The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Most of the news we're exposed to today is, quite simply, good, bad, or ugly -- too little of the first and far too much of the others. Here's a quick survey of some of the news stories I encountered this afternoon. I'll let you decide in which category to place each.
Planned Parenthood. According to their own report, Planned Parenthood has set several records. They not only performed a record number of abortions but also received a record amount of taxpayer funds from the federal government. This largest of American abortion mills performed 333,964 abortions in 2011. Among their clients, 92% received abortions, 7% received some form of prenatal care, and less than 1% received adoption referrals. The $542 million Planned Parenthood received in federal grants, contracts and Medicaid reimbursements represents almost half of its annual revenue.

National Religious Freedom Day. Last week President Obama proclaimed January 16 as National Religious Freedom Day. In his proclamation he stated: 
"Because of the protections guaranteed by our Constitution, each of us has the right to practice our faith openly and as we choose. As a free country, our story has been shaped by every language and enriched by every culture...As we observe Religious Freedom Day, let us remember the legacy of faith and independence we have inherited, and let us honor it by forever upholding our right to exercise our beliefs free from prejudice or persecution."
Interesting comments from a president who has taken an active role in suppressing the religious freedom of those who cannot in conscience support the HHS Mandate to pay for "health" services that involve artificial contraceptives, abortifacient drugs, and sterilization.

Nepalese Are Reading Bibles. Nepal, that strange faraway nation in the Himalayas, has been ruled for several years now by a Maoist government that is quite hostile to religion. The nation, though, is over 80% Hindu. Much of the remainder of the population is either Buddhist (about 10%), Muslim (about 5%), or practitioners of an indigenous religion, Kirat (about 4%). Christians make up less than two percent of the population. But this is changing. Since 2006 the number of Christians has tripled. The numbers are still small but they are increasing rather rapidly. Accompanying this growth is a doubling of Bible sales over the past year with many of these Bibles being purchased by non-Christians. As one Protestant minister said, "Many non-Christians have found a real source of hope in the Gospel and the Bible." 

Catholic Schools Must Teach Islam??  As strange as it may sound, this one isn't hard to believe if you've been following the plight of Christians struggling to practice their faith in Islamic nations. The story relates to six Catholic schools in East Java province of Indonesia. It seems the local authorities are threatening to close the schools if they do not teach the Islamic faith and read the Qur'an to Muslim students who attend the schools. Interestingly, no Muslim student or student's family has ever objected on religious grounds to the lack of Islamic teaching in the Catholic schools. It seems to me that Muslim students who want to learn about their faith might be better served by attending a Muslim school rather than a Catholic one. 

The Arab Spring in Egypt has become a dark winter for Christians. Remember all that enthusiastic talk about the glories we could expect from the Arab Spring that was spreading throughout the Middle East and North Africa? Well, it's turning out pretty much as I thought it would. Almost two years ago, not long after Mubarak was overthrown in Egypt, I wrote in this blog that the Muslim Brotherhood would likely assume control of the country and that this would lead only to increased persecution of Egyptian Christians. (See my May 2011 post.) Now we read that the predominantly Coptic Christians village of el-Marashda in Upper Egypt has been repeatedly attacked by hundreds of Islamists who have burned down homes and businesses and tried to destroy the local Coptic church. Such reports of anti-Christian violence and open persecution are increasingly common as Islamist extremists become more emboldened in an Egypt led by a radical government. 

Here's a video highlighting some of the atrocities committed against Christians in Egypt, atrocities committed not only by radical bands of Islamists but also by government forces. You can read the accompanying article here.

The French Protest Same-Sex Marriage. And to think I used to make fun of the French and was even known to accuse them of leading the way to the creation of a modern pagan Europe. Well, the French came out in large numbers -- well over a half-million of them -- to protest their government's proposed acceptance of same-sex marriage and the adoption of children by homosexual couples. God bless them! Here's a video on the protests...

You can read a secular news report on the protests here.

Too many bads, too many uglys. Pray for our world and for our nation.

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