KUSHINER: PLACES WE’D RATHER NOT GO

UnnamedBy James M. Kushiner – 

Despite the hyper-version of “Godwin’s Law” (1990) which suggests making any comparison to Hitler in debating a contentious issue means losing your credibility, I am going to use a 4-letter N word that conjures Hitler: Nazi. I can’t help it: reading McEhinney and McAleer’s haunting true-crime story Gosnell: The Untold Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killerforces a comparison, even if the book doesn’t make it.

In Nazi Germany, late April 1945, my father and other soldiers were invited to visit a newly liberated Nazi concentration camp. He declined, but other seasoned soldiers came back sickened by what they saw. The miniseries Band of Brothers depicts the liberation of a death camp. American officers rounded up German civilians, including the mayor, his wife, many well-dressed and nice looking, and took them to the camp to show them the carnage. Some were made to dig graves for thousands of murdered victims of the Nazis.Beginning then and ever since a piercing question has often been forced upon ordinary German civilians, soldiers, bureaucrats, and others: “What did you know about the camps?” What, for instance, did Brunhilde Pomsel, Goebbel’s secretary who recently died at 106, know? The subject of a 2015 documentary, A German Life, she said,

“I know no one ever believes us nowadays – everyone thinks we knew everything. We knew nothing, it was all kept well secret….We believed it – we swallowed it – it seemed entirely plausible.”

But those Germans who courageously opposed the Nazis were not “nice” — in the old sense of the word, that is, “unknowing”:

[nice]: late 13c., “foolish, stupid, senseless,” from Old French nice (12c.) “careless, clumsy; weak; poor, needy; simple, stupid, silly, foolish,” from Latin nescius “ignorant, unaware,” literally “not-knowing,” from ne- “not” + stem of scire “to know.” …”agreeable, delightful” (1769); … by 1926, it was pronounced “…. a mere diffuser of vague and mild agreeableness.” [Fowler]

But ignorance, willful or semi-willful (the heart is deceitful) is not unique to Germany, and does not seem much different than the grand display of such “nice” Americans, including well-educated officials and media, turning blind eyes to the death camp run by Dr. Kermit Gosnell, Philadelphia abortionist doctor now serving three life sentences for murdering born-alive infants, among other crimes.

There were many signs of something not right at the “clinic”; complaints were made to health officials for years. Nothing was done. No investigations. It didn’t fit what most people wanted to hear and report about an inner city abortion mill. The physical contents of his mill and the manner in which babies and women were treated there can only be described as nightmarish and hellish. (Investigators were creeped out by the place. Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore said, “I felt like people were touching me in side that building.”)

By many accounts, Gosnell was a community leader, a charming and nice man. Except he wasn’t so nice to hundreds of children aborted past Pennsylvania’s legal limit, born alive, then stabbed to death. (Sorry, it’s ugly). The place contained shelves of bottles of dead babies and hundreds of preserved tiny severed feet.

Reading the book’s grim eyewitness accounts, I couldn’t help but think of those Nazi camps my dad talked about. Well, in 1978 Dr. Gosnell visited Auschwitz. The authors quote his account:

“What was most impressive were the bins where they kept the children’s shoes … hair … clothing…. [T]he sheer volume of it was very impressive.” That was the only adjective he used: “impressive.” Not heartbreaking or tragic or horrific. No, Gosnell thought the storage of the little shoes, clothing, and remains of small, innocent Jewish children who were massacred by the Nazis was “impressive.”

Big media refused to cover Gosnell’s trial until shamed into it by social media exposure and Kirsten Powers’ mea culpa column in USA Today. They were dragged to the trial like those German civilians were dragged to the death camp. The media’s enlightenment didn’t last. Those today who seek to expose the truth about abortion, like David Daleiden with his uncover videos, are hated and are not “nice.” Gosnell sold out at Amazon in 3 days and reportedly ranked 4th in book sales (non-fiction hardcover). Surprise–the New York Times did not include Gosnell in their bestsellers list. Nice.

Some people want to make America great. Some think it is already great. They may fight each other about it. But as long as a nation refuses to face its crimes and repent of such bloodshed, it has no chance of being great. It could, I suppose, aspire instead to being both Nazi and nice. My hat’s off to authors Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer.

James M. Kushiner is Executive Director of The Fellowship of St. James

Fr.TEDTalks EP02 – Raising Kids in Mixed Marriages

Nonna Time

Our granddaughter has visited with us several times through out this summer.  Though her energy far out matches mine and Papi’s, we enjoy every breathing minute of our time together.  She loves to be outside roaming around the yard exploring the rocks, bugs, mulch, grass, flowers, birds, holes in the ground and whatever else happens to catch her eye.  During walks she raises her hand to wave, smiles and says, “HI!” to every person she passes.  Every dog she sees she says, “RUFF!” and toddles over to give it a kiss on the back (with the owner’s permission of course), waves BYE-BYE and toddles off giggling to herself.  This, of course, takes an enormous amount of time but I don’t mind.  How I wish I had this amount of patience when my children were her age.

It constantly amazes me how much love one can contain in their heart for another human being.

08-21-15(2) 08-21-2015

Gay, Christian and Celibate

In a most recent Glory to God podcast entitled “No Opinions Needed”, Fr. Stephen Freeman spoke about the noise in our minds that drowns out prayer and our ability to hear God.  He says, “Watch a news program or spend an hour on FB and try not to react.  We do not need opinions.  We do not have opinions. Opinions have us.”  His words struck home.

That being said, I am giving in to “my opinions” to list here some podcasts and articles (as I find them) which I have found helpful as I pray and think about how to deal with my internal feelings regarding the homosexual agenda currently at the forefront in America.  Perhaps you will too.

“No Opinions Needed” by Fr. Stephen Freeman

“Gay and Christian: Forging a Life of Integrity” and interview with Dr. Wesley Hill

Patristic Nectar Publications

Homosexuality

Persons with same sex attractions deserve our respect and compassion. But the militant gay movement’s message that ‘gay’ is good is completely false. This lie is confusing society and hurting the individuals themselves. Published 19 Feb 2013 by Church Militant. H/T: Fr. John Whiteford “The source is not Orthodox, but it is a great overview of how we got here, and also exposes many of the typical lies the media has been telling us. “

Opinion Article 30 May 2015  in “The Australian” by Anthony Fisher, the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney

Same-sex marriage undermines purpose of the institution

We all know and love someone with same-sex attraction. We want them to be happy.

So we all feel the tug of the view that everything that makes hetero­sexuals happy should be open to same-sex attracted people — including marriage.

Some say marriage should be redefined as a public commitment by people to love each other, and so any two people should be ­allowed to marry. Anything else would be unfair, discriminatory, unequal.

But hold on: what if marriage is essentially heterosexual? No one thinks it’s wrong to restrict primary schools to children, women’s hospitals to women, Abor­iginal land rights to indigenous Australians … some things are precisely for them and exist because of them. The question is: is marriage precisely for “man and wife” and, if so, why?

When a churchman like me asks such a question it’s readily assumed to come from faith-fuelled bigotry. To the extent churchmen, or other Christians, have been guilty of bigotry I am ashamed and sorry. At many times in history, and sadly still today in some ­places, people with same-sex attraction have suffered injustice or unlove from some believers. This is to be deplored.

But the idea that marriage must be between man and woman is not bigotry. It is not even particularly Christian: every major world religion has thought so. Nor is the idea peculiarly religious: every major civilisation until now has thought so.

Even in highly diverse and sexually opportune cultures such as ancient Greece marriage was reserved to a man and a woman.

So why not morph marriage into a new institution for anyone who wants publicly to commit to loving each other?

For starters, marriage doesn’t just harmonise two people’s emotional lives.

Marriage has always been valued for holding together things that otherwise tend to pull apart: sex and love, love and babies, men and women, babies and parents. Not every marriage successfully unites all these things, but only the union of a man and woman can possibly do so.

Not every marriage ends up having kids, but every kid has a mum and dad. Marriage exists to bring a man and woman together so that, in the normal course of things, they become father and mother to any kids their love creates, and then to hold that man and woman together so those kids have parents for the long haul.

Reducing marriage to whatever gives adults emotional satisfaction leaves us with no real reason such a union should be for life (as feelings aren’t), why it should be between only two people (three or more may love each other too), or why government should regulate it at all. (We don’t need a registrar to tell us who to love or for how long.)

To claim there are differences between men and women, mothers and fathers, parents and children, and to support an institution built around those distinctions, need not be unjustly discrimin­atory. What is unjust is to pretend these differences are irrelevant to the lives of all those already married, those who in future may want real marriage, or those whose families are founded on this ­relationship.

Many people today find it hard to commit to marriage and stay married. There are lots of reasons for that. But adding to the confusion about what marriage is and is for, and further deconstructing this institution, will only weaken it further.

We could do more to ensure the same-sex attracted are treated with respect and love.

But in doing so we don’t have to undermine marriage further. Don’t mess with marriage.

Anthony Fisher is the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney.

 

Is a life ever “a waste”?

Have you ever attended the viewing or funeral of a loved one or friend and heard the words “What a waste of a life. They suffered terribly.” exchanged between two people? Perhaps the individual died due to a drug overdose, a prolonged battle with cancer, a life long struggle with a mental illness, the person was born with Down Syndrome or perhaps lived with Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Is their life, however, a waste? I think not.

First of all, everyone who takes a breath struggles. Whether it was the very first struggle to be born, to learn to use a spoon, to learn to crawl or walk or to learn to use a wheelchair or to learn to live despite being paralyzed – life is a struggle to one degree or another. Though it does seem that some people live charmed lives and appear not to have any struggle or problem in their individual lives.

But struggling is not a waste, no matter the cause of the struggle. It is not our right to judge whether someone’s life was waste. It is only God’s right because He is the Creator in the first place. Every person has a choice on how they will live their life. They can choose to accept what life brings and wrestle around with it – whatever “it” so happens to be.

This issue has come to mind because of the recent repose of a close acquaintance. In order to protect the innocent, I will not mention who the person is, only that the person was a female. This dear woman suffered with paranoid schizophrenia, a devastating mental illness. I use the word devastating because it not only affected the individual but also the immediate family and immediate community in which the person lived.

The woman about whom I write suffered from age 12 with this illness. For the last 15 or 20 years, this female was unable to live alone in a setting that was not a protected environment. This was due to many factors, not the least of which was her multiple attempts on her own life. Can one blame her desire to be shed of a life that was a living hell? A member of her family felt it best to file a legal order to have her committed to a mental health facility for her own protection. In many ways, the courage of said family member saved this woman’s life.

The mental illness progressed, pushing this woman into delusions that were frightening to her, thus to others around her. Yelling and screaming at invisible people who were trying to get to her through the heating ducts was not unusual. She often spoke to the wall or to those long dead. She verbally, and sometimes physically, attacked another person. More than a few years were spent living on the streets of a large city. Can you imagine the fear in this dear woman’s heart and soul and mind?

Eventually the woman developed other physical illnesses which may or may not have contributed to her death. She lived in a county nursing facility for 15 or 20 years, eventually ending up unable to walk or talk, care for her own physical needs, feed herself, or engage in any kind of social activity. I can only imagine that her days were filled with uncomprehendingly staring at a wall or a television set.

These are the stories of this woman when the schizophrenia held her mind in its icy grip. However, I have it on good authority that when she was “well” she was a kind, gentle, humble and forgiving woman. She was a contributing member of society, holding down a regular job, attending social events, participating in family gatherings, cooking, cleaning, etc. According to one of her family members, she was a faithful woman, prayed her rosary regularly and was wholly devoted to the Holy Theotokos – enough that she changed her middle name to “Mary” in our Holy Mother’s honor.

Who is anyone to judge that this woman’s life was a waste? Who am I to make a blanket suggestion, and therefore judge, that her days were filled with uncomprehension of that which went on around her? Can any of us look into the heart of another person and judge whether what they are doing or not doing, what they are capable of or not capable of, constitutes a “waste of a life”? Do we know if they are praying? What makes a life NOT a waste? Working? Having a McMansion? Owning all the newest electrical gadgets? Being married? Having children? Frankly, I find my judgment of this woman and other’s judgment of her to be offensive to my core.

God created each individual in His own Image. What that Image is incased in, be it a body contorted by Lou Gehrig’s disease with a brilliant mind like Steven Hawking or a mind that is trapped in the delusion of schizophrenia and a healthy body, does not matter. The soul, the heart, which contains the Image still keeps its imprint of God.

This dear woman’s life was not a waste by any stretch of the imagination. Every day of her life was a day in hell being tormented by demons that whispered evil things in her ear. Her gentle and forgiving spirit, which was the core of her being, went untouched because it always shone forth when she was free of the icy grip. Thus when she was free from the torment, even for those brief moments, days or weeks, the Light of God shone forth from her. It is my firm belief that the Holy Theotokos protected her.

It was said by someone, “She was so good, she’ll go straight to heaven. And if she does not, then there is no heaven.”

A waste of a life? I think not.

Amen!

Help a friend

Susie at Meanderings has a very good post full of questions about “what is a friend”.  Would you be a friend and visit her blog in order to provide her with some helpful thoughts?

Thanks Friend!

About the day

Forty-nine years ago I was born and mother said, “I baked a cake!”  I dearly hope it was chocolate!

The hubster surprised me with four dozen red roses plus one bunch of calla lilies for each year.  I will post a photo soon.  I’ve never seen so many red roses in one place! They are absolutely gorgeous!  Thank you my dearest!

The morning started with a telephone call from my little buddies E & P at 7:50 a.m. singing “Happy Birthday Aunt Philippa, cha-cha-cha!”  One should be serenaded in such a manner every birthday morn!  The smile on my face and in my heart has lasted the day long.

At the office my co-worker greeted me with a card and a box of Good ‘n Plenty.  The girl knows what I love!  Licorice sweetness.

My DD sent me a “Happy Birthday” text message and then called.  My DS wrote me a great email that showed me the man he has become evidenced through his personal insight and thoughts.  My parents sent me an absolutely hilarious birthday card which has me chuckling still.  My in-laws called and we shared a delightful conversation during which I was heartened to hear how good my MIL’s health is for one who will be 90 in six weeks.  My ‘adopted’ son wrote me a letter and a specific sentence in the concluding paragrah moved my heart to tears. Nearby friends sent beautiful cards with loving notes. Distant family and cyber-friends sent e-cards and Facebook Wall birthday greetings.

These gifts of the heart mean more to me than any present ever received.  This has been the best birthday in a really long time.

It has been a humbling day.

God is good.

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