American Consumer Culture – A Powerful Narcotic

I’m hoping that our present crisis will encourage  thinking.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput speaking in Toronto:

Obviously, I’ll be speaking tonight as an American, a Catholic and a bishop — though not necessarily in that order. Some of what I say may not be useful to a Canadian audience, especially those who aren’t Catholic. But I do believe that the heart of the Catholic political vocation remains the same for every believer in every country. The details of our political life change from nation to nation. But the mission of public Christian discipleship remains the same, because we all share the same baptism.

I’ve learned from experience, though, that Henry Ford was right when he said that “Two percent of the people think; three percent think they think, and 95 percent would rather die than think.

Ford had a pretty dark view of humanity, which I don’t share. Most of the people I meet as a pastor have the brains and the talent to live very fulfilling lives. But Ford was right in one unintended way: American consumer culture is a very powerful narcotic. Moral reasoning can be hard, and TV is a great painkiller. This has political implications. Real freedom demands an ability to think, and a great deal of modern life — not just in the United States, but all over the developed world — seems deliberately designed to discourage that. So talking about God and Caesar, even if it wakes up just one Christian mind in an audience, is always worth the effort.

I think the message of “Render Unto Caesar” can be condensed into a few basic points.Here’s the first point. For many years, studies have shown that Americans have a very poor sense of history. That’s very dangerous, because as Thucydides and Machiavelli and Thomas Jefferson have all said, history matters. It matters because the past shapes the present, and the present shapes the future. If Catholics don’t know history, and especially their own history as Catholics, then somebody else — and usually somebody not very friendly — will create their history for them.

Let me put it another way. A man with amnesia has no future and no present because he can’t remember his past. The past is a man’s anchor in experience and reality. Without it, he may as well be floating in space. In like manner, if we Catholics don’t remember and defend our religious history as a believing people, nobody else will, and then we won’t have a future because we won’t have a past. If we don’t know how the Church worked with or struggled against political rulers in the past, then we can’t think clearly about the relations between Church and state today.

Even more recent Chaput from the Anchoress

Learning From Our Mistakes? In Your Dreams / Nightmares

Why do I doubt this administration, the numbers and their hype?  The Anchoress passes this on for  clarity :

Ace of Spades HQ turns on the light with thanks to Jack Shaw:

Hot Air adds this read.

Somewhere Nebraska – Somewhere Springtime

Getting to Nebraska, we passed a lot of dry, brown land.  Colorful Colorado was a grayish tan.  But here and there bright green fields told you things were ready to burst out at the first fall of rain.

On the surface things can look bleak.  Beneath the surface, they are ready to pop. What I have to keep reminding myself is that life is thriving on planet Earth.  God is in His heaven and that makes all the difference.  Somewhere the bountiful and beautiful is happening, maybe not here, perhaps in distant, hidden places, but it’s happening and its abundant!  While, there are dry spells, and dormant periods with things that go wrong, other things are so very right.

Change, for all my discomfort, is as ordinary as air. I know that if it’s happening, at very least, God is permitting it. He always has a plan and I don’t understand simply because He hasn’t run it past me.  That does make even the present dilemma a work in progress – mysterious design and all that.

In the world or in the Church, it all hangs together.  We are waiting for rain.  John Paul II spoke of a Springtime for the Church and I believe that now, in this very dark hour, we are actually living it.  Beneath the materialism and relativism and all those other ism’s, is a harvest in the making. It waits, perhaps, on laborers and a rain of prayer, but it none-the- less is hanging fire.

I find my Springtime in my prayer.  Whether my experience of prayer is dry or consoling, doesn’t matter, anymore.  I am praying.  Day by day, I’m just doing it…. and I’m not alone in this.  Whoever is waiting on change can actually move the hands of God in His heaven, turning the dreary grey of their waiting, into a poppin’ Springtime.

For me, it’s hidden but it’s happening.  For each of us, it’s a “Just do it!” thing, hanging on a decision.  What you don’t see, none-the-less, is building beneath the surface of our day to day.  Days past, present and to come, days for forgiving, repenting, and imploring; all prayer, all the time. Springtime will come without me, but don’t want to miss it.  I want to run through the fields and feel it in my soul.

Joan of Arc – A Prayer For Lent

Asked at her trial if she was in God’s grace:

“If I am not, may God put me there, and if I am, may God so keep me! I should be the saddest creature in the world if I knew I was not in His grace.”

Mark Twain said of her:

“She was truthful when lying was the common speech of men; she was honest when honest was become a lost virtue; she was a keeper of promises when the keeping of a promise was expected of no one; … she was full of pity when a merciless cruelty was the rule; she was steadfast when stability was unknown, and honorable in an age which had forgotten what honor was; she was a rock of convictions in a time when men believed in nothing and scoffed at all things; she was unfailingly true in an age that was false to the core; … she was of a dauntless courage when hope and courage had perished in the hearts of her nation…”