Broken Windows and Depersonalization

12/04/2014 Comments (64)

At the funeral of Eric Garner, Al Sharpton said,

“Let’s not play games with this one. You don’t need no training to stop choking a man saying ‘I can’t breathe’ You don’t need no cultural orientation to stop choking a man saying ‘I can’t breathe.’ You need to be prosecuted.”

Sharpton may be an ignorant, self-aggrandizing, rabble-rousing charlatan, but that doesn't mean he's wrong every time. This time, he's right on. Why was the policeman not prosecuted? Garner said eleven times that he could not breathe, but the police officer kept the pressure on Garner's neck, and Garner died. The medical examiner ruled it was homicide. Why did the officer do it? How was he trained, that his actions...READ MORE

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Why I became Catholic: My appearance on “The Journey Home”

12/04/2014 Comments (7)

I look older than this today.

From time to time people ask me how a nice Dutch Calvinist boy like me wound up converting from Evangelical Protestantism to Catholicism.

I’ve written and talked about this in the past, notably in a 2003 appearance on EWTN’s “The Journey Home” with Marcus Grodi, but this hasn’t been readily available — until now!

Thanks to an alert friend on Twitter, I’ve just learned that EWTN has posted my appearance on  “The Journey Home” on YouTube for all to see. So here it is! 

Revisiting this early TV appearance, years before “Reel Faith,” I find that, despite some mistakes, I’m reasonably pleased with how I did, given my level of inexperience. (It occurs to me that “The Journey Home” occasionally...READ MORE

Filed under conversion story, converts, protestantism

The President Who Banned Christmas Trees and The Boy Who Snuck One In

12/03/2014 Comments (3)

Here's a great story about Christmas.

President Theodore Roosevelt, an avowed environmentalist, banned Christmas trees from the White House during his presidency. The president was against real Christmas trees because he feared that Christmas trees would lead to deforestation. Mind you, at the time Christmas trees were very controversial with environmentalists. President William McKinley even reportedly received a letter in 1899 saying Christmas trees were "arboreal infanticide" and "un-American."

Roosevelt's action was intended to inspire Americans to just say no to Christmas trees. Clearly his bully pulpit didn't have the effect he wanted, even on his own children.

In 1902, Roosevelt’s...READ MORE

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Because Chastity’s Not a Dirty Word: Chastity Is For Lovers

12/03/2014 Comments (7)

There is a group of Catholics about ten to fifteen years younger than me who delight me. Their enthusiasm and approach to life gives me hope in a way that few other things do.

Among this crowd is Arleen Spenceley, a gutsy young lady from Florida who caught my eye with her new release, Chastity Is for Lovers: Single, Happy, and (Still) a Virgin (Ave Maria Press).

For some, what the Church actually says about love and sex has been presented by people who have misunderstood it. It is distorted on delivery. Others grasp parts of the Church’s teaching but have never been given reasons to save sex for marriage other than “God says so.” But there are other reasons — practical ones that are hard...READ MORE

Filed under arleen spenceley, book review, chastity

For the Child Crying

12/02/2014 Comments (12)

In the neighborhood where I grew up, there were Friday evening band concerts underneath the cherry trees down the hill. Half a block away was the library, where sweet Bethany sat behind the desk in the children's room, listening patiently without blinking her wide, blue eyes. There was the park with its swings and see saws, the sumac trees, the little stream with frogs. In our yard was an enormous maple tree, spreading and gracious, with a tire swing and a perfect circle of dirt where we played marbles.

And there was the house across the street, where David, with his evil panther face, threw his wife through the window. Someone called the police, again, and his wife was furious. Any...READ MORE

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Interreligious Leaders to Sign Historic Joint Declaration Against Human Trafficking

12/01/2014 Comments (30)

Catholic, Anglican, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, and Orthodox leaders will come together at the Vatican for the first time in history on Tuesday to sign a joint declaration against modern slavery and human trafficking.

The signatories, who will include Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the Anglican archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and Rabbi David Rosen will declare their commitment towards the eradication of the worldwide scourge by 2020.

The initiative has been drawn up by the Global Freedom Network, a faith-based organization launched in March this year aimed at ending modern slavery and human trafficking.

The network defines modern slavery as the “systematic...READ MORE

Filed under global freedom network, human slavery, human trafficking, joint declaration, pope francis

Stand with Middle East Christians This Advent

12/01/2014 Comments (2)
Daniel Ibáñez/CNA

A boy waits with other young refugees, including many of from Syria and Iraq, for a Nov. 30 meeting with Pope Francis in Istanbul's Salesian Oratory.

– Daniel Ibáñez/CNA

Observing the mayhem in the Middle East last summer, Father Benedict Kiely at Blessed Sacrament Church in Stowe, Vt., did what came naturally: He asked his congregation to pray for those suffering, the Christian community in particular.

He was especially troubled by the fall of Mosul, Iraq's second largest city and a Christian stronghold, to ISIS extremists. ISIS fighters painted the homes and businesses of Christians with the Arabic letter “N,” for “Nasarean,” a contemptuous way of referring to Christians. The “N” marked inhabitants for forced conversion, persecution or death. Christians fled the city by the thousands, and for the first time 1600 years, there was no Mass celebrated in the...READ MORE

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10 Things You Need to Know About Advent

12/01/2014 Comments (7)

It's Advent again! Here are 10 things to know and share!

Advent began this last Sunday.

Most of us have an intuitive understanding of Advent, based on experience, but what do the Church's official documents actually say about Advent?

Here are some of the basic questions and (official!) answers about Advent.

Some of the answers are surprising!

Here we go . . .

 

1. What Is the Purpose of Advent?

Advent is a season on the Church's liturgical calendar--specifically, it is as season on the calendar of the Latin Church, which is the largest Church in communion with the pope.

Other Catholic Churches--as well as many non-Catholic churches--have their own celebration of Advent.

According to the General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the...READ MORE

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