"Go to church." I surprised myself when I said it.
My friend had been quietly explaining her deep concern about her experience with public school. After years of home schooling her children, she and her husband had decided the kids needed socialization so they enrolled their children in school. Anxiety written all over her face, she said the curriculum no longer uses 'BC" and "AD" as historical measures, they use 'CE ' and 'BCE ' (common era, before common era.) "We're a judeo-christian culture" she exclaimed, "How can this happen in American schools?"
She explained further. Each day of the new school begins with a television assignment. The kids are to to watch and take notes on ten minutes of CNN news. Her older boy had told her about his first day, memorable because that first day of CNN news had been entirely about the lifestyle of homosexuals.
My admonition, 'go to church' had been in response to her statement that she she felt powerless, that there was nothing she could do. But since our conversation happened during a group dinner, we had no time to talk further. And so I sent her an email. A very long email explaining things I have neither thought nor talked about for many years. And over the last few days, I have pondered why I did what I have never done before. Particularly to a person whom I know has little interest in church nor religion. Why would I tell her that I believed we were engaged in a spiritual battle, that we were fighting a war, in an email? And tell her that she could not fight this battle alone?
Long ago when I converted to Catholicism while living on the east coast, I learned the phrase, "God put her in my heart" or "The holy spirit placed this in my heart" from new devoutly religious Protestant friends. When this happened, they taught me, you know it and you must act. So when this recent conversation echoed in my mind in the middle of the night and during idle moments, I decided to write the email. The conversation had been placed in my heart.
Maybe because autumn has always evoked a sense of melancholy, or because the Christian liturgy is ending for the year and now filled with apocalyptic readings, or perhaps it's merely age, thoughts of the end, of death show up, unbidden. The warning by Christ to "read the signs" rings more loudly this year. And the 'signs' appear more portentous.
- This past Halloween, the first American Luciferian Church opened in Texas- the little town of Spring, a suburb of Houston. Lucifer, the angel of light, he who was thrown out of heaven. The website, in clever use of our cultural norms, so porous that anything can enter, describes the mission in the most innocuous of ways. We are 'nice' people....merely wanting to make use of freedom of religion to enlighten and teach. The word devil appears nowhere on the site.
- While watching the Democratic debate last night, I became aware that abortion on demand and paid for by our taxes is considered a basic right by the Democrat Party, is inherent in the platform. Hillary Clinton did not say it that way, of course. She knows better. Rather, she speaks of Planned Parenthood as a reasonable partner of the government. The organization presents itself as a site for sex education, but in the last three years, over one million abortions have been performed at Planned Parenthood. Each of us learned as kids to use words which veiled their real meaning-euphemisms. Words which make something unacceptable seem reasonable, acceptable. 'I wasn't lying, I just didn't tell you' or 'It's not stealing, they will never notice.' In a former career in academic medicine, we became proficient in euphemisms. Fear of suit for wrongful discharge led to creative ways to get rid of poor performers. Lay-offs became RIF's, 'reduction in force', 're-engineering' invariably led to lay-offs. For us managers, it was more palatable to think in terms of phrases rather than people, just like calling babies 'fetuses' or the murder of innocents 'collateral damage'.
- The recently released movie Spotlight is expected to reap Oscar nominations for the actors and to attract a record number of viewers. The film tells the story about a Boston Globe journalist's Pulitzer Prize winning series on then Bernard Cardinal Law and the Boston Catholic Church for their protection of priest pedophiles. I joined the church in Massachusetts during those years and witnessed what appeared to me to be heartbreaking vicious and unrelenting attacks against Law and the Church in the print and television media. Cardinal Law was demonized. Any and all attempts to explain what and why he did what he did were ridiculed and trivialized. What fascinated me then, as now, was the magnitude of the rage, the content of the vitriol- 'this will be the final nail in the Catholic Church,' 'this Law is a monster--he should be in jail'. The fury was directed at him personally rather than the actual abusers.
- Our culture clearly believes that homosexuality should be 'taught' to our kids; among those homosexuals there will likely be a small number of them who are attracted to kids. Isn't there an obvious disconnect here?
None of these things is, in and of itself, new. Covens and devotion to Satan have existed for centuries, women have aborted unwanted babies since our beginning. There is nothing novel about same sex attraction or attacks against the Church. Emotional manipulation is at the heart of any and all persuasion. What feels new to me is that none of these things is hidden, they are displayed by leaders as acceptable as the norm, worse, the truth.
When my friend said that her concern was that her children would not be taught truth in public school, my suggestion was not intended as a panacea, far from it. Churches are filled with people-sinners. That is why they are there. Homosexuals, abortionists, thieves, liars, cheats, adulterers, fornicators, we're all there. We are not alone in our sickness. We don't pretend we're not sick, because we know where to find the physician.