Thursday, April 7, 2016

Black Masses and Same-Sex Weddings

I know...I know....I said I had posts and I do.  I do.  I've been just so tired lately and my house is so disastrous that the last thing I want to go do is research to fill in the missing pieces of my blog posts.  Yesterday I forgot to do my Bible Study reading.  So before bed I rushed through to be prepared only to discover that among other things I neglected to fill out some registration forms for HB's school.  So I rushed around this morning doing that.  Rushy Rushy.  I hate it.

Anyways...this isn't one of those posts.  This is one that I simply give some thoughts and observations to.

So I've been hanging out in the comboxes lately.  There's been a lot of buzz lately over religious liberty.  Between the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) hearing the Little Sisters of the Poor case and then asking for suggestions to hammer out the issue to the recent legislation (or not legislation) in several states including Mississippi, it's been a wild ride.  And many people don't seem to understand the position people take when it comes to religious liberty.  So I've spent a lot of time either explaining religious dogma or explaining the importantance of protecting ideological differences especially in business.

Most of my exchanges are cordial.  Believe me when we talk I'm a gentle person.  I don't tend to get all fired up.  And I don't take it personally.  If I get to that point, I walk away.  I also don't like taking brow beatings so I usually tell the person if they can't actually address the issue but must resort to some form of name-calling then I'm shutting the conversation down.

The reason behind having these conversations at all is to inform people.  In this great day and age we don't have to rely on media to disseminate the whole picture.  Often times its bias and sometimes flat out wrong.  In fact the piece I commented on was about the media bias on the Mississippi law.  Of course some people refuse to listen, but there's nothing I can do about that.  Lurkers, those who simply read the comments but never comment, are still getting the information themselves and can confirm it.  That's equally as important if as religious people we want our voice heard.

One commenter basically said the reason why many religious adoption agencies shut down was because the government withheld funds over same-sex adoption grounds.  That's not true.  The problem was their license was essentially being revoked.  They said so in a press statement.  Adoption agencies can't operate in a state without a license and these two states refused to license the religious adoption agency because the religious adoption agency refused to place children in homes with same-sex couples.  I wasn't made aware of this myself until it was pointed out in a combox where the person linked the press release.  That's why it's important to tell people these things in comboxes.  It's not getting out there.

Another commenter asked how I found out about a women being killed by a gay man because she told him religious views on same-sex relationships.  I had said it didn't make the news.  I heard about it on social media because the priest broke the story and continues to break the story about this hate crime.

All of this is important...but what has it to do with Black Masses and Same-sex weddings?

One of the most dominate arguments I've heard is that a wedding cake is just a wedding cake.  That Christians are truly being discriminatory towards gay people.

There's two problems: 1) it's the ceremony that's at issue not the sexual orientation of the person.  If it were two straight men getting married for tax purposes or immigration reasons (which is illegal to do), a Christian would still not bake the cake.  Why?  Because it's not about straight people versus gay people.  It's because it's a same-sex ceremony and we recognize it differently.  As I explained from a Catholic point of view there are only two types of weddings: 1) natural ones- like a Jewish wedding between a man and a woman and 2) sacramental ones- like between two baptized Christians.  A same-sex wedding regardless of whether the word wedding is in it doesn't fall into this category.  It's other.  Which leads me to my next point...

2) A same-sex wedding cake is not like a regular wedding cake.  Just as in the example of the birthday cake versus the retirement cake.  They all have the same ingredients but if you sent a retirement cake to a child's birthday party....well that wouldn't fly.  They are two different things.  Likewise a Black Mass to a Catholic or a Christian is not the same thing as a regular Mass.  They may have the word Mass in them, but they are definitely different.  So I would think a baker could say "We don't do cakes for Black Masses."  Just like I think they could say "We don't do same-sex weddings."  It's not an issue of not serving atheists/satanists or gay people.

I said this to a person and he (or she) remarked that refusing to bake a cake for a Black Mass would be discrimination against a particular group.  So we're already seeing the slippery slope thing going on here.  He (or she) failed to see that the problem lies in what events a person serves.

When I asked about a gay person baking a cake for say an anti-gay marriage rally, he said the problem wasn't with the Christians themselves, it was with the message.  In other words, the event is perfectly fine to refuse to serve as long as the message is out of line with social mores.  Unfortunately that's not how it works.  What is offensive to some may not be offensive to others.  If we are going to force Christians to bake a cake offensive to them, then we are going to have to force others to bake things that are offensive to them.

So next time someone asks you about baking for a same-sex wedding, keep all this in mind.  And you may want to bring up the fact that it's ridiculous to ask a devout Catholic to bake a cake for a Black Mass so why ask them to do so for a same-sex wedding.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

It's Been A While

It's been a while since I've hit publish.  It's not that I haven't been churning out blog posts.  It's that I've written the majority of a post and realized that I needed to fill in a few details later.  Then I never found the time to do so.  So I have posts.

The exercise regime has been "eh."  I haven't really lost any weight since January like I had hoped.  Although now I don't have to squeeze as much into certain clothing items and certain things I've purchased roomy I now need to borrow a belt.  So does this mean I'm building muscle mass?  At any rate, I'm disappointed that the shedding hasn't melted off.  Maybe this whole not squeezing in thing is the start of the down hill slide?  Or maybe I really need to up the exercise.

April 10th.  That's the day when sunrise is exactly at 6:00 am.  So on April 12th, my goal is to get my big booty up and start jogging on Tuesday and Thursday morning for half an hour in addition to my usual Mon/Wed/Friday gym class.

Divine Mercy Sunday was....divine.  I ended up offering something up, consecrating myself to the Divine Merciful Love, and getting someone out of purgatory in one Mass.  It was exhilarating.

I wasn't actually expecting to be called to such a consecration.  If you ever have been to my house, you would know that it's tastefully decorated...Catholic.  That said, I looked around my house and discovered that at the start of the consecration I didn't have anything Divine Mercy related.  No, metals, prayer cards, images, rosary beads, nothing.  Not even the consecration book, which came later.  At most I had St. Terese's Story of a Soul.  That's it.  Edit Correction: My car has a Divine Mercy sticker on it.  And my car is named Mercy.  Totally forgot that.  Although technically my car doesn't reside in my house.  So when I say, I was the most unlikely candidate for the consecration.  I mean that truthfully.  Despite being 1/4 Polish, Divine Mercy wasn't one of those things I gravitated towards as a devotion.  Lots of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Lots of Sacred Heart of Jesus.  No Divine Mercy.  I suppose this is Jesus's way.  When you're called to something, it may surprise you what exactly he desires for you.  It's also crazy that there's this whole Carmelite connection to Divine Mercy.  I assumed that since there's an order of priests devoted to it and Carmelite charism is prayer there wouldn't be a connection.  But Jesus is all like. Uh, crazy lady, yes there is.  Think you need to re-read St. Terese.  *Mic drop*

So looks like that's my special thing now.

In case you are wondering, I have a couple of pamplets and the book for now.  I plan in God's good time to get a copy of St. Faustina's Diary and that sort of thing.  But for now I'm happy sort of being a hidden martyr of His Merciful Love.  They say a slow burning love is a lasting one.

And to switch topics again...HB got in trouble at the after school program.  That's the irrelevant part.  What's relevant is during the discussion with the school coordinated, I discovered that they keep the gate open.  Unfortunately they are required to because of another after school program's federal dictates (don't you just love how the feds mess stuff up).  She told me that she has asked the higher-ups to do something about the safety issue, but they don't listen.  It's a safety issue because the gate empties into a parking lot close to a major street.  HB is not the only child who has darted out to the fence (fortunately he came back but was suspended for the stunt).

Anyway...I called the higher-ups but the lady is out until Wednesday.  So I left a voice mail message.  I'm of course faced with the dilemma of pulling him from the program for safety reasons if she should not be willing to accommodate.  Seeing as it's an after school program, I'm not sure exactly what I can do.  If it received state or federal money, the program could get into trouble for not accommodating children with autism (since wondering and running away are common safety issues).  If they don't, since it's an optional program, we could be hosed.  In which case I may have to put on my political hat and make a stink about it with the school board.

Does anybody know the legal ramifications surrounding accommodations in public school after school programs?  I'm not sure where to even begin the research other than to contact the local Autism Society Coordinator.  Hubby of course says I should just wait first before making too many steps.  And he's right.  Perhaps the coordinator will make plans to remedy the situation.  But I'd like to find this information out anyway just in case I need to exert some leverage.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Maundy Thursday: The Little Sisters of the Poor Case

So yesterday I took a gander at the oral arguments at the Supreme Court over 7 law suits filed against the governments inclusion of birth control in the Affordable Care Act.  Here is my understanding of the case.

The government feels that as proper health care 1) everyone have health insurance, 2) all employers with 50 + employees are obligated to offer health insurance, 3) all women should have access to birth control seamlessly through their insurance coverage.  In order to accomplish those three main objectives, they mandated that all people have health insurance or be fined.  They forced all employers (with X number of employees) to offer health insurance or be fined.  They also said that all health care contracts must include certain items including birth control in order to be sufficient coverage.

The organizations are suing because 1) they must offer health care coverage and 2) part of that coverage must include birth control.

The government looked at some religious non-profits and said "look we know that your religion says you can't cover birthcontrol, but we want it seemlessly.  So fill out this form, telling us who your insurer is.  We will have them contract with us as a separate policy within the overall plan provided coverage."

The Little Sisters et all said "Nope.  Sorry not going to tell you who our insurer is.  Not only isn't it your business, but you can't take over our plan.  We set-up the plan.  You have your own plans.  Use them."

The government says "But it must be seemless."

LSOP et al "Then don't force us to provide health care coverage."

The government says "No, everyone must have coverage.  And we want all health care to be seamless."

LSOP et all *head desk*

 The Supreme Court looks at it and says "Okay. Your accommodation is to find out who their insurer is so that you can contract separate birth control coverage using their insurer."

The government "Yes, thank you.  That's it. We just want to know who their insurer is."

Supreme Court "Why can't the employee tell you?  Why does the employer have to?"

Government "uh...."

Supreme Court asks "You also said that there is an accommodation. And will this birth control plan be separate or will it be in their plan?  Will they have a different card?"

Government "yes, of course it will be separate. We want to accommodate. We don't want to make them pay for anything.  As we understand it, it won't be a part of their plan from their employer.  It will be separate but through the same insurer."

Supreme Court asks "So it won't really be seamless.  Why can't you just do that through the exchanges instead?

Government "But it is seamless only through their insurance."

SC: "But you just said it would be separate."

Government: "Yes, it will.  But it will be seamless."

SC: "How can it be seamless if in order to accommodate it is separate?

Government :>0

And there in lies the lie the government is selling.  If they want seamlessness, that's impossible to do with their so called accommodation.  If they truly want seamlessness, exempt the LSOP from providing any insurance.  Make what they do provide voluntary.  Allow the employees to get seamless coverage through the exchanges.

But we'll see what the Court officially decides in June.

I'm imagining that what comes down the pipe next is individuals suing the government for forcing them to buy insurance with birth control coverage.  This is because all the exchanges must include it and all secular employers. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Day 26: The Young Messiah Review

Today is a milestone birthday for my dad.  Happy Birthday!

And this afternoon I decided to take the kiddos to the Young Messiah.  I had heard promising reviews.

The movie is a fictionalization of Jesus's life as a child.  It isn't heretical.  That's the good part.

The bad: It's based on the Anne Rice series with the addition of a Centurion looking for Jesus and the devil following Jesus.  Anne Rice is not a literary type.  Let's be honest here.  Her books are entertaining and she has loads of fans, but there isn't much to pick apart and glean from her writing.  I've read these particular books and I found them to be "eh" or as the French say "comme si, comme sa."

I had heard that the movie was based on the books, but it's a movie.  Movie's deviate.  But alas the movie was boring and didn't make me think very much.  In fact the movie is lauded as good for the family even though it's rating is PG-13.  My kids got bored with it as well and so I ended up dragging them away from the theater because you know how kids are when they are bored.  We didn't finish the movie.  Also there were only two other people in the whole theater during Spring Break and Holy Week.  That should also tell you something.

Would I watch it?  Sure I suppose if I was looking for a movie that wasn't heretical and had a different take on the Life of Christ.  But I wouldn't pay to watch it in the theater.  I think the Gospel of John movie was really good in comparison.  It was based on the Bible whereas this is based on the imaginings of a whoa-be-gone Catholic.  We can argue about whether Rice's temporary conversion was genuine or meant to sell books later.  

Verdict: Wait til it comes out on video.  It's not a movie entertaining enough for little children.  Even children who've watched the Bible series at home and ask dozens of questions about Jesus  on a regular basis.

Oh, and as I was walking out while escorting my "bored and therefore getting into trouble" child some lady remarked "You better watch out.  The Easter bunny is watching you."  :0  To which I retorted that "It doesn't make a difference."  1) This is the first I've heard that the Easter bunny watches anyone in the Easter bunny lore and 2) We're Catholics. The Easter bunny doesn't come and visit us.  That's a fairy tale.  We celebrate Easter with presents but there's no visit from the Easter bunny and 3) Why do people do that?  Seriously? It's just plain rude.  I understand the "you listen to your mother" comments.  But really my son should be more concerned about the Easter bunny than behaving himself in general?  *sigh* No wonder some children as they age wonder what other things might just be made up fantasy.  In fairness we were walking past the Easter bunny display, but just because someone is in the mall doesn't mean they were there to visit a dude in a bunny suit.

Rant over.  Carry on.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Day 25: Been Really Busy

I feel tired but that's because I haven't been sleeping as much.  Hubby hasn't been sleeping well and keeps waking me up.  This morning he managed to scratch me.  I asked him if his fancy do dad Apple Watch monitors sleep and he said supposedly it does.  I really think he has sleep issues of some sort because he wakes up at the drop of a hat and he has a hard time sleeping.  I've been telling him for a while that he needs to talk to a doctor about it, but I don't think he has.  Seriously though, Hubs, doctors can supply you with non-addictive sleep aids.  Love you, your cranky wife.

Other than that I'm really energetic.  Going to the gym has improved my strength and endurance by a lot.  Yesterday I did a lot more house cleaning than I was because I didn't have to stop for breaks. 

Today we had a lot of new people in the class.  Some you could tell were thriving.  Others were struggling to get used to things.  I'm think a couple of them ordinarily take the Zumba class because from my tiny knowledge of Spanish I caught the words "Zumba" a couple of times. 

Knee is getting more and more bossy.  I went to pick him up and he told the lady that he was working on his art project and not finished yet.  Then he proceeded to dawdle to the car with the last bit trying to bolt through the parking lot.  He ended up terrifying the poor guy looking for a parking spot and encoring a scolding from me.  This made him "angry" at me and he spoke of wanting me to die.  I asked him how he planned to get home and he said "I will drive myself."  He can't even touch the peddles, the Stink.  I asked him how he planned to feed himself and he said he would make eggs.  He probably could figure it out since he's made enough eggs with me before.  As soon as we got home he demanded that I make him chocolate milk.  He's a feisty one that kid.

Hubby leaves on Sunday to go to a conference.  So I'm doing a bunch of laundry and trying to arrange everything just so before he leaves.  Saturday we have back to back birthday parties.  It also doesn't help that Sunday is along Mass and I'm giving blood afterwards.  I hate when routines get disrupted, but we preserve. 

For Holy Week, the plans are to take the boys to the Young Jesus movie, get hair cuts, and watch the Prince of Egypt Holy Thursday, part of the Bible series on Good Friday, and something else on Saturday.  Plus there's lamb and perhaps the Good Friday service.  I may fall down exhausted by weeks end. 

What are your plans for Holy Week?

Monday, March 14, 2016

Day 23: Walmart Grocery Pick-up

Disclosure: I used to work for Walmart.  While Walmart did not pay for my groceries, I have linked to a referral here and on Twitter.  You get 10 dollars off your first order.  I get 10 dollars back.  All my opinions are my own. 

About a week ago, my Monday/Friday fitness instructor asked if anyone has been using the Walmart Grocery Pick-up.  She was really enthusiastic about it so I asked her about it.  Next week is HBs spring break, Holy Week, and Hubby will be out of town.  It will not be relaxing.  I was trying to figure out a way that I could finagle grocery shopping in without resorting to loosing my temper.  I decided to try it out.

Here's how it works.  You have to have it set-up in your area.  You go online; use this link.  Start searching for the stuff that you would normally buy.  Put them into your online cart.  I also recommend hearting your stuff so that it's easier the next time you shop to find what you normally purchase.  The first go round of purchasing takes a little bit of time.  Once you are done, schedule a two hour time slot in which you will pick-up your groceries.  Then pay for them.  They will give you instructions on where to park and how they will contact you etc.  When your order is ready, drive over to the store.  Park in the designated spot.  Call them and open up your trunk.  They will bring out your groceries and load them into your car.

Upsides to the service:
Once you have hearted enough items it becomes faster than walking through the grocery store and looking for items.  You don't have to get out of your car or take your children inside.  Maybe you have children with multiple nap times.  Maybe your work schedule is hectic.  Maybe you are sick.  Maybe you are trying to avoid getting sick.  There are tons of reasons to use this service.  There's also no fee associated with it.  The minimum is 30 dollars but my family can easily top that with groceries for the week.  If you think of something afterwards, you can add it to your cart before an expiration time. 

Downsides to the service:
They don't have everything they carry in the store listed online.  It's most of it, but not everything.  For example, normally I buy the off brand of chicken and rice soup, but I ended up only being able to buy the Campbell's version.  Sometimes they don't have what you want in the store because they are out of stock so they will substitute for you and try to stick as close to what you ordered price/item wise.  I had this happen with two items.  But their substitutions were fine and I'm pleased with them. You can't ad match.  *sniffles*

Not everyone will have the service in their area.  If that's the case, contact Walmart.  Contact the store directly and ask to speak to the store manager.  If enough people are interested in the service, Walmart will listen.  They are really good about that. 

You can't get your groceries whenever you want.  They have designated pick-up slots.  Mine is from 8am-8pm.  I'm sure that's fairly universal, but they will tell you for your area.

So I did the service.  Last night I dropped stuff into my online cart while the children were sleeping.  Took a little while because I'm picky.  I signed up for my slot.  They actually had my order ready for me 15 minutes early.  I was dropping off HB when they called.  I went to the gym, which is 5 minutes from my location.  Then after that Knee and I called and then drove over and called again.  The lady came out and put them into the car.  I drove home and put them away.  Easy peezy.  Course I had to put stuff away in my house, but I wasn't dragging Knee through the aisles while he starts asking to buy different snack items.  Sweet!

Now I did notice that I ended up with a couple of extra items.  I double checked that all my items were there and that I wasn't charged for the extra items.  Everything was fine.  So my Christian duty compelled me to inform Walmart that I ended up with something I didn't pay for.  I called customer service which they had listed the number conveniently at the top of the receipt.  I explained that I had received extra items.  He said that I could donate or use them.  Since both items have to be refrigerated I knew that they couldn't be donated.  So I decided to keep them. 

The service does use people to get your groceries for you and bag them.  Therefore it's open to human error.  Walmart is very good about making amends for broken/damaged or missing items.  I've never had a problem with them not standing behind things.  My guess is that they would have refunded me the money if I had any missing/broken items. 

Have you used a grocery pick-up service before?  I know Walmart isn't the only one.  My local Safeway has a delivery service (I think they come to your house) but it's for a fee.  Sometimes they've waved the fee.  I always thought that such services were great for shut ins.  Would you use a pick-up service? 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Social Justice is NOT Socialism

I'm often baffled by the ignorance of people.  And then I'm often awed by those outside our faith who actually understand it better than those who are supposedly practitioners of it (Penn Jillette versus Pierce Morgan for example).

During the news ramp up of the Pope's latest off-the-cuff remarks, I repeatedly heard people call the Pope a marxist, socialist, and liberal.  And these were not your typical anti-Catholics.  Some of these online people were claiming to be Catholics themselves.  Granted I'm like everyone else and see how confusing at time the Pope's comments can be.  He isn't the first Pope to be misunderstood though.  Some people just keep looking for splinters in eyes or refuse to educate themselves about the teachings of the Catholic Church and instead pin their disagreements with Church teaching on the Pope.  I could go into how the Pope's discussions about the environment aren't really anything new, but today I'd rather focus on his focus of Social Justice.  Apparently people are conflating Social Justice with Socialism. 

Social Justice is not Socialism.

Just keep repeating that to yourself.  Also repeat this too: The Pope is not a Socialist.

Feel better? Me too.

Let's get to the nitty gritty.  What is socialism?  What is social justice?  Socialism is an economic political system.  Social Justice is a way of life for the individual.  Socialism is organizing a country so that a central government controls facets of life such as education, health care, transportation, businesses, etc.  Social Justice is how an individual is supposed to care for people.  We are supposed to educate our children, provide health care for those who need it, etc. 

And the Catholic Church is opposed to socialism.

CCC# 2425 The Church has rejected the totalitarian and atheistic ideologies associated in modem times with "communism" or "socialism." She has likewise refused to accept, in the practice of "capitalism," individualism and the absolute primacy of the law of the marketplace over human labor. Regulating the economy solely by centralized planning perverts the basis of social bonds; regulating it solely by the law of the marketplace fails social justice, for "there are many human needs which cannot be satisfied by the market." Reasonable regulation of the marketplace and economic initiatives, in keeping with a just hierarchy of values and a view to the common good, is to be commended.

Now people would say "it looks like the Church rejects capitalism."  And you would be somewhat correct.  It rejects laisez-faire or unbridled capitalism.  Capitalism without oversight.  Capitalism that many libertarians espouse.  Many Catholic thinkers have embraced what's called Distributism as a form of economic ideology.  The basic idea is that each individual hold property or business.  Those who supported distributism were G.K. Chesterton and Dorothy Day.  I still see articles saying that Dorothy Day was a socialist who the Pope supports.  While Day was a socialist early in life, the Catholic Worker Movement that she created is based on distributism and not socialism.  She didn't die a socialist.

Distributism is born out of social justice teachings and the teachings of subsidarity.  Subsidarity isn't socialism or anarchy.  If socialism is about centralizing the government, subsidarity is about de-centralizing it but not to the point that it doesn't exist.  Here's what the catechism says about it:

CCC# 1883 Socialization also presents dangers. Excessive intervention by the state can threaten personal freedom and initiative. The teaching of the Church has elaborated the principle of subsidiarity, according to which "a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co- ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good."

CCC# 1885 The principle of subsidiarity is opposed to all forms of collectivism. It sets limits for state intervention. It aims at harmonizing the relationships between individuals and societies. It tends toward the establishment of true international order.

In a nut shell, in subsidarity the higher order like the central government should not usurp the powers of the lower order.  An example would be the education of children.  It is the duty of the parents to educate their children.  The family should not have that power stripped from them by the centralized government.  We have this in the United States system.  Parents can decide to homeschool, private school, charter school, magnet school, public school, etc their children.  It's the parents' duty and not the States'.  But we are seeing some of the State meddling with things like Common Core.  Here the central government is dictating how each local school teach and thus ignoring the needs and the cultural of each local environment. 

Social Justice would dictate that parents have access to all types of schooling for their children.  Subsidiarity would dictate that it's the parents' choice how to educate their children.  Distributism would say that the parents have the right to private business in order to financially support their children's education and well-being.  

None of this is socialism because socialism would put all of these things in the hands of centralized government instead of the family or individual. 

Does this make more sense? 

So when people start spouting off that the Pope is a socialist.  Kindly remind them that Catholics are not socialists nor are we unfettered capitalists, rather our beliefs call us to a place somewhere in the middle: a third way.  You would be surprised at how many people actually like this and agree with this third way but have never heard it named nor knew the Church's teachings on it.  I'd also like to assert that Catholicism is neither "liberal" nor "conservative" or "right" nor "left" but rather I'd say in the middle and "moderate" in it's ideology and teachings. 

Hope you enjoyed the article and it de-mystified some of the Church's teachings on economics and political systems.

Have a question?  Leave a comment.  I'm not an expert but I will attempt to help clarify.