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Category: Reflections

When is money actually the root of evil?

When is money actually the root of evil?

Great little article write-up here. Definitely worth a read.

Money is not evil. Good and evil actions come from the hearts of those that are making decisions about money. That is why sifting and knowing your motivations and reasons are critical to a well-trained soul.

Here’s a quick summary of points

  1. When it’s coupled with vainglory – When you are in love with yourself and you are elated with applause and flattery yet get angry with the slightest hint that someone is better than you, then you are in danger of the sweet but intoxicating venom of vainglory. When you use the money you make to inflate yourself with fine clothes/cars/houses in order to feel superior to others, then it is clear money is no longer just a gift for you to assist others around you.
  2. When fueled by envy – when envy is the catalyst for you to earn money, and motivates the way you spend money, then you are in for a trap – a trap of misery. Surely, it is not new to you if I say that there are rich men and women who died alone and miserable.
  3. When it’s the tool of vengeance – Many people believe they have overcome their anger – when in reality all they have done is repress it where it waits quietly for its moment to come back out. The desire to hurt a person because you feel it can satisfy you and can quench your anger – that is vengeance. Mind you, there are people who are pursuing the riches of this world just because they are angry at someone. They think that, by becoming rich themselves, they can use their money to hurt the object of their anger.
  4. If you lack compassion for people – We live in a world that applauds single-minded pursuit of your goals. But if what matters to you is for you is to reach your goals and dreams to be rich, and you have no qualms of who or how you step on people on your way, then you are in the danger zone. How will it be when you get what you want? Will you suddenly and miraculously start caring and helping others?

 

The Cross Bearer

The Cross Bearer

Joe Eszterhas was the screenwriter for the movies Basic Instinct, Flashdance, Showgirls. He also authored Hollywood Animal and American Rhapsody. Before that, he worked as a police reporter, racing the cops to robberies and shootings. He interviewed and wrote about mass murders and serial killers. Eszterhas knew a lot about darkness.  Then, on a hellishly hot day in 2001, desperately battling to survive throat cancer because of his addictions to alcohol and cigarettes, Joe Eszterhas found God. Or God found him.

His first prayer in over 40 years led him back to faith and the Catholic Church. Ironically, the priest he met was actually inspired to follow his path to the priesthood by the line from Flashdance: “to follow your dream”. Eszterhas wrote his autobiography in the book ‘The Cross Bearer’ which tells his story of how this author of The Devil’s Guide to Hollywood into the arms of a loving God.

He even gave a talk at Mt Angel Seminary about his journey. You can read it here in his book titled The Cross Bearer

Preverting Education to just be rationalization

Preverting Education to just be rationalization

Barrett nodded. “Education?”
“New York. London. Berlin. Paris. Vienna. No specific course of study. Logic, ethics, religion, philosophy.”
“Just enough with which to rationalize his actions, I imagine,”

– From the description of the depraved Emeric Belasco. Hell House by Richard Matheson

If your philosophy, religion, ethics, or logic come from popular authors or coffee table/internet level articles – do yourself a favor and stop. You’re far more likely to end up justifying your own beliefs instead of being challenged to find real truth. The kind you can base your life on.

Pro-tip: it doesn’t exist in any soundbite. Instead, it teaches you to think critically, to see the nuances of arguments, to realize NONE of them are completely correct, AND to see both sides. If your education isn’t doing this, then you’re just being spoon-fed what you want to hear. Your education should challenge you, make you angry, confirm and refute what you believe. Education is what allows you to experience that without having to lash out against others – and just deal with the ideas.

Hearing for the first time…

Hearing for the first time…

We are far greater than the limitations of our bodies. It’s moments like this that show our transcendent natures…

Christy Keane’s daughter Charly was born deaf. She’s still an infant, but recently got hearing aids. We’ve seen older children and adults get emotional when they hear sound for the first time, but Charly is so young, she doesn’t understand what’s happening or how to react. Her facial expressions are precious.

Compare these reactions of Charly and a 29 year old:

With this:

Daryl Davis AMA

Daryl Davis AMA

Daryl Davis is a African American gentleman that’s been the impetus for the many KKK members to question, and leave, the Klan. He’s doing an AMA on reddit, and this was one of his best quotes:

Despite what you may have read in the numerous press articles about me converting KKK members, I NEVER set out to convert anyone. I simply set out to ask a question I had formed in my mind as a kid: “How can you hate me when you don’t even know me?” Growing up, we all are told, “A tiger doesn’t change its stripes, a leopard doesn’t change its spots,” etc. I believed that and I didn’t think anyone was going to change, so that wasn’t my initial goal. I just wanted the answer to my question. But over time, though repeated interactions with various KKK members around the country, some of them began questioning their own beliefs as a result of their interacations and conversations with me. Then they began quitting, and I was astounded. Exposure and one-on-one dialogue is the KEY to solving a lot of issues in this country, not just racial ones. We live in echo chambers in which we surround ourselves with people who will reflect back to us, the very same thing we say to them. Therefore we block out anything from the outside as being inferior to what we learn in our little bubbles. I like traveling outside the bubble. Even people with good intentions, tend to shut out those who may hold different opinions. I am willing to listen all all.

This came on the eve of spending some time reflecting on how I was spending my online time. I had basically come to the conclusion that social media’s ‘discussions’ are pretty much useless to my becoming a better person and simply causes me more angst. What really mattered to me was when I got involved in programs at my local parish and started teaching. That actually changed lives. I saw it happen. I vowed to spend less time reading posts, arguing, and spend more time DOING.

Wrath

Wrath

It should not surprise us that we feel the prick of injustice so deeply when it happens to us. When we were created, we were in a world without sin. We were created with an innate instinct for justice, rightness, fairness, and truth. All the qualities of love. We were meant to live in harmony and peace forever – with each other, with nature, and with God. Yet by original sin, evil, and thus, injustice and even death entered the world.

But we continue to seek justice, fairness, and love in all our relationships. We feel that violation when injustice is met upon us or others. We see the evil of it – but wrath, hatred, and violence are born when the desire for fairness is twisted beyond justice.

But, as Sirach says, “Remember your last days” and “remember death and decay”. In doing so, we realize that the wrongs of this world, in the end, are as nothing. All we do, all we have, all we say, will eventually turn to naught in time. Do not let the evil of anger and wrath take hold of your heart for earthly things that are passing away.

And thus, even death itself can be turned into a thing that brings life by reminding us that the things of the created realm are temporary, fleeting, and ultimately come to naught. Such is the power and wisdom of God to turn even decay and death into something that gives life.

Sirach 27:30—28:7

Wrath and anger are hateful things,
yet the sinner hugs them tight.
The vengeful will suffer the LORD’s vengeance,
for he remembers their sins in detail.
Forgive your neighbor’s injustice;
then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.
Could anyone nourish anger against another
and expect healing from the LORD?
Could anyone refuse mercy to another like himself,
can he seek pardon for his own sins?
If one who is but flesh cherishes wrath,
who will forgive his sins?
Remember your last days, set enmity aside;
remember death and decay, and cease from sin!
Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor;
remember the Most High’s covenant, and overlook faults.

What is your ‘yes’?

What is your ‘yes’?

This painting hangs in my room. I bought it in Florence and had it framed after visiting the Convent of San Marco.


Fra Angelico’s painting of the Annunciation – Florence 1440

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. 34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. 36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing shall be impossible. 38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. – Luke 1:26–38

 

Reflection for the day:

The ‘Yes’ of Mary changed our lives. The ‘yes’ of every single person that raised, taught, helped, loved, or befriended us have changed our lives too.

Where are we being asked to say ‘yes’? Where do we need to say ‘yes’?

Pornography and intimacy

Pornography and intimacy

The Gottman Institute has become a renowned organization when it comes to analyzing relationships and marriage using the latest science. His studies have been cited and mentioned on such shows as NPR and This American Life.

But Dr. John Gottman has made an about face on his stance on pornography – specifically internet pornography. In a heartfelt open letter to colleagues (some that have suggested pornography is ok or even to be encouraged as he did himself), he states his stance unequivocally:

In summary, we are led to unconditionally conclude that for many reasons, pornography poses a serious threat to couple intimacy and relationship harmony. This moment calls for public discussion, and we want our readers around the world to understand what is at stake.

Pornography destroys relationships, distorts healthy sexual expression, and damages the ability to form healthy intimacy. Even divorce lawyers are seeing the trend:

In an informal meeting survey in 2002, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers questioned 350 divorce attorneys and found that roughly 60 percent reported that internet porn played a significant role in the divorces, with excessive interest in online porn contributing to more than half of such cases.

It’s not just lawyers who are picking up on the trend. In 2005, Dr. Jill Manning, a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in sexual addiction, pornography, or betrayal trauma, brought her research on porn and its connection to divorce before the Senate. According to Manning’s research, 56 percent of divorce cases involve one party having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.

John Mathews*, Family Law and Divorce Attorney, has also found porn to be a prevalent problem within his practice. Mathews explains that, in most cases, spouses deny porn use. But during discovery, a process wherein each spouse is given a list of questions to answer under oath, and during the back and forth between spouses as he tries to understand the complaints, he sees clearly the role porn plays in crumbling marriages.

Mathews explains that porn is most often cited amongst complaints of “Constructive Desertion,” meaning the spouse is at fault for emotionally abandoning their partner and withdrawing from sexual intimacy. Mathews says that he has had several cases in which a husband can’t stop engaging with porn, causing him to withdraw from quality time that could be spent with his wife. Most often, Mathews explains, porn use takes its toll by creating false expectations for physical intimacy. “I have had many cases where the husband won’t even touch his wife and several cases in which the spouses have not had sex in three or four years,” Mathews says.

Pornography is an addiction – on in which you have become addicted to the chemicals of sexual stimulation our own bodies generate. If this is destroying you, I’d urge you to take the following actions:

  1. Recognize that intimacy is not just sexual expression. Sexual acts only have meaning to us when they draw us into a relationship with another. Outside of that, they leave us feeling more empty and alone afterward. Something that captures this idea for me is this, “Stop spending all your time fretting about who you want to get into bed with. Spend your energy on who you want to wake up to instead.”
  2. Seek out a professional counselor or professional tools that recognize pornography as an addiction and treat it as such. Even Gottman has changed his tune on this topic. Professional help is important. Like gambling or substance abuse addictions, it’s very hard to impossible to solve it yourself. You need support and assistance.
  3. You will fall. Seek our the grace of confession and resources of a local parish. Be open and honest in your struggles and ask for grace in the sacrament to strengthen and heal you.
  4. Know it is possible. The expression and truth of real intimacy is far, far greater than just a mere physical expression of sexuality. When sex is wrapped in relationship – it is transcendent.
Rebuilt…

Rebuilt…

“The sacraments are celebrated every day in the Catholic church. The sacraments give us the grace we need to put us in right relationship with God – nourishing and strengthening us for our discipleship walk. But for some, the ceremony of the sacramental life of the Church is what they do instead of growing and becoming a disciple.”

Presidential authority and how democracy can die

Presidential authority and how democracy can die

During the Obama presidency, there were many that were angered by the number of executive orders he issued to work around the gridlocked of Congress.  One notable one was not enforcing deportation laws. Today, many on the other side of the political spectrum are angry at the executive orders that Trump are issuing. Here in Oregon, there is currently a lawsuit against the Trump administration for pulling funding for ‘sanctuary’ cities.

Executive orders are a strange beast. They can be easily passed by the president (without the approval of Congress) but have the full force of law, based on the authority derived from statute or the Constitution itself. Recent presidents have issued in the 100-300 range, which is nowhere near the 1000’s that were passed by some previous presidents (usually during war/Great Depression).

But they set a bad precedent – not for Republicans vs Democrats – but for citizens. Instead of forcing our politicians to follow the rule of law, we seemingly let them violate the checks and balances in our government to ‘get what we want’. It’s important not to let our politicians break the rule of law. The rule of law protects CITIZENS from POLITICIANS. It makes our politicians do their jobs – which is to make, pass, enforce, and abide by the rules of law. When we give them a free pass to violate the very laws/checks and balances, then we as citizens lose the ability to control our own government. We only hurt ourselves. Just like giving a kid scissors to run around the house just to shut them up, we will end up paying a much worse price later for short-term gains.

I plan on holding my politicians to a higher standard. Do what we hired you to do – the hard work of working out our laws and getting them passed. I for one will sacrifice getting something now vs later in order to preserve the important safety guards to hold our government accountable.