Investigate the great sin of Sodom and see if we can find it in America

The Personal Name said: “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, their deviation so grave, that I must go down and see whether or not their actions fully correspond to the cry against them that comes to me. I mean to find out.”

What is the crime that was so great, and the deviation so grave that God felt compelled to investigate it?

Entering RenoLook at the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters were proud, sated with food, complacent in prosperity. They did not give any help to the poor and needy. Instead, they became arrogant and did things which made me nauseous and they did them before my face. As you have seen, I removed them. Ezekiel 16:49-50

Sherry's home at the ranchWhen the Personal Name saw how great the rot of human beings was on earth, and how every desire that their heart conceived was always nothing but rot, the Personal Name regretted making human beings on the earth, and his heart was grieved.

The Personal Name said: I will wipe out from the earth the human beings I have created, and not only the human beings, but also the animals and the crawling things and the birds of the air, for I regret that I made them. Genesis 6:5-6

The earth was mutilated before God, and the earth was filled with violence. God saw the earth, and, it was mutilated; for all flesh had mutilated their way upon the earth. Genesis 6:11-12

Hear the word of the Personal Name, princes of Sodom! Listen to the instruction of our God, people of Gomorrah! What do I care for the multitude of your sacrifices/Liturgies? says the Personal Name. I have had enough of holocausts and fat of fatlings. In the blood of calves, lambs, and goats I find no pleasure. Appearing before me, who asks these things of you?

Trample my courts no more! Bringing offerings is useless; incense is nauseating to me. New moon and Sabbath Services, calling assemblies, festive convocations with oppression, these I cannot bear. Your new moons and festivals I detest; they weigh me down, I tire of the load…I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood! Wash yourselves! Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing rot; learn to do what satisfied me. Make correct judicial precedent your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow. Isaiah 1:10-17

This Mitzvah I give you today is not too wondrous or remote for you. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, “Who will go up to the heavens to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may do it?” Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may do it?” No, it is something very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to do it. Deuteronomy 30:11

The deviation of Sodom and Gomorrah is not hard to find, in the valley of the Dead Sea, or in the United States, Nevada, or Reno. Sorry, conservatives, but Torah has far better quotes against homosexuality. Sodom and Gomorrah have nothing to do with it. Legalism has everything to do with Sodom and Gomorrah, not sexual behavior. Basic civility has everything to do with the place, not what goes on in the bedroom.

Compare last week’s reading with this reading. Abraham serves non-kosher food to angels and they are satisfied. The dietary laws of the nation are less important than civility to strangers. Now compare this to this week’s readings:

Before they bedded themselves, the townsmen of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to your house tonight? Bring them out to us that we may וְנֵדְעָה אֹתָם be crushed by them.” The נֵ in front of דְעָה makes it passive.

Lot went out to meet them at the entrance.

He shut the door behind him, and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not do this rotten thing! I have two daughters who have never יָדְעוּ אִישׁ known men. Let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you please. Do not do anything to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.”

They replied, “Stand back! This man, came here as a resident alien, and now he dares to give orders! We will treat you worse than them!”

Notice the importance of “The shelter of my roof.” We have the civility of Lot and his dealings with his neighbors, men who view him as a resident alien, much as we view Hispanics and Muslims today, Irish, Italians, Poles, Jews, and others a century ago. Lot would treat guests in his home better than he would treat his own daughters. As a punishment of a kind, his daughters will know him, in the biblical way. His neighbors will not know his guests.

Like so many in our nation today, we see an extreme paranoia. These people do not like strangers coming into their city/nation. Lot brings three more, and this is the issue. “Sodom and her daughters were proud, sated with food, complacent in prosperity. They did not give any help to the poor and needy.

Instead, they became arrogant and did things which made me nauseous and they did them before my face.” This nation has plenty for all, if only we can learn to share. This lack of civility, of Sodom, of our rich and powerful in every time and place is the great deviation of Sodom, and no more.Cheeseburger

These are the things we need to consider in the Reno Diocesan Synod

Some approaches to ecclesiology suffer from a clearly inadequate awareness of the Church as a mystery of communion, especially insofar as they have not sufficiently integrated the concept of communion with the concepts of People of God and of the Body of Christ, and have not given due importance to the relationship between the Church as communion and the Church as sacrament.[i]Lake Tahoe

Sometimes, however, the idea of a “communion of particular Churches” is presented in such a way as to weaken the concept of the unity of the Church at the visible and institutional level. Thus it is asserted that every particular Church is a subject complete in itself, and that the universal Church is the result of a reciprocal recognition on the part of the particular Churches. This ecclesiological unilateralism, which impoverishes not only the concept of the universal Church but also that of the particular Church, betrays an insufficient understanding of the concept of communion.[ii]

Bernard Lonergan writes:

With Einstein, Newton’s absolute time vanished, and there emerged as many standard times as there are inertial reference frames that are in relative motion.[1]

Our mural in Reno Nevada
Our mural in Reno Nevada

Deuteronomy 5 writes:

Moses summoned all Israel and told them, Hear, You who struggle with God, the customs, חֻקִּים and correct judicial precedents,מִּשְׁפָּטִים I proclaim in your hearing, this day, to learn them and guard to do them. The Personal Name cut a Social Contract with us at Horeb; not with our fathers did the Personal Name cut this Social Contract, but with us, all of us, alive, here, this day.

The interesting thing about customs חֻקִּים and judicial precedents מִּשְׁפָּטִים is that they develop over time. By definition, they could not have come directly to Moses at Horeb. How does Torah say this? All the customs חֻקִּים and judicial precedents מִּשְׁפָּטִים, which came over time, came at Horeb. This is because, as the Jewish people relive their salvation at Passover, and we relive ours in the Eucharist, we relive the Passover, the Passion event, again, for the first time, each time.

Courtesy Holy Land Pilgrimage Galillee

William Graham Sumner discusses customs in his book, “Folkways.” He tells us, “I also took up again the Latin word “mores” as the best I could find for my purpose. I mean by it the popular usages and traditions, when they include a judgment that they are conducive to societal welfare, and when they exert a coercion on the individual to conform to them, although they are not coordinated by any authority.”

Customs חֻקִּים come from below. “Social Theory and Social Structure” discusses the Robert Merton’s idea of manifest and latent functions. The latent functions come from below and are the mores which we often do not even think about. The manifest norms are the rules coming from external sources, employers, the Vatican, and the state. They are the laws of William Graham Sumner.

In society, the norms and folkways, the latent rules which rule our lives, do not always agree with the manifest rules. Employers often write rule books for their organizations only to find employees place these rule books on a shelf and do things the way they have always been done. In his article, “On the Church,” Cardinal Walter Kasper discusses this in reference to a discussion by then Cardinal Ratzinger, “On some Aspects of the Church Understood as Communion.” By definition, correct judicial precedents מִּשְׁפָּטִים come from above.

Baron de Montequieu gave us the tripartite division of government, executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Moses and the Semitic people had something very similar. They had the executive branch, the king, and they had the judicial branch, the judges and the rabbis who interpreted the sacred writings in light of their times. They had no need of a legislative branch. All laws came from Moses at Sinai.

Cardinal Kasper correctly relates how he is in the middle of a great debate, not between the from the masses, but from the manifest and latent norms, between the folkways and the laws. If there is a debate between the norms and the laws, between how the masses interpret Sinai, and how the judges, the Vatican interprets Sinai, it means one or the other, or more than likely, both, is not properly influenced by the spirit of Sinai.

For judicial precedents מִּשְׁפָּטִים to be correct, they must spring from Mt. Sinai, which we relive in concrete form, for the first time, each time we celebrate the Eucharist. The customs חֻקִּים and the laws must spring from the same source. Leaders must come from the masses. Deuteronomy 17:14-17 explains the rules for picking leaders. It tells us the leadership must come from the masses.

Further, they must be like the masses, without much wealth. They must come from the same folk as the masses, so the share the same folkways.They must share the same near death experience as the masses. For Jews, that is Passover. For Christians, it is dying and rising with Christ.

For those who experience the Near Death Experience of Passover, receiving the Ten Commandments at Sinai, and the cross of Christ, no proof of the authenticity of the judicial precedents is necessary. For those who do not experience this Near Death Experience, no proof is sufficient.

Yes, we must have judges to make those correct judicial precedents מִּשְׁפָּטִים. Correct judicial precedents come from above. The Ten Commandments tell us that from the beginning, there are rules which guide our behavior, both from higher authority, correct judicial precedent, מִּשְׁפָּטִים and from below, חֻקִּים custom.

Einstein was Jewish and his understanding of time was Jewish. It is like a big wormhole that connects each time we celebrate Passover and Eucharist. It makes no sense to discuss if the universal church is prior to the particular churches. Through Passover and Eucharist, we leave time. When there is no time, there is no before and after.

Courtesy Holy Land Pilgrimage Mary's well Ein Kerem Jerusalem

Ontologically, the Church-mystery, the Church that is one and unique, precedes creation, and gives birth to the particular Churches as her daughters.[iii] From of old I was formed, at the first, before the earth. Proverbs 8:23. This is the claim Pope Benedict claims for Holy Mother Church; she is Wisdom incarnate. She is the formal cause of the world. She is apart from time.

Most of us misunderstand what is going on in the Eucharist. In the Eucharist, we depart from time and we relive the exodus from Egypt, again, for the first time, each time. That is why we have the incense, to remind us that we are at Mt. Sinai, in the 120 degree dry heat, on a volcano, again, for the first time. We are on the cross, with Jesus, hearing the taunts and the jeers of the crowd.

We die with him, and we rise with him. That means we have to be Jesus on the cross, suffering with him. That means we must understand who the Semitic Jesus is. Do we? Do we understand what it would mean to be a Semitic Jesus? Do we understand his time and his place?

The difference between corporeal and spiritual food lies in this, that the former is changed into the substance of the person nourished. It cannot avail for supporting life except it be partaken of. Spiritual food changes man into itself, according to that saying of Augustine (Confessions 7.  Third Part of the Summa Question 73 Article 3

I found myself to be far from You, in the region of dissimilarity: I am the food of strong men; grow, and you will feed upon me; nor will you convert me, like the food of your flesh, into you, but you shall be converted into me. Confessions, Book 7, Chapter 10

How can the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ transform us into himself if we neither know or care who he is? What are we transforming into? Are we transforming into the first century Semitic Rabbi who healed people without cost, who hung around tax collectors and deviants, who had a preference for the poor, who had a mother who recited the Magnificat condemning the rich to a rich relative, and who died rather than engage in violence?

Are the claims of a conservative Jesus who favored the rich and supported owning guns true? Would we be willing to sit next to Jesus, a long haired homeless man of Near Eastern/Palestinian origin, who spoke a strange language, at the bus station, on an airplane, on a bench at the mall or a local park?

Our Lady

The Blessed Virgin Mary is the model of ecclesial communion in faith, in charity and in union with Christ. “Eternally present in the mystery of Christ.” She is, in the midst of the Apostles, at the very heart of the Church at its birth and of the Church of all ages. Indeed, “the Church was congregated in the upper room with Mary, who was the Mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. We cannot therefore speak of the Church unless Mary, the mother of the Lord, is present there, with the Lord’s brethren.”[iv]

Courtesy Holy Land Pilgrimage  Sea of Galillee 2

Revelations 12:17 tells us, “The Sea Monster became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus.” As Catholics, we believe the child of Revelations 12:5 is Jesus, and therefore the woman is Our Blessed Virgin.

If we experience the time warp, the wormhole, the Passover, and the Passion of Christ, and rise with Christ, we do put on the new person, as St. Paul says, and this causes us to keep God’s commandments and in the process, bear witness to Jesus. No proof of the authenticity of magisterial pronouncements is required. If not, no proof is sufficient.

We are the bride of Christ. Jesus is the groom. I Corinthians 12:12-26 speaks of us being one body with many parts. Our Blessed Virgin is our mother. Galatians is right in telling us we are all one in Christ Jesus, Abraham’s descendant, heirs according to the promise. This being the case, we should all at least know each other’s names.

Do we notice the flowers and the candles, the dimmed room, and all the elements that make for a romantic dinner? This meeting is supposed to be personal and intimate. Is it? Do we know the Semitic Jesus, Our Blessed Virgin, a first century Jew? Do we know each other? Why is it that everyone loves a lover, but nobody loves the proper people who leave Mass on Sunday morning? If people love lovers and we are lovers of God and each other, should they not love us and want to be like us too?


Quoting Galatians 3:28-9, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus and if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendant, heirs according to the promise,” Pope Benedict tells us that we are not strangers.

When we attend Mass, do we know the name of the person sitting next to us? When we go to coffee and donuts after Mass, do we know the name of the person we are sitting next to? Does Father come down to join us? Are we really strangers in the same room? These are the things we need to consider as we undergo the Reno Diocese Diocesan Synod.

[1] Letter To The Bishops Of The Catholic Church On Some Aspects Of The Church Understood As Communion

 [ii] ibib

[iii] ibib

[iv] ibib

Our Reno Cathedral mural helps us understand our Eucharistic Heritage pt 1

According to Isabel Piczek, one of the artists who completed the mural at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada, “Great art is more important than merely a decoration. It must carry a message. The message of sacred art is the manifestation of divine truths. It is through the human being that the great eternal truths and spiritual qualities are expressed.”

Bishop Dywer and Monsignor Brennan, a California liturgist, assisted in planning the intricate mural, interpreting Thomistic teaching on the Holy Eucharist. Our Catholic tradition comes from a time when the masses could not read, at least what we traditionally call writing. The question is, “Can we read our mural and our stained glass?”

As we look at our altar from our church pews, we see to our left, Our Blessed Virgin. Above our Blessed Virgin is a small mural by Edith and Isabel depicting the Holy Family. The center of this mural is our blessed Virgin. St. Joseph bows to her. Lambs mill around as she holds the Omer Elohim, the Lamb of God, in her hands. This centrality of the Holy Family is central to Edith and Isabel. They depict the Holy Family in the main mural, and in the mural above the statue of St. Joseph. The Holy Family, and what it represents, separates Catholics from Protestants.

Revelations 12:5 speaks of her, “A woman gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and his throne.” Psalm 2:6-9 refers to this child as a king who will rule the earth with an iron hand.

Revelations 12:17, “The Taanah became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those keeping God’s commandments, and bearing witness to Jesus.”

The great question of Revelations 12:17, and what separates Catholics from Protestants is, “Who are “The rest of her offspring,” and what does it mean to be “The rest of her offspring?” Our English word, “Nativity,” and our English word, “Nation,” have the same root. A nation is a people born together, by heritage, if not by location or blood. We are all offspring of the Blessed Virgin, adopted into the Catholic Family through baptism in Holy Mother Church.

Being family implies moral obligations to each other not inherent in the Protestant understanding of basic morality. We bear witness to Jesus, “The Personal Name Saves.” We bring knowledge of Salvation, Jesus. As part of the Evening Liturgy of the Hours, we recite to each other:

The Almighty has done great things for me and dedicated is his Name

He has shown mercy on those who look to him in every generation

He has shown the strength of his arm; he has scattered the proud in their conceit

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones; and has lifted up the lowly

He has filled the hungry with nobility and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant he who struggles with God for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers to Abraham, E Pluribus Unum, and his children forever.

This is a manifesto from our very poor Blessed Virgin to Elizabeth, the oath of Elijah, the wealthy wife of a priest, Remembrance/Zechariah. She speaks of equality among her children. He pulls down the mighty from their thrones, and lifts up the lowly. He fills the hungry with nobility and sends the rich away empty. The sense of being equal, one with another, children of the same common mother, unites us.

Looking to our right, we see St. Joseph the worker, whose feast is May 1, of each year, Labor Day in most of the world. Above the statue, again, is a depiction of the Holy Family. St. Joseph is central. This is the moment of his death.

Jesus and Our Blessed Virgin hover next to him, symbolizing how the Lamb of God and Holy Mother Church are with us from our birth to the moment of our death. “Pray for us, Holy Mother of God, now and at the moment of our deaths.”

Many of us have ceased identifying manual laborers as workers. We are now white-collar, retired, or unemployed workers. “White collar, unemployed and retired” are adjectives modifying, “Worker.” We are still workers.

English, has two key words, “Vocation,” and “Profession.” “Vocation” is Latin for “calling,” our calling from God. “Profession,” comes from the root, “to profess.” We profess our faith, and fulfill our vocation, our calling from God, through our vocation as professional bankers, and lawyers. St. Joseph reminds us, we are all one community of workers in service to God.

Answering Tough Questions & Mr. Holland’s Opus relate to our trying times part 2

In the Answering Tough Questions debate of 7 November of this year at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada, one analogy seemed to have credence between both sides. The example was of a baseball game. Seventeen kids want to play baseball but have no ball, bat, gloves, or other tools required to play the game of baseball. Then an eighteenth child climbs the fence from the gated community nearby. He has all the balls, bats, gloves, and related materials to play the game. The game begins.

As often happens amongst children, the eighteenth child decides to dictate the rules to his advantage. Although he is not a good pitcher, he decrees that he be in the glory position, pitcher. He decrees the strike zone to be wide when he is pitching and narrow when he is batting. When a player on his team catches the ball, it can be on the first hop to create an out. When the other team is batting, the player must catch the ball while standing, and not on the first hop.

The questions presented by the affirmative speaker were: (1) who owns ball, bat, gloves…? (2) Who owns the game? (3) If you should be the uncle of the rich child and see this travesty, what would you do? We all agreed, the rich child owns the equipment to play the game, but all the players own the game. The vocabulary was slightly different, but all agreed that all came to the game with skill sets and for getting something out of the game. One conservative was so steeped in Thomistic thinking, he insisted the goal was virtue. So much for academics, we are talking about baseball and the game of life and business.

In the debate, the affirmative speaker presented very disturbing figures:

Before 1981, the percentage of income going to the poorest 50% of the population was between 25% and 27% of all income. The percentage earned by the top 5% was steady at between 14% and 17%. When conservatives were in control of the White House, unemployment was slightly higher, between 4% and 7%. When liberals ruled, the rate lowered a bit to 3%.

Something radically changed after 1981, and it is directly attributable to Kemp/Roth, and the changes to the tax code afterward. Unemployment shot up; many economists now say the unemployment rate we took for granted under Truman and in the late ‘60s is impossible. The US changed from being the largest creditor nation to the largest debtor nation. We had plenty of funds for the war on poverty until ’81. After 32 years, we are now broke. We can no longer fund the programs we took for granted a third century ago.

The conservatives argued they are not libertarians so do not want to be clumped among those supporting no government. At the same time, their favorite alleged saint was the very president who foisted this economic policy upon us. The rich child, the one who climbed the fence with balls, bats, gloves and the like insists they own the game, the business they run, so have the right to set the rules to their advantage. As a result, the affirmative speaker presented these facts:

45,000 including 28,000 children in their first year of life die each year from a lack of affordable health care. 2,000 people lose their lives in New Orleans because some do not want to invest in infrastructure. 50 million people live a living death of poverty in food-insecure households while 20% of the population controls 80% of the wealth. 30,000 preborn who die each year because of a lack of pre-natal care.

The US already has 5% of the world’s population, 25% of its prison population. At the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, ‘in 11” 146 people died. The Hamlet Chicken Processing Plant Fire was in ‘91, again behind locked doors. Twenty-five people died. In Wisconsin last year, the governor locked his employees inside the State Capital. Two years ago, we had the Deepwater Horizon Disaster; eleven died. Under regulation contributed. The conservative’s desire to under regulate resulted in the Monongah Mine disaster in ‘07. 362 died. The Sago Mine disaster was in ‘06. Twelve died.

One conservative argued that the governor did not intend for his employees to burn in a fire. The fact remains; New York was commemorating the One Hundred Year Commemoration of Triangle Fire while this governor locked his employees inside the building. He knew it could happen and chose to engage in this culture of death anyway.

In May of ’73 another conservative governor, Jim Rhodes sent over tired troops to Kent State University and directed they violate a dozen well-established procedures. Four died and thirteen were seriously injured. Did Jim Rhodes know these students would die? Of course not. Did the conservative celebrate the deaths and brag the students earned it? Yes! One student was a member of the Reserve Officer Training Corps, ROTC, and supported the governor and the war in Vietnam. We can expect the same, should a fire have broken out at the Wisconsin Capital Building. One conservative did complain at the debate, how the conditions were right for a fire.

The conclusion is clear; the conservatives have no legitimate claim to being pro-life. The person arguing for the negative in the debate argued the conservatives are not modernists as Pope Pious X defines the term. Again, if the shoe fits, wear it. Pope Pious X was describing the rich robber barons of his time, the business owners who wanted to define the rules of their corporations to fit their interests. As Uncle Sam, we the people have the moral obligation to correct these wayward children and bring them back into the republic, something the conservatives at the debate oppose.

Answering Tough Questions and Mr. Holland’s Opus relate to our trying times

“Humanae Vitae came forty-four years ago. It is time to get back to our Catholic roots. While we engage in another forty-four years of talking points, God’s children are dying, and God is angry.” So ended the affirmative at the Answering Tough Questions at Our Cathedral this November 7, 2012. Upon returning home, the movie on the tube was Mr. Holland’s Opus, a movie that included the negative impact of Kemp/Roth, along with the tax and budget mania of the ‘80s, the turn of the century and the conservative push for the same in present time.

It is sad to report, but given the choice of a penitential look at the past 32 years and asking the role they might have played in the poverty and suffering coming from the events of those years, and sticking with their current agenda, they chose their current agenda. The affirmative’s point was very clear; each side, right and left, engages in its talking points. Their side is not serious about a solution. Talking points is so much easier.

The US Department of Census Reports on the number of abortions each year, and it reports the rate went up or remained steady from 1974 until the Presidency of Bill Clinton. After that time, it has declined every year, regardless of who the president was. 86.2% of all abortions are performed on women earning less than $60,000 per year. 48.2% are performed on women earning less than $30,000 per year.

Abortion rates are clearly tied to poverty. That means any meaningful attack on the abortion rates to bring them down to the Catholic and Christian ideal of zero, must include an attack on poverty. The conservatives made it clear that for them the only acceptable issues are what they call the Five Non-negotiable Issues, of which abortion is one. Poverty is not one of those issues. That means, even though an attack on poverty is required to bring down the abortion rates, they are not willing to attack poverty. George Gallup reports on his website:

The percentage of Americans identifying as Roman Catholic has stayed within a range between 20% and 30% over the last 60 years. Catholics were 22% of the U.S. adult population in 1948. That percentage rose reaching its high point in the 1970s, when the U.S. population was nearly 30% Catholic. In the last several years, Gallup’s estimate has been Catholic 22% to 23%.”

The conservatives choose to blame the decline on church identification upon the so-called liberal interpretation of Vatican II. Vatican II opened on 11 October 1962 and closed on 8 December 1965. Clearly, the Second Vatican Council did not cause the decline in church identification, neither did Humanae Vitae or other papal encyclicals. Properly interpreted, these documents support social justice and this brings non-Catholics into the church.

CNN ran an article on the church’s decline, and four of their top seven reasons for Catholics leaving the church do tie to conservative politics. These included the church stance on homosexuality (2), Perception church hierarchy is too closely tied to conservative politics (5), Church’s stance toward divorced and remarried Catholics (6), the status of women (7).

Jesus does have clear statements about divorce and the affirmative speaker did make very clear how the church’s teaching does not change. The church also has very clear teaching about homosexual behavior.

Look at the context of at least one of those passages, Romans 1:17 through chapter 2. This passage breaks into two parts. In the first part, St. Paul plays the role of the revivalist minister. They do this; they do that; they do the other thing; they know better, so they earn their way to perdition. That is the Romans 1 section. Romans 2:1 begins a new section to the same passage. “You are without excuse, each of you passing judgment. By the standard you judge another you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the very same things.” The rest of the passage excoriates the Romans and us for judging others before we look at ourselves. That is what the rest of Romans is about.

In the debate the affirmative showed election results, also from CNN, showing how the marginalized and the poor, put off by the conservative diatribes, went on to form their own, home based churches. They are now separated from the Eucharist and the Catholic faith. These are the people who voted for the liberals in the past election. As a result, we now have the second two term liberal president in a row, who supports everything our church opposes, but he does support pro-life for them.

As the affirmative pointed out, the solution is not changing Catholic Social Doctrine. The word of God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The solution does include how we package that faith. The affirmative in the debate related from Psalms 72 and 82, along with the liturgy of the hours, how we need to promote life, as life lived in the image of God for all people.

If we promote life, life lived to its fullest, as our focus, if we promote Vatican II, we can bring these people we chased away back into the church and eliminate the ills we as Catholics, conservative and liberal, so much detest. Until then, conservatives will argue against abortion, while they promote it with their economic programs, and liberals will argue against intrusion in their lives, while they promote that intrusion with their wayward lives. Look forward to 44 more years of the same.

Jesus calls the blind man who sees and not the sighted who are blind

The Gospel reading for the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time begins with some interesting puns that only work in the Aramaic language. First, the story begins in Jericho, a town whose name means “Moon,” in Aramaic. In Hebrew, “Jericho,” can mean either “Moon,” or “Scent.” Deuteronomy 34:3 tells us the place, far from being the moon, was the place date palms, “Tamar,” or “Tamaracks,” grow. Tamar is the mother of two of Judah’s children. Jericho is also the first city Joshua possessed when he crossed the Jordon River.

Jericho is the first city Jesus possesses on his way to Jerusalem.

The second interesting name in our Gospel reading is the name of the blind man, Bartimaeus. This man’s name means “Son of Timaeus.” “Timaeus” in Hebrew means “Innocence.” In Greek, it means “Value.” This man truly lives a life of despair, caused by his blindness in a society that took a dim view of the handicapped. Our society also tends to take a dim view of those unable to complete in our so-called free-market economy.

Like many in our society today, the crowd scolds the man crying for help from the king, Jesus, telling him to be quiet; people as important as Jesus do not have time for outcasts like the son of innocence/Bartimaeus. Jesus is not like earthly kings. He specifically calls for this son of value. For Jesus, all people have value. Like so many in our society today, seeing that Bartimaeus has an inside track with the boss, they try to ingratiate themselves with the blind man, escorting him to see the king of kings.

The crowd lacks something Bartimaeus has, because he is blind. “Blind,” also has two meanings in St. Mark’s Gospel. If we go back two short chapters we can find the second meaning.

When they arrived at Bethsaida, (Hunting lodge) they brought Jesus a blind man and begged him to touch him. Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. Putting spittle on his eyes, he laid his hands on him and asked, “Do you see anything?” Looking up he replied, “I see people looking like trees and walking.” Jesus laid hands on his eyes a second time and he saw clearly; his sight was restored and he could see everything distinctly.

The key phrase in this passage is, “Trees walking.” In Hebrew and Aramaic, the word for Counselor, old stodgy fellow who counsels the king, is the same as the word for “Tree.” The first time Jesus touches this first blind man, he sees people, but he only sees their exterior. Everyone looks the same, like stodgy old men more interested in rules, than in people. The second time Jesus touches the blind man, he sees, not just the outside, the persona people want them to see, he sees the real people crying out to be seen and heard, on the inside.

This brings us to the first reading and the essence of Jewish spirituality. In our first reading, the people return home after the Babylonian exile. The essence of Jewish spirituality comes from Deuteronomy 5:1-7.

Remember, “I am the Personal Name, your Almighty Judge, who brought you out of the land of Egypt/Oppression, the house of menial labor.” Truly to remember is to remember what it was like to be there and to remember our rescue. This is the essence of Jewish spirituality.

The other people on the road in our Gospel reading for the Thirtieth Sunday in ordinary time do not remember their rescue. They have not needed that rescue; they have always been able to see, at least the stodgy old men all of us want the world to see. It seems strange that we would want to be stodgy old men. We call it showing we are tough, tough enough to make it in this cruel world.

Jesus teaches the opposite. The blind man has nothing to hide; we have already seen his vulnerability. Therefore, looking to himself, he can see the vulnerability in others. He can see. The tough old codgers are still blind.

This brings us the question about us. Do we live in Jericho, the city that looks like the moon? Are we the tough old codgers with the thick skin who can take it in this cruel world? Do we live in Jericho, the city of Palm trees, sensitive to the vulnerabilities of others and willing to help them along the way? The choice is ours. Jesus calls the blind man, who sees, and not the sighted who are blind.

We define what separates Catholics from Protestants part 3

In our Pledge of Allegiance, we pledge to defend the republic. St. Augustine gives Catholics “Republic,” a definition. He defines it in terms of an orchestra, with concord and harmony. Professional singers have a way of cupping their hands as they sing, so they can hear the other singers.

If they fail at that, they do not blend their voices and the audience suffers. We must learn to listen to the other side, not to their proposed solution, but to their cry. We must ask, what energizes their cry and respond to that. Father Ron Olsen is famous for that gift. It is for the conductor to decide the tune.

Liberals oppose conservatives for their insensitivity to the background and feelings of others, the inability to listen. With the exception of the next few paragraphs, this presentation was in draft form in early September. It took its present form in October. I pointed out in my objections to a title with certain words, present in the current title in mid-September. It took the conservatives more time to come up for a title for this debate than for me to write my affirmative, concluding remarks, Power Point presentation, and handouts. Their result is second rate.

As I related, I lost a job because I was a Catholic and a Democrat in 2003. A referee at Employment Security stated, “Sponsoring and encouraging harassment in the workplace is a perfectly normal and legitimate business practice.” That was when Clarence Thomas became Supreme Court Justice. I received a poor evaluation for a time-period when I was on vacation and not even present at the facility in ’74. This and more makes this debate is necessary.

Because of where I work, one of the words, “Government,” in the title could cost my job. As you look at the debate title, “Government,” is present.” The title of this presentation was put together by conservatives and conservatives are a hardhearted folk and do not know any better. When top corporate executives behave the same way, people get hurt; people die, sometimes in the tens, the hundreds, and sometimes, the thousands.

Workers often face the same choices. They can choose to work in unnecessarily unsafe working conditions, or unemployment. If they choose the unsafe working conditions, it is their choice; employer and conservative make like Pilate and wash their hands. If they walk away, they are shiftless cowards, and lazy.

By using the word, “Control,” conservatives ask me to defend, “Government Control,” “Socialism.” Sorry Charles, I will not be defending socialism. I will be defending a mature approach that promotes life, saving lives by regulating this kind of behavior.

God is the conductor of our orchestra, not the government. Our founding fathers put together a work of genius, a mutual system of checks and balances. “Control is not in the purpose statement of our heritage. Promoting life is. The pursuit of happiness, with the implied, “Reasonable chance of success for all people,” is. Government is a common enterprise among men, a tool not fundamentally different from GM, the AFL-CIO, or the NAACP.

Government’s role is to be a tool, like many other tools for God and society, a part of an interdependent/mutual system of autonomous individuals we use to maintain the intricate balance we call harmony and concord. We agreed in late August that, “It’s the amount of “federal government intervention” that is the issue.” I prepared this presentation based upon this understanding.

There is no concord, no harmony when 45,000 lose their lives each year from a lack of affordable health care, when 8,000 are children in their first year of life, when we watch 2,000 people lose their lives in New Orleans because some do not want to invest in infrastructure, before or after these needlessly deaths.

There is no concord, no harmony when 50 million people live a living death in food-insecure households.  There is no concord, no harmony, when the US has 5% of the world population and 25% of those in prison. As St. Augustine, quoting Cicero, quoting Scipio, the man who defeated Carthage points out, when there is no concord, no harmony, no common interest of the people, there is no republic. The Pledge of Allegiance becomes a vain oath, with God’s name in it.

We can see that before 1981 the percentage of income going to the poorest 50% of the population was between 25% and 27% of all income. The percentage earned by the top 5% was steady at between 14% and 17. We notice that when conservatives were in control of the White House, the unemployment rate was higher, between 4% and 7%. During the times liberals ruled, the rate lowered to as low as 3%.

We also notice in the second chart, how something radically changed after 1981, and it is directly attributable to Kemp/Roth, and the changes to the tax code afterward. Unemployment shot up; many economists now say the unemployment rate we saw under Truman and in the late ‘60s is impossible. The US changed from being the largest creditor nation to the largest debtor nation.

We notice in the second chart how the poorest 50% of the population now only earn 19% of all income while the richest 5% now earn 21% of all income. As the conservative candidate for president related, for 47% of the people, the so-called Reagan economic boom never happened.

We do not need to look at this graph to note how the rich tend to buy different things than poor people. The rich tend to buy intangibles, stocks, bonds, insurance, and the like. A stock is much like a used car title. When we buy a used car, a GM, the money does not go to GM. In the case of a stock, all GM encumbers is the administrative cost of tracing the new stockholder. The person selling the stock is not GM, and does not use his money to create jobs. He uses his money to buy more intangibles. It creates no jobs.

The poor buy food, clothing, shelter, transportation, things made with human hands, things that create jobs. If we want to create harmony, jobs, we will create policies reversing the events of the past 32 years and put money into the hands of those who will create jobs.

This is part 3. Please click here for part 1

Please click here for part 2

Please click here for part 4

We define what separates Catholics from Protestants

The collectors of the temple tax approached Peter asking, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” Peter replied, “Yes.” Jesus asked, “What is your opinion? From whom do the kings of the earth tax, from their subjects or from foreigners?” Peter replied, “From foreigners,” Jesus retorted, “The subjects are exempt.”

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Jesus told them, “The kings of the nations lord it over them… Among you, it shall not be. Allow the greatest among you be as the youngest, the leader as the servant. Who is greater, the one seated at table or the one who serves? It is not the one seated at table!”

Thomas Jefferson’s, “He who governs least governs best,” separates liberals from conservatives. The socialist thinks people are by nature bad, so government control is governing the least. The capitalist, the communist, and the anarchist believe people are good and need no government. To argue for less than necessary government is to argue for irresponsibility.

The phrase, “He who governs least governs best,” begs, “The least to do what?” What does governing least mean in practical terms? Without answering the “To do what,” government falls upon the foreigner, those foreign to us. For the rich, the poor need more government. For the poor, it is the rich.

We are not one nation, but two, one black, one white, one enslaved by wealth, one by poverty. To bring this nation back to being one nation we need to define the proper role of government as it relates to life and civil harmony.

Our Declaration of Independence states, “All men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. Among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. To secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men.” Conservatives and Liberals disagree on the definition of life, and the proper role of government, in particular as it relates to our American heritage.

One definition of life states life is blood. Anything with two cells has blood. This definition tells us when life begins. To understand when it ends we need more. We need to know how blood makes life. Dead people still have blood, but it does not flow, it is not vibrant. The Catechism states, “God made us in his image. C.C.C., section 1701.

Deuteronomy 30 relates, “This Mitzvah which I am giving you today is something very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart… Choose life, that you and your descendants may live.” This is one of the 613 Mitzvah of Jewish traditions. How is this Mitzvah? All life is life in potentiality. Either we increase life in all of its potentiality or we decrease it.” Life as potentiality, as lived in the image of God is the definition of life we will use in this debate.

Capitalists believe corporate CEOs, and business owners are by nature good and do not need regulation. Wisconsin has a Congressman who voted, twice, to prevent stockholders from setting top executives’ salaries. This congressman’s party shows by their actions, they believe some men do not need checks and balances, upon their actions.

Catholics believe the writings of John Locke who noted that no man is a fair judge in his own case. That includes the corporate CEO, and our political leaders. St. Augustine, the man in the mural relates, we are all imperfect human beings, born with original sin. People are neither good nor bad; we are a mix of both. Our C.C.C. Section 1882 tells us Catholics believe man is a social animal. Catholics did not used to believe in the Protestant Work ethic or rugged individualism.

The Eucharist is building upon the source, the rock, which is how Jesus finishes the Sermon on the Mount. Conservatives build upon the bottom 50% of the population earning only 19% of all income, the sand. We saw the result with the so-called Reagan economic boom. When the earthquake hit, the sand went into liquefaction and great was the fall of that house.

Solidarity must have a foundation. Cardinal Ratzinger tells us in, “The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church,” “The Jewish reading of the Bible is a possible one… Christians can learn from a Jewish exegesis practiced for more than 2000 years.”

In Mark 10, our Gospel reading for just a few weeks ago, Jesus quotes the last six of the Ten Commandments, as he understood them. He combines St. Augustine’s last two. Jesus’ first Mitzvah comes from Deuteronomy 5:1-7, the call to Eucharist. God tells us, as a community, “The Personal Name cut this Social Contract with us, each of us, alive, here, this day… I am God your Almighty Judge who rescued you from the land of Oppression, the house of menial labor” You will remember what it was like to be there, and you will remember your rescue.

Catholics believe in the Physical Presence in the Eucharist, rescuing us, as a community, for the first time, each time, we celebrate the Mass. Deuteronomy 5 begins as an address to the community. God rescues those who struggle with God, as a community. He calls us to love him, as a community. Our heritage means remembering our oppression, in 19th century Europe, as community, and our working in the sweatshops of the early 20th century, as a community.

A Wisconsin congressman left the stage after being asked about tax cuts

We have lots of laws that aren’t being properly enforced. We need to make sure we enforce these laws. But the best thing to help prevent violent crime in the inner cities is to bring opportunity in the inner cities, is to help people get out of poverty in the inner cities, is to help teach people good discipline, good character. That is civil society. That’s what charities, and civic groups, and churches do to help one another make sure that they can realize the value in one another.”

This is what a certain Wisconsin congressman told a reporter just before walking off the stage after being confronted about his tax cuts. This is what the reporter should have asked, “The US already has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of its prison population. We are enforcing the laws. Question number one, are these people in prison biologically inferior, or is there something wrong with our society. Question two, this congressman stated churches should pick up the tab for training these people in “Good Discipline.” Which church does he have in mind? Here are some figures:

Charitable giving by denomination and income group:

Assemblies of God 5.5%
Baptist 4.6%
Low income population 4.5%
wealthy 3.0%
Presbyterian 2.6%
middle class 2.5%
Lutheran 2.4%
Catholic 1.9%

Does this congressman believe this refers to the Assemblies of God and the Baptists who live in the inner cities, or does this refer to all of us religious? If the former, they are already giving twice what his religious denomination gives. If the latter, there is the story of Legion. We must ask why a crazy person in Galilee would name himself Legion. The Hebrew and Aramaic for “Many” is, “Arbah.” In Greek, it is “Hoi Polloi.”

The Latin word for a multitude is “Multitude.” Legion only refers to the Roman Legions. As the story continues, Legion runs into a herd of pigs that then run down a creek bank and drown. Pigs are not kosher. St. Mark tells the story to remind us that to get rid of Legion, we must first get rid of our pigs. The denomination of this congressman must cease giving the least, and start giving the most.

This congressman believes the responsible church is the inner city church, the church already giving the most. Those giving the least yell at those already giving the most to give more? Religious” people, those attending their houses of worship at least once per week are only 33% of the population. How is it fair to tax 33% of the population to pay for people who are not members of their congregations, or is this congressman saying people should be forced to go to church so we can tax them?

The above chart does reflect that about a third of charitable giving to religious denominations goes to “Sacraments,” church administration, what the members donate to themselves as the upkeep of their meeting place.

His church is obligated in his mind to give nothing. He is telling the poor to find a way to set up your own society in the inner city, or die. This makes us not one nation but two, those in the suburbs, and those in the cities. He presumably is asking them to set up their own businesses and be their own employers. This congressman’s community is obliged to buy none of what they produce. “We are getting ours; if you are not, die,” is what he seems to be saying. He then goes on to say, “By the way, we are pro-life.” My last question, “Why do those in the inner city not take our pro-life claim seriously?

The Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time gives us our definition of Wisdom

Who among you is educated and over-standing? Let him show his works by a beautiful turning back in the gentleness that comes from education.

Education from below is upon the earth, natural, and cancerous.

Education from above is pure, peaceable, reasonable, persuaded, full of mercy and noble fruits, without inconstancy or acting.

If you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice.

The fruit of צֶדֶק/charity sows itself in שלום/completeness for those who cultivate שלום/completeness.

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As we read the second reading for the Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, we notice that “Wisdom,” “Education,” appears in every other line. Alternately, “Jealousy and selfish ambition,” appear in the alternate lines. Wisdom is of two kinds. On the one hand is Philosophy, loving Wisdom/the Holy Spirit. On the other hand is sophistry, pure academic wisdom, or the skill in using words to get what one wants.

Pharaoh uses the later kind in Exodus 1:10 as he addresses the Hebrew people. King Solomon asks for the later kind when he asks God for Wisdom. He asks for the physical skill to govern well, not necessarily the spiritual skill to start with a love of God.

After receiving wisdom, God commands him, “If you walk in my ways, keeping my customs and Mitzvah, as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” Wisdom is not necessarily the same as following the word of God. Solomon at that time already has one foreign wife and the people already follow idolatrous ways, which Solomon does not correct.

St. Paul speaks of earthly wisdom in the first chapter of I Corinthians, “Where is the wise one? Where is the grammarian? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish…? It was the will of God to save those who have faith. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom. We proclaim Christ crucified, an obstacle to Jews, foolishness to Goim.

Earthly wisdom has no referent. Neal Diamond says it well in “Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show,”

Brothers,  I said Brothers, Now you got yourself two good hands, and when your brother is troubled you got to reach out your one hand for him,” ‘Cause that’s what it’s there for. (King Solomon had this part right. He forgot…) When your heart is troubled you got to reach out your other hand reach it out to the man up there ‘Cause that’s what he’s there for.”

Most knowledgeable people think they know the Ten Commandments. We rattle them off at will, “You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother.”

In Mark 10, as quoted above, Jesus only the last six, intentionally. As the debate continues, Jesus will point to the first four, which Jesus left out, and we all tend to forget:

(1) Hear, you who quarrel with God, the customs and correct judicial precedents, I proclaim in your hearing, this day, that you may learn them and guard to observe them. The Personal Name, our Almighty Judge, made a Brit/Social Contract with us at Mt. Sword; not with our fathers did the Personal Name cut this Brit/Social Contract, but with us, each of us, alive, here, this day… (Remember,) I am The Personal Name, your Almighty Judge, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of menial labor.

(2)You shall not have other saviors before my face.

(3) You will not invoke the name of The Personal Name, your Almighty Judge, in vain.

(4) Guard Sabbath. Keep it dedicated, as The Personal Name, your Almighty Judge, commanded.

It is one thing to govern justly. It is another to govern justly for a reason. King Solomon did not understand the reason. Pharaoh, thinking he was a god himself, did not know the reason. Jesus knows the reason and he asks us to know the reason. God rescued us first. “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain.” That is the concept of Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5, and John 15:16.

If we keep the first commandment, in the process we will keep the rest. If we remember what it was like to suffer, and we remember our rescue, we will be too busy making sure others do not suffer to desire to hurt them in any way. Father and Mother are God’s representatives. In deference to God, we honor his representatives, which include all made in his image and his likeness. We will not attribute our rescue to anyone but him. We will not take his name lightly, nor do things to cause others to take his name lightly. We will celebrate a weekly anniversary of our salvation, Sunday. On that day we remember our rescue.

The Jewish Community has the concept of the Physical Presence. “The Personal Name cut this Brit/Social Contract, with us, each of us, alive, here, this day…” Each time the Jewish community celebrates Passover, they celebrate their liberation from Egypt, for the first time. The Physical Presence of the Exodus appears each time they celebrate Passover. Our Passover is the Eucharist.

We celebrate our escape through the Passion and Death of Jesus, physically present for the first time, each time we celebrate the Eucharist. When we live this event out in our daily lives, we become Shalom, complete. Others see our completeness and desire to join us. Is this how we live our lives?