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!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

What In The World?

This will likely be a disjointed post full of seemingly random thoughts, but every so often I'm just overwhelmed by what I see in the world. I'll begin close to home.

Although I was born in Connecticut, I spent most of my childhood in a suburb of New York City and so for years I considered myself a New Yorker. I was, therefore, taken aback when the governor of New York stated that “extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay....have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are." -- Also sprach Governor Cuomo from his chair in Albany.

Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio
Hmm...let's see. I am indeed pro-life and I support the right to bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment of our Constitution. I certainly wouldn't call myself "anti-gay" because as a Christian I "hate the sin but love the sinner." Of course, the fact that I believe marriage is sacred and unites only a man and a woman in a sacramental way no doubt makes me "anti-gay" from the governor's skewed perspective. I find it particularly curious that he would label me an "extreme Conservative" because I hold these beliefs which are also held by at least half of the US population. Fortunately for me, I haven't lived in New York since I was 18, so I guess I'm safe from whatever the governor has planned for those who disagree with him. 

Pope John Paul II: Extremist
Not surprisingly New York City's new mayor, Bill de Blasio, agrees with the governor. In his words, “The first point is, we represent our people and Governor Cuomo is right and I believe I’m on firm ground in saying our people, the people in New York State and the people of New York City reject extremists views against a women’s right to choose and in favor of the proliferation of guns in our society. And I stand by that 100 percent.” Why do I get the feeling that the "our people" to which the mayor refers actually includes only those who agree with him. And I always thought those we elected were supposed to represent all the people.

And don't you think there's something a wee bit scary about a governor who wants no one in his state excerpt those who share his beliefs? Will New York change its name to Stepford? Such thinking by someone who holds the reins of political and legal power in New York can lead to all kinds of nasty policies and their enforcement. It's also a rather blatant form of bigotry in that it attempts to exclude from society most Catholics and many other Christians who hold orthodox beliefs; that is, those who, unlike the governor, accept the tenets of their faith and believe what their Church teaches. Apparently the governor objects to the First Amendment as well as the Second. 

Governor Cuomo also provides us with another reason to be against capital punishment. Once you give a government the right to put people to death, what's to stop it from expanding its list of capital crimes? Once political correctness is formulated in law -- and this is already happening in many Western nations -- eliminating some of these "criminals" just might become too tempting for the authoritarians in charge. It's worth noting that the Marxist roots of political correctness can be easily traced back to Germany in 1923 and the Institute for Social Research, also known as the Frankfurt School. According to Bill Lind, PC is a form of Cultural Marxism in which "all history is determined by power, by which groups defined in terms of race, sex, etc., have power over other groups. Nothing else matters. All literature, indeed, is about that. Everything in the past is about that one thing." The history of Marxism put into practice clearly demonstrates how capital punishment can be used by those in power to eliminate any who refuse to toe the party line. (You can read the full text of Lind's comments here.)

And how can we forget another New Yorker, former Mayor Bloomberg, and his soda ban? In the course of his legal battle to keep New Yorkers safe and healthy by forcing them to drink less root beer and cream soda, he made the telling statement: "I do think there are certain times we should infringe on your freedom." Ah, yes, Big Brother knows best and we should just go along.

The Soda Jerk
But honestly, there are worse things than those politicians who despise me for my beliefs and others who are nanny wannabes. Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg might be small potatoes in the overall scheme of things, but what troubles me most about them and those like them is their willingness to disregard that pesky Constitution of ours. They seem not to realize that the words of this document have meaning and our acceptance of them has been the guarantor of our freedom. 

For example... 

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." 
These are the words of the 4th Amendment to our Constitution and like all ten amendments that make up our Bill of Rights, they define the rights of the people, not the rights of the government. The Bill of Rights was added to our Constitution to protect us from the government, from those we elected to positions of power. It you doubt this, just read the Federalist Papers, written by those who also wrote the Constitution. And so I am a bit confused when attorneys for the Department of Justice declare in federal court that American citizens have no right to challenge the government's collection of their personal records. I guess it all boils down to which we believe is more important, freedom or security. Personally, I'll join Patrick Henry who on March 23, 1775 ended his rousing speech to the Second Virginia Convention with the words: "I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" And one can't help but cheer the people of New Hampshire who have "Live free or die!" as their state motto.

And speaking of life and death, isn't it interesting that pro-choice politicians often claim their policies are aimed at "protecting the children" while at the same time actively supporting the killing of unborn children in the womb? We saw an example of this when the administration joined the world in decrying the deaths of several hundred Syrian children who perished as a result of a chemical weapons attack. But when the federal government's own figures tell of the deaths of 55 million American babies since the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, we hear not a peep from that same government.

If we look beyond our borders, things don't seem much better. As a result of our feckless foreign policy, does the international community, in particular the nations of the Middle East, hold the United States in greater respect today than in 2008? If you want a clear answer, just listen to what the Iranians are saying about us now.

And what about the changes that have swept across the Middle East and North Africa, changes our government openly celebrated and supported? As a result of this so-called "Arab Spring" are the people of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Syria better off now than they were living under the despotic regimes of Mubarak, Qaddafi, et al.? Are the Christians (what's left of them) in these countries better off now than they were before? Why do all our real smart people fail to anticipate such "unintended" consequences, while some of us dummies saw them coming from the beginning? Go figure.

And, finally, does it trouble you, as it troubles me, that the nations we have aided and for whom we have expended so much American blood and dollars are now among the worst persecutors of Christians? Our war in Iraq, begun in 2003, has been catastrophic for Iraqi Christians. Not too many years ago, Christians made up nearly 10% of Iraq's population. During the past ten years, however, it's estimated that half the Christian population of the country has fled as a result of violence and other forms of persecution. How and why did we let this happen? Why do we hear little or nothing from the current administration about the murders of Christians and the widespread destruction of Christian churches by Islamist and Jihadist terrorists? Why has the administration openly supported Islamist groups -- for example, the Muslim Brotherhood -- responsible for this persecution?

Ah, well, too many unanswered questions. Thank God for His gift of faith.

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