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
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
“Woe to the world because of scandals. For it must be that scandals come: but woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh.” (Mt. 18:7)
Once again we must endure a period of shame in the Church, much to the pain of all believers. Our Lord had predicted the inevitability of scandals, so we should not be overly surprised by them, especially in this post-Christian culture that too frequently dismisses sin as some outdated ‘medieval’ concept. But this ‘denial’ only contributes further to that sense of shock for many when confronted with the damaging effects of sinful behavior by persons in positions of trust. And there are still prelates so imbued with a worldly zeitgeist that they do not seem to understand that all sins, even so-called ‘private sins,’ must produce severe consequences. The fact remains that as members of the Body of Christ whatever one member does, even behind closed doors, will surely affect the whole body.
I was poignantly reminded of that ‘cause and effect’ dynamic this past week at a prayer breakfast in Denver to raise money for the support of persecuted Christians around the world. I sense that there is a real spiritual correlation between the sex scandals rocking the Church in the West and the vicious persecution of her other members in places like Africa and Asia. Could God be using anti-Christian terror perpetrated by ISIS, Boko Haram, Hezbollah, Communists regimes, and others as instruments of purification for His Church? If so then it would seem that the sins of those fallen clergy are being expiated by the blood of countless martyrs around the globe. This would not be unusual in God’s economy of salvation. After all, there have always been victim souls in the Church whose job it is to satisfy divine justice precisely for the salvation of others. Continue reading
Shepherds, or Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing?
“The shepherds have rebelled against me; the prophets prophesied in the name of Baal, following useless idols… You heavens, stand aghast at this, says the Lord ─ since my people have committed a double crime: they have abandoned me, the source of living waters; They have dug themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that hold no water.” (Jer. 2:8,12-13)
If Theodore McCarrick’s sudden fall from grace over a sordid history of sexual abuse demonstrates anything, it is that the Catholic hierarchy can no longer continue to operate under an opaque cloak of secrecy and deception. As the Church confronts this latest ‘Watergate moment,’ I wonder, do its leaders really comprehend the problem? The latest disturbing revelations by a former Vatican Nuncio, Archbishop Vigano, suggest otherwise. Following the classic Western movie “they went that-a-way” theme, it seems that in our shepherd’s zealous hunt for child molesters, they have willfully blinded themselves to an equally disturbing problem, a rampant homosexual subculture operating within certain clerical ranks. Continue reading
One of mankind’s recurring delusions has been the idea that there exists somewhere in that nebulous void between good and evil; heaven and hell, a third option ~ some metaphysical ‘safe zone’ situated between God and the devil where one can safely park in undisturbed peace and comfort. People have long sought after such a material, earthly utopia, imagining that every new discovery or invention would someday provide the elusive key to human perfection and happiness here on earth. All advertising, in fact, is based on this subconscious human desire.
Modern man is not the first to pursue a material shortcut to happiness, however. Adam and Eve, our original parents, were the original targets of this sales pitch ~ and it was the very same ad man pitching instant happiness to them who continues selling the same soap today to whoever will buy. Continue reading
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
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
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
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 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