Sunday, November 29, 2009

Advent's Vesper Light

The sun has already set on this First Sunday in this new Advent season. From the standpoint of the Church Calendar, we kicked off a new Liturgical year and a chance to try and "get it right" once more. News Flash... Try as we may, we're going to bollix things up once more for the umteenth time in our lives. Left to our own devices, we'll screw things up royally once more. But, this is the beauty of the Advent Season.

From Eden's treason to Malachi's indictments against the restored Israel, God's chosen people continually proved that they were incapable of making the "wise" choice, of living up to the dictates of a Holy God. Then, the Almighty intervened. In Mary's son Jeshua (or Jesus in our western sensibilities), the only begotten son took the form of a Semitic Jewish man in order to not only show us the way, but to pay the airfreight.

In these unfolding 27 days, we have an opportunity to contemplate a two-fold mystery. First, we have these days to consider just why, and how, the second member of the Godhead crossed to veil between the eternal and the temporal in order to walk among us. The very expression and icon of the Father, born to Judean peasants in a dank, dark stable. Too, we have these moments to consider how that same expression of the Holy will return, not to lowly estate but in regal battle array. The Carpenter will return as Commander of Heaven's host, and as King of Kings.

Advent I

From the Book of Common Prayer:

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Morning - 2009

From the Book of Common Prayer...
Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Across the nation this morning, Mothers, Grandmothers and others are waking to kick off preparations for the family feast. Turkeys and other entrees are being prepared for the oven. Balloons are being prepared for their journey down New York streets. Elsewhere, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen & Marines are letting their guard down long enough for a meal with their comrades. They're taking time out in a mess hall or even a foxhole to give thanks for the gracious provision of the Almighty.

Saints, Patriots and Pilgrims... Happy Thanksgiving wherever you may be this morning.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wednesday Reverie

The Manhattan Declaration

In the three years of shrieking here on the Catbird Seat, I've endeavored not to be a "bandwagon blogger". Instead, I've purposely delayed comment in order to provide a more thought through response. I wanted this principle to especially apply to the recently released Manhattan Declaration, recently made public on November 20th. This declaration, released by a significant number of leading Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Evangelical leaders and luminaries speaks directly to watershed issues, seminal to the historic Christian faith, namely:

  • Life
  • Marriage
  • Religious Liberty

In the issue of life, the signatories give immediate and primary recognition to the truth that Life is created and sustained by the hand of the Almighty. Additionally, it gives credence to the position of Christ Jesus is the giver of abundant life. The document speaks to what John Paul II referred to as the "Culture of Death" the institution of abortion, post-natal or palliative euthanasia, and embryonic stem cell research.

Though the language of the life statement is firmly rooted in historic, orthodox Christian thought, the Declaration adopted a more global view in speaking to the horrors of our "modern" world to include Genocide, Ethnic Cleansing, Human Trafficking/the trafficking of girls and young women, racial oppression and discrimination.

In the issue of marriage, the signatories absolutely repudiated both the ideas of polyamory/polygamy, and homosexual coupling as viable, healthy human relationships. Heterosexual, monogamous relationships between a single male and female partner are seen as having been created, ordained and blessed by the Almighty. The institution is further endorsed in the New Testament writings of Saint Paul.

Signatories to the document have a clear understanding that marriage is a covenantal relationship between a Holy God, a man and a woman. Clearly, how can the Holy One establish a covenantal relationship between two or more individuals enmeshed in behavior that is clearly proscribed by scripture? While the document also recognizes that there are individuals who are clearly bent towards homosexual behavior, they're no more stigmatized than others bent towards other sinful practice. Those in disagreement with this Declaration will be prepared to scream bigotry and squeal intolerance at the top of their voices, they'll be screaming into the faces of the Godhead.

The third component, speaking towards Religious Liberty, speaks the loudest. In fact, the spirit of the section could be encapsulated in the language lifted below:
"It is ironic that those who today assert a right to kill the unborn, aged and disabled and also a right to engage in immoral sexual practices, and even a right to have relationships integrated around these practices be recognized and blessed by law—such persons claiming these “rights” are very often in the vanguard of those who would trample upon the freedom of others to express their religious and moral commitments to the sanctity of life and to the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife."

In some of its strongest language, the Declaration loudly condemns the efforts of some in power to dismantle the Christian idea of "Freedom of Conscience". Loss of this freedom is nothing short of searing, naked tyranny.

This document will be repudiated by some of the strangest bedfellows. No surprise here, but the Declaration likely will be loudly and vociferously repudiated by bodies such as the Episcopal Church, UCC, UMC, MCC, ADL, ACLU, Barry Lynn, et al as being intolerant, bigoted and insensitive. Jack Chick, Independent Fundamental Baptists, KJV-Onlyists and some in benighted pentecostalism/mountain folk religionists will loudly condemn the Declaration and its signatories as a "papist plot" cobbled together by "agents" of Rome. Amazing. after two thousand years, opposition to truth still has a way of bring together the most unlikely.

Now, my two cents...

The Manhattan Declaration may well take its place with the Barmen Declaration in the story of orthodox Christianity as a declaration of resistance against emergent, atheistic socialism. And as was the case with some of the Barmen signatories, their well may be those who in these latter days, receive a martyr's crown as a consequence to having their names attached to this historic document.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Its Monday...

Its Monday, and its time for another visit from Reverend Fun...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Concerning KSM and his fellows.

I continue to be amazed at the way we as a nation continue to take an Ad Hoc stance towards ratified treaties and settled U.S. Constitutional Law. In considering AG Holder's decision concerning the Trial of Kalid Sheikh Momammed (KSM) and his co-conspirators, we should look to existing precedent before playing it from the hip. Consider the Geneva Convention of 1949 and the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC):
Unlawful Combatants. Unlawful combatants are individuals who directly participate in hostilities without being authorized by governmental authority or under international law to do so. For example, bandits who rob and plunder and civilians who attack a downed airman are unlawful combatants. Unlawful combatants who engage in hostilities violate LOAC and become lawful targets. They may be killed or wounded and, if captured, may be tried as war criminals for their LOAC violations.

It should be noted that under the treaty provisions, KSM could have been tried and summarily executed in the field as a war criminal. This didn't happen and won't happen because as American Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen (of which I was for 20+ years), we will put ourselves in harm's way to see the war criminal delivered to justice for the Due Process of military law.

The spectre of a "civilian criminal" trial for a war criminal the likes of KSM and his comrades is unprecedented, unconstitutional and an unnecessary risk to the citizens of New York City, or any potential venue for this circus of the insane.


Anyone on the hunt to determine if our nation has slipped her moorings and is slipping into in institutional psychosis, and slouching onward to destruction need not overexert themselves. We've now witnessed a new low in the continuing abdication of parental responsibility in the raising of their offspring. A woman in Arkansas, (I refuse to use the term "mother") is in the news for having her pre-adolescent daughter Tased over her refusal to shower. Before pressing on, I had to wait an entire day before commenting on this as there is great risk in "Loosing one's Religion" when even lightly considering this outrageous story. We're now only beginning to see the bitter fruit of seeds sewn over the past half century by a cabal of leftist fifth columnists who have worked silently and insidiously to destroy our Republic from within. If we have any remnant sense of judgement, these conspirators should be round up and brought to a Nuremberg-like trial for their coup.

Doctor Benjamin Spock (with the round ears) was unable to convince American parents to cease from raising disciplined children, a wave of his acolytes in the form of overstepping "social workers" stepped up to cow parents into raising discipline-free little crumb crunchers. Not satisfied, a wave of socialist/Marxist judges and prosecutors made it there life's mission to criminalize Biblical child rearing to the point that a majority of parents became loathe to even scold their children for fear of criminal repercussion. In the wake, our nation (and most of the western world for this matter) has now witnessed a generation of ill-mannered little turds, and other assorted me-monkeys ascend to adulthood without even the scent of discipline. Without the benefit of structure, they've no internal self-discipline and consequently, are bereft of the skills needed to raise disciplined offspring of their own. In this void, they call on the wellspring of their own poisoned rearing to take care of their feral litters. The result is clear; little girls are tased, police now carry pediatric-grade handcuffs and the dystopic nightmare continues to grow. Parent, Grandparent, Uncles and Aunts; you can stem the tide and staunch this insanity if you're willing to develop the spines, brass assets and godly characters to affect change.

If you bred 'em, raise 'em! If you're unwilling to take personal responsibility for your progeny, place them for adoption to a family who'll be happy to fulfill that Divine mandate for you. Secondly, NEVER rely on the State to raise your brood. The unfittest of parents; the State does not discipline, they only punish (and there is a difference...) Thirdly, dismiss the Sterecore Tauri that equates discipline with abuse, in fact the two are polar opposites. Abuse is criminal behavior that has no place in a civilized society. Discipline is a Divinely-ordered mandate that facilitates the upbringing of noble citizens. A judiciously applied swat on the bottom will reinforce the concept that a tantrum is unacceptable. It will not however, "scar" the child for life.

Finally, a note to Mayor Vernon McDaniel. If you think you need to consult the FBI or Arkansas State Police to determine the propriety or legality of Officer Bradshaw's actions, I recommend that you save the time & effort by simply resigning your position as its clear that you're lacking the sound, mature judgment required to be your municipality's chief executive. Hellen Keller could see that the patrolman's judgement was nonexistant and his conduct criminal. And BTW... IT WAS CHILD ABUSE!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Quote to Consider

"A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader." -- Samuel Adams, American Patriot

A Lesson in Communications

Sunday, November 08, 2009

November 8th -- Happy Birthday Derek

It was in the deep hours of the morning, moments after 2:33 or so, that I became a dad 26 years ago today. Shortly after, I was holding this little guy with a pointy head and a set of pipes that were knocking back 120-plus decibels or so. Though the shape of his head was temporary and took on a human form within a few hours of his grand entrance, Derek has always been gifted with those "pipes" so to speak. In his 26 years, he's made a "grand entrance" in whatever he has set his heart & mind to accomplish. Happy Birthday Derek!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Ordinand Retreat - Day Two --II

The day has progressed on and the the Pennsylvania countryside is warming under azure skies. I've just completed a contemplative walk, considering Luke's Gospel from our morning meditation. Truly amazing! I'm grasping for words to describe just how a retreat sounds. The visual is a no-brainer as the panorama looks like a Wyeth landscape. The sounds however are another matter altogether. For certain, its totally devoid of the clatter that bathes Suburbia Majora. There are no Spleen-punching sub-woofers rattling the windows. Too, missing is the ever-present din of traffic, pierced by the occasional wail of an EMS vehicle. Finally, the skies are quiet; I don't hear the sounds of aircraft maneuvering on their approach to Dulles International. No, rather there's the sounds of wind whistling through the trees, punctuated by an occasional birdsong.

This is a place where the soul is nourished and the spirit can be set at liberty. A place where the voice of the Almighty can once again be heard in greater sense of clarity. I'm not speaking of audible voices but rather, a place that declares His glory and shines fourth with His handiwork.

Ordinand Retreat - Day Two

A chilly good morning to you all from Fairfield, PA. The operative word so far this morning is chilly and I'm confident that there is frost on the ol' pumpkin outside.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

A Hymn for a Thursday in November

Ordinand Retreat - Day one

Its a crisp November afternoon here in Fairfield Pennsylvania and in a sense, it feels like a bit of a homecoming as this was my stomping ground for seven years. In a sense, time seems to have been held in abeyance here. One hundred miles away from the ever present noise of Suburbia Majora, the silence is palpable and only occasionally punctuated by a passing automobile on the road outside. This is a far cry from the road traveled this morning. The hardwood foliage seems to have peaked here and is dimmed by a November overcast.

The retreat began with introductions and a light lunch. Following Bishop David Bena led us in a Devotion centering on the 1st chapter of Jeremiah. Jeremiah clearly didn't read "Your Best Life Now". Prosperity preachers would likely, after meeting him on a blind lunch appointment, write him off as an abject failure. The most godly servant, given their druthers would likely pass on the ministry given to the "weeping prophet". With the possible exception of King Josiah, Jeremiah preached to a hostile crowd, did hard time in both the royal dungeon and a well, and was ultimately carried off to Babylon. His end is known only to the Almighty and the company of saints.

Though his writings are melancholy and heavy to the point of sorrow, there's much to be learned from the character Jeremiah. The words "Politically Correct" are not found in his vocabulary. The man had the brass assets to speak truth to power, and society when the PC thing to do was to simply shut up and color. Our friends on the left seem to imagine this to be something one only does when the "adults" are running things. Sorry guys, the time comes and is coming when we've got to lay off the bong hits and hand Barry, Nancy and Harry the news.

There is one critical point to consider here. Jeremiah was neither copy editor nor cudgel. The prophet spoke the truth without adding his own color commentary. Too, though the truth hurt, he would neither sugarcoat, nor slam down the message on his hearers.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

For the Saints of South Korea

It was 12 years ago this morning that my feet touched down on the Korean soil at Pyongtaek and Camp Humphreys.