Faking the News

I was born into a Catholic family. The Catholicism of my formative years was a totally different brand than the Catholic Worker-style practice of one’s faith (and life lived in accordance with the gospels) advocated by co-founder, Dorothy Day.

When I tried to capture (in an essay in my last book) some of the oddness of growing up Catholic in the house where I was born, it was met with considerable familial disapproval. I obviously failed in my attempt at being a poor man’s David Sedaris and mining family matters for writing material.

Today’s purpose isn’t revisiting family dysfunction, however.

Two Des Moines-based Catholic Workers, Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya were arrested last week, having admitted to sabotaging the Dakota Access Pipeline section crossing the middle of the country and Iowa. Reznicek has a history of this type of activism, modeled after the Plowshares anti-nuclear activists of the 1980s. Both also are carrying on in the spirit of the organization co-founded by Day and Peter Maurin.

Dorothy Day, one of the 20th century’s activist giants.

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The God People

We’re getting ready to move. It could be next month, or it might be next spring.

Mary has been going through piles of stuff that’s collected over the last two decades. She’s done a great job of winnowing down the clutter that grows over a lifetime of saving things, thinking that there might be a better use for them.

Some of what she pulled out over the weekend came from that period in our lives when we were God People. That was more than 30 years ago.

We actually moved halfway across the country to congregate with other God People at a place where we were supposed to learn new things about this God. The leader man sold us on his place by telling us one time that he knew more about God than anyone else.

The God place in Indiana

The God place in Indiana

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Papal Edict

I’m going to stay with the topical for this week’s Friday blog selection. Given that the big news this week is centered on the pope’s visit to the U.S., I’m throwing-in with that one for today.

There is the adage that religion and politics are deal-breakers for winning friends and influencing people, or something similar. Yet, both find their way into conversations, and they sure have hijacked our current news cycle. I think there’s a reason behind that, and I’ll spend some space delving into that aspect of “Pope Francis Goes to Washington.”

The president and the pope; on the same ideological page.

The president and the pope; on the same ideological page.

Did you know that Francis is only the fourth pope ever to visit our country? In fact, we were 189-years-old as a nation before Pope Paul VI dropped by in 1965. Since then, it was John Paul II in 1979, Pope Benedict XVI in 2008, and now, Francis. Actually, Pope John Paul II was a regular visitor, coming back for visits in 1984, 1987, 1993, 1995, and 1999. He always scheduled an audience with the sitting president  when he came calling, too. The presidents visited were Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan (twice), and Bill Clinton (three times). Francis is the only pope to ever address the U.S. Congress, however. Continue reading

Bernie and the Bible

Say what you want about Bernie Sanders, he’s determined to get his message out to a wide swath of Americans, even evangelical Xians. What, you mean that Hillary Clinton isn’t courting the vote of Bible-believing types? The answer would be a resounding, “no!” But I don’t want to talk about Hillary today (or any other day, really).

Bernie, the Bible expositor.

Bernie, the Bible expositor.

On Monday, the socialist Sanders was on the campus founded by Moral Majority leader, Jerry Falwell. Falwell’s the guy that said this about terrorists and also, Larry Flynt had this to say about Falwell and his mother. I’m not sure how either is related, exactly. I do know that any progressive Democrat campaigning for president must assume that they’re not going to carry the evangelical voting bloc, so most don’t bother to address it, period. So kudos to the socialist, running as a Democrat! Continue reading

Progressive Revelation

To value truth in a world that demonstrates at every turn that lies and false narratives are preferred, leaves seekers with a steady diet of dissonance.

Last week, I visited the Sabbathday Lake Shaker community in New Gloucester, a mere 20 miles from my home. This was the first time I’d ever ventured on the grounds. My experience (and subsequent return visit) was much different than I expected.

Like many things in this world, when you make time to push past surface information and often, a false understanding, you are sometimes rewarded. Rather than relying on only the internet and Google for my “Shaker 101” brief, I’ve been reading materials acquired at my local library, as well as information provided by the accommodating staff.

Shakers believe in something called “progressive revelation.” In reading about this concept—the idea that there is a constantly spinning center at the very core of their faith—allowing them to reshape their beliefs when necessary, I was struck by how similar this is to my own current way of seeing the world and the ongoing education and I’d even say—deprogramming—that I’m engaged in, as I attempt to break free from the lies and disinformation stream offered up by traditional sources.

The Truth is Out There!

Is the truth out there?

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A Demagogue By Any Other Name

Beware of wolves in sheep's clothing.

Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Since the government shutdown began, and the image of Ted Cruz began flashing across my television screen, I’ve been thinking about things that happened in my life 30 years ago. That’s when I learned a valuable lesson—one I kept trying to run away from. Those experiences taught me firsthand just how dangerous and delusional demagogues are.

It was thirty years ago that my young wife and I loaded up a U-Haul and journeyed 1,500 miles across the country to Northwest Indiana. She was pregnant with our son. I would enroll at Hyles-Anderson College, a fundamentalist, Baptist Bible college located in Crown Point. For two years, I attempted to correlate the inconsistencies I saw upon arrival, but kept tamping down, like a good little preacher boy. Continue reading

The Devil’s in the Details

The Devil depicted in the Temptation of Christ, by Ary Scheffer, 1854.

The Devil depicted in the Temptation of Christ, by Ary Scheffer, 1854.

There is a story about Martin Luther, the esteemed 16th Century Protestant theologian, where he was said to have turned from his desk, and hurled the ink well he was using at the Devil, who he thought was standing behind him, ready to cause him harm. This may actually be apocryphal—but it does indicate that for men like Luther, the Devil, aka, Satan, was so real that waging warfare against him and all his works occupied their waking hours. Continue reading

Viva il Papa!

Newly-elected Pope Francis, with Catholic cardinals. (NYTimes photo)

Newly-elected Pope Francis, with Catholic cardinals. (NYTimes photo)

I’m a lapsed Catholic. I have been since that fateful period when I left home, threw off parental shackles—and became a born-again Xian. I know, usually you leave home and get wild, right?

It’s a long story, and I won’t bore my readers with too many details. However, with a new pope on-board in Rome, I think a pope post is in order. Continue reading