Spin To Win (ccr)

Originally published June 12, 2010    Reviewed today after minor editing.

America’s game.  According to Wheel of Fortune’s, Vanna White, spinning to win money and prizes is America’s game.

I think there is another more insidious national game, a word game played out during an NPR discussion of  a variety of current economic and political situations.  One of the participants used the word hand-wringers to describe sincere thinkers attempting to sort through negative consequences of behavioral trends.

Hand-wringers is an example of an insidious word game–discrediting through sarcasm, disrespect or ridicule.  Find a word that will conger the most negative visual and little more is necessary to dismiss discussion.  A very simple spin-to-win.  Remember the sounds of  femi-nazi?

The child abuse by clergy and the cover-up of that abuse are getting the spin cycle. Pages of the spin game have attempted to mask the depth of institutionalized acceptance of committed crimes and failed justice.  Another version of the spin to win.

My Friend,  Two Names, consistently prods any complacency.  He knows what buttons cure my lapse into silence.  Yesterday he gave me the words of the West Point Honor Code and the seeds of this blog.

“I will not lie, cheat, steal or tolerate anyone who does.”

No room for spin.  No caveats.  No exceptions.   But how far we have played the spin to win game.   Two Names gave a telling illustration, an example that most of us would claim as acceptable.

A document stating that a job was complete gets handed off for signature.  In truth,  the job will take several more hours but the spin gets voiced.  “You could be difficult to find in those ensuing hours so sign now.”

Minor?  A judgement call?  Of little consequence?  That depends, doesn’t it.  Two Names honors the Cadet Code, no spin to sign.

Read the newspapers.  Listen to daily reports.  Pay attention to our spin to win on every level.  Word games developed to finesse the lie. Word games that cheat from children’s sports to international business.  Word games designed to hide huge coffers of stolen treasure, starting with integrity and ending with bags of gold.  And what is the simple salve to make it all feel better?
“Everyone does it.  Why shouldn’t I.”

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Don’t Ask (ccr)

Originally published Feb. 6, 2010   Reviewed today after minor editing.

This is not a blog about the rights of gay men and women to offer their lives as protection of their country.  This is not a blog addressing the abilities of gay men and women to perform the duties connected with military service.  This is not a blog about the controversy surrounding gay men and women, their patriotism, their willingness to serve, or the prospect of their death protecting our lives.  Before I move to a different and equally  illogical “Don’t Ask”, I will thank the men and women of the Armed Services, no matter the sexual orientation from their birth.

Thank you, Gentle Women and Gentlemen, for whatever part of your being  delivers the courage to protect this country through military service.

Now, on with my ramble.

Recently, a rather devout person said, “God killed Dr. Tiller.” (Dr. Tiller ran a clinic where abortions were performed.  He died after being shot by an anti-abortion person.)

Yesterday (Feb 5, 2010) I wrote about finding love to find God.  That would seem to mean that God isn’t in the business of killing.  His omnipotence can alter minds, fill hearts and create change, right?.  Why would anyone think that God would descend to killing?  Why would an all-powerful Being snuff out a life to make a point?  When God decided that Dr. Tiller was wrong to perform abortions ending the life of a child, why would ending the life of a man bring closure to  that situation?

Some years ago, I heard a beautiful presentation on the sacredness of life.  The speaker was powerful in his belief that it was a duty to protect the unborn…to bring each life into the world, no matter the circumstances.

After he finished, I asked the speaker what his group did to protect the young life once it came into the world.  How far did this group go to insure a measure of quality for this unwanted child.  “We encourage adoption”, was the reply.  Those words just hung in the air— like an albatross.

Me, too.  I urge adoption.    In fact, I urge birth control, avoiding the need for a choice between abortion and adoption.   But when all else fails, who cares for these unwanted and un-adopted babies?

A separate and recent conversation was with an intense and committed member of a large church community.  This sincere gentlemen talked about abortion and birth control being two sides of the same sin…that both denied a life sent from God.  Both ‘sins’, he said, were equally grievous.  Pardon me?

I am asking, struggling with this.  Where is the logic of sin in birth control.  How does birth control harm through malicious intent?  Isn’t there a bit of insanity in the man’s position?  I cannot find the logic.  I am asking.

In House (CCR)

Let’s go back to Richard Nixon and Watergate, a scandal of politics and government gone terribly wrong, a disgraced President of the United States and jail time for men privy to the Oval Office.

Sam Ervin, Howard Baker, Daniel Inoye, Bob Woodward and others contributed to the investigation with professional thoroughness and personal dignity.  They, and others, worked to find the truth.

Suppose the investigation had been handled by in-house personnel like  H.R. Haldeman , Charles Colson, John Ehrlichman, G. Gordon Liddy or John Dean.     Suppose that the results of the investigation were left to this in-house team.    It is fair to speculate that Richard M. Nixon would not have resigned, that zero jail time would be served by anyone and the tapes would be dismissed as unimportant.

Recent mine disaster offer another opportunity to speculate on the differing results from differing investigations.   The government agency charged with overseeing mine safety finds evidence not offered up by the mining companies.  Lawyers representing the miners and/or families of miners killed in explosions would never be convinced that mining company ‘in-house’ investigations were complete.

BP’s equipment failures and the subsequent oil spill had huge consequences to the environment.  BP, and those subcontracted on the rig, offered varying explanations as they worked to plug the leak.  Neither the countries nor the people affected were foolish enough to believe that an ‘in-house’ investigation would find all the facts.

On Wednesday, January 19, The Kansas City Star carried an Associated Press story out of Dublin, Ireland.  Author credit is given to Shawn Pogatchnik.  Pogatchnik writes of a 1997 Vatican letter to Irish bishops warning the bishops not to report all suspected child abuse cases to the police.  Victims of abuse by priests see the letter as powerful proof that the church supported worldwide cover-up of pedophile priests.

The article  says, “…letter undermines persistent Vatican claims that it never instructed bishops to withhold evidence or suspicion of crimes from police.’  Pogatchnik claims that the letter, signed by Archbishop Luciano Storero, Pope John Paul II’s diplomat to Ireland, emphasized the church’s “…right to handle all allegations and punishments in-house“.  (Bold face emphasis is mine.)

Today, January 20, the Star  has a response from the Vatican insisting that the “…letter warning Irish bishops against reporting priests suspected of sexual abuse to police has been deeply misunderstood.”

Today’s article references the reaction of victims groups who call the letter a ‘smoking gun’.  The group believes that “..the church enforced a worldwide culture of concealing crimes by pedophile priests of which Rome bears ultimate–and legal–responsibility.

As defense, Jeffrey Lena, the Vatican’s U.S. lawyer stated that the ‘deeply misunderstood’ letter in no way instructed bishops to disregard civil requirements.  Rather, said  Vatican Spokesman,  Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican intended to ensure that pedophiles would not have any technical grounds for appeal.

Maybe.

IF…If the intention was to protect against technical grounds for appeal, why was the 1997 letter not publicized before now?  Why was the language of the 1997 letter not clear and precise?  Why is there any question as to the meaning and intent of the instruction given to the bishops by the Vatican?  Why  was that clarification not forthcoming during Ireland’s first wave of lawsuits against priests?

This feels like one more damning piece of  the cover-up creating a vestment of ugliness and deception.   Isn’t it time for the voice of the people of the church to cry out for an end to the cover-up, exposing the crimes and the deceptions?  I read the Jesus Philosophy as a cry for justice.


Civil Discourse

Religion and Politics

We are a passionate nation devoted to our principles and our beliefs.  History proves that many fought and died for those concepts.

Yet the admonition is to avoid speaking of religion and politics with family and friends unless  prepared for anger and disconnect.

Wonder why that is?  Why can we not have a dialogue about our concept of god and doctrine without the most negative attributes of our nature taking hold?   Why does a different concept of an unknown and unknowable Being dedicated to peace and love create animosity if the traditions and practices don’t always mesh?

Why do we not state our political beliefs and listen to the beliefs of others with the hope of understanding one another?  Why do we turn to rude and dismissive words to diminish the politics of others?  Political campaigns spend more dollars trashing opponents than they spend explaining programs of progress.

And when did the blessing of laughter turn into the sarcastic retort ridiculing differences that we perceive as diminishing ourselves or our  beliefs?  When did mean-spirited laughter replace the healing kind?

Election Day

Election Day is difficult.  I don’t like it.  On primary election days, I vote strategically trying to plan ahead for what pushes the best outcome in the general election.

Approaching the polling place, smiling people hand me stuff.  It all says the same nothing.  Candidates promise to solve problems that cannot possibly be solved by any single human. Photographs of wholesome families  pretend to convince the voter that this family person will govern like she/he parents.  Of course, we have no idea if parenting skills come with the posed family photos.

To borrow a Dave Ramsey response, “I am better than I deserve.”  And I am.  I am better for living where I can vote, where choices might make a difference.   It just gets so convoluted.

Blaming is rampant and has no semblance to a solution.  Liberal or conservative flaps in the wind of public opinion.  Today’s slogan is tomorrow’s mud.

What happens?  What chips away at the idealism that brings some candidates to the political mess?  The search of money to maintain an office?  Reality that forces acceptance that idealism and political office are not bedfellows?

Election Day.  I never miss it.  Sadly,  it has been years since I left the booth believing that my vote meant what I wanted it to mean.

Two Sides of the Mirror

Alice went through the looking-glass to find her alternate universe.
“Eat this.”
“Drink this.”
Alice did…. and she became what she wasn’t.
Had Mr. Carroll lived today,he might have added, “Wear this.  Listen to this.”–to further the transformation of Alice.

Architectural innovation gave us buildings of reflective glass so that when we peer inside, we see the outside.

  • Discussion, two sides of  an argument (the mirror), was once a way to make progress, but discussion fails when winning the point trumps the understanding/learning.

An absolute belief in one side of righteousness is more destructive than conscious lying to distort and win the claim to that righteousness.

Just below our awareness, we have a twitch in our personalities for each friend and each situation…an adjustment in our reflection.
There is wavering depth to the looking-glass.

Not Even Sub Prime (ccr)

Maybe I need to find a new something-or-other, a way to consume my thinking and push out what seems to be a fixed frustration.  Maybe.  Problem is that there are so many reminders.

The Leaven is the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Kansas City In Kansas.  It publishes news, editorials and columns of interest to Catholics.   The July 2 issue, page 16,  had a beautiful picture of a former high school classmate and his wife celebrating 50 years of marriage.  Archbishop Naumann celebrated with many couples reaching the 50 year milestone.  Lovely human interest story and a tribute to those who stayed true to the marriage vows.

My habit with magazines and newspapers is to start with the last and move to the first.  Have even been known to read the last chapter of a book first, insuring that the end justifies the read.

Moving on to page 4…

“Deacons stand ready to serve” is the headline announcing that the archdiocese’s first permanent deacons will be ordained next year.  Deacons ” baptize, witness marriages, officiate at funerals and burial services, proclaim the Gospel, preach…  The permanent diaconate is the third order of clergy in the Catholic Church….today’s permanent deacons are all about:  assisting pastors and serving the poor.”

The quoted material is from The Leaven article and page 15 of the July 2 issue gives a profile of the permanent diaconate.  Nothing in the article references women so I am assuming that there are no female deacons.

My disclaimer:  I salute and appreciate these men giving so much of their lives to the service of their belief.  I salute and appreciate the service that takes them into the workplace, serves the poor and assists the parish.  I salute and appreciate the deacons for assuming some of the burdens of time and energy for their church.

My question:  Why am I not worthy to serve?  Why am I not worthy to perform in even “the third order of the clergy” in the Catholic church?  Why does my genetic make-up predispose me to less than in my church?

I can clean the sacristy.  I can cook and serve food at church events.  I can launder altar linen.  I can work in a parish office.  I can sew when garments are needed.  I can work to raise funds for many church purposes.  I can serve at food kitchens.  I can volunteer at charity services.  I can clean the church for Christmas and Easter.  I can wash endless dishes at parish events.  I can prepare and serve food at funeral lunches.  I can handle prayer lines and visit the sick.  I can attend Mass, serve a lector or Eucharistic minister.

And still I am sub prime, not even worthy of  third level deacon duties.  No wonder I am frustrated with trying to understand why my sex makes me less than.