Meditation and Contemplation Can Grow Out of Full Engagement with the Rosary - With two words such as meditation and contemplation in the title, it is best that a few definitional ideas by introduced. There are two methods of meditation. It can be a focused meditation or it can be an open meditation. Think of two images one a helix that is spiraling, spiraling inward seeking a center and also think of a flower opening to the morning. The one is intent on finding the focal point of the spiral, in most situations that would be God (or his equivalent (such as Allah for an Arab)). In the other case, the opening bud is trying to contact something or somebody that is elusive. The person seeking God’s will must seek with an open mind so that God might easily introduce His ideas and desires.
To meditate successfully, a proper attitude of mind and body is essential. Experts say a seated position with a straight spine and with closed or half closed eyes is best. The place should be quiet or possessed of some familiar repeating sounds (ie sea sounds, rustling trees, street noise, highway traffic, etc.). The mind should focus on the object at the center or simply on openness. The idea is not to aggressively reject distracting thoughts but to gently incorporate the intruding thought into the meditation effort and then moving again toward the focal point or toward openness itself. Meditation is facilitated by holding a small smooth object (e.g. small balls or beads on a string). Many masters of meditation argue that slowly repeating short prayers (or mantras) can also help clear the mind of distracting thoughts and focus the mind on the task at hand.
Contemplation is different then meditation. In contemplation the person imagines himself in a place of particular beauty or historic significance, perhaps a biblical situation. He tries to apprehend what each person in the scene is thinking about the events unfolding before his eyes. The contemplative person thinks about the meaning of the events in a historic context. Lately Spiritual Advisors have suggested that deeply prayerful persons not just concentrate on the people historically present in such situations, but to also think about how friends and relatives might respond to similar situations in the our lifetimes.
With this general understanding of contemplation and meditation in mind, the Rosary should be considered. The Rosary is a beautiful combination of both meditative prayer and contemplative prayer. There are twenty mysteries which provide rich opportunity to contemplate nearly every important event in the life of Christ and His mother. The Rosary also has ten beads to each of the decades where the beautiful short prayer, the Hail Mary, is repeated again and again.
This prayer, the Hail Mary, is an example of the words God once used to make His desires kmown, it also contains the praise that attaches to the person who says “yes” to God. (As an aside, it is interesting to note the prayer lacks Mary’s actual words of acceptance “Be it done unto me according to They will”)
The combination of meditation and contemplation with the tactile experience of touching beads explains why this devotion has remained so popular for 900+ years. The practice of saying the Rosary is not only a great devotion, but it also speaks to something basic in all humans. Sociologists and anthropologists have discovered and studied these aspects of human nature in all social groups throughout the ages.
There are related ideas that might give different slants on this subject and thereby increase our understanding:
1) Mother Theresa of Calcutta wanted her nuns to meditate in a chapel with the Blessed Sacrament present and with the window open to let in the noises of the street. She evidently felt the street noise helped them mediate (and presumably remind them of the people God called them to serve).
2) When a believer says the Rosary, he deepens his intellectual understanding of Jesus’ life and his own Faith, but if he simultaneous thinks about how members of his family reacted to similar situations in his own life, he can make the experience even deeper. For instance, St. Mary was very accepting of the Angel’s message about Christ’s birth, but was your own mother as accepting of the announcement of your arrival. Also consider, when you were an adult and your mother asked you to perform a time consuming task at a social event, as Jesus was asked to perform during the Wedding at Cana, were you as willing to cooperate with love and promptness.
Before closing, one other popular Catholic devotion deserves to be mentioned. The Chaplet of Divine Mercy is a recent addition from St. Faustina of Poland. This devotion involves the use of standard Rosary beads but substituting two much shorter prayers for the Rosary’s traditional prayers. On the bead between the decades, the prayer used goes as follows:
“Eternal Father we offer you the body, blood, soul, and divinity of your dearly beloved Son in atonement for our sins and the sins of the whole word.”
On the ten beads of each decade, an even shorter prayer is used which goes as follows:
“For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have Mercy on us and on the whole world”
These prayers are ideally enunciated in a soft chant rather than simply spoken or said silently. This devotion is somewhat better than the Rosary as a meditative prayer because the prayers are shorter, but it fails as a contemplative prayer because the recitation of the twenty mysteries is eliminated, so that help in visualizing biblical scenes is lost.............. (prepared by Hugh Murray on 4/18/2009)
Sins Against Chastity -- The Catholic Catechism lists several sins in this category (see para. 2351 to 2347). These include: prostitution, pornography, artificial contraception, masturbation, adultery, fornication, homosexual behavior, lustful thoughts, etc. Just defining these faults could occupy the rest of this paper, but it might be more useful to discuss this huge problem area by looking at three things: God’s natural law, society’s value system today, and the specific behavior of some of today’s young adults.
Starting with God’s plan for human procreation and family formation, it is good to restate that God gave man attractions to the opposite sex with clear intention that the male/female bonds be long term because 1) sexual attraction leads to procreation which enables God to create a vulnerable infant that needs the help and support of both parents for many years. 2) sexual attraction leads to a desire to know the other party and that knowledge should lead to deep, life long love, and 3) God clearly did not intend for sexual attraction to run amok with pleasure seeking pushing love, intimacy, and procreation aside.
The next thing that requires attention is current values in this country. American society today is very into immediate gratification for any urge a person might experience. Many people are unwilling to be restrained by higher principles of any kind, particularly religious principle. It is also true that many Americans, even those who go to Church, are unfamiliar with the particular demands of God’s plan on them. This is true because most church leaders are uncomfortable laying out God’s revealed plan for human procreation and family formation. Also consider young Americans are expected to sublimate their sexual attractions for perhaps a dozen years after these feelings are active if they wish to obtain the educations that everyone agrees they will need to lead to a fulfilled life. Further consider, these urges are exacerbated by the media that uses sexual images to attract customers into stores or into movie theaters. Even priests in the Catholic Church, which is the largest denomination in America, often wax eloquent on the importance of helping others by giving time and money to good causes, but try to find a series of homilies at Sunday Mass that elucidate Catholic apologetics on the Ten Commandments or the cardinal virtues or apostolic succession or the sacraments, etc.
Finally attention needs to be given to the actual practice of a large minority of young adults in America in dealing with these attractions. Before getting into their practices, it is only fair to point out that most of these young people have had little or no formation about sin, virtue, the commandments, etc. They are operating with the mis-impression that they are and should be in charge of designing their own value systems. Obviously if you think you are in charge of deciding what is right and wrong, if you have strong attractions to the opposite sex, if you have seen your parents (or the parents of close friends) affected by “no fault divorce” where committed people are deeply hurt, if you have co-ed dorms and no curfews, if you have lots of contraceptives around, if .... and if .... and if. The result is easily anticipated: 1) young people in such situations will develop ways to express themselves sexually without the slightest nod to real intimacy, 2) the internet will be pressed into service supporting liasons with such sites as “wwww.fling.com” (where for a small fee a person can find someone interested in sexual pleasure with no strings attached), and 3) a whole vocabulary will develop so young people interested in this behavior can communicate quickly, in shorthand, without any declaration of love or concern for the other. This attitude combined with the telephone and e-mail has made late night, last minute liaisons common. Young men call young women (or vis versa) at 12 midnight or later and suggest “hooking up” for the rest of the night or suggest a “booty call” for an hour or less. The understanding is explicitly that there is no commitment, no deeper feeling, absolutely nothing but fun; the parties don’t even have to articulate pro forma words of interest, concern, caring, or love.
Obviously this behavior is not for all young adults, but it is for a large number. The situation is dire. Literally millions of young adults have no formation about right and wrong in these areas. They might feel unfulfilled and hollow, but do they possess a sense of “sin”? Probably not. The formation is not there.
America’s older, more mature adults have been ignoring these facts. The country’s young people need structure, formation, and moral instruction. Where does society go from here?
................ (prepared by Hugh Murray on 4/25/2009)
Excess Attention to Rules Distracts People from Virtue - The American financial services industry is the subject of appropriate condemnation for its corrupt dealings that have all but destroyed the world economy. The industry operates under multiple regulators. Each of which possesses a rule book. It is estimated that even the smallest company in the financial services industry operates under at least 8000 pages of rules.
The weight of all this is considerable: Departments are created just to deal with rules, many people hired, records maintained, documents initialed by managers, phone calls monitored or recorded, e-mails saved, discarded documents shredded, investors given dozens of pages of “legalese larded” disclosures about their investments, data files backed up, fingerprint cards obtained, employees histories delved into, two kinds of continuing education imposed on employees, annual disclosures of other sources of income obtained, procedure manuals updated at least annually, yearly certifications of employee familiarity with procedures obtained, client suitability checked, client sources of funds investigated, client ID’s obtained, all buy orders checked against client suitability, buy orders under $5 per share reserved to certain clients, accredited products reserved for other clients, incoming mail and faxes reviewed by managers with copies retained, outgoing faxes and mail given manager approval with copies made, duplicate activity blotters maintained then reconciled against each other, counter party activities independently checked with discrepancies reported to regulators, employee personal problems (like DWI or missed child support payments) investigated with time critical reports to regulators, client complaints reported promptly via two (not one) regulatory system, ill brokers who fail to finish CE class in three hours are put on inactive status advised to cut off communications with clients immediately, etc. Get the picture; all done by the rule book.
So when a company operating in financial services industry sees a chance to satisfy all the rules and still make a nice profit selling questionable products (eg AAA rated sub prime collateralized debt obligations) is it any wonder they jump at the chance. After all principles of fair dealing have been put on the back shelf. Because of regulatory pressure, all attention is focused on the 8000 page rule book. The sharp operators figured out how to get questionable debt obligations through the rating agencies by structuring the obligation just right to be eligible for a AAA rating. After obtaining a AAA rating, they sell the toxic stuff around the world all in full accord with the “8000 page rule book”.
Of course, the solution is replacing the rule book with some clear principles: such as “Don’t cheat people” or you will be either out of the industry or in jail. At this point, the regulated person says “how should I define ‘cheat people’” the answer to that is simple “whatever a 12 man jury thinks is cheating” is cheating. Does that mean the same behavior can draw a different result in different courtrooms because there are different jurors in those courtrooms ? “You bet it does, so if your not sure if a given act is right or wrong err on the side of caution”. All this leads to a little uncertainty, but that is better than the 8000 page rule book that distracts people from virtue.
America must devise systems that engage peoples’ sense of right and wrong rather than their ability to read and implement thousands of rules............ (prepared by Hugh Murray on 4/27/2009)
Letter to a Newly Installed American Catholic Bishop -
Welcome to our city. I wish you all the best in your new endeavors.
A couple of ideas occurred to me which might over time bring the Catholics here to higher level of belief and fervor:
I. - Regarding the decline in belief in the Real Presence among Catholics under 50, I suggest the general practice in St Louis be changed back to reception of Communion only while kneeling and on the tongue. (The only exception should be for handicapped individuals.) This change would have grade school aged children kneeling to receive Communion, but more important these young people would be seeing all able adults doing the same. These images would stay with these youngsters for the rest of their lives and would steadily reinforce in their minds, consciously and unconsciously, the impression that Holy Communion was/is really something unusually important.
(A general note: Oftentimes religious belief is strongest if it is reinforced by special factors: special music, special body position, special visual image, etc. The most important of these are special factors that require the repeated, actual participation of the individual believer, not just their passive reception through the senses. Finally, things experienced in one’s early years make a bigger impression than those encountered later on.)
II. - There is a tremendous decline among Catholics in “their sense of sinfulness” and in “their sense of a need for forgiveness”. Reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation is too infrequent. I suggest that where two priest are present in a parish when a Sunday Mass is about to start, one of the priest should be hearing confessions from 15 minutes before Mass until 15 minutes after the start of Mass. Additionally, the ushers should distribute at the doors 2"x 3" sheets with the form of the Sacrament on one side and the Act of Contrition on the other. A temporary sign might be hung on the outside wall near the church entrance saying “We are blessed, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is available right now”. The ushers might point to the Confessionals silently as they give people the little pieces of paper.
At first people will be a little miffed by this “pushy” strategy, but over time they should reconsider their attitudes and their spiritual needs. I believe they will start going to confession more often. If the new strategy is explained from the pulpit or by periodic letters from the bishop, acceptance should come more quickly.
Of course, if these changes trigger a precipitous drop in contributions, ....... I don’t know what to suggest.
There may be a “small amount” of push back from the pastors in the parishes ....... again I don’t know what to suggest.
On second thought, I may be suggesting ................ disaster.
Anyway, know that you are in my prayers, may the Holy Spirit guide your hand. (For such a quiet person, He sure has a lot to do.) .............. (prepared by Hugh Murray on 5/1/2009)
Jay Richards Clarifies Religion's Impact on Capitalism - There is a new book out by Jay Richards of the Acton Institute and the Heritage Foundation entitled Money, Greed, and God which discusses the intersection between Religion and Capitalism. The book has many interesting thoughts but one which is fascinating is the idea that a man’s duty to assist others moves outward in concentric circles depending on proximity. This means the abused child living next door has a greater claim on one’s attention than an abused child in Africa.
A second concept Richards reports on is the idea by Adam Smith that capitalism is both selfish and community spirited in its operation. Take the baker who produces bread and cakes in the hopes that he can earn a profit but also in the hope that the community will be benefitted by having fresher bread and by having an additional local employer. So there is a dual good that grows out of correct capitalistic behavior.
These concepts are most interesting when applied to the common American capitalistic practice of moving factories to China but retaining all claims on the American capital system and access to the American retail system. This is particularly troubling when America has large numbers of intellectually challenged, poorly educated, discouraged workers who need factory jobs, which provide "on the job training" and the opportunity for job advancement without formal educational credentials, but are deprived of these jobs because America’s entrepreneurs chose to put their factories in China.
Consider the America financier, with great political connections, who rides daily from Samford, Connecticut to Wall Street right through Harlem. This American financier has two choices 1) he can use his political connections to build quota barriers on widgets so he can build his new widget factory in Harlem and employ thousands of poorly educated blacks, or 2) he can put his new widget factory in China and help workers at great distance rather than workers close at hand.
The American financier will argue the cost differential between employing ignorant, intellectually challenged blacks at $10 per hour versus employing bright Chinese at 50 cents per hour is to great to expect him to do the right thing. He’ll say it is better for government (and private charity) to support Harlem's people in a “semi-vegetable” state (e.g. as welfare mothers, overpaid postal workers, prisoners, pan-handlers, drug dealers, service workers in dead end jobs, etc.) .............. (prepared by Hugh Murray on 5/29/2009)
Obama’s Program is Full of Overreach - Obama is taking office with a huge set of economic and regulatory problems on his plate.
A brief review is apt. The problems were brought on by the intersection of these factors:
1) well intentioned government officials created incentives for lenders to finance low income people to buy homes homeowners,
2) the Federal Reserve Bank kept interest rates at unrealistically low levels for a whole decade,
3) greedy bankers and mortgages bankers that arranged millions of loans for low income people that could not be re-paid, and
4) very intelligent Wall Street operators that packaged up these unrealistic loans, misled the rating agencies into issuing AAA rating, and then selling the packaged junk around the globe is such a way as to destroy America’s credit system for not only residential mortgages, but also for commercial real estate and even affected consumer credit cards and business lending. The spillover to employment has been alarming as the unemployment rate doubled. Banking and security regulators seem anxious to shore up both regulation and enforcement, but they realize the big guys in the “to big to fail club” are ultimately able, through their lawyers and lobbyists, to deflect any regulatory imitative intended for them into a flood of oppressive ineffective regulations designed to swamp their small competitors, putting many out of business.
Obama’s highest priority at this point has to be restoring the functioning of the American economy. To accomplish this several things are needed:
1) Get credit flowing again to those that both want it and can pay for it,
2) Provide employment by putting money into government projects that are ready to go and will need to be completed in the next few years anyway, new long lasting government programs are not acceptable for this purpose, since this spending must be withdrawn once recovery occurs. Construction projects are ideal for this because they have a relatively short life.
3) Don’t break parts of the economy that are currently functioning, perhaps not at full capacity given the current dislocations, but nevertheless are able to return to full performance as the economy improves, and
4) Restore confidence in the US economic system by getting rid of financial instruments that only PhD mathematicians can understand and financial institutions that are to big, to complex, or to interwoven with other institutions to fail.
These four items are huge and will require all the energy that Obama, or any other President, can muster in the remainder of his term.
This means that Obama will have to put several things on hold. These include:
1) The health care redesign that promises to disrupt one of the largest areas of the American economy just when stability in the areas that are currently functioning is critically important. It is true, there are millions of unemployed people, who do not have primary care and use emergency rooms as their doctors office. Perhaps a temporary expansion of the VA system to provide primary care to these folks via a thousand “free” store front clinics near VA hospitals. (A compulsory mediation system should be created so malpractice claims at these clinics would be referred to speedy, less costly mediation rather than to the slow, expensive civil courts system.) Hospital admissions referred from these clinics should be to the VA or another hospital with Federal government guarantees of payment. These clinics would fill this pressing need, without tossing the whole existing health care system and health insurance systems into turmoil. It is important that this "government/VA" clinic system not be available to those who are employed otherwise employers will drop their health insurance thus forcing their workers on this government system. (In like manner, employers, who would now be required to have insurance, if they wished to have employees, will need to be given government protection from foreign competitors who do not provide health insurance for their workers.)
2) The energy system redesign has to be put on hold as well. The taxes that would have to be imposed to move electrical generation from fossil fuel to wind and solar would be horrendous and unbearable at this time. Mitch Daniels, Governor of Indiana, estimates that mid-western power users would have to pay twice as much to get the power they need. Factories would close by the dozens. Additional millions would be forced on to unemployment roles, the products no longer manufactured here would have to be imported, etc. Along with scraping the carbon capping idea, additional employment and balance of payment relief might be gained by more offshore drilling here in America.
3) Pressuring the auto industry to go green in a hurried way is short sited. The American auto industry needs fewer not more mandates in these troubled times. The Presidential bully pulpit needs to be used to gain import forbearance from foreign manufacturers. The unions, Obama friends, have to be told that providers of capital are as necessary as providers of labor when negotiating give backs; etc.
4) Attacking the few remaining bars to unfettered abortion and other liberal innovations (e.g. gay marriage, legalized drug use, embryonic stem cell research, etc.). is unwise. This part of Obama’s program needs to be put aside so widespread negative reaction of the people is not triggered. If large swaths of citizens becomes disgusted with Obama, they will lose all faith in him. His other programs (such as programs to help the economy) will suffer.
5) In the campaign, Obama indicated that he would be cutting America’s military involvements, but has changed, and is currently indicating that he is willing to spend heavily in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Since these countries contain six times as many people as Iraq, it is very possible Bush’s military spending could seem modest compared to the Obama spending to come. Obama should not stir-up civilian unrest by increased war spending rather he needs to promote domestic unity so all can work, without distraction, on improving the economy.............. (prepared by Hugh Murray on 6/8/2009)
Jim Gillespie of Coldwell Banker Wants Government Help - Recently President Jim Gillespie of Coldwell Banker traveled to Washington to request a $15,000 tax credit for anyone moving up to a larger home from a smaller home.
Put another way, he was asking that the government pick up the real estate agent’s commission. He is also asking that average people, who are currently in a position to pay their bills and save a few bucks, take on more debt and a bigger house payment and cut back or eliminate their savings.
Someone needs to remind Mr. Gillespie that America has been suffering a very low family savings rate and Realtors, like himself, have encouraged Americans to take on more house than they really need (or can afford if economic disruptions occur). Oftentimes these bigger homes are far out of the central cities. Such distant locations require more time driving (and apart from children), require the importation of more oil to fuel vehicles, and require the generation of more air pollution.
Yes, crime near the central cities is a problem; but wouldn’t it be better for American middle class families to live closer to the central cities and use some of the savings to pay more for more police protection, for more crime suppression.
Yes, public schools in the central cities are inferior; but there are many private alternatives available. Catholic schools, Lutheran schools, and some non-religiously affliated schools are affordable and offer excellent educational experiences to children.
American have to be taught that investment in an unnecessarily large home is not the best way to save money, because once a home is built and furnished the investment dollars do not provide very much on-going employment for others. That money is stagnate. If a smaller house is lived in and if the money not spent on the home can be saved, society will put this money into industrial ventures, either through bank loans or stock investments, and provide on-going employment for many others..................(prepared by Hugh Murray on 6/9/2009)
Half a Dozen Recent Cultural Changes that Have Disrupted America
- Change is inevitable; it is good. Man needs a certain amount of change to provide variety to older folks and opportunity to younger folks. Older people get to apply their maturity and knowledge from past experiences and help shape a new stasis for themselves and those close to them. For younger people change opens doors that they can step through with their youthful confidence, some toward great success, some toward something less.
However, too much change can cause a society to become “unhinged” or disconnected from its cultural roots. Anthologists have found societies that were so shocked by massive change, usually brought on by outside facts that conflicted with deeply held religious or moral beliefs, that the people were unable to form family units or even reproduce. Within a few decades these societies died out.
Some authors focus on the way things were. They want to remind themselves and others about the good old times. Some have taken this examination to depths of detail unimaginable, if they hadn’t done it and recorded their observations. Probably the most famous effort in this direction was Proust’s Remembrances of Things Past . This multi volume work points out numerous minute details of life in France during a certain earlier era. It gives a complete picture of how life worked for these people - their past times, their interactions, even small physical things important to them.
So it become apparent, that change while necessary is possibly dangerous and certainly its effects deserve our attention. Change itself is a worthy subject .
There is general agreement that American culture is vastly changed from what it was in say 1950.
These changes have made America’s more interested in self fulfilment, more mobile, more acquisitive, more interested in credentials, more easily distracted, more interested in rights and privileges, more interested in images and numbers, more pleasure seeking, while at the same time making America less interested in learning for its own sake, less interested in family, less interested in duties and responsibilities, less interested in long term service to others, less able to follow long or complex explanations or arguments, less interested in the written word, less attached to a given place, etc. Of course, these are generalizations and not true for each individual. But broad statistics don’t lie - divorce is up, people are less rooted (moving every six years), abortion is up, sex selection procedures are up, lawsuits to force professors to give good grades are up, cheating on tests is up, those choosing the professed religious life of service are down, those choosing nursing are down, while those choosing law are up, polls show adult knowledge of basic geographic, historic, or civic facts is down, number of families eating dinner together is down, etc .
1) The decline of respect for mothers - this is the most important job in any society and because it is not part of the “money economy” American society has denigrated and minimized its importance. John Lukas, the famous historian, has pointed out that most learning occurs at home. Mothers are the chief teaches of children; but mothers in America today don't understand this. A mother who is both a real estate broker and a mother will think of herself as being primarily a broker when in fact her more important role is that of mother.
2) The decline in respect for authority - this decline is sever and some would argue deserved. Leaders have been caught doing terrible things big and small. Presidents fight unnecessary wars to a draw wasting lives and treasure, Catholic bishops cover up for pedofile priests, business leaders who learns their company’s are failing sell their stock before telling other shareholders, etc. However, authorities sometime have to convey very hard news and demand sacrifice so a general respect for authority has to be promoted.
3) Disarray among Christian believers - Christian belief in America is very important and for good or ill is hinged in large part on consistency in the Catholic Church. Some Protestants trumped “solo scriptura” and use the Catholic Church as a punching bag. Other Protestants mined the deep writings of the Catholic Saints and Pontiffs for interpretive insights that explained the mysteries and contradictions evident in any careful reading of the scriptures. In 1968, the Catholics decided to change the outward look of their Faith. The doctrine didn’t change but many Catholics felt it had. Suddenly Catholics began to adopt the ways of the broader American culture - birth control was in, confession was out. Feeling good was in, Belief in the Real Presence was a take it or leave it idea. Personal selectivity regarding specific beliefs was in, the requirement to believe in all the Church’s teachings was out. The “Protestant-ized” Catholic Church was in, the traditional Catholic Church was out, Protestants no longer had a Catholic Church to protest against. But quietly they continued mining the rich tradition and teachings of the old Catholic Church for inspirations and understandings. However, for the last 40 years the fixed star provided by the Catholic Church on the religious horizon in America (while officially still fixed) appeared to be moving around like a wayward comet to the average observer.
4) The equating of “good” with “money” across society - Education use to be a good which was pursued for its own sake; it has become a means to better paying job. A car is not a means of transportation; it is a personal wealth statement design to impress others, A vacation is better if it costs more, a mate is better if they earn more money, a politician is measured by the number of “pork barrel” projects he brings to the district, etc. This unending focus on money instead of what’s good and particularly what’s good in itself (or for everyone) is very destructive of society. What caused Merrill executives to push the envelope and go from the marginally bad Collateralized Debt Obligation (CDO) to truly “toxic” sub-prime CDO? Nothing but greed, greed, greed.
5) No fault divorce has made the marriage covenant a horrible joke. People need to get married for “better or worse” and not just for better. The sadness of seeing a husband forced out of his home, paying child support (when he wanted nothing more than to remain married and involved in raising his children) is heart breaking. But perhaps worse is the husband who has lost all respect in his family as the wife regularly wields the threat of “no fault” divorce to force him to her will. At least the husband who has already been expelled has some small freedom of action in his daily life. But the one under constant threat is a shell of a man.
6) Lack of Respect for the integrated nature of human life - people are born, they are taught, their Faith takes root, they grew up, they marry they have children, they get old, they die, they meet their Maker, and the next generation goes through the same cycle. The cycle works best if people respect the needs of the cycle in their living arrangements, in their child bearing patterns, in their work sharing patterns, in their home life patterns, etc. A decision to take a better paying job away from parents and siblings , the decision to postpone child bearing with birth control, the decision to abort a child, the decision to have both parents work full time jobs with young children at home so a Mc Mansion in suburbia can be paid for, the decision to stuff older parents in a institution rather than arranging “at home” living arrangements, the decision to give up regular church attendance, are examples of decisions that violate the integrated nature of human life.
6 and 1/2) Technology (or rather the constant "improvement" of same) has come to dominate America's attention. Technology itself is a neutral factor regarding cultural change; it is man's attitude toward technological change that makes the difference. People can't wait a month to get the latest iPhone. No, some have to "brow beat" (or bribe) the store clerk to get it on its release date. Technology was intended to be man's servant, instead it is becoming his master. People spend hundreds of hours each year learing new devices, software, operating systems, striving to make new internet "friends", etc. while they neglect their human relationships at home. Americans must learn to tame technology (or be swallowed by it).
Could the above be expanded? Sure, but the point here is not to be exhaustive but to raise the yellow caution flag. Slow down and think a little! Really isn’t a Ford Taurus just as good as a BMW for getting around? Wouldn’t family life be fuller with four children rather than just one? Is Windows VISTA really better than Windows 98se? Doesn’t "that guy” - that arranged for man to have the sun, the moon, the earth, the sunrise, the seasons, the sunset, the stars, and most important the ability to appreciate and marginally understand them - deserve at least an hour a week of each man's undivided attention? .............. (prepared by Hugh Murray on 6/14/2009)
Bombers Are the Favored Tools of “Just War” Violators - Recently C-SPAN had a presentation by Winslow Wheeler, Thomas Christie and Pierre Sprey on their new book America’s Defense Meltdown . The thrust of the book was a complaint that too large a percentage of the U.S. Defense budget goes to pay for advanced programs, particularly fighter/bomber programs, where very small numbers are acquired and where, because of technically challenging specifications, performance milestones have to waived so the planes will be built. The authors argue that many more units could be obtained if 1) small fighter type aircraft were being acquired, 2) the specifications were kept within the scope of current knowledge, and 3) close ground support was stressed, rather than long range bombing.
The most interesting part of the presentation was the “compare and contrast” statistical presentation on the effectiveness of close ground support versus bombing. The statistics were mostly from Korea, Vietnam and the Second World War.
The largest body of facts was from WWII. It turns out that in the European theater 50% of expenditures by the US went toward aircraft, and 80% of that 50% went to bombers. That meant 40% of all US expenditure in the European theater went to bombing. As for effectiveness, bombers were particularly ineffective at degrading the German war machine. Only one plane in ten did any damage to its intended target. Most of the time the bomber hit civilians or was simply shot down. The principle effect of bombing on the Germans was to stiffen their resolve to resist. Some estimate the decision to emphasis bombing extended the war in Europe by at least a year. (Of course, if your goal was to kill as many Germans as possible rather than to simply win the war, then bombing of cities probably made sense.)
The authors pointed out that the invasion of Europe from England or the south was delayed because there was a shortage of necessary fighter support until 1944. Additionally the great success of Patton’s army sweeping into southern Germany was facilitated by his use of close fighter support.
In response to North Korea’s 1950 invasion of the South, US Air Force generals were quick to send 50 bombers with the proposal that the cities of the north be fire bombed. The Army generals on the ground were stunned. They needed fighter support for their ground troops that were being pushed south into the sea. Fortunately the navy and marines had enough fighters to save the day. Later, when the Americans were on the verge of losing a whole division at the Chosin Reservoir, fighter involvement allowed the trapped American division to escape from eight attacking Chinese divisions.
In Vietnam, the ubiquitous B-52 dropping bombs on the North again and again strengthened the resolve of those civilians. The F-4, although technically a fighter/bomber, lacked true flexibility for its fighter mission and had difficulty providing the close ground support American troops in the south needed. Helicopters were pressed into service in this role.
The authors make a very good point that 1000 good, small, flexible fighters would be far more useful than 50 very sophisticated so called “fighter/bombers” that are prepared to do a dozen missions but none very well.
However the most compelling part of their presentation was unstated but was nevertheless clear to the morally sensitive person. Bombers whether in their WWII incarnation or in their modern incarnation are likely to do far greater damage to civilians than enemy combatants. So the ethical person must conclude that bombers, “fighter bombers”, and even the ballistic missiles should probably be shelved until there is assurance that millions of civilians won’t be slaughtered if they are used. “Just war” ethics demand that civilians be protected from wholesale attack; so spending disproportionate amounts on systems whose logical use is largely against civilians is unethical.........(prepared by Hugh Murray on 6/22/2009)
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