Showing posts with label prayer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label prayer. Show all posts

Monday, August 27, 2012

#*@! you and the false idol you worship

As a native of south Louisiana who seven years ago watched on TV as New Orleans drowned -- and whose hometown of Baton Rouge is gonna get whacked by Isaac -- I would just like to say to Rev. Airhead of the Fashion-Challenged Church of God's Own Party that . . . never mind.

It's not fit for print.

I will say, though, that the God you worship seems to me to be a pretty piss-poor caricature of the Creator of the universe. Furthermore, you might be surprised at what the Holy Trinity really thinks of the Republican Party, not to mention nimnals such as yourself.

HAT TIP: Rod Dreher.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Zuzu explains it all

Sometimes, it's not such a wonderful life.

Sometimes, when you hit December, this time of good cheer and good will toward men, you're running low on both. You are tired. You have been beaten down by a world of bad will and bad tidings, and if success ever came calling on you, there'd probably be no room at the inn.

For trouble, there's plenty of room. Because that's how the world rolls.

You feel alone in the world, and if your mother told you she loved you, you'd feel compelled to confirm it with at least two independent sources. Preferably, there would be something on paper somewhere -- not that you would be able to find it.

Meantime, being that the world has you convinced you're a great big failure, you seek inspiration among folks our world holds up as successful. You take a hard look at who they are and how they got where you'd like to be . . . and you conclude that if these societal role models were in Texas, somebody surely would say they "just need killin'." (See "Investment bankers, Wall Street.")

Then you conclude that's just false hope talking.

SO THERE you are. Feeling alone. Stressed out. A giant, screaming failure -- one way or another. You don't love you, and you're fairly certain God is ambivalent on the subject.

Merry expletive-deleted Christmas. The only reason you didn't get pepper sprayed at Wal-Mart on Black Friday was because the last shred of dignity you have left hinges on not being the sort of person who puts himself in a position to get pepper sprayed at Wal-Mart on Black Friday. So you have that going for you, at least.

Zuzu feels your pain.

Well, at least Karolyn Grimes -- she who was so sure about what happened to angels whenever a bell rang in
It's a Wonderful Life -- feels your pain. Being a movie icon offers little protection when the world decides to crash down upon you.

But sometimes, underneath the rubble and amid the ruin, there is a wisdom that surpasses what we understood to be true. We live, we suffer and -- as "Zuzu" tells
The Washington Post from the perspective of now being 71 and having suffered . . . a lot -- the truth is where it is.

And God is where He is. Which isn't necessarily where we presume Him to be.
“My life has never been wonderful,” she offered quietly. “Maybe when I was a child, but not after age 15.”

“And maybe that’s what makes the film so important for me and a lot of other people,” she continued. “The Jimmy Stewart George is suffering terribly in the movie — you can just see it. He’s in Martini’s café and saying to himself, ‘God, I’m not a praying man, but please show me the way.’ ”

“Gosh, it makes me cry,” she said.

“It’s not a Christmas movie, not a movie about Jesus or Bethlehem or anything religious like that,” she insisted. “It’s about how we have to face life with a lot of uncertainty, and even though nobody hears it, most of us ask God to show us the way when things get really hard.

“That was part of Capra’s genius,” she said. “Everybody has some sorrow, worry, and everybody asks God for help. One way or the other, we all do, and it can be in Martini’s, not a church on Christmas.”

Francis Caraccilo, a preservationist in Seneca Falls and an organizer of the annual “It’s a Wonderful Life” celebration, believes Capra’s film addresses other important issues. “For a lot of historians and people who just watch the film closely, the movie’s relevance includes the fact that it addresses anti-immigrant sentiments and religious bigotry,” pointing to the scene where the evil banker Potter complains that George Bailey is helping “garlic eaters” buy homes.

“Italian Americans appear throughout the film,” said Caraccilo, himself an Italian American. “When Capra came through this town, it was clear that anti-immigrant and not-too-subtle hostility toward Catholics was part of the American social landscape in 1946.”

“There’s a generous heart in this movie,” he said. “Think about that for a moment in 2011.”
THINK ABOUT THAT for several moments.

Maybe life is wonderful, after all. Maybe what's not so wonderful is how much room we allow Henry F. Potter in our hearts and in our culture . . . and how little is left for George Bailey. We say we long for Bedford Falls, yet we double down on
the Pottersville that we've been sold.

You could pray about this at your church of the almighty annual appeal and happy-clappy, dinner-theater hymns to the triumphant self. On the other hand, you could get serious, pop into Martini's, order a double bourbon and go for broke.
"Dear Father in heaven, I'm not a praying man, but if you're up there and can hear me, show me the way. I'm at the end of my rope. Show me the way, God."

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Internet Monk, R.I.P.

Michael Spencer, known on the Web as the Internet Monk, died Monday night at his home in Kentucky.

What a terrible disease -- cancer -- stole from the Baptist minister's family, friends, students and readers, it has given back to Him who is the source of all blessings. And the work and life of the Internet Monk was a blessing, indeed.

HERE IS a snippet of the kind of wisdom and fearless cultural criticism we have lost with the passing of the Internet Monk. It's from a 2006 post of his on what he learned from the Chinese exchange students at the Baptist boarding school where he taught and ministered:
It’s impossible to know and talk with these Chinese students without catching their conviction in the superiority of their communist culture. As something of a student of Asian history, I understand how our Chinese students differ from other Asians in their cultural interactions with others. They do have a historical conviction of the superiority of their culture, and they see little need to demonstrate that to outsiders. To the Chinese, there is little doubt that their culture will be proven to be superior to all others.

Further, it is impossible to know these students without seeing that the Chinese communist revolution -- with all its many, many failures and evils -- is producing a generation of young people who have remarkable values, ethics, loyalty and devotion to their culture. I see little evidence in these students of much for a resistance movement to work with.

All of these students are atheists, and none are familiar with Christianity, but when we do talk about the area of core beliefs, they are quick to witness to the influence of their families and their country. They want to return to China and live for the benefit of their families and country. They are endlessly grateful to their country and, unlike some internationals, have no reluctance to say where they want to return and live.

I’ve concluded that Mao may have been a poor communist, but he was a brilliant Confucian. Our Chinese students demonstrate so many of the virtues of Confucius, and are clearly bemused at what they see in our American culture. No longer are they in awe of the capitalism of our country. Our students come from strongly capitalistic areas. (I took one student to a sub shop, and he said the sandwich was good, but far too expensive.) They want to make major contributions to their society and to find materialistic success, but they are not enamored with the vices and immaturities of their peers in the declining youth culture of America.

In many ways, these Chinese students are a revelation of American decline and a preview of future Chinese cultural success. China may not be our military equal, and their government may be repressive, but the products of a culture are an indication of where things are going. These 8 Chinese students will not go to college and run up credit cards, wreck the car, stay drunk, fail classes and waste their time. They will soon be engineers, pilots, doctors and scientists; leaders in their field.

And I doubt, very seriously, that they will be Christians. Not because I haven’t tried to live, teach and preach the Gospel. I have, and will continue to do so as will all of the Christians on our campus.

I doubt they will become Christians because they are seeing American Christianity, and it’s far more American than Christian. They’ve helped me to see my own cultural religion, and it’s been a disturbing revelation.

When they attend chapel, they frequently hear moralistic preaching. Their own Confucian and Maoist culture gives them morals and moralism, and produces a far more moral person than their typical American peer. They hear sermons on being a good person, staying off drugs, not having sex and staying in school. They were doing all this when they came here and will do it when they leave.

They see American Christians without a Bible most of the time. We have few spiritual disciplines and are hungry and thirsty for the things our culture values more than the gifts and callings of Christ. They hear us talk about Jesus, but the Jesus we talk about is not compelling enough to cause us to live truly sacrificial or revolutionary lives. I’ve noticed this with other Asians as well. When they hear us talking about our religion, they expect to see the same holiness and devotion they see in Buddhist monks, but in American Christians they simply see another American, with a slightly different set of consumer interests. Same American. Different t-shirt slogan. Our spirituality is clearly inferior.
MICHAEL SPENCER loved God, and he loved the truth much more than he feared tipping sacred cows. Actually, I think he kind of reveled in sacred-cow tipping.

That's a good thing.

And now, as my own church, the Catholic Church, sinks once more into the fever swamps of sex and lies -- weighted down by the millstones of its many clerical malefactors -- I find myself wishing for someone,
anyone with the simple faith and deep-seated integrity of an iconoclastic Baptist preacher in the hills of Kentucky to step up and say "Enough! In the name of God, enough!"

I find myself grieving that it no longer will be
that iconoclastic Baptist preacher in the Kentucky hills writing insightful pieces challenging his branch of Christianity and mine, too, to cast aside the pride and the prejudices standing between us and the risen Savior who beckons all.

Too often, we who claim to be followers of Jesus are instead worshipers of false gods. Followers of idols made in our own image. Devotees of spiritual fads proportionate in stupidity to that of the fools who birthed them.

And it is our grievous loss that the Internet Monk no longer will be there to call us on it. To hold us accountable for what we've done with the unfathomable, unmerited grace so hard won on our behalf one terrible day at Calvary.

Requiescat in pace, Michael.

UPDATE: Michael Spencer's obituary is here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Terrible news in the blogosphere

The Internet Monk always has been a blog I greatly admire.

Its proprietor, Michael Spencer, possesses the great gift of being able to write gracefully while making great sense.

TUESDAY, however, brought terrible news about this brother in Christ, who has been struggling with cancer. His wife, Denise, writes:
It is with a heavy heart that I bring my latest update on Michael. We have learned that his cancer is too advanced and too aggressive to expect any sort of remission. Our oncologist estimates that with continued treatment Michael most likely has somewhere between six months and a year to live. This is not really a surprise to us, though it is certainly horrible news. From the very beginning, both of us have suspected that this would prove to be an extremely bad situation. I don’t know why; perhaps God was preparing us for the worst all along by giving us that intuition.

The combination of the cancer and the chemotherapy is keeping Michael in a very weakened state. He is in bed all day, getting up once or twice only to eat a “meal.” His meals consist mostly of Ensure, with occasional mugs of soup, dishes of ice cream and milkshakes. He’s still taking fluids well, currently preferring Sprite and ginger ale. His tastes do change slightly from time to time, and I try to be ready to jump in whatever direction they seem to be moving. He is in no pain at all, for which I am unspeakably grateful.
NEWS LIKE THIS always renders me with no good words with which to petition the Lord. I literally am reduced, without fail, to "Lord, have mercy."

Upon further reflection, it seems to me this isn't a bad prayer at all. God has His reasons for what he does and does not permit to befall any of us -- when he will and won't directly intervene in this fallen world's fallen workings.

We cannot understand the mind of God. As Flannery O'Connor once wrote:
Whatever you do anyway, remember that these things are mysteries and that if they were such that we could understand them, they wouldn’t be worth understanding. A God you understood would be less than yourself.
WHICH LEAVES ME with but my simple prayer for Michael Spencer and the rest of us, too.

Lord, have mercy.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Forget politics. Pray for Chuck Sigerson

I don't care for Chuck Sigerson's politics, and I really don't care for the implications of his governing philosophy for my city.

I've taken my shots at the guy -- hard ones.

But Chuck Sigerson is in bad trouble -- heart attack and stroke trouble -- and that trumps politics. Whether you care for his politics or not, won't you stop for a moment and say a prayer for the Omaha city councilman, his doctors and his family?

FROM THE WEBSITE of the Omaha World-Herald this afternoon:
Omaha City Councilman Chuck Sigerson has suffered both a stroke and heart attack and was in critical condition Sunday at Lakeside Hospital, a statement from his son said.

Jim Vokal, a former city councilman, released a statement to the news media from the Sigerson family about 4 p.m. Sunday.

"Our family asks that the entire community pray for his recovery and for the health care professionals who are caring for him."

Sigerson, who represents District 7 in the northwest part of the city, was taken to the west Omaha hospital Saturday night after suffering a stroke.

Vokal said tests on the 64-year-old former insurance agent found that Sigerson had also suffered a heart attack. Sigerson and his wife, Liz, have two children and six grandchildren.

The family was gathered at Lakeside Hospital all Sunday, Vokal said.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Here's what we pray. Here's what it means.

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls.

THE PRAYER to St. Michael the Archangel used to be recited after every Mass in the Catholic Church. It still is in some places, and we often take its words for granted.

Until. . . .

I don't know that we often grasp what that means -- or, at least, what it can mean -- when we routinely recite "be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil" or
". . . Satan and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls."

Today, in Omaha at Westroads Mall, Satan and all the evil spirits were on the prowl. It is not a pretty picture we receive from
the Omaha World-Herald story today:
Renee Toney was working in the gift wrap area behind the customer service counter when the gunman came off a third-floor elevator and began firing shots into the ceiling.

"He was moving very fast," she said. The shots "were very, very fast, I would say closer to 30 (shots) in all."

A supervisor called for everyone to go into a stockroom behind the customer service area, and she rushed there, the others just feet behind her.

But she was the only one of her immediate co-workers to make it to the stockroom.

"None of them made it out," Toney said. "I was up front, and everybody except me was shot. It's a blur. I don't even know how I got to the stockroom. I was the closest one to the stockroom. Within seconds, they were shot right behind me."

A supervisor later told Toney that the man had said, "Open the safe." One of the employees moved to open the safe, Toney said. "She never made it to the safe. He shot her before she made it."

When police later arrived and ushered Toney out, she said she saw blood all over the floor and as many as six bodies, some on top of each other.

Mickey Vickroy, who was wrapping gifts at customer service but out of sight of the service counter, said she heard gunshots and some yell, "Gun!"

About a dozen customer service employees ran back into a storage area.

Roxanne Philip, another customer service worker, said the gunshots were so close that it sounded like they were being fired right next to her. She said she took cover and was scared "because I thought I would be next."

Philip said she never saw the shooter, but as she left the customer service area after police arrived, she saw that a woman on the other side of the customer service counter had been shot and appeared to be dead. She said she thought her boss had been shot because she heard him moaning.

Chuck Wright, a Von Maur employee, said a co-worker who also worked in customer service described hearing the shooting break out and people running. The co-worker saw what appeared to be a customer who had been shot and heard a co-worker in customer service yelling for help.

Someone yelled, "Hold on, Fred, we'll get to you."

Another co-worker of Wright's described standing on the second floor near the escalator and looking up toward the commotion. She then saw a man with a gun lean over a third-floor railing. He then shot a man standing next to her in the head.
LET US PRAY. St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. . . .