Zach

A resident of New Hampshire

The Most Present of All

I needed to share this with you all:

“God? God? If I could see him or hear him now! Where is this God of yours?”

That is the question that every sinner asks, at one time or another.  And here is the secret revealed by God to Israel in shadows and intimations, and to all the world in the life and death and resurrection of Christ.  God is not some despotic force, like Zeus sitting upon his throne, grasping his thunderbolt.  He is almighty, true, and as almighty he is more than greatest and farthest of all.  He is also the smallest and the nearest and most present of all, the very Being of beings.  He was not in the whirlwind or the earthquake or the fire, as Elijah found, but in the still small voice.  In all the centuries before Solomon, his presence does not dwell in some hulking temple meant to boggle man into insignificance, but in a small Ark, in a tent.  He writes his laws not upon pillars, but upon the hearts of those who hear his word. And his word was made flesh and dwelt among us, a babe in a manger.  This is the Jesus who came as a light into a dark world; yet the world knew him not.  A bruised reed he would not break, said the prophet, and so Jesus moved among men both known and unknown, a king and yet a slave, the glorious only-begotten Son of God, and yet meek and humble of heart.  To hear Jesus, then, is to look perhaps first to the small and near, and to listen.

- Anthony Esolen in the Magnificat for May 2011.

 

A Friday in Lent

I am overwhelmed by this world more often than not. I look around, and all I see is conflict. I see depression, anxiety, fear, pain, confusion. Perhaps most notably, there is a palpable and deep lack of happiness. There is no peace here. It is clear that this life is not the life we were all meant to lead. This world is a world full of broken things that need love. Now I love the world, which is to say I love other people. Because of this, I am critical of things, “the way things are,” or “the status quo”. I am critical of myself, critical of politicians, critical of everything. I am too critical, too much. Maybe you’re something like this too. But criticism will not save the world. Only love can save the world. But what does that mean? Surely a part of love involves criticism? Jesus said “the TRUTH will set you free.” Truth is a proposition. Propositions need to be proposed. The truth needs to be spoken, and it needs to be defending. Lies need to be exposed. And so this must be where criticism is necessary. But it cannot be everything. There is a time and a place for criticism. In conversation with friends, maybe. Two persons, pursuing the truth together with words. In order for criticism to be effective, there must be a RELATIONSHIP, or an understanding between two persons. Clear away the confusion, and you might realize that we are all on the same side. In other words, we all need each other, even if we don’t know it. We have to work together in Christ to repair our brokenness. And in doing this, I think, we will find peace.

President Obama’s Draconian Budget Cuts

Among the cuts to the budget:

* Milk purchases (-$60 m)
* DELAP (dairy) (-$290 m)
* Agricultural Research (-$71 m)
* USDA Single Family Housing Guarantees (-$173 m)
* USDA Farm Loans (-$26 m)
* Watershed Programs (-$50 m)
* Public Telecommunications and Facilities Program (-$20 m)
* EPA Homeland Security Activities (-$36 m)
* Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (-$125 m)
* Wildland Fire Suppression Program (-$250 m)
* HUD University Community Fund (-$25 m)
* EPA State Revolving Funds (-$950 m)
* EPA State and Tribal Grants – Watershed, Airshed, and Climate Change (-$187 m)
* Biomass Crop Assistance Program (-$100 m)
* National Park Service, excluding LWCF (-$105 m)
* Career Pathways (-$125 m)
* SCSEP (-275 m)
* FEMA State and Local Grants (-$425 m)
* FBI Construction (-$133 m)
* Rural Development S&E (-$20 m)
* HUD Energy Innovation Fund (-$50 m)
* Treasury Asset Forfeiture Funds (-$333)
* Animal and Plant Health Programs (APHIS) (-$27 m)
* HHS Community Economic Development (-$16 m)
* HHS Mentoring Children of Prisoners (-$24 m)
* Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (-$276 m)

Think about the jobs lost ! The tragedy ! How can the president be so ruthless and cruel! Does he not care about the well being of American citizens – those left in the shadows by wall-street neocon capitalists? Where is the outrage?!

The Canard that the Pro-Life Movement “Isn’t Really Pro-Life”

The charge that the pro-life movement isn’t really pro-life, frequently leveled by proponents of unlimited government, can be frustrating. Ryan Anderson and company call it a lazy slander. I prefer canard, but both terms apply equally well. The facts about the pro-life movement’s support for life at all stages – from conception to natural death – speak for themselves. Mr. Anderson and friends recount a few of these facts HERE at The Public Discourse. After detailing some of the great work pro-life advocates regularly do, they ask the obvious question: why are pro-life advocates accused of being indifferent to life after birth? As they say, it’s probably the overwhelming conviction

“that “caring for the born” translates first and always into advocacy for government programs and funds. In other words, abortion advocates appear to conflate charitable works and civil society with government action. The pro-life movement does not. Rather, it takes up the work of assisting women and children and families, one fundraiser and hotline and billboard at a time. Still, the pro-life movement is not unsophisticated about the relationship between abortion rates and government policies in areas such as education, marriage, employment, housing, and taxation. The Catholic Church, for example, works with particular vigor to ensure that its social justice agenda integrates advocacy for various born, vulnerable groups, with incentives to choose life over abortion.

Yes – and there’s a simple reason the pro-life movement is not a movement for more government. If the pro-life movement would incorporate into its platform a decidedly pro-government stance, it would narrow itself. It would have mixed motives and would end up excluding more people. These are people who would support laws illegalizing abortion, but would not necessarily support the other policies of the movement. In other words, the pro-life movement leaves other political issues out of its explicit purpose to maintain focus and to be maximally inclusive. And as Ryan Anderson et al note, it couples this with real charity work done without any legislation or taxpayer dollars. AND IN FAIRNESS all of this is not to say that one cannot be a part of the movement and support policies that make the government omnipotent. But those policies cannot become a part of the larger pro-life movement itself.

A Question for Our Readers

This may seem somewhat ridiculous, but I’ll ask it anyway because I’m curious what people think. What is a reasonable amount of money to spend on a couch? At what point does the expense of the couch become an excess? How does the quality of the couch and the time that you will be able to use the couch affect the legitimate magnitude of the expense? Is it absurd to buy an all-leather sectional?

I ask because I want to know what Christian discipleship looks like in all things in life. And because honestly, I’m not sure. Sometimes, it’s easy to know what Christian discipleship looks like. For example, I know that willingness to die for the faith is very Christ-like. I know that prayer is an essential part of Christian discipleship. And I know that adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is our highest good as human beings. But these are high and holy actions for our faith life; what about things not as obviously related to our faith life, like putting furniture in a house or apartment?

I look forward to hearing what you may think, or not think if the question totally bores you. So please let me know – am I the only one who asks these types of questions? Should I just chill out? Or what? In the meantime I think I will try to ask God in prayer.

Healthcare Plan Likely to Include Free Contraception

Another pertinent reason for Catholics to oppose the Democrats and their health care bill at the polls tomorrow:

WASHINGTON (AP) – Fifty years after the pill, another birth control revolution may be on the horizon: free contraception for women in the U.S., thanks to the new health care law.

That could start a shift toward more reliable – and expensive – forms of birth control that are gaining acceptance in other developed countries.

As Nancy Pelosi said,

“Well, the family planning services reduce cost. They reduce cost. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now and part of what we do for children’s health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of those – one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government.”

It’s a cost cutting measure. It’s also a grave sin! But if you’re Nancy Pelosi, or most of the rest of the American Catholic population, you say, “Who cares! We need to have this!”

Ovide 2010

Next week, New Hampshire Republicans, and probably some irritating Democrats, will decide who the Republican Nominee is for the Republican New Hampshire Senate Candidacy. It appears to the best of my knowledge that Ovide Lamontange is the only consistent pro-life and limited government candidate on the ticket. I urge anyone you know who lives in New Hampshire to vote for Ovide. No, he’s not a genius, but he’s principled, more than the others. Primaries should be about principles. Playing Machiavelli can wait until November. We have to choose the right people to put up for office, and the right people are principled people who think that government is more than simply another way to stimulate the economy. We have a debased and corrupt form of politics that only recognizes the material dimension of our lives. We need candidates who understand that material life is not the only good, and that material well-being is in some way really dependent on our spiritual well-being. Our spiritual well-being is in a real way determined by our laws, and our politicians create our laws, not just “our jobs” (which is ridiculous, politicians don’t create jobs). We need to look for politicians who have but an inkling of an understanding of this countercultural idea. Our laws are not just about money; they are about truth and justice and goodness and even beauty.

Republicans are upset about not being in power. Republicans are not in power because they have failed to live up to their principles, and everyone knows it. Republican principles are good principles, and we should not concede them because we have hopes of winning an election. Republicans have won elections, and they have acted frivolously and ignorantly with their power because they were not principled. We need to elect politicians who will behave responsibly with their power, and not just win the election. Elections don’t matter; justice and truth do.

Forgiving God

“I think everyone has a secret resentment against God, against our very creation, against the fact of our being what we are. Freud called this the death wish, resentment against being born into this pain-full world.”

Peter Kreeft says something surprising in Back to Virtue:  that we need to learn to forgive God. He is quite clear that this is not for any evil or debt he owes us, but for His goodness. As Kreeft says in his book, God loves us more than we would like, and we need to forgive him for interfering with our foolish will again and again”. We need to “forgive him for his blessed but painful surgery on our spirits.”

At first, I thought Kreeft was wrong. Forgive God? Why would we lowly creatures need to forgive God, who is infinite goodness? How absurd! Then, giving the great Peter Kreeft the benefit of the doubt, I thought it over and had a realization of sorts. We need to forgive God lest we hold a grudge against Him. God calls us out of ourselves. He asks us to give up ourselves and our particular desires, and this can be very difficult, even aggravating. Our broken nature rebels against God’s will. We must say with Jesus, “not my will Father, but yours be done,” but we do not want to. We often say, leave me alone to what I want! Christians say this even when they know this is foolishness. We are broken and part of our brokenness is a wrong-relationship with God: we blame him when he is not at fault. Our hearts must be at peace with God. And our hearts, misshapen as they are, cannot be at peace with God unless we forgive him. How ridiculous we are!

Happy Independence Day!

America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

As we celebrate our Independence from the British Empire, let us remember our total dependence on God.

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