March 4, 2015

In a World Filled with "Overblown Egos" It Is Time to Pay Attention to the Gospel of Matthew

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME
By Larry Peterson 
I watched with fascination Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netenyahu's, speech before a joint session of the United States Congress. I admire this man because I cannot think of any leader of any nation that has his own country virtually surrounded by those who have sworn to annihilate it. His responsibility to protect and defend his people is foremost in his thoughts and his presentation before the Congress was his way of defending them by letting the entire world know of Israel's plight. And he did it in front of an audience of "Big Shots". You know, those folks that have a grandiose and expanded sense of self. 
It seems our president, Barack Obama, was quite ticked off at the entire spectacle. The Prime Minister was asked to speak before the Congress by the Speaker of the House, John Boehner. In so doing, "protocol" was violated. Israel, supposedly our most important ally and friend, had its own Prime Minister boycotted by the entire executive branch of our government and about fifty of the legislative branch members who were all Democrats. They were all "offended" by his appearance because he was not invited by the President himself. 
Imagine that, their 'feelings' were hurt. President Obama even spent eleven minutes on CNN explaining why and how Netenyahu's talk was "nothing new". Whatever. I was thinking that how amazing it would have been if our president unexpectedly walked into the auditorium while Bibi was speaking and walked up to the podium, stepped up to his presidential colleague, and hugged him and shook his hand. What a show of unity and camaraderie between nations that would have demonstrated.  Alas, I am a bit of a dreamer; always have been and always will be. 
I am Catholic and I went to Mass this morning. The gospel reading for today throughout the Catholic world was from Matthew 23: 1-12. It was so timely and so on point to yesterday's spectacle (total coincidence) in Washington. I wish some of our leaders would read it. (Yeah right, like it would matter). Anyway, here it is:
Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying, "The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but DO NOT follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens and carry and lay them on people's shoulders, but they do not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation 'Rabbi'. As for you, do NOT be called 'Rabbi'. You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called 'Master'; you have but one Master, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted. 
So, how many of our leaders who claim to be Christian, "humble " themselves? Are we surrounded by hypocrites or what? All of us, myself included, have our own "puffed up" egos. We all have a sense of importance. But what happens to a person when they are empowered with a title or a sense of responsibility for others. TA-DA--a new Pharisee walks among us. It may not happen all the time but I think it happens more often than not.  
I watched the Democrat responses to Netenyahu's speech after it was over. The responses came from people who did not even attend the joint session yet they had an analysis and response prepared immediately afterwards. And all they did was 'trash' the talk and say how "offended" the president was. Our ally, Israel, is a nation always under the threat of imminent attack by those who would destroy her. And  her leader, a great friend to America, was rebuffed by many because they were 'offended'. How pathetic that is. 
 That picture in my mind of President Obama coming in to hug Bibi Netenyahu in front of the whole world dances within me and I imagine the possibilities including the example it would set for our children? Imagine, imagine, Yeah, right. Many of those 'offended' were Christian. Maybe it is time that  they read the Gospel they profess to follow. One thing is certain, when we die (and we all will one day) none of us will take our pride and egos before the Christ we say we follow. It will remain behind with all the rest of our distended arrogance and overblown egos. 
                                               ©2015 Larry Peterson All Rights Reserved

February 27, 2015

Why the USA Must Take the Lead in the War Against ISIS Barbarism: It is the Right Thing To Do

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

I sit here safe at 7 a.m. pecking away at the keyboard in front of me. My thoughts, for the moment, are focused on the words I make appear on the screen. A cup of coffee sits to my right . My freedom in America allows me to be a Catholic and practice my faith without interference (so far). So at 7:45 I will leave and go to Mass.This is what being an American and living in the greatest country in the world is like for me and millions like me. Being blessed beyond belief, we are FREE to do what we choose except break the law.

It is about 2 p.m. in Syria. There are Catholics/Christians there. As I sit at this keyboard reports are coming from Christian aid agencies that ISIS satanic fueled  savages have overrun the city of Hassakah, killing 15 young Assyrians who tried to defend their families. In Tel Hormizd, 14 of the defenders were killed including two women, one of whom was beheaded. So far over 350 men, women and children have been kidnapped and brought to the Sunni village of Bab Alfaraj. The word going out from ISIS is that today, Friday, February 27, 2015, "all people should come to the mountain of Abdul Aziz to attend "a mass killing of infidels".

Those "infidels" are our brothers and sisters in faith. They will be killed in horrible ways because they LOVE Jesus Christ. I pause and sip my coffee again. I have to take a breath. I LOVE the same Jesus. These people will be slaughtered today and I am no different in my core beliefs. If I were there I would not be here tomorrow. Yes, we Americans are so blessed yet---so many Americans don't seem to get it. They do not seem to realize that this could be us, anyone of us. Even being an American atheist qualifies you for ISIS extermination. In that regard they are the same as we Catholics and Jews.

We are all "infidels" to these maniacs. But who is supposed to lead the charge against the 21st century genocide taking place? Who is supposed to stand up for the weaker and more vulnerable of those who have knives to their throats waiting for their heads to be cut off, ropes tied around their necks waiting to have their necks snapped, and who wear gasoline soaked clothing ready to be burned alive? I say, without hesitation, the United States of America is the nation and people who must take charge. Why us? I'll tell you why us and it has to do with having God as our primary support.

We are still a Judeo-Christian nation and as such we have a responsibility. America is called the "melting pot" because we are unlike any other nation on the planet. We are Americans because we are all different. We are black, white, yellow, brown and red. We are Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, and Muslim. German, Irish, French, Tanzanian, Argentinian, Pakistani, Chinese, Indonesian, Mexican and on and on. We are everyone. We are supposed to be an American family. We are, in fact, the most diverse family ever. Since a family should take care of its own all of those being slaughtered in Syria, Iraq, North Korea, Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, France, Denmark and so on are our extended family.

We have all the resources, all the power and all the weapons. This is part of the privilege of being Americans. However, along with that privilege and honor comes responsibility to those of our extended family members that are weaker and less blessed than we are. If I have a family and a neighbor moves in and starts to attack my children I MUST defend them. It is the right thing to do. If I am incapable of fighting back myself and my family is at risk, I call upon my older and stronger brother(s) to help me. Since the family is the  basic unit of a society it follows that we, as Americans, must defend our  downtrodden brothers and sisters who have become the prime targets in the 21st century genocide, a genocide which actually began right here in America on September 11, 2001

At this very moment in Syria and Nigeria and in Iraq, Christians are being viciously murdered because they love Jesus Christ who preached the doctrine of Love Your Neighbor. It is time for the United States of America to unite the peace and freedom loving nations of the world and lead them in defense of  the freedom of all those who are extended family. It is the RIGHT THING TO DO.

                                     ©2015 Larry Peterson All Rights Reserved

February 20, 2015

A Question for the Lenten Season: Is Forgiveness for Anyone Who Asks? Apparently Not.

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Lent is here. I  sit in front of this keyboard with the current memory of ashes smeared across my forehead. The season of Repentance and Forgiveness followed by  Redemption is once again upon us. The ashes remind us of our mortality. We all know in our hearts that we will  surely die one day. Just like the adulterous woman in the Gospel reading (John 8: 2-11) we want to be FORGIVEN for all the bad things we have done in our lifetimes. When we do make that final journey we desperately want our final destination to be heaven.

That is why God became man, isn't it? So all of us would have the chance to reach that final destination.  That is why he came and lived among us and taught us how to live. That is why He allowed Himself to be beaten and tortured and finally killed by being nailed to a cross. This is Lent--and, once again, we prepare. But what about that key to redemption called the "Golden Rule"? Does it not apply to everyone? It seems to me it is supposed to. Do I have this all wrong? Has the sex scandal that rocked our beloved Church turned it into a Bi-forgiveness institution? Do we forgive and not-forgive depending upon the sin?

I live in the Diocese of St. Petersburg, FL. I have been an EMHC (Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion) for over 20 years. Bringing Holy Communion to the sick and home bound is a great joy. Five years ago I (and all those who serve in this ministry) were  required to attend "Safe Environment  Training" and undergo a Level II background check. This included having your fingerprints run through the FBI database. Now all of us who went through that are "required" to do it again. Why? Who knows. I assumed fingerprints lasted longer than five years. Just run them again, right?  I wish it were that simple.

So, I am going through my certification and paperwork from five years ago and I come across the "47 List"  (I call it the "47 List", just me). This is a list of different offenses as described under Florida Statutes that the Diocese of St. Petersburg uses to determine eligibility for employment or volunteer positions. If a person who is applying for a position that would place them near minors or vulnerable adults happens to fit the profile of one of the 47 sections, they enter the ranks of the "Unforgiven". They are the people that become "Persona non grata", permanently, aka Zero Tolerance

Many of these laws have to do with sexual abuse and many do not. Many have to do with charges that can be ambiguous. Here is an example: Section 843.01; relating to resisting arrest with violence.  If a police officer tries to arrest you and you take a swing at him you can be charged with violating this statute. Makes sense, right? When  Zero Tolerance is plugged into the equation nothing else matters. It is over. ZERO means ZERO--NOTHING. This is my dilemma. I hate Zero Tolerance.

Every person is different and every action is different. If someone walks up to me and shoots me in the head I can be killed. If I walk across the street against the light and get hit by a car I can be killed. In both cases my being dead is the same. But the reasons were  different. The shooter who killed me can get the death penalty or life in prison. The driver of the car was not responsible for my behavior and goes on about his/her life. Zero Tolerance would put the driver in the same category as the shooter.

Case in point: A young man I know for many years by the name of  Eddie (not his real name) has a learning disability. When he was 19, Eddie and a few friends had to much to drink. Eddie passed out and his friends propped him in a sitting position against the back wall of a local restaurant. They took magic markers and, being goofy, drew all over his face and arms etc. Then they left him there and headed home (Nice friends). Patrons leaving the restaurant saw him and reported him to the manager who promptly called the police.

The police arrived and saw this large, (he is a big guy) young man sleeping against the back of the building. Shining their flashlights on him they saw the magic marker scribbled all over him. They shook him to wake him and he did not respond. Then they shook him harder and yelled for him to wake up. The touch of the firm hand on his shoulder startled Eddie. He woke up and swung at the officer hitting him in the shoulder. He was promptly "subdued", handcuffed and arrested for violation of section 843.01: resisting arrest with violence. Off to the county jail he went.

The police were only doing their job. If I were they I would have been super cautious too. Eddie had been a foolish 19 year old. The fact is, he was just frightened and instinctively lashed out to protect himself. Having only a vague recollection of what had happened he pleaded "guilty" to the charges. He was given probation and some community service. To this day it is the only time in his life Eddie has been in any trouble.

We move ahead almost 15 years. A local catholic high school has an opening for a cafeteria worker. Eddie, who had a hard time finding work because of his disability, gets the job and is thrilled. He  actually starts work before his background check is complete. A few days in and his supervisor is called to the school office and told that Eddie has to leave immediately. He failed the background check and cannot be anywhere on school grounds. Eddie is stunned and leaves the school crying. That was four years ago and he still has not found a new job. He is on anti-depressants and lives with his parents. In Eddie's case Zero Tolerance became his abuser.

Five years ago when I was attending the Safe Environment class the facilitator, in her opening remarks, told everyone a story about  a man who had been a volunteer bus driver for the school for several years. She went on to say how "fortunate and blessed" the school was to have been able to find out through the Safe Environment background check, that the man had been guilty of having a DUI 20 years earlier. He was immediately dismissed from his "volunteer job" and she was quite pleased even though the guy had been clean and sober ever since his DUI.

I was appalled and let them know it. Everyone thought I was trying to hide some personal demon in my own life. The facilitator even came over to me and, bending down close to me, said,  "We can talk later if you have some personal issues". No one seemed to understand that I just thought it was UN-Christian to not forgive this man. I told her that she and folks like her were my issue. She did not understand nor get my point.

Look, I deplore sexual deviants and anyone who sexually harms kids and /or adults is a reprobate.   We have to protect our children and vulnerable seniors and our moms and wives and everyone from people who might harm them physically, emotionally and sexually. But is Zero Tolerance the way to go? After all, it eliminates all mitigating factors.  As a parent you might be accused of negligence for allowing your children to walk  to the park by themselves. That has happened. Should that mom be prevented from getting a job 20 years later because her name pops up in a data bank as being charged with child neglect? Did a Zero Tolerance policy save someone from Eddie or just help destroy him?

So I guess it comes down to answering the question, Do we as followers of Christ extend  forgiveness to all people? The answer is, we should but we don't.  Is this hypocritical? Does Zero Tolerance trump Forgiveness? If we are truly all of God's children do not all of us deserve Forgiveness and second chances? What would happen if we replaced the words, Zero Tolerance with Golden Rule? Imagine the possibilities or am I  just a "Pollyanna".

                                             Copyright © 2015 Larry Peterson

February 13, 2015

The Beauty of Valentine's Day has been Hijacked by "50 Shades of Grey"


IT MAKES SENSE TO ME


By Larry Peterson

Valentine's Day has been hijacked by the movie, "50 Shades of Grey". A day that is all about love and romance and flowers and candy and hugs and kisses has been turned into a celebration of deviance and depravity. In fact, the movie celebrates the degradation of women.  And it is being glorified and praised as the "great love story of our day. What kind of bizarre and twisted nonsense is this?    

Here is part of one advertisement from a company by the name of  "pink cherry.com."  It is one of many spread throughout cyber world advertising this years preferred Valentine's Day gifts. These gifts are being offered because of the "50 Shades of Grey" book trilogy and movie:

"Indulge in the steamy world of Fifty Shades of Grey, a New York Times #1 Best Seller from new author E. L. James. Explore the possibilities of how both the book and related toys can bring you and your partners to new levels of excitement and pleasure. Let the  world of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele bring you to a place you may have never explored--or only just toyed with. The possibilities are endless---"

This is the blurb from the movie theaters in my surrounding area promoting the film for the Valentine's Day weekend:

SYNOPSIS:  Fifty Shades of Grey is the hotly anticipated adaption of the best selling book that has become a global phenomenon. Since its release, the Fifty Shades" trilogy has sold more than 100 million copies in e-book and print--making it one of the biggest and fastest selling book series ever. Stepping into the roles of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele, who have become iconic to millions of readers, are Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson--

I am a man and I just do not understand. This aberration called Fifty Shades of Grey promotes a debased and contorted view of how love can be. It offers to women the narrative that being handcuffed, beaten, chained and/or whipped (among other things) is sexually stimulating and could lead to a "happily ever after" ending. Does not the independent, supposedly liberated woman of the 21st century find Anastasia Steele submissive, weak and needy? What about her self-respect and dignity? Christian Grey chews it up and spits it out. She is an object to him, not a real person.

Debased as this story is the movie trailer, based on the novel, logged in more than 36 million YouTube views in its first week. Women LOVE this book (over 100 million sold mostly to women) and the movie will pack them in over the Valentine's Day weekend. I do not get it.

To all you women out there let this "old fool" tell you a few things. First of all, a real man will respect you as a woman and a person. He will not try to manipulate you, subjugate you or coerce you into doing anything that you do not want to. (Of course, early on, he will be on his best behavior in his quest to get you to like him. If he is not--RUN.) Secondly, He will NOT demand to constantly know where you have been or what you are doing.  Third, he will honor your wants and needs and you will know in your heart if he is "full of it". A relationship is a two way street. A mutual trust and respect must be shared between you. It is the basis of all things going forward.

We are all God's children. Men and women compliment each other. It is NATURAL. It is the way it is supposed to be. Tom Cruise and Renee Zellweger starred in the movie, "Jerry McGuire". At he end of the movie,  Jerry (played by  Cruise) says to Dorothy (played by Zellweger) "You complete me". It was the defining moment for Jerry and Dorothy. I believe that one scene is what made the film the big hit that it was because, as they embraced and kissed,  everyone watching was now able to feel them sharing the love that they had for each other. Those three words summed up the way a permanent relationship between a man and a woman should be. They should "complete each other".

Finally, you might consider that the sex part of the relationship is a perk. It is a beautiful thing to share between two people in love. But it is NOT the "end all" or the most important thing or the only thing. The BEST part of the sex should be after it is over and you can just be together holding each other and feeling the love flow between you. You have shared with each other your very heart and souls. You have completed each other and you did not need handcuffs.


                                                       copyright 2015 Larry Peterson

February 10, 2015

Baby Turtles vs Baby People --"and the Winner is"?

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson





We have in place in this country a law called the Endangered Species Act. Under this act wildlife considered "endangered" are protected by law from being killed, or maimed or harmed in anyway. There are many good points to this law as some of our most revered wildlife, like the Bald Eagle, have been saved from possible extinction. But, what about the "Baby People"? Don't they count?

 In Florida,  sand as white as snow curls up the Gulf Coast from Naples north to the panhandle area with some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet. People come from all over the world to visit these beaches and bask in the brilliant Florida sun and fish and swim in the calm and clear Gulf waters. But there is one thing these folks and all folks had better not do while visiting  these beaches. If they do not want to wind up in jail they had better not mess around with the sea turtles. They are on the Endangered Species List and they nest on the beaches.

A loggerhead sea turtle in an aquarium tank swims overhead.  The underside is visible.
Loggerhead Turtle--PROTECTED by the USA
The Loggerhead Sea Turtle is one of these protected turtles. It can be found (like baby people) all over the world. However, its primary habitat is the Florida coast north to Virginia. It is estimated that these turtles build 67,000 nests a year along the beaches. The female lays her eggs in the sand and buries them. After two months they hatch, crawl to the sea and begin their lives. Of all the hatch-lings maybe 8000 baby turtles survive.  They will live close to 60 years.

It is illegal to harm, harass, or kill any sea turtles, their eggs, or hatchlings. It is also illegal to import, sell, or transport turtles or their products. It is perfectly legal to kill baby people who have not been born. In the United States, since Roe vs Wade was passed in 1973, 55,000,000 abortions have been performed. Fifty five million baby people have been vanquished from existence, many of them burned alive via the Saline Abortion method. That extrapolates out to 1,309,524 baby people a year killed in America.

In 2013 there were 3.93 million births in the United States. That means that approximately one out of every four pregnancies in our country results in a life extinguished. Sea turtles  are given every chance to survive with the government going so far as to put people in prison who might interfere with their survival. On the other hand,  baby people are welcomed into legalized and sweetly painted extermination camps and, unmercifully and without fanfare or emotion, eradicated.

Whatever are we doing? We civilized people have allowed a portion of our past to be destroyed. We are allowing our present to be vilified by what can only be called a great lie fabricated as the virtue of "helping" women. We have short circuited the future of our children and grandchildren by taking away from them the possibility of another Rembrandt, or a Mozart or a Jonas Salk, or a Martin Luther King Jr., or even an Abraham Lincoln living among them.

There is a world wide abortion counter that ticks off the abortions around the world as they happen. Look for yourself. More than one life a second is being aborted. Genocide of the innocent, living in and out of the womb, is rampant on planet Earth. Whatever have we wrought?
                                                           
                                                    Copyright 2015 Larry Peterson
                                             

February 4, 2015

From Anti-Semitism to Anti-Christism; The 21st Century Holocaust is Upon Us

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Recently the Anti-Defamation League conducted a global survey asking questions about the Holocaust. Unbelievably, two-thirds of the respondents (mostly younger people) had NEVER heard of the Holocaust and, for those that had, many did not believe the history and suggested that it was simply exaggerated. The rejection of a history so recent and so well documented boggles the mind. 

The term, "Denial" is a stock psychological term and most everyone knows what it means when used in proper context. Denying the existence of the Holocaust transcends "Denial".  I believe that Holocaust denial must first be fueled by a self-absorbed apathy that results in indifference to all things that do not concern the "denier". The journey to denying Truth then becomes easier if it might cause one so absorbed to experience "pain or discomfort".

After being so weakened with one's own self-love, denying the Holocaust becomes easy. Let's face it, the horrors inflicted upon millions and millions of fellow human beings by their own kind is hard to fathom. But to deny or reject the documented history of such an era is just asinine. If you are among those who might "deny" the Holocaust ever happened you are one step away from falling into the bottomless pit of idiocy.

Bundesarchiv, B 285 Bild-04413 / Stanislaw Mucha / CC-BY-SA
Entrance to Auschwitz~~Gateway to Extermination
Seventy (70) years ago Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated. Today, genocide is once again running rampant in parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle-east, and is widening like a swarm of unstoppable locusts spreading slowly and viciously across the world. What is the difference of the genocide perpetrated by the Nazis in Germany or the genocide being perpetrated by ISIS and radical Muslim Extremists in Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan and even Europe and bit by bit in the United States? The answer--NOTHING.

Nothing is different because the end result is the same. Extermination of those that are hated. Whatever the reason one has for committing these atrocities does not matter. Hate is hate and it comes from an 'evil spirit' that has captured and harnessed each and every one of those haters having them commit their atrocities with glee and pleasure. How sick and twisted this is. How sick and twisted it is to deny it is happening now as it did then. How irresponsible and derelict in their responsibilities are the  educators and historians and those who know better to NOT teach this history and, worse yet, to alter and/or taint it.

The picture above is not fake. It is not a sketch or a painting. It is of a REAL place. It is the entrance to Auschwitz/Birkenau in Poland. People like you and I---men, women, children, moms and dads, brothers and sisters, grandparents, cousins and friends---were all brought to this place against their will. Upon arrival at this annex of Hades, they were immediately either put to work as slaves or sent to the gas chambers and murdered. They had been dehumanized, declared  "sub-human" and efficiently eradicated.  Ladies and gentlemen, young and old alike, there is NO DENYING THIS.

Yes, they were real people. They had dreams and hopes and loved and sang and danced and enjoyed a nice meal. They loved Hanukkah and Christmas (there were over two thousand Catholic priests murdered in the Holocaust and many Catholic nuns). Included among those possessing "lives unworthy of life" were, gypsies, Soviets, homosexuals, disabled persons, Slavs, religious and political dissidents, and non-Jewish poles and Dutch and Austrians and French and on and on. Six million Jews and another six million non-Jews. And people DENY that the Holocaust actually happened. Are you kidding me?

It is the year 2015. When Auschwitz was liberated General Eisenhower told his people to photograph everything lest the day comes when people begin to forget. The photos and film and records of this vicious genocide is there for all the world to see. Yet people deny it and schools may teach it in a cursory manner if at all. ISIS is running rampant throughout the Middle East and parts of Africa wantonly killing Christians without repercussion.  Thousands upon thousands of innocent people, including Americans, have been killed in ISIS's world wide "Jihad" against the "infidels".

ISIS just published a 22 minute video of the the most heinous and barbaric execution of a captured Jordanian pilot. They burned him alive in a cage for all the world to see. Unlike the Nazis who tried to camouflage their genocide the cowardly barbarians of ISIS want the world to see what they do and hope that we cower in fear. They have publicly beheaded Americans, Japanese, French, British  and others from around the world. They plan to continue their barbarous work on our very shores. Remember Fort Hood, Boston, and Oklahoma City?

It seems to me that the United States of America, a country comprised of people rooted in all nations of the world and blessed with an abundance of technology and resources, has  a responsibility to take the lead in the fight against these maniacal terrorists who  kill, unhesitatingly, even our children. They hate us and are waging war against us and our friends around the world. It is time for our leaders to forget "political correctness", strap on some American pride and spit bullets into the eye of this thing called ISIS.

The 20th century is gone but not forgotten for millions of us. Our children and grandchildren deserve to experience some 20th century peace and prosperity like we did. God help us all and may God always bless America.

                                                    copyright 2015 Larry Peterson

January 27, 2015

Pride~The Common Denominator in All Things Evil

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson


"There is a danger that threatens everyone in the church, all of us. The danger of worldliness. It leads us to vanity, arrogance and pride."
Pope Francis
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The headlines and newscasts are filled with the news of President Obama's outrage over House Speaker John Boehner's invitation to Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to speak before the United States Congress in March. Apparently a protocol was violated and the Speaker did not inform the White House. 

So why is the President of the United States so angry over this supposedly unprecedented invitation to a foreign leader by the Congress? Who cares, right? WRONG? He was offended. Protocol was the excuse for his anger. The primary cause was "ego". His ego was sand-blasted into disarray when he was ignored by a person who is NOT the "Big Cheese". In other words, President Obama's pride was deflated. Ah yes, that old 'demon' pride has once again reared its ignominious and ugly head. He sure knows how to spoil a salad. If protocol was stepped upon it still is no reason to get so angry. But stepping on the pride of someone, anyone, oftentimes yields this result.

Pope Francis' quote above uses the words, "threatens everyone in the church, all of us". He is referring to the Pride  that is part of all of us. There is "positive pride" which refers to taking pride in your  work, your appearance, how hard you study, how you treat others etc. Then there is "negative pride" which has been the downfall of so many. This is all about self-gratification and taking care of  your favorite and most revered son/daughter of  worldliness aka secularism, good old "#1", yourself. This never reaps a fruitful harvest.

This "negative pride" has permeated every nook and cranny of humankind since the days of Adam and Eve. Satan aka Lucifer, the Prince of Darkness, used his main weapon to draw Eve into his realm. He used pride to tempt her. Consumed with her inner vanity she was easy pickings for Satan. "Eat the apple (yes, the apple is probably symbolic) and you will be like God."  

Eve wanted to be like God and her Pride pushed her teeth into that apple and she bit, She turned it over to her man, Adam. Misery loves company and she was probably not feeling very well after that first swallow. Adam bit  into the other half of the apple. VOILA--Original sin and its primary effect, Pride, have been at the forefront of all chaos ever since.  

The untold and undocumented cause of countless cases of pain and suffering caused by Pride over the centuries cover the pages of history. Wars, genocide, torture, scorched-earth policies continue to this very day.  Countless friendships have been permanently severed and how many families have been torn apart?  All because Satan is able to wield his greatest tool, Pride, unchecked and freely. All because so many people willingly grab onto it and refuse to let go.

This incident is fresh in my mind so I would like to share. I was talking to a close friend of mine the other day and he had just finished talking to his younger brother on the phone. The brother told him that Catholics can eat meat on Fridays during Lent. My friend told him he was wrong. They got into an argument and my friend hung up on his brother. He told me he is not calling him back until he apologizes. I reminded him that he was the one who "hung up". He did not care because his brother started it.

These two had not spoken in almost ten years and finally got back together and now---oh man, are you kidding me? And they will both go to Mass and Communion in their respective cities and pound their breasts and bow their heads and be totally oblivious to the two greatest commandments of Loving God and Loving their Neighbor that they are breaking. 

Ah, the great sin of Pride. We have all seen the results up close and personal within our own worlds. Just like my friend and his brother we may be a prisoner of Pride's deadly grip on ourselves. Parents estranged from children, siblings estranged from each other, families torn apart. The common denominator is always Pride. But the good news is there is an antidote. It is called Humility. St. Augustine said, "It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels."

 Here is the link to the Litany of Humility. Truly, this prayer is a powerful weapon. It also takes courage to say it. This is how it begins:
O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me. 
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus

                                                          Copyright 2015 Larry Peterson

January 21, 2015

The "Double Whammy" of January 22, 1973: Roe V Wade & Doe V Bolton

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

This coming Thursday is the 42nd anniversary of Roe vs Wade and  the annual March for Life will take place in Washington, D.C. Thousands upon thousands of "Pro-Life" advocates will  brave the freezing weather in defense of the unborn.  Millions more across the country will gather at state capitols, cities and small towns  lending their support to the most defenseless of the defenseless.  The hopes and prayers of all these folks (including myself) are for the High Court to overturn Roe vs Wade.  I am  a "pro-life" person who had an "up close and personal" experience with the miracle of life and the pain of death all on the same day.  If I had harbored any doubt whatsoever about the "viability of a fetus" that doubt was vanquished  forever 36 years ago.

At the beginning of Loretta's sixth month of pregnancy she unexpectedly went into labor. Bleeding profusely she was rushed by ambulance to the hospital and our fourth child, a daughter, was born. She also lived and died very quickly, within minutes.  I had called ahead to Holy Trinity Catholic Church and a priest, Father Murray, was waiting for our arrival. Our baby was baptized and buried with my parents. She was our child and was a gift from God. We had  been preparing  for the arrival but it came three months earlier than expected.  No matter, she was a real person who lived and died.  Her name is on a tombstone. It simply reads: Theresa Mary Peterson. September 6, 1978---September 6,1978.

Theresa was not simply a "fetus".  She was not "products of conception". She was not an "annoyance", or an extra pair of shoes to worry about or another potentially "sleepless night". She did not mean  less money in the bank.  No, Theresa Mary was worth far more than any of that multiplied a thousand times over.  Nothing can change the fact that she did exist, albeit for the briefest of moments. In God's world there is no "time" as we know it. HE lives in the "Eternal Now".  Theresa Mary now lives there with HIM. (I like to think she is close friends with her namesake, St. Therese)

My own daughter was born premature for unknown reasons. But she was alive and fully intact from head to toe. She only lacked  additional time in the womb.  Today she would have probably been saved. Knowing that, I cannot help but  think of the millions of little people like Theresa Mary who have been intentionally put to death in a heinous fashion because they  they might cost too much money or might interfere with a career.  Maybe they were vanquished simply because they were an unexpected inconvenience. How many have been eradicated simply because people take no responsibility for having sex, getting pregnant, and deciding that this "thing" has to go before it "ruins" their lives.

 Here is a quick "news flash" (hopefully at least a few young people will see it): You can actually wait until you are married to have sex. Then you have it with the person you are married to and expect to spend your life with. That type of relationship captures the true beauty and wonder of not only the sex act but also of having children. It is the continuation of God's plan for the human race.  It comes from the Natural Law.

Today many people mock those concepts. Self-gratification seems to be the secular battle cry for continual pleasure. This is an illusion that oftentimes simply leads to sadness. Having sex just to have sex, can be demeaning and self-destructive. In addition, it is NOT the same thing as breathing, eating, and sleeping. Those bodily functions are instinctive and necessary for us to live. We do NOT have to have sex to live. We won't die if we say NO.  Many people actually choose to live a life of celibacy.  It is OKAY to do so. And make no mistake, none of them die from NOT doing "it".

January 22nd  will be the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court's ruling known as "Roe vs Wade".  Simply put, the court, by a 7 to 2 majority, said that abortion is a citizen's fundamental right under the United States Constitution.  You are all familiar with how that ruling  has torn our nation apart.  What many people do not seem to be aware of is the other ruling that took place on that very same day.  It provided the proverbial  "double whammy" to the abortion issue. That  ruling is called "Doe Vs Bolton".  Once again, it was a 7 to 2 majority vote affirming the ruling.  The US Supreme Court had given birth to the "Roe & Doe" twins.

The ruling in the "Doe Vs Bolton" case is summed up here: (The link supplies the details:
The Court's opinion in Doe vs bolton stated that a woman may obtain an abortion after viability, if necessary to protect her health. The Court defined "health" as follows:

         "Whether in the words of the Georgia statute, "an abortion is necessary" is a professional judgement that the Georgia physician will be called upon to make routinely. We agree with the District Court, 319 F. Supp., at 1058, that the medical judgement may be exercised in the light of all factors-physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age-relevant to the well being of the patient. All these factors may relate to health."

Amazing as it is, if Roe vs Wade was ever overturned, Doe vs Bolton would take its place. Doe vs Bolton allows for abortion "after viability" for almost any conceivable reason. Read the excerpt above closely. According to Doe vs Bolton an abortion could be permitted at full term because the baby's crying when born might cause too much stress for someone in the house who has a psychological problem. Far fetched? Not really. Just get a doctor to sign off on it.

God help us today and tomorrow.

                                                                    copyright 2105 Larry Peterson
                                                               

January 19, 2015

The "Sin" of Blasphemy Is NOT "Free Speech".

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Asia Bibi, a mother of five and a Catholic, languishes in a Pakistani prison. She has been there for five years.  She waits for them to come and drag her to the gallows where she will be hanged by the neck until dead. Why? Because to the Muslims working alongside her in the fields, she was an "Infidel". They demanded that she bring them water and she "defiled" them by drinking some of it. They mocked her and cursed her religion and Jesus and she defended Him and her faith. She was summarily accused of "mocking" Allah. Her crime? Blasphemy.  In Pakistan "Blasphemy" is a capital crime punishable by death. Asia Bibi's death sentence has been upheld by the Pakistani Supreme Court.  May the God of Love help her.

We are quite the interesting species, aren't we? The fascinating twist in all of this Blaspheming thing is that our highly sophisticated and secular world mocks the idea of "Blasphemy" as a non-existent  "sin" and "crime". Instead, when people of this upscale, modern era blaspheme, they choose to call it "free speech".  The French publication, "Charlie Hebdo",  mocked and ridiculed Allah. They also have mocked and ridiculed Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Pope,  and all connected to Jesus. This publication continually strikes and cuts deeply at the very heart of a person's innermost core beliefs. But hey, it is OK because it is "Free Speech". This is an absurdity.

Blasphemy is defined as an "impious utterance or action concerning God or sacred things" or "an act of cursing or reviling God". Freedom of Speech is defined as "the right of people to express their opinions publicly without governmental interference, subject to the laws against libel, incitement to violence or rebellion, etc. Seems to me that they are two totally different things.

We sojourn back 2000 years and we remember a certain High Priest named Caiphas, symbolically tearing his robes when Jesus, asked if he was the Son of God, answered, "I am".

"Blasphemer!" he screamed. "Blasphemer!" And they took the Man who simply preached love and forgiveness away to be tortured and crucified. They even traded Jesus for the release of a convicted murderer and seditionist. Ah, Blasphemy, so vague, so ambiguous, so diabolical and so convenient to use as an excuse to do murder and/or get rid of political foes.

 Asia Bibi loved Jesus and her Catholic faith. Who do these people think they are to judge her and condemn her to be hanged for thinking differently than they do? Whoever gave them the right to deprive her five children of their mother? Who do they think they are to be able to decide her faith makes her a Blasphemer? The fact is, their actions make them the Blasphemers. This mind set is not only distorted and twisted it is just plain wicked. No God of love and mercy approves of this viciousness.

How many  people have been tortured and murdered over the centuries as Blasphemers because they followed Jesus Christ? We could never count that high. Ironically, as we have journeyed past the Age of Enlightment and onward into the 21st century with incredible advances in science, medicine, literature and civility, we can look over our shoulders and see people being hanged, beheaded, crucified and killed in unimaginable ways because of the ancient 'sin' of Blasphemy.

 There is an old  cliche that says, "Never discuss politics or religion with your friends". There is simple wisdom for you.  But today, a satirical publication like Charlie Hebdo, can ridicule and mock the things that demean and debase the very core of a person's heart and soul. And it is not only Charlie Hebdo. It is the entertainment world (Bill Maher says people who believe in God are "idiots"), school systems, city council men and women, school administrators, judges, lawyers, congressmen, senators and all who reject and trample on a person's religious beliefs by passing rules against these beliefs. When people do this they are, like it or not, blaspheming. So an outraged group of world leaders gather together and march together and suggest it is "Free Speech" that is under attack. The fact is Free Speech had nothing to do with the attack on "Charlie Hebdo". The paper is a blaspheming publication hiding behind a mask called 'satire'.

The United States of America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. Our Declaration of Independence and Constitution were written with God's Natural Law as their foundation. We have been given by our Founders, Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion. Yet, we have all of these people in power at all different levels trying to squash religion within the same country that, by law, gives them that freedom and to which many swear allegiance and loyalty.

Comes a new day and these same people will turn around and be outraged when blasphemers are viciously attacked and murdered by psychopathic killers who have had their core beliefs mocked and trampled upon and believe that killing the "Blasphemer" is justified. These radical Islamists seem to forget that they also are Blasphemers the only difference being they carry automatic weapons and kill people they have passed judgement upon. It is sure a good thing that Christians believe in forgiveness.

Blasphemy and Free Speech are two different things. Free Speech never was put in place so people  could  dishonor and publicly mock and defile those whose religious beliefs they disagree with. NOT doing that is called respect. Whatever happened to that? The "sin of blasphemy" needs to be tossed back onto  the ash heap of historical hubris and buried forever under all the pain and heartache it has wrought. Those of us who are protected by laws allowing Free Speech need to once again incorporate some common decency and respect in the words we use  about those folks we do not agree with. You know, there was a time not too long ago where a mutual respect did exist among people.

Blaspheming others is NOT the exercise of Free Speech. It is the perversion of that God given right. May the  God of Love help us all.

                                                               Copyright © 2015 Larry Peterson


January 13, 2015

Marriage & Family~~Pre and Post Woodstock

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

This  opening paragraph quotes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church; #1603"The intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed by him with its own proper laws....God Himself is the author of marriage."

Last October there was quite the "kerfuffle" created by the secular press when the 2014 Synod of Bishops on the Family was taking place. In their ongoing quest to 'secularize' the Catholic Church the main stream media (print & broadcast) was reporting (speculating is the right word) that, under Pope Francis, the 'new' church would soon be embracing homosexual marriage and unmarried cohabitation. They also anointed Cardinal Walter Kasper of Germany as the Church's "true voice of reason" because, in his keynote address to the Synod, he suggested that maybe it was time for the church to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to be allowed to receive communion.

The media never seems to grasp the fact that it takes more than a "suggestion" by one cardinal to change church teaching. They rarely if ever reported that this meeting of the Synod was only the first part and it would reconvene again a year later. They always seem to 'pick & choose' the narrative that fits their constant secular agenda. Let's face it, the secular world is not interested in what the Church is, what its history and tradition is and certainly not in its dogmatic teachings. We, as a people, deserve more responsible and forthright journalism. The fact of the matter is NOTHING has changed regarding Catholic Church teaching on the subject of marriage.

Matrimony in the church is one of the seven Sacraments. Within the sacramental life it is meant for a man and a woman who love each other to join together creating a new family that ultimately continues the creation that God initially put in place. It is sacrosanct and inviolable. Furthermore, before Jesus Christ instituted this sacrament it existed under what we call Natural Law. Natural Law is given to us by God. (I also like to call it, "Common Sense". Please use the link for a Catholic explanation of marriage and natural law.)

My initial reason for  starting this essay was to ask the question, "What happened to the concept of marriage being only between a man and a woman? How did that concept seemingly evaporate in only several decades after centuries of acceptance by humankind as "Natural"? In the sophisticated, secular world of 2015 I can be branded an intolerant homophobe for believing that marriage is ONLY for a man and a woman. Let me try to share the world I come from and how most Catholics were raised in the pre-Woodstock era.

Marriage was considered, foremost, an integral part of Natural Law as handed down by God. A man and a woman would meet and fall in love. After a period of time, if they so chose, they would join together as husband and wife creating a new family. It was at this point in their lives when they moved in with each other and lived together. It was a vocation, a calling, and it was not for everyone. Most folks accepted this premise without question. Most folks did choose that path in life. Most were married in a church and most intended to be together "until death do us part". Finally,  most newly marrieds became parents continuing  God's plan of continuing the human race. And that was the way it was.

So, what happened? I suggest it started in 1969 at Woodstock. The now "hallowed" rock & roll jamboree that signaled the end of the 60's  ushered in the officially liberated era of "do your own thing". We have moved onward since then another 45 years and today, living together BEFORE getting married is almost taken for granted. A matrimonial "test drive" seems a requirement prior to the actual nuptials taking place. No fault divorce makes it very easy to dissolve marriages dismissing vows that were freely taken when the words "until death do us part" were said by the bride and groom to each other. Homosexual marriage is being demanded as a choice and a right and if you disagree you are considered intolerant and a racist. God and Natural Law are being mocked. And that is the way it is. But not everywhere.

The way it was is still in vogue within the Catholic Church. And here is where I will end this essay. From January 5-9, the Confraternities of Catholic Clergy in the United States, Australia, Britain and Ireland unanimously reaffirmed their support for Church teaching on marriage and family rejecting any proposals at the 2014 Synod of Bishops that the Church alter pastoral practices and doctrine in this area.

In a statement issued at the end of a five-day conference  they pledged their “unwavering fidelity to the traditional doctrines regarding marriage and the true meaning of human sexuality, as proclaimed in the word of God and set out clearly in the Church’s ordinary and universal magisterium.”

And that was the way it was and that is the way it is. Maybe they never heard of Woodstock.

                                                                copyright 2015 Larry Peterson