Towards A Sacramental Charismatic Theology

A dove, symbolizing the Holy Spirit, who is be...
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I have been (and still consider myself to be) what you might call a “charismatic Christian” for the last 40 plus years.  Raised a Roman Catholic, and then receiving what is commonly called the “baptism in the Holy Spirit” on August 15, 1970 (on the Solemnity of the Assumption), I have found myself in a variety of charismatic and Pentecostal circles for many years until returning to the Church of my youth in  the fall of 2005.

Tongues and Traditions

For the record I still believe in the gift of tongues and try to allow the 9 charisms of the Holy Spirit spoken of in 1st Corinthians 12-14 to be practiced in my life as God wills and allows.  However, since returning to the Church, I have become increasingly concerned with the subtle but real conflicts in both teaching and attitude towards spiritual gifts within the Catholic Church.  There seem to be two groups, both very sincere and committed to Christ and the Church, but with decidedly different views on the practice of charismata.

One group practices these much as I did as a Protestant—and in large part tends to ignore the Sacraments as our main source of life and hope, while the other is so Sacramental that they tend to shy away from the very charisms which, according to our Catechism (CCC# 2003), God has given graciously to our faithful, and even within arguably the most charismatic of all Christian communities (the Catholic Church) this rift exists nonetheless. And with reason.

Over the past 5 years since my return to Catholicism, I have rediscovered, on a much deeper level than as a youth, the power of the Sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation. I have also found the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to be the most highly charismatic of all prayers, and most miraculous as well. In fact, I think it is safe to say that Holy Mass is charisma personified!  My need and desire to pray in tongues has actually diminished to some extent by participation in daily Mass, as well as the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet, as each of these also assist in fulfilling the command in Ephesians 6:18 to “pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” I also have yet to explore more fully the riches of Lectio Divina (an especially prayerful way to read the Sacred Scriptures), contemplative prayer, or the Liturgy of the Hours, all of which, when used correctly, are certainly doorways to the movement of the Holy Spirit as well.  However, I do not wish to throw away what I believe are valid charisms that I have experienced for nearly 40 years either, and finding a balance between the two approaches has not been an easy task for me.

“Charismania” Anyone?

For example, the Catholic charismatic meetings I have attended since my return, including a charismatic Mass, have left me less than enthused about becoming part of a “Spirit filled” Catholic prayer group.  At the charismatic Mass I observed, for example, the entire parish breaking into “singing in tongues” during (or immediately after) the Consecration of the Eucharist (including and actually initiated by the priest!), at a time when I believe stunned silence would have been far more appropriate and meaningful. While there may be rare exceptions, in general the moment of Consecration, of all times within the Mass, should be a time for God to speak to us, and for us to shut up and listen!   At that same Mass, numerous folks chit-chatted loudly both before and after, even within the sanctuary, and in their lending library area were volumes written by people who teach what I must call heresy, such as the “name it and claim it” theology of a well known Word of Faith teacher, whose theology flies in the face of Rome on many other levels as well.  Yet their parish bulletin boldly claims total submission to the Magisterium. That does not add up in my estimation.

I also visited a prayer group that a very dear family member who is Catholic belongs to, which to my thinking was barely recognizable as a Catholic group at all. There was not even a holy water font present, nor once did I see the sign of the cross made before or after any of the prayers.  If a priest was present at all, he certainly was not in any leadership position, and the Blessed Virgin Mary was not even mentioned as Mother of the Church or honored as such. My understanding is that these steps were taken, at least in part, in order not to offend the numerous Protestants in regular attendance. Yet this is one of the larger Catholic Charismatic communities here in the Twin Cities.

Truth be told, the more I have searched, the less I have found that is truly “Catholic” within many of these groups. In fact, the official position of the Catholic Charismatic Center on the World Wide Web regarding the Rosary is this:

Many Charismatics are very “into” the Rosary. Much of the modern Marian movement has been fueled by Charismatics.

However, the charisms certainly are more traditional than the Rosary. The church got alone fine without the Rosary for a thousand years, but the charisms sparked the growth of the church from the very beginning. If one reads Butler’s Lives of the Saints, one sees that charisms were operating in the church in every century and in every part of the evangelized world.

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Is there any wonder that Catholics are leaving the Church for Protestant charismatic fellowships and congregations after going through a “Life in the Spirit” seminar?  And please understand—I am not against seminars or retreats such as these, as they have unquestionably helped many to find a fuller and deeper relationship with Christ and His Church.  But care and caution, and above all, discernment is needed in how they are conducted, and too often this is far from the case.

Catholics are Already Charismatic

Also, regarding the baptism in the Holy Spirit itself, we find that most charismatic Catholics accept it as a separate and new experience, although they may refer to it as some type of extension or enlivenment of their Confirmation. It is almost as if they believe that the Sacrament didn’t “take” when the Bishop or priest laid hands and anointed them.  At the end of most Life in the Spirit seminars, hands are generally again placed on them (and often by the laity!) so that they can receive the “baptism in the Spirit” and speak in tongues!

Yet if you read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, (CCC# 1285-1288) you find that the power of Pentecost attributed to the laying on of hands in the New Testament is indeed the Sacrament of Confirmation.  They are one in the same.  If you have been validly confirmed you are already baptized in the Holy Spirit, and, as Ephesians 1:13 tells us, “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” indelibly. It is almost as if many charismatic Catholics are trying to retrofit their experience of, in many cases very valid charisms, with a one time experience that the Church promises only through the Sacraments.

I also shudder to even think what this quote from the same website means:

The person questions the authenticity of the Charismatic renewal because so many elements are practiced by Protestants:

Catholics and Protestants share alike a commitment to personal prayer, devotional Bible reading, the importance of evangelistic witness, the need for personal repentance, the joyful expectation of the return of the Lord, a desire to live like Jesus, and many more things. Some Protestants share with us the sacraments, at least in outward form. Are Catholics to reject these things because Protestants share them? Hardly! We are to rejoice because we have so much in common in Christ. We are after all, brothers and sisters in Christ, even if separated in some things.

We won’t bother to quote church documents on this issue, but suffice it to say that we are to rejoice in the common elements we have in Christ. The fact that we don’t share everything is a source of prayer for an ultimate reconciliation in Christ as we join in His prayer “may they all be one.”

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It is certainly not a sin to fellowship or pray with Protestant Christian brothers and sisters, and not unfeasible for us to reach out to one another, whether charismatic or otherwise. In fact we should and must. But to do so by rejecting so many basics which make our Faith distinct, and ignoring anything “controversial” such as praying to our Blessed Mother or the Saints, Papal authority, or 2000 years of Sacred Tradition, is to do so at our own (and their) peril—and not a sign of obedience to Magisterial Teaching!

Finally, once again from the Catholic Charismatic Center:

The person asserts that they find more confidence in following certain private revelations as a basis for their spirituality than being Charismatic:

We would suggest that a surer foundation would be a spirituality based firmly on the Word of God that stresses the personal encounter with the risen Lord and the Holy Spirit. If they find these fruits to come from their “traditional” devotion, great!!! The Lord has many ways of reaching His people and we want to esteem all authentic spiritualities.

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And I would suggest that approved “private revelations,” such as the Divine Mercy, Fatima, and many others, are part of the Word of God, or at least an extension of it.  Clearly they never are part of the Deposit of Faith as such, but neither are the “prophetic words” which are manifest in charismatic meetings!  At least those tried and true traditional devotions are tested thoroughly by the Church before becoming widespread expectations of overly excited leadership who eagerly tell others, as I heard at my relative’s prayer meeting, to “prophesy to everyone you know this week.” However according to Lumen Gentium, the official Constitution of the Church per the 2nd Vatican Council, we are told the following: “Whether these charisms be very remarkable or more simple and widely diffused, they are to be received with thanksgiving and consolation since they are fitting and useful for the needs of the Church. Extraordinary gifts are not to be rashly desired nor is it from them that the fruits of apostolic labors are to be presumptuously expected. Those who have charge over the Church should judge the genuineness and proper use of these gifts, through their office, not indeed to extinguish the Spirit but to test all things and hold fast to what is good (cf. 1 Thessalonians. 5:12, 19- 21).”   [Lumen Gentium 12]  Somehow the idea of “prophesying to everyone you meet” seems a bit rash in my book!

While on the topic of “rashness”, it is utterly important that we remember St. Paul actually wrote 1 Corinthians 12-14 as a correction concerning misuses of the gifts, rather than a carte blanche on how free we are allowed to be in using them!  There are numerous rules, generally ignored by many charismatic fellowships, both Catholic and Protestant, which were given to protect the Church from the very abuses we so often see today.  To name a few—St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 14: 26-33 (among other instructions) limits the number of prophecies, as well as gifts of tongues even if accompanied with interpretations, to 3 apiece.  I have been at prayer meetings where 10-15 or more “prophetic words” were given.  This is an abuse by anyone’s standards.  He also clearly indicates that, if one does not have the gift of interpretation, that person is to “speak to himself and to God” (1 Corinthians 14:28). I know too of a charismatic group that asked their adherents to “pray in tongues” for 30 minutes a day in front of the Blessed Sacrament!  I won’t even touch that one.

Moreover, it is our priests and bishops who have been given the charism of the sacramental Anointing of the Sick, and this comes directly from St. James 5: 14-16.  Yet these meetings are, other than the gifts of tongues and prophecy, probably most famous for laying hands on the sick and believing for divine healing, and again generally administered by the laity.  And while praying for those who are ill is certainly not a bad thing, it is seldom publicly explained to those being prayed for that this is not the same thing as the Sacrament of the Sick. In fact it more often takes its place instead. Another point is in the area of casting out demons.  We have certain priests with valid powers of exorcism, and these are generally only exercised under the authority of the bishop, who is successor to the Apostles.  We as lay people can certainly pray against satan and should do so, but I myself have never once seen a group of charismatics use the beautiful and effective “Prayer to St Michael”, given to the Church by Pope Leo XIII. Instead we just rebuke satan ourselves.  The list could go on and on, but in my opinion the point is clear that the Catholic charismatic movement is far too often shooting wildly and using very loose cannon while doing so.

So what to do?  I cannot and do not reject my entire last 40 years of spiritual experience as invalid, but I do believe that, in my Pentecostal/charismatic zeal, I was missing a very basic element that would have kept me grounded in the truth of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.  That element was the Sacraments, and included with them, a spirit of submission to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church on this earth, which I now believe finds its fullest expression in Roman Catholicism.  In fact I honestly felt that I had to choose between my newfound “walk with Jesus” and remaining Catholic, and obviously, given that choice I chose our Blessed Lord as best I understood Him.  It never once crossed my mind that both Jesus and the Church were readily available to me previously, and that in fact the most direct path to Him was indeed the very Church I was already a part of. Sadly it took me 35 years to realize this.

Mass—the Best “Holy Ghost Prayer Meeting” of All

As suggested earlier, I personally believe that gifts of the Spirit are available today, and  that tongues can indeed be used as a language of prayer between ourselves and God if He so desires.  However I believe that seeking for tongues (or any other charism, for that matter) can often be a serious mistake, especially if it causes us to focus more on the gift than on the Giver. Seeking Jesus fully, using first of all the Sacraments, and then enriching our prayer life with the numerous other beautiful and varied devotions given to us by the Church and her Tradition of centuries, we may actually find ourselves one day speaking in a language we did not learn, or entering into an ecstasy, or being miraculously healed. If so, praise God! And I am not suggesting that asking for charismata is in itself wrong.  But seeking for them “rashly”, or thinking that somehow we are more “Spirit filled” by receiving specific manifestations is not consistent with historic Catholic/Christian teaching, and can lead to much confusion, as well as often placing people on the sides of the “haves” and “have nots.”  I am not automatically more spiritual if I speak in tongues, and I am no less “baptized in the Holy Spirit” if I do not.  Besides being theologically shaky, that outlook all too often leads to spiritual arrogance, which is something we must always guard against, no matter what our charisms happen to be. Should you join a charismatic prayer group?  That is not for me to say.  However, if you are currently going to daily Mass, reading Sacred Scripture daily and prayerfully, receiving Jesus in the Eucharist regularly, and seeking Our Lord and Lady through the Rosary and other devotions as mentioned, you are already in one—too often we run here and there and all over to find Jesus, and He is mystically present in every valid Catholic Church—in the Tabernacle.  Do not allow prayer groups, seminars, or any other activity, no matter how Christian or Catholic, take you away from the basics. Too often we go for the sensational and forget the simple beauty of holiness.

One last caution—I do not think it is, at least generally, appropriate or wise to pray or seek for supernatural workings such as tongues or prophecy until after receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation.  In my case, doing this led me to the erroneous belief that I did not need to be confirmed, “since I had the Holy Spirit anyway,” and what I never realized until actually receiving this wonderful Sacrament was that, in reality, I was simply borrowing from the its graces during all those many years.  In other words, God in His Mercy heard my cry to be “filled with the Holy Spirit.” but in no way did this replace or override the fact that the Holy Spirit in His fullness is normally imparted to us at Confirmation by the laying on of hands of the priest or bishop.

Are there exceptions to this? Definitely.  In the book of Acts, St. Peter is shown a vision to go and speak to the first Gentile Christians, a man named Cornelius and his those he had assembled to hear the Word of God who “While Peter was still saying this” (Acts 10:44), are filled with the Holy Spirit and speak in other tongues. However I think it important to note that this was a very special occasion in every way, and that the chosen leader of the Apostles was involved directly in bringing the Word to them first, and, although not having yet laid hands on them, was at least physically present and in control of the situation.  And you can bet your bottom dollar that he didn’t say to St. Cornelius and those he had gathered, “Okay, on the count of 3, stop speaking Latin!”  If that idea sounds ludicrous it should (even though it is a common technique among today’s charismatics!). God was doing a sovereign work here, literally for the first time in history extending the Kingdom of God to the Gentiles, and never is there evidence of any coercion techniques, psychological or otherwise, on the part of the Apostles present.  It just “happened.” And, of equal importance, the sacrament of baptism was still administered to them immediately afterwards to initiate them fully, (very likely including the laying on of hands) by the Apostle and his companions who were present that day.

If you do therefore have a unique charism, whether prophecy, tongues or any other, you still need the full graces offered in Confirmation.  I found it to be a difference of night and day when I was finally confirmed at age 50, and I had been “baptized in the Holy Spirit” for 35 plus years at the time!  God can always work within us and “He Himself is not bound by His Sacraments” (CCC #1257) but when they are available to us we are to connect with them whenever possible.

Sacramental Life in the Spirit

My conclusion, at least for myself, is this—in my own experience I have not yet found a Catholic Charismatic prayer group that is truly 100% “Catholic.” I am sure they exist, and when I find one I will happily be part of it if the Lord leads me in that direction.  Until then, I will, as St. Paul the Apostle exhorts us, pray both in my native English and, certainly from time to time, in my given prayer language “to myself and to God,” while making it my highest priority to stay close to Christ,  the Church and the Sacraments.  That to me is what true life in the Spirit is all about.

CATHOLIC FIRST, CHRISTIAN FIRST

I just wanted to say that I know this page is heavily laden

with “Catholic” emphasis. I do not apologize for that. However I also

know that many of my friends and family, whether here or in person, do not

happen to be Catholic. I have my reasons for returning to Rome, and I believe

that they are valid ones. I know too that many of my Protestant

brothers and sisters in Christ walk far closer to the Lord than me. And I would

much rather be a committed Christian than a lukewarm Catholic “half

believer” any day.

 

I am a Roman Catholic because I have prayed, studied, and come

to believe that the earliest Church Traditions go back to a more Catholic than

Protestant understanding of the Sacred Scriptures. But I am aware this is open

to discussion and in fact needs to be a continuing dialogue between both

Catholic and Protestant Christians. Sometimes we are more concerned with having

“right beliefs” than with taking up our Cross and together walking to Calvary,

and then to the Resurrection, with our Lord.

 

I pray never to be guilty of this. If any of my posts ever

appear that way then I would humbly ask forgiveness from those who may have

perceived them as such. I do pray for the day when we are VISIBLY united and

may that day come soon–but in the mean time we all, if we love Christ and his

Word, are already united in the Holy Spirit. The rest is up to him as he works

within each of us.

 

So yes I am a “Catholic Christian.” But firstly I am a Christian. The other points

are all matters which we can discuss, even in a lively way, and have

apologetics discussions anytime, as long as we do so with respect and honesty.

But salvation comes through Christ and his Church–and that Church includes ALL

who have repented (turned away from all known sin) and believe in him as Savior

and Lord– in this context meaning the Lord God, the second person of the Holy

Trinity. That is not only the teaching of the Bible but also of the Catechism

of the Catholic Church. And I stand by it.

Bullying, Freedom of Speech and the Church

A Bully Free Zone sign - School in Berea, Ohio
Image via Wikipedia

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN  ON 9-21-11…

WITH yet another tragic bullying incident which led to

the suicide of a precious child of God in the news of late, I wanted to share

my own thoughts on the topic of bullying. Some have suggested the Church simply

change her doctrine. Others have proposed that the more “out” society

is in general, the less this will occur. I see it somewhat differently and

would like to share my own thoughts on the topic. I am also including a link to

the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) official document on

how the Church might best serve LGBT/SSA youth or those of all ages while not

compromising her beliefs on the matter. It is worth more than a cursory

reading. The link to it is at the end of this note. So here goes:

With regard to bullying, there is never an excuse in the world for

it.  When I was in late elementary to early junior high school, I was

bullied—a lot.  Ironically back then I did not even know “the facts of

life” but I did know I somehow did not fit in with other boys—I was terribly

un-athletic, liked to read or study, and always last to be picked during recess

games. Other boys of course picked up on this and I was called such names as

“fem,” “Susie” and “girl,” sometimes even by those I considered

friends.   There was one boy in the neighborhood who was an altar boy

as well and he used to play with me but then eventually began to mercilessly

tease me, chase me home from school and threaten me, and I lived in absolute

fear of getting up in the morning—and had no idea how to fight back so never

did so. For two years he kept this up, and I begged my mother not to get

involved because I was so afraid it would make things worse.  But, Irish

tempered and protective woman who she was, she one day cornered him and told

him to NEVER touch or threaten me again or she would go straight to his

parents.  He began to cry and never bothered me again.

But for some children it is not that easy.   We now live in

a world where kids know of sexuality in all of its varieties at an early age,

and those who are different are called far worse names than I ever dreamed of.

While we think the newer openness about the topic would make things easier, the

suicide rates and bullying rates appear to be at an all-time high.  And

there is likely some blame on all sides—parents who pay little or no attention

to their children, teachers or other educators who turn the other way, and

young people who simply know far too much about the world, including sexuality,

and then in turn use it against their fellow classmates.

To some the answer is for the Church to no longer speak on these

topics, or worse, in the interest of “tolerance” to tacitly or directly approve

those in lifestyles which directly contradict their doctrine.  To others

(not all) in the LGBT community, many believe that encouraging young folks of

12 or 13 and up to “get it over with and come out” is a better solution. I do

not see either as the de facto solution however because the first asks the

Church to teach something she simply does not believe, and the second pressures

youth to identify themselves within a subculture they may not be yet ready to

accept being part of.

Answers then do not lie  within the greater society attempting to remove 1st Amendment rights

of churches, synagogues and mosques to speak on areas of their own doctrine and

concern.  The rotting can of worms this would rip open could potentially

have such far-reaching effects that I do not for a moment believe that would be

ultimately helpful.  And the dangers of such an approach should be obvious

to the thinking and freedom minded person. But those same churches and

religious groups assuredly have a moral obligation to teach with kindness, and

to openly accept those within their ranks who disagree with their tenets—with the caveat 

that a private religious body must always have the freedom

to restrict seriously dissenting people from certain activities (i.e. being

forced to administer Holy Communion to openly active or coupled LGBT members or

to abortion advocates) or to appoint them to positions of authority and

leadership within said organizations.

In the 2006 US Catholic

Bishop’s document “Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination:

Guidelines for Pastoral Care,” among many other points of discussion, one recommendation

is to encourage, support and assist the young person who is struggling in this

area while on the other hand not necessarily attempting to embolden them to

make a public announcement about it, at least prematurely.  There is huge wisdom

here. Looking back on my own experiences, had I even known what homosexuality

was at the time, if I had told those who bullied me that I was one of “those”

types I would have likely been a suicide victim myself. The bullying would

never have stopped with being chased home from school on occasion.

Yet this is what we ask of our children today when we try so hard to

get them to “explore” themselves.  We set them up to be bullied and then

wonder why it happens.  The harsh truth sadly remains that the world is

not nice.  It is indeed far better to teach those same youth some

practical skills to deal with that lack of “niceness” and then let them decide,

without pressure either way, if and who they wish to tell their “secret”

to.  It would be great if our world was not filled with human sharks—but

it is.  And the sooner we realize it the better chance our children of all

inclinations will be to deal with the hostility that still exists. That is how

this man sees it anyway.

*USCCB Document 2006

See particularly pages 17-19.

A Traumatic and Holy Moment…

Pedestrian Struck In Minneapolis

*

I CAME UPON this accident this morning on my way to early Mass before work. I saw the car ahead of me with flashers on and slowly drove around it, and then to my UTTER horror realized there was a human body, almost face down, in a literal pool of blood. I called 911 a moment later but they had already been notified and were there probably 1-2 minutes after I was, so I went onward. Ironically I had just started praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet as I often do on my way to work, and I then requested particular prayer for him during the Mass at the Cathedral of St Paul minutes later.
*
The sight horrifies me every time it flashes in my own mind (which it has all day long), but I am so thankful to know I was able to be a “first prayer responder” in this situation, only 1 block from where I live. PLEASE if you read this just pray…”for the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.” May Almighty God heal his body and soul. I will keep you posted as I learn more.
*
It was the most horrific sight I have even seen in my life–particularly at such a close distance.  It made me think, if I am ever in that situation, may God allow someone who knows Him to at least happen by and have me in prayer, whether I ever know it or not in this life.
*
I posted this LAST WEEK in Face Book.  I learned yesterday that this man did pass away, one week later.  I and many others had prayed, however and I entrust his soul to an utterly merciful God.  Below is the official update.  I am thinking I would like to at least send a card to the family and let them know I did see, and many did pray. It is the least I can do.
*
*
REPRINTED BELOW:
A 60-year-old man has died one week after being hit by a vehicle in south Minneapolis, authorities said Sunday.

Daniel L. Patterson, of Minneapolis, died Friday night at the Hennepin County Medical Center, according to the medical examiner’s office.

Patterson was on foot when he was hit by a vehicle on Nov. 4 at E. Franklin and Stevens Avenue S., the office said. He lived about 1.5 miles south of where he was struck.

Other details about the crash were not immediately available.

Patterson lived for six years in a foster home for the disabled in the 3100 block of Oakland Avenue, according to Michele Boyer, director of programs for Clare Housing.

“Our staff and volunteers were close to Dan, so we will miss him greatly,” Boyer said. 

PAUL WALSH

*

ADDENDUM:

MY HOME is exactly one block to the right hand side of this picture.  I also left 10 minutes early that morning, something I never do.  If I had not done so, I would have been re-routed as it was sheer bedlam later and I would never have prayed with the intensity I did by seeing it up close as I did.  It is an odd and holy privilege to see someone ready to enter eternity.  But not one I wish to have often.
*
That night I saw a lone shoe lying around 10 feet from the spot where the accident took place.  The next morning it was gone. Life is as fragile as this man–and seeing that shoe sort of symbolizes it in my mind. It had to be his. I now wish I would have “rescued” it and given it to the authorities or maybe even his family.  But a person does not truly think during those moments, at least not clearly.

Why We Are Still a “Christian Nation”– What It Means and Why It Matters

While this article is dated (2009) it is extensively footnoted and refutes the claim that we are “not a Christian nation.”  Further it explains that this is not the same as a theocracy. The reason that there is freedom for all, or no, religions in our nation is PRECISELY due to our Judeo-Christian heritage.  Eliminate that foundation and you create a vacuum, one that will soon be filled by such post-modern and relativism as we have never seen. And it will, sooner than later, cause us to fall.

http://www.wallbuilders.com/libissuesarticles.asp?id=23909

The Intolerance Of (some) Democrats…

Almost to prove my point regarding the article just below this, Rep Maxine Waters, not always known for being “sweet and nice,” shared the following rather unhelpful words a few months back.  But they bear repeating.  Obviously if you support her agenda, you are okay in her book, or at least “tolerable.”  Just don’t cross her.  The lake of fire awaits.

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0811/61828.html

I have yet to see a picture of this woman with her mouth not wide open...just saying.

Generosity of Minnesota (and other) Republicans

To some of you on both sides of
the aisle those are quite possibly fighting words. Why?  Because those on the left would never wish to
admit such a thing, and those on the right might be thinking “well DUH” since
you are personally very generous and do not understand why that was even a
question in the first place.  So read
on…if you dare.

First of all I am not writing
this for a “political war” with the battleground being my FB page or blog.  I have friends and family on both sides of
almost every issue, and many of them are on this page.  So please save the turf wars for another
time. Nor am I looking for anyone to attempt to change or re-arrange me.  At age (nearly) 56 I do not think my body or
my soul can stand much more of that anyway. But awhile back, late spring or
early summer, some of you may have noticed a difference in my political
posturing, and, if really observant, that I now list my party affiliation as
GOP.  Gasp indeed. Having been a lifelong
Democrat, I found it hard to even type those letters the first time. The reason
for that is that, in reality, my politics have not actually changed all that
much.  I am still a moderate and would
vote across party lines in a minute if the candidate in question seemed to
support my understanding of the issues.
My moderation thus continues.

So why did I switch? I believe,
as Jon Voight, known by my generation as the “Midnight Cowboy” and by later
generations as “Angelina’s dad,” stated very succinctly when I heard him speak
at the 2008 Republican Convention held here in the Twin Cities, just down the
road from where I work and worship. He said he felt “left behind” by the
Democrats.  So do I. I have a strong
desire for social justice, and for taking care of the ‘least of these.”  Unlike some Republicans I believe we need to
do those things and not depend on the supposed “good will” of churches or
private organizations.  What I question,
however, is how we go about doing it when our moneys are literally being
flushed down the toilet daily by bureaucrats in Washington, DC. And, to be
sure, this happens too across party lines.
But I only see one party even attempting to fight it without putting an
additional burden on the American people. So gradually I have found my thinking
adjusted more and more when people such as Secretary of the Treasury Timothy
Geithner are happily re-appointed and when our President, who I do actually
respect on many levels, cheerfully speaks to roaring crowds and somewhat (in my
opinion) arrogantly states that it will be easier for him to win “this time”
than before.  This when the country is
not getting more economically stable, when jobs are still sent over the waves
to China or India and the business climate virtually does not exist anymore in
the United States.  These are things he
promised to change.  And they are the
main reason he was elected in fact.

Add to that the issues of horrors
such as partial birth abortion, which he actively supports, and the whole new
wave of hidden abortions caused by embryonic stem cell research, again vigorously
supported by President Obama, as well as his willingness to involve us
militarily in Libya and continue military policies that have created the
longest standing wars (undeclared or not) in United States history.  It can be argued, and fairly so, that he did
not create many of these situations (other than Libya obviously).  But he has not brought solutions either, at
least not ones that can achieve bipartisan support.  He talks smoothly and causes the Republicans
to yell in frustration, and sits back smiling as they of course look like the
“bad guys” as a result.  This very
brilliant man is not unaware of the power of his eloquence either.  Before he gave his famous 2004 keynote speech
to the Democratic National Convention,  giving him immediate national recognition, he
bragged to a friend, Marty Nesbitt, that his words that night would ignite the
nation and bring him to public prominence similar to a rock star*.  And they did. He came across, at least to me,
as “America’s best kept secret.”  But it
was a secret he already knew.

My purpose in all of this is not
to condemn the President, who has arguably the hardest job in the world today most
likely.  However it is to point out that
words and body language do not make a leader. And, while this President inherited
a world that is as ugly and frightening as any since I have been on this earth,
I do not believe that an entire party, nearly half of the American citizens, is
just stubbornly refusing to ever listen to him and are therefore all evil.  Some of that wickedness of course does exist.
But when distinguished public servants such as US Representative Maxine Waters
tell movements within the GOP they can “go straight to hell” that is not
exactly the height of cooperation either.
And while not calling myself a Tea Partyer just yet, I do find myself
intrigued at how often some of this grassroots movement makes sense to me in a
fragile economic world that will not be able to support even the
best of social programs one day soon if changes are not made, and drastic ones
at that.

So back to this original
statement regarding generosity…  I have
friends who are reading this who have shown incredible and undeserved bigheartedness
to me at times. Some are Democrats, and some are GOP. But they all are decent
and hardworking Americans. I have brave hearted military friends, such as
Joshua Revak, who have cared enough about me to call me out on my nonsense at
times when I have faltered and then followed up by loving me profusely when I
needed it most.  I have other friends on
my FB page such as Bob Rogers who are not particularly sympathetic to
Republicans but who care about me anyway, even as he watches me go down what I
am sure he considers to be a slippery slope.
Kindness exists in both groups.
Bitchiness and bastardly conduct do as well. That said, those traits alone
then cannot be my final consideration when choosing party affiliations.

The bottom line is not which
party represents me perfectly.  Neither
one does. But which one represents the best general direction of the nation at
this crucial time?  Today I happen to believe
it is Lincoln’s.  Ten years from now, if
the Democrats write a new platform and clean up their act in a few areas, I may
once again think otherwise.  I will keep
you posted (if I am still able to type at that time, that is!). Until then I am
a GOP moderate and not ashamed of it. Deal, people. You dealt with my coming
out, becoming celibate and my move to Catholicism, and even my ups and downs
since.  So this should be a breeze.

Speaking of generous, this fall,
in fact next week, the area’s Republicans are sponsoring a Regional conference
here in MN.  I am going.  It normally costs $300 to attend. I had ruled
out going due to finances but on the very last day I could apply, I suddenly learned
of a scholarship program and won a full scholarship. How generous is that??? It
probably did not hurt that I name dropped my friend Revak on the application either.  I will hear speakers such as the new national
GOP chair Reince Priebus, as well as Karl Rove and many local leaders as well.
I do not plan to be brainwashed either.
I will take home with me what makes sense to me, and leave the rest at
the hotel. But I owe it to them to at least listen, just as I have often argued
that Republicans need to listen to President Obama much more. At least when he
makes sense—and sometimes he does.

Perhaps my beliefs have not
actually changed so much after all.  I am
still willing to hear both sides, and as stated to vote across party lines when
appropriate.  But I find it hard to
dismiss a whole group and do so by name calling or condemning them to eternal
fire (as if I had the right to do so anyway!).
Wish me well.  And to my
Democratic friends, feel free to pray for my plunge into insanity if you must.  But do not pray I become a Democrat
again.  Just pray that I be, as so many I
have mentioned here, a generous and caring friend of all Americans, even if I
am going about it in a way that you do not happen to agree with.

Your comments are welcome, by the
way.  But insults are not. Not from
either side.  And I do know how to use
the delete button.  Thanks.

 

*According to Obama friend Marty
Nesbitt, the two were walking together later that afternoon before the speech,
and when Nesbitt likened him to a rock star because of the crowd growing behind
them, Obama replied: “Yeah, if you think it’s bad today, wait until
tomorrow…My speech is pretty good.”

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_Democratic_National_Convention_keynote_address#Convention  for more on this speech and its implications.