are now as organized as conservative Catholics were in 2004."

The statement approved by US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Faithful Citizenship, represents a compromise between two increasingly outspoken groups of American bishops: those who want a more aggressive stance in opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage, and those who prefer to emphasize issues such as poverty, immigration, and the war in Iraq. Faithful Citizenship instructs Catholics to give top priority to the "life issues," but stops short of saying that support for legal abortion renders a candidate unacceptable regardless of his stands on other issues. Each wing of the American hierarchy has cited the USCCB document to support its own views. Conservative bishops note that Faithful Citizenship affirms the moral imperative of fighting against abortion; liberal bishops insist that the document does not call for a "single-issue" approach to voting. Both are right.

In past election years, a compromise like Faithful Citizenship would have been enough to maintain the public peace among American prelates. But this year the arguments among the bishops have been open and obvious. Bishop Zavala May not have intended a direct rebuttal to Archbishop Chaput, but that was the undeniable effect of his remarks.

Meanwhile in Pennsylvania, Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton outdid Archbishop Chaput when he arrived unexpectedly at a recent parish forum and rebuked the organizers for allowing speakers to misrepresent Church teaching. Abortion cannot be considered as just one among many important political issues, the bishop said: "No social issue has caused the death of 50 million people."

But Bishop Martino did not stop with his insistence on the importance of abortion. He also chided the organizers of the parish forum for handing out copies of Faithful Citizenship while ignoring his own powerful pastoral letter on the urgency of the abortion issue.

Whereas Bishop Zavala tried to advance a particular interpretation of the USCCB document, Bishop Martino distanced himself from Faithful Citizenship. "No USCCB document is relevant in this diocese," he said. "The only relevant document… is my letter."

It seems reasonable to conclude that Bishop Martino is not terribly fond of Faithful Citizenship: not terribly fond of a document that can be cited by both sides in a heated debate; not terribly fond of a statement that leaves the central issue unresolved. For years the US bishops have sidestepped public disputes on political issues by crafting statements that will barely satisfy both sides. Now that compromise is breaking down.


I suspect the best indication that progressive Catholics have made some inroads in the last four years is that a few bishops are finally speaking publicly in favor of the progressive approach to politics. I also suspect another sign of this making inroads is that some bishops have become overtly and publicly hostile to any presentation of this alternative point of view. In Archbishop Chaput's case he publicly attacks Dr. Kmiec, and in Bishop Marino's case he hijacks a public forum on Faithful Citizenship leaving no one in doubt as to where things stand in his diocese.

Two heads, one church, the center apparently no longer holds. I think this situation in Catholicism is just another symptom of the divisive corrosion of rightwing politics. Another gift you might say, of eight years of Bush and the neocons. Roman Catholicism used to be about Jesus Christ. Now it seems we're a single issue Church and that issue isn't Jesus Christ, it's abortion. The times they have a changed. Jesus is just a prop on which to hang political arguments.

Kind of sad really, but maybe if enough of us realize Catholicism no longer speaks with a credible voice about Jesus and His message, we'll be motivated to get back to basics. Maybe more of our bishops will realize that in politicizing the Church they have lost the flock. Maybe more of them will get back to basics, the basics of being real shepherds and not political flacks. I'm really hoping an Obama win will send an unmistakable message. You know the one that says GET THE POLITICS OUT OF THE PULPIT.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Becoming Like Little Children Part III

Snake in freeze defense position.

Sometimes I come across something that is just so good, it fits so well in what I've been thinking and writing that I have to take some time to just savor it. This short extract from a longer comment on another Catholic blog is one of those somethings:

"It seems to me that the message that Gays and Lesbians etc have for us all is that we must be true to ourselves."I AM WHAT I AM" is their motto. Would that I could take a searching and fearless look at my true self and get past the facade I erect to ingratiate myself with my upward socially mobile set."

This is what these posts are all about. How to get past the facade we erect in order to survive and prosper in our various cultures. To do exactly what Christ asked us to do, which is die to the facade and find our true Divine self within.

One of the starting points for this process is to pick something which causes you palpable anxiety and to be open to tracing that anxiety back to it's roots. I've watched people literally freeze up when it comes to certain cultural issues. Freezing up is a flight reaction to anxiety and points to repressed emotions centered on the fear/anger complex. It's opposite reaction is to fight or attack and this can certainly manifest as a verbal as well as physical attack.

When I made it a conscious point in my life to notice the anxiety bubbling up I began to make real headway in understanding some of my maladaptive behavior. I'll use a personal rather than a hypothetical example to illustrate how this works.

About a decade ago I was called into my supervisors office and out of the blue was given a very negative evaluation of a situation which I thought I handled effectively and appropriately. I was so stunned I literally froze. My mind didn't function, my vision blurred, and I couldn't hear effectively. I actually could not separate his voice from the background noise.

I began to slowly realize that some part of me is screaming at me to get control of myself, that my current response was ineffective. With a major effort I shifted from frozen incomprehension and was able to hear the last part of what my supervisor was saying. He had moved on to a personal attack, generalizing about me as a person.

In an instant I shifted from a frozen flight response, to out right anger. This anger was so pervasive that this other part of me realized if I didn't get control of this state, I would literally come unglued. Unable to reconcile such a ramped up emotional and anxious state I started to shudder and felt hot tears coming down my cheeks. That was a signal to me to remove myself from the situation because I was one small step away from cleaning his clock. My fists were clenched so tight my nails were driving into the flesh of my palms. I didn't even excuse myself, I just left his office.

His reaction to my reaction was interesting. Rather than seeing any of the rage my body was expressing, he took my leaving as a sign of weakness and submission and felt totally vindicated. From that point on my work life became pretty unbearable and I quit the first chance I got.

From my perspective, I was obsessed with trying to figure out what precipitated such a charged emotional response---to freeze on one hand, and then flip into an almost uncontrollable rage. What I found precipitated a lot of AHA! moments and many, many long sighs.

Long sighs are a very good thing because they represent the body releasing anxiety. They also indicate that the anxiety is of a low enough level that one can proceed with whatever one is thinking about because the anxiety is being released through the voluntary muscles and not stored in the sympathetic nervous system, where it can do a lot of damage.

The frozen state I described above is an example of one's anxiety level getting so high, that it interferes with cognitive functioning and the brain is disassociating, which is why my vision blurred and my hearing deteriorated. This is a level of anxiety well beyond what shunting anxiety to the sympathetic nervous system can dissipate. Anxiety is so pervasive the brain resorts to frozen disassociation. Essentially this means a person is experiencing an almost pure state of R/Limbic state functioning devoid of much higher level cognitive influence.

Picture a snake frozen in the face of danger, hoping it won't be noticed. This is the reptilian brain were talking about here, so it makes sense we might emulate a reptilian defensive strategy.

If you think back about traumatic events when you were a young child, you will undoubtedly remember similar states. These early experiences are key to them manifesting in adulthood.

The voice I described telling me this response is ineffective is what I would call the observer ego. The observer ego is not impacted by emotional states. Once my focus shifted to listening to the observer ego, I was able to refocus on the moment, which as things went, only triggered another extreme reaction, but this was not the disassociation of flight, but the soon to be active anger of rage. Again the observer ego made a decision. The physical release for this rage was not actively pummeling my supervisor but hot tears and long long shudders which seemed to involve my entire body. At this point me and my observer ego leave.

The question I had, is what was I projecting on this supervisor? I knew that in reality this situation did not call for this kind of response from me. It was a sign pointing to something else.

What I found as I allowed myself to go back through memories is that this kind of out of the blue seemingly unjust attack had happened more than once. In fact more times than I cared to admit, but they had never precipitated this level of rage. In retrospect though, I could trace the rage rising from one situation to the next to the next. AHA long sigh.

What was the initial situation? It turns out there were two, and they both happened before I reached the age of eight. The second of the two happened when I was in catechism classes at the age of seven. We were preparing for first Communion and First Confession. We had been reading the Baltimore Catechism and were memorizing the whole litany of God is this, God is that section. I dawned on me that it said that God is all powerful and God can do all things, and I wondered if God could create someone more powerful than Himself. If He couldn't He wasn't all powerful, but if He did then He wouldn't be all powerful anymore. So I raised my hand and in all innocent curiosity asked the nun about this.

KABOOM! Amongst other things I was called a blasphemer and threatened with never making my first communion. She was pissed. I don't know what button of hers I pushed, but whatever it was, the anger she expressed at me triggered a state of disassociation exactly as I described above. Once I was able to refocus, my emotional state quickly turned to hysterical tears as I fantasized the question: "What if she tells my parents? Oh God, please God don't let her do that." Turns out God answered that prayer, although it took me a good week to believe my parents non action meant she hadn't called my parents.

However, my first confession was a nightmare of anxiety. (Remember the superego stuff from yesterday) The day it came upon me is the day I puked in class and was sent home. Classic example of shunting anxiety to the sympathetic nervous system. I did make my first confession the following weekend with my dad along as a before and after security blanket. To this day the thought of going to confession in a little black box is anxiety provoking, so I don't do it. (This would be a classic case of indulging in avoidance behavior.)

I think it's obvious that the original triggering event must have involved my parents, and because my dad functioned as my security blanket in the second event, the first event must have involved my mother.

The thing that's kind of funny to me now is that although the situation was devastating to my ill equipped young brain, to my mother who was raising five kids, this kind of thing must have happened all the time. What this thing was, is that mom blamed me out of the blue for something my brother had done---break a dish. My mother was truly pissed and for some reason I picked that time to wander into the kitchen and became her target. I think I was about four at the time.

I can still see her shaking the broken dish in my face, her face all red and angry, and I can feel myself freezing. I can't compute this anger at all, because I didn't do it. I'm firmly in that stage where I'm separating me and my acts from those of others. So I knew my lousy brother did it.

Unable to reconcile this reality my little brain opts for a new reality. It's called disassociation. In this reality my mother becomes all blurry and I can't hear her well at all, and therefor it's safer and all that icky anxious feeling seems to go away. I get sent to my room, except.... I've found a much better room, one I would frequently go to from then on out when things got really anxiety provoking. Plus, by the time I reached the age of reason, I had also found my own little secret room under the basement stairs and it was here I would frequently go when things needed sorting out. You could say it was my first office.

Now for all the good things about all this. I no longer disassociate around authority figures and can deal with unjust behavior from a strictly logical cognitive basis without all the anxiety getting in the way. I'll focus on it, make sure it stays in my voluntary muscle system, frequently taking deep breaths is one way I make sure of this, and let my little four year old self come to the forefront of my memory where I can recognized the source of the anxiety and let it pass. It's sort of me telling my R/limbic system "It's OK kid, I got this under control, I don't need your solutions at this time but thanks anyway." Slowly but surely, I'm telling my hyper vigilant older brain parts, that I can handle these things from higher more developed parts, and it's listening and it's trusting me.

The other good thing is that disassociation is a critical skill in developing psychic spiritual talent, but it's used as a skill, not a defense mechanism. Well, that's a topic for another day.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Unless You Become As Little Children You Shall Not Enter The Kingdom Of Heaven---Part II

Yesterday I left off at age 7 when the higher reasoning functions of the left hemisphere begin to exert more influence on the life of my Hypothetical Young Person. I also said, depending on HYP's early experiences, this entry into the world of the left hemisphere could be easy and adaptive, or uneasy and maladaptive. I choose the word uneasy for a reason.

Uneasy connotes both anxiety, in that situations can make us FEEL uneasy, and situations can be objectively uneasy, as in difficult to do. Maladaptive defense strategies will invoke both senses of uneasy because in a very real sense defense strategies are designed to protect the budding ego from anxious situations, and as life progresses their existence can make the situations in which they reflexively come into play much harder to objectively deal with on a conscious level.

Defense mechanisms, because they are generated at the behest of the Reptilian and limbic systems as means of dealing with overwhelming fear or anger, always function below awareness or unconsciously.

For example, say our HYP experienced the marital breakup of his parents at age three. At this stage, HYP's entire understanding of the world is all about him. Since his higher reasoning functions are not online, it falls to the R and limbic systems to generate some form of behavior which will ease the anxiety HYP feels. In order to restore some semblance of anxiety reduction, HYP's neural system may opt for isolation by removing HYP from the anxiety producing arguments of his parents.

This can come in two ways. The first is to physically remove himself by staying outdoors all the time or in some secret private place, or it may involve disassociation in which HYP is physically present, but not consciously present. He's is so deeply in his own internal world that sensory input isn't even processed.

In the meantime HPY FEELS the anxiety of his parent's situation as something he caused, because at this stage his mental world is all about him and his survival. He is the only active agent in his world, and everyone else reacts to his actions. It has been like this for him since he came into the world and first learned the power of crying to get his needs met. He acts, the world around him reacts and meets his needs. Only in this case, his actions are not being met with the appropriate response from his care givers. They keep fighting and he keeps FEELING a great deal of anxiety. His solution is to disassociate or withdraw from the situation. He experiences a reduction in anxiety and FEELS he is once again safe.

At age three HYP can't consciously analyze either his feelings of anxiety or his response to them and so they become habituated and repetitive. He will reflexively use disassociation in any anxiety producing situation in which there is anger or conflict.

By the time HYP meets up with his fourth grade teacher who does not like him for some reason, HYP is thoroughly habituated to the flight response to anxiety his body interprets to be fear or anger. He won't fight, he will withdraw. In fourth grade this may manifest as day dreaming, as withdrawal from academic engagement, in constant sickness, in any behavior which keeps him removed from interaction with his teacher, who he thinks is the source of his anxiety.

In reality the teacher represents the initial occasion which was HYP's inability to reconcile the breakup of his parents. The R and Limbic systems do not differentiate the source of the anxiety from it's first occurrence. They identify it as fear or anger, and then throw up the first successful defense, isolation or withdrawal.

At HYP's 9 year old age, the left hemisphere is used to CREATE logical believable justifications for the withdrawal. The left hemisphere may oblige by generating illnesses of various sorts. Nausea is common when anxiety is shunted into the sympathetic nervous system. So are headaches. HYP maybe rewarded by the outer world for being sick and he gets to stay home. As life progresses though, this use of illness to withdraw from anxiety provoking situations will become more pervasive and more maladaptive. He may find himself plagued with migraines or suffering from ulcers. By the time he's in his forties, he may well be on his way to an early grave.

There is one other thing that begins to happen at about the age of 7. HYP begins to incorporate the feeling of guilt and the self punishment strategies which alleviate guilt produced anxiety. Freud would say HYP's superego is now operative and that the superego picked up it's guilt generating and punishing characteristics from HYP's parents.

Parents or care givers almost always serve as the model for the superego. The reasoning aspects of the left hemisphere are necessary for the kind of consequential reasoning needed for generating guilt anxiety.

HYP now begins to feel guilty about missing school and his anxiety load is doubled resulting in the need for self punishment which exacerbates the situation even more. This leads to even higher level defense mechanisms such as projection and intellectualization.

If HYP is an intellectually gifted kid, he can create all kinds of defense mechanisms to serve the original method of anxiety reduction which was withdrawal, and all this will happen without any conscious input on his part. He will have created a false construct ego based on withdrawing from conflict situations. If he uses projection, all that anger and guilt anxiety will be projected on things outside himself. It's not his fault that SOB of a teacher won't leave him alone.

As an adult, HYP will have many parts about his self identified ego "I" which are not parts of his true self at all, but defense strategies. In order to really comprehend the teachings of Jesus, HYP will have to do some serious work in removing those reflexive defense strategies. In a very real sense HYP will have to become again as a little child in order to recapture his true sense of self and be open to the Kingdom of God within.

Achieving Stage IV spirituality is no easy task and really does involve going deeply into one's childhood and dieing to all the aspects of the false self created when there really was no other option. Strategies which were originally based in self survival and self love, become turned on their head as more and more neural capacity and social conditioning come on line. This is not about assigning blame to parents or authority figures, this is how things work and it's up to us as individuals to take on this challenge. It's why Jesus said "unless YOU become as little children, YOU shall not enter the kingdom."

It's our responsibility. Projecting that responsibility outside ourselves is just another way of defending ourselves from our truth. Jesus didn't come to save me, He came to show and teach me how to save myself, to find the Father's kingdom within. It's hard to find that Divine connection when it's surrounded by a plethora of defensive walls. Tomorrow I'll give some ideas on how to knock down the defensive walls and part of that is being consciously mindful of anxiety and how it manifests. In a sense it's training oneself to put the higher reasoning centers in charge, not the defense mechanisms generated by the R and limbic systems.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"Unless You Become As Little Children, You Shall Not Enter The Kingdom" Part One

Understanding why Stage IV spiritual people are so few and far between only comes through understanding which parts of our brains are in play at which stages of our childhood development and how that effects our sense of self. The above graphic shows which parts of the brain are in play at any given time in our youthful development.

As I give a short abbreviated description of these areas, keep in mind that most of our survival oriented defense mechanisms are concocted by areas of the brain which are not being influenced at a particular given time by the higher functioning cognitive aspects of the brain.

As an example, the left hemisphere, which I have gone on about at some length, only begins to come on line at about age 7. Interestingly enough the very age at which the Church has determined we enter 'the age of reason', and the age at which we really begin to get our educational training. Previous to this age, all kinds of habits, patterns, and ways of relating have been uninfluenced by higher forms of reasoning. This is a crucial thing to understand.

We begin our lives with a functioning "R" system which refers to the Reptilian brain or hind brain, and contains the nerve endings of our sensory motor system, the spinal cord, the vast endings of our peripheral neuro network, and the primary neural systems in the heart.

It is the part of the brain which operates in an habitual and patterned response, mostly in connection with survival needs, but can also take on the physical parts of a learned skill such as riding a bike. It will also drive our cars while we use our neo cortex to solve all the problems of mankind.

It is the earliest evolutionary stage of the human brain, and although the graphic shows it petering out as other systems come on line, the graphic is misleading. Rather than petering out, it serves as the foundation on which the other stages are built. Remember this key concept, it is repetitive and habitual in it's operation and it is the foundation on which all the rest is built.

The second system which comes on line, about the age of one year, is the old mammalian limbic system. It's called limbic because it curves around the R system like a limb. It is also called the emotional/cognitive brain. It is here that the additional senses, not part of the reptilian world are added, which really raises our sense perceptual abilities.

Here at this stage is added the staggering world of relationships. The language of relationships is biochemically induced states of emotion. This is a pre verbal language having little to do with the neo cortex and it's sense of time and reason. The next time some three year old gets on your nerves don't expect to reason with her, just hold her. She's not experiencing her relationship with you verbally, she's experiencing it emotionally.

The reptilian brain may sense something in it's limited black and white blurry vision and ask these questions: can I eat it, will it hurt me, can I mate with it? Once the old mammalian brain comes on line, relationship questions explode and give us a sense of an inner subjective world relating to an outer objective world. This is the beginning of the concept of ego I versus the not I 'other', but at this stage this developing understanding is mostly emotional in nature.

This is a critical stage of development and is characterised physically by the young human standing up and walking, rather than crawling on it's belly. It's also the time the young human realizes one of those 'others' in that outer world not only takes care of it, but can answer the ubiquitous "WHY" when language starts coming on line.

That next system comes on line around the age of four and that's the right hemisphere of the neo cortex followed in step by the left hemisphere. The new brain takes up five times the capacity of the previous two systems on which it physically sits and surrounds. It will eventually have the capability of integrating the other two systems for it's own use, but here evolution runs into a snag. Although the right hemisphere is capable of understanding only the present tense, the left hemisphere understands future and past.

This lack of ability to think outside of the present moment is why toilet training can become a real issue. Until the left hemisphere develops enough neuro pathways to the R system, toilet training ain't going to happen on the parental time schedule. It will only happen when the left hemisphere has developed sufficient neural connections with the R system.

The left hemisphere's capacity to imagine the future can conjure up all kinds of fantasy futures by using the "What if" syndrome and that's the evolutionary snag. A seven year old may think, "What if daddy comes home drunk and beats me again?" The lower, repetitive levels of his brain will react to this future thought exactly as if daddy had come home and was presently beating the seven year old. Hence at a very early age we introduce the concept of self promulgated anxiety based on learned repetitive patterns. It's also important to understand that the R and limbic systems don't have the capacity to imagine anything, they just react to everything as if it's real and in the present. This is why the 'what if' syndrome causes so many problems with excessive anxiety.

Along with the "what if" scenario comes curiosity and the drive for the novel, or the creative imagination. This appears to be evolution's new concept in creating and transcending itself through homo sapient. It could be that this exists so that the God who imagined us can in turn be imagined by us, a kind of mirror to mirror phenomenon.

I'm going to stop here for today, at the beginning of the age of reason, where nature has introduced the concept of time and the drive for creative imagination.

Depending on how our Hypothetical Young Human has experienced life and his relationships to this point, that experience will have a great deal to do with how HPY's conscious ego self will be experienced and develop as maturity continues.

If a lot of garbage has gone into HPY's formation, from here on a lot of garbage will come out. HPY will have developed numerous unconscious maladaptive defense strategies which will supersede his higher cognitive functions. Given enough garbage, the higher functions will serve only as a phenomenally creative source of keeping the maladaptive strategies in place and functioning.

If HPY has had a benign experience of life, HPY will have far less difficulty with the tasks of adulthood because HPY's brain will not contain a whole spate of maladaptive anxiety reduction defense strategies. HPY will be far more likely to achieve Stage IV spiritual thinking and experiencing.

Jesus said if we "cause one of these little ones to stumble, it were better a millstone be tied around our neck and we be dumped in the sea." I think it might be easy to see why He said this because trauma at these early ages of neural development have huge and sometimes permanent repercussions. Repercussions like passing on to our children the very same maladaptive strategies we learned. Until tomorrow when I take on part II.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Some Negative Brain Storming

I had meant to write on my concept of Homo Transcendent and then remembered I had this conference to go to. The conference was on a different form of therapy which is based on observing a graded anxiety scale clients will exhibit as they proceed through a therapeutic session, how to deal with the anxiety, and what that anxiety is telling both the client and the therapist.

I thought the first day was both interesting and informative, and then was blown out of the water on the second day. I'm still processing the information contained in the second day, because it's critical to my understanding of why people have so much difficulty with manifesting Stage IV spirituality. But the information also addressed some other stumbling blocks I myself have encountered and shed light on some cryptic comments Jesus seems to have thrown out in His teachings. Comments such as "Unless you become as little children, you shall not enter the kingdom."

I used to think that particular comment referred to returning to a state of innocence, non judgment, and open curiosity. I now think it may refer to something else as well, and that's the part I don't have quite straight in my head--at least not enough to articulate it coherently.

It doesn't help that I've been getting way too much information from the Angelic realm about why I had to go to this conference. The conference wasn't a big deal to me because I wasn't expecting any really personally relevant information. Boy was I wrong.

I think I can put something coherent together for tomorrow. In the meantime, I came across the following article by Frank Purcell on the Catholica website. His 'negative brainstorming' points out some serious problems in the way Institutional Catholicism is operated, but also underscores the fear based refusal to change inherent in the Stage II spirituality of institutional religions. I really think Jesus had something more in mind when He taught about the Kingdom of His father and bringing it on Earth as it is in heaven. I don't think He meant to equate His Father's kingdom with the Vatican. I think He was referring to something else entirely. Something the current Hierarchy can't really conceive of much less help bring into existence. Anyway here's an insightful article.

Some "negative brainstorming"…

The Catholic Church in Québec is collapsing. "Today less than 5 percent of Catholics go to Mass on Sundays. There are few religious marriages, most funerals are civil, and baptisms are increasingly rare".

This has all happened since the 1960's according to a report on 8th October in Chiesa Online
French-Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet sees secularism as the underlying cause of all this. Secularism certainly poses challenges, but I am not convinced that the explanation is that simple. In Australia which is facing a similar collapse, the Census reports that spiritual belief and spirituality are far from dead? Perhaps the Church itself and its leadership have to accept some of the blame?
(This truly points to the existence of Stage III spirituality and the inability of Stage II institutions to meet the needs of these folks. Cardinal Oullet can call it secularism or what ever else meets his fancy, but the fact is Stage III doesn't represent a disbelief in God so much as it represents a rejection of an inadequate Catholic presentation about God.)

To explore that, let's do a bit of negative brainstorming. Let's ask ourselves "What should the church in Australia do to ensure that it ceases to exist within the next 30 years?" Here are the fruits of my attempt…

Ensure only male celibates ordained

First of all, the Bishops must continue to insist that only male celibates be ordained for the priesthood. Even with some overseas recruitment, the Eucharist will disappear from Catholicism in rural areas even before the 30 years are up. Already one rural diocese has 16 parishes without priests. Fr Peter Jennings recent article on the situation in outback NSW is testimony to the 'success' the bishops are having with their current policy. They are well on course to be able to sell off lots of church properties in the next 30 years. Meantime, as the paedophilia scandal continues to grab headlines, let the Bishops continue to postpone any serious review of the possible relationship between compulsory celibacy and the incidence of paedophilia among our celibate clergy. That continuing scandal really helps to slow vocations to the priesthood and maintains the momentum of the collapse. (The abuse scandal and the Institutional Church's response to it, is the biggest symptom of the fear this Institution is experiencing in the face of Stage III spirituality. This fear is on the existential level. I'd have existential fear too, if I really looked at the demise of the Church in the West.)

Refuse to allow any debate about the possibility of ordination of women…

Secondly, the Bishops must continue to refuse to allow any serious debate on the theological barriers to the ordination of women. Women are the main, and largely, un-paid pastoral work-force in the Australian Church. Many of them, especially younger women have already gone. They know that there is no place for them in the serious decision making of the Church. As long as the bishops continue to keep them out of the key decision-making bodies in the Church, our all-male cultural leadership will continue to alienate and marginalise them. Women play a key role in setting the spiritual climate within the home, so keep on alienating them and the next generation of Catholics in Australia will be gone within another 30 years. (Well stated.)

Continue to focus on sexuality as the key doctrine of Christianity…

Thirdly, the Bishops must continue to focus on sexuality as if it were the key doctrine of Christianity. Continue to ignore Christ's compassion for the prostitutes, adulterers and tax-collectors of his day. Refuse to listen to gay and lesbian Catholics and their experience. Continue to call any woman who has an abortion a murderer. This is especially effective with Catholics who have actually found themselves in a situation where they have had to choose and know the complexity and difficulty involved. Even when they opt for life, they know how hard it is to condemn a woman who has made another decision. The last thing the bishops should do is show a bit of compassion and uncertainty and join in a search with other Christians and people of good will for ways of handling this difficult issue. (Nothing drives me crazier than this penchant to make official teaching all about sexuality. What ever happened to spirituality? I forgot, that went with all those people who left the pews to search for God on their own.)

Ignore the fact that Australian culture is democratic…

Finally, the bishops should continue to ignore the fact that Australian culture is democratic. Our system of Church governance is authoritarian and patronising. When Australians think of democracy they are not rejecting hierarchical authority. Representative democracy is a form of hierarchical authority. But the heart of democracy for Australians is that anyone with authority is accountable to the community. The Bishops must keep on refusing to be accountable to maintain the continuing erosion of the Church's credibility at all levels. The repeated insistence that the Church is not a democracy essentially means that the Bishops will not be accountable. This is likely to be the most effective way of ensuring the collapse of Catholicism in Australia and other developed countries where experience has taught that good governance depends on good accountability at all levels. (We here in the States are certainly reaping the rewards for dropping our vigilance when it comes to accountability in government, the financial sector, and the church.)

Negative brain-storming is a useful exercise to highlight challenges facing the Church. It can have a few lessons for the Bishops. Unless our bishops tackle the issues of Eucharistic ministry, review any possible links between compulsory celibacy and paedophilia, open up discussion on the place of women in the Church, accept accountability for finances and provide avenues for fair and open appeals on administrative decisions, the collapse will continue. It won't be the end of the world, but think of the many people who will no longer hear the Good News of the Kingdom. After all, that's what we are supposed to be on about.

Perhaps the central question then is what qualities do we need in the Bishops called to lead the renewal of the Australian Church? Most organisations advertise for senior managers. There is always a job description available and a list of the qualities needed for a possible recruit. If bishops were recruited in the same way we might see an encouraging start to our recovery.


The concept of writing a job description and recruiting our pastoral leaders just like a business is kind of an interesting concept. The only problem is the same dynamics inherent in the Hierarchy are also in play in corporations and government. Way too many brown noses clutter the facial landscape.

In the main I like Frank's assessment. The current policies taken to their logical conclusion will result in a very small remnant trying to maintain a very large bureaucracy. The Church may be expanding in the South, but it's financed in the North. This isn't a very difficult puzzle to put together, my quandary is why won't the Church deal with this mass exodus in the North, and the answer seems to be it's inability to deal with a Stage III spiritual culture. I guess it's better to let the pews empty than be forced into admitting their are some logical and unjust inconsistencies in the dogma and doctrine of the Church.

I firmly believe that peace, love, joy and hope will triumph, that the Spirit is still moving profoundly and that Jesus lives. I also know that all of this action may not happen in the Institutional Church and the future of the Good News probably exists in the laity and not the Vatican. We may be truly looking at the second fall of Rome. Such is life in the 21st century.