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Only God is forever.
The Truth is absolute, it is our view that is relative
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4th-Feb-2015 11:07 am - Backfilling for Facebook
Well, it has been about four months, and I am very happy to not be on facebook anymore.  There is one bit of functionality that I don't want to lose, and that is the online photo album with easy publishing.

Is there a service (or even better, a server that I can run on a local machine) that supports the following usecases?
• Email photos to an email address for automated publication, with the text of the email corresponding to captioning
• Public viewing and account based commenting
• (as a bonus) Notifications for people to see when new stuff comes up.

Anyway, this seems to be a simple enough project that I might make a run of it and open source it, but if this wheel has already been invtented (by someone other than facebook), making use of it might be a great thing.
11th-Oct-2014 11:20 am - More thoughts on quitting facebook
About two months ago, I made the decision to leave facebook.  Given where everything was, I waited for my son's baptism to leave, as it was an event I was managing through facebook.  Anyway, less than two weeks ago, I acted on my decision and left.

In the hours that followed, I was insanely curious as to the response.  After a day, that subsided.
In the days that followed, I felt a great boost in creativity and found that I was thinking more clearly.  About a week later, exhaustion from parenting thwarted that.
In the state of exhaustion, I found that I longed for the distraction of perpetual inane comments and conversation.  I found that I wanted the affirmation of a comment on a photo or a like on a status.  I found that I was craving something that really isn't that important, and likely, I was better off without it.

I still long for facebook interaction, but the urge is slowly dwindling.  In short, I'm feeling sicker, but I think I'm getting better.
29th-Sep-2014 02:02 pm - Just quit facebook...

So, I just quit facebook and am having really strange and bizarre withdraw from it.  I don't know if turning to livejournal will much help, but livejournal has been so easy to just ignore in the past, ignoring it again will likely be a simple matter.

One thing that I know is for certain, the need to say something short and pithy for everyone to hear, as encouraged by facebook, probably is not healthy.  Alas, I think I will feel better once I hit the post button.

21st-Apr-2013 12:10 am - The Braco Gaze
A good friend of mine has been continually posting about Braco and his gaze, which has caught my attention and my curiosity.  After looking further into Braco's gaze (by way of research), there are two indisputable facts.  First, there are people who are so convinced that there is something powerful and profound and wonderful going on that they line up to give him money to be gazed at and his reputation landed him a gig gazing at the UN.  Second, there are a lot of people who think that he is a sham and giving him money to be gazed at is a huge waste of time and money.  That being the case, reconciling these two divergent postures requires understanding something new about the nature of the human person and in light of that, understanding what is going on with his gaze.

So often in how we think, we see ourselves as a means to get something done.  This cultural belief is so deeply rooted that when we ask the question of identity, "who are you?", the first response is often with what we do.  It is true to say that I am a software engineer, and for most purposes, it is enough to say that I am a software engineer.  Most of my day is spent writing software, and anyone who works with me can treat me like a software engineer, and all is well.  The danger is that this becomes all that we are in our minds.  The deep amazing awesome reality is that we're made for more than just serving a roll in society.  Through our actions in society, we're made to see the fact that we are children of God and that only happens when we slow down and reflect on our experiences in some sort of silence.  This silence is critical because it is in this silence that our conscience can nag us if we have done something wrong, or it is in silence that the quiet joy of an accomplishment gives satisfaction.

Now, how does this apply to Braco?  Well, Braco serves as a focal point in the midst of a silent gaze.  He has a calm, reassuring face that augments the silence, so that even a nagging conscience can be assuaged by seeing his reassurance that joy is what lives at the bottom of all silence.  By assisting souls in the process of entering silence, there is actually something deep and profound going on - they're reconnecting with the place where all their actions come into the light of meaning and instead of drawing up noise, they're listening to hear about the meaning of their lives.

All that being the case, for the Christian, there is something seriously dangerous about this activity, and I can't recommend against it strongly enough.  Ultimately, the danger is that Braco and his followers are ascribing power to his gaze, when all his gaze does is serve as a focal point to allow the soul to do something it was made to do with or without Braco's gaze.  For the Christian, gazing at the wood of the Cross, or for the Catholic, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, should be the ultimate reassurance when entering into silence, because that reassurance is that Jesus Christ died so that our sins might die with him and that we might fulfill the purpose for which we were made - to gaze at the Most Holy Trinity for all eternity in Heaven, which is to partake of the beatific vision.
For all the rosaries in the family to date, it has been Kathy’s task to lead them.  With her passing, the task has come to me.  Mike gave me her notes, and while the reflections that I will offer in the rosary are my own, I am following her example in format and her desire that the richness of prayer be accessible to someone who is touching a rosary for the first time tonight, while preserving the flow and rhythms familiar to someone who has prayed the rosary their whole life.  Before we start this rosary, I would like to offer some reflections on what we’re doing, why we’re doing it and then very briefly talk about how it is done.

Prayer is an act of the heart, the formation of a desire that we know we can’t achieve by our own strength.  Just as an infant need only to lift their arms a few inches for an attentive parent to recognize the child’s desire to be held, so does God only need the smallest reaching of a desire in our heart to recognize and respond as our loving Father in Heaven.  Sometimes hard to understand, just like child who doesn’t recognize the actions of their parents as loving, the responses that come either feel like silence or aren’t to our immediate liking.  This is why prayer must be coupled with faith to remind us that God acts not just to bring us temporal goods that keep us happy for a while, but with an eye toward the ultimate goods that will bring us to eternal life with Him.  My very favorite scripture is 1 John 3:2 which says, “Beloved, we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”

So why pray? Prayer is the conversation that brings us ever closer to our creator.  It sheds light on events past, draws us into the moment that is now so that we feel God’s presence in the here and now and it orients the heart to prepare it for what is yet to come.  A child that never expresses hunger is not as often fed, where as a child that asks a loving parent in love for what they need, it is given in abundance.

So why pray the Rosary? We pray the rosary tonight for two reasons.  First, if we want to learn of anyone, the first and best source is to go and ask his or her mother.  If we believe that Jesus Christ is Lord, the best way to come to know who He is, is to look to His mother’s memories of Him, which she pondered in Her heart.  The mysteries of the rosary, which I will briefly reflect on individually as we pray the rosary, are stories told by a mother of her Son.  Secondly, in her relationship with Jesus, she shows us how to be in proper relationship with Him.

For an outside observer, it may seem like we’re idly speaking the same words together while pushing beads through our fingers.  However, for a God who is the author of History, is present in his creation now and has a future planned for us that is ultimately very good, tonight’s rosary can be the occasion of healing a heart, which nobody will “see”, but will be very real just the same.

So, to pray the Rosary together, the power point has all the words that we will pray together.  The small italic words are the words that I will say, and the bigger, bold words are the completion of the prayers.   As we pray the rosary, we invite you to reflect on the Glorious Mysteries that we pray Kathy is experiencing. If reciting the words is helpful, please join with us. If it is not, I invite you to find peaceful contemplation in the rhythm of spoken prayers and silence they create.

I will offer a variety of thoughts and images as we pray through the rosary, in the hopes that each of you will find one or more images that you find meaningful. If you are reflecting on an image that brings you comfort, peace, wonder or any other gift, stay with that image as long as you wish. You are not compelled to move on, so let any of your words at that point float on past you.


First Glorious Mystery – Jesus rises from the dead

“The men said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise.’” (Luke 24:5b-8)

The fact of death cannot be denied, but in this mystery, we ponder the fact that while God has allowed death to happen, He has not allowed it to be the final word. 

Second Glorious Mystery – Jesus ascends into Heaven
“And when he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’" (Acts 1:9-11)

When Jesus was taken up, those who were his friends were not ready for him to leave, and were left looking on where Jesus had been.  What they might have given to have Jesus back in their midst, having lost and regained him once already… 

Third Glorious Mystery – Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost

And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. [3] And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. [4] And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:2-4

When Mary and Bernadette came over to Mike and Kathy’s house, on the day that Kathy died, a mighty wind was present – perhaps a sign of the presence of the same holy Spirit that was poured out nearly 2000 years ago.  Mighty wind and fire, expressions of the anger of the ancient vengeful gods of old, have become the means by which God makes his presence manifest to those who love Him.

Fourth Glorious Mystery – The assumption of Mary, body and soul into Heaven

Mary, having entered into her dormission, waits for her Son.  Jesus, who of his own Godly strength had ascended into Heaven, returns to fold Heaven around her and bring her home.  Just as John the Apostle was no doubt sad to watch the mother that Jesus had given him depart from his presence, we are sad that Kathy has departed from our presence.  While Heaven is something we don’t yet understand ourselves, we have a great and glorious hope that she is there, but are left with the reality that she isn’t here.

Fifth Glorious Mystery – The coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven

“And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars;” (Revelation 12:1)

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you, says the LORD” (Jeremiah 29:11-14a)

As was illustrated earlier by the first glorious mystery, the last word isn’t death, but life.  This mystery tells us the future to accept, which is to say, to accept the same crown of blessed royalty.  We pray that we too may some day share in this royalty, that we may see “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

The Bishops have been speaking as loudly as I can remember about this election, and there is a good reason for it.  Bishop Paprocki has been the loudest and clearest I have heard.  Bishop Sheridan has gone so far as to say that Vice President Joe Biden is not to receive communion in the Diocese of Colorado Springs.  Archbishop Chaput has been very vocal about voting as usual.  They're giving sound bites, which is all I can do in a facebook post, but here is a reasoned explanation of WHY they're saying what they're saying.

In order to understand the Bishops, I have to first define a few terms.
Cooperation is operation with or helping.
Intrinsic evil is something that is wrong just because of what it is.
Gravely evil is something that isn't just bad, it is seriously bad.

So, there are two kinds of cooperation, formal and material.  Formal cooperation is cooperating with desire and material cooperation is cooperating with action.  For example, formal cooperation is helping someone because you want the same thing as they do.  I got to help my buddy Gabe pour concrete for his new patio.  He wanted a new patio, and I wanted him to have a new patio too.  An example of material cooperation is the labor and sweat (not much sweat actually) that I put into helping him actually pour it.  I actually did stuff to help make it happen.

In the political sphere, a vote is always material cooperation and can also be formal cooperation.  That said, a vote for Obama is material cooperation with a grave intrinsic evil, namely abortion.  If you're voting for Obama because he is pro-abortion, then it crosses the line into formal cooperation with a grave intrinsic evil, which is to say, you're voting him in to help women kill their babies.  I don't know a single Catholic who would be guilty of formally cooperating that way.

So if there is wiggle room, why are the Bishops speaking so strongly?

Well, that was what they said in 2008, and people didn't get it.  Well, material cooperation with an intrinsic evil is sometimes allowed.  That is to say, I can sometimes do things that help other people do evil stuff.  If I were a satellite guidance software developer, someone might use that software to crash a satellite into a populated area, which would make it so that I helped them do it, but I didn't want to help them do it.  I'm not going to stop writing guidance software because some nut job might abuse it, but the principle of double effect applies. The principle of double effect states that it is permissible to do something that has a known evil effect given a few criteria.
• The action is morally positive or neutral: So, you have to be voting for Obama because you actually believe Obama has better social policies.  This is a matter of debate, but you have to believe it. (nature-of-the-act condition)
• You can only be hoping for the good stuff to happen, namely the country moving forward (right-intention condition)
• You have to believe that Obama's social policies don't require that a quarter of the population be aborted for their fiscal solvency (means-end condition)

• You have to believe that the good of the country moving forward is more important than a quarter of our unborn babies being killed (proportionality condition) The first two are quite possible, the third is potentially debatable, but I don't think that proportionality is satisfied.

So, can a Christian vote for Obama?

The answer is yes, if you really believe that Obama is going to be a better president, you only want him to do good things, you don't think that he is depending on abortions to reduce the number of welfare recipients and that Obama's execution of domestic and foreign policy is going to sufficiently better than any pro-life candidate
to make up for the death of 1.2 million babies per year.

The Bishops have decided to take the next step from 2008 and say that the proportionality condition for the principle of double effect is not met, which is why they have been more vocal.  The attacks on religious freedom from the department of health and human services as enabled by the affordable care act might have something to do with it to.

One last thing, the Bishops haven't mandated that Catholics vote for Romney, just that it would be seriously bad vote for Obama.

Update: A friend of mine pointed out that there is a distinction between pro-choice and pro-abortion, and that I have used pro-abortion when I should have used pro-choice.  A lot of anti-abortion people like to say that there are only two camps - the one they live in is people who oppose all abortions no matter what and that the other camp believes that everyone who isn't conceived with a million dollar trust ready to go should be aborted.

To that I respond, in 2008, then senator Obama had a voting record of more abstentions than anyone else, which made his record totally unclear about anything - except abortion.  He tried to pass laws that would reintroduce partial birth abortion and tried to get laws repealed that would protect babies born alive after an attempted abortion.  I understand that it is a spectrum of belief, and that the dividing lines aren't totally clear, but I think Obama's record puts him squarely in the pro-abortion section of it.  President Clinton said that abortion should be safe, legal and rare.  Under Obama, the party platform has now omitted rare, which says something about the one(s) who sets the platform.

Secondly, my friend mentioned ectopic pregnancies, where the life of the mother is in danger.  To that, let us apply the principle of double effect to the action of removing the section of fallopian tube that has the baby in it.  The intention is to save the live of the mother, and the result is the death of the baby.  The action itself is morally positive, as it saves the life of the mother.  The action is only hoping for good things, as the intended goal is to save the life of the mother.  The means-end condition is met because the death of the baby isn't what saves the mother's life.  Finally, the proportionality is met because the life of a mother who has responsibilities to her partner and other children is more important than the life of an unborn child whose only responsibility is to grow.

Last night, my wonderful fiancee and I had our first class with the Meerts who are teaching our marriage prep class, and my goodness, what an awesome joy.  I can't sing their praises loud enough, and this is why.

Now, if you're reading this, you probably know that I spent a bunch of time in the seminary studying theology.  I'm not nearly as well trained as your average parish priest, but I can hold my own in a lot of situations where the topic of conversation is Theology.  So, walking into marriage prep, which is often targeted for couples who aren't even necessarily well catechized, I was afraid that I was going to be in for an abbreviated, watered down version of what I learned in the seminary, as I had a whole three hour graduate level course on the sacrament of Matrimony.  Also, I am well aware that my posture and fear is an extremely prideful one - one that Lisa has been kind to put up with and to gently nudge me away from.  Anyway, prideful as that might be, past experiences of some classes has shown me that when a presenter presents nothing but content, I get bored and check out. ...but I digress.

The Meerts are awesome, because their end purpose wasn't to present theology or doctrine (though, that they did and wonderfully).  Their end goal was to help us enter into prayerful contemplation of Scripture!  After a brief period of getting acquainted with the other couples in the room, we started in on Genesis 1-3, the stories of creation and the fall of man.  Furthermore, we read it aloud (the ONLY way to come to know scripture, through the hearing, ask the ethiopian eunuch) and mulled over its contents.

This is a winning formula, in no small part because the Meerts don't make it about themselves.  It isn't an exercise in learning their system of thinking, nor is it them getting up and telling us what to think and how to think it and to copy their example.  It is a window into seeing how God has put humanity together, and their witness of to the Joy that is possible when we cooperate with God's Word.  I sing their praises because they help me sing God's praises, and just one class in, I can't wait for what further classes might hold.

Somewhere it has been said that a shuttle launch is the world's biggest tailgate party for the world's shortest event. Indeed, for STS-134, they said that it was less than half a minute (I have heard 22 seconds and 8 seconds) before the shuttle was obscured from view by the clouds. So, if you make a ratio (and what engineer doesn't) of the time spent getting here to the time spent in the experience, well, let me do the math. Three round trip tickets, six nights of hotel stays, eight days worth of car rentals, at least five tanks of gas. Well, it wasn't cheap, nor was it easy. The final bill goes well over two weeks pay.

So, what did I get for my expenditures? I saw a machine with six human beings in it leave the earth. There is only one place in the world that has seen that many people in one spacecraft, and that is Kennedy Space Center, so it is a special place. As the story would have it, my first attempt was to see STS-133, Discovery's last mission. I missed my flight and went to Washington D.C. instead. Nuts... Then, I came down for STS-134's first launch attempt. Without knowing where I would be, providence gave me a ticket to be at the Visitor Complex. I wanted to see Endeavour's first fire... no such luck from there, but the launch got scrubbed and I went home empty handed. After returning to Denver, the delay to repair the APU power supply drug on, and as they landed on a firm date, I checked my favorite airline for flights, and sure enough, there was one for cheap. I bought a ticket, thinking, "I'm not going to use this, but I want it anyway." Several days later, after several conversations with others, like my Boss and his son who saw STS-132, I purchased the return trip plane ticket. Not long after, I had a car rental reservation and a plan.

The final decision to actually come was made the day before when I checked in for my flight. The weather was favorable for two of my three launch day opportunities, and with no technical difficulties being worked, I decided to go ahead and take the plunge. Landing in San Antonio, I got a call from a Lockheed Martin employee who had a Visitor Complex parking pass for me if I wanted it. Making arrangements, I flew to Orlando excited that I would get to see the shuttle with hundreds if not thousands of people at the Visitor Complex. Landing in Orlando, I had a voice mail from the CEO of the company I work for asking me if I was interested in going with him to the causeway. So, I drove from Orlando to Merritt Island super excited that I would be able to see the Shuttle on the pad. As I drove past KSC that night, I saw the VAB and the eerie glow of Xenon lights pouring into the sky. I knew they were shining on the shuttle as it was being fueled, even though I was unable to see the shuttle itself. Finally stopping at Wal-Mart in Merritt Island, I found an empty corner of the parking lot and fell asleep.

Waking up at 3:45 AM Denver time, I did as much as I could to get ready for the day after sleeping in the rental car. After going into wal-mart to buy a banana and use the bathroom, I went to rendezvous with the boss man and ride with him to the place of our viewing. Showing up about 90 minutes before blastoff, we walked part of the way down the causeway (NASA PKWY E), seeing only the top half of the shuttle. After a quick jaunt down the rest of the causeway (east), I discovered that seeing the shuttle and the launch pad was a possibility, and the four of us went the rest of the way down the causeway. Once there, we took turns with my telescope and binoculars looking at the shuttle.  We were positioned almost directly south of the Shuttle Stack, which meant that the Orbiter's rudder was pointed directly at us and we were looking at the stack such that we could see the top of the wings straight on.  With the telescope, I could make out all kinds of details beyond just seeing the External Tank (ET) Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs) and Endeavour itself. I could see the Ground Umbilical Carrier Assembly (GUCA) that vents gaseous Hydrogen away from the ET, the Rotating Orbiter Access Arm which is what the astronauts went through to get into the shuttle and the beanie cap that the gaseous Oxygen leaves through. I could clearly see the Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSMEs) and NASA logo on the left wing. I could go on for pages with the stuff I saw and could name as it sat there, but you get the idea.

As the countdown progressed, the clouds loomed overhead with the angry promise of blocking my view as the shuttle rose. There were gaps in the clouds, but the timing didn't feel right, and none in the group felt it too promising that we would be able to see much.  As the loudspeakers behind us informed us of the start of the terminal count, I called a very dear friend (you know who you are) and started to give live commentary on what I was seeing.  After the orbiter access arm and beanie cap retracted, the shuttle had nothing in its way before pushing skyward.  I can't even begin to describe the time between T-60 seconds and T-15 seconds.  They were the longest 45 seconds I have experienced in a long time, but at T-15, even though I couldn't see it, I knew water was going into the sound suppression system.  My binoculars hit my face since I knew that I wanted to see it 7x bigger.  At T-10 seconds, I saw a brilliant white light under the orbiter's engines.  It was the sparkers that burn off excess hydrogen, and it had all the telltale signs of being magnesium.  At T-6 seconds, I saw the reddish flash of the SSMEs coming to life and immediately a cloud of steam started expanding toward us.  As the cloud expanded, I heard the count go down from 6 to 0 and FLASH.  Suddenly, the vehicle started going up like i have seen in all the videos.  Unlike the videos, my eyes cried out in pain as if looking at the surface of the sun.  Every optical magnification device (telescopes, binoculars, etc..) that I have ever seen has had the warning "Don't Look at the Sun" clearly written somewhere, and now I know why. It hurts... A lot...  Fortunately, my blindness was only temporary as I switched from binoculars to the naked eye.  I was so distracted by how bright the launch was that I failed to notice the roll program as the intensely bright flame passed through the cloud ceiling.  Now, Mike Moses apologized to all the spectators for launching with such a low cloud ceiling.  Such was not my experience at all! After the painfully bright view, passing into the clouds was the act of mercy that allowed me to use my binoculars again.  Then, the rumble of the blastoff finally got to us and I felt it, though not as intensely as I was expecting.  I later realized that the cloud of steam directly in our path probably muffled the engine noise a fair bit.  Anyway, the noise blocked out the call I was eagerly anticipating, "Endeavour, GO at throttle up".  I thought of challenger just the same as the SRBs continued to visibly burn through the cloud.  At T+2 minutes, the sound had died down, and I heard the call, "SRB sep" (solid rocket booster separation) telling me that things had separated.  At this point, I could see three distinct white points of light and off to the left, a periodic flash that said to me, "I'm the right SRB!" I watched in vein for the left SRB, but never saw it.  Anyway, I continued to track these three points of light to the point where they were one point of light and at T+4 minutes, the faint light passed behind a cloud and my viewing experience was over.

At this point, walking back to the car, I asked myself, "ok, that was awesome, now why was this so important to me?"  There has to be a reason why I did this.  There has to be a question this answers or something that it reveals, otherwise it was a big waste of time and money.  In thinking about it, I also pondered my specific decision to not bring a camera.  I wanted an experience of the shuttle that was immediate, that is to say, not mediated by film or pixels.  I wanted to be in a place where not only could I see the shuttle, but I knew that if the shuttle could look, the shuttle would be able to see me.  I wanted to be able to be an old man some day and say, "the shuttle was real, I know because I saw it with my own eyes, and it was AWESOME!"  For a perceptive audience, nothing is as compelling as personal testimony.  1 John 1:1 would be an unnecessary verse if the author didn't agree with me on this.

There is more - a whole lot more - but that is still to come.  For short, there is a necessary harmony between knowledge and wonder.  Knowledge without wonder is a dead pursuit of facts without meaning, and wonder that fails to seek knowledge is a sad combination of confusion and despair.
9th-Jan-2011 11:07 pm - Jeremiah 29:11

I sit in church in a city made white with snow, I ask our Lord His plans for me to show. From the depths of my heart I hear His voice say, "unto you My plans I show day by day." So I ponder the vast number of days gone past, and I realize they were quite a blast. None too hard and none too grim, above all none too far from peace in Him.

So now to Him I ask Him such, why do I want to know the future so much? The heart of my desire to now inquire lies in a lie that births great fear, the past be done and the present here, but the future exists nowhere near. In response the question He breathes, "Which of these would more you please? Tomorrow as a surprise to unwrap, or make it through tomorrow remaining unflapped? If you must control your end, only yourself can you befriend. In another you find great surprise, seeing another behold your eyes. For in this gaze you will glean, how to other you are seen. In the gaze that comes from the One both near and far, you will see who you truly are. That is the gaze that comes from He, the One who came before eternity."

The lesson from Jeremiah has said, let the future be alive, not dead! That which has not yet passed your eyes, remains the gift of tomorrow's surprise. Be not afraid for in His hands, rests His love hidden in His plans. Listen to your heart and He will say, "My love, My self, I reveal to you day by day. All I ask of you; to love, trust and pray."

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

30th-Mar-2010 10:36 am - Liberal? Conservative?
In the Catholic Church, it is a challenge to find someone who hasn't made use of the words "Liberal" or "Conservative" in conversation, It is even harder to find someone who can clearly articulate what these words actually mean. Now, to try and define things, I know that many would look at St. Mark, my home for my years in college and seminary, and call it a liberal place. Some would also look at the parish that I now call home, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and call it a conservative place. For myself, I am perfectly happy in both places. Both places make Jesus manifest and challenge me to draw ever nearer to Him. Yet sadly, something of division exists there. I don't think many people would be comfortable in both places, and the discomfort would be expressed in saying, "that place is just too [Liberal/Conservative] for me."

With this backdrop, I have been reflecting at great length, trying to see what is at the root of this division. Oddly enough, it isn't hard to know what to look for, as with every division where God intended unity in difference, there is a spirit who is not of God, and a lie that said spirit speaks.

So, lets start with the lie that is at the core of this. The spirit says, "Truth and Love are not compatible". Now, intellectually, it is easy to look at this and see the lie of it, because Jesus is the Way and Life in addition to being Truth, and Jesus who is God is Love. Yet, the praxis of this falls on harder challenges, as I don't think it is hard to examine one's own experience and see places where one feels like they have to make a choice between living and speaking the truth and choosing to give of self for the good of the other in whatever circumstances they're in. The concrete example that comes to mind for me is a cousin who got pregnant outside of wedlock and the reaction of each of her parents. One made the decision to discard love and the other to discard truth.

When faced with this sort of challenge, the liberal is the one who discards Truth in favor of holding on to Love and the conservative is the one who discards Love in favor of holding on to Truth. The reality is that Truth and Love are inseparable, so if someone is in a position where they feel like they have to choose, they have already ingested the poison. This might be a bit of a hyperbole, but when things become entrenched, the liberal ends up losing love and the conservative loses truth. In abandoning truth the liberal is left with sentiment, not love. In abandoning love the conservative is left with rules, not truth.

The simple fact is, apart from Love, the Truth is not Truth, and apart from the Truth, Love is not Love. Love is the decision to give of self for the good of the other, and Truth speaks to what constitutes a gift, what is good and who other is.

So, who is this spirit? Well, to gain insight into who the spirit is, it is important to see when/where it has the ability to attack. The only kind of situation where I see this spirit having any ability to speak is when someone I care about sins. When a brother or sister sins, this is an injustice, and as someone who desires justice, how do I respond? The only proper way to respond to sin is with the Mercy of Christ, but this requires letting Christ do it, which requires patience on our part. What disrupts patience? Impatience! So, the spirit behind the liberal conservative division is a spirit of impatience. Look at your experience of seeing died in the wool liberals and hard core conservatives encountering each other - rarely does one have any patience for the other. If this is the issue, how is the division healed? Simple, pray for the mercy of Christ and pray for the gift of patience.

So, no matter what side of the fence you fall on by tendency, when you exist in communion with someone who has the opposite tendency, it is to everyone's benefit. When someone is loved by a conservative, it is an amazing opportunity for them to fall in love with truth. Likewise, when someone is given the truth by a liberal, it is an equally amazing opportunity for the to be loved by the truth. This is a call to the cross of being patient, and if it seems impossible, you're right. Remember and don't forget, with God, all things are possible.
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