Mountaineer Monday

Today (and every Monday from now on), my Mountaineer Monday Feature will be posted here and at a HailWV - a FanSided Blog written by and for Mountaineer Fans.  Be sure to head on over and check out the great Mountaineer Information.

It's one of my favorite days of the year.  I never know exactly which day of the year it's going to be, but I know without a doubt that it will be.  It is the day that I get these:

On Friday, when I got them, I may or may not have (who am I kidding?) jumped up and down in a circle while squealing.  It means that soon, very soon, I will be settling in to my familiar spot waiting for The Pride of West Virginia to take the field for the pre-game show.

If I thought there were unknowns last season, I should've realized just how much worse it would be this year.

I wonder how an untested, young Quarterback will do.  And what about his offensive line?  He doesn't have the ability to run for his life scramble the way that Jarrett Brown and Pat White did.

And what about the defense?  They should be the least of the team's problems as they are the most experienced unit.  But will that experience translate to leadership?

And Noel Devine and Jock Sanders?  It sounds like they are both stepping up as leaders, but do those around them have the talent needed to allow this dynamic duo to shine?

And coaching?  We have a new Special Teams Coach (FINALLY!), but how will he gel with the rest of the coaching staff?  And what about the loss of Doc Holliday to Marshall?  Will we lose to our instate foe?  I can't even consider it....

I'm sure these are all questions any team faces just before the season starts, but they weigh heavily on me this year.  The energy of Mountaineer Football was different last year, and I wonder if we've learned our lesson and will be truly ready to contend this year?  The reports coming out of Camp indicate that, yes, we are setting our sights on a (at least) 10-win season and a Big East Championship.  I am anxious to see if this talk translates to the field.  If the energy is back where it needs to be for a Big Time Football program.

Less than six days until the first answers come.

Less than six days until it's time to go hard or go home.

Less than six days...

Let's GOOOOOOOOOO Mountaineers!


A Big Ol' Mess of Nothingness

It's Friday.  Thank God!

Normally I would do Friday Fragments and link up with Jen's Quick Takes, but frankly, I'm feeling tired and lazy so it's gonna be an unorganized jumble o' stuff today.

Where to begin?  Maybe with the best thing that happened to me all week:  Yesterday (Thursday) at about 1:00 pm, I was informed that it was, in fact, Thursday and NOT Wednesday as I had thought all day.  What a pleasant surprise!

Next up...due to the insanity of my work schedule this week I have neglected a couple of things:
1)  Thank-you Michelle for the High Hopes Award!
This one is easy, all you have to do is blog about the award and pass it on!  So, Michelle, thank-you so much for this award, I am grateful (though my tardiness in posting about it doesn't show it).
I shall pass this award on to Young Mom at Permission to Live and Rae at No Wealth But Life & Catholic Life.

2)  A million weeks (okay, maybe I'm exaggerating, but it's been a while), Mary tagged me for a Meme about my favorite Catholic Devotional Prayers.  I can't say I have a lot of experience in this area, if I ever get a chance I'm going to read the choices of the others in hopes of learning some.  I find when I am 'stuck' and don't know what to pray for or I feel like this life is hard and unfair I tend to say The Lord's Prayer, the Hail Mary, and recite the scripture from my header repeatedly.  I know none of those are exactly earth shattering, but they are what get me through.

Mary, thank-you for tagging me in this Meme and instead of tagging others, I will just ask those of you who have made it this far in the randomness of today - What is your favorite Devotional prayer?

Let's see, what's next?  Oh yes, I am so excited about this morning.  I can't tell you why because it hasn't happened yet and it deserves its own post, but I can assure you it's football related!

And finally, a new adventure.  Kali (my pup), while cute and well-trained, is not always the friendliest pup on the block.  She has a personal space radius of about 3 feet in each direction and is pretty protective of me.  I admit, it is mostly my fault that she does not play well with others and that I have frequently said I would rather have a well-behaved dog that listens and doesn't play well with others than a dog who is super friendly and chews up all my stuff.  I stand by that, but I also feel like she is missing out on doggy-fun.  She wants to play with other dogs so badly, but it just doesn't work out for her.  So, we are going to be working with a Dog Behaviorist to see if she I can't learn how to relax.  Truly, I know this is mostly my issue, she does TONS better when I'm not around, and since I know I'm she's a smart girl, I'm confident we will be successful and heading to the dog park to play in no time!  Stay tuned...

Have a great weekend! 


Mountaineer Monday

The students are all moved back in.  There is more traffic than you would think this small town could handle.  The grocery shelves are bare.  And classes start tomorrow.

In less than two weeks, a new freshman class will get their first glimpse of Mountaineer Football.  And there's nothing quite like it.  I loved growing up here, but I have a twinge of jealousy of those out-of-town freshman attending their first game.  Waking up earlier to tailgate than you ever would for a class; that first sound of the Mountaineer shooting his musket; hearing the band play Simple Gifts - all for the first time.  I have no memory of my first Mountaineer game, I was too young.  It is just something that has always been.   But what it must be like to experience it all as an adult for the first time.

I attended the University of Southern California for graduate school.  In fact, I was there the year that Troy Palamalu's roommate, Carson Palmer, won the Heisman Trophy.  I went to one game and was so disappointed in the atmosphere.  I had such high hopes.  USC has such a storied program; the Trojans play in the Olympic Coliseum; it had to be good, right?  There was just something missing.  Maybe it was me, because while I'm a proud USC Alumni, I will always be a Mountaineer first and foremost.  It just didn't have the energy of a Mountaineer game.

I'm ready to feel that energy again.  The butterflies that fill my stomach the week leading up to a game; the goosebumps I get when the band takes the field for the pre-game show; the tears that roll down my cheeks when the Alma Mater plays; the pride the fills my heart when the Team takes the field.  Yes, I am a bit jealous that the incoming Freshman get to have the memory of a first Mountaineer game.  But I wouldn't trade the feeling that Mountaineer football is a part of me for anything and I expect that feeling only comes with growing up with it.


Can of Worms: Politics and Religion, My Thoughts

What is a Can of Worms Post?

I am sorry it has taken me so long to put my thoughts out here.  I have been extremely busy and every time I think about this topic it makes my head hurt; it is just such a big topic.

Just in case you missed the series from a couple of weeks ago:
Here is the introduction to what is going on.
Here are the Guest Posts (the order was picked randomly, but worked out very well, I think).

I asked these ladies to write on this topic because I will in no way be able to do it as eloquently or intelligently as they did.

But now, it is time for my thoughts.  *deep breath*

For one of my very first Can of Worms, I wrote about the Separation of Church and State, as it specifically related to schools.  As I read each of the guest posts and the comments on them, I kept coming back to this idea.

And from that idea, I find myself a registered Democrat who wishes that the Republican way of doing things would work, but who thinks the Democrats have the right idea on a lot of things.  Huh?  Yes, you read that right, I will try to explain.

The most important belief I think I hold is that Religion and Politics should be kept separate.  Not in the extreme "remove 'Under God' from the Pledge of Allegiance" way, but separate nonetheless.

When it comes to the Republican party, the idea of small government with less taxes is a great theory.  In theory, CEOs of major corporations would, because it is the right thing to do, donate their excess wealth to those in need and operate their companies with integrity.  People, in general, would use the money they are not being forced to pay in taxes to help their fellow people.  BUT, we all know this does not work, the current state of our economy is proof of it.  And my question to those who vote Republican, you don't want the government to have high taxes and decide what it will do with our money, but you DO want the government to mandate that abortion is illegal? But, according to the 'small government, less taxes' philosophy, those with money, when they do not have to pay as many taxes, will reach out to help women who find themselves in crisis pregnancies, right?  I so wish we could focus on other issues than abortion, but it always comes back to this.  I understand why, I just do not like it.  It seems to me that if the Republican party is really about small government and state and/or private control, they should advocate for keeping abortion legal - let the private (church) sector deal with preventing it.

And when it comes to the Democratic party, well, there are some great ideas there too.  Civil rights for everyone regardless of race, gender, religious affiliation, or sexual orientation and proposed government programs to make it work.  But, we all see that this does not work either.  Those in government are just as bad about lining their own pockets and the pockets of lobbyists their friends, that even with good ideas for programs to help those in need, they do not pan out well at all.  And it seems to me, that if the Democratic party is for big government with lots of regulations, they should be advocating to either make abortion illegal or at least harder to access.

So, where do I end up?

I think we need to go back to Separation of Church and State.

Should we allow homosexuals to marry?  Yes - secularly.  A committed, homosexual couple should not be denied the benefits of marriage.  Does a Catholic Priest (or any other religious clergy) HAVE to perform a marriage between two people of the same gender?  No.  The Catholic Church specifically defines marriage between a man and a woman, thus same-gender marriage should not be sanctioned in the Catholic Church.  Should Catholics be accepting and compassionate of homosexuals?  YES!  And the Church teaches us specifically this.  Should government permit marriage (or civil unions if you prefer) between two people of the same gender?  Yes.  Please go to post of 5/11/2012 for an update on this topic.

Should abortion be illegal?  No.  The church teaches that abortion is wrong - and I AGREE.  I agree because I have been taught and believe that life begins at conception.  I was not taught this by government (or maybe I was because I was taught in Science class that we all start as a single cell when the egg and sperm combine), I was taught this by my parents and by my Church.  Abortion is legal and I would not have one because I have been taught it is wrong.  (And I always include this, I am NOT speaking of the death of an unborn child that falls under the doctrine of double effect).  So, why not put our energies into educating women and girls about when life begins and work to eradicate abortion so it does not matter if it is legal or not?  I would feel like an actual victory would have been won, rather than just putting a band-aid on a bad situation. Please go here for an update on this topic.

And while, I am on the abortion topic.  I believe the life of the mother is equally as important as the life of the unborn child; and I think that making abortion illegal rather than making it so that no one wants an abortion tells a scared-out-of-her-mind pregnant woman that her life isn't as important as the life of her unborn child.  I am not saying that is the intent, but for the woman who feels she has no other option, taking away the only option she feels she has may be just as detrimental as the abortion itself.  I have no proof or data for this, it is just how I feel about it.

What about regulation of businesses?  We, as a society, have proven that we are greedy and selfish.  That said, I say working towards ethical practices by executives needs to be our primary objective.  Until that is a reality, removing regulations is irresponsible and could create and even worse economic environment in which to live.  If our churches and families placed more value on ethical practices and hard work than, say, large donations, we would see children growing up with an inherent desire to work hard rather than just make a lot of money.

What about war?  In some of the previous posts there was discussion about war and that some wars are just.  Even that the current war in Iraq may be a just war.  The United States is seen as a big bully in the world view.  When the Taliban attacked us, they saw it as just attack.  Was it?  Personally, I don't think so.  Therefore, from whose perspective is a war 'just'?  I find it very interesting that most in high-ranking military positions are Republican.  The party that favors less government interference is more often the party in favor of going to war.  So, perhaps it is less government interference in our own country, more in others?  (I am not being snarky here, just making an observation.)

I guess what I come back to is this:  there obviously need to be some government decided laws and regulations - anarchy doesn't work out so well.  And, as voters, we need to vote based on our beliefs - be it the beliefs of our family, our faith, or that we have formed on our own.  We (as a society) have continually elected selfish people into positions of power and we have placed value on things rather than people.  Until that changes, we will see the same cycles continuing over and over again.  In my opinion, that doesn't change by voting based on a single issue, on a party-line, or, frankly, voting at all.  It changes with the family.  With the church.  By sharing what we believe and living as Jesus taught us, with compassion and understanding, and being good examples of our faith.

I want to know WHY I should or shouldn't do something.  I don't want someone telling me I have to do it or I can't do it.  That is what I have loved about my recent Reversion to the Catholic Church.  Growing up I was always told what I should and shouldn't do, the whys were often left out.  Now, as I learn the whys and the hows, I see it makes sense and I see myself living a more Catholic life because I want to, because I believe it is right.

I think it is the same thing with government.  Until we change how we do things to developing the inherent desire to do what is right, we will continue down this very slippery slope we are on.  Increased regulations or less regulations, it will not matter.

So, my summary to this very long post:  Politics and religion should be as separate as possible.


Mountaineer Monday

It wasn't until last fall that I finally realized what it is about Morgantown that I missed so much when we lived elsewhere.  And it was today, that I was reminded.

Last September marked one year of being back 'home'.  And as the traffic, lines at the grocery store, and people increased in late August, I felt the energy that comes with the end of summer in a College Town.

Morgantown has a life to it.  And until you've been here to experience all four seasons, it's hard to feel the energy.  And when you aren't here to experience it, it's hard to describe just what it is that makes this little town so special.

The energy is visible in moving trucks, people driving the wrong way on one way streets, and of course the traffic.  It's the excitement of knowing Football is right around the corner and the calm of 4 friends relaxing on a porch enjoying the last of summer.  It's the gold and blue starting to appear everywhere in town, like flowers bloom in the spring.  It's the restaurants that swell with parents and students out for one last meal together before the semester begins.  It's also the quiet peace of Thanksgiving, Winter, and Spring Breaks, when almost all of the students leave and our small town is just that, a small town.  It's the busy, yet calm, relaxed summer that blends college students and 'townies' almost seamlessly.  It's the "Welcome Back WVU Students" signs and the "Congratulations Graduates" signs across town that mark the start and end of each school year.

When The Man and I moved to Martinsburg, WV 7 years ago, we did so excited and expecting it to be a lot like Morgantown - a small, but growing, town with lots of young people and lots to do.  We couldn't have been more wrong.

When people asked us what it was that we didn't like about Martinsburg, it was hard to pinpoint.  I had lots of things that I didn't like, but nothing seemed to really be 'it'.

Last fall, at the end of our first full year back, I discovered 'it'.  And today, as I drove through town, I was reminded.  Let's Bring on the Mountaineers is usually reserved for the start of a sporting event at WVU, but today I say "Let's Bring on the Mountaineers" and wake this town I love from it's quiet, peaceful hibernation.


What Has God Done for You Lately?

Answering that question is the homework that was assigned to us during Mass today by our Priest.  On Assumption Sunday, Fr. Mark spoke about how Mary said "Yes" to God.  He asked us to consider whether we say "yes" to God and if we remain steadfast in our "yes".

He then asked us to consider, just what has God done for us lately; the enormous gifts He has bestowed upon us.

So, what has God done for me lately?

  1. He has blessed me with friends and family.
  2. He has put challenges in my life that have forced me to grow, learn, and love.
  3. He has shown me that the right thing isn't always easy, but it's still the right thing.
  4. He has deepened my Faith in Him in ways that I wouldn't have requested, but wouldn't change either.
  5. He has brought people into my life who I can be real with without feeling judged.
So, what has God done for you lately?


Mountaineer Monday

Four years ago, in the 4th quarter of the home opener, a {true} Freshman running back stepped onto the field for his first snap in a Mountaineer uniform.  Twenty-three yards (and mere seconds later), he was treated to a standing ovation of welcome from the home-team crowd.  A few plays later he scored his first touchdown and an era had begun - the Noel Devine era of Mountaineer Football.

He's small in stature but large in heart.  Both of his parents died of AIDS before he was a teenager and two children call him Daddy, but when the opportunity to leave college a year early to go to the NFL he declined it and chose to wear his #7 jersey one more year.

The impact of Noel Devine on WVU Football may not be as legendary as that of Pat White or Major Harris yet, but I am excited to see the mark he leaves as a Senior.  He's no longer a young kid and everyone in town is talking about how he's grown into a real Leader.  Leadership is one element that was lacking in last year's Mountaineer team and I am encouraged to know that Noel is rising to the occasion.


If you follow College Football at all, you know that WVU's Football program has come under scrutiny lately for Violations of NCAA Regulations - specifically for non-coaching staff employees performing coaching actions.  These actions are similar to those that Michigan was accused of; fortunately it does not seem that WVU is guilty of the additional violations that were severe (and cost UM scholarships and coaching positions).

What concerns upsets me most is that Coach Stewart, who presents himself as an honest, rule-following, God-fearing man is guilty of continuing these violations past his first season.  While there is no excuse, I would be more forgiving/understanding if it had just been his first season as Head Coach following Rich Rodriguez's leaving.  Unfortunately, the NCAA alleges that the violations continued through the second season (last year).  This from a man who preaches integrity.  It just really leaves me wondering.

And while I'm on the subject of Coach Stewart, I am typically a staunch defender of his and I believe he was the right man to immediately follow Rodriguez.  I am starting to feel as if it his tenure as WVU's head coach might need to come to an end.  What has prompted this change of heart?  Coach Stewart himself, in a tweet (that interestingly enough has been deleted) he stated that 'getting over the two-digit win hump would be real neat'.  Personally that makes my stomach turn, not because it wouldn't be neat, but because it should be an expectation.  Every. Year.  We all know my feelings on Rodriguez, but the one thing I will give him credit for is bringing an atmosphere of winning and expecting to win to Mountaineer football.  I pray we haven't gone backwards and will now just be happy with any bowl game.


Can of Worms: Politics and Religion, Guest Post 4

To Catch Up:
     Guest Post 1 (Leila - Leaning Right)
     Guest Post 2  (Kate - Leaning Left)
     Guest Post 3  (Michelle - Leaning Right)

Today's Guest Post is by Sarah at Fumbling Towards Grace.  To round out the week, Sarah will lean back toward the left, but like Michelle, takes serious issue with both political parties.  Just as with the others, Sarah, I thank-you for writing in this space and I'm honored.

The Pillar and Ground of Truth: On Being Catholic in Political Life
When Rebecca asked me to write a post for this Can of Worms series about political beliefs and Catholicism, I was flattered, but also a little worried. It would seem that in writing a post talking about my political beliefs, I would actually have to talk about...my political beliefs. I mean, yes you all know I try to be pro-life across the board, and that I support the Church’s stance on immigration. But, I often intentionally shy away from fully disclosing my political beliefs, lest I alienate all of my dear readers. Because, you see, despite the fact that Rebecca has asked us contributors on this series to post why we believe that being a Republican or Democrat better enables one to follow the Catholic Church in political life, I have to posit something different in my reflections.

If not impossible, it’s very, very difficult to be both a card-carrying member of either political party and a Catholic who tries to take seriously all of the Church’s social teachings (not just the “non-negotiables”).

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that Catholics should exempt themselves from political life. Just the opposite! As Christians we have a duty to speak the truth at all times, and in all places, and that includes in public life. Archbishop Charles Chaput says brilliantly in his book Render Unto Caesar:

“Our problems can only be solved by people of character who actively and without apology take their beliefs into public debates. That includes Catholics. We need to be stronger in our public witness, not weaker. Whether America is really 80 percent or 50 percent or 10 percent Christian doesn’t matter. If we really believe that Jesus Christ is who he says he is, that the Catholic Church is who she says she is, then we need to live like it. If we really believe that the Gospel is true, we need to embody it in our private lives and our public choices.” (Chaput 33).

It’s actually pretty easy to claim to be a Republican or a Democrat. After all, we all have temperaments, predilections, and family relationships that make us more apt to like one party or the other. And once we’re firmly entrenched in a party that makes us feel like we’ve got the answers at our disposal (if only they’d listen!) then along comes the Catholic Church, throwing a wrench in the works, asking us to go beyond our comfortable allegiances and to use a completely different set of criteria in order to evaluate policies and societal goals. The nerve!

I should know. In college, I loved the *idea* of being a Democrat. But, I take what Bishop Chaput said above seriously, and so, since I know the Gospel is true, I have to live like it. And unfortunately, the Democratic party has made it abundantly clear to me over the years that it’s policies in regards to protecting human life, the primacy of parents as educators of their children, the protection of the family, and the moral nature of society are at odds with what I know to be the Truth. Too many Democrats want to make the government “our father”, and to make paying taxes to fund welfare programming take the place of performing the works of Mercy ourselves, as our Lord commanded us to do. So I had to make a choice: Do I be a Democrat first and a Catholic second, or am I a Catholic always and everywhere, and live with the discomfort of lacking a political home? In the end, it’s a choice we all must face, and only your conscience and God can decide.

Lest I let the Republicans off the hook too easily, I have to say that they too, have missed the point entirely. They (and please don’t misunderstand me, when I say “they” I do not mean the Republican Party Platform, but the individual Republicans who have been elected) are more concerned with material gain and their own portfolios than they are with the character of society. In recent years, Republicans, who call themselves “Conservatives” - in their ever-constant drive for more, more, more - fail to conserve anything, excepting perhaps, the bottom line. Many Republicans, who claim to be pro-life, are rather unconcerned with actually ending the injustice that is abortion, as long as they have it as a hot-button to push for votes during election cycles. The support for torture (also known in double-speak as “enhanced interrogation techniques”) shown by far too many Republicans amounts to cooperation in grave evil, as the Pope has said on several occasions. Just as Democrats (and here I do mean both the party and individual Dems) are wrong to support the injustice of abortion, Republicans (individual Reps) are just as wrong to support the injustice of torture. It is a foundational teaching of the Natural Law that it is never permissible to use evil means to achieve one’s ends, even if those ends are good.

It’s not easy to realize that the party we’ve been a part of (regardless of which one), and feel a kinship with, is and has participated in the creation of laws, policies, and institutions that make it harder for God’s Kingdom to be built on earth. God knows, it took me years of prayer to come to the realization that I just *couldn’t* be a Democrat (or a Republican) and the kind of Catholic that God was calling me to be. The choice was not easy (not nearly as easy as it should have been), but it was right for me.

Again, I must quote Chaput:

“ The Gospel says that we will know the truth, and the truth will make us free - not comfortable; not respected; but free in the real sense of the word: able to see and do what’s right. This freedom is meant to be used in the service of others. Working for justice is an obligation of Christian freedom.”

I can much better recognize those places in our culture where injustice is present, and pray and work for solutions, if I am not part of the problem. And from where I’m sitting, with a Catechism in my hand, both parties in the American political system are part of the problem.

So why bother trying to change things, if both parties are so flawed? Because it’s part of what we’re charged with as Christians.

“We Christians are in the world, but not of the world. We belong to God and our home is heaven. But we’re here for a reason: to change the world, for the sake of the world, in the name of Jesus Christ. The work belongs to us. Nobody will do it for us. And the idea that we can actually accomplish it without engaging in a hands-on way the laws, structures, the public policies, the habits of mind, and the root causes that sustain injustice in our country is a delusion.”

And again, I ask, “why the Church?” Why should Catholics listen to the Church when it comes to teachings on society? Why should being a faithful Catholic in matters of public life be more important than being a Republican or Democrat?

I’m going to let Archbishop Chaput answer that question, and also end my thoughts here. It’s my sincerest desire that if you *are* a Catholic and a Republican or Democrat (with more than a reluctant association with either party), that my words have made you at least pause to consider another way of approaching politics.

“John XXIII was a man of unusual pastoral skill. He was alert to the concerns of others. He had a strong sense of social justice. He saw the evil of the arms race. He respected the achievements of the modern world. He was a globalist. He understood the suffering of people in the developing countries; the priority of the poor; and the mission of the Catholic faith to all persons, in all cultures, in all ages. And yet he sifted all these concerns through a heart shaped by his episcopal motto: “obedience and peace”. John XXIII never saw the Church as a problem that needed fixing, or a corporation at civil war  with its soul. The Catholic Church was one reality, an intimately personal unity summed up in his great encyclical Mater et Magistra, issued a year before the council [Vatican II]: “Mother and Teacher of all nations - such is the Catholic Church in the mind of her Founder, Jesus Christ; to hold the world in an embrace of love, that men, in every age, should find in her their own completeness in a higher order of living, and their ultimate salvation. She is ‘the pillar and ground of the truth.’
            Charles de Foucauld once wrote that obedience is the yardstick of love. For John XXIII, any love of the church that claimed to express itself as disobedience to her teaching would have been impossible to imagine.” 


Can of Worms: Politics and Religion, Guest Post 3

What is a Can of Worms Post?

To Catch Up:
     What's going on this week?
      Guest Post 1 (Leila, leaning Right)
      Guest Post 2 (Kate, leaning Left)

Today's Guest Post is by Michelle at Musings of a Catholic Lady.  She leans to the right, but takes strong issue with both parties, and continues our Can of Worms.  I know I repeat myself, but I am truly honored to have these ladies writing here at my spot, and Michelle is no exception!  Thank-you so much Michelle!

I'm Michelle and I was surprised that Rebecca asked me to guest post on this topic.  I appreciated the offer and decided to try and do it, though I found it very challenging.  Before college, I probably would have aligned pretty well with Democrats.  I took an Economic History/Theory course in which we explored Adam Smith, Immanuel Kant, Karl Marx, Machiavelli and a couple more.  After that course, i was well on my way to being a Free Market-limited government person and therefore, began my journey away from the Democratic Party.  When I married and then had my first baby, and I began to grow in my Catholic Faith, it only solidified for me that the Democratic Party was not where I would ever be unless some big changes occurred within that party.  In the last 10 years, I have evaluated candidates based on how they aligned with the Catholic Faith.  I form my conscience and my political views as a Catholic first, a Wife/Mother/Daughter/Sister Second and an American third.  I feel like that keeps my priorities in line:  1 - God; 2 - Family; all others fall in line behind those two. 

When I started to learn more about the Catholic Faith, I was also curious about how political leanings seemed to sway some people differently regarding Catholicism.  It was interesting to me that the more "left-leaning" Catholics always seemed to say thing like, "Well, people are going to get abortions anyway, it does no good to make it illegal because then they just won't be in a safe place but still get an abortion."  And the "left-leaning" Catholics I knew also would accuse those who were pro-life saying they were only pro-life until the babies were born and then they didn't care about the babies anymore - a statement more on the social justice aspects.  Of course, then the more "right-leaning" Catholics always seemed to say things like, "We ought to make people on Welfare get sterilized or put them on birth control so they won't have any more babies."  Ummmm yeah, THAT'S a real loving statement to those in need...NOT.  

My feelings on politics and being Catholic are somewhat desperate.  I desperately want to be rid of self-professed Catholics who fight tooth-and-nail to keep abortion legal or even the restrictions on abortion loose.  I absolutely hate that my tax dollars go to fund the abomination of abortion.  And I am a person who does not use the word "hate" very often.  And when you read that sentence; "I absolutely hate that my tax dollars go to fund this abomination (abortion)" you are free to read as much vitriol into the word hate as you can imagine.  I am, after all, hating an evil which I have no choice in supporting through paying my taxes.

Yes, I'm intelligent and I know that there are more issues than abortion.  But I'll tell you what:  it all starts with a society's view on life in the most innocent and vulnerable stages.  A society that does not respect the dignity of its most innocent and vulnerable members - those in the womb - will not work to respect the dignity of its disabled, its elderly, its prisoners, its poor, its disadvantaged, etc.  If we, as a society, believe it is OK to abort innocent babies in the womb, then how hypocritical of us to then say children with disabilities need to be respected, or elderly need to be cared for?  We begin to attach a utilitarian concept to life, which is a very dangerous place in which to be.

What also makes my feelings on politics and being Catholic so desperate is because on both sides of the political aisle there are so many problems.  I love Free Market principles, but I understand that it takes time for The Invisible Hand to work and with our society's short attention span, it's not feasible to allow it to work.  Besides our short attention span, we have - as a society - a "somebody FIX IT" complex...and we expect government to fix all our problems.  I dislike intrusive government.  I don't think the federal government does a very good job of carrying out Social Justice.  

I think many left-leaning Catholics believe it is our duty to elect those who will put the government in charge of caring for the poor, the disadvantaged, and feel like paying the taxes is the way it will be done the most efficiently.  Got news, folks...the government is ANYTHING but efficient.  

I think these Catholics are well-meaning...but I also think on some level they are lazy.  Or they're just too busy.  You know, we're just too busy (or lazy?) to take the time to help our brothers and sisters in need, that we pass the responsibility off to a grossly inefficient government and think if we throw enough money at the problem that way, it should go away.  It's a way of shoving it under the bed to deal with on another day.  It's been demonstrated, at least in my sphere of influence, that if people believe they already pay taxes to pay for things like schools, hospitals, welfare, social security (and they do pay their taxes for that), then they are less inclined to lift a finger to actually help in any of those things.  They have, in effect, handed off the problem to government instead of getting their hands dirty and helping others themselves.  

When Jesus taught that when we clothe the naked, visit those in prison, care for the sick...that we do it for Him, somehow I don't think He meant, "just elect people to do it for you and pay your taxes."  (Matthew 25:41-45)

I know from my own personal experience that if I take my time and my money to a Church or to a charity and help with it, I KNOW what my money paid for and I SEE the effects on those who are helped by giving of my time.  I think a lot of people could agree with the fact that they are more likely to feel fulfilled in helping others when they are personally involved.  I also know from my personal experience that I give a lot more in charitable giving the older I get and...if my taxes go up (which they will in 2011 by the way)...if my taxes go up, I won't have as much to give to my Church or the other charities to which we donate.

So, yeah...I'm a desperate political Catholic.

I don't believe EITHER party is completely in line with Catholic Teaching.  As long as I have been paying attention as an adult, formed in my Faith, I have never felt that way and I doubt I ever will.  I understand that changing hearts and minds is the best way to get better officials in office.  That also takes time.  And it takes effort.  And it takes courage.  And it takes many of us willing to lead by example.  I don't believe it means we must compromise on the life issues (abortion, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, etc.).

I think both sides have things that align with Catholic Teachings on Social Justice.  I think the disagreements on Social Justice are not that it needs to be done, but how to go about doing it.  It is a disagreement between the people who believe the government must take it on and fund it vs. the people who believe the government should butt out and we citizens should come together to care for those in need.  

Finally, and unfortunately, the Democratic Party has been in bed with Planned Parenthood for decades and the "pro-life" democrat is no longer someone on which to rely.  We saw that play out with Health Care Legislation and we will, I suspect, continue to see it played out with FOCA-legislation, should our congress make-up not change in November.  This unwavering support for a so-called non-profit organization that makes tons of money in performing abortions each year makes that party absolutely NOT one I can support unless that changes.  

Don't worry, I have similar disdain for pro-choice Republicans...and somewhat more disdain for pro-life Republicans who don't see the inconsistency in supporting embryonic stem cell research or the death penalty while not supporting abortion.  I long for the day a strong Third Party emerges with enough support to drown the other two.  And I pray for that party to be more in line with my beliefs than the two we currently have.  

Until that day, though, I'll continue to cast my vote for the "lesser of two evils".  And probably continue to be desperate.

The Can of Worms continues.  What do you think?


Can of Worms: Politics and Religion, Guest Post 2

What is a Can of Worms Post?
To Catch Up:
     What's going on this week?
     Guest Post 1

Today's Can of Worms Post is by Kate of Just Call Me Kate.  She leans to the left and will continue our week of Worms.  Once again, I am honored to have Kate (who I know IRL) guest post here!  Thank-you so much Kate!  (Also, each post was written and scheduled to post before seeing what the others wrote - or even knew who was asked to write and from which side.)

Thank you, Rebecca, for asking me to write this post!  In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that my “area of expertise” is theology/ministry and definitely NOT politics, so… here’s a grain of salt for you!  The relevant parts of my life story are: I have been happily married for 4 years, I have two gorgeous children, and I am currently working on my Masters in Pastoral Ministry.

The body of Catholic thought that has most affected my lived faith for the past 10 years is Catholic Social Teaching.  Since this facet of Catholicism is often called “the Church’s best-kept secret,” I will list the seven principles found in the USCCB’s list (there are other lists) but I invite you to visit the link for summaries of each principle.  The 7 Principles are:

1. Life and Dignity of the Human Person
2. Call to Family, Community and Participation
3. Rights and Responsibilities
4. Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
5. The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
6. Solidarity
7. Care for God’s Creation

It is in keeping with these themes that I have chosen to vote Democrat for the past two Presidential elections.

From what I understand of the political system in the United States (see the disclaimer above!), the President does not have much power over the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade – which, of course, is the main concern of anyone who is politically anti-abortion.  While s/he can appoint Supreme Court justices who may or may not reopen and overturn the case, it is important to keep in mind that no Republican has thus far appointed a justice who did just that.

I’m going to spend some time on the abortion issue for a minute – even though I am by no means a single-issue voter – because it is such a source of contention between the “two sides.”  I firmly believe that, if abortion was criminalized in this social climate, all we would end up with is women and babies who die because back-alley abortions.  Our society is not ready for such a step.  There is very little support for the women, children, and families who are forced to make “the choice.”  (And anyone who has ever been pregnant has made a choice!)

Democrats tend to offer women, children, and families the support required to choose life.  The pivotal issue in the most recent election was health care reform.  I asked myself: What is one of the main concerns of a middle class woman faced with pregnancy?  I know what mine was, twice.  That is, How am I going to pay for my prenatal care and for the birth of this child?  Those who are materially poor (I include myself in this number) can “count on” programs like Medicaid to either take the place of or cover the gap left by health insurance.  And, while Republicans tend to cut funding, Democrats tend to maintain or increase funding to this and other similar programs.  In Obama’s case, he went a step further and suggested overall health care reform.  What better way is there to affirm the Life and Dignity of each Human Person than to take their health care outside the realm of profit margins?  What better way is there to assure a mother that she will not be left alone to care for her child?

Health care reform also affirms other principles of Social Teaching: Rights and responsibilities, and Option for the poor and vulnerable.  Indeed, Call to family, community and participation plays a part in this issue as we are all asked, “Are you your brother/sister’s keeper?”  The Catholic’s answer is a resounding YES!  I AM!  We care for each other in a wide variety of ways, and one of those ways is paying taxes.  If health care reform involves increased taxes, then so be it.  The common good is just as important as, and must be balanced with, individual rights.

To continue my defense of my “Pro-Life” stance, I’m going to point out what I hope is obvious to everyone.  Human persons live all over this beautiful planet.  They are not only American.  They do not live exclusively in so-called First World countries.  Indeed, even terrorists posses inherent, God-given dignity that no one can take away.  This idea is not one that sits comfortably with the post-9/11 crowd, but it is our faith nonetheless – Christianity is often “difficult” and rarely “comfortable,” and we would do well to remember that.  Catholic Social Teaching reminds us about the Life and Dignity of the Human Person.  Given these Truths, I could not in good conscience vote for any pro-war, pro-torture, or pro-death penalty agenda.  Likewise, I cannot support gun laws that enable Americans to protect so viciously what is “theirs” (an attitude with which Paul VI would have profoundly disagreed: “…the right to private property is not absolute and unconditional” (Populorum Pregressio, p 23).  Read on for the conditions.)  These are all Pro-Life issues, and I feel passionate about them.

Other “miscellaneous” issues that are represented by CST are things like living wage, immigration and the rights of immigrants.  Again, Democrats tend to deal with these issues somewhat more “Catholic-ly” than Republicans.

I definitely can’t forget to mention a clear sign of the times!  That is, Care of God’s creation and our current dependence on fossil fuels for energy.  As our faith tells us, alternative sources of energy must be developed – and it is the Democratic leaders who are traditionally more in favor of supporting research toward that end.

All these issues combine into one giant Pro-Life issue.  This comprehensive view of what it means to be Pro-Life is more than anti-abortion.  And it’s why I voted for Obama.

The Can of Worms continues.  What do you think?


Can of Worms: Politics and Religion, Guest Post 1

What is a Can of Worms Post?

Today's Can of Worms Guest Post is by Leila of Little Catholic Bubble.  She leans to the right and will get this weeks serving of Worms started.  I am honored she was willing to guest post on my 'lil corner of the blogosphere!  Thank-you so much Leila.

Rebecca was kind enough to ask me to write a guest post on why I am a Catholic and a Republican. Or, perhaps more accurately from my perspective, why I am a Catholic and cannot be a Democrat. 
It’s pretty cut and dry.
The last two popes and the bishops have taught that there are certain “non-negotiable” issues for Catholics involved in politics, issues which trump all other considerations. The non-negotiables come down to these:
  • Abortion is intrinsically evil and must never be promoted or condoned.
  • Embryonic stem cell research and human cloning are intrinsically evil and must never be promoted or condoned.
  • Euthanasia is intrinsically evil and must never be promoted or condoned. 
  • The traditional understanding of marriage as the union of one man and one woman must always be upheld.
  • The right of parents to educate their children must always be upheld.
All other issues (for example, immigration, education, affordable housing, health and welfare, etc.) are considered policy issues, about which Catholics are free to disagree. As Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix has clarified in a guide for Catholics called, Catholics in the Public Square
On each of these [policy] issues, we should do our best to be informed and to support those proposed solutions that seem most likely to be effective. However, when it comes to direct attacks on innocent human life, being right on all the other issues can never justify a wrong choice on this most serious matter.
Indeed, Pope John Paul II wrote:
Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights -- for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture -- is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with the maximum determination.  (Christifideles Laici, 38)
In a 2006 speech to European politicians, Pope Benedict XVI said the following:
As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable. Among these the following emerge clearly today:
    • Protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death;
    • Recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage and its defense from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role;
    • The protection of the rights of parents to educate their children.

In light of that crystal clear teaching, consider the following:
On Abortion
Today’s Democratic Party supports abortion unequivocally, to the point that even the word “rare” (as in “we believe abortion should be safe, legal and rare”) was finally and purposefully removed from the 2008 Democratic Platform. By contrast, the 2008 Republican Platform affirms that the “unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed.”
On Embryonic Stem Cell Research and Human Cloning
The Democratic Platform champions taxpayer funding for the destruction of human embryos to be used as research material, denouncing those who oppose it as putting “ideology” (i.e., their Catholic Faith) above “science.”
Compare that to the Republican Platform: “We call for a ban on human cloning and a ban on the creation of or experimentation on human embryos for research purposes" and a "ban on all embryonic stem-cell research, public or private.”
On Euthanasia
The growing push for the legalization of euthanasia at both the state and federal levels also comes from Democrats (who often refer to this type of killing as “death with dignity”).  The Republican Platform, however, explicitly condemns this intrinsic moral evil: “[W]e oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide, which endanger especially those on the margins of society.”
On Defense of Traditional Marriage
Today’s Democrats are much more likely to promote homosexual rights and push for “gay marriage” than Republicans, whose Platform calls for protection of traditional marriage, in the form of a Constitutional Amendment.
On the Right of Parents to Educate Their Children
Democrats (and the liberal teachers’ unions to which they are beholden) go to great lengths to deny parents a choice in their children’s education, not only opposing school vouchers for private schools, but also opposing secular public charter schools, which often deviate from the leftist model. Laws that seek to limit the rights of homeschooling parents also come overwhelmingly from Democrats. By contrast, the Republican Platform states: “Parents should be able to decide the learning environment that is best for their child.” 
On every non-negotiable point for Catholics, the Democratic Party takes the wrong side. It is no wonder that it has become known as the Party of Abortion or the Party of Death. 
Catholics should take note that it is also the Party that is most hostile to traditional religion, and becoming more so. 
I want to make one thing clear: I am a Catholic before I am a Republican. In fact, I am not overly thrilled with the Republican Party these days and may become an Independent if the Republicans ever change course. But the one thing I cannot do is align myself with the Democrats. Catholics must evaluate candidates and vote based on the non-negotiable issues. (I have heard tell of a mythical creature called a “pro-life Democrat politician” but I have never actually seen a voting record that would confirm its existence). 
It’s a sad truth that the Democratic Party of today is nothing like the Democratic Party of our grandparents, which still had a moral grounding. We must not confuse the present with the past, and yet many Catholics do. They are either unaware or unwilling to admit that the Democratic Party (once supported overwhelmingly by Catholics) has become little more than a mouthpiece for secular materialism, an extremely anti-Catholic ideology. 
Finally, to the Catholics who have not left the Democratic Party: Please consider that the Democratic Party has long ago left you.

This Can of Worms has been opened.  What do you think?


Politics & Religion: Can of Worms-Guest Post Style

What is a Can of Worms post?

This week I'm doing something a little different.  I've invited four friends (3 of whom I truly hope to meet IRL someday) to guest post on a topic that I have an opinion about, but I know I could never truly get it out intelligently.

So, this week you will be treated to not one or two, but four guest posts on the topic of Politics and Religion (specifically the Catholic Religion).  To keep it balanced, there will be two left-leaning and two right-leaning posts and I've drawn names from a hat to determine the order.

First up, on Tuesday, will be Leila from Little Catholic Bubble; second, on Wednesday, will be Kate from Just Call Me Kate; third, on Thursday, will be Michelle from Musings of a Cathlic Lady; and fourth, on Friday, will be Sarah from Fumbling Towards Grace.

I didn't give these ladies a whole lot of direction on purpose, so you will get four great points of view on this topic.  Ladies, thank-you so much for indulging me and helping to open this Can of Worms!

(Comments are closed on this post to get us ready for the rest of the week).