Friday, February 16, 2018

The Causes of Gun Violence in Schools

The logical causes of gun violence in schools... 

  • Legalization of abortion.
  • Removal of Judea-Christian moral instruction from schools (Prayer and Bible Study)
  • Marginalization of Judea-Christian faith in homes 
  • The unrestricted interpretation of the First Amendment that allows violence to be promoted by the entertainment industry to children. 
  • Self-centered culture that celebrates victimhood and individual rights above the common good.

How legalizing abortion leads to school killings.

If we each out children that the lives of babies in the womb are unimportant then we teach our children that their lives and the lives of their peers are unimportant. To the national moral psyche, if killing a fetus is a moral right, then killing children must also be a moral right. 

How removing Judea-Christian moral instruction from homes and schools leads to school killings.

We teach children that civil law can be made and repealed at will by politicians. Therefore, civil laws are not universally truth.  But Judea-Christian moral laws are not subject to human interdiction and hold for all times and all places. Man has no control over God's judgement in this life or the next. Evil exists in the mind before it takes physical form, and it tries to persuade us that there are no such eternal and universal moral laws. So, killing becomes easy for there will be no judgement. But what is good and true teaches us there are eternal consequences to our thoughts and actions that are beyond civil laws.

Removing the Ten Commandments from schools and public places teaches children that there is no universal consequence to breaking the Ten Commandments. 

Removing prayer and Bible study from schools reminds us that there is no consequence beyond civil law and this life. 

Friday, February 2, 2018

A Catholic Pre-Evangelistic Motion Picture

Dr. Stan Williams is a veteran filmmaker who happens to be a devout Catholic, as is his partner and wife of 48 years, Pam. Born and raised Evangelical Protestant, they converted to Catholicism in 1998 & 1999.

Their current project is titled ANNALIESE! ANNALIESE! It's billed as a quirky romantic comedy motion picture. It's about a man-hating millennial woman who in a bid to live a life without men, recruits the gay guy next door to help her become a nun, even though she's not religious. (She's a seriously lapsed Catholic.)  Sound scandalous? It's anything but.

According to Williams, they are attempting to create mainstream narrative projects that are first and foremost entertain secular audiences. To do this they come up with ironic but believable storylines. Then, they work hard to portray truth through organic circumstances, avoid didacticism, reveal the consequences of behavior contrary to the common good, and unabashedly explore contemporary, and perhaps uncomfortable, issues. "As an example," Williams says, "in ANNALIESE! ANNALIESE! we use humor to take on sexual harassment, assault, and pornography while elevating the role of women in global society." Tall order.

Williams isn't trying to convert anyone. He just wants to "present the truth, organically as he sees it in the universe." He calls it pre-evangelism.

But still some Christians (not all) do not understand what they are doing or why. That's why he's asking for help explaining their purpose and trying to rally other Christians and Catholics to boldly support culturally influencing projects like ANNALIESE! ANNALIESE! that break out of the parish basements.

To support the funding of the full-length feature project they produced a short-feature that acts as a prequel. The prequel is actually a series of Webisodes edited together into a 46-minute film they call "ANNALIESE! ANNALIESE! - The Backstory Webisodes." It premiered Sunday, January 28, 2018, at the Farmington Civic Theater, in Farmington, Michigan. But now they'e releasing The Webisodes in 4 parts as part of a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to find the money to produce the feature length movie. The project's main website is here:

The Kickstarter link is here:

Anyone that feels led to help them and help make ANNALIESE! ANNALIESE! is encouraged to visit their Kickstarter site and pledge. They have along way to go.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Easter 2018 is April 1

In our twenties, Pam and I loved in an apartment in Nassau Bay, Texas, about 20 miles Southeast of Houston. 

I worked at NASA's Manned Spacecraft Center for McDonnell Douglas as a Skylab checklist writer, systems engineer, and crew (astronauts) trainer. Halfway between our apartment and the gate to NASA was (and still is) Gloria Dei Lutheran Church (Mo Synod). Rev. Leo Symmank was the pastor then...and he still lives in the area, where he is mostly retired but occasionally fills pulpits around TX. The altar at the small Gloria Dei church was in the middle of six rows of chairs that encircled it, with the pulpit to one side. We liked Rev. Symmank and his ministry and although we were not Lutheran, we were involved with the church...we even taught Sunday School classes and unofficially were the Youth Group leaders which we called The Mustard Seed; the teens would come to our apartment for fun activities and Bible studies. 

Here's a letter I recently wrote to Rev. Symmank.

Dear Leo*,

Pam just told me that the Sunday you have longed to preach on is this EASTER. It’s April 1. 

I have told the story of you preaching on a Sunday at Gloria Dei in Nassau Bay, TX that was close to April 1 back in the 70s. It was Easter. Remember that?

You have to dig that sermon out and preach it again this year, record it and send it to us. Please. Please.  It was one of those sermons one never forgets.

As I recall it was the Easter Sunday of the Church picnic. You mounted the pulpit and began to preach. You said something like this.

Well, it’s a beautiful day outside. And today is the Church picnic. I can smell the casseroles sitting out in the hall way, plugged into the wall. So, I think we’ll just dispense with the sermon today and get out early and enjoy the picnic. You got down out of the pulpit….walked to the altar to pray over the Eucharistic elements…and then you suddenly stopped. Something was wrong. I still recall the look on your face. It was sheer delight and surprise. You raised your arms with a big smile on your face you yelled,  “APRIL FOOLS.”

You then DID preach a wonderful sermon about how when the women and apostles came to Christ’s tomb on Sunday the angel’s said to them, “April Fools. He’s not here. He is risen.” 

Preachers all over the world need to do that this Easter.

WOW! I’m going to pass the word and give you credit.


Monday, November 20, 2017

Solanus Casey Beatification Metaphor

The Catholic Super Bowl at Detroit's Ford Field Stadium -  Est. 67,000.
Pam and I attended the Beatification Mass for Fr. Solanus Casey (November 18, 2017, 4PM-6PM) at Ford Field Stadium, Detroit. The miracle that prompted the gathering can be read about here:

We were invited by the Solanus Casey Center for whom we produced the children's documentary on Fr. Solanus. You can watch the documentary here:

It was an extraordinary event, to which we ferried in our van 11 older men and women from one of the parishes we attend. We eventually were allowed to drive up next to the ADA handicapped entrance to drop our passengers off (Gate G) and pick them up. The traffic required much patience, but we all got to our seats by 3 PM for the 4 PM Mass. It started right on time, with a glorious orchestra and choir. Being a critic of audio and visual presentations, and music I was impressed with the clarify of the sound and Jumbotron images. WithOUT my hearing aid I heard and saw everything clearly. (a minor miracle)

This morning I was moved to consider the visual metaphor we experienced. Inside the Ford Field stadium (a $500 million dollar project in 2002) there was order, security, warmth, worship, structure, beautiful music and light. That visual represents the Catholic Church bringing Jesus, hope, goodness, beauty and truth to the masses. Although the Free Press picture accompanying this post, shows only the field being illuminated, we could easily see everywhere, clear to the rafters. By my estimates 67,000 (97% full) filled the seats orderly, although it took a long time for everyone to get in their seats due to security and the cold rain...did I also mention that parking was a challenge. We sat with friends, John and Renee Mischel from Elk Rapids, MI...their daughter Grace was the host of our documentary EXTRAORDINARY. They were dropped off by relatives at Cobo Hall (miles away) where they took the Detroit People Mover to Grand Circus Park and then walked the 5 blocks to the stadium in the cold, wet rain. Miserable weather, and at 4 PM it was dark. So, what was outside the stadium (cold, rain, dark, near chaos of cars and people) represents the world in which the church is miraculously sustained and protected by the Holy Spirit.

Vatican Cardinal Amato incenses the altar and Fr. Solanus' image
The metaphoric contrast was striking on two levels. One level of dark, rainy chaos can be seen in the recent political climate (pun intended), but not because of politics, but because so many people hate the things God loves, and love the things God hates. Their persistent rebellion spits in the eye of Natural Law (God's Law) and bad stuff happens. Morally the church defends what is good, true and beautiful. But the recent political chaos has revealed that there are tens of thousands in our culture that defend what is bad, false and ugly--the cold, dark rain that greeted us as we left the security of the stadium and what the Catholic Church offers.

The second level is the confused chaos created by lack of Christian unity in the world. Jesus Christ prayed in John 17 for his followers to be one, SO THAT THE WORLD WOULD KNOW THAT GOD HAD SENT HIM. Implied in that phrase is the idea that if Christians weren't at each other's theological throats they might actually become salt and light to culture. Dang! What a concept. But because so many Christians have decided to self-interpret the Bible and ignore several critical passages (because it would shatter their invented theology), the generic Christian church is the laughing stock of the world. (e.g. Sola Scripture, faith alone, and the Eucharist (communion-as-symbol) are nowhere in the Bible, but the opposite teachings, in plain text, are.) THEREFORE, the salt is diluted and light is obscured, and we end up with a culture that celebrates racism, bigotry, killing babies, sexual freedom, pride, and twisting biological science. If the Protestors would put away their 20,000 variety of home made signs, battery powered megaphones, and stop beating the bottom of pails with sticks, claiming independent to interpret God's word to suit themselves, perhaps the world (at large) would recognize Jesus as the Light, Structure, Truth, Beauty, and Music of the world and peace might have a chance.

But until them...moral, physical and political chaos. Maranatha, Lord Jesus.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Sell the Church's Treasures and Give to the Poor?

The artistic treasurers of the church are formidable metaphors and similies of God and how much we value Him. They are visible and physical expression of God's grandeur and give visible representation of our worship to an invisible God. They illustrate the sacrifice that man is willing to go to for the sake of worshiping God.

The use of gold, jewels, and rich linens, and objet d'art all have a Biblical basis. Such ornateness was ordered by God to be created for His worship in the construction of the Israelite Temple. Through Moses, God asked for voluntary sacrifices of gold, silver, brass, blue, purple
scarlet and fine linen, onyx stones and jewels. All these materials were given to two artisans, Bezaleel and Aholiab, who the Bible says were given special gifts of God's spirit to create the physical and very rich beauty of the Sanctuary and Tabernacle. There are five long chapters dedicated to the detail of all they created for God's worship. (Exodus 35-39).

Aside from God's command to create and use expensive articles in his worship, there are practical reasons not to sell off and give the money to the poor.

1. The objects inspire us to think of God's grandeur, and the gifts he gives to men to create such beauty. Thus, the objects represent the divine nature that God has put in us, if we are willing to let that nature shine out in our lives and work.

2. To sell the objects, into private and secular collections would remove them from public view and destroy them. This would negate No. 1, but more seriously, be a sacrilege as the objects for the most part have been consecrated to God's worship. Recall the importance of consecration of objects of worship. When someone even touched the Ark of the Covenant unworthy, they were struck dead, instantly.

3. Giving the money to the poor would not cause the poor to be less poor in the long run. The poor are not poor simply because they have no money. Giving them money when they do not labor for it, does not change their ability not to be poor in the future. Money is finite and temporary.

4. People who come upon sudden influxes of cash, often fall into sin. Proverbs tells us that it is better to be poor and righteous than rich and fall away into evil. A text book example is the example of the people who win a lottery and fall into desperate times when the money is not conserved.

5. The creation of the art, it's maintenance, and the tourist attraction they create, provides employment for a great many people that would otherwise (without the work) be poor. This is not just true of the direct care of the objects but all the businesses and people they employed in the travel industry and the local economy.

A great example, although extreme, is the Gaudi Cathedral, otherwise known as Sagrada Familia, a basilica in Barcelona, Spain. The Cathedral's construction began in 1882, and is still being completed. The Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudi, designed a building that could not be completed until construction materials and technology were invented to build it.

The design and decor of the church defines imagination, especially in terms of practical need (on one hand), but is an elegant expression (although extreme baroque) of art on the other. 

The criticism heaped on this edifice is often this: "Rather than spend the millions of dollars on the edifice over the 130 years of its construction, think of the money that could have been given to the poor. What a vulgar waste." 

But this attitude ignores the fact that the action of building the structure kept and is keeping thousands of workers and their families out of poverty with wages. Further, the work gives to the whole community around it the dignity of work and creation regardless of the wages. 

Additionally, the presence of this structure today draws thousands of visitors on pilgrimages, which has created a huge influx of revenue into the area around it, and continues to employ them noble work and dignity. 

Also, the Church collects money in tithes for the poor and helps those that cannot work.

This structure and the works of art within it have lessened the poor, and not increased poverty in the region.

6. Finally, most of the Church's real treasurers are relics of undetermined wealth. These treasures have no value on the open market place. Yet, if sold, they would create a form of simony and avarice as the "faithful" scramble for the object's possession, like pagans fawning over idols. In the hands of the Church the relics become instead opportunities to worship and pray to God in the presence of a saint.

Monday, July 31, 2017

What is Reality

I've been in discussion with a friend on the essence of reality. Here's my contribution. 

There are many different concepts, embraced by astute men and women, of what “reality” is.

We might all agree that a granite rock is real, as are bananas and sharks. We may eat one while the latter may eat us, but they’re both real. We say they are real, and part of reality, because they are capable of being sensed by our five physical senses: sight, sound, taste, smell and touch. 

But there is another aspect of reality that we cannot see, hear, taste, smell or touch…and yet we sense it and we have a sense organ for this invisible thing. I speak of gravity, and we have a vestibular system in our inner ear that acts as a balance organ. It’s connected to your brain and works in conjunction with your eyes to sense which way is up and where things are located in space, which we also cannot see, hear, taste, smell or touch. We cannot see gravity, but we sense it, we cannot sense space, but we exist in it. So, both gravity and space are part also of reality.

There are other aspects of reality, however, that we encounter every day, too, that defy our five senses, and even our sixth sense of balance, but are very much part of human reality. One of those often mentioned is “love.” Another is “hate”. And there is “fear” and “hope.” We sense, in a physical way, the evidence of love and hate by the actions of others. A hand, per se, is not love or hate, but when the hand embraces or hits, we attribute the reality of love or hate to the hand and the person it’s attached to. In our mind, the anticipation of the embrace or hit is describe by “fear” and “hope.” And all of those emotions are part of our reality as humans. And because they are so hard at times to understand we may call them mystical, because they come from and go to places that cannot be, per se, physically identified.

Then there are concepts from our imagination that may or may not be part of what is physically real, but they are concepts that seem real to some people. Here we may speak of   things like “black holes” or “fairies.” Astronomers and astrophysicists believe black holes are part of our physical reality, while poets and storytellers may believe “fairies” are real, even though no one as seen either one outside of a person’s imagination or though the inference of scientific measurements. Whether they are physically real is one thing, although we can still make them part of our reality by drawing or animating them. 

John Lennon once said, “I believe in everything until it is disproved. So, I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it’s in your mind. Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now?” Lennon makes a good case that “concepts” and “nonphysical” ideas are real and are part of reality, simply because they’re conceivable. 

As a counter argument to that, but it makes the same point, Albert Einstein, who may have believed in blackholes, said “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” Now, Einstein may have been trying to be funny and crack a joke. But what’s important is that persistence is much a part of our reality as is our imagination, insight, and those moments of epiphany that explain the interaction and juxtaposition of all these things that fill up what is real to us. 

And one last example. We may ask is a number “real?” Well, when we write it on a piece of paper, and we can see it, and manipulate it with other numbers we might say it is. But even in our mind as a concept, the number is still part of us, and it may motivate us to take one physical action or another. Mathematicians classify numbers as real, rational, integers, whole, natural and irrational numbers. To them, all of these rational, real, and irrational numbers are very real. And their existence has allowed us to explore space, and given physical means to actuaries who calculate the cost of your insurance policies. 

We could go on, but perhaps the point is now made—that reality consists of material things and immaterial concepts. Materialists may not feel emotionally safe by admitting this, but there are many immaterial things that affect and effect our material lives. But this short explanation may suffice that our five physical senses are very much effected by the immaterial. 

Therefore, REALITY IS THE SUM OR WHOLE of all these many material and immaterial things and concepts. All these things are part of the one essence that we call reality. We might say that the sum of all this is one thing. There is one reality, which is the sum of these many diverse parts. 

But how is it possible that all of these diverse things and concepts form a whole, a oneness, that work together and keep our feet on the ground, and for the most part allow humans to interact safety with each other and the universe. What keeps reality from falling apart, imploding, exploding or disintegrating? We might express the answer to that question by saying there are “natural laws” that superintend over reality that keep it together, that make it constantly whole and protect its oneness. 

But how do natural laws work and keep all this together as ONE reality? Where did the laws and rules come from?  Many people answer that question by turning to mysticism, otherwise known as religion. I’m not sure what atheists call it, but theists and Jews and Christians (and may be Muslims) call the source and the power that keeps all this together by the common concept God. Such a God Force must be beyond the material and immaterial things that he controls. The philosophers among us would say that such a “force of nature” (or God) is so far beyond all that we call reality, that REALITY is simply part of God’s imagination. Or, in popular terms, we are part of God’s Matrix.  Somehow, mystically or mysteriously, a Supreme Being holds all of these diverse things together in a working whole. The sum of all reality is one. And while reality may be just the figment of the One’s imagination, it still is.

In Exodus 3 (of the Jewish and Christian Bible) when Moses asks God’s name, God answers, "I Am who I Am.” This is perhaps the most famous passage in the Bible. Linguistic scholars say it is a phrase that defies tense, or time. It is indeed mysterious, as was the story that transpired after Moses and God has this conversation in front of a bush that burned but was not consumed in the flames. The burning bush was part of Moses’ reality, as was the disembodied voice or thoughts that allowed Moses to record the conversation. And surely the 10 plagues that God cast over Egypt in an effort to free the Israelites, should have confirmed in the reality of Pharaoh, Moses and all the people of that time and place, that I AM WHO I AM has power over all reality….and thus demands a relationship of us with Him, as mysterious as that may be. 

It is in this way that reality is one, that we are part of it, and we have a relationship with the Supreme Being that controls it. 

Get over it.