No Greater Love

 

A follow-up to my prior post regarding the Courage Deficit we are now facing.

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down his life for his friends.” (Jn. 15:13) Since posting my last column on today’s Deficit of Courage (April 20), events have confirmed many of the arguments made in that post. Exactly one week later, to the day, a shooting erupted at the Chabod House of Poway synagogue in San Diego followed three days later by another savage attack on a college campus in Charlotte, North Carolina. Then on May 7 a third brutal attack unfolded at a STEM high school in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, practically my own back yard.  But in each instance, what might have unfolded as another major tragedy was foiled by the courageous intervention of ordinary citizens whose quick and selfless actions prevented major bloodbaths. Of those five courageous individuals who confronted various gunmen, two survived their assailant’s attacks, still, three of their company perished while preserving the lives of others. Continue reading

The “Courage Deficit” that Burdens Our Children

Americans have a long and cherished tradition of independent self-reliance and initiative which is, I fear, being eroded into something the consistency of wet sand. Witness the recent fiasco in Denver area schools where a panic attack, fomented by public officials, spread like a virus to affect some 400,000 students. In the end the only casualty was a tragically disturbed 18 year old girl who, on little more than a hunch and having broken no apparent laws, became the object of a massive FBI manhunt which ended only after her suicide was discovered in a secluded mountain forest. Meanwhile thousands of Denver area students and indeed the entire nation were, once again, manipulated and traumatized by our trembling officialdom, ably abetted by a vulture media establishment. Yet mental images of frightened students and teachers cowering in a locked classroom make me wonder whatever happened to the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave?

I remember quite a different America growing up where kids routinely rode their bikes to school and played outdoors unsupervised till dusk. We Boomers inherited a legacy of valor, self-sacrifice, and courage from our parent’s generation, who had recently fought a terrible war to secure freedom for all. Freedom is not free; it sometimes exacts a very high price after all. Continue reading

Eve & the True Meaning of ‘Feminism”

Mary Beth Bonacci wrote a marvelous piece recently in the Denver Catholic titled, “On Toxic Masculinity.” It seems that in the current #MeToo climate, normal masculinity is routinely equated with being a racist, misogynist, or even rapist. But Bonacci bravely stands up for manhood. She notes, “I don’t believe masculinity is ‘toxic’. Masculinity is raw material, just as femininity is. Men can use their gifts for good or evil, just as women can. (But try using the term ‘toxic femininity’ in polite company and see what happens.) For millennia, the goal of society has been to channel those instincts, not to suppress them… But there seems to be a movement to neutralize masculinity entirely.” Rather than subscribe to some prescribed gender ideology, namely that men are basically rotten and women are always good, Bonacci rightly places the responsibility for actions on the individual, not on one’s gender. She reminds us that stereotypes are overly broad generalizations containing some small grains of truth that tend to be conflated to absurd proportions. But one thing is undeniable: men and women are cut from very different cloth, and with good reason.

Watching Peter Jackson’s poignant documentary on World War I, “They Will Not Grow Old,” I was reminded that male attitudes and behavior are little changed over the past 100 years, indeed the past 1,000 years. Men are generally the physically stronger sex but weaker morally. It is women who have historically provided the real moral strength in any society. But after 1918 the moral attitudes of women began to change in the West. Legal emancipation and the vote opened up a whole new sense of self sufficiency which, ever so gradually, morphed into today’s radical feminism. Continue reading

A Crisis of Leadership

Consider this proverbial chicken and egg problem. Are bad leaders the cause of social and moral decline in a society, or are they merely another symptom of such decline ~ a Cause or an Effect? Perhaps in a representative democracy such as ours the answer must include both of the above.  As many pundits have pointed out, people often get the leaders they deserve, but are leaders, by their own actions, entirely blameless in the corruption of a society? After all, those who exert power, either for good or for ill, owe some accountability to the people for whatever consequences their actions may bring about. Our great nation is a case in point.

This land of E Pluribus Unum ~ Out of Many, One ~ is gradually being transformed into the very opposite, Out of One, Many. This is apparent in the extreme levels of social polarization that has not been seen here since those fateful years preceding the American Civil War. Today’s Americans face a similar dilemma, though the issue is no longer the extension of freedom to all persons but the extension of something far more basic and compelling, which is life itself. Should unborn persons have a legally protected right to exist? This simple question has raised violent passions on either side to such elevated levels that our very political system is now imperiled. Abortion has become the new lightening-rod issue which weighs heavily upon the entire political dialogue, while poisoning civil discourse from both sides. Continue reading

Killing the Mockingbird

The framers of our Constitution realized that the success of the new republic could only be insured by a free and independent press. But looking at the latest media circus one has to question just how independent our mainstream news outlets really are when a possibly malicious rumor carries far more weight than serious allegations. For instance, the disparity of coverage and editorial opinion related to the charges made August 25 by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano against high ranking Catholic Church officials versus those made by Christine Blasey Ford against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is positively astounding. Since the initial revelations of Archbishop Vigano we have been treated to a virtual news blackout in the mainstream press, even as the Ford allegations have fostered a non-stop media firestorm. Yet ask yourself, which story, and actor, is the more credible? Continue reading

The Abolition of Man

We are rightly dismayed and horrified by the exposed abuses of persons in trust such as Jerry Sandusky, Dr. Larry Nasser, and lately Cardinal Theodore McCarrick whom, I would maintain, go well beyond the level of being monstrous Cretans. In fact such men are unfortunately becoming the everyday face of this modern culture of subjectivism. The #MeToo movement is essentially a long overdue reaction to an underground culture of abuse and deception that has been fully operational for decades. But while it serves as a welcome expose on contemporary social dysfunction, like so many reactive movements it skirts the very root of the problem, preferring to focus its energy on the effects rather than the cause.

How do men with no apparent moral compass rise to such positions of power and authority in the first place? Or perhaps we need to consider that it is precisely their lack of moral conviction or scruple which aided them in their chosen notorious careers. No society ever likes to examine that side of the question too closely because of the implication that such corruption on so many levels may be systemic to our most cherished institutions. So while a few individuals are discovered out and jettisoned amid widespread public indignation, yet the culture which breeds and encourages such abuses remains intact and unassailable. Continue reading

Who’s really cooking up the Hate?

The recent Masterpiece Cakeshop decision by the Supreme Court has both sides claiming a victory ~ of sorts. And while the High Court recognized an unacceptable religious animus on the part of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, it left open the question of where exactly religious liberty ends and unjust discrimination begins. But the larger question remains. Just how much coercion should government be allowed to apply in a free society? When does an excessive zeal for ‘tolerance’ itself lead to intolerant reactions?

These are penetrating questions that few on the more ‘progressive’ side of the spectrum seem willing to seriously consider. In fact, the only motive they can imagine that religious people like Jack Phillips are capable of resorting to is ‘hate.’ Such a view is an overly simplistic assumption in itself, demonstrating an extreme bias in their own ‘progressive’ thinking. Of course, Christianity does not condone hatred of persons, even though certain actions may be considered hateful, murder for instance. Continue reading

Relativism ~ Truth on Shifting Sand

We live today in a relativistic world where truth, right and wrong are no longer considered absolutes but matters of personal choice. This approach can create troubling consequences, however. Take the example of married love. While a personal choice is initially exercised in deciding who to marry, total commitment is presumably part of one’s choice. Would you marry someone whose love for you was only ‘relative?’ True love is total and unconditional, not partial or circumstantial. It does not depend upon someone’s status, current mood, or credit rating but rather it accepts the other person in toto.

Truth, like nuptial love, is also not intended as a relative value. Love, in fact, depends on truthfulness in the form of trust. So, would you marry someone who was untrustworthy or less than truthful? Yet the high rate of broken marriages today suggests that such has quietly become the norm. Relativism has placed truth on very shifting sands by subjecting it to each person’s interpretation, which is to say an opinion. It therefore transforms truth from concrete, tangible reality into a matter of opinion. Continue reading

Margaret Sanger v. ‘Humanae Vitae’

This is the Final Installment in a three part series about the Sexual Revolution. Press the ‘Previous’ button to read parts I and II.

In September of 1966, Margaret Sanger, a prominent proponent of the sexual revolution and founder of Planned Parenthood died in Tucson, Arizona. As a passionate sexual libertine, Sanger’s legacy of selfishness, even towards her own family is startling. Finding child rearing tedious she abandoned her three children to caretakers so that she could move about in the ‘fast lane’ unhindered. Even when her daughter died of pneumonia, Sanger showed scant remorse. Her son Grant observed that she was seldom around. “She just left us with anybody at hand and ran off, we didn’t know where.” Sanger referred to birth control as her ‘religion’ and devised her own Credo of Woman’s Rights: “The right to be lazy. The right to be an unmarried mother. The right to create. The right to destroy. The right to love; and the right to live.” And by love Sanger meant frequent sexual encounters with her extensive stable of lovers, just as her right to live did not include the unborn. In fact, Sanger was so zealous in her defense of abortion that one lover, Havelock Ellis, had to warn her to tone down her rhetoric, focusing instead on the woman’s right “to create or not create new life.” Continue reading

1968 ~ ‘Humane Vitae’ and the Family

1968 was not an especially good year to be 16 years old. I well remember the exceptional discord and violence that seemed to envelope society at every level. At 16 one naturally desires to be filled with hope in the future and the summer of ’68 evoked anything but hope. It did produce its lighter moments, however, and one of those happy moments was the release of a charming movie starring Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda called “Your, Mine, and Ours.” The story revolves around an engineered romance (Van Johnson playing Cupid) between two widowed parents on a naval base. The attraction is there alright, but the deal killer seems to be her eight children stacked up against his ten offspring. In the end their out-sized families are hilariously blended and they finally bond when #19 “Ours” arrives to flesh out the perfect family.

Paradoxically, MGM Studios released a movie extolling the joy, beauty, and happy chaos of large families at exactly that moment that the ‘second wave’ sexual revolution was just hitting full stride in America. Continue reading