Two Song Titles Inspire Thoughts about Marriage and Fidelity - Note: This essay will explore The Catechism of the Catholic Church para 2360 to 2365 using the titles of two famous songs to inspire perhaps some worthwhile thoughts.
The first song title is Heaven is Just a Sin Away. This song was made famous by a St. Louis father and daughter country music duo called the Kendells. The title of course is about the prospects of a sexual liason outside of marriage. The title is so typical of modern thought about promiscuious behavior outside of marriage; so misleading about the nature and purpose the union between a man and woman.. Modern man thinks of sex as being something disembodied from the rest of life, from the natural law, from God is plan. The word “heaven” in the title is a code word for something other worldly, for something beyond responsibility.. Yet the Kendells put the whole idea in perspective by including the word “sin”. This juxtaposition of “sin” with “heaven” gives the listener a heads up that there is a tension in the story that follows, and of course that anticipatory tension is a large part of the reason the song was a top hit.
The title turns Christian Doctrine on its heads. Instead of sin leading to hell it now leads to heaven. And of course this is the devil’s every ready plan of deceit. From the earliest days when the devil told Adam and Eve that God had put the fruit from His special tree off limits because eating the fruit would make them equal to God.
The other song is entitled Love and Marriage from the musical Oklahoma. The catch line in this song is “Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage”. This image is quite apt for bringing out so many aspects of a good, functioning marriage. Consider a horse complements the carriage and together they accomplish many good things. There is sometimes a friction in the relationship though. The leather strips bind the horse’s shoulders, the carriage wheels may break, the weather can be difficult, the road in places is rough. Both the horse and carriage must cope with each other and with the surroundings while accomplishing tasks. Just as a functioning married couple must work together toward goals, must cope with each others peculiarities, they each have their individual difficulties that the other must accommodate. There are many comparisons.
But just as every horse and carriage needs a driver, so too every married couple, operating in a Christian union, must place God in the driver seat of their relationship. Children are a gift from God some couples have a dozen and others none at all. Some couples are plagued by illness in themselves or their children while other skip from great success to great success and enter retirement both healthy and well off. Some couples have to move and move again thus depriving their children of close association with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. But if the couple puts their faith in God and lets Him steer their marriage, they will find joy, if not earthly happiness, and eventually a high place in heaven. .................... (prepared by Hugh Murray on 7/12/2009)
Of Man’s Freedom and His Maker’s Self-Abnegation -
Free to chose, be a drunk or scout leader, a women-izer or faithful husband,
Free to see, God in stars, cats, planets, and dogs; or death in Darwin and Dawkins
Free to accept, God’s love and mercy; or slogans and skeptic rationalizations,
Free to use (or abuse), both the free will and brains given by God.
Remember, God’s endless forbearance, His self abnegation.
Remember, He gives man mental "elbow room" to chose.
Remember, the choice: the narrow paths with trying by-ways or the wide road to Sheol
Remember, God must limit his unveilings, for man to consider all his choices.
Imagine, if Tabor's glow had lite all nations and lasted throughout history,
Imagine, man so awed that anything but adoration seemed silly.
.............. (prepared by Hugh Murray on 7/27/2009)
Pope Hits a Grand Slam with Latest Encyclical - Pope Benedict is no Albert Pujols , but the recently issued Caritas in Veritate, an encyclical devoted to the world economy, touches all the bases.
First, the Pope warns against globalism and the complexity it creates, which is beyond anyone’s full understanding or any government’s ability to supervise.
Second, the Pope re-emphasizes the importance of subsidiarity, which is another way of saying “the importance of local control” particularly on factors that effect family life and income.
Third, the Pope warns against the mal-distribution of the world’s wealth with the few gaining a hugely disproportion part of global income while billions struggle just to survive.
Fourth, the Pope warns that the economy must serve people not the other way around; he reminds the world that each man’s life needs to be protected from conception to natural death. All aspects of society, including the economy, must be organized with each man’s life and purpose in mind.
Fifth, the encyclical highlights the pain that rapid change and new technology can inflict on many people’s lives.
Obviously the Pope made other points in his document but the overall message is clear: protect people, keep it simple, give each locality the autonomy and freedom to organize a workable society and economy. Keep the tempo of innovation under control so average people can cope with changes as they occur. Allow women the flexibility to have and rear children without being unnecessarily forced into the money economy. Don’t allow greedy people to organize business systems that uproot people, tear up cultural traditions, bankrupt banking institutions, and leave a thousand “financial engineers” with billions while billions of average people are wondering what destroyed their world.
The Pope is not arguing for Socialism or radical redistribution of wealth - rather he is arguing for common sense; let people have the ability to control their lives free from arbitrary change and capital movements that create huge disruptions for many and huge profits for a few.
The economists that met after the Second War at Bretton Woods knew that uncontrolled capital flows could be terribly disruptive. They provided mechanisms that allowed nations to control the inflows and outflows of capital from their territories. These barriers over the years were dismantled as “globalization” took hold. The consequences are apparent today.
Of course, the recent crisis was exacerbated by credit risk being spread around the globe so as to mitigate the excessive risk created by a few and to avoid full detection, and therefore proper regulation. Globalized capital flows lead to globalized credit flows and finally the globalized transfer of credit risk.
Unless the world is willing to go with heavy handed globalized control of all banking institutions (which would effectively eliminated national sovereignty), local control of international capital flows must be re-instituted. This would let local people better regulate the speed with which change and new technology are introduced.
Finally, a closing thought, it’s a close call whether Benedict or Pujols makes a public Sign of the Cross most often; but the world is certainly better off for both man’s witness. ........ (prepared by Hugh Murray on 8/9/2009)
K thru 12 Students Should have Very Limited Exposure to Lincoln - Today much of American history education for K thru 12 students is focused on war and wartime leaders. Of those, the Civil War and Lincoln are given far more attention than is healthy for these impressionable minds.
When training young people it is important to remember that some of these young people will in later life be in positions to advise on or make decisions affecting other people’s lives in conflict situations. Military and civilian leaders in the Federal government find themselves at age 40, 50, or 60 in positions to recommend or order actions which affect, perhaps millions of other people.
So what factors disqualify Lincoln as a role model for these young people:
1) Lincoln, himself, suffered from melancholia (what psychologists today call “bouts of depression”). Anyone who has such a ailment should disqualify himself from seeking or serving in any position where decisions might have to be made effecting the welfare of thousands of other human beings. Young people should be encourage to develop self knowledge and once personal limitations are known adjust personal behavior to accommodate such limitations.
2) Lincoln was married to a woman , Mary Todd, who suffered from bi-polar disease. This disease was such that at almost any time Mrs. Lincoln’s disease could demand large amounts her husband’s attention. This was a major family responsibility which Abraham Lincoln should have considered in taking on any demanding work assignment, particularly one as demanding a President of the United States. Young people have to be taught that family responsibilities are not something that can be put on the shelf simply to satisfy personal ambition. Too many people in America today duck their family responsibilities too readily.
3) During the war, Lincoln was repeatedly asked by delegations from Richmond to discuss a cessation or settlement of hostilities. Lincoln was adamant not to negotiate, or even seem to negotiate, with the enemy. Our young people need to be taught that when differences develop between people the proper approach is to try to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. The unacceptable approach is refusal to talk.
4) Lincoln liked to put biblical references in his speeches and give the impression to his listeners that he was like them a Christian believe. However, Lincoln was never a member of any church; in fact, today historians are fairly certain he did not even believe Christ was God. He was what might today be called a non-practicing Unitarian or Deist. Our young people need to be taught to make a truthful representation in their statements of who they are and what they believe. Healthy human relations depend of truthfulness all around.
5) Lincoln wanted to disrupt the manpower situation in The South during the war and he wanted to create a certain public relation coup in the north, so on Jan. 1, 1863 he freed the slaves in those areas that had been in “rebellion against” the Washington government. This did nothing to free slaves in border states that had not succeeded, but, as word spread, it created some manpower difficulty for The South. Lincoln did no planning for what steps should be taken to integrate these freed people into society, compensate their owners, provide future education needed to be a good citizen or to make a living as free person, etc. This was a public relation stunt layered on top of a wartime expedient. This single act provided the template for the 14th Amendment that freed all the slaves after the war again without education or compensation to past owners. The method used to free the slaves is the greatest cause of the race problems plaguing America for the last 150 years. America’s young people must be taught to think ahead when they act. Short term results might seem desirable; but, unless time is taken for thought, the longer term, foreseeable, negative consequences could be painful and more than counter productive.
6) Lincoln wanted to destroy the agricultural delivery system that was feeding not only the South’s troops but also many civilians in the South. So he approved a plan to destroy a large part of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. The destruction done by Sherman’s troops was huge and women and children starved as the crops, farm buildings, houses, and means of moving things around were destroyed. The plan worked causing widespread civilian death and disease on top of the actual destruction. America’s young people must be taught that civilians are not a proper object of military attack. The ancient world believed that wholesale destruction of the conquered was fine, but over the 2000 years of Christian influence in the western world a new standard developed that exempted civilians from wholesale attack; Lincoln was probably the first modern war leader who cast this Christian principle on the trash heap .
7) Lincoln was a man of the law. He understood agreements and contracts. The understanding, widespread in America, from the Revolution to the Civil War was that the United States was a creation of the states and that the states reserved the right to pull out. In fact, in 1814 and again in 1830 conventions were held in Hartford, Conn which discussed whether the New England states should pull out of the United States. The conventions in the end decided not to withdraw. Although many people did not want them to leave; most Americans did not question their right to leave. Three states that ratified the Constitution specifically inserted “right to withdraw” language in their ratifying instrument. One of these states was Virginia. This understanding not only squares with the written documents, and the feeling of Americans generally, but it also squares with the founding Fathers who were steeped in the Classics and philosophers of Europe, both groups felt that decision making is best if kept close to people. This concept called “subsidiarity” would keep most power in the state capitals rather than Washington. Lincoln, if he was aware of this concept at all, never acted in support of it. America’s young people should be taught that all of Western Civilization through the centuries has felt that power should reside near the people, not half a continent away.
These are just some of the reasons Lincoln and the Civil War should be downplayed in our nation’s classrooms. It should be noted that the “Lincoln Cult” is alive and well among America’s college history teachers, hopefully America’s grade school and high school teachers are not similarly afflicted.. ....... (prepared by Hugh Murray on 8/20/2009)
Kennedy Funeral is an Example of the Duplicity of American Catholic Leadership - Recently Edward Kennedy passed away after a bout with cancer. He was one of the Senate’s biggest liberal supporters of things like legalized abortion and same sex marriage.
His death gave the Catholic hierarchy a perfect chance to teach the world, in general, and American Catholics, in particular, a lesson on the importance of pro-life and traditional family values.
The Church should have quietly but firmly said to the Kennedy family “His body will not be allowed in any Catholic Church for a Requiem Mass, but Holy Mother Church will bless his casket and pray for him at the curbside in front of a Catholic Church. We will pray that before his death he said a perfect Act of Contrition and repented of the bad example he gave America for many years.”.
By failing to do this, the Catholic leadership in this country sent the wrong message to their flock. They said anti-Catholic behavior and anti-Catholic public leadership by nominal Catholics will be overlooked in the end. How is rigorous religious practice to be restored in this country? How are those that practice the Faith through difficult times to feel supported?
There is something to be said for overlooking sinful behavior in others and forgiving them in the end, but there is also a lot to be said for faithfulness to a set of values that have Divine inspiration and are supported by 2000 years of Church tradition.
Let individual people exercise forgiveness and understanding, but let the Church itself stand up for its values. ..................
(prepared by Hugh Murray on 9/9/2009)
What’s Going on with American Higher Education? - At a Rotary meeting in Clayton Missouri recently a woman finished her presentation on the importance of science education. She remarked that America has always been at the cutting edge of innovation and creativity. Nothing but laudatory thoughts here.
In the question and answer session a member remarked “all this is fine - encourage the best and the brightest to take up science and engineering. But what about the not so bright people who need a factory job where they can practice “on the job training” moving from assembler, to lead man, to ass’t foreman, to expediter in a fairly stable environment. Having a fulfilled life with goals to pursue. I grew up in a small town that had four small manufacturing plants. None of those are still operating today.” He went on to say “It seems America is intent on creating service jobs where there is a class divide between those with credentials in engineering, law, accounting, social science, etc. and those “others” who are welcome to work there making copies or coffee but with no chance to really advance?’ .
The answer was not important. The question was really off the speaker’s subject and her answer was disjointed.
However, after the meeting the questioner was approached by a retired Dean from the local State University. He caught the questioner and said “I need to explain something to you. In higher education today we are able to get people with IQ’s as low as 87 through to their bachelor’s degree. The days of those credentialed jobs being reserved for only the brightest are behind us. These people many take a extra couple of years to get through, and they may need extra tutoring, and there may be some care given to which courses they take to get the required hours. But they can get through if they are willing to work ” .
The questioner looked incredulously at the retired Dean. He thought about going in to see a “qualified” professional service provider, with appropriate sheepskins on his wall, and realizing after a few minutes that he was getting rote responses from a man unable to comprehend the nuance and intricacies of the situation. He stared at the floor wondering about the use of his tax dollars by the State’s Department of Higher Education. He did not know whether to laugh or cry. ...........
(prepared by Hugh Murray on 9/9/2009)
Obama Urges All Americans to Treat Each Others as Fellow Family Members - In his health care speech on Sept 9th Pres. Obama urged all Americans to be generous toward each other, treat each other as they would members of their own family.
The concept is attractive, very Christian in its roots. The only problem is that in America “diversity” is celebrated. The nation, in general, and its educational system, in particular, are constantly reinforcing group difference. This group has to have a quota, that group needs a preference, that race is not properly represented, etc.
The America system for handling group difference is to celebrate separateness. The countries that have successful national health insurance systems do just the opposite; they try to blend their diverse groups into a unified whole. They still have problems, but official policy is the opposite of America’s approach.
The American approach has an understandable pedigree. America was born out of hard discrimination: ”Irish need not apply signs” in Boston, slavery and Jim Crow segregation in the South, indentured servitude in the North, concentrated group settlement of Europeans in “open” lands where you only had to kill a few thousand “hunting and gathering” Indians to get a lot of land, etc.
Obama is probably right. His health care system won’t work, if Americans aren’t willing to sacrifice for each other in the way one family member will sacrifice for another family member. Consider as limited resources force heath care rationing, upper middle class families of one racial group could see care withheld from their loved one so care can be delivered to a member of a lower middle class family member of a different racial group. This being done simply because the statistics say the first person only has a 1/3 chance of success while the latter patient has a 2/3 chance of success. This happening with the full knowledge, that due to progressive taxation, the upper middle class family had paid ten times the taxes paid by the lower middle class family over the last 20 years.
Obama probably needs to start a program to make America a more unified country before he attempts to impose a health system where group respect, even mutual love, is an obvious prerequisite. (
(prepared by Hugh Murray on 9/9/2009)
Of Silence, Eyes, and God
Silence turns off the ears and mouth
Silence lets the mind disengage
Silence lets the immediate fade and
Silence lets the transcendent come forth.
Eyes should rest on the beautiful, from life or memory,
Eyes filled with stars, art, churches, forests, and fields,
Eyes that help the mind to escape the mundane and prepare to hear
God who sometimes speaks to those men prepared to listen.
P.S. However, God also communicates with man via the random people and occurrences that He inserts into each man's life. Additionally some people need a focusing mechanism, beyond mere silence. For them a short prayer repeated slowly and softly can work wonders; a good short prayer for this purpose is "Lord have mercy on me a sinner"............... (prepared by Hugh Murray 9/9/2009)
Alternate Ways to Handle a Guilty Conscience - All people are flawed, all commit sin, all do things that leave their consciences pained and suffering. To list the various failings that might be the cause of this distress is not the business of this essay. A brief review of the ten commandments or the seven deadly sins will give a good idea of the many pitfalls.
The purpose of this essay is to explore man’s various reactions to a pained conscience.
Some men hide from the pain by seeking various escapes and distractions. These take the form of ever more elaborate entertainments, extended travel, deep involvement in sport, excessive involvement at work, etc. These activities may be pursued consciously or un-consciously, but they are often just distractions that keep the sinner’s mind from dwelling on the unrelieved psychic pain within.
Other men, deal with these situations by taking up the crusaders’ mantel going forth to improve the world beyond. A man like Eliot Spitzer might assuage his conscience by becoming active against Wall Street crime while he spends his nights patronizing houses of ill repute. This prosecutorial work while laudatory in itself, can look to the person with a pained conscience as an inviting balm. But, of course, it doesn’t work.
Other people pained by serious sin strive to re-write the rules. This is also a tempting out. Take Henry VIII, he wanted to divorce his wife and marry Anne Bolen, but he could not get the Vatican to re-write the rules. So he just re-wrote the rules himself by creating a whole new church. This process of rewriting the rules and redefining truths, has gone on and on to point where there are literally millions of people now walking around with their own personalized made up set of rules, their own lists of truths. Various versions of Christianity, Deism, Unitarianism, Humanism and Atheism all abound. Each invented to negate one or more truths made clear to man by the natural law, tradition, or revelation.
Today in modern democracies leaders with compromised consciences do the same thing by using media to get court decisions, laws, or voter referendum enacted that give official governmental approval to otherwise immoral behavior.
There is also the man who will sooth his conscience by doing an offsetting wrong. Consider Madoff, he paid off people who had invested early on by talking new suckers into his scheme and then using these late “investments” to pay off the early investors.
Of course, what all these men really seek is assured relief from the pain induced by serious sin. Fortunately God has, through his Son’s sacrifice and the institution of the priesthood, provided a means to obtain the relief sought. This relief is provided through the Sacrament of Reconciliation to anyone who is sorry they offended God and has a firm intention to amend their behavior. This means of dealing with a guilty conscience was recorded for posterity in the 16th Chapter of Matthew’s Gospel where Christ says to His chosen successors that they would have the power forgive sins.............
(Prepared by Hugh Murray on 9/20/2009) .
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