Thomas More Law Center News Alert

Thomas More Law Center Petitions Supreme Court—

Stop Retaliation against Christian Police Captain Who Objected to Islamic Indoctrination

On Monday September 15, 2014, the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, MI, filed a petition in the US Supreme Court to review the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals decision which upheld the punishment of Tulsa, Oklahoma police captain, Paul Fields after he refused to attend or order personnel under his command to attend proselytizing services at an Islamic Mosque with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Richard Thompson, the President and Chief Counsel for TMLC, commented, “This case is another startling example of applying a double standard when Christian civil rights are involved. If this were a Catholic or Protestant prayer event, I am positive no Muslim police officer would have been ordered to attend. Further, no federal court would have approved the punishment of a Muslim officer had he refused to attend.”

The event at issue, dubbed “Law Enforcement Appreciation Day,” had nothing to do with any official police function. Rather, it included a mosque tour, meetings with local Muslims and Muslim leadership, observing a weekly prayer service, familiarizing the officers with Islamic religious books, and lectures on Islamic beliefs, Mohammad, Mecca, and how Muslims pray. The event was scheduled for Friday, March 4, 2011—Friday being the Islamic “holy day.”

The event was originally voluntary, but when not enough officers were willing to attend, it became mandatory.

After the event, the mosque posted pictures of officers who were in attendance on their website with the caption “Discover Islam Classes for Non-Muslims.”

The mosque showed its true colors when a week before the March 4th event, it hosted a dinner and speech by Imam Siraj Wahhaj, an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. In 1992, Wahhaj told a Muslim audience in New Jersey, “If only Muslims were more clever politically, they could take over the United States and replace its constitutional government with a caliphate.”

In another sermon, Wahhaj said: “In time, this so-called democracy will crumble, and there will be nothing, and the only thing that will remain will be Islam.”

Captain Fields objected to attending the Islamic proselytizing event based upon his Christian beliefs. As a police officer, Captain Fields was strictly prohibited from discussing his Christian faith while on duty. Therefore attendance at the event created a conflict and a moral dilemma. For raising his sincere religious objection, Captain Fields, a 16-year police veteran with a stellar record, was stripped of his command, transferred to another division where he was subsequently assigned to the graveyard shift, and subjected to an Internal Affairs (IA) investigation.

When Captain Fields defended his religious freedom by retaining the TMLC and filing a federal lawsuit to protect his First Amendment rights, the City of Tulsa retaliated against him. The City issued a personnel order against Captain Fields reflecting that the lawsuit and the publicity the lawsuit garnered brought discredit upon their police department.

In compelling deposition testimony in his favor, Police Major Julie Harris, Captain Fields’ immediate supervisor testified:

The Tulsa Police Department retaliated against Fields for exercising his constitutional rights.

Captain Fields had the right to object to the order to attend the Mosque because of his deeply held religious beliefs.

Captain Fields was punitively transferred for invoking his constitutional rights.

There was no need for Captain Fields to attend the Mosque if he had a religious conviction against doing so and there was no crime to investigate.

Captain Fields was the top performing shift commander in his division.

Captain Fields’ punishment was inconsistent with other similarly situated officers of his rank.

The allegations of the Internal Investigation of Captain Fields could not be sustained.

Erin Mersino, the TMLC attorney handling the case for the Law Center commented, “The matter is now ripe for the United States Supreme Court’s review. As the petition states, the City of Tulsa has been allowed to punish a public employee, Captain Fields, for his right to seek redress of a civil rights violation in court. The Thomas More Law Center is hopeful that the United States Supreme Court will step in to right the wrongful punishment and retaliation Captain Fields has faced because of his Christian beliefs.”

The TMLC devotes much of its efforts to countering the Stealth Jihad waged by Muslims in the United States, as well as defending the religious freedom of Christians. It has been representing Captain Fields since 2011.

PAY ATTENTION AMERICA – This threat is real and alive!

 

Detroit ISNA Conference – Stealth Jihad for The Subjugation of America

MtRushmore

ISNA (Islamic Society of North America) will be holding its annual convention in Detroit this weekend beginning Friday, August 29 and ending September 1.  ISNA was designated by federal prosecutors as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case, the largest terrorism financing trial in American history.   A 1991 Muslim Brotherhood memorandum introduced in that trial identified ISNA as one of its front organizations. The memorandum further stated the Brotherhood’s “work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within … so that it is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”

Detroit ISNA Conference – Stealth Jihad for The Subjugation of America

Astonishingly, despite ISNA’s terrorist ties, former President Jimmy Carter will be the convention’s keynote speaker.  Carter, also, recently called for the legitimization of Hamas, which is listed by the US government as a terrorist organization.   In addition to Carter, several other prominent non-Muslim political leaders will be speaking at the convention.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, about an hour’s drive from Detroit, commented, “The participation of these political leaders is giving the ISNA convention the cover of respectability and as a result is enabling ISNA and other the other Muslim extremists at the convention to achieve their goal of a “Grand Jihad” to subjugate America.” 

An integral aspect of ISNA’s plan for the subjugation of America is to portray itself as a peaceful, mainstream charitable institution.  It is part of the Muslim Brotherhood’s strategy of “civilization jihad.”  While most Americans are focused on violent jihad, civilization jihad is even more dangerous to American security.  According to Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy, it is “a form of political and psychological warfare that includes multi-layered cultural subversion, the co-opting of senior leaders, influence operations, propaganda and other means of insinuating Shariah gradually into Western societies.”

Erick Stakelbeck, a terrorism expert and author of the book “The Brotherhood: America’s Next Great Enemy,” compared the Muslim Brotherhood’s strategy to that of “termites.”  “The Muslim Brotherhood in America and really around the world are like termites. They burrow into a host society. They eat away at it until the day comes where they are ready to make their move.”

Siraj Wahhaj, one of the scheduled speakers at the conference, was the first Muslim cleric to deliver opening prayers to Congress.  In his prayer he recited from the Koran and asked God to guide America’s leaders “and grant them righteousness and wisdom.”  A year later, he told a Muslim audience in New Jersey that, “If only Muslims were more clever politically, they could take over the United States and replace its constitutional government with a caliphate.” He was later named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

In one of his sermons, Wahhaj said: “In time, this so-called democracy will crumble, and there will be nothing, and the only thing that will remain will be Islam.” 

Abdurahman Alamoudi conducted the Muslim Brotherhood’s most successful infiltration of our political and defense establishments.  He advised Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush.  He penetrated and compromised our military and both the Democrat and Republican national organizations.   He established the Muslim Chaplain Program for the Defense Department.  He was the certifying authority for Muslim chaplains serving with the U.S. military.  He appeared with President Bush at a press conference days after the 9/11 attacks.  In 2005, the U.S. Treasury Department publicly admitted that Alamoudi was the top Al-Qaeda fundraiser in the United States.  Alamoudi is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence for his terrorist related activities.

Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi of the Muslim Brotherhood, told a youth conference in Toledo, Ohio in 1998, “We will conquer Europe, we will conquer America.”

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A RIGHT UNDERSTANDING OF WORSHIP

A Right Understanding of Worship

The way back to God is the way of worship. If all that we are and become and do in our many-leveled life could be made one in worship, we should be saints. Some people think that Christian morality is no more than a series of don’ts; others a little less ill-informed think it is no more than a series of dos. These things are included, for being and doing are interdependent, but it is being that comes first in importance; and Christian morality tells us first of all not what we should do, still less what we should not do, but what we should be.
That is why you cannot possibly separate, as some people would have us do, the Church’s moral teaching from its beliefs about God’s revelation of himself to the world. You cannot possibly separate them, because the moral teaching is entirely determined by the doctrine; and if you try to isolate it, you destroy it. You could isolate this or that element in it; you could cling to the ideals of justice, kindness, generosity, fortitude; but these virtues would then cease to be the Christian virtues, because they would be divorced from worship.
FATHER GERALD VANN, O.P.
Father Vann (+ 1963) was an English Dominican and a popular preacher, lecturer, and author.

DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE By ROBERT SPAEMANN

OPINIONS

Divorce and Remarriage by Robert Spaemann
The divorce statistics for modern Western societies are catastrophic. They show that marriage is no longer regarded as a new, independent reality transcending the individuality of the spouses, a reality that, at the very least, cannot be dissolved by the will of one partner alone. But can it be dissolved by the consent of both parties, or by the will of a synod or a pope? The answer must be no, for as Jesus himself explicitly declares, man cannot put asunder what God himself has joined together. Such is the teaching of the Catholic Church.
The Christian understanding of the good life claims to be valid for all human beings. Yet even Jesus’s disciples were shocked by their Master’s words: Wouldn’t it be better, then, they replied, not to marry at all? The astonishment of the disciples underscores the contrast between the Christian way of life and the way of life dominant in the world. Whether it wants to or not, the Church in the West is on its way to becoming a counterculture, and its future now depends chiefly on whether it is able, as the salt of the earth, to keep its savor and not be trampled underfoot by men.
The beauty of the Church’s teaching can shine forth only when it’s not watered down. The temptation to dilute doctrine is reinforced nowadays by an unsettling fact: Catholics are divorcing almost as frequently as their secular counterparts. Something has clearly gone wrong. It’s against all reason to think that all civilly divorced and remarried Catholics began their first marriages firmly convinced of its indissolubility and then fundamentally reversed themselves along the way. It’s more reasonable to assume that they entered into matrimony without clearly realizing what they were doing in the first place: burning their bridges behind them for all time (which is to say until death), so that the very idea of a second marriage simply did not exist for them.
Sadly, the Catholic Church is not without blame. Christian marriage preparation very often fails to give engaged couples a clear picture of the implications of a Catholic wedding. Were that so, many couples would very likely decide against being married in the Church. For others, of course, good marriage preparation would provide a helpful impetus to conversion. There is an immense appeal in the idea that the union of a man and a woman is “written in the stars,” that it endures on high, and that nothing can destroy it, both “in good times and in bad.” This conviction is a wonderful and exhilarating source of strength and joy for spouses working through marital crises and seeking to breathe new life into their old love.
Instead of reinforcing the natural, intuitive appeal of marital permanence, many churchmen, including bishops and cardinals, prefer to recommend, or at least to consider, another option, one that is an alternative to Jesus’s teaching and basically a capitulation to the secular mainstream. The remedy for the adultery entailed by remarriage of the divorced, we are told, is no longer to be contrition, renunciation, and forgiveness but the passage of time and habit, as if general social acceptance and our personal comfort with our decisions and lives have an almost supernatural power. This alchemy supposedly transforms an adulterous concubinage that we call a “second marriage” into an acceptable union to be blessed by the Church in God’s name. Given this logic, of course, it is only fair for the Church to bless homosexual partnerships as well.
But this way of thinking is based on a profound error. Time is not creative. Its passage does not restore lost innocence. In fact, its tendency is always just the opposite—namely, to increase entropy. Every instance of order in nature is wrested from the grip of entropy and over time eventually falls under its dominion once again. As Anaximander puts it, “From whence things arise, to that they eventually return, according to the appointed time.” It would be wrong to repackage the principle of decay and death as something good. We should not confuse the gradual deadening of the sense of sin with its disappearance and release from our ongoing responsibility for it.
Aristotle taught that there is a greater evil in habitual sin than in a single lapse accompanied by the sting of remorse. Adultery is a case in point, especially when it leads to new, legally sanctioned arrangements”remarriage”—that are almost impossible to undo without great pain and effort. Thomas Aquinas uses the term perplexitas to characterize cases like these. They are situations from which there is no escape that does not incur guilt of one sort or another. Even a single act of infidelity entangles the adulterer in perplexity: Should he confess his deed to his spouse or not? If he confesses, he might just save the marriage and, in any case, he avoids a lie that would eventually destroy mutual trust. On the other hand, a confession could pose an even greater threat to the marriage than the sin itself (which is why priests often counsel penitents against revealing infidelity to their spouses). Note, by the way, that St. Thomas teaches that we never stumble into perplexitas without some measure of personal guilt and that God allows this as a punishment for the sin that initially set us down the wrong path.
To stand by our fellow Christians in the midst of the perplexitas of remarriage, to show them empathy and assure them of the solidarity of the community, is a work of mercy. But to admit them to communion without contrition and to regularize their situation would be an offense against the Blessed Sacrament—one more among the many that are committed today. Paul’s instruction on the Eucharist in First Corinthians culminates in a warning against unworthy reception of Christ’s body: He who eats and drinks unworthily eats and drinks judgment to himself. Why did the liturgical reformers strike these decisive verses from the second reading for Mass on Holy Thursday and Corpus Christi, of all feasts? When the entire congregation stands up to receive communion Sunday after Sunday, one has to wonder: Do Catholic parishes now consist exclusively of saints?
But there is still one last point, which by all rights ought to be the first. The Church admits that it handled the sexual abuse of minors without sufficient regard for the victims. The same pattern is repeating itself here. Has anyone even mentioned the victims? Is anyone talking about the woman whose husband has abandoned her and their four children? She might be willing to take him back, if only to ensure that the children are provided for, but he has a new family and has no intention of returning.
Meanwhile, time passes. The adulterer would like to receive communion again. He is ready to confess his guilt, but he is not willing to pay the price—namely, a life of continence. The abandoned woman is forced to watch while the Church accepts and blesses the new union. As if to add insult to injury, her abandonment receives an ecclesiastical stamp of approval. It would be more honest to replace “until death do you part” with “until the love of one of you grows cold”—a formula that is already being seriously recommended. To speak here of a “liturgy of blessing” rather than of a remarriage before the altar is a deceptive sleight of hand that merely throws dust in the eyes of the people.

—First Things, August/September 2014, page 18.
Robert Spaemann is emeritus professor of philosophy at the University of Munich.

PRAYER FOR THE FOURTH OF JULY

George Washington’s Inauguration

( A Prayer for the Fourth of July 2014)

Almighty and eternal God, you have revealed your glory to all nations.                                                                                                                           God of power and might, wisdom and justice,                                                                                                                                                                            through you authority is rightly administered,                                                                                                                                                                  laws are enacted, and judgment is decreed.                                                                                                                                                                         Assist with your spirit of counsel and  the President of these United States,                                                                                                                     that his administration may be conducted in righteousness,                                                                                                                                           and be eminently useful to your people over whom he presides.                                                                                                                                   May he encourage due respect for virtue and religion.                                                                                                                                                     May he execute the laws with justice and mercy.                                                                                                                                                                 May he seek to restrain crime, vice, and immorality.                                                                                                                                                              We, likewise, commend to your unbounded mercy                                                                                                                                                              all who dwell in the United States.                                                                                                                                                                                          Bless us and all people with the peace which the world cannot give.                                                                                                                               We pray to you, who are Lord and God, for ever and ever.

R. Amen.     — Archbishop John Carroll (alt.)

MISSOURI RIGHT TO LIFE, Press Release

For Immediate Release For Information – 573-635-5110 / 314-966-3889

June 30, 2014

The following statement can be attributed to Pam Fichter, President:

Today the Supreme Court upheld the fundamental right of the American people to exercise their religious freedom. The 5-4 decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby confirms the principles on which our country was founded. The Court’s ruling acknowledges that privately owned businesses like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods cannot be forced to violate their principles by providing abortifacient drugs through their company’s insurance plans.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the Obama Administration ordered U.S. businesses, including Hobby Lobby, to pay for abortion-inducing drugs as part of their employee health plans. The Green’s, owners of Hobby Lobby, refused on pro-life grounds: they are devout Christians and could not in good conscience participate in the taking of innocent human life. The Obama Administration threatened fines of $1.3 million a day if Hobby Lobby doesn’t comply with the mandate.

Hobby Lobby asked the courts to put an end to the administration’s radical attempt to impose a pro-abortion agenda on every business in America. Today, the Court did.

The Court’s ruling means that Americans of every religious background are free to take their faith with them into the workplace, and free to make their religious beliefs a part of how they run their businesses.

Our Constitution protects the right to live our faith peaceably-at church, at home, and in the workplace. The American people won a great victory today.

______________________________________________

BREAKING: Supreme Court Declares HHS Mandate
for Closely Held For-Profit Corporations Unlawful

In a 5 to 4 decision the US Supreme Court declared this morning that the HHS Mandate which imposes the contraceptive mandate on closely held for-profit corporations violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

Justice Alito writing the majority opinion stated:

“We hold that the regulations that impose this obligation violate RFRA, which prohibits the Federal Government from taking any action that substan­tially burdens the exercise of religion unless that action constitutes the least restrictive means of serving a compelling government interest.

In holding that the HHS mandate is unlawful, we reject HHS’s argument that the owners of the companies forfeited all RFRA protection when they decided to organize their businesses as corporations rather than sole proprietorships or general partnerships. The plain terms of RFRA make it perfectly clear that Congress did not discriminate in this way against men and women who wish to run their businesses as for-profit corporations in the ma­nner required by their religious beliefs.”

Thomas More Law Center News Alert
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The Day After Hobby Lobby Decision,
Supreme Court Rules For Another Corporation Challenging the HHS Mandate

The day after its ruling in Hobby Lobby, the US Supreme Court granted review of the Thomas More Law Center’s petition on behalf of Eden Foods and its president Michael Potter, vacated the judgment, and remanded the case back to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals for further consideration in light of the Hobby Lobby decision.

Click Here for Supreme Court Order

The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, MI, filed Eden Food’s initial challenge to the HHS Mandate in March 2013. After being denied a temporary injunction preventing enforcement of the HHS Mandate by a federal district court and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, TMLC filed a petition for review with the Supreme Court.  That petition had been held in abeyance pending the decision in the Hobby Lobby case.

Eden Foods, co-founded by Potter in the late 1960s, is the oldest natural food company in North America and the largest independent manufacturer of dry grocery organic foods.  In 2009, Eden Foods was selected as the best food company in the world by Better World Shopping Guide, which also acknowledged the company’s outstanding record in social and environmental responsibility. The company employs 128 employees.For years, Michael Potter, a Roman Catholic, President and sole shareholder of Eden Foods Corporation, for religious reasons, had arranged for the Blue Cross/Blue Shield insurance coverage he designed for his employees to specifically exclude coverage for contraception and abortifacients.  In accordance with his Catholic faith, Potter believes that any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation, whether as an end or means”—including abortifacients and contraception—is wrong.

The HHS Mandate forced Potter to make a choice between violating a foremost tenet of his faith or face fines up to $4.5 million per year.

Potter brought the lawsuit because he cannot compartmentalize his faith and his business practices.

Mr. Potter said in a statement, “We are grateful for the Hobby Lobby decision and look forward to further developments.”

Erin Mersino, TMLC’s Senior Trial Counsel who is handling the Eden Foods case commented on yesterday’s Supreme Court order, “The Supreme Court’s ruling in Hobby Lobby preserves the religious freedom we are guaranteed under the Constitution.  The HHS mandate required business owners to directly violate their faith.  The Supreme Court relied upon the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which was signed into law by President Clinton and passed in a bipartisan effort to protect our First Amendment rights, to strike down the mandate.  Under RFRA, the government has to establish a basis for substantially burdening one’s religious faith.  Here, the government failed to do so.”

Mersino continued, “Justice Ginsburg’s dissent and proposed parade of horribles has no basis in reality.  No flood gates have been opened.  The truth is that the Supreme Court struck down an unjust law.”

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A BLESSING FOR FATHERS, 2014

A Blessing for Fathers…
We bless you and we praise you, God of our Fathers,                                                You are the God of Adam, father of the human family.                                                     You are the God of Abraham, our Father in faith,                                              who was ready and willing to give up everything to be faithful to you.                               You are the God of Isaac, who was born of laughter and old age, and the God of Jacob,         whose clever trick gained an inheritance for twelve tribes of sons and daughters,                You are the God of Jesse, from whose loins a nation sprang,                                               a sturdy family tree of monarchs, prophets, and priests.                                               You are the God and Father of Israel, your child whom you love with all  heart.
You are the God of Zechariah, who fathered St. John the Baptist and taught him the Torah,                and of Joachim, the grandfather of Jesus.                                                         You are the God of Joseph, who loved and raised Jesus as his own.                                           You are the God and Father of Jesus, and our Father in heaven, too: Holy is your name!
We thank you, God, for the gift of our fathers, for grandfathers, and godfathers and fathers-in-law, too. Send your Holy Spirit upon our fathers, in whose laps we were cradled, on whose knees we were bounced, by whose hands we were fed, instructed, and at times, corrected,                         in whose company we learned to work and play and pray,                                                      at whose side we hear your word and celebrate your mysteries.
Heal their pains and disappointments. Forgive all that needs to be forgiven.                          Give them the good that they have given others.                                                 Welcome into your arms those who have died.
Fill this world, O God, with a father’s love!
We ask this through your son Jesus Christ who taught us to pray to you as                          He lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,                                               who is Father of the poor, one God forever and ever. Amen.

Monsignor Jack

No. 11 "Blushing Lilies" - J.K.Park

FIRST THINGS – Success Is Not Dignity

THE  PUBLIC SQUARE  –  First Things Editorial Pages

By R. R. Reno

Success Is Not Dignity

1           Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam is worried about America. He should be. As Charles Murray put it in the title of his important book, we’re coming apart. (I wrote about Coming Apart in the March 2012 issue: “The One Percent.”) Putnam’s latest book, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, tells pretty much the same story, but he slices the American population differ­ently. Putnam divides society into the college-educated over and against those with a high-school diploma or less. This is a rough but useful distinction between today’s haves and have-nots. The evidence of a growing divide is clear. And not just clear, but familiar to anyone who has been paying attention over the past couple of decades.

Money? The less educated make less money and are less wealthy, and they’re much more likely to feel finan­cially stressed. Divorce? It’s twice as frequent among the less educated. Illegitimacy? Nearly seven times as likely. Single parenthood? Same. Rates of imprisonment? Same. Unemployment? Same. Church? The less educated are less likely to attend. He doesn’t give statistics on drug use, alcoholism, diabetes, and other dysfunctions, but, again, they also affect those lower down on the social scale far more than those higher up.

In his widely read book Bowling Alone (2000), Putnam popularized the notion of social capital, meaning the so­cial assets we have that help us navigate through life. In Our Kids, he looks at data on social trust, breadth of so­cial networks, even the number of friends. One does not need a degree in sociology to anticipate that a population more likely to be imprisoned, use drugs, divorce, and have children out of wedlock will lack social capital. And this is in fact what his research shows.

Putnam is too politically correct to state the blunt truth bluntly, but the details of Our Kids say it again and again: College-educated people are largely functional, while less-educated people are increasingly dysfunctional. There are two Americas. We’re coming apart.

Putnam reports on the implications of the Great Diver­gence for children. It will come as no surprise to readers that the children of dysfunctional people tend to have a hard time in life, while the children of functional peo­ple tend to have an advantage. Dysfunctional parents give their children less time and are more likely to ne­glect and even abuse them. The children live in run-down neighborhoods that have little sense of community. They do more poorly in schools that have less rigorous course-work and more discipline problems. They’re less likely to go on to college and are vastly less likely to graduate. They have more difficulty finding steady employment.

Put simply, and again in a politically incorrect way, the children of dysfunctional people tend to be dysfunctional, which means kids at the bottom of society are only too likely to stay at the bottom.

Our Kids is also full of stories, both of kids fortunate enough to be born to college-educated parents who con­form to the neo-bourgeois standards of the upper middle class, and of those born into the increasingly large un­derclass. The differences are stark. The suffering of those born in bad circumstances anguishes any sensitive reader. It certainly anguished me.

Yet I was also irked, though not for the reasons others have objected to Putnam’s analysis. Some reviewers on the left have attacked Putnam for failing to zero in on the way in which “financial capitalism” and the selfishness of the rich is at the root of all these problems. Where is class politics in this book on class? Those on the right have complained he does not properly blame the deregulation of sex and the general trend to moral relativism that has de­pleted the social capital of the poor. Still others complain that Putnam paints too rosy a picture of 1950s America, a period of relative middle-class equality from which he thinks we have fallen, downplaying the the racism and sexism of that era.

But I did not have these criticisms in mind as I read Our Kids. By and large, Putnam strikes the right balance. It’s absurd to think that the dra­matic economic changes wrought by economic globalization (or “financial capitalism,” if you prefer) haven’t eroded working-class culture. Creative de­struction may promote economic growth, but it can be hell on actual communities. It’s also ridiculous to deny that feminism and the sexual revolution exploded the social norms that once brought order and dignity to working-class communities. One of the greatest spiritual failures of my lifetime has been the self-righteous refusal of feminists, gay activists, and assorted multiculturalists to acknowl­edge the heavy price poor and vulnerable people have paid for their cherished freedoms.

No, I was not irked by Putnam’s refusal to identify the “bad guys.” Instead, what troubled me was his implicit view of human flourishing. We read that bad family back­grounds limit “one’s ultimate economic success,” and that the growing dysfunction of the working class threatens the American dream of “upward socioeconomic mobil­ity.” What do the doleful charts about illegitimacy and other pathologies tell us? “More single parents means less upward mobility,” while “affluent neighborhoods boost academic success.” Our biggest problem is an “opportunity gap.”

I’m all for upward mobility. It’s surely a boon for chil­dren to advance further in education, make more money, and live in nicer houses than their parents did. It makes the inevitable inequalities of our society (any society) more palatable when the rising tide lifts all boats.

But to speak of “success” and upward mobility in the context of the lives of today’s growing underclass seems almost obscenely narrow and impoverished. Those who live in the dysfunctional world of today’s poor and en­dure its misery suffer from a moral and spiritual poverty more primitive than a lack of “opportunity.” Economic and academic “success” are upper-middle-class preoccu­pations. A good college, a rewarding career? That’s what we want for our kids, to be sure. But this sort of focus is largely a luxury. And like so many luxuries, it can seduce and bewitch us.

any of the subjects interviewed by Putnam’s team see as much. Andrew is an eighteen­ year-old in Bend, Oregon, who has every advantage. His father is financially successful. His mom stayed at home during his childhood. He went to a good school. He’s off to college and undoubtedly hopes to be successful. But he senses that climbing the ladder isn’t of first importance, and his life goal isn’t “success.” He gestures toward something more basic: “The first thing that would be good for me would be if I could build a home and have a family. Hopefully I will meet somebody that’s like my best friend, and then give my kids close to the same as what I had.” And what did he get that he wants to give to his children? “My dad always reminds me every day how much my mom and dad love me.” This is something very precious, and it’s not upward mobility.

David is roughly the same age as Andrew. His father is in prison. His mother moved out when he was an infant. Both have revolving-door relationships with alcoholic and drug-addicted partners. Half-brothers and half-sisters are born and neglected. His girlfriend gets pregnant, leaves him, and moves in with a drug addict. He feels he’s reached a dead end. In his darkness he does not think of “success.” Instead, he tries to take care of his neglected half-siblings, and his daughter. “I love being a dad,” he says. Despite having gotten next to nothing from those who brought him into the world, he too wants to give.

Elijah is a young black man in Atlanta. His childhood was brutal, painful. His life has been violent. He says, “I just love beating up somebody.” Yet he does not come across as a monster, because he sees himself clearly, and he does not like what he sees. “I don’t want to go that route now.” He goes to work and to church, “just trying to be a good all-around American citizen.” He seeks decency. Again, this is a precious thing, and it’s not “success.”

I don’t wish to denigrate Putnam’s concern. As its title indicates, Our Kids is a book written to call us—the well-to-do, the upper third—to see the poor as fellow citizens whose burdens we should share. It’s the right call to issue. But utilitarian, individualistic, meritocratic assumptions dominate his analysis.

To a great degree this impoverishment is forced on him by contemporary social science. It can’t see social institutions like marriage, family, neighborliness, and ed­ucation as goods in themselves. They are goods because they have positive utility functions, which are cashed out in terms of how conducive they are to “success.” Read to your kids at night because it will help their brains develop more fully!

As I read the many gut-wrenching stories in Our Kids of poor young Americans who live without stability, without anything resembling a home life, without adults who are responsible enough to take care of them—without love—it became more and more painful to see Putnam worrying that all this means that, to an ever-greater extent, not ev­erybody has an equal opportunity “to get ahead.”

Being poor at any time and in any place has al­ways been hard. But for many in the past, per­haps most, it could be decent and dignified. Putnam’s own stories of Port Clinton, his home­town, show us as much. He tells of Jesse, a black schoolmate he had growing up. Jesse’s parents had fled the brutal racist system in the South. Neither was educated beyond primary school. Both did menial work. Theirs was a hard life we wouldn’t wish on anyone. Yet, two genera­tions ago, they gave Jesse what Andrew and David want to give. They embodied the decency Elijah seeks.

Today, self-giving and decency are remote ideals for many poor people in America. Basic human dignity seems out of reach for those on the bottom of society. Raised in an environment of moral chaos, David lacks the discipline and self-possession—lacks the basic context of family sta­bility—to give himself to those whom he loves. This is the great crisis of our time, not the lack of upward mobility.

I don’t want to discount the role of poverty. Being be­hind on credit-card payments, losing your job because your car breaks down and you can’t get to work on time, feeling as though the world of opportunity has passed you by—all these and more can be hammer blows on the soul. If rich people are more likely to divorce when a spouse loses a job or piles up debt, the relentless financial battering the poor endure is surely a contributing factor to their dysfunctional lives. But we need to be clear about our brother’s burdens if we are to carry them. Today, the poor lack social capital first and foremost, not financial capital. They are spiritu­ally impoverished more than educationally disadvantaged.

Economic and educational reforms may be necessary. But they won’t address the deeper problem. We have to face the dark fact that over the past fifty years we’ve waged a cultural war on the weak. In the 1950s, when Putnam was growing up, a too common racism dogged the life of his classmate Jesse. But the larger culture supported Jesse’s parents in their main goal, which was to raise their son to be a dignified man: sober, law-abiding, honest, hard­working, faithful to his wife, devoted to his children, and God-fearing. That’s no longer true.

Or at least no longer true for those born poor. As Putnam points out, today’s America has become rigorous­ly segregated. The functional people insulate themselves and their children from the dysfunctional people. Im­bued with a therapeutic ethos that softens the rigors they impose on themselves and their children (drug use and sexual license are “unhealthy,” not wrong) and cowed by multiculturalism, today’s rich won’t speak up for a com­mon culture. Instead, they quietly and covertly pass on their social capital to their children in gated communities and class-segregated schools that celebrate diversity and “inclusion” while forming the young people into the rigid molds of the meritocracy.

0n occasion I’ve spoken up at conferences and meetings, arguing that the prefer­ential option for the poor today means social conservatism (again, not only, but certainly at least). It means policies that punish divorce and reward marriage. It means getting serious about limiting pornography and resisting the temptation to legalize drugs. It means affirming gen­der roles that encourage men to act like gentlemen and women like ladies. It means having the courage to use the word “sin.” Most of all it means fighting against the One Percent’s almost complete conscription of the cultural conversation to serve its own interests. (What could be more One Percent than gay marriage and efforts to break the “glass ceiling”?)

The reaction is almost always one of horror. I’m “blam­ing the victim” or “imposing my white male values.” I’ve come to see that it’s not the victims that most progressives care about. The well-to-do like the way the therapeutic, nonjudgmental culture works for them. It keeps the public domain open and flexible and forgiving, which is conve­nient for those of us who have the social capital that allows us to keep our footing when we screw up. Why should the functional people who succeed today give this up?

The rich almost always want to keep as much of what they have as they can. So perhaps what I need to advocate is a more progressive view of our cultural politics. Just as we have a progressive tax system committed to redis­tribution, we should have a progressive cultural system in which the meritocracy that now rules has to accept a higher rate of moral rigor so that we can redistribute its benefits to the rest of society.

First Things, R. R. Reno, May-June Issue, Page 2-5.

 

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WISDOM FROM THE KNOM RADIO MISSION

WISDOM FROM THE KNOM RADIO MISSION

Our Father, when we long for life without trials and work without difficulties,
remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and
diamonds are made under pressure.
With stout hearts may we see in every mishap an opportunity and
not give way to the pessimism that sees in every
opportunity a calamity…

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery. Today is a gift, which is our reason for calling it “the present!””

Most of us will never do great things  but each of us can do small things in a great way.

Do not fear tomorrow. God is already there.

YOUR LOVE FOR GOD IS NO GREATER
THAN YOUR LOVE FOR THE LEAST IMPORTANT
PERSON YOU KNOW

Humans judge by the success of our efforts.
God looks at the efforts.

Life is like a game of tennis:
the player who serves well seldom loses.

Loving someone is seeing them the way God intended.

God, grant us the light of Christmas, which is faith; the warmth of Christmas, which is love and the radiance of Christmas, which is purity.

A day hemmed in prayer seldom unravels

I believe in the sun even when it is not shining. I believe in love even when I feel it not. I believe in God even when He is silent.

Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.

In God’s kingdom, the only way up is down. To become great in His kingdom, become the least – the servant of all.

He who wants milk should not sit on a stool in the middle of a pasture waiting for a cow to back up.

One of God’s arrangements is that, after winter, there should come beautiful spring and summer days. It happens every year. And it happens in every life.

There is nothing as strong as gentleness, or as gentle as true strength.

Lord, let my actions be prayer in motion:  silent, effective, and born of love.

 

KNOM Radio Mission, P.O.Box 988, Nome, Alaska 99762; www.knom.org.

INSPIRATIONAL SPOTS, JANUARY & FEBRUARY 2005

Inspirational Spots, January & February 2005

  • Hallowed be Thy Name, not mine. Thy kingdom come, not mine. Thy will be done, not mine.
  • Can you feel God’s encouragement? Can you sense in creation or in the presence of loved ones,
    or just in your heart, that your Creator knows you and approves of you?
  • The right amount of light we receive doesn’t depend on the voltage in the lines. Usually,
    it’s the size of the bulb we use that makes the difference.
  • God has given us unlimited power through His Son. But we cannot give His Light to the world
    through small bulbs.
  • Without charity, without adequate time for worship, without a dedication to service,
    we have no right to expect great results.
  • We are the light of the world! Do we expect God to give us the light to illuminate the earth,
    but we’ve only plugged a 15-watt bulb into His power line?
  • A voyage of discovery involves not seeking new landscapes, but seeing with new eyes.
  • Because God loves you, you never stand alone. You can go beyond yourself.
    You can ask forgiveness of those you’ve hurt. You can care for the weak.
    You have the power to touch hearts with compassion. The power of God’s Love lies within you.
  • Love sees through a telescope, not a microscope.
  • There is nothing as strong as gentleness, or as gentle as true strength.

June 2005:

  • Hope is putting Faith to work when doubting would be easier.
  • Does someone in your life aggravate you? Does one of their habits frequently irritate you? Has a friend recently put you down? Does someone you know wish you harm? Jesus said an amazing thing: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Great and wonderful things happen when you do. It’s impossible to feel anger toward someone you’re praying for. God will improve your attitude and intensify your forgiveness.
  • We go through life collecting bricks and steel bars of sin, hurt and doubt. This world tells us that we’re free to collect these thing, so long as we’re not hurting anyone. But the reality is that these bricks and bars add up. They build a priso cell arond our soul, keeping us from others, keeping us from God. We can see great beauty beyond those walls with a surrender to the Peace of Christ.

July 2005:

  • Keep this thought handy to help brighten your day: God is absolutely, without a doubt, head-over-heels in love with you. He sends you flowers every spring, and a sunrise every morning. He could live anywhere in the universe. But he chose your heart.
  • Worry is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If we add more worry, it can cut a deep channel through which all our other thoughts drain. Let your stream of worry trickle out of your mind — to God.
  • Time on your knees will improve your standing.
  • Remember the three R’s: Respect for yourself, regard for others and responsibility for all of your actions.
  • Nothing to be thankful for? Check your pulse!

Inspirational Spots – Christmas 2005 and  The conclusion of 2005

  • God of Love, Father of all, the darkness that covered the earth has given way to the bright dawn of Your Word made flesh.
  • There must be some one to whom I could reach out, someone whose life I can bring a little Christmas joy.
  • Make us a people of this light. Make us faithful to Your Word, that we may help bring Your Light into the darkness of waiting world.
  • Not just family or friends – someone else will be remembering. It would be a nice Christmas gift for Our Lord on His birthday.

Suggestions for a happy Christmas celebration:

  • Keep Christ in Christmas;
  • Pause to consider the immensity of God’s gift of Christ to humankind;
  • Be generous in giving to the needy;
  • Plans for the happiness of those who are outside of your family and friends;
  • Give gifts for the simple joy of sharing;
  • Be patient and understanding with those who bear a burden at Christmas;
  • Remember that just as Jesus the Christ is God’s Gift to us, we can make our celebration of His birth a gift to God.
  • Born in a stable. A choice He made. Simplicity and poverty. A choice no temporal power or influence would have ever suggested.
    A choice – God became man in a way no one would have ever guessed. Do you suppose He was trying to tell us something?
  • Dear God, help me see that this is not just another day. Open my eyes so I can clearly see the unique promise that this day holds. Open my mind so I can clearly understand the message and messengers You send my way. Open my heart so I may lovingly accept the challenges, blessings and surprises that You so lovingly will provide me today.

Taken from Station KNOM’s 4-page newsletter published each month

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INSPIRATIONAL SPOTS, KNOM IN 2005

KNOM, Nome, Alaska,
Oldest Catholic Radio Stations in the U.S.

Inspirational Spots to November 2005

Samples of Inspirational Spots
used in the last three months of 2004
and the first six months of 2005:

  • How far you go in life depends on how tender you are with the young,
    how compassionate you are with the aged, how sympathetic you are with those who are striving,
    and how tolerant you are of both the weak and the strong.
    Because someday in life, you will have been all of them.
  • On this day: mend a quarrel. Dismiss a suspicion and replace it with trust.
  • Write a letter to someone who misses you. Encourage someone. Keep a promise.