Monday, November 3, 2008

On the Need for Implacable and Unconditional Love

In one of his many hit songs, Tony Bennett poignantly warbled about his need to be loved. So, he emotionally asserted “If I have love I know I can make it.” Tony, notwithstanding his secular values, does have something to say about human nature. Even in the world of pop music, musical comedy and Rap, one can stumble on truths to live by. Popularization does not necessarily mean superficiality. Yet if anything is universal and clear, it is that all of us have a profound longing to be loved with no conditions. In the human heart there is an unbounded desire to be uncritically esteemed and valued. The bravado one meets in life—such as: “I don’t need anybody!” (in the case of the uneducated the statement becomes “I don’t need nobody”), or “Who cares?” or “Who needs it?” or “I take care of #1 — me!” is really a mask or pose to disguise, even from himself, the terrifying suspicion that he is basically unlovable. One can expend enormous energy, perhaps even a lifetime, avoiding a real self confrontation lest his suspicion might be true. As Bennett implies, anyone who truly feels love will be open to the real basic joys possible to the human heart. Contrary wise, the feeling that no one really loves me, inevitably leads to anger and bitterness and sarcasm. Without love, life is misery. The blessed Apostle Paul put it brilliantly in his 1Cor.13 when he wrote “If I have all Faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.”

When I began the study and practice of clinical psychology 36 years ago, I was often perplexed with the inconsistencies of human behavior. The strange self destructive dynamic which I saw so often was very difficult to understand. My philosophic background strongly suggested 1 plus 1 invariably produce 2. I had naively assumed that human beings want the best for themselves. But, to my dismay, I found, in the psychological world, the result of 1 plus 1 is often unrecognizable and even repugnant. The cartoonist, Walt Kelly, had his guru, Pogo, make this all wise observation: “We have found the enemy and they are us”. Apart from the questionable grammar, Pogo articulates, in his own way, the age old truism that “I am my own worst enemy.” [1] No one savages me more fiercely than do I. But why is this so? Catholic theology teaches that there is an original “sin” in all of us with powerful tendencies toward evil. But nowhere is it written (except in rigid religious groups who teach that evil is the very core of the human experience) that because one has tendencies, he necessarily is “bad.” Rather, we teach that the human being is “wounded”, not corrupt nor intrinsically bad. We believe that the human being is, with the help of God’s powerful grace, capable of beautiful and generous unselfishness.

Yet, if one feels unlovable, it is an easy, if unconscious, progression to “I must be bad since no one really loves me.” It goes further to the strange conclusion that bad people must be punished in some way for being bad—even if the concept of “bad” is unclear. So should the external world not punish me, I must punish me. This gives some understanding to the weird self destructive dynamic wherein the person says: “I know this is crazy up here (in the head) but I must do it anyway. My heart doesn’t really believe that anyone really loves me! I need to be punished.” I have seen persons with SSA (same sex attraction) while knowing that homosexual behavior goes nowhere but down, destroying the person, nevertheless, will engage in promiscuous sex in tea rooms, bathhouses, cruising and the like. This behavior will be followed by huge self loathing and disgust but nevertheless will be repeated cyclically and periodically. He will have a great need to punish himself in the worst possible way proportionate to his perception of “how bad he is.” He believes, again unconsciously, that his defect is so serious that he must be punished in the most painful way. Hence, his choice of behaviors which meet his perceived evil and which call forth his debasement as appropriate punishment.

It is an easy progression to see that when one truly believes he is unlovable, he concludes that he must be bad. Even intrinsically corrupt. The self loathing that comes from a feeling of being unloved and being basically unlovable—unconsciously—will produce the enigma of 1+1 equaling the appalling and the unrecognizable. One might spend not only years but much funding in assessing the “why” of this unhappy situation. Why do people dislike me? Why do I dislike me? Why do I feel my family dislikes me? Why am I so lonely? Why have I such few friends?” (Relative to human relationships, it might be noted that true and lasting friendships usually require a reasonable self regard within the psyches of the friends.)

While for some people, such research might be fascinating with its concentration on the self,( talking about oneself is usually pleasurable) it is sometimes counterproductive and often minimal in its results. In the immediate present, there are scores of unhappy suffering people who are tortured by this pervasive feeling of being unloved. In Pogo’s thinking they harm themselves with their distortions. What, then, can such afflicted ones do? The answer to this question, basically, has been the work of the whole field of therapy for decades. Secular people of good will, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, even pastoral counselors, have striven mightily with all kinds of techniques to ease the pain and to reconstruct the psyche with more healthy self concepts. And to some extent, they have been helpful. However, self deprecation and even self loathing abound. And perhaps there will always be such negatives to some extent. If there is no “cure” there certainly is possible improvement. Freud thought that the human personality was basically unchangeable but he always taught the possibility of making a bad situation turn into a better one with more peace of soul and meaning in life.

I, as a licensed psychologist with 30+ years of experience will always argue for the positive values of psychotherapy but as a Catholic priest, ordained 60 years, I am keenly aware of “Something” else. That Something else involves the loving Creator of us all. It involves the truly amazing power of the grace of the Lord. For one thing, the loving Creator has made each of us His children. Each of us is unique. The Catholic Church teaches that one’s value is not in orientation or race or gender but simply in being a Child of God Himself. Of course, it is wonderful to have money, to travel where and when one wants, to acquire all kinds of gadgets and playthings, drive fast cars and party enthusiastically and extensively. Of course it is great to have talent and youth and health and wit and education and athletic ability. Such factors are valued and desired. But experience teaches that one needs more than that! Without a deep awareness of one’s self worth, one will ultimately ask “Is this all there is?” Or perhaps engage in the futile chase for some elusive (and non existent human) “Perfection.” Movie buffs can remember the powerful scene in Tennessee Williams “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” wherein the dysfunctional son, played by Paul Newman, castigates Big Daddy (Burl Ives) for giving him things in abundance but not the love he so desperately needed for his sense of self! Family therapists can attest to the mistakes of many well meaning parents or parent surrogates who miss a vital point by making self worth (and love) depend on the material.

What Freud and hundreds of other well meaning professionals did not know or accept was the saving power of God. They worked under the disadvantage of secularism which has limited tools. If there were one magic wand I could wield or as Tony Bennett fantasizes “If I ruled the world”, I would move all the world to relax in God’s love and feel His affection and care flowing over one’s soul. On the beach, in a silent Church before the Eucharist, in bed, at Holy Mass, at work, on a walk through the City, anywhere. So, is there a need for unconditional love and implacable love? I, in consort with most of the human race, think there is such a need. And I have a profound confidence for its attainment -----clothed in the implacable love of the good and gracious God. And I think I know how to find it. Re-read the previous paragraph. You don’t need to be an intellectual or bookworm. Just be open to His love. If you let Him love you, you, too, will say that His grace is powerful and amazing.

[1] Probably we all recall Shakespeare’s Caesar with his reminder “The fault, my dear Brutus, lies not in the stars but in ourselves.”

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Am I Racist If I Vote for McCain?

When I was a little kid in the parish school of St. Paul’s, the Holy Cross Sisters taught us, among many things, the old adage “What you are speaks so loudly to me that I cannot hear what you say.” I thought that Sister was telling us that no matter how fancifully we might speak, if we were not open and honest, people wouldn‘t listen to our high flying rhetoric. Somehow the real “me” would come across regardless of my fancy talk. I, personally, had some kind of penchant for using big words, usually incorrectly, and I never seemed to convince anyone of almost anything. However, in the course of my long life, I have come to see how wise my teachers really were. In my studies to become a clinical psychological, I read, of course, many of Freud’s works and was vastly impressed by much of his insight. Once, he wrote that his patients, no matter how clever and evasive, would ultimately tell him who they really were by communicating ““through every pore.” He, like many of us, could read between the other’s lines.

A variation on Sister’s adage, for me, has become “What you stand for comes across so loudly that I can’t see your race or your gender.” My refusal to vote for Barack Obama has nothing to do with his race –or gender—or any such factor. It has to do with his value system and norms. To imply that my decision is based on the color of his skin is an insult not only to my integrity and my relatively high I.Q. but also to my religion which specifically teaches that discrimination is sinful and needing absolution. It is also demeaning to my many African American friends with whom I have close, trusting and warm relationships. We have no hesitancy disagreeing with one another since our disagreements are generated by the issues not by race or religion or gender. But our friendship has nothing to do with one’s race or religion. Rufus and Violet whom I have known for forty years, Brother Jude who steered me through the preps for my Ph.D., Jim B., retired army staff sergeant, who has laughed with me about many funny things, John C. who joined my religion which we share joyously. The vast list of my African-American heroes who have inspired me---Thomas Sowell, Shelby Steele, Michael Steele, Clarence Thomas, Walter Williams, Alan Keyes---and on and on. All of these superior people would be stunned if I ever were to descend to the despicable level of the racist, whatever his race might be. I disagree with Obama because of his values system with which I profoundly disagree.

Obama has much about him that is charming and attractive. He has a wonderful and friendly personality. He is a very good public speaker who holds my attention through his voice and his mastery of speaking style. He has really good teeth and a radiant smile. For his age, he shoots basketball hoops surprisingly well. He seems like a good family man with affection for his wife and children.

However, there are basic factors in him which instantly conflict with my own value system. I have been told so many times that I must not vote for a candidate unless he reflects my own values. For good or ill, whether I am right or wrong, I have come to believe that the first of all values is life itself. I cannot support anti-life which I believe Obama does---from the view point of unborn babies. They have no say as to their future. He has consistently voted pro-abortion (anti-life as I see it) in his legislative career. He is 100% supportive of aborting babies------ from a legislation standpoint. He has even thrown his support to the grisly partial birth abortion practice opposing any ban on it which even the perennial anti-life people find gruesome.

It has been reported in print that when speaking to an assembly of NARAL supporters, he promised them that the very first thing he will do, if elected President, would be to sign the Freedom of Choice act, thereby, in effect, removing any restriction on abortion at any growth level of the child in the womb. He has never denied this allegation. This “value” inclines me not to vote for him. When a bill was proposed to protect babies who survive a botched abortion, he voted against protecting these new citizens and against procedures meant to help them live.

I believe this man, voted the #1 liberal in Congress, is a socialist who speaks in a coded language. He is a radical of the most divisive sort and in fact a racist in his own right. His mentor was Frank M. Davis, an avowed Communist sought for years by the FBI, in whose bungalow in Waikiki, he attended nightly bull sessions drinking and sopping up “advice.” His father, Barack Hussien Obama Sr. was a brilliant Kenyan and Harvard educated intellectual who held that there should be 100% taxation on “Asians and Europeans.” The tax burden would be back breaking making the present economic crisis seem like a Sodality party. His notion of healing our economic woes is to re- distribute wealth a la the African method which failed so dismally, as in Rhodesia or modern Zimbabwe. His notion of meeting the energy crisis is to take money from the wealthy and give it to the poor. How this solves the oil shortage escapes me. This “value” inclines me not to vote for him.

His guarded ambiguous attitude to the American military is a puzzlement. Why would he not wear an American flag on his lapel when he is a member of the United States congress? Why would he not place his hand over his heart when the National anthem was played? Does he show contempt for those of us who follow those behaviors? Or does he say by his actions that he is the patriot not we? Further, with his 173 days in Congress, I do not believe that he has the experience to deal with sophisticated world powers. His absurd notion that he will meet with anyone without preconditions speaks to me of the highest naiveté.

Further, I am disconcerted by his association with questionable people. His claims that he sat for 20 years before Pastor Wright’s fiery denunciations and revolting speeches attacking this country and never heard anything inappropriate seem wildly disingenuous. The clear “God damn America” was a symbolic slap in the face to simple people like me. His association with Wm Ayres, a man with a terrorist history which he never seems to disavow is disturbing to me. What is this mysterious “Acorn” society he belongs to? I believe that association tells us much about each other. I recall my childhood warning: Birds of a feather flock together.

While I am not enamored of the maverick, John McCain, I am forced by conscience to vote for him. McCain’s bland manner and sleepy style bore me but he has substance. If perception differs from substance, McCain is a prime example. Besides his heroic and unbelievable POW experience, he is an avowed believer in life—as am I. He is a patriot and prefers to lose a political battle than lose a military one. He believes in the American spirit of self reliance. He has real plans to solve energy crises and is not awed by the dumb protestations of those who chain themselves to trees in the name of Environmentalism.

I like being left alone to do my “thing.” If I need protection, let my government give it to me. Big Government becomes the real Big Brother which can really stifle my freedom of speech and religion. There are more than hints that Obama means restrictions on my personal life. I like freedom. I sense Obama threatens it. I can’t vote for him. He is too dangerous.

The maverick is not the same as the present administration. He is very different. And besides I am in love with his vice president.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Can I Be Pro-Choice & Catholic at the Same Time?

In trying to figure out the mysteries of life with its penumbras, emanations and conundra, I have always found it necessary (whenever possible) to reduce everything to its simplest level. For example when I think of a pregnant woman with an unborn child within her, I think of two possibilities. One: she lets the kid live. Or, two, she kills it. In my simple way, I can think of no other option. Can anyone? It seems to me that this term, abortion, really means a kind of “killing field.” Abortion (or whatever modern euphemism calls it—termination or choice) is simply killing human beings—and the most defenseless of all of us and the most innocent.

Even if pragmatists say “it is only potential human life”, my own limited study in physiology and biology indicates that, like a hyperbolic curve with precision accuracy, the life within this pregnant woman will generally and inexorably develop heart and lungs and cerebral cortex and be born basically a full human being like me and you and everyone else. It is simply impossible that she will give birth to a lion or hawk or Martian. I say “basically” because I know of the possible mishaps in the gestation process like Down’s syndrome, webbed hand and the like. For the most part, however, human beings have generally been born, over the eons, fairly healthy, with ten fingers and ten toes, well equipped for the life journey. And since I am one of those Romantics who believe that life is great and wonderful and meant to be enjoyed, I find myself profoundly revolted with the human carnage which occurs every single year in my country and the world. It means that literally millions of persons without personal fault will never see a sunset or enjoy great music or laugh at funny jokes or sit on a summer’s night in a Roman bistro sipping a cappuccino.

I am amazed, astonished and delighted with the new technology of sonogram whereby prospective parents can literally “see” the little heart, the formation of limbs and even the sex of their child. It is unbelievable that with such visual information, anyone could destroy that child. Such callousness flies directly against not only basic human decency and compassion but also against the guarantees of the American tradition: the self evident truth that everyone is entitled to life, at the least. It clearly and directly contradicts the holy Will of God—at least in the Judeo-Christian and Moslem Belief. For example most Americans believe, along with the late Senator Patrick Moynihan, that the procedure called “late term abortion” is not only barbarism but factually infanticide. This is the unbelievable procedure in which the child is turned around, in utero, to allow the abortionist to extract the child by the feet and then puncture the base of the skull (as this point still within the mother’s body), suction out brain matter and pull the now dead child completely out for disposal. How irreligious and jaded can one get?

However, in a recent televised “debate” two political candidates were asked the same question: ‘When do you think life begins”? One candidate replied with immediacy and crispness “At the moment of conception.” The other responded with a sonorous and elegant ambiguity. “Theology has a viewpoint” he said. “So does biology” and he spent a whole series of open-ended maneuvers almost frantically avoiding the direct question. He did not say what he thought. He is, regardless, on record, vigorously supporting the abortion movement, even to the extent of partial birth, as described above, and opposing a ban on allowing children, born from botched abortion procedures, to die. Yet, he clearly, without ambiguity, totally supports all movements meant to protect the Roe v. Wade decision which, in its ultimate effect, means that the life within the mother (the unborn child) can be terminated anytime during the pregnancy. Even understanding that, at times, medical limitations might make this literally impossible, the concept of “license” to kill for any reason stands. Such people can disregard the implications of the 14th amendment and insist that until the child can live on its own (i.e. be viable) it is not a person and therefore has no rights. It was rumored on Talk Radio that this candidate promised NARAL that the first act of his presidency would be to remove all restrictions on any level of abortion.

Both of these candidates are Protestant and as such are beyond the parameters of this paper. It is the Catholic whom we consider. Views among Protestants vary greatly. Rarely does one find a Church which specifically condemns abortion as a matter of Faith and Doctrine. It is highly personal and subjective unlike Orthodox Jews, Catholics and strict Moslem sects who recognize the evil of abortion in general. Seeing the abomination of abortion would, one would imagine, be sufficiently cogent for a practicing Catholic (with an informed conscience) to support the right to live for infants. This should occur regardless of one’s political affiliation. I am embarrassed, as a Catholic priest, to find in the Protestant world, as described above, and not among Catholics, the politician who declared that he would sacrifice his politician career rather than support the abortion movement.

The truth –alas—is that we have so-called Catholics trumpeting positions antithetically opposed to the teaching of our Religion. Catholics for a Free Choice is a prime example of using the Catholic name to cover evil practices which we unequivocally condemn. Such blatant hypocrisy is easier to handle than the subtle smooth talking politician who can mislead millions of well intentioned Americans. The Catholic stance is beyond interpretation and speculation. For example, in the 2001 Pastoral Plan for Pro-life Activities, the American Catholic Bishops wrote:

“Abortion, the direct killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral[1]. Its victims are the most vulnerable and defenseless members of the human family. It is imperative that those who are called to serve the least among us give urgent attention and priority to this issue of justice…..”

In effect, no serious Catholic can become engaged in or support the abortion movement without incurring serious consequences and guilt. When the allegation is raised that this type of Catholic insight is a single issue policy, I hasten to remind such opponents of some reality factors. I, as a half Jew, know that had I been in Munich in 1938 at the age of 17, my inexorable destination was Dachau. It would be singularly reasonable for me to face this immediate issue: my life. Was this single issue thinking? When I went to Johannesburg in 1948, had I been non-white, my destiny would have been discrimination, poverty and humiliation. Was such concern to be dismissed because of “single issue” thinking? If an infant in the womb could speak, would it be single issue thinking if the child struggles for survival?

Realistically, there is no “other side.” Slaughter of “non-Aryans” is flat wrong and can never be justified. Nor can the brutality of apartheid. Nor the slaughter of millions of innocent infants. If one is on the receiving end of such barbarism, it is impossible to see the “other side” or other issues. If only the child in the womb could debate, perhaps he might have a chance of survival. The child will never get that chance. The child will be killed. Only in the “bubble” society of Hollywood and East side New York City (maybe west side too) is the infant butchery clothed in the mantle of the “good.” This is the style of the Demon.

When Catholic politicians follow a Party line which seriously violates the Catholic principles of the fundamental justice, the right to life, they cannot in conscience use their Faith to bolster evil behavior. Unless, of course, they are totally ignorant and uniformed about their own Religion. In my years as chaplain in the NYPD I heard many times the dimension of crime called “aiding and abetting.” To support and help some one commit a “crime” even in a remote way, is to make one guilty proportionate to levels of involvement. I believe there is a “spiritual” crime here when we deprive innocents of the most fundamental right of all: LIFE. I hold that prominent Catholics (even if well intended), particularly those in public life, aid and abet this crime. However, I prefer to view these “Catholics” in the light of stupidity rather than malice. I pray that I am right when I say that.

When a so-called Catholic, high in public office, insists that her faith justifies her unbelievable support of outright evil, I prefer to classify her as ignorant rather than evil. When she does not know what she believes about the Blessed Eucharist (the Core of Catholicism), I am forced, by charity, to believe that she is operating without a full deck of faith. Yet, I am also forced by the pressure of Truth and the Revelation of God’s will through His Church to point out her error and pray that she will amend her life (which might be well intentioned even if incorrect). Her possible Good Will is not sufficient to allow her to go unchallenged when she uses the Faith to advance her political position. Even her own pastor publicly challenged her and suggested that she stop calling herself Catholic since she so clearly speaks in a way which is not only non-Catholic but even anti-Catholic.

This person, holding the third highest office in the United States, completely misrepresents the Catholic doctrine when she says that the Church has not been able to agree on when life begins. Church leaders on the contrary say that since the first century the Catholic position has been to affirm the moral evil of abortion. Her notion that some theologians over the centuries have had hesitancy about this point is again revealing her ignorance. Theologians do not establish Church teaching. The official Church does. The Jesuit priest, John McGarry, years ago, jocosely remarked that he has nothing against theologians. Their study keeps them off the street at night! An obvious reference to the Catholic notion of who, officially, “teaches” the Faith— It is specifically the Magisterium, not individual theologians.. When she says that the Church could not agree on when life begins, she is clearly rebutted when Bishops state:

“While in Canon law these theories led to a distinction between very early and later abortions, our teaching never justified or permitted abortion at any stage of development.” (Rigali and Lori, both Bishops of the Church)

Like Cardinal Egan we are shocked to hear that this so-called Catholic would make such uninformed remarks as if she spoke the Catholic stance. (Rep) Robert Dornan, Calif., wrote in a public essay that she derisively dismissed his unyielding opposition to Abortion on a legislative level. Yet she uses the Persona of “Catholic.” It is incredible in this Age that she would be unaware of what her own Church teaches. The Cardinal notes, incidentally, that unborn children are NOT part of the mother and what they are does not depend on the opinions of theologians of any faith. He also articulated where Catholics stand:

“Anyone who dares to defend that they may be legitimately killed because another human being “chooses” to do so or for any other equally ridiculous reason should not be providing leadership in a civilized democracy worthy of the name.”

She is fairly representative of other alleged or so-called Catholics in public life, especially those in the world of politics. The Kennedys, the Leahys, the Durbins, the Bidens, obediently toe the Party line and chant Pro Choice--Pro Choice--Pro Choice --- while shouting to the World that they are devout Catholics. How we pray that public servants would live to help others, follow what they secretly know is God’s Will and not put their personal careers above what is right. At the very least, could they stop pretending that they are Catholics in good standing? Could they stop seducing simple Catholic Americans with their fake religious allegiance?

The answer to the rhetorical title question of this essay, after all of this, is obvious. No serious Catholic can be Pro-Choice. Like the work of the psychologist, Festinger who researched “dissonance,” namely the impossible co-existence of two conflicting but antithetical factors, the thinking person must confront this impossibility. One must go. It is impossible to be both. Either I will be Pro-Choice or a serious informed Catholic. There is no “middle ground” or other side. May the Holy Spirit guide the Catholic people to see God’s Truth through all the mist and haze of modern politics.

[1] That is objective Mortal sin. Subjective implications are of a tricky nature.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

How Much is Enough for S.N.A.P.?

In the winter of 1986 I suffered what is technically called an M.I. (myocardial infarction) or heart attack. For several months I underwent the slow, discouraging and sometimes painful routine called cardiac rehab. On one of the hottest and most humid days of that July, I was scheduled for one of my periodic stress tests in a clinic on Manhattan’s fashionable East side. It was so fashionable one of the Directors decided to close the facility because of the uncomfortable weather conditions. Alas for me, some one “forgot” to call me about the cancellation. I showed up, on time, after a wearying trek across town, sweaty, heart pounding and exhausted only to find posted on the front door a sign that was, to me, horrific. ‘Clinic closed today.”

The following day, with a huge sense of justified ire, I called the clinic on the telephone and chewed out the charge nurse. I ranted. I raved. I fumed. She listened to me somewhat impatiently, then replied with a jaded, bored tone: “What do you want me to do?” I was temporarily stumped for a reply. In my visceral self I knew that the error or misjudgment or irresponsibility was now historical. There was no way the past injustice to me could be replayed for correction. I had to accept the historical fact that I had been mistreated. I had been treated poorly. While it could not be honestly excused, my remonstrations and criticisms were useless. There was nothing I (or anyone else) could do to eliminate my inconvenience. I had to swallow hard, make another appointment and go on from there. It became apparent to me that my anger and fury were hurting no one but me. The methodology ultimately worked. In time, I found peace and forgiveness which benefited me.

To equate such an experience and its resolution with the sexual molestation of a teenager by a cleric who is probably homosexual, is, of course, absurd and sheer nonsense. Yet there are several common factors shared in both experiences which might be analyzed with some profit. One: in both instances, a person has a painful and negative experience. Two: there is difficulty healing from that painful experience. Again this is not equation but analogy. It is the principle and dynamic which presently are of primary interest to the writer. Healing is necessary in any event for all human beings who have been hurt on any level. The magnitude of the pain of molestation here is obviously different from a broken medical appointment---astronomically so but the dynamic for healing might be similar. It is patently clear that there can be no equality between the two “pains.” However, the intention of this paper is to analyze the principle of forgiveness and its consequence of inner peace.

Let us examine some background. Church records show that for over sixty years, certain Americans, mostly male and adolescent, have been shamefully misused by selfish, ego-centered, (usually homosexual) clerics[1] who exploit their own exalted status to sear and ravage young people. Recently, the New Oxford Review published an article describing the shameful and disgusting behavior of these unfaithful clerics. The article was indeed helpful for those trying to understand this clerical phenomenon. In the Catholic lay and clerical groups there were clearly feelings of shame and disbelief and anger. There were justified protests and demands that this type of behavior must be stopped. However there was a “tone” to the article which bothered me—as much as I agree with the expositions and outrage stemming from a disgrace which wounds all Catholics. This tone could in the long run actually hurt those wounded ones who are seeking the priceless gift of peace of mind—to say nothing of maintaining their Faith. The article, I thought, too facilely discounted what has been done to help the healing process and by so doing contributed to the pain of the victims.

To discount the strenuous efforts of the Church is to do a disservice to those who try to recover from a terrifying and perplexing experience. Their Faith should not be torn from them as well which is what a skewed focus could bring. It is important, for healing, to recognize and strengthen the efforts made to “clean it all up.” It is also important to recognize that the sinful behavior of those clerics was blatantly and totally at variance with their own Church’s teaching. In effect one must not throw out Christ’s Church but only the erring and unfaithful clerics. During his recent visit to the United Sates Pope Benedict XVI adverted to this terror at least five times, apologized for it, saw several of the victims personally and admonished Catholic leaders to “do the right thing.” Seminaries must be tightened up. Admission procedures must be strict. Bishops must be fatherly but insistent that priests be priestly. There are to be no “cover-ups.” There must be complete cooperation with criminal justice systems in this matter. Recruiters must be determined to reject practicing homosexuals[2] or those who are “gay-friendly” (which means accepting homosexual mores and looking the other way when there are Caution lights in abundance.)

However, is sometimes sad to see the results of the very strict Regulations presently in force. Even a single allegation can result in an innocent priest’s removal, “temporarily” but immediately, while an investigation is carried on. There were several instances of false charges wherein the priest was removed and later re-instated but with enormous difficulty since the rumors floated—“where there is smoke…….” The priest’s life was substantially destroyed. Dioceses made terrible mistakes trying to “buy off” accusers, giving out large sums of money hoping (foolishly) that maybe they will go away and the scandal will never come to light. Anyone dealing in law enforcement would smell the nasty aroma of Blackmail.

The NOR article blithely discounts the statistical fact that fewer and fewer charges are being made. Such a statistic is dismissed as “…simply because they are not reported.” It would be interesting to learn how the author of the article would disprove this negative. Speculation is not highly regarded in sociological or psychological research.

In fact, there has been enormous correction by the Church. In the cases of the unfortunate victims of molestation, there has been super extensive effort to help them heal. It is common knowledge that Dioceses in this country have gone almost bankrupt in giving great sums of money to victims. This has often resulted in major cutbacks in pastoral services for some people in desperate need. It is reasonable for Bill Donahue, of the Catholic League, to raise the legitimate Caveat about the possibility that some charges might be untrue. There are known lawyers who publicly state that there is much to be made off the Church in these terrible cases—even if the charge is false. We had had the scam-like behavior of those who falsely charged Cardinal Bernardin and Cardinal Egan of improper behavior while lesser known clerics have suffered the same indignity without the support of the larger public.. Unfortunately, there are some people who do make allegations, without substance, in the hope of the “quick buck.” There are people in society who plan the “deep pocket” possibility without shame.

I, myself, spent five years, as part of a committee to assess priestly misbehavior in a large Catholic archdiocese. Most of the cases presented to us were real cases of revolting sexual violence done by clerics and religious (occasionally female). In all legitimate cases, the victims were treated with gentleness and understanding. Counseling fees were paid. Academic tuitions were paid. Automobiles were purchased for them. All efforts were made to help them heal even if their experience was from long ago. Even to 20 or 30 years prior[3]. Many authentic victims do seem to get some kind of healing reaction by making their misuse known even if kept secret for years. Many were given large sums of money --lending credence to Donahue’s point of perceived “deep church pockets”. There were actual cases presented to us which were not credible but were spurious/ frivolous, relatively few, but nonetheless presented to the Board as if factual. If there is some cynicism in investigators, it probably stems from the knowledge that there are occasional fakers.

Some victims, in response to the question whether or not they want money, reply vaguely that all they want is that this doesn’t happen to others or that the cleric or religious get some help or how can you measure money with my pain, or the cost of living is high and the like. But, at the same time, goaded by their lawyers, they sometimes ask for enormous sums of money, millions, allegedly “for expenses.” One does begin to question, like Donohue, the authenticity of some cases.

However more relevantly, while the Church is doing everything possible to help the victimized, there are still shrill voices demanding more and more and more. How much is enough? I have counseled one legitimate victim (without fee of course) who was utterly insatiable regardless of large financial compensation and the emotional assistance and support given to him. Interestingly, he had a whole series of emotional disturbances which existed side by side with his true victimization. He was vulnerable. Predators have an uncanny sense of such vulnerability and vigorously prey upon the unsuspecting victim. The results can be disastrous, depending on the ego strength of the victim. Yet it is a factor rarely considered by those who denounce the Church so vehemently.

A group of Catholic psychologists testified at a professional seminar that if the person is relatively well put together (emotionally), a single pinch on his bottom will be sloughed off. The “prey” sees the perpetrator as a “nut.” But if he is already wounded by previous environmental experience (with which Church had nothing to do), he will be harmed. It is my opinion that, in most of the cases I have seen, the victim is already set up to be hurt. And, as is stated, the predator, cleric or not, will sense by a kind of instinct that he can “have his way” through some perceived emotional Achilles’ heel. Such perspective does not justify sin but it does broaden the picture.

What more does S.N.A.P. want? What more can the Church do? Is it the victimized ones which is their concern? Or is it something more? Is it really a case of a desire to share power using this unhappy era to be the stepping stone to a control position? Is it revenge they seek? Was it not written in the Word of God “Vengeance is mine……says the Lord”? Do they want money? What do the agitators want? I suggest if it is really the good of the victims we seek, we should laud the work of the Church to thwart such evil possibilities in the Church---by anyone----. We should support efforts to choke off all opportunities for predators in Christ’s own Church and get on with the basic business of the universal search for holiness and eternal salvation.

[1] Practically all major scientific studies report a significantly higher percentage of homosexual predators over non-homosexual ones. John Jay Report, USA Today, Rockville Centre diocese, among others, report a dominance of homosexual to non-homosexual up to 80-90%.
[2] One of the Paulist recruiters of the past was ordered by the then Superior General” “Keep the bu----ers out.” It looks like a prophetic view in the light of the unhappy history of molestation.
[3] It is most regrettable that some cleric did indeed commit one evil act, years before, in his career, truly repented, made atonement and performed marvelously well for 20/30 years but whose unhappy past behavior surfaces in the present. How much damage does this do to devout Catholics and how destroyed is this priest in his old age? One wonders about the psychological status of the accuser. This occurred in New York City recently and has caused nothing but pain for all.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

What Does the Eucharist Mean to You?

In the year of Our Lord, 1928, on a bright Saturday morning in May I made my First Holy Communion. At the eight o’clock Mass in the great Paulist Mother Church, St. Paul the Apostle, I knelt at the altar railing and received Him. As the priest placed the Sacred Host on my tongue he said:

“Corpus Domini Jesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam”
(May the Body of Jesus Christ protect your soul into life eternal…)

Even though I did not know a word of Latin, I was acutely aware that something very important was happening to me. Even though I was trying scrupulously to obey Sister’s stern command “Don’t let your teeth touch the Host”, I just knew that I was experiencing something very significant. Dr. Robert Coles, the eminent child psychiatrist from Harvard, has done extensive work indicating that young children can have profound awareness of “reality”, uncontaminated by the immersion into the “practicalities” of adult life. Even though children commonly indulge in fantasies and even white lies to support the fantasies, they are capable of amazing insights into what really “is.” At the age of 7, I was in touch with the Reality that my Saviour Jesus Christ was extremely close to me at that moment. It was only in retrospective adult life with God’s help (and the help of my avocation as a psychologist), that I was able to put words onto the “feeling.”

Euphoria with a touch of ecstasy

By some kind of blessed dynamic I have had the same basic experience for over 80 years--- with the expected and predictable emotional variations and vacillations---soaring, at times and dry as dust at others. But always with the same childlike trust in and attachment to the Eucharist. Such an attachment has taken me through painful periods of failure, loneliness and confusion. Not only I, but multitudes of believing Catholics over the centuries have experienced the same dynamic. One contemporary of mine comes instantly to mind—Cardinal JJ O’Connor who beautifully described the role of the Eucharist in what he called the greatest temptation of his life: a trial of faith. In Okinawa where he was a young Naval Chaplain, he spent many hours alone in the Quonset type chapel—wrestling with the Lord before the Eucharist (called the Blessed Sacrament by Catholics). Only the flickering Sanctuary candle punctuated the intense darkness. But in time the young officer arose stronger and clearer to become ultimately the Premier Prelate in the American Catholic church.

This experience is well known to Catholics across the board. G. K. Chesterton, the towering English genius, Claire Boothe Luce, the American intellectual, Jacques Maritain, the French philosopher and scores of high level Catholics, all have responded the same way. It is core to the Catholic experience. Fr John Catoir, the respected host of the Christophers, when asked why he is a Catholic, responded in a mille second: “because of the Eucharist….” He, the famous TV host, the lawyer and theologian, knows full well that other Christian groups do offer a form of “Communion service.” But he also knows none, save the various “Orthodox” churches, holds the same belief as Catholics. When the Catholic “receives” the Eucharist he really believes that he is receiving into his own soul Jesus Christ, i.e. God. While receiving the Host under the “appearance” of bread and wine, the Catholic believes that he actually receives the Lord Himself. This is neither symbol nor memorial nor transient reminder as is more common in Protestant churches. Hence, the Catholic usage of the term “Real” relative to the Eucharist. The Lord is really there deep within my soul! Hence, on entering any Catholic chapel or church where the Eucharist is reserved in the Tabernacle, Catholics genu-flect ( bend the knee to the floor) or make some sign of obeisance and adoration to the Lord before them.

From my days in Africa, I recall the Protestant minister acquaintance saying that if he believed what we believe, he would crawl on his hands and knees to the tabernacle to adore his Lord. He, like anyone, could read the biblical basis for Catholic belief in Luke 22, Matt 26, Mark 14, John 6 and 1Cor 11 but he could not accept the “hard” saying in John 6. Some people can. Some can’t. Of course all believers of any group believe that God is transcendentally present every where. In the scripture, prayer groups, charity behaviors the Lord resides. Everywhere. However, the Eucharist is unique in a super special manner. This is a personal and unique mode of Presence. Some years ago, the then American president attempted to defend his sexual exploits by saying that it all depended on what is means. When is “is” is? The late night standup comics had a field day with semantics. But we Catholics explicitly state that Jesus is there in Person. This astounding statement is symbolized in the Sanctuary lamp which burns 24/7 signifying His quiet and awesome Presence.

But one doesn’t need an IQ of 140 to see and practice this Catholic “thing.” In my own family, working class and fairly low on the socio-economic scale, it was rare to find anyone with a high school education but devotion to the Eucharist was pervasive and matter of fact. It is a truism that some people are educated well beyond their intelligence but it is also reasonably obvious that the reverse can be true. An uncle (called J.J.) never finished elementary school (for economic reasons) and was literary-wise, profoundly limited. But he “understood” the Eucharist, at least viscerally. In his last days, seriously ill in the hospital, he pleaded: “I gotta have Holy Communion…” Devoid of a college degree and association with intellectuals, he, nevertheless, had an almost pragmatic grasp of what the Eucharist means ---particularly when we suffer the various “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.” He “knew” what the Eucharist means. A friend of mine, in the investment business and an honors graduate of a prestigious Catholic University, told me that in his highly stressed life there are only two instances when he experiences “ecstasy.” One, having sex with his wife and, two, when he receives the Eucharist. How that statement would please Pope John Paul II.

In my years as a Police Chaplain, (NYPD-retired Detectives division) I met many striking examples of men with limited classical education who were endowed with clear and practical vision into the vital matters of living. One of my detective friends who had strayed from the Faith for years, was attending the funeral Mass of a colleague slain “on the job.” He insists, without qualification, that as he entered the Church he “heard” a voice saying to him: “I have missed you.” Shortly, thereafter, he went to Confession and has been attending Mass daily ever since (a two year period). I wonder whether or not the voice in his head was his own soul saying to the Lord in Eucharist, “I, the detective, have missed You, the Lord.” Still, meta-verbal speech is not uncommon. I recall the famous incident when Francis of Assisi heard the Lord speak to him with the command “Re-build My House.” The Lord may really have spoken to this cop but who knows! We can only assess the truth by its fruits. The Lord speaks in many ways under many guises.

A most illustrative example comes from the remote parish of Ars in France where the sainted cure, John Vianny was parish priest. Vianny questioned a retired, old farmer who spent hours in the church each day. He asked “What do you say to Him?”, a question which implicitly states deep belief in the Eucharistic Presence. The retiree, knowledgeable in raising crops but untrained in theology, said “I look at Him and He looks at me.” This is the deepest form of prayer. It is mystical. It is without words but profoundly unitive with God. While most of us cannot reach the sublime level of this holy man, most of us can find deep peace and calmness in just “being there.”

This Presence, even if misunderstood, has been utilized by Hollywood and modern literature. I recall the powerful sequence in ‘The Informer” when Gippo, (played so marvelously by Victor McLaglen) staggers to the Catholic Church, to drop before the Eucharist to die, his body riddled with bullets and his soul pleading for forgiveness from the Lord . Who can forget the dialogue, in Beckett, between the Archbishop of Canterbury (played by the incomparable Richard Burton) and the Lord present in the Eucharist? Or the final and moving scene in “The Fugitive” in which the priest (played by Henry Fonda) goes to the Church to die in the Eucharistic Presence? Or the touching scene in AJ Cronin’s “Keys of the Kingdom” wherein Fr. Andrew Chisholm, the young missionary (played by Gregory Peck).arrives in China, alone and desolate? He says Mass, alone, believing that the Whole Court in Heaven is with him---but especially that Jesus is Present right there! The Eucharist is right there with him! He is consoled and encouraged. How I can relate to that! How many times in my tour of Africa, I felt so far from home and family and all those things so valuable to me. But it was the Mass and the Presence of Jesus in the Tabernacle that sustained me. All the fancy high level talk couldn’t reach me. But the Eucharist could and did.

We find a huge belief in the Eucharist in Graham Greene’s works—“Heart of the Matter”—“The Power and the Glory. The blockbuster hit by Evelyn Waugh, “Brideshead Revisited” was lavished in Television, movie and novel. A central theme was, of course, Catholicism with all it mystery and awe and confict.. The Eucharist is so important to this wealthy family that a chapel is in the house itself with Jesus residing in the tabernacle! After each meal they process to thank Him for His gifts to them. All levels can find this Gift. The normal and healthy. The neurotic and self seeking. The wounded. The very poor and the very rich. The perplexed and the confident. The lonely and angry. But those who find it, find the ability to be grateful. The very term Eucharist derives from a Greek word meaning “Thanks.” When I visit my Greek dentist, we have fun when I say what sounds like “Ef-cara-sto” to thank him and he replies what sounds like “cala calor” which means you are welcome—all based on the traditional ancient Faith in the Eucharist!

Whence this prize? This Eucharist? Is it family matrix? Social structure? How come I, the priest with an Irish mother and a Russian Jewish father have this gift? Why do not my Jewish cousins (who are smarter and probably better people than I), have it? Why is this? I say Gift because I think the capacity to believe is part of God’ grace. But a gift can be lost or mistreated. It must be nourished and guarded and loved. I know that even if the classic Eucharistic understanding eludes me and even though I am highly educated with a high I.Q. and it eludes me intellectually, still, it suits me and helps me. For this I am filled with gratitude and like the poor old farmer in France, I just want to look at Him and have Him look at me. After 80 years with the Eucharist, I have reached this plateau of love and gratitude. But what does the Eucharist mean to you?

Could It Be The Water That Makes Californian Craziness? Or What?

Some years ago Truman Capote simultaneously delighted and upset his fans by asserting that “for every year you live in California, you lose one point off your I.Q.” Some excoriated him while others applauded for articulating what was in their own minds. It does seem that in spite of its beautiful weather and its relaxed rampant lifestyles, the Golden State produces more zany types of flower children, bizarre religious fanatics and off-beat dropouts than any other area.One can recall the somewhat extremist behaviors of the Big Sur era with its encounter groups and Tim O’Leary’s enthusiastic fantasies on LSD as the answer to all of life’s problems. I remember the bizarre teachings of Matthew Fox and the New Age theology of a popular Californian nun (like some Modern religious) who saw Jesus as just like us—purely human. Nothing more. Yet, whether or not Truman speaks tongue in cheek or seriously, it is fairly clear that any position, opinion or stance for anyone is strongly influenced by one’s own personal experience.

Some recent personal experiences of my own almost replicate Truman’s assertion. In the last three months I have been consulted by several human transplants from California, specifically, from the “Progressive” Berkley(?)/San Francisco area. Three are women who, not knowing each other, have been referred to me by some local clergy (who generally are uncomfortable and untrained in dealing with a-typical personalities). They are largely unhappy with what they call the “Conservative” Catholic church in this area and are predictably vocal in their support of woman priests, gay marriage, more lay control, more “flexible” rules of spirituality—especially for sexual behavior-- and of course tepid support for the Pope whom they consider a Teutonic near Neanderthal.

With hyperbolic predictability any experienced clinician could see “shambles” written big and clear in their stories. All three were personally out of sync in their marriages. One was particularly “interesting.” Her father wouldn’t speak to her. Nor would her mother or brother. She so irritated her husband that he came after her with a Knife leading her to get a court order of “protection” from her own husband. This was one of those “…the fault, my dear Brutus, is not in the stars but in ourselves…” She found it exceedingly difficult to own any responsibility for her unhappiness or to admit that all relationships are a two-way street. In desperation, such personalities resort to “magical” solutions which will (in their minds) hopefully give them instant Paradise.

They all say they come for “spiritual” resolution of their life difficulties (in this case read Magical) and would be incensed at any suggestion of personal or marital therapy[1]. In fact, they consulted their Californian priests not for solution of problems but to vent [2]and apparently with the hope of unending catharsis (without fee, of course). They used the unsuspecting priests as “sounding boards” not as guides to a life with God. It was the old story. The presenting problem seems spiritual but the latent and real problem is psychological. Unconsciously the innocent clerics are “enablers” who think that they are pastoral and “with it.”

All three were loaded with repressed anger which was displaced to some target other than themselves---preferably one which does not retaliate but accepts anything—like a non-judgmental Church which is committed to compassion and long suffering patience. It might be group or area thinking but it is more probably caused by negative human [3]interaction. In effect, it is not the water or weather or California or a “Conservative” Church which is the “bad guy”. Beyond the elusive and difficult to demonstrate gene theory, it is most probably how we think and feel about ourselves (and life itself) that determines much of human happiness. It is really a toxic human environment, both interior and exterior which is the enemy. One’s interiority is certainly a factor in human happiness but so is one’s exteriority; the places, the people, the things--- as so carefully described in 12 step recovery programs.

For the priceless peace of soul (which these three women are really seeking) it is necessary to clarify and answer honestly (to themselves) the great questions of human self discovery. What do I really want out of life? (A surprising number of people do not know). How much am I prepared to pay and sacrifice for its attainment? What are my fantasies? What do I think about? Whom do I hang out with? The recently deceased Fr. Paul Keenan of the New York Archdiocese used to preach “you get like what you pay attention to…”[4] Narcissistic fantasies, unhealthy reading, depressing comrades, sarcastic conversation, immodest behavior, porno all affect the human being who, trance-like might engage in the old rationalization process that it is only a little peek or look at the salacious or anything experienced spiritual directors call the near occasions of sin. There are extensive data about the misunderstanding of “the slippery slope.” One little step and you are gone—right down the mountain!

Catholics believe that God’s grace operates on human nature. We believe that one confronts and manages human obstacles first. The persistent idea that religion can have a thunder bolt solution—as if there were some kind of Merlinian[5] formula---is probably infantile thinking. The truth is that growth and maturity are slow and incremental requiring the free cooperation of the human being. It is interesting to note that the Catholic Church has condemned not only Pelagianism which believes that man can handle his problems alone with human solutions but also Quietism which believes that God will do it all with little or no human input.[6]

Bill Cosby, the noted philosopher/comic/social observer recently opined that it does matter with whom we associate. This was occasioned by the allegation of a prominent politician that he was not influenced by the offensive public remarks made by his Pastor. For 20 years he listened to the degrading presentations of his spiritual leader insisting that even though he remains a close friend with this man whom he deeply admires, the repulsive value system will have no effect whatever on his own way of thinking. Cosby ridicules this allegation as unreal. I must agree. You get like what you pay attention to!!

A famous baseball player with great family problems has some kind of need to “womanize.” One of his teammates refused to associate with him in social situations because the “Romeo” most probably would exhibit his embarrassing sexual tendency. The second man knows that one is easily affected by his comrades. He values his own integrity and understands how we affect each other. It does matter with whom we associate.

Coming from a slightly Puritanical home where I never heard my father utter one “street” word was not enough to offset my twenty one years as a Police chaplain. I was appalled to find myself effortlessly using the language of the streets. I had picked up that verbal behavior from the people (good --even if rough-- guys) I “hung around with.” I recall my sincere intentions to fight the iniquitous social policy of apartheid on my arrival in South Africa and my intense fright on discovering that I hardly thought or mentioned my Christian responsibility after some time there. The white South Africans took such evil as part of “practical” living. With out realizing it, I, the Missionary with Christ’s message was accepting the unChristian values and views of those I “hung around with.” This is the power---plus or minus--- which is attached to human association. Even the great Apostle Paul endorses this point in his First letter to the Corinthians, 5,9. “I wrote to you …..not to associate with immoral people…not to associate with the immoral, greedy, drunkard or robber… not even to eat with such a person….”

In my own pastoral work today, I am quick to point out this obvious (but apparently misunderstood reality) to those under my spiritual care. If a person with Same Sex Attraction really wishes to gain reasonable chastity, he must avoid those people who are either active in or tolerant of same sex behavior.
The Gay Bar might lure him with promises of “just enjoying the music.” But the psychic climate is dangerous for him. He, as a human being, is susceptible to the confidently spoken homosexual mores so rampant in Gay society. You get like what you pay attention to. You are influenced by those you “hang out with”. Going to gay bath houses for the alleged purpose of “health reasons” is not only lying to oneself but, at the very least, exceedingly toxic to one’s spiritual health. Looking at porno of any kind can be destructive and addictive which only re-enforces the SSA disorder.

In Catholic circles, this is all summed up in what is called the “Near occasions of sin.” It still is people, places and things. One finds human unhappiness or nuttiness not only in California and North Carolina but in Ireland, Hong Kong and Sicily---wherever there are people. Granting the possibility of organic damage, it is mostly attributable, I believe, to poor psychic environment. It comes down regardless of environmental negatives, under God, to refining the point of what I want in life! What do I want? If my goal is clear, I will, with God’s help, do what is necessary for that attainment and vigorously avoid what endangers what I want.

The mantra is: “You get like what you pay attention to.”

[1] Apparently, seeking out a therapist is somehow degrading but looking up a priest (who happens to be a licensed shrink) is considered acceptable since the resolution in their minds is “spiritual.” Is psychotherapy some kind of symbol of failure in life?
[2] Venting for its own sake is useless and unhealthy. As a part of the therapeutic process it has credence.
[3] The biological influence of hormones and genes obviously has some significance but dominantly it is the psychic human factor which is interesting to my hypothesis.
[4] I am familiar with the grammar purists who go ballistic when a writer ends a sentence with a preposition. But I am more impressed with Winston Churchill’s derisive dismissal of their rigid insistence on grammatical clumsiness when he said: “This is something up with I will not put.”
[5] Merlin was the fabled magician of King Arthur’s Round table gang.
[6] The spiritual axiom is: work as if everything depended on you but pray because every thing depends on God.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Will I Be Punished If I Speak My Truth?

When the Archbishop of St. Louis announced that, in his Archdiocese, those self-identified , alleged Catholic politicians who, knowingly supported legislation antithetically opposed to Catholic teaching, would be denied the Eucharist, the prototypic howl of protest swept the land. He was called Fascist, overbearing, un-American, and even Conservative or Orthodox. (Heavens!) A group in Congress issued an indignant statement angry that their Catholicism should be questioned. They stridently pointed out their, at least occasional, Mass attendance as an index of the vitality and knowledge of their Faith. Severe ACLU-like criticism came from many non-Catholic quarters advising the Archbishop (and, by extension, all Catholic leaders) how to run the Catholic Church in the United States. On NPR the threatening axe was dangled: “Stay out of politics or give up your tax-exempt status.” And “Catholic Bishops should stay out of politics, clean up their own house……..” Another blog suggested that “the Church hierarchy’s meddling into electoral politics (has brought it) to a disturbingly new level…” The reaction was massive. There is, factually, enormous pressure to go with the tide. The not-so-subtle message is: Conform or else you will be punished in a way which we will devise.

Surprisingly, some criticism came from ostensibly impeccable Catholic sources. A priest acquaintance confidently assured me that statements such as that of the Archbishop were really useless and possibly even counter productive. He preferred that we “just go along” and make no trouble. He, not surprisingly, had a comfortable way of life which he apparently wished to be protected from any “rocking of the boat.” I wonder what “they” really could do or would do should our Leaders truly lead by speaking out. At the worst, we might ask ourselves: Is tax emption worth the loss of our very selves?

When a committed American Catholic considers the ugly list -- physician assisted suicide, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, abortion, euthanasia, same sex marriage, legal pornography—it is difficult to understand the mindset of those who choose to look the “other way.” We have apparently forgotten the English observation of “The easiest way for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.” Even a superficial knowledge of history indicates that evil penetrates “little by little.” The old Arabic parable of the Camel’s nose is always relevant. “Just a little bit”—“every one is doing it.”— “let us be practical.” Surprisingly soon, the Camel is inside the tent and the Rider is shivering in the outside cold.

Has the American Catholic Church succumbed? Have we, instead of accommodating to our culture, been converted to it? After all the high pressured “accommodation” we can still ask the practical questions: Are we Catholics (especially our leaders) any different in value judgments from our fellow citizens whom we allegedly commit to influence? Are we any braver? Wiser? Holier? Closer to God?

My concern is specifically the Catholic clergy and how consistent are we in our call to participate in Public Life? An immediate aspect of the priesthood, it seems to me, is that of the prophet. It is not to foresee and predict the future but to courageously point out in this moment in history the Will of God and any possible deviance from it. It seems to me that we have become timid and afraid. What ever happened to the idealism of Thomas More who, though not a priest, was more courageous and prophetic than any cleric? It is easy to recall his famous statement: “I love my King but I love my God more.” Where is the “in-your-face” directness of Ignatius the Martyr as he faced down the insults of the Roman Emperor? Where is that traditional Catholic bravery of the ages which scorned bootlicking and popularity for its own sake? Where are the Gregorys and the Bonifaces and the Pius Vlls? How I miss the “gorilla-like” thumping of the religious chest wherein those unapologetic preachers of my childhood bravely preached the Word of God as compared to the modern anemic homilists with their metaphors of waving wheat and shimmering mountain streams! Alas, political correctness has sneaked in everywhere—even into God’s own people!

While for the most part, American Bishops disappoint me[1] in their “rush” to please the liberal media, there are several leaders who do “draw the line”. Specifically, besides the gallant man mentioned above, the gentle, quiet Catholic leader of Boston, Cardinal Archbishop Sean O’Malley, has, in effect, challenged the so-called party of the people (so-called because the only remnant of the true Democratic party is the name) on its acquiescence to become the party of abortion. Further, the Bishops had issued in 2007 a document called “Forming Conscience for Faithful Citizenship” which addressed the political responsibility of Catholics citizens. One area of concern was Massachusetts where most Catholics support what the Catholic Eye calls the Abortocrat party[2] (i.e. Democratic party). So the Cardinal, as a member of the Bishops Conference, commented thusly: “I think, at times it (the Massachusetts situation) borders on scandal…” It, of course, caused a Boston uproar since Catholics have the power to transform the local politics.

I believe that there is a serious obligation to inform and not malform Catholic consciences. The liberal Catholic says: “I must follow my conscience.” We re told we must be “tolerant.” Part of the confusion stems, I think, from a misconception of the meaning of the world “Tolerance.” What does that word really mean? A popular Protestant preacher in Florida, James Kennedy, taught that “tolerance is the last virtue of a degenerate society.” This is perfectly true if tolerance means accepting anything anyone does without judgment or challenge. This clearly would lead to chaos and anarchy. The Catholic Church has been accused of “intolerance” in that we will not yield on matters of what we call Truth. Father Doctor William Martin holds that “Tolerance applies only to people, never to principles. Intolerance applies only to principles, never to people.” Father Joseph Kiturski S.J. says that we cannot simply pick our own Morality as we wish but rather that we must follow the morality as given by God. This is not a spiritual supermarket to shop randomly for “that which pleases.”

Are erring Catholic politicians punished for following “their” truth? Certainly not in this world or day…but there is another day and another world—i.e. that in which one faces God. There is objectively[3] no freedom for these pols to disagree with and even work against their Church’s teaching through an appeal to “conscience.” We believe that there is a right and duty that the Church through Bishops is the authoritative interpreter of moral principles for the formation of conscience.

A Director of Religious Education in a Catholic parish in New Hampshire wrote: “……..I work for the Church…I balance my freedom as an American to vote. I choose my own decisions. I don’t vote the way someone tells me…” It is important to reply to this misperception. The Bishops had no intention to tell anyone how to vote. They said: “ today’s political environment...Catholics may feel politically disenfranchised, sensing that no party and too few candidates fully share the Church’s comprehensive commitment to the life and dignity of every human being from conception to natural death…”

However, they are telling us that the issue is not so much whom we vote for as to why we vote for him. They are telling us that there is a moral responsibility of each Catholic to hear, receive, and act upon the Church’s teaching in the lifelong task of forming his or her own conscience. With such a foundation, a Catholic would not fall prey to braggarts like John Kerry who during that presidential campaign proclaimed himself an authority on Church doctrine, contending that he (and hence Catholic voters) could support abortion and all the other evils mentioned above. The Bishops had no choice but to denounce this catechetical calumny. This is not meddling in politics. This is teaching the Catholic Faith. To let this pass without challenge would be monstrous and cowardly.

Pope Benedict XVI sent a memorandum to Cardinal McCarrick called “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion” in which he stated, to the dismay of “liberal” Catholics, “Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia.” The seamless garment disciples have gone a bit bananas since they heard that “…….the destruction of innocent human life from the moment of conception to natural death is always wrong and not just one issue among many…” So they dismissed it all as “political rhetoric.”

The noble American notion of free speech guaranteed to every man coupled with fair listening goes somewhat out of the window when it comes to abortion. Raging attacks, personal smears, harmful innuendos, mockery, shunning, and the like are all to be expected. There are no rules except to destroy the outspoken ones. The great Congressman Henry Hyde, champion of the innocent unborn, was, in his old age, the victim of a vicious whispering campaign. In his twenties, he indulged in a “youthful indiscretion” (one “count”). In his eighties, when he advocated compassion for the unborn, he was reminded publicly of this mistake of his youth. Was it mere coincidence that he was, at the time, defending the right to life of soon- to- be- born infants?

Can I speak out against the modern cultural machine which aims at de-toothing my Religion? Oh yes, I surely can but I, alas, must face the music of some form of punishment. Am I up to it? Am I too afraid and timid? God help me and all those disenfranchised ones who are threatened by the mask of smiling Evil which is so calculating and shrewd.

[1] I am pleased with the release of the USBC’s statement on conscience of Nov. 14, ’07. More of this is needed.
[2] Nov.30, ’07 #262
[3] How God judges a soul is not easy to ascertain. This is beyond the ken of the human mind.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Pope's Visit

The President can't be all bad. He is meeting the Pope at the airport and is not delegating to the VP. This has never happened before-- Queen of G.B. empire, Dalai Lama or anyone. But they say the Catholic Church is dead. Looks pretty much alive to me.... the Churches I know are not dying. Put your money where the smart guys are. With Jesus Who promised His Church would never fail or end. Even to the end of the world. The symptoms of imminent death seem to be quite absent --but please don't tell me the tired old line of the priest crisis and low attendance and vocations. We are deeply concerned but NOT anxious. See Matt.16 for enlightment. Tell me more. Fr. JBL.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Porno and National Well Being

Can you imagine what fun and excitement it would be to moderate a debate on Porno between the charming, intelligent, lively, liberal, confused Norman Mailer and the cool, intellectual, precise, conservative, Ernst Van den Haag, the Dutch psychologist/attorney? I had that privilege and good fortune some years ago taping that debate for airing on national Television. We were introduced to the viewing audience by Alexander Scourby, the actor, who, with a magnificent voice and intelligent verbal emphases, set the “stage” with a frightening description of the garish, ugly secret world, not only of the porno addict but even that of the periodic user.. Using powerful graphics to illustrate his point, he suggested that there must be an enormous national sexual appetite for illicit and deviate sex. He also wondered about the financial interest of certain Business types since Porno represents not millions but billions of dollars in “investments.” From other sources we discovered that the “mob,” or organized crime, is likewise interested in the exploitation of sex gone awry.

Norman thought that the proliferation of plastics was far more debilitating to the national well being than the porno of the movies, newsstands, computer or after hours television. He thought, as a former boxer, that it was helpful to watch boxing movies to learn “new moves.” He equated watching porno movies so that similarly he might learn new sexual moves. He did explain that he had been married multiple times and was always learning! Somewhat in contradiction, he declared that he is a puzzlement to his liberal friends when he opposes the practice of masturbation—which he calls “that dreadful habit” and which, he claims, leads to insanity. When he has discovered his children watching porno, he “hit the roof” because he believes it will lead them to masturbate and hence, in his view, to madness. However, every savvy porno marketer knows that successful porno is inextricably linked to masturbation which reinforces every episode and sets the Victim up for further purchases in an unending, plane-like, insatiable search for “something” Edenic.

Ernst Van den Haag thought that apart from the financial dimension with its criminal involvement and the rest, Porn was a destructive force for the Individual, the family and ultimately for society. He was more concerned with the vulgarization and the coarsening effect on society in general. He, as an attorney and psychologist and a strong supporter of public morality, was used by law departments to assess the “obscenity levels” of publications and movies. The Movie folk with their usual acumen knew that if they changed one tiny piece of the movie in each state, legally, the movie would then, in effect, become a new movie and in need of further evaluation. Ernst was assigned to assess a then hugely successful porno movie called Deep Throat. As he traveled to each state to assess this blatantly obscene flick, watching it day after day had a serious negative effect on him, the strong willed and moral man. He was, for six months, unable to fulfill his virile role as a husband. His argument, counter to Norman’s, was that porno will diminish healthy energies rather than embellish them.

I volunteered that porno actually plays into fantasy, not reality, and consequently will create real vulnerabilities for the mind in its search for balance and reality integration. I suggested that the good looking young models are photographed in provocative poses (after many shoots for the most seductive portrayal, and air brushed, of course), with the best of makeup and lighting to convey the fantasy of female perfection. The married man, for example, who loads his imagination with such unreal images can turn to his wife in bed and find someone slightly blubbery, lumpy, halitosis-ridden and who occasionally belches. Conflicted between his reality (his wife) and the young model who doesn’t even exist ---at least, in the fashion portrayed by the astute marketers of porno---he will often turn away from his wife to chase a kind of sexual “will o’ the wisp.”. Sex centered, such a conflict becomes even more debilitating when his evaluation of his wife’s virtue and goodness becomes secondary to their relationship. It does appear that a destructive component of porno is that it inclines the “viewer” to relate to a picture fantasy) rather than to a person. Good interpersonal interrelationships need total “beholding” of the person, not a picture.

Sometimes, porno users are unconsciously seeking some kind of intimacy or love with some one, almost anyone. Such a goal is normal[1] but the illusionary means to reach them are sick and objectivity stupid. This was clearly illustrated at a meeting of homosexual males who are seeking a life of self respecting chastity. One chaste same sex attracted person described his past in which porno played a great part, as is often the case with the same sex attracted person, perhaps slightly more so, proportionally, than in the Opposite sex attracted group. He places his porno “pleasure” in a tiny booth, with the blaring music and an ejaculate splattered floor, on the absolute furthest pole away from intimacy. He never felt lonelier. He, in fact, was conditioning himself to be unsuccessful in the very behavior which would help him be fulfilled. Attention is needed, not to fantasy images, but to live, interesting human beings!

While Ernst correctly disagreed that my argument goes too far in its implication, it is still true, however, that porno rather than equip one for dealing with life, in fact, dis-equips healthy functioning. In core, it amplifies the conflict between fantasy and reality which every knowledgeable psychologist understands, forms one major component of mental illness and much human unhappiness. As a professional psychologist, I have counseled several maritally troubled couples wherein the precipitating factor for dissension was the use (usually secretive) of porno materials by the husband. Automatically, if even unconsciously, she feels betrayed and deeply hurt by a kind of emotional adultery.

It is as obvious as the “Noon day sun” that porno usually disrespects females. Years ago, Pope John Paul II taught that a man cannot lust even for his own wife. Those old enough might recall the furor from unenlightened media which apparently did not know the meaning of Lust! The Pope taught that all persons must be treated with respect and cannot be treated as objects or things (which is exactly what porno does).Lust means that persons are reduced to things or re-ified. Legitimate passion is part of the sexual dimension but not lust! Porn feeds into lust and not loving passion.

And, obviously, for that male[2], married or single, who is more sexually driven and genitally centered, such a conflict becomes even more debilitating in heterosexual relationships again when his appreciation of a woman’s virtue, goodness and generosity becomes secondary. His interest is heavily physical. Experience seems to indicate that, despite the need and value of a sexual component, a relationship founded principally on the sexual, doesn’t stand the tests of time well.

Students of human nature can make a strong case to show the negatives of Porno. Edwin Meese, former Attorney General did a huge study showing the devastation from the use of these materials--- with strong expected protests from Special Interest groups. Yet, truthfully it is difficult to define exactly what Obscenity is. What does it mean to say that something is pornographic? Right up to the United States Supreme Court, through lower courts, through colleges and churches—the attempt has been made. There is not really a satisfactory definition. Interestingly, one Supreme Court Justice remarked that though he couldn’t define it, i.e. porno, when he saw it he recognized it as porno, obscenity, filth. Aren’t we speaking here of plain common sense and honesty?

However, if one places the sexual faculty and urge within the context of an Eternal Plan and a Divine Planner, it is possible to make some intellectually symmetric sense out of the mess. Pleasure is part of that plan and intended as an enjoyment granted by the loving Father of all. (Some commentators suggest that sexual pleasure is a kind of reward from the Lord for all the sacrifice and pain which parenting brings.) Such a component is common to all of us. Deep within the human being is an involuntary and powerful urge for the use and enjoyment of the sexual on physical and emotional levels, with pleasure being one of the main drives. The opposite sexes, providing all the “wires” are correctly lined up, will find an automatic attraction, interest and pleasure in each other, not only emotionally but physically. Such a dynamic can last life long—even when there is Snow on top of the Volcano! It is part of the Divine scenario.

So, a vulnerability to the pornographic is “there” both in its destructive power and its evil because it is pleasurable! Certainly, most healthy and normal male eyes would be drawn, even automatically, to the appearance of a beautiful young woman in the Buff! Yet, one wonders, if we can appreciate human beauty in classic art, (e.g. in the Vatican museum, loaded as it is with marvelous statuary and brilliant paintings of nudes without crossing the line of exploitation), is it not possible to “contain” the pleasure drive within the boundaries of modesty and true appreciation? Isn’t it possible for a male to enjoy the beach in those summer days where young women flounce around in very scanty bathing togs---without lusting? Or ogling and leering? Can one not enjoy physical beauty without lust? This is very far from the puerile allegation that the Catholic Church is opposed to pleasure and human beauty and is merely a gloomy and repressed enemy of human joy! The allegation apparently does not understand that joy is not only different from sexual pleasure as such but is far more profound in its satisfying potential. Some teenagers, (of any age, chaps like poor old Al Goldstein of Screw newspaper,) get their sexual “kicks” by writing their porno on bathroom walls and say they are just having fun. Does anyone think that such a practice (particularly in adults) is to be encouraged in the name of sexual maturity?

The sexual has the greatest sensual/emotional fulfillment possible. Coupled with profound curiosity, sex draws all people to itself. It is biologically and psychologically based and hence has enormous power. And this is good. It was so planned by God. However, as both Rollo May, the eminent American psychologist, and Plato, the Greek philosopher, remarked: Sex is like a powerful steed which must be kept reined in under the control of the rider. Such self control is what Christians call the virtues of Continence and chastity. Self control under God. But why should the May/Plato observation be taken seriously?

The Believer believes that this profound sexual pleasure is substantially linked to the procreation of children, not only for biological, physiological and social ends, but also for the reward to the couple for their sacrifice and love in rearing a child. Sexual pleasure, to a believer, belongs exclusively in marriage between a man and a woman. That pleasure belongs to spouses alone. Isn’t it fairly clear that parenting is the most enduringly demanding task of all human endeavors? It is the separation of pleasure from the reason for the pleasure that makes for human degradation. Sheer pleasure for pleasure’s sake can become disordered and inversely dissatisfying. And this is simply because the Creator lovingly designed it so. The human being functions more humanly and more happily if he follows the Plan which is deep within the human psyche, so often covered over by illusion and deception. Centuries of human experience attest to this point but mere knowledge never did make much sense. It is a deeper element than knowledge which sheds light on such a huge problem. That element is the Plan of God.

Still, the temptation is to divorce pleasure from its meaning and to seek pleasure for itself since it is so powerful and falsely “promising” in its sensate reactions. Every one is vulnerable to this temptation. Yet, Pope Paul VI long ago noted with exquisite prescience that once you separate love from sex, you open the doors wide--- for enormous destruction of the beauty of the sexual. Humanae Vitae has been furiously attacked as anti-love and anti-joy but in hindsight appears now to have been “spot on.” Sex has become trivialized and neutral while the Plan of the Creator is that sexual love is priceless and beautiful for use solely according to His plan. Porno is not real but what the psychologist calls the “ir-real”. It has no true place in the life of the Real Lover who understands reality or the Plan. We can probably never extirpate porno from society but we can, with God’s help, act with chastity and continence and substantially reject the Pornographic. Not only is the individual benefited but also the family and finally the National Well Being. This is a story which should be told.

[1] Normal for true interpersonal relationships but certainly not for anything that just comes along!
[2] Female “porn” has a different complexity and a different pornography. It focuses more basically on relationships, “romance” and feelings.. The above clearly adverts to the male who is the major consumer of porno.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Catholic Politicians Who Vote for Anti-Catholic Legislation

This is not separation of church and state but separation of religion and state. If these people really believe in Catholic values it is phony mental tricks to try to justify anti Catholic or anti religious voting. Partial birth abortion (really infanticide) is anti religious barbarism,and no baloney about free thinking will make this right. I don't want to tell any one whom he should vote for but I do wish we knew WHY we vote as we do! Not mindless. automatic pulling the lever-- but reason enlightened by God's law--wht do you think? Fr Jim Lloyd

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Melting Pot Effect and Cultural Damage

It was early on New Year’s Eve last that I was walking past a beautiful Slavic Church when I decided to pop in to visit my Eucharistic Lord. An Eastern European type edifice with resplendent mosaics, colorful and gold gilded, the Church was enhanced by the usual holiday Christmas decorations . Very prominent were two flags. One, American, was displayed proudly, and the other, the Flag of Slovokia, seemed inherent with love of the Homeland, the old country from which they came. On the Baldachin above the altar was the image of the Patron saint of this Church, a Slavic priest whose tongue was ripped out because he would not break the Seal of Confession. Interestingly, above the Image there was written in gold letters the word “Tacui.” I have kept silent. The place almost reeked with a pride in the Faith.

I stayed for the 6:00 P.M. Mass celebrated by a young freshly minted Slavic priest who, with great reverence and devotion ,called down Christ, the Lord upon the altar. Since there was no choir, the “music” was supplied by another Slavic priest who was old, bald and who sang Slavic hymns with a terrible, ungifted but sincere voice. This Mass was as valuable before God’s throne as any magnificent Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica or St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

There were about 30 Catholic attendees, oldish, graying and well dressed, all of whom fairly shrieked of Central and Eastern European ancestry. There was that unmistakable emanation one senses from another culture. The homily was entirely in Slavonic of which I understood not one word.

Somehow it didn’t matter. Instead of discomfort, I felt a vibrant spirituality rise in me as I watched my fellow Catholics from another culture drink in words of praise and love for the Creator. They were all deeply involved. The males, so unlike their American counterparts, responded enthusiastically to the Mass prayers in the deep tones one associates with eastern European liturgy. At the conclusion of the Mass, this little group gathered at the rear of the Church for what seemed an almost Biblical Koinoia ( or fellowship). They chatted warmly with each other and seemed eminently comfortable with their ethnicity. They greeted me, so obviously non Slavic, with warm smiles and hearty handshakes. The ambience seemed natural and non-forced.

I left them with contradictory feelings. It was so beautiful to be there with them but I wondered why are there so few of them? Where are their children and grandchildren? Is this different from the widespread phenomenon of the “falling away” from the Faith reported of all ethnicities and areas? Are some young people ashamed of the “Old World” manners and customs of their older relatives? Is there some kind of pressure to shed the past? Is there some kind of revulsion to history? Is there some kind of discomfort being who one really is? Am I not good enough to be a Slovak? Or Jew? Or Irish? Or Portuguese? Or Asian?

As I walked away I passed a group of youngish people waiting to enter a nightspot with a famous standup comic’s name. Their big value for this night was to get bombed, blow on paper horns, perhaps “score” and pay big bucks for the privilege. My impression was that they were brassy, superficial and tasteless. The girls were “overmadeup”. The boys were baggy panted with ugly hair does. And loud. Coming from such a classy experience with the Slovaks, no doubt influenced my involuntary negative comparison. It almost seemed to me that their models were not their elders with their probity and class, but rather Britney and Hilton with their unbelievable ugliness.

However, I know an Albanian waiter working his way for an engineering degree who has similar insights. Just back from a Christmas visit to his family overseas, he speaks of the closeness of families in Europe. Of the communal dimension of Albanian life in spite of their comparative poverty. While we ( and I certainly do) revel in our sense of the individual in America, we seem to have lost something
in our global greatness. I have lived overseas for years and deeply appreciate the American scene ( and would live nowhere else) but I also know that we are becoming desperately weak on some emotional or spiritual level. Europe has its scum level and counting. But they fiercely retain their ethic identity. We have been trying for years to establish what we call the “American identity.” While we have had some real success, there is a Caution flag flying somewhere. Beware of the corrosive effect of the Melting Pot syndrome.

My own Russian Jewish grandparents came to New York with heavy accents, beards and unusual cuisine. Obvious outsiders. They located at the lower East side huddling among their own people in a protective ghetto trying merely to survive. Their children, “to a man”, jettisoned the “old way” and became strident Broadway Joe types, anxious to get out from under the label of “Dirty Jew.” Religion, Language and custom all went into “deep six.” They became the liberal, somewhat agnostic, “slightly” Communist, finger snapping modern of the early to middle 20th century. They yearned to be accepted in the New World, to be like everyone else (or so they thought in their “perception” of what everyone else was). Consequently, much of the rich tradition of European Jewry was lost. My family type of Jew melted into the general population losing one’s “face” and possibly one’s cultural soul in the meantime.

The American political system is the greatest in human history. This is an unqualified statement. Yet, with all the magnificence of the American way, we have our pitfalls. One of which is this artificial “Melting Pot” notion. We will all be the same. We will all equal rights. There will be an equal playing field. Everyone will be treated the same way! Pragmatically, we know this is illusion. Our history in spite of much good will and intent tells us the harsh truth. While we are all Constitutionally equal, some of us are more equal than others. Perhaps this is consequential (and even inevitable) to the now obvious presence of the Great Aboriginal calamity within all of us. Original Sin, in Catholic terms, means, that the human nature will always “tend” toward the less than perfect. There are and always will be inequalities. Some born and some manufactured. To pretend otherwise is be dishonest with oneself.

However, rather than help me to reach my real personal level of who I truly am, the Melting Pot insinuates that what I am, is not good enough and I must change. I must reach some kind of communal faceless Persona and Behavior. I am pressured to be like “every one else,” to lose my own “face” and adopt some one else’s. Fortunately to my mind, the rebellion against such an assumption has begun. The black American community, for example, keenly aware of their interior problem of identity, has worked assiduously to clarify and ingest the correct notion of “blackness. The African-American knows full well the emotional disaster that comes with poor self image. To a very great extent their efforts have been successful. But neither black or white is superior. Nor English over Irish, Hispanics, Greeks, Turks. Nor any one group over another. Buddhists, Hindus, Moslem, likewise. We all have traditions from our pasts.

My fantasy is that we would all, as fervent Americans who love our Country, keep very much alive our relatively diverse and rich backgrounds. No apologies. No shame. No inferiority.

But whatever it is, we need some kind of modern Paul Revere who can wake us up with an alarm cry of some kind!!

The American ideal obviously must encompass a common acceptance of American law and ideals. Yes. But it must also continue to encourage all of us to be transparent about our traditions and grow out of the immature belief that others are always better than mine. Ethnic shame has no place in America life. While our official language is always English rightfully reflecting our history, Yiddish, Hindi, Spanish, and Gaelic have their appropriate place. The delicate balance between the proud declaration: “I am an American” and “My roots are from Africa (or Norway or Mexico or Slovkia) is indeed difficult to maintain or even discover. But it must be done. Not overdone.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Welcome to my Blog!

Hi to everyone who might reach me ! I am an old timer WWII type! Psychologist and bridge player. Old time Television and radio career. NBC, ABC and CBS. Love my Faith and laughing .Retired police chaplain. Love to talk with others who agree or otherwise. Half Irish and half Jewish (Russian) Swimmer and former basketball player. Want to talk theology? Psychology? Baseball or Pro football? Gimme a "ring." Fr Jim Lloyd