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Friday, April 30, 2010

Is the UN Certifiably Insane?

Or is it me? Please indulge me while I overstate the obvious. The UN has just selected IRAN as a member of its Commission on the Status of Women.  See the following Fox News link http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/04/30/stayed-mum-iran-vote-womens-commission/

I suppose their first "status report" might be their recent arrests of women documented by Amnesty International which include:


· Mahboubeh Karami – a member of the One Million Signatures Campaign (also known as the Campaign for Equality) who was arrested on 2 March 2010 at her home on the basis of a general arrest warrant dated May 2009. This is the fifth time she has been arrested in connection with her activism.

· Shiva Nazar Ahari, a member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters was arrested for the second time since the June 2009 election on 20 December 2009, and remains held in Evin Prison without charge or trial. At least six other members of the Committee are also currently detained.

· Behareh Hedayat, a member of the Central Committee of the the Office for the Consolidation of Unity (a national student body which has been active in calling for political reform and opposing human rights violations) was arrested on 31 December 2009, and is also held in Evin Prison without charge or trial. Shortly before her arrest, in early December 2009, her recorded video speech for a conference in the
Netherlands entitled “International solidarity with Iranian students' movement On the
occasion of Iran's National Student's Day”2 was widely circulated on the internet.

· Zahra Jabbari, was arrested on 18 September 2009, when mass anti-government protests were held. She is detained in Evin Prison, apparently on account of her having relatives based with the Peoples Mohahedin Organization, a banned opposition group. Her trial has not yet been concluded.

· Seven supporters of the Mourning Mothers – Leila Seyfi Elahi, Zhila Karamzadeh Makvandi, Fatemeh Rastegari, Mrs Ebrahim, Elham Ahsani, Farzaneh Zaynali and Manijeh Taheri – who were arrested on 7 and 8 February 2010 are reportedly detained in Section 209 of Evin Prison without charge or trial.

· Mahsa Jazini – a journalist based in Esfahan and member of the Campaign for Equality was arrested on 7 February 2010 and released from Dastgerd prison in Esfahan on 1 March. According to reports, she was told at the time of her arrest that the reason for her detention was that she was a feminist.

· Maryam Zia, a children’s rights activist who is the director of the Association for the Endeavour for a World Deserving of Children was arrested on 31 December at her home and is believed to be held in Evin Prison.

(Amnesty International believes that all these women are prisoners of conscience, held solely for their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression, assembly and association, or on account of their family links and calls for their immediate and unconditional release)

BUT PLEASE let us not forget Neda Agha-Soltan, who was killed during a post election anti-government protest, are placed on Albertina Square during a demonstration in Vienna January 23, 2010. (Pictured above). Agha-Soltan became a symbol for protests against Tehran's hardline leaders after graphic footage of her death was seen around the world on the Internet. (Reuters)

According to Fox, the Commission on the Status of Women is supposed to conduct review of nations that violate women's rights, issue reports detailing their failings and monitor success in improving women's equality. Critics of Iran's human rights record say the country has taken "every conceivable step" to deter women's equality. (no kidding?)
 
So this is reason number (i forget what we're up to now) to mistrust with every nostril hair the boys in baby blue. Their intentions are dubious and their motives are highly questionable. What do you expect from a bunch of thugs?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Could the AZ Immigration Bill be a Mercy to the Hispanic Population?

This is my reponse to Abp Dolan's "Immigration Reform" Post of today, April 27.

With all due respect Archbishop, while Mexico may be unsafe, unstable and undesirable, I’m not sure the best place for a Latina is necessarily in Arizona. Where healthcare reform has ushered in a new age for “reproductive freedom” paid for by the American taxpayer we will welcome across our borders new Mexican families and shuttle them to Planned Parenthood facilities to rob them of their hard-earned money , kill their mexican babies and place them on Depo Provera. Because we failed to elect a president and legislators that would have prevented this travesty, because we failed to live up to our baptismal calling to follow our conscience on such matters, the blood-letting expands now to all immigrants –especially the hispanic population– because our minds have not changed on this since the eugenics movement began. Yes, we have a problem that needs to be solved with immigration. Yes, the Jan Brewer bill seems to be a response to the killing, drug proliferation and ridiculousness of our current system to protect our borders from those who are not citizens here. But what, when, where, how will someone come up with real solutions rather than offer their criticisms? We may be sheep, but we are not dupes. We need life-affirming laws that actually do something. Prudentially speaking, what is wrong with enacting the laws that protect US borders? Ah yes..come to America where we can offer you coupons to Planned Parenthood.


You can read Archbishop Dolans' post here http://blog.archny.org/?p=652&cpage=1#comment-4583
I love the Archbishop. He is a stalwart protector and defender of life and a prince of the church. I do believe that there are many folks that have differing viewpoints on the immigration issue and I think it's healthy to discuss them. Bravo for the digital age that allows such communicative bridges. 

Within every problem there is an opportunity so great & so large that it literally dwarfs the problem. (Dang, I think I've heard that before???)          Albert Einstein

Let us never, then, lose hope.

Monday, April 26, 2010

What is a Sidewalk Counselor?

A sidewalk counselor might be the last human being supporting motherhood that a mom or dad-in-crisis encounter before ending up in the hands of an abortionist. The sidewalk counselor stands in a precarious balance between life and death, usually on a dirty sidewalk in front of an abortion clinic. It is the last place in the world some people would want to be. But it is an awesome place to be too, if you want a real glimpse into human suffering.  It is a way to be....at the foot of the cross.

What is a sidewalk counselor, or more importantly, who is a sidewalk counselor? Perhaps it might be helpful to explain what a sidewalk counselor is not. A sidewalk counselor is not a street preacher, a terrorist, a political activist, or even an expert in the field of counseling per se. He or she is not of any particular race, denomination, creed, color, or political persuasion. He or she is not affiliated with any formal organization and is not paid for his or her services. He or she is not necessarily super-heroically brave but is willing. He or she is not an expert or possessing of any special intuitive knowledge; but they do remain teachable & trainable. He or she does not believe that they have all of the answers to life’s questions but does believe firmly that the unborn have a living place in our society. He or she is not arrogant or prideful but humble and compassionate. He or she is not easily shaken by the errors in judgment of others because they are profoundly aware of their own human nature. He or she not only supports the mothers in crisis on the sidewalk but also challenges the fathers, doctors, workers, and passers-by to awaken their hearts to life. He or she is not perfect but persistently tries to be better. He or she is not bothered by a little weather but, in season or out of season, brings sunblock.

If you would like to know more about this interesting role in the pro-life movement, and you happen to be in the Valley of the Sun, please consider joining us for a few hours on Saturday, May 15 from 10am-1pm at the Diocesan Pastoral Center located at 400 E. Monroe in downtown Phoenix. LeeAnne Abel and I, members of the AzRTL Speakers Bureau will be there to lead discussion, role plays and teachings in the realm of Sidewalk Counseling. All are welcome and no experience is necessary. Light refreshments will be served. There is no registration fee however a free-will donation will be collected. Please email Karen to register at karen@azrtl.org.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy "Humility" Day--a little lesson in Earth Day Gardening.

Karen Karen, time for sharin'...how does my garden grow? With dry rock-clod bells and stucco cockle shells and pretty labradors all in a row....(oh that's bad). This is a view of my side yard; which is, as my mother would say, an "eyesore". But aye...there's beauty in that empty wasteland.  I'm going to plant a garden and I'm already picturing succulent tomatoes, vibrant peppers, hopheaded thyme, sweet fennel, lots of delicious goodies.

Spanish explorers of the 1600s knew they would need to plant Herbs when they reached unknown shores or they would be forced to eat whatever the cook could find. This was a frightening thought! As a result, Monks distributed Sweet Fennel along El Camino Real, The Kings Highway, which connects the missions in California. Fennel can still be seen along Interstate 101 which traces this legendary route.

Like those early spaniards, I'm also finding that I've reached some unknown shores.  A teenager reaching a milestone with graduation day fast approaching; a new job with a non-profit organization where my toes are already feeling a little cooked in the baptism of fire; and my mom who at age 80, is starting to decline in health. These are heady times. And yet I feel the need to do a little gardening of my own.

God gardens too.  He sows the story of Himself into man's heart using human vessels. From Genesis to the end of time He saturates mankind with His being-ness and infuses into us His supernatural intellect..."He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end." Ecclesiastes 3:11. And it begins and ends in a garden, of all places. 

The garden is a great metaphor for the heart of man and according to every green-thumbed afficionado worth his salt, the most important ingredient to start with is good soil. If you play around with the word "human", you will find that it is closely related to the word humus which derives from the latin humilitas or "from the earth which is beneath us."  It's also woven into the most foundational virtue of humility.  According to St. Thomas Aquinas, 'Humility is the first virtue inasmuch as it removes the obstacles to faith —  it removes pride and makes a man subject to and a fit recipient of grace'... According to the words of St. James: "God resisteth the proud, and giveth his grace to the humble" (James 4:6). 

(Note to self: So Earth Day isn't such a bad idea if I can be reminded of my humus-ness!)

How do I prepare the "soil of my heart" so that it will eventually produce a willing crop?  First, the ground must be prepared.  The large clods of discontent, fear and irritability must be broken down.  The rocks and harsh minerals of discouragement and arrogance need to be cast aside and some good mulch/compost needs to be applied so that organic matter can flourish. Odd how decaying organics can actually inspire living things to grow...think of the blood of the martyrs and how their witness caused an exponential growth to man's restored faith in God. "Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his faithful ones." (Psalm 116).  Fertile soil allows the good seed to take root and grow.  Healthy ground also allows the proper exchange of nutrients between the earth and the living thing that is to be rooted and better yet, is to bud forth. So we are not to be grounded only; rather, we are to be grounded and growing toward our Source.

Next we add the seeds.  The seed is life's blueprint. It's the masterplan, the idea, the order, all organized and concealed in microbial fashion and encased in a protective housing.  Think of the seed being sown into your heart as the Word of God.  In order for the seed to grow, it requires light - truth, wisdom, beauty and goodness; and hydration.  The sources of water come from several places: from the heavens above and from the springs below.  "May the LORD bless his land with the precious dew from heaven above and with the deep waters that lie below." (Deut 33:13). But lets not forget that hydration is supplied, sometimes amply, from the tears that we offer. "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy." (Psalm 126:5).  Some of the most lush gardens on the volcanic isles of Hawaii get a daily drenching of tropical showers. Think of these things the next time your teenager worries you senseless.

As the furrows are drenched and the ridges leveled; our hearts become softened dewey gardens where the planted seed can root and the blossoms spring up. Time-lapse photography gives us an amazing glimpse at the growth process in action.  I watched a science channel special on the formation of coral reefs recently and was stunned by how rapidly an entire civilization sprouted up on a piece of submerged boat junk.  Staying above ground, maintaining a lush, vibrant garden requires a prudent and sometimes painful, cutting, pruning and weeding to keep out the destructive weeds of pride, sloth, envy, anger, greed, lust, & gluttony.

And then there is the fruit. Sometimes we see this quickly.  Sometimes we see this slowly, over time. What did we put into our garden?  Did we fertilize it with the Eucharist and frequent attendance to our sacraments? Did we fence out the bunny-rabbits of malcontentedness, gossipy friends, idle time and unchecked addictions? Or did we rest on our laurels and allow tomato worms to bore into the soft fruit. We either deal with our defects or we let them conquer us. The garden is a great metaphor for the heart. It is a mercy that we have a Patient Gardener.

I conclude where I once began.  Our story started and will end in a garden where there is a deliciously beautiful tree. Salvation history started agriculturally in the feted apple and its object: the defeat of death, was vanquished in a garden as well.  There's a lovely story that I read someplace where God at the chronological end of history comes a-searchin' for Adam.  Probably in the cool of the evening. Probably in a beautiful garden. God is calling out Adam's name.  But this time something different happens.  Adam doesn't hide in the shadows of shame.  He sees His Father and he runs toward him at breakneck speed.  God calls for his lost sons and daughters.  He's calling your name and my name too. Just like the prodigal returning from the swine hiatus.  Just like Mary Magdalene encountering her "gardener-sir" when her sorrow blossomed into to joy.  Behold, I make all things new.

"My beloved has gone down to his garden, to the bed of spices, to pasture his flock in the gardens, and to gather the lilies.  I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine. He pastures his flock among the lilies."(Song of Solomon, 6:2-3)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Why Teaparties Work...

Simply:  If effectively executed, they limit government. Here's one way to make sure that you aren't mugged.



"The current tax code is a daily mugging."  Ronald Reagan

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter


Christ became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted Him
And bestowed on Him the Name which is above every other name.

Friday, April 2, 2010

700 years before Christ

these profound words were composed and set down as prophecy about the coming messiah. There is only one fulfillment of them. His name is Jesus.

Isaiah 52:13—53:12

See, my servant shall prosper,
he shall be raised high and greatly exalted.
Even as many were amazed at him
so marred was his look beyond human semblance
and his appearance beyond that of the sons of man
so shall he startle many nations,
because of him kings shall stand speechless;
for those who have not been told shall see,
those who have not heard shall ponder it.
Who would believe what we have heard?
To whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
He grew up like a sapling before him,
like a shoot from the parched earth;
there was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him,
nor appearance that would attract us to him.
He was spurned and avoided by people,
a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity,
one of those from whom people hide their faces,
spurned, and we held him in no esteem.
Yet it was our infirmities that he bore,
our sufferings that he endured,
while we thought of him as stricken,
as one smitten by God and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our offenses,
crushed for our sins;
upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole,
by his stripes we were healed.
We had all gone astray like sheep,
each following his own way;
but the LORD laid upon him
the guilt of us all.
Though he was harshly treated, he submitted
and opened not his mouth;
like a lamb led to the slaughter
or a sheep before the shearers,
he was silent and opened not his mouth.
Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away,
and who would have thought any more of his destiny?
When he was cut off from the land of the living,
and smitten for the sin of his people,
a grave was assigned him among the wicked
and a burial place with evildoers,
though he had done no wrong
nor spoken any falsehood.
But the LORD was pleased
to crush him in infirmity.
If he gives his life as an offering for sin,
he shall see his descendants in a long life,
and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him.
Because of his affliction
he shall see the light in fullness of days;
through his suffering, my servant shall justify many,
and their guilt he shall bear.
Therefore I will give him his portion among the great,
and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty,
because he surrendered himself to death
and was counted among the wicked;
and he shall take away the sins of many,
and win pardon for their offenses.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Pope Benedict and the Milwaukee Molester

Posted by: Hugh Hewitt at 7:53 PM 3-31-10

Lawrence Murphy was a serial molester of deaf boys during his 25 year tenure as head of St. John's School for the Deaf in Milwaukee, from 1950 to 1975. Murphy died in 1998.

In recent days charges have been leveled at Pope Benedict alleging that the pope was somehow complicit in the shameful conduct of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

The priest in charge of the Church's prosecution of Murphy is Fr. Thomas Brundage, who wrote this article this week about the allegations. He was my guest today, and the transcript of that conversation is posted here. Key exchanges:

HH: [I]f the Pope had been involved in this, would you have known of that?

TB: I’m almost certain I would have, because even in 1997-98, Cardinal Ratzinger was a huge figure. And you know, had he had any involvement in this matter, I don’t see how they could have kept it away from me. I mean, I met with officials in Rome, I met with officials in Washington. In addition to his job at the Congregation, he wore a number of other hats, and it would be unbelievable to me that he would have had any involvement in this case....

HH: Now speaking generally, as someone who’s had personal experience in the prosecution of one of the predators, and as someone who is also obviously well-versed in canonical law, how has Benedict’s record been, both as Pope and as the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, generally, on the child abuse cases?

TB: He has done more than any other major religious figure that I know of in history, and that’s either current history or past. He has had a worldwide audience, in which he has repeatedly talked about the shame that this has brought to the Church, and trying to get the filth out of the Church. What I know is since 2001, when a case has been sent to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, they have swiftly, and I think fairly, removed an awful lot of these predators from the priesthood. And so there has been a purgation since he was at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that continues to this very day of the priests who preyed on kids.

HH: So when you see the New York Times, or today, columnist Maureen Dowd, or this new AP story, or the lawyer in Kentucky, targeting the Pope, what do you think they’re doing? Why do you think they’re doing it?

TB: I, my gut reaction to this is there has been outright, and sometimes latent anti-Catholicism. And I know it’s easy to play the anti card. I think there’s a part of this here that Benedict stands for an awful lot of things that the American society, and Western Europe, the European society, do not like. We support life. We have issues that are very, very different from the mindset of many Americans and Europeans as well. And I see this as a kind of blatant attack upon the Church.

Fr. Brundage never had any contact with the pope, nor did he ever hear of any involvement of the pope with the case, nor did the Vatican office the pope ran routinely supervise these cases until 2001, although some officials in that office did work with Fr. Brundage on this particular case because of one of the charges leveled against Murphy.

At the conclusion of our interview I asked Father Brundage to speculate on why the reporting and commentary on this story has been so flawed and he speculated that there is both anti-Catholicism and anti-Benedict prejudice at work in some quarters.
 
(If you're in the Phoenix area, Hugh Hewitt is in town with Michael Medved and Dennis Prager on April 12. Get more info on Hugh's website at http://www.hughhewitt.com/blog/g/6e1fa8e1-a310-44d5-9486-8b7be6dd336d)