April 15, 2015

Remembering Nauman Masih, age 14, Killed for Being Christian


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Nauman Masih, age 14, beaten and burned because he was a
Christian. He died on April 14, 2015.
IT MAKES SENSE TO ME


By Larry Peterson 

Beginning at sunset on April 15 and ending the following evening, Jews around the world observe Yom HaShoah aka  Holocaust Remembrance Day . It may be time to change the name to simply, "Holocaust Day" because the genocidal onslaught continues with no end in sight.

The picture is of 14 year old, Nauman Masih. On Friday, April 10, he was walking home in Pakistan when he was stopped by some young men. They asked him if he was a Christian. He replied "Yes."

The boy was not "smart" enough to "lie". The fact of the matter is, he was PROUD that he was Christian and was not about to deny it. He tried to run but he was chased down and beaten. Then the group of demonic cowards poured gasoline all over him, lit him on fire and ran away. Along with the flames, I cannot even imagine the fear, pain and anguish they engulfed this fledgling teenager. Nauman, his skinny body ablaze and his skin melting away, managed to crawl to a nearby pile of sand and began rolling around to smother his burning flesh. Passers-by helped and got him to the hospital. He lived long enough to tell what had happened.

Yesterday, April 14, his is suffering ended.  Nauman Masih, Pakistani teenager, died. He died a martyr, murdered  for his faith. All of us Christians, being his brothers and sisters in faith,  can only imagine the wondrous peace and joy that was awaiting Nauman as he passed from this life. We must also remember his family and pray for them for their grief is a fresh wound that will take much time to heal. Our prayers will help their healing process.

Today WE Catholic/Christians are being slaughtered. Throughout Europe, in Syria, Kenya, Somalia, Nigeria, Iraq, Pakistan and other places, tens of thousands of our brothers and sisters in faith are brutally murdered by being shot, beheaded, burned alive, starved  and even crucified. Why is this happening? Because the satanic fueled HATRED toward followers of Jesus Christ knows no bounds. We here in the United States are only being spared because we live here. We just happened to be blessed by where we are. But even here, in America, there are those who would kill us all, simply for loving Jesus Christ. We certainly are under a relentless verbal attack.

Pope Francis stood tall Sunday when he called out the Ottoman Turks for perpetrating the first Genocide of the 20th century. The Turkish government was not happy and recalled their ambassador. The want to deny the fact that over one million Armenian Catholics were killed from 1915 thru 1917 by the trio of Muslim Turkish leaders known as the Young Turks. Then along came Adolf Hitler who hated the Jews and orchestrated the genocide known as the Holocaust. Hitler declared his actions were "in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator". (Why do evil people always seem to claim  they are doing "God's will"?)  Besides six million Jews another six million people were also slaughtered during his maniacal reign.

Adolf Hitler was the personification of evil during the 20th Century.  Josef Stalin of Russia rivaled Hitler as he was responsible for the annihilation of almost 25 million of his own people during his reign. This included over seven million during his "forced famine" of 1932-1933.

During the 20th century genocide has occurred in China, Nazi Germany, Cambodia (under Pol Pot), in Rwanda and in Bosnia. Countless millions of people just like us (whether Catholic/Christian, Jewish, and Muslim), have been exterminated for their personal beliefs. We are now in the 15th year of the 21st century.  Like locusts devouring a field of wheat, Muslim fanatics called ISIS, Al-Queda, Boko-Haram, Hamas, or whatever else they choose to call themselves, commit their evil in the name of Allah unencumbered and free to have their fill. They rape, burn, kidnap. behead, hang, crucify and do whatever other vicious, evil thing they can do to strike FEAR into their "enemy". Where is the world's outrage? Who will defend the Nauman Masihs of the world? Who will stand up for the women and children and babies that are objects of this incomprehensible evil? Is not GOOD required to confront EVIL? I believe it is.

Tomorrow, on April 16 at 10 a.m., the entire nation of Israel will stop doing whatever they are doing. Sirens throughout the country will begin to wail, traffic will stop, people will exit their vehicles and stand erect. This will continue for two minutes in honor of all those who perished in the Holocaust. On this Holocaust Remembrance Day it may be time for the Christian world to stand up at 10 a.m., along with our Jewish brothers and sisters. The genocide of today is now directed at all of us who are part of the Judeo-Christian connection.

                              copyright©Larry Peterson 2015 All Rights Reserved

April 11, 2015

Alzheimer's Disease--The Growing, Unstoppable Epidemic

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

My wife, Marty, began undergoing chemo treatments for Lymphoma during the spring of 2011. In the summer of 2013 cognitive disruption began to rear its ugly head. When I asked her oncologist could it be  "chemo brain",  he more or less gave me an I'm not sure, maybe shrug followed by a "I don't think so.",  answer.

During the late summer of 2014 the "cognitive disruption" I had noticed  was officially diagnosed as Alzheimer's Disease.  So much for my "chemo brain" theory. The mental "fog"  was never going to go away.  On the contrary, I quickly found out that her newly discovered illness would hang on to her and not leave until it succeeded in taking her life. Alzheimer's Disease is the only cause of death that cannot be prevented, cured, or even slowed down.

Marty did not understand what was happening to her and I was having no luck trying to explain it. All she knew was that the rehab center she was in was not her home and that I had put her there and did not stay with her anymore. She had no idea where I (we) lived and was as frightened as a child whose parents at dropped her off at a strange place and left her there with strangers.  The whole situation actually sickened me. When I would leave after four or five hours of visiting the pathetically sad and forlorn look that appeared on her face was almost too much to bear.

It is now almost eight months since the official diagnosis of Alzheimer's. She has been home since the end of last October. I have told her that she has Alzheimer's Disease and she tells me that she understands. She does not understand but, since she forgets the conversation within minutes, it does not matter anyway.

Marty has become my new seven year-old existing in an old body. No one can tell she is ill, except me, of course, and several close friends that know about her condition.  When I take her with me to church and to the stores etc., I always hear how "wonderful" she looks. Yeah, well the Titanic looked all bright and shiny as it headed out into the Atlantic that cold, April day in 1912. (Oops, sorry, I try to avoid being "down" about this but sometimes it just bites me, especially when I write about it.) Moving forward---here is a link to Alzheimer's Disease .

Today, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease and about 200,000 of those folks are under the age of 65. The disease kills more people every year than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. It is estimated that by the year 2050, 16 million people will have this disease. Someone in the United States develops Alzheimer's every 67 seconds. They have estimated that by 2050 it will be every 33 seconds. This is an epidemic growing before our eyes. It is also becoming a nightmare for more and more moms, dads, sons, daughters, grandchildren, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends and society as a whole.

Imagine  that all around the country people like Marty Peterson, are having their brains slowly erased by an invisible demon inside their heads. Swoosh, swoosh, swoosh; back and forth, back and forth, the tiny eraser keeps moving--back and forth, back and forth. Slowly but methodically the demon goes about its work 24/7. After awhile the person under attack does not even remember how to go to the bathroom. And then, after a time,  the eraser stops. It stops when  the disease it is part of finally erases the person's life.

That is the course of the relentless, unstoppable, illness known as Alzheimer's Disease. It is at work at this very moment. Somehow, someway we will have to stop it. We will need God's help because this war cannot be won without Him.

For more information click on this link  Alzheimer's Info

                                       copyright©Larry Peterson 2015

April 1, 2015

The MASS is The ANSWER for it is "The Most BEAUTIFUL Thing This Side of Heaven"

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME
  

By Larry Peterson

The following is for people of all faiths. It is also directed to atheists, agnostics, and all secularists too.  If you do not believe, you can make a choice and try to see with the eyes of a FAITH that is available to you.  If you do not approve, please delete. Thanks---(N.B. I am not a theologian or anything close to it. I am just a blue-collar guy from the Bronx sharing the faith that he loves)
                           ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Something deeply mystical happens on Holy Thursday that many people (this may include some Catholics) do not understand.  I refer to the Mass of the Lord's Supper. Lent ends when this Mass begins, which is usually in the evening.  This Mass commemorates the night when Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist giving us His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity forever. He did this within the framework of what we call  the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

We must have the Mass to have the Eucharist. They are inseparable for it is within the Mass that the ordained Catholic priest can consecrate simple bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. Make no mistake, my friends, this is not a "remembrance" or a "memorial" or  a "tribute". This is the unbloody sacrifice of the Cross being offered again and again and again to God the Father for all of us, for all time, in perpetuity.

We Catholics believe that Christ is TRULY PRESENT on the altar at Mass. These words are from the Roman canon: "we, your servants and your holy people, offer to your glorious majesty from the gifts that you have given us, this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim, the holy bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation". Christ is with us and we, the people, are offering Him to God the Father. Our reward is the Risen Christ given back to us in The Eucharist by our Father in heaven. This is The Mystery of Faith and this is what we believe.

The meaning of this is beyond the pale. It transcends human comprehension. For this is when yesterday became today and tomorrow becomes yesterday. The Mass enables us to briefly step into eternity. And this Holy Sacrifice is being offered somewhere on planet Earth every day of the year round the clock. Imagine that, somewhere, every day, round the clock. It is the most beautiful thing this side of heaven.

I wrote this many years ago and I would like to
share it with you.


                       The Answer

Every minute somewhere
Upon this Earth
Amid chaos and pain
Shadowed by greed and pride
Perfection.

While within so many
Silent screams resonate
And fade unheard
Pain unanswered
Yet each minute
A constant Light
Always there for us to share
Somewhere---The Answer

But---choices
Perfection unbridled
That tells us why
And will let us understand
If we choose to see
this splendid Oblation
A perfect purity
This gift called The Mass

Ignored yet
Somewhere each minute
For us to share
The Answer there
The Perfect Love
But---choices.
                         
The focus of the Lenten journey is preparation for Easter Sunday and the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Easter morning arrives and we sing out, "Alleluia, Alleluia! Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again." Eternal life  can now be ours. All we have to do is follow Him. If you do not know how or where to start, The Answer might be here.


                            copyright©2015 Larry Peterson All rights reserved

                          
                             

March 26, 2015

What Would Have Been the Fate of Dutch Schultz if God Used Zero Tolerance?

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

This past Sunday two of my grand kids made their First Confession. It is always a beautiful thing when children receive their first sacraments. Invariably, they never forget those moments. I was seven years old when I made my First Confession and I can still vividly remember that day.  I do not remember what sins I confessed because, at seven, the only thing I can remember ever doing was picking on my little sister all the time. And I know I had been punished for that---numerous times.

Last Tuesday they had a penance service in my parish. I was stunned at the large crowd. Eight priests were available to hear confessions and the church did not close up until almost 10 p.m.  I wondered if any of the people who went to confession that evening were denied absolution because what they had done was considered "unforgivable"? Ridiculous, right? Everything is forgivable, isn't it? And it does not matter if you are six, seven or one hundred and eight.

To give an example of how God's mercy is ALWAYS available to those who seek it I would like to briefly mention a man by the name of Arthur Flegenheimer. Arthur was born in New York City in 1901. A German-Jew, by the time he was 27 he was known as Dutch Schultz and was quickly becoming one of the most feared mob bosses in New York. The "Dutchman" was a bootlegger (running illegal whiskey), a number's boss operating in Harlem and a "shakedown artist" within the NYC restaurant industry offering protection while using the restaurant unions as cover.

His main enforcer was the infamous, Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll, a brutal killer who did Schultz's bidding without hesitation. Eventually the "Dutchman" got tired of Coll's wanting more money. As "Mad Dog" sat in a telephone booth talking on the phone he was machine gunned to death by Schultz's henchmen. Dutch actually proved to be a more brutal killer then "Mad Dog" Coll. So how does my brain tie Dutch Schultz, the Sacrament of Penance and Zero-Tolerance together? Actually, it is not that hard to do.

Dutch Schultz wanted to kill U. S. Attorney Thomas E. Dewey (Later to be Governor of NY and the Presidential Candidate losing to Harry Truman in the 1948 election). The Mafia Commission told Schultz,  "NO, it would cause us too much trouble." Schultz refused to listen and decided to  kill Dewey anyway. The mob, under Lucky Luciano, sent "Murder Inc." after Schultz. They gunned him down in a restaurant in Newark, N.J  on October 23, 1935. Enter the sacrament of Penance and Forgiveness.

When Dutch Schultz was acquitted  on tax-evasion charges he converted to Catholicism. He believed that Jesus had saved him. (He was also trying to impress Lucky Luciano). When he was shot he did not die right away. He was taken to the hospital for surgery and he immediately asked for a priest. He was 34 years  old  and his last thought while he was dying was to  ask Jesus for forgiveness and mercy.  He went to confession, received absolution and was administered the Last Rites of the Church by a priest. Then he died.  Did Dutch Schultz go right to heaven? Did he get to the "pearly gates" and have St. Peter say, "Sorry Dutch, that priest made a mistake. What you did was "Unforgivable. We operate under a strict "Zero-Tolerance" policy. You are not welcome here." I think not.

Sunday is Palm Sunday. Holy week begins. All over the world Catholic/Christian people celebrate the bloodied, tortured and crucified Son of God, Jesus Christ. Jesus embraced forgiveness for all people and extended love to everyone. This is also what He wanted us to do. This is why he suffered and died for us. He offered Himself to His Father for us. His Father's gift back to us is the Risen Christ. We all have been saved and we all  can get to share eternal life with the Blessed Trinity. Because of God's mercy even Dutch Schultz can join in the celebration. It is a beauty beyond description.

The only people who remain among the ranks of the "unforgiven" during the Easter celebrations and all through the year are those who are subject to the man made rules of Zero-Tolerance. This includes  Zero-Tolerance rules as set in place by much of the Catholic hierarchy. But God Himself could never be party to Zero-Tolerance since it would be a contradiction of His perfection. Maybe this Easter the hierarchy of the Church, as they celebrate new Light during the Easter Vigil, should begin re-thinking this intransigent policy called Zero-Tolerance. If it did not apply to Dutch Schultz, well, ----who am I to judge?

                                      copyright © 2015 Larry Peterson

March 20, 2015

Just Trying to Promote My Novel, The Priest and The Peaches. Now in Print and eBook Format (For sale, too)

THE PRIEST AND THE PEACHES    
a Novel by Larry Peterson  

 A Father's Legacy to His Children Was NOT What It Seemed                                         

 Yimey knew the secret to life. He made sure his family and friends did too. Even when his beloved wife, Elizabeth, died, he kept the faith. But the booze dulled the pain and he used too much. Then he died and left his five children to fend for themselves. They did not understand why people were calling their dad a "great man". How could that be? Alcohol had killed him and he had left them alone. Who was this man they called "Pops" but everyone else called "Yimey"?


Awarded the CATHOLIC WRITER’S GUILD Seal of Approval 

 This book celebrates family and honors the Catholic priesthood. It deals with alcoholism, abandonment, pride, forgiveness and death. Yet, you will smile in between. It also honors, in a no-nonsense,"blue collar" way, the Golden Rule. This is a unique book and an easy read. When you finish this book you will be smiling and saying,
"L-Y-N"  "L-Y-N"
_________________________________________
Links:

Larry Peterson 
__________________________________________


 Rainy Day Reviews: "I highly recommend this book. You won't be sorry, Larry is a gifted writer who creates a smart, witty, loving and believable characters and story line. I am so happy I got the opportunity to read this book."

A Pocket Full of Books:  "I was hooked on this one from the beginning . The writing is very unique and really stands out. The voices are just very distinctive and they're all so easy to relate to."

Reviews by Molly:   "This is a book that grips you from beginning to end. It’s filled with real-life events  and children that you just want to wrap your arms around, pray for them, and hug them 'til they smile forever. "

Lissette E. Manning:  "We’re able to watch a family grow within a period of seven days while faced with an adversity that, at times, seems to want to topple the family altogether. The fact that they’re able to bounce back and find strength and meaning within the very world they live in goes to show us that anything is possible only if you believe"

My Two Blessings: "The story is well written with 3 dimensional characters and the Peach kids will steal your heart as you experience all the ups and downs with them. Highly recommend it."

The Paperback Pursuer:  "When I started reading I knew that I would not be able to put it down ; most of the characters are so lively and well-written that they could be alive in the next room."

See all 48 reviews at   The Priest and The Peaches

“A father’s ultimate legacy to his children is not the amount of material things he leaves them. It is found in the lessons of love and forgiveness he instilled in their hearts.”     
By Author
   petersonlarry6@gmail.com

 copyright©Larry Peterson 2015 All Rights Reserved 

March 12, 2015

St. Joseph, "Shadow Saint": His Example is the Answer to the Fatherhood Crisis in Society

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Every March 19, The Catholic Church honors and celebrates a man who, next to the Blessed Virgin Mary, is the greatest of all saints. His name is  Joseph. He was Mary's husband and the foster father of  Jesus Christ, the Messiah.  Included among his honors he is venerated as the patron of fathers, workers, and unborn children.

I call Joseph the "Shadow Saint" because so little is known about him. There is not one spoken word he ever said that was recorded. What is known and what the facts bear out are: Being a Jewish man of great faith he trusted God and took Mary as his wife even though she was pregnant at the time;  He cared for and protected his wife and "foster" Son from the moment God asked him to; and He loved them unconditionally and without reservation. Joseph, the carpenter from Nazareth, was a real MAN.

We need St. Joseph more so today than ever before. Marriage and fatherhood are in crisis. In fact, America is becoming a nation of absentee fathers. The influence of fathers in families has been in steady decline for decades.  A 'fatherless America' helps breed a poverty rate for the fatherless at 4X the national average. In addition, it spawns increased drug abuse, physical and emotional health issues, lack in educational achievement, and a sharp increase in crime. Finally, it promulgates an irresponsible teen pregnancy rate that sees newborn children being  born into hopeless situations. Much of this hopelessness is attributed to the absence of fathers.

Let's face it, in our secular and contemporary society men are portrayed in a negative way. The press and media marginalize, demonize and portray men  as oversexed objects who can only think of having sex and drinking beer. Comedy shows (sit-coms) direct children to perceive them as idiots and "snicker" along with their moms  about dad's behavior. Compare the character Jim Anderson in the 60's sitcom, "Father Knows Best" to Homer Simpson in the animated, 20 year long hit, "The Simpsons". Anderson is a hard working, God fearing man who loves and respects his family and takes care of them. His wife and kids respect him and they all love each other. (How corny, right?) Homer Simpson is basically a buffoon who swills beer and is lazy and irresponsible. His wife and daughter are the voices of reason and keep order in the family. Homer Simpson is the stereotypical TV "dad" of the last 20 years. How illuminating and uplifting for the kids who have grown up watching this.

Our saints are the creme de la creme of our Catholic world. They represent the very best of the best. They are what I call our Catholic Hall of Fame. And St. Joseph stands at the top of the list. No one in history was ever given such a responsibility as he was. The man was charged with taking care of the expectant Mother of God and the Baby who was to grow up to be the Messiah, the Chosen One. Imagine that. A simple carpenter being asked to raise and protect the baby that would grow to be the Man that changed the world forever.

Joseph did whatever he had to do to take care of his wife and son. He worked hard to keep a roof over their heads, to feed them, clothe them, and protect them. He did not care about himself. His family came first, no matter what. He would have gladly died for them if necessary. He was a real MAN. His faith, courage, integrity and love of God  resonate like the smashing of cymbals and the banging of drums for all of us to listen to. WE should LISTEN TO HIM ! We need to follow his example. We need to celebrate his life. We need to honor his commitment to his responsibilities.

St. Joseph, a hard working carpenter was the perfect dad. Two thousand years after his death he is still the finest role model for, not only husbands and fathers, but for all men for all time.

St. Joseph, thank you and please pray for all of us. HAPPY FEAST DAY

                                    Copyright ©2015 Larry Peterson

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