We have heard the new pope speak of his friendship with a few Marxists who he found were good men. I assume he has made these personal judgments based on the Marxists’ professed compassion for the poor.
Marxists and liberals always express their devotion to the poor, the downtrodden and the underclass. They expressively vow to use the powers of violence, revolution and eventually big government to right all the evils of nature, individualism and its economic expression capitalism.
Yet they generally do not believe in God, his teachings or his church.
So how can they be good?
Is a compassion for the poor all they need?
The pope has flirted with Liberation Theology. His native Argentina is riven with its thinking, so it is not a stretch to assume he has had some interest in its teachings, even though his two predecessors condemned it as inconsistent with Christianity.
These liberationisti believe that human salvation is collective and is attained primarily through a love of the poor.
What about the Nazis?
They were socialists just as the Marxists so why have we demonized them as the perfect historical ogres?
No, they did not express a specific love of the poor. To the contrary the poor of the world were probably lumped in with the useless eaters, those who were deemed unworthy of life.
But Marxists also have always had their death panels that were designed to terminate the people who stood in the way of the revolution. I am quite certain the religious poor would not be acceptable in their future earthly kingdom.
So killing people seems to be a useful method for both Marxists and Nazis though only the Marxists seem to be good.
Yet maybe good is in the eye of the beholder and can have many different definitions that would qualify both the Marxist and the Nazi.
Their thinking seems predicated on what Pope Benedict called a dictatorship of relativity.
Most modern autocrats who despise Christian morality have to create a substitute morality to fill the moral vacuum they create when the old morality falls by the wayside.
They see the necessity to contrive a set of moral principles that would define good for that particular society whether it be Marxist, Nazi or even capitalist.
To the Marxist the main commandments would be a love of the Revolution and compassion for the poor.
But in essence that love for the poor seems to be just reserved for the generic poor.
One could say that like cartoon character, Lucy Van Pelt, they loved humanity but hated individual people.
If individuals, who happen to be poor do not accept the revolution and the party as their savior and lord, they will not live in its earthly paradise.
The same is true of the good Nazi. They believed passionately in the Vaterland and the purity of its blood. Theirs was a religion based on Land und Blut—land and blood, while the Marxists had their religion of man.
People who did not fit in had to suffer their wrath but they were good to their own kind. I have read stories about what good family men many of them were and even Hitler was kind to children and animals. He never smoked, was a vegetarian and believed in gun control for the masses.
These latter ideas are all part of what has become an emerging social religion in this country.
President Barack Obama has joined in this debate. Religion does not seem to be part of his make-up. During his peripatetic life he has experienced many kinds of religious influence, starting with the atheism of most of his immediate family.
In Indonesia with his mother and step-father as a young boy he studied Islam and even attended a Catholic school for a short time. In Chicago he joined the Church of Reverend Jeremiah Wright and his Black Liberation Theology was a mere subset of Marxist praxis and indicative of Obama’s deep commitment to racial socialism and Marxism.
I really don’t know how Obama could call himself a Christian when there was very little of Christ in Wright’s teachings.
It was Obama himself who said that the religion of America had become a practical atheism.
So to carry on with my theme can an American atheist be a good person?
I know many of them do think they are good people while they demonize Republicans, prolifers, anti-gun control advocates and anyone else who has the effrontery to challenge their moral and political system.
I might add that in my personal travels I have met a few self-admitted atheists who seemed at face value to be good people. But I doubt their goodness sprang from their denial of God’s existence. More than likely they had subconsciously adopted from either their life experiences or professional training.
One self-declared atheist in particular, who used to call my radio show years ago, was adamantly and intellectually convinced abortion was a moral good for women yet he would do chores and errands for his aging mother.
When I told him that I thought he was doing the work of sainthood, he thanked me for seeing some good in him. I surmise that would hold true of many others in his category as well.
Since the 1950s this kind of thinking, which harkens back to the French Enlightenment, has based morality, not on the ethos of Jesus Christ and his Church but on a self-contrived system of thought that has evolved from the science of man.
It was a 16th century renegade Catholic and a convert to Calvinism Pierre Bayle, whose writings argued that religion and morality should be separate. Bayle was not an atheist, at least not an open one, yet he believed that atheists though they might have a sticky time of it in the afterlife, could be as moral as anyone. I would also surmise that many Americans would second this idea.
His thinking fascinated many of the Enlightened thinkers into the 18th century, such as Hume , Voltaire, Spinoza and Leibniz.
According to Bayle all one had to do is be a good citizen to be a moral man.
This idea is certainly a dominant one in American society.
Many people, including millions of American Catholics would prefer be called Catholic Americans for their acceptance and even promotion of Obama’s secular values rather than American Catholics.
To Obama morality does not come from God or some other deity but from man, more specifically government men and by extension the culture they create.
So a society that reveres abortion on demand, promiscuous sex, drug use, divorce, and homosexuality can develop an ethos based on those life styles and actions.
This essentially had been the goal of the French Revolution, which first sought to destroy the Church, the crown and the middle class or bourgeoise.
Its progressive heirs, such as liberals and Marxists, have labored to destroy the family, the Christian church and private property or capitalism. It would seem that they are winning.
These targets are all the historic enemies and sinners against the new morality of big government.
Under the progressive aegis Marxists, abortionists and non-smokers can be considered good people. All others must bow before these secular demigods and ask for the government’s forgiveness for their sins.
Since Nazism has not been redeemed, even though many of its teachings have become part of the new culture, they could not be considered good by this relative morality.
However had Germany won the war instead of Soviet Russia than we would probably be talking about the Good Nazi instead of the Good Marxist.
1) The first item in the paper that you check each day are the obituaries to see if you are in them yet;
2) You pack more pills than clothes before going on a trip;
3) You choose the pat-down at airport security because you are starved for intimacy;
4) 30-year old women look like teenagers to you;
5) If you decide to get married again, you don’t look for beauty but care-givers;
6) You sympathize with any athlete needing performance enhancers;
7) Your get-up—and go leaves the bed 10 minutes before you do;
8) You don’t count the hairs on your head but individually name them;
9) You prefer fruit and fiber to steak and potatoes
10) Young women smile at you because you remind them of their grandfathers;
11) You have to go up one flight of stairs and you look for an elevator;
12) A pretty girl walks by and you don’t notice her.
Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the Borst home,
Bill could be heard muttering,
While writing his new tome.
“Why oh why can’t I figure this out?”
Was Bill’s lament as a paced all about.
When out on the lawn there arose such a din,
Disturbing the peace among the Borst kin.
Bill ran to the window and opened it wide,
And-wow-saw G. K. Chesterton on a sleigh outside!
He was dressed all in red like a rotund Santa Claus
And he puffed on his cigar without taking a pause.
“Now don’t you fret Bill,” he said with a grin,
“I brought you a present, just look in my bin.”
Bill looked in the bin and to his surprise,
Saw a BAG OF BIG WORDS twice his size!
“Bill” he said “these REALLY BIG WORDS
Should last you a year or two.
So you can do away with those
SIMPLE WORDS that just won’t do!”
Then G.K. put his sleigh in drive gear,
And checked the sleigh traffic front and rear,
Away he flew with a hearty cheer,
Bellowing Happy New year and good luck with your career.
By Elaine Middendorf January 28, 2014
After reading a recent article on Fatima, in the St. Louis Review one of my most faithful readers raised some interesting questions about Fatima.
Fatima is the site of one the handful of approved Marian visions in the Catholic Church.
It was at the three appearances of the Blessed Mother to Lucia, Jacinto and Francisco— three small peasant children in the Portugal city where Mary chose to make her plea for the faithful to say the Rosary for the conversion of Russia.
My reader wants to know did Mary warn us that a Communist state would logically become a Godless state, with the government replacing the Church? .
When the Soviet Empire collapsed in 1991 many Catholic adults felt that their prayers had been answered and the conversion of Russia would happen shortly.
That optimism was a bit premature. The efficacy of long-range prayer does not always work that fast.
It is difficult to undo the vestiges of 75 years of Communist rule when atheism was at the core of its religious belief.
The Blessed Mother wasn’t promising a miracle but more like a historical process.
But just what kind of country would replace this atheistic state when its conversion took place?
My reader raised this question in the context of the emerging reign of Pope Francis with a seemingly leftward tilt:
Would the Catholic Church grow best in a Socialist/Communist environment or a Capitalist environment?
In is his view that the Pope seems to fear Capitalism, with the apparent ‘worship of wealth’ more than Socialism, with the inevitable worship of government.
These are all very interesting questions.
Let me start with Our Lady’s promise of a conversion of Russia.
Russia has been ruled for centuries by the czars, a royalist form of government that the Western world had started to reject in the 18th century.
The repressive and inefficient government of the czars was no match for the philosophical and near-religious fervor of world communism.
From 1917 to 1991 Russia and its surrounding countries emerged as the imperialistic Soviet Empire with nuclear teeth.
Its rule was based on its twin principles of atheism and Marxist economics–later called Marxism-Leninism.
If Russia’s conversion were to eventually take place, it would have to be a complete social, economic and most importantly religious transformation.
Since Mary is an important figure in Catholicism I would think that a conversion would entail that Russia rejoin the Catholic Church it left in the 11th century.
Its economic conversion may be another story. It appears that there is a strong fervor of Marxist economics rampant in the Catholic Church. Russia has no history of democracy or self-rule.
While the pope denies he is a Marxist, he knows many and finds them to be good people.
But Marxism is primarily an atheist construct and so if they were good people, it would have to be more along the lines of secular humanism, which is fast becoming the choice religion of the elite, the well-educated and the politically minded.
At Notre Dame President Barack Obama opined in 2009 that practical atheism was the working religion of governments and by inference, economies.
What the pope does not seem to mention is that a socialist/Marxist kind of society denies personal freedom and responsibility for one’s life and by inference soul. That seems to me like a rejection of the Church he represents.
The pope need only to look to his own country of Argentina to see what big government interference does to a population.
It usually takes a long time to destroy the wealth of a nation according to the Wall Street Journal but after a decade of what the locals derisively call kirchnerismo, that is government by the late president Nestor Kirchner and his widow Christina seem to be accomplishing the job in record time. The country is on the brink of lawlessness and social chaos.
This kind of government violates virtually all of the Commandments of the Catholic Church, especially the 1st, 7th, and 8th.
A church that promoted this kind of wishy-washy faith would certainly be out of step with the Catholic faith I have known since I was a small boy.
Of course Capitalism without any sense of the moral order will turn into an environment where the survival of the fitness rules and most people are left by the wayside. No one but the most corrupt robber baron on earth would want that. To my mind this breed died out in the early 20th century.
What has emerged since their demise was the robber bureaucrat.
In the United States capitalism flourishes and all boats rise when there are logical and humane rules that limit the excesses of capitalism and promote more of the general welfare.
One might even borrow George W. Bush’s phrase of a compassionate conservative into a compassionate capitalism.
In this environment capitalists are free to innovate, create, expand and make as much money as their talents will allow but all within the framework of fair play and the just rule of law. This is a far cry from what e have now.
Government acts merely as a referee that sets fair and equitable laws that will not favor big business, big labor or big government.
For this to happen moral teachings will have to return to the classrooms so that our society stops producing atheistic-minded adults who fill the boardroom and the Senate chambers with the ideas, not of Jesus Christ but more of Nico Machiavelli and Saul Alinsky.
Will this ever happen in Russia? I think we will need to say more rosaries and have more faith.
But at least Vladimir Putin is at least a nominal Christian. That is better than we have in this country today.
I have painted my vision of the ideal state, though while not utopian, it is certainly more like things were 50 years ago.
What worries me is the fact that America is declining at Argentinian speed.
When a president starts talking about the evils of inequality it is a given that the country is on the road to tyranny and dictatorship because inequality is a fact of life, like poverty, disparities in height weight and intelligence as well as climate change and wealthy people—all common facts that the left will never understand.
Maybe too many opposite currents of thought have come down the pike since then but this is the way things ought to be and that’s what we can all hope and pray for, but not just in Russia.
I think maybe we should also pray for the conversion of America.
On the Feast of the Epiphany my wife and I decided to attend a different parish church. The pastor of this neighboring church has been a close friend for over 30 years.
We were there with him at the creation of the Foundation for Special Education of Children over 25 years ago in our current parish rectory where he was the Associate Pastor.
The guiding and founding light of that foundation was Monsignor Elmer Behrmann one of the nicest priests I have ever been fortunate to meet. In 1950, Msgr. Behrmann founded the Department of Special Education, the first program of its kind in a Catholic diocese, at a time when persons with mental retardation were considered uneducable. He directed that department for the Archdiocese of St. Louis until 1989.
Msgr. Behrmann was widely recognized as a pioneer in the education of children with special needs. His expertise was acknowledged when he was invited to serve as an advisor to President John F. Kennedy on issues relating to persons with mental retardation. Monsignor Behrmann was the only cleric on the committee.
Our friend was the 3rd Director of the Foundation and now merely oversees its continual progress. The initial goal was for a foundation of $one million dollars which seemed like a large number in 1986.
Thanks to the generosity of the people in our parish is well over four million now. And over that time it has distributed another four million to special education in St. Louis.
Our friend’s sermon was ostensibly about giving.
To illustrate this theme Monsignor repeated a story he had told to the attendees at his Thanksgiving Mass—with an appropriate apology— concerning one of his special students.
The little boy in question was 10 years old and had a very difficult life. His mother was stricken with a fatal heart attack when he was just three, leaving his father with three little boys to raise by himself.
The story revolved around his class’ assignment to bring a dish for a Thanksgiving meal the class they were to prepare. He said his father did not have much time but would bake corn bread for the class.
Well when the eve of the class meal arrived his father had not been able to do it and the little boy was left with nothing to give.
So he got up very early and made seven pieces of toast for his classmates.
When he presented his gift with his father’s apology neither the teacher nor his classmates berated or made fun of his gift. They took it in the spirit of Thanksgiving and the Christmas season to come.
Monsignor’s story is reminiscent of another story, called The Gift of the Magi.
I remember the emotional response I had it reading what is basically a love story of the highest caliber.
The Gift of the Magi is a short story, written by O. Henry, which was the pseudonym for William Sydney Porter. It is the story of a young married couple, Jim and Della Young and how they deal with the challenge of buying secret Christmas gifts for each other with very little money.
Its twist ending is generally considered an example of cosmic irony.
They each have only two possessions that mean anything to them. Della’s has beautiful long, flowing hair, almost to her knees, and Jim has a shiny gold watch, which had belonged to his father and grandfather.
On Christmas Eve, with only $1.87 in hand, Della sells her hair for $20 to buy a platinum fob chain for Jim’s watch for $21. She found the perfect gift at last and runs home and begins to prepare dinner, with $.87 left.
When Jim comes home, he is shocked at his wife’s short haircut. Della then confesses that she sold her hair to buy him his present. Jim gives Della her present – an assortment of expensive hair accessories useless now that her hair is short. Della then shows Jim the chain she bought for him, to which Jim says he sold his watch to get the money to buy her combs. Although Jim and Della are now left with gifts that neither one can use, they realize how far they are willing to go to show their love for each other, and how priceless their love really is.
This is what the Greeks and Christians call the deep and lasting love of agape.
The story ends with the narrator comparing the pair’s mutually sacrificial gifts of love with those of the Biblical Magi.
The magi, as you know, were wise men – wonderfully wise men – who brought gifts to the new-born King of the Jews in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the Magi.
In surfing the cable channels I recently stumbled over a recent allusion to this classic story with its own happy ending twist.
It begins with Ben Wrightman (Fallon) as a 7 year-old going to a Red Sox game with his Uncle Carl. Ever since that day, Ben became a die-hard Red Sox fan. Just about everything he owns bears the Red Sox name, emblem or the image of a Red Sox player. Ben inherited his uncle’s season tickets when he died. They became his most treasured possession.
He meets Lindsey Meeks ( Barrymore), a successful workaholic executive. When he first asks her out, she rejects him, but she later changes her mind and agrees to go out with him.
She becomes attracted to him because of his ability to show a passionate commitment to something. That spring, he later pretends he is proposing to her, but instead asks her to the Red Sox home opener.
Lindsey attends, but not being a baseball or Red Sox fan, she knows nothing about the Curse of the Bambino or even how to pronounce the name Yastrzemski.
The two continue to attend the games together until one summer night when Lindsey attempts to catch up on work by taking her laptop to the game. Not paying attention to the game, she is knocked unconscious by a foul ball. She eventually recovers, but stops going to the games.
As their absence makes them both miserably he decides to sell his tickets so they can be together. When she learns of this with an eager fan with check and pen in hand waiting, she tears up the contract as her gift to him and said that she could not let him do that for her.
His willingness to do such was love enough for her.
This was a mutual gift without the cosmic irony which would have been too deep for an American audience.
But the principle is not lost on the observant. Americans have always been a very generous people.
We pride ourselves on helping the poor and the downtrodden. Generosity is endemic to the American soul.
Wealth redistribution is not a problem unless someone else wants to confiscate our wealth and give it to their friends and cronies, depriving us not only of our largesse but the act of our generosity.
Businesses and businessmen as a whole are very giving and even caring. It has become the American way and transcends all social strata.
It is only the government that is trying to assume the role of Santa to all of the voters out there who eternize their power at the sacrifice of America’s soul.
Again I suggest that the pope, who says he is not a Marxist but has met many who are good people to him, starts meeting a few capitalists and learn what they are about instead of assuming like the social democrats that have surrounded him for his whole life that they are not as good and decent men as his Marxist friends.
That would make for a fairer and more balanced argument and it would temper his papacy with a broader vision than I think he has.
He might then realize that Marxists, like their liberal friends are very generous with other people’s money.
It is not the pope’s heart that concerns me but his intellectual eyesight.
Of course I know that our new pope’s name is Francis and not Vladimir!
I also believe that while this pope has the heart of an Italian and the soul of a Latin, he also has the paradoxical intellect of a Russian.
Did not Winston Churchill refer to Russia as a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma?
His multiple comments about homosexuality, abortion and his hope that mankind will eventually stop fighting and just get along sends mixed messages that the left has welcomed with open arms while the Church’s conservative faithful feel abandoned…at least to some degree.
Could his approach be a good thing or just a puffed-up false sense of hope?
The left sees his ideas as with a wink and a nod that imply Francis’ Church will not condemn any of its sordid behaviors and will look the other way when Catholic politicians, the so-called Cinos-—Catholics in name only–promote abortion, gay marriage and the moral and even financial collapse of Western Civilization.
Pope Francis talks about poverty a lot. He seems to believe that capitalism or what he calls unfettered capitalism is at the root of all poverty and maybe even all evil.
I don’t think anything could be further from the truth.
I stand that with those that believe work and capitalism is the best anti-poverty program humans have ever devised.
Give someone a job and watch him or her develop self-respect, learn valuable personal skills, self-discipline, self-reliance and pride in accomplishing a task.
The people the pope hangs with seem to want to give a man a fish every day instead of teaching him how to fish.
How come there is never a word about the dangers of an all-encompassing government that threatens religious and economy liberty and then calls it love of humanity?
Has his Latin environment with its dictatorships and social democracy blinded him to these painful realities?
Does he not realize that freedom is necessary for salvation and that all else is slavery that harms the soul as well as the body?
The pope attacks the structural aspects of poverty without focusing on its behavioral causes, such as early sexual activity, illegitimacy, failure to complete one’s education, laziness and class envy to name but a few.
As for evil this pope does not seem to mention the E-word at all.
While the pope does recognize that there is a culture war throughout the whole world he sees it strictly in medical terms.
He sees the church metaphorically as healers, offering a kind of moral wellness to all the sick souls that have been victimized by this eternal battle.
What about its warriors? Are we to lay down our verbal swords and our public witness and stand down? Are we to silence and quell our passion for the truth and stopping our witness to evils that the other side had perpetrated?
Does the pope believe that the other side will be seduced by his open arms and his therapeutic words?
Is the Pope Francis offering terms of a truce or is this an abject surrender?
Are we who recognize the evils of abortion, euthanasia and homosexual marriage to stifle our opposition in anticipation of a new approach?
Does the pope not recognize that this is an eternal struggle between good and the evil and that it will never go away while there is a mankind?
Does the pope not recognize that sin and evil are on th other side and though they have infected millions who do need his healing touch, without a dedicated opposition of the faithful their numbers will increase exponentially?
Does he not realize that preventive medicine is often the best kind of medicine?
Do not all people need an inoculation against the falsehoods of the left, the propaganda of the powerful and the sinister allurements of big government assistance?
Is he not aware that they seek, not the good of mankind, but absolute control over the minds, hearts and soul of all of God’s children?
Is it time to hang up our feelings for these issues? Is it time to rest on the laurels St. Paul who urged us to fight the good fight?
And finally I don’t remember Pope Francis talking about eternal salvation which to my mind was the whole reason for Christ’s coming and the establishment of His Church on earth.
But then again who am I to judge this pope?
I am tired of the angry bickering, the on-edge readiness whenever I am in polite company to defend the truth and plea for the unborn. I have fought the good fight the last 28 years and it is not only time-consuming but exhausting.
Maybe it is time for more quiet reflection and prayer.
Maybe this pope’s papacy will give all cultural warriors a bit of a respite to evaluate where they have been and where we are going. Pope Francis seems like a good and holy man. His words are perhaps more of style than substance. As the 265th successor of Peter he will not radically change anything. people will do what they will do.
More than any other pope in my lifetime and he is #7, no one has represented the mysterious and paradoxical nature of the Catholic Church and even Jesus Christ Himself more than Pope Francis.
Jesus also came to heal and to open the gates of Heaven to all of us.
One of His many appellations is Christ the Prince of Peace.
Here in St. Louis there is a Catholic parish with that name that Catholics affectionately call C-POP.
Yet in his wake there have been 2000 years of religious, economic and cultural wars that have cost millions of lives and left the world in a divided state that really does need spiritual healing.
Pope Francis just might be what the eternal Doctor ordered.