“Cheap Gospel”

Sunset over boardwalkRe: Ways of Knowing -A Fascinating Discovery

Much of what passes for Christianity today, especially that described by media too uninformed or uninterested to be more critical, is a version of that “cheap gospel” about which the author writes.

As someone who is fully western and fully American, perhaps this is why I so often feel a palpable existential angst when I look to today’s political and social and environmental landscapes.

If the experience of oppression does not teach us empathy for ‘the other,’ then we have learned little.

Lord, give us hope.

Trump, too, has blood on his hands

For millennia, faith-based principles have attempted to guide the forces of war and peace between powers and nations. I challenge any Catholic or other Christian – or any person of good will, for that matter – to educate yourself on some of these philosophical and theological principles. We do not subscribe to any version of “might makes right” or “my country, right or wrong.” We must hold our leaders and military to strict standards that reflect our deepest values.

https://www.ncronline.org/news/justice/catholic-ethicists-question-us-assassination-iranian-general

Contact Your Representatives, Urge Impeachment of Trump!

Here is my letter to Rep. Francis Rooney (R, FL 19th), urging him to support articles of impeachment.  I encourage everyone to do the same.
_________________________________________________

Dear Congressman Rooney,

I am writing to strongly encourage you to vote in favor of the Articles of Impeachment against President Donald A. Trump that are likely to be brought to the full House within the coming weeks.

I personally watched the many hours of testimony from numerous government officials and public servants, testifying before the House Intelligence Committee.  I also watched the hearing before the House Judiciary Committee after having received the report from the Intelligence Committee.  Having done so, there is no doubt in my mind that Mr. Trump has abused the powers of his office and has committed numerous offenses that warrant impeachment and removal from office.

There is no doubt that such an action is extreme, and there is no doubt that the Founders of the Republic and authors of the Constitution did not envision such actions to be commonplace. However, they did have great knowledge of human nature and an understanding of how possible it can be for the systems of this Republic to be abused by corrupt or corruptible individuals.  Despite the “spin” that his supporters try to put on the facts those many witnesses presented, the facts do remain:  Donald Trump used the power of his office in an attempt to illegally withhold foreign aid for the ‘quid pro quo’ of obtaining interference from a foreign government in the current presidential election. There is no evidence Trump was concerned about “corruption” in a general sense. He was concerned primarily (only?) about the personal benefit that the withholding of this aid could provide him. What he did was use the power of his office for his own personal gain.

Truth be told, there are countless other examples of Mr. Trump doing this, i.e. using the power of the Presidency for his personal gain. His nepotism and his seeking and accepting of emoluments, his questionable of the presidential pardon — these alone would be enough to seek impeachment (as the historical record of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 clearly demonstrates).  However, his abuse of power concerning Ukraine is beyond the pale.

While I strongly disagree with you on many of your policy positions, I do believe that you are a decent and thoughtful man. I hope and pray that you will do the right thing — which, I believe, you know in your mind and heart is the right thing — and vote to impeach Donald J. Trump as President of the United States.

Thank you, and best wishes to you and yours for a blessed Christmas season.

Timothy MacGeorge

“Fear Is a Liar”

Only recently have I begun to listen to popular Christian music. As a Catholic, I’d always thought it was a “Protestant thing,” listened to by Evangelicals and Southern Baptists, not by Catholics or other mainstream Christians. We, I thought, so rightly kept our religiously-themed music in church, “where it belongs.”

My prejudice, and my practice, changed recently when a new friend introduced me to a few popular Christian songs.

This one — “Fear Is a Liar” by Zach Williams — is particularly powerful. The music video is poignant, depicting the depths of despair and hopelessness that can sometimes befall us in this life. And, I suspect, there are aspects that every one of us can relate to, perhaps all too personally. If you ever find yourself feeling like any of the three persons depicted — or feeling “not good enough … not right … not strong enough … not worthy … not loved … not beautiful” or think you are “troubled” and will “forever be alone” — I pray you will remember that these are lies, they are not true. And because we often need to be reminded of what we sometimes forget ourselves, I pray that a timely text, a caring gesture, or the touch of a loved one will remind you that you are deeply valued and unconditionally loved.

“A very acceptable time” (2 Cor. 6:1)

What we have been given is not to be kept and hoarded for ourselves, but to be passed on freely and shared, so that it may bring life to others. In my work as a therapist, it is usually the questions I ask, rather than the statements, suggestions, or “advice” I offer that are the most helpful means of effecting this sharing and the new life that rises from it.

Today is Ash Wednesday (as well as Valentine’s Day!). It marks the beginning of the Season of Lent, a “very acceptable time.” This year I choose not to “give up” some “goodie” or “treat,” but rather to make my Lenten practice one of asking questions — not of others, but of myself.

  • How am I open to the Presence of God today?
    • in myself?
    • in others?
    • in nature and all Creation?
  • What lesson is God asking me to learn from the people God brings into my life?
  • In what ways might I be “missing the mark” (which is really the Hebrew definition of ‘sin’) in my love and care for others?
  • Where are kindness, compassion, understanding, and self-sacrifice in my life today?
  • Am I truly listening to God, speaking to me in the depths of my heart — in the midst of trouble and distress, as well as in silence and calm?

The second reading (2 Cor. 5:20-6:1) from today’s Liturgy reminds us:

“Working together, then,
we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.
For he says:
In an acceptable time I heard you,
and on the day of salvation I helped you.

Behold, now is a very acceptable time;
behold, now is the day of salvation.”

“Introduction: Image and Likeness”

Richard Rohr, OFM

When one of my favorite authors titles a blog post with the same title of these pages, how could I not share it? In part, Franciscan Fr. Richard Rohr notes a fact of history and human experience that reinforces a fundamental and false belief underlying all dualistic, all-or-nothing perspectives:

“Christianity has far too easily called individual, private behaviors sins while usually ignoring or even supporting structural and systemic evils such as war, colonization, corporate greed, slavery, and abuse of the Earth. All of the seven capital sins were admired at the corporate level and shamed at the individual level.”

Here’s his full post: How can everything be sacred? 

The Present is all we have – and why we must forgive

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Myakka River State Park, Florida

If you’ve ever been in a Catholic church, you’ve surely noticed the tabernacle. It’s a small box-like structure on an altar, and usually there’s a candle nearby, burning 24/7. Inside the tabernacle is reserved some of the bread that was blessed and consecrated at Mass, the liturgical celebration of what we call Eucharist.  Because we believe that Jesus is somehow present in the elements of bread and wine blessed in his name, Catholics refer to this reserved Eucharist as the Real Presence.  I like that term a lot. Whether you hold to Catholicism’s sacramental beliefs or not, there’s something very powerful and meaningful about Presence.  The Present, really, is all we ever have. What, then, am I doing with it? How am I using the gift of this present moment right here, right now? Fr. Rohr offers some thoughts:

Only the false self easily takes offense. The false self can’t live a self-generated life of immediate contact with God. It defines itself by the past, which is to live in un-forgiveness. Forgiveness is the only way to free ourselves from the entrapment of the past. We’re in need not only of individual forgiveness; we need it on a national, global, and cosmic scale. Old hurts linger long in our memories and are hard to let go. We must each learn how to define ourselves by the present moment—which is all we really have. I will not define myself by what went wrong yesterday when I can draw upon Life and Love right now. Life and Love are what’s real. This Infinite Love is both in us and yet it is more than us.

From Daily Meditation for Aug. 1, 2017