The Greatest Fish Story Ever Told

The author in a rare moment when fishing turned to catching

St. Joseph, foster father to Jesus and I have something important in common; we are fishermen.

I know. You may be saying that I have no evidence that Joseph ever went fishing. But faith and logic – and a little imagination — have convinced me that Joseph loved to fish and this had a profound influence on Jesus.

Let me explain…

My wife and I have a son and a daughter.  The son is six years older than the daughter.  Both are all grown up with children of their own now.  But when they were 8 and 2, we were trying to figure out a vacation that would have things both would enjoy.  We decided to rent a cabin on a little lake in Wisconsin and spend a week fishing, hiking, playing on the beach, and relaxing.

I had never been much of an outdoorsman and expected to have a miserable time.  Instead, I loved it and we returned every year for two decades.  Much to my surprise, I became an avid fisherman. That isn’t to say that I’m much of a catcher of fish but I do love trying.

As Father’s Day approached this year, I got to thinking (some might even say I had a sort of vision) of Joseph in the carpenter’s shop with Jesus. They probably worked long, hard, days.  Carpentry is physical work, especially in Joseph’s time before there were power tools.

So it would only be natural that Joseph would take a break for a week or two in the summer and plan a little vacation. According to ancient texts, Nazareth wasn’t much of a resort town in those days but the Sea of Galilee is a day’s walk away. I’m think it would make sense for Joseph to pack up Mary and Jesus and head off to the sea for a week of fishing and relaxing on the shore.

Those of you who have read the Bible know that it doesn’t have a lot to say about Jesus before his public ministry. We see him as a baby, get a glimpse of the Holy Family fleeing to Egypt, see him presented and later found in the temple.

The rest of the time we presume he was helping dad in the carpenter’s shop.  And as I have seen, he went on a fishing vacation each summer.

This early exposure to fishing was to have a profound effect on Jesus and some of the decisions he made during his public life.  Clearly, those annual trips to the sea exposed him to the bravery, honesty, and leadership of fishermen.

He learned that fishermen know how to communicate with others and tell a good story. When he picked his disciples, he knew he would need people who could remain optimistic even when people rejected them and refused to hear their words of faith.

Nobody is more optimistic than a fisherman.  A fisherman can cast a line for hours without a bite and still believe the next cast will generate a record catch. That’s the sort of attitude an evangelist must have.

Thus, when it came to picking disciples, Jesus went to the sea of Galilee, the place where he had so many fond childhood fishing memories, and built his core of followers on fishermen. He even founded His Church on the shoulders of a fisherman.

Perhaps this sounds far-fetched.  I certainly have not had an approved vision.  But it makes sense, at least as much as most fish stories.

I Challenge You to Vote

The folks who run Major League Baseball just decided to move the 2021 Allstar Game from Georgia to Colorado.

The stated reason is that Georgia legislators have passed a law that requires a person to have an ID to vote. Some on the liberal side of the political spectrum have charged that this is voter suppression aimed at keeping the poor, minority, downtrodden, humble, and meek from voting.

This is interesting in light of the fact that Colorado requires an ID to vote.

In light of the controversy around the 2020 Presidential election and charges (many like true) of fake ballots being counted, it is reasonable that many states are enacting laws to ensure the integrity of elections.  After all, this isn’t – or isn’t supposed to be – a banana republic.

Voting is a serious responsibility in a republic such as ours.  It should not be taken lightly. It should be cherished and something that takes a little effort.

Some politicians are vowing to make it easier to vote.  If they mean the polls are handicapped accessible, public transportation is available for people to get to the polls, and employers have to give people time off to do their civic duty, that is fine with me.

If it means you don’t have to prove you have the right to vote or even your identity, I have a serious issue with that. We should make sure that everyone who is legally entitled to vote is able to vote (once per election).

The hypocrisy of folks like the baseball executives who are criticizing Georgia lawmakers is breathtaking.  They don’t think you should produce an ID to vote, but try showing up at the will call window at Yankee Stadium and ask for the lower box seats you reserved without producing an ID.

Airlines are protesting Georgia’s legislation but I can’t remember every getting on a commercial airplane without showing an ID.  In fact, I’ve been scanned, patted down, and interrogated.

I can’t get a driver’s license, fishing license, or sticker for my kayak without producing an ID. Which isn’t to say getting a fishing license is a huge challenge. I just think it ought to require as much effort to vote.

Frankly, if someone doesn’t have an official ID and can’t figure out how to get one, I really don’t think they should be helping to decide who wins the next Presidential election. I don’t think they should be helping to choose the local dog catcher.

At the risk of sounding as un-woke-ish as is possible, I challenge our elected representatives to make it HARDER to vote.

The Week That Was and Never Should Have Been

Theodor Horydczak Collection, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

As a student of history, I am blessed to find hope despite the events in America over the past year. I’m also disappointed that our nation has proved it learns little from the lessons provided by the past.

Put another way, we have survived events far worse than the January 6, 2021, demonstrations in Washington. Unfortunately, we keep creating crises to challenge America’s desire to survive.

As the unfortunate events of last week unfolded, several images from history wandered through my mind.

Rome was destroyed by a great fire in July of the year 64. The Roman historian Tacitus recounts the horrible event, noting that it was generally believed initially that emperor Nero (who was missing a few cards in his deck) had set the fire. Nero, being clever as well as evil, blamed the upstart religious sect: Christians. The emperor was not about to let a crisis go to waste (even one he created) and used it to attack the troublesome followers of Christ.

It occurred to me that perhaps those who raised a ruckus in the Capitol Building were some of the same thugs who have been inciting trouble in cities around the country for the past year.  They were not the people who have been attending Trump rallies in joyful happiness for several years and I expect will continue to do so.

As I looked at pictures and videos of the gang that stormed into the Capitol Building, I couldn’t help but think that they didn’t look like people out to foment a revolution.  Throw a tantrum maybe. Express their frustration, perhaps.

Into my mind came the image of Howard Beale, the fictional newsman from the film 1976 film Network . Frustrated by all the turmoil in the world, he would end his nightly newscast screaming, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.”

I think there are millions of Howard Beales in America today:

  • Small-business owners in Chicago, Portland, Kenosha, Minneapolis and beyond who saw their properties looted and burned as police were ordered to stand down and let the violence run its course. (After all, as the Speaker of the House said, “people are going to do what they are going to do”.)
  • Unemployed workers who have lost their jobs at retail stores, restaurants, and thousands of service companies because businesses have been ordered shut by politicians despite scant evidence there was any benefit to public health.
  • Postal workers, nurses, and grocery employees who have been required to work while union teachers refuse to return to their jobs. (Although Catholic schools are open and doing just fine.)
  • Son, daughters, and grandkids being prevented from visiting the elderly in nursing homes.
  • People seeing their taxes raised and their benefits reduced.
  • A government relief package that includes billions for dubious foreign aid, bailouts for non-essential institutions, and money for pork projects.

I’ve seen several self-righteous politicians and complicit news commentators decry the “desecration” of the “hallowed” ground of the capitol building. Frankly, I doubt a mob could do more to desecrate the halls of congress than the liars, cheats, and political hacks who have populated the building for the past four years. Trashing a few offices hardly comes close to wasting trillions of taxpayer dollars and letting China ruin American industry, something the incoming Administration seems determined to accelerate.

I read about a member of Congress who wanted to punish whoever it is who trespassed in his office.  I expect the owners of the empty stores on Chicago formerly Magnificent Mile feel the same way about the people who looted their businesses.

Hearing of all the nonsense going on in Congress, another image come to my mind, this from the Gospel, Mark 11:15-17: And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who sold pigeons; [16] and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. [17] And he taught, and said to them, “Is it not written, `My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” 

The moneychangers in the temple were small-time hustlers compared to the criminals who likely stole the election and will certainly try to steal your property and the hearts and minds of your children.

Yet, I have hope because we have survived progressive nonsense (Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt), totalitarian aggression (USSR, Hitler), and massive divisiveness in our nation (Civil War, 1960s).

Can we ever learn that progressive political policies don’t lead to everyone’s prosperity but to lost jobs, failed economies, even starvation? They don’t produce the Garden of Eden, they produce Venezuela.

Can we ever learn that massing power at the center doesn’t create the good for all but a Stalin?

Can we ever learn that there is good and evil in the world and two wrongs don’t make a right?

We can and we must. And I pray that we never must take the difficult path our forefathers were called to follow:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

If anyone doesn’t recognize these words, you need to read the founding documents of our nation – and your high-school civics teacher should lose tenure.

The Choice is Clear

Today’s great universities face myriad challenging choices.

Shall we expand the college of engineering?

Are the changes in secondary school requirements necessitating changes in how we educate teachers?

What is the ongoing role of a classical liberal education?

My alma mater, the University of Illinois, Urbana, faces all these challenges but one even more daunting to its politically correct leadership: the choice of a new mascot.

I wrote about this early in the year (Messing with a Mascot). As I mentioned then, the university really never had a mascot; it had a symbol: Chief Illiniwek.

However, in an ill-considered fit of progressive mindlessness, the university did away with The Chief. He was replaced (sort of) by a big orange capital “I”.

A big orange “I” could stand for many things… Illinois… idiot… illiterate… idolatry… insanity.  Such obscurity could not stand.

In response, the university has been accepting recommendations for a new (actually, its first) mascot.  The frontrunner appears to be a fairly unimpressive bird called the kingfisher. As I mentioned in my earlier blog, there are important and obvious reasons why the kingfisher is a selection that is for the birds.

The indisputable and most glorious choice for University of Illinois mascot is the Tully Monster. I’m serious.

If you aren’t familiar with this prehistoric denizen then shame on you. After all, the Tully Monster (Tullimonstrum gregarium) is the official state fossil of Illinois and inhabited the waters covering the state some 300 million years ago. It was discovered in 1958 by Francis Tully.

Illinois State Geological Survey paleontologist Donald Mikulic lobbied the State Legislation to give Tully the honor, which the wise legislators did in 1989.  Mikulic was lucky he got that done when he did; today Tully would be competing with Mike Madigan and Dick Durbin for state fossil.

Why would Tully be a great mascot?

  1. Tully Monster fossils have only been found in the Mazon Creek fossil beds of Illinois. That means it is Illinois’ fossil and nobody else can claim it. 
  2. Lots of universities have mascots named after birds or furry animals, but they are hardly unique. No other school has a Tully Monster. (I should point out that Ohio State’s mascot is a nut, the Buckeye, which may say something about the school’s football fans.)
  3. The Tully Monster was a soft-bodied, highly flexible creature that grew as long as 18 inches.  It was a voracious carnivore with a long jaw and sharp teeth.  You would not have wanted to encounter Tully in the wild, prehistoric waters of Illinois. Tully was tough!
  4. It is easy to picture a vicious depiction of Tully on athletic uniforms and banners. At minimum, the unusual image would distract other teams and give Illinois teams an advantage. (We need all the help we can get.)
  5. Unlike Chief Illiniwek, Tully is unlikely to arose the ire of activists – although anything is possible. Maybe there are fossil-rights activists who have been dormant.

I know there are some who will point out that nobody alive today has ever seen a living Tully Monster. I don’t think that should be a deal breaker.

Notre Dame has a leprechaun as its mascot and despite legends to the contrary, nobody has ever really seen a leprechaun. At least we know that Tully was real.

The Forgotten Essential Workers

This is not another tribute to those brave essential workers who continue to serve society during the coronavirus pandemic.

You hear their praises sung daily on the radio and read of their dedication in newspapers: emergency responders, police, fire fighters, nurses, doctors, letter carriers, grocery workers, and sanitation workers.

There are the cashiers in gas stations. In some cases you can include teachers. In Chicago, near my home, the Catholic school teachers have proved themselves essential by showing up live and in person each day to teach their students. The public-school teachers, led by a grubby union, have decided to hide at home (that makes them non-essential in my book).

Calling some people essential and others non-essential may be the biggest example of judgmental discrimination in history. The list of people above certainly includes groups that are urgently needed if society is to function on a daily basis.  But they are no more “essential” than artists and musicians. Yes, I can get along without music longer than I can get along without groceries – but music is essential to my definition of a world I want to live in.

Some people, perhaps most people, extoll the essential services of government. Most of the “essential” workers mentioned earlier work for government at some level. However, in my state, Illinois, government services are generally poor and taxes continue to rise to pay the unfunded pensions of essential (and in some cases extremely unessential) government employees.

As I write this, the coronavirus vaccines developed by private companies are rolling out.  President Trump – whether you like him or not – provided the most essential factor in getting vaccines done in record time. He got government out of the way.  If the government were given the task of creating the vaccines we’d still be setting up blue-ribbon panels of experts and arguing about which agency should be in charge.

Sadly, in all this talk of essential workers, there are two groups who are seldom if ever mentioned.

The first are what I’ll call “faith workers.” These include priests, nuns, ministers, and leaders of Jewish, Muslim, and other non-Christian creeds. They have tried to continue to fill the faith needs of their followers despite government efforts to close their facilities and keep their members from getting together for such absolutely essential activities as prayer.

Government restrictions have made it challenging (in some instances impossible) for people of faith to conduct the corporal acts of mercy:  to feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to give shelter to travelers, to visit the sick, to visit the imprisoned, and to bury the dead.

Government is trying to control people to a greater degree than ever before in America’s history.  Don’t misunderstand; we have been through difficult times and sacrifices many times in the past.  But never before has the government reached so far to restrict our movement and define our thinking.

Government restrictions have ruined businesses and broken countless family dreams. In return, there is scant evidence those restrictions have really benefitted our health. Nobody has proved to me that avoiding human contact and wearing a mask while riding my bicycle is beneficial.

Of course, the federal government has sent zillions of dollars in aid to individual, businesses, and other levels of government. This brings me to the second category of forgotten essential workers: taxpayers.

Contrary to what many socialists believe, the government really doesn’t have its own money to spend. Government has assumed the authority to spend our money.

All the free stuff government gives away isn’t really free.  It is paid for by taxpayers.

I cringe every time I hear a government leader say the government is providing free health care, free housing, free food, or free anything else.  It isn’t that I’m opposed to helping people; I am opposed to government taking credit and claiming it is providing anything for free.

Government can only give something to a person by taking the required resources from someone else. That makes – from the government’s perspective – the taxpayer the most essential worker of all.

The next time you get anything “free” from the government, don’t thank your senator. Thank your taxpaying neighbors.

The Audacity of Unity

Marching band at Arirang Mass Games – North Korea

I’m writing this a few days after the 2020 national elections in the United States.

It has been a contentious political season and that will continue. Both candidates believe they won the presidency and there is ample evidence of cheating, fraud, confusion, and old-fashioned political chicanery.

Now that election day has passed and despite the cloudiness of the result, the calls are starting for unity. Politicians, civic leaders, and clerics are calling for unity as if it is the greatest good a society can attain.

I’m not so sure.

Unity can be helpful if you are an orchestra, basketball team, or army assaulting an enemy. In the political world it might or might not be a good thing.  Unity isn’t a virtue.

Catholics point to four cardinal virtues (fortitude, justice, temperance, prudence) and three theological virtues (faith, hope, charity). The Catechism of the Catholic Church talks about seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.” [CCC 1831.]

As I said, “unity” doesn’t make the list of virtues. It is mentioned in scripture, but always in the context of something wonderful that will occur if all people are of one heart with Christ. It is achieved by conversion rather than coercion.

Unity is one of the triad of what I believe are today’ progressive virtues, which also include tolerance and acceptance. (Neither of these is mentioned in the list of virtues presented by the Church).

When today’s progressive talks of unity, it means everyone must accept and tolerate a libertine political philosophy that promotes a great many things government should do for everyone, which comes with massive control and cost. It is a philosophy that rejects the US Constitution, which seeks to protect people from the tyranny of big government.

Why should I abandon my Christian faith and my belief in the good of my country to achieve unity?

Looking around the world, I see evidence that unity is a characteristic more of oppressive governments than free nations. Certainly, the nations with the most “unity” are North Korea, China, Iran, and Cuba. Nations that believe in freedom – USA, UK, Ireland, France – tend to have a lot of bickering and sloppy debate.

Unity can work for good or evil. Americans came together to play a major role in victory in two world wars. That was a good thing.

Hitler united a suffering Germany in a common effort to conquer the world.  That wasn’t such a good thing.

Today, it seems that unity depends on my acceptance of abortion, sexual immorality, forced income redistribution, seizure of private property, socialization of medicine, and rejection of religious freedom.

Under those circumstances, I won’t be much of a unifier. I refuse to be united to evil. I believe in a Christian unity that rejects audacity.

Divisive is NOT a Four-Letter Word

There is a word that causes me to cringe each time I hear it spoken by a leader in the Catholic Church: Divisive.

That isn’t because I dislike people who are divisive. No, it is because when leaders in the Church say a person is divisive, they  seem to suggest this is the worst thing you can say about someone. And I think being divisive can be a wonderful act of faith.

In recent days, several Catholic priests have been reprimanded by their pastors or bishops for proclaiming how important it is for Catholics to vote for pro-life politicians in the upcoming national elections. Some of these priests have engaged in the “divisive” act of suggesting a Catholic should not vote for a politican of a political party that ardently supports abortion.

Apparently, a priest telling his congregation not to vote for people who promote abortion is upsetting to some folks in the pews. And they probably call or email the bishop and complain. The bishop believes he must “correct” the priest to preserve unity.

In other words, the priest has committed the ultimate sin: he has been divisive.

So what? The Catholic Church has a long tradition of divisive people who became Saints.

The Apostles were a truly divisive bunch. The New Testament is a litany of their troublemaking, disobedience to authority, and proclamation of the truth. In return, all but one died a horrible death.

Catherine of Siena had the habit of telling the Pope what to do. Mother Teresa of Calcutta told the US President he shouldn’t support abortion. These two great women believed the truth was a higher good than “getting along.”

In the world of politics, you likely could find no more divisive people than George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.  The first helped found the nation by dividing it from England; the second kept the young nation from dividing into two.

Washington would have been less divisive if he had simply told the colonists to stop complaining and do whatever King George wanted. Lincoln would have been less divisive had he just told the southern states that is was OK if they wanted to have slaves.

Martin Luther King Jr. certainly was devisive. And you don’t have to be Christian to be divisive; Ghandi proved that.

Avoiding “divisiveness” is not the end objective of the Christian faith. We seek eternal salvation through the truth, Jesus Christ. The faith should be presented in as “pastoral” a voice as possible – but the truth must be told, and some people are going to have sore ears.

The only way to have “unity” in a congregation is for everyone to think just as they please and everyone else to tolerate whatever lunacy is proclaimed.  But such acceptance denies the existence of objective truth.

A schoolteacher could avoid all conflict in the classroom by accepting what answer a student gives on a math test and giving every student an “A”. But who would go to a bank where the employees didn’t accept the basic truths of arithmetic.  Two plus two really does equal four – not whatever some child says it equals.

In like manner, the Catholic Church teaches what is truth. Paul has important words about divisiveness.

[16] Salute one another with an holy kiss. All the churches of Christ salute you. [17] Now I beseech you, brethren, to mark them who make dissensions and offences contrary to the doctrine which you have learned, and avoid them. – Romans 16:16-17

The key phrase here is that the offences are contrary to doctrine. Someone who proclaims the truth is not being divisive but brave.

Of course, Christ was rather divisive himself. And he made no apologies for that.

[51] Think ye, that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, no; but separation. [52] For there shall be from henceforth five in one house divided: three against two, and two against three. [53] The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against his father, the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother, the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. – Luke 12:51-53

Many Catholics rationalize twist themselves into knots in an effort to justify a vote for pro-abortion politicians and demand that priests sit silent while this scandal persists. They might want to consider an important line in the creed we recite at Mass on Sunday:

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.

I’m sure that when I am judged the Lord will be more interested in how I proclaimed the faith than whether the next guy in the pew liked me.

NOTE: Gospel passages taken from Douay-Rheims Bible.

Tradions Come and Go

Today I’m ending a tradition that I have observed for more than five decades.

This could be more an indication of my advancing age than the value of this particular tradition.

It is Sunday and the professional football season has started. According to my long-established tradition, I should be in front of the television watching the Chicago Bears.

Instead, I’m writing these few words to explain why my football tradition is over – at least for this season.

There is an old joke about professional hockey that goes like this: Golly, I went to see a boxing match and a hockey game broke out. Hockey, for those of you who don’t follow it, tends to have more fights between players than other sports.

The new joke, although not particularly funny, could go like this:  Golly, I went to a political demonstration and a football game broke out.

Professional football lost its way when the people running the National Football League decided to allow players to express their opinions about various causes on the field of play, as opposed to doing so on their own time from their own venue.

If quarterback Shifty Shorts of the Punxsutawney Phils wants to write a letter to the editor advocating groundhog liberation and put a Groundhog Lives Matter sign in his front yard, that is fine with me.  He certainly has the right to express himself.

But when I tune into a football game on television (or pay the equivalent of a day’s wages to actually attend in person) I want to see football.

At the risk of sounding negative, I don’t want to see football players kneeling in protest. I don’t want to hear alternative national anthems. I don’t want political or “social justice” slogans in endzones or on helmets or jerseys. I don’t want to sit though dozens of commercials by corporations trying to demonstrate that they “really care” about various social causes.

More positively, I want to just see talented, hard-working athletes using their God-given talents to engage in a test of sporting excellence.

When football returns to being football, I’ll return to being a fan.

Sensible and Seamless

denim-jean-seamI’m writing this in late August of 2020, which means we are just a couple months away from a contentious national election.

For Catholics, it is time to witness the periodic, tortured effort to justify a vote for pro-abortion politicians “who otherwise stand strong on the seamless and consistent ethic of life.”

Of course, anyone with more than a passing knowledge of logic knows this is a ridiculous argument. This isn’t to say that a Catholic should not stand strong on all the components of the “seamless ethic” but should spend a little more time understanding the underlying issues.

The argument for voting for a pro-abortion politician typically goes something like this… Yes, Representative Snodgrass supports abortion, but he supports feeding the poor, free national health care, free college, ending the death penalty, and better housing for the poor.  He supports everything on the social justice agenda that the Church supports, so that balances his support for abortion.

It is like a child telling mom it is fine for him to eat a pound of chocolate because he already ate his spinach. That won’t save him from a fat belly and a mouthful of cavities.

For Americans, the debate nearly always involves that “liberal vs. conservative” battle.  Liberals support abortion, free everything, and government control. They claim to really care about the people and their needs.

There is in that the implications that Conservatives are mean-hearted, not only because they would deny a woman the “right to choose” but because they don’t think the government ought to keep increasing taxes and providing more free stuff to more people.

However, it just might be that conservatives are NOT mean-hearted but believe there is a better way to provide for the needs of the nation’s citizens.  And if you look at the track record of socialist/communist nations you gather little ammunition to counter the Conservatives.

A Liberal might sincerely believe that the best way to help people is through immense government programs.

A Conservative might sincerely believe that the best way to help people is by limited government interference, allowing businesses to grow and flourish, and encourage communities to depend on private entities (like the Catholic Church) to provide help to those who fall into dire straits.

One of the things that amazes me is that Catholic leaders from rural America to Rome tend to support socialist government, even looking to a future of “one-world” government. It amazes me because anyone with an ounce of common sense can see that in such a world, religion – especially Christianity – would be marginalized and become increasingly diminished in its ability to help the very people it professes to help.

What does all this have to do with the seamless ethic? Quite simply, the need to address issues of life and social justice is consistent but the components in the cloth are not the same and cannot be treated with the same finality.

On the one hand, abortion and the death penalty are absolute.  You can’t be partly for or against abortion if you accept Catholic teaching that life begins at conception. Killing a criminal – no matter what horrible things he has done – removes his ability to repent and find salvation; man steps into the role of God.

The resolution of the social justice issues – medical care, poverty, housing, education, discrimination, even war – can be addressed in different ways. It is not clear that Big Government is the way to solve any or all of these challenges.

Put more bluntly, if you are a Catholic you can’t justify voting for a pro-abortion politician because he supports more money for government poverty programs. To make the matter worse, you likely will find that the politician who supports abortion nearly always supports allowing the old and ill to die, perhaps even supporting assisted suicide.

A recent American president of the Liberal persuasion famously said that he supported abortion because if his daughter became pregnant, he wouldn’t want her “punished with a baby.” Assuming that this wasn’t a case of immaculate conception and in light of the massive security around a president’s daughter, such a situation would likely be the result of a conscious decision to be sexually active. If that produces a baby that baby needs to be cherished as a God-given blessing, not seen as punishment.

Beyond that, the “punished” statement is an unintended comment on a culture in which each person wants to do what they want rather than what they ought. Each wants his will rather than God’s.

Thus, many Catholics seek a way to rationalize a vote for politicians who condone abortion. They seek a way to justify a worldly choice over a Godly choice.

That is the choice Satan makes. The Church calls it sin.

Fixing the Abhorrent Names of NFL Teams

Maryland_Hopkins_footballSeldom can I find anything positive to say about actions taken in Washington DC. But the team formerly known as the Washington Redskins of the National. Football League (NFL) has set an admirable model for every team in the league by changing its name to the Washington Football Team.

The old name was deemed offensive by some people; the new name is inoffensive to all but the few of us that cringe at the mention of the name Washington (when referring to the city rather than the founder of the country, although there likely are some who don’t like George Washington).

An analysis of the 32 teams that participate in the National Football League shows that each name is without doubt offensive to a good number of people. Therefore, all teams must follow the example of Washington and identify only by the name of their city.  Thus, The Chicago Bears would become the Chicago Football Team.  The New York Jets would become and New York Football Team. (This becomes complicated because there are two New York football teams, but since the Giants play in New Jersey; they can be the New Jersey Football Team.)

At this point, you may be thinking that most of the names of the teams in the league are innocuous and couldn’t possibly offend anything.  Therefore, I offer my concerns about each if the current team names:

  • Arizona Cardinals: This name ostensibly refers to a red bird. However, the mention of Cardinal brings to mind the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, which could offend Muslims, Protestants, and non-believers.
  • Atlanta Falcons: Hunters for centuries have trained Falcons to hunt and attack peace-loving and innocent birds and small animals. This is a bad example for our youth.
  • Baltimore Ravens: The mention of this dark and mysterious bird recalls the white poet Edgar Allen Poe, clearly a non-divers cultural symbol offensive to millions.
  • Buffalo Bills: If Redskins is an offensive name, how much more so a name that conjures up the memory of a man who ran a wild west show that included staged battles against Native Americans.
  • Carolina Panthers: Obviously, cultural appropriation of an animal that is black.
  • Cincinnati Bengals: Exploitation of an endangered species.
  • Chicago Bears: We really should not be glorifying an animal that has maimed and killed so many people over the years.
  • Cleveland Browns: I don’t think I have to explain this one.
  • Dallas Cowboys: Here we are honoring the invaders who murdered, pillaged, and stole from Native Americans.
  • Denver Broncos: Broncos are the poor animals that are mistreated in rodeos by, who else, the cowboys.
  • Detroit Lions: Christians should object to this glorification of the animals that were fed Christians in the Roman Coliseum.
  • Green Bay Packers: And what do they pack? Animals they have killed and chopped into little pieces.
  • Houston Texans: We really should not mention a state that occupies land stolen from Mexico.
  • Indianapolis Colts: Some think this is a reference to young horses, but it makes me think of the Colt guns used to kill and wound thousands of people.
  • Kansas City Chiefs: Another disgusting reference to Native Americans in a demeaning manner.
  • Los Angeles Chargers: This is another name that might be intended to refer to horses but in reality suggests the undisciplined use of credit cards.
  • Jacksonville Jaguars: Calls to mind an exclusive British car owned by the one percent.
  • Miami Dolphins: Clear exploitation of what many believe to be among the most intelligent of animals.
  • Minnesota Vikings: Why hold up as a positive example the group known for rape and plundering?
  • New England Patriots: Some believe these “patriots” worked to establish a country where slavery could flourish.
  • New Orleans Saints: Disgusting appropriation of Catholic culture.
  • New York Giants: How offensive to little people.
  • New York Jets: Jets are the weapons of war and destruction.
  • Oakland Raiders: A raider is one who plunders and the mere mention of the term is likely to trigger many of our more tender-hearted citizens.
  • Philadelphia Eagles: This bird, which noble to some, is also the symbol of a nation that has waged war around the world.
  • San Francisco Forty-Niners: A terrible celebration of greed and a passion for gold.
  • Seattle Seahawks: Perhaps this name was intended to refer to a bird but the Seahawk is the most sophisticated helicopter of the US Navy and is thus a weapon of war.
  • Pittsburgh Steelers: We talking about a rusty old industry that pollutes and causes dread disease in its workers.
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Buccaneers were horrible scoundrels who prayed on innocent settlers, particularly of Spanish background.
  • Tennessee Titans: This is a harmful reference to white mythology and likely offensive to many sensitive minority groups.
  • Washington Redskins: Already handled!

Anyone who has read this far may think some of my interpretations to be extreme, even silly.  However, we live in a time of rising secularism in which political correctness is the new religion. It is an intolerant and cruel religion where any deviation earns persecution and risks loss of employment and punishment by the press.

As ridiculous as my analysis may seem, don’t be surprised if some of the National Football Teams really do follow the lead of the Washington Football Team. After all, the owners, coaches, and players already are bending a knee to groups that would overthrow our nation.  Frankly, I can’t think of anything much more disgusting than taking a knee during the National Anthem.

I don’t have the power to bring athletes to their feet to honor their country. But I can do my small part to protest. Until the National Football League gets the courage to stand for what is true and right, I won’t be watching their games. And I expect I’ll have lots of company.