Friday, September 30, 2005

Sit Down, Shut Up

The New York Times is in full hand-wringing mode now that the Freedom Center (so called) has been chopped from the World Trade Center site. Such a pity that the globalist elites will have to look into "creating a vibrant, meditative space" for international events elsewhere than the site of the 9/11 slaughter in New York.

The Gray Lady laments "a profound fear of free speech" afoot in the land. Hmm. I hadn't noticed. It seems to me that most people speak more freely than wisely, especially when the media is involved. For example, New Orleans Mayor Nagin seems perfectly comfortable hurling not only accusations, but also spouting vulgarities and profanities, whenever a microphone is within arm's length of his stubbly chin.

Of the 11th hour common sense attack Gov. Pataki acted upon in nixing the Freedom Center, the NY Times loftily proclaims: "We believe that the site is sacred to more than death. It is sacred to life and to the principles and people attacked there on Sept. 11, 2001. We believe that the United States can be made stronger only by free speech."

This is the U.S.A., so you go ahead and believe whatever floats your boat. From my observations, speech is never quite so free as when the press is wielding it to hammer their agenda. Somehow, when the voice of the people disagrees--as it rightly did on the Freedom Center--free speech is not quite so welcome.

I believe that the United States can be made stronger by knowing when to keep it zipped, also. Just ask any troop in harm's way.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

A Day For The Angels

Today, September 29, is the Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael.

I am a bit of a nut on angels. Ever since I was a child, these ethereal, supernatural beings have fascinated me. In 1980, I began collecting angel memorabilia, and people close to me know how to shop. I could certainly open an “Angel's Emporium” with my huge inventory of angel statues, knick-knacks, paintings, photos, books, craft and needlework creations.

Christmas time has a solid angel theme in our house. In fact, even though we decorate a 9-foot tree each year, the angel ornaments must be rotated on a semi-annual basis due to limited space. Family and friends can easily identify our holiday greeting card. One of my brothers told me “I just look for the angel” to know that my Christmas card has arrived.

And, of course, I’m a Soldiers’ Angel. That was a natural for me. Aside from sincerely believing in the organization’s good work of supporting our troops, I enjoy the whole idea of “joining the Angels.”

Angels populate the Bible with amazing frequency and at very key moments, starting with Genesis and ending with Revelation. Among their many significant activities, the angels frog-march our first parents out of the Garden of Eden after their fall from grace, stay Abraham’s hand before the sacrifice of Isaac, announce to Mary that she has been chosen as the Mother of God, issue both reassurances and warnings to St. Joseph regarding care of the Holy Family, herald the Savior’s birth, minister to Our Lord after his temptation, appear to the disciples after the Resurrection, free St. Peter from prison, and participate in the events of the Apocalypse.

The word "angel" comes from the Greek word meaning "messenger," and the title of archangel is conferred upon angels who deliver messages of supreme importance to humanity. Gabriel's message to the Mary, that she is chosen to be the mother of the Messiah, is one outstanding example.

The archangels have special powers and duties. Gabriel is the patron saint of communications workers, including broadcasters. Raphael has healing powers, specifically for blindness, and is the patron of sick people. Michael, patron saint of police officers and soldiers, defends us against the powers of evil. He is considered to be the guardian angel of Israel, and he appears in the Koran, as well as both the Old and New Testaments.

Angels are very busy creatures on God's behalf. They are intimately involved and concerned with mankind, so much so that many believers have faith that each of us is assigned our own personal guardian angel throughout our earthly lives.

Whether or not we believe in angels is beside the point. Fortunately for humanity, the angels believe in us.

For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
~Psalms 91:11

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Credit Where It's Due

Regular readers may remember my September 17 post regarding an unpleasant conversation with an outraged lefty.

Out of the blue, she phoned me today to apologize for being "self-righteous and disrespectful" in that discussion.

Wow! I have to give the lady full credit. That took some objective self-analysis, not to mention plain old-fashioned guts. I thanked her for her thoughtfulness. She was big enough to make the phone call. While we may never agree, I certainly respect her for that, and I told her so.

After our conversation, I thought about the way hardened ideas can evolve. One small, brave gesture at a time, greeted graciously on the receiving end, moving us all closer to a common goal.

Hope is an uplifting feeling.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Mystery of Suffering

Hugh Hewitt recently launched a fascinating new Internet project, OneTrueGodBlog. It's a "GodBlog" that poses eternal mysteries to ponder, with theological experts addressing the topics presented. The most recent topic is "Suffering" and how Holy Scripture applies to both those directly affected by the Gulf Coast hurricanes and those who are far from the storm's harm.

The story of Noah and the deluge in Genesis is similar in its depiction of the destruction caused by the great flood. But the Book of Job, Psalm 13, 88, and 130, and Christ's Passion are among the many scriptural passages relating directly to the suffering of our neighbors who have been caught in the fury of the storms. Why? Because fear, grief, pain, and sorrow over loss are universal human emotions. Universal, too, is the feeling of being forsaken by God, being left alone in suffering. Pslams 13 and 88 are especially eloquent on this point:

How long, LORD? Wilt thou forget me forever? How long wilt thou hide thy face from me?
O LORD, why dost thou cast me off? Why dost thou hide thy face from me?

Who among us has not, at some low point, felt dismissed and forgotten by God? If I were fleeing Katrina or Rita, leaving the wreckage of my life behind, I fear I would surely feel that way.

I have never suffered on such a dramatic, tangible level. If I did, I can not say with any certainty that I would be strong enough to be graceful under such crushing physical loss. My sympathy and concern for the hurricane victims leads me to want to help them. And that brings me back to the second part of Hugh Hewitt's question: What portions of Scripture are most relevant to those who have been watching, but for whom the suffering is far removed, and why?

I think the most relevant part of Scripture is found in Luke's Gospel, Chapter 10, v. 29-37. In these verses, we find the story of the Good Samaritan. The Samaritan was traveling his own journey, minding his own business, and came upon the suffering victim. Although others had passed by with indifference, the Samaritan could not in good conscience ignore the victim. He tended to the man's injuries, brought him to shelter, and paid for his care.

But the most relevant part of this beautiful parable, in view of the successive hurricanes on the Gulf Coast, is that the Good Samaritan came back to be sure he had given enough to the innkeeper to pay for the injured man's care. The Good Samaritan teaches us how to treat one another in time of urgent need. We may not be able to explain the mystery of human suffering, but the Good Samaritan shows us how to be a force for good in the face of suffering, how to help make things right again. If we take it seriously, as a model for our own actions, this simple story is our roadmap to a better world.

Have I given enough to help those suffering from the two hurricanes? No. There's no way I could say yes, I've given enough. Not while I'm safe, dry, well-fed, and under my own secure roof. So here again is the link to Instapundit's list of charities . And, appropriately enough, here is the link to Samaritan's Purse (HT:HH).

After the second punch from Hurricane Rita, it's time for us to "come back" and refigure the tab, like any good neighbor would do. It's time for us to "Go and do likewise" (Lk 10:37).

Friday, September 23, 2005

Who'll Stop the Rain?

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
~ John 13:34

With Hurricane Rita now lashing the Gulf Coast, it seems a good time to remind people about the excellent charity organizations that will continue to need the help and contributions of more fortunate Americans.

The following are my personal choices for best use of donations:

Catholic Charities - Diocese of Galveston-Houston
Soldiers Angels - Operation Katrina Soldiers Relief Fund
The American Red Cross
The Salvation Army

There are many other worthy charities, and each charitable giver has his or her own favorite. If children in need are your primary concern, Feed the Children is a fine choice. Animal lovers will find a perfect destination for their donations at Noah's Wish, whose sole purpose is caring for animals affected by disasters.

Wherever your interests and sympathies lies, choose a reputable charity that seems right for you, and give.

I keep thinking of a wise saying I have often heard quoted: I wondered why somebody didn't do something. Then I remembered that I'm somebody.

Let's all help to keep open the umbrella of support for our suffering neighbors.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

"Absolutely Beautiful"

That's how a Jet Blue spokesman described the perfect landing of an airbus with disabled nosegear. As I watched the live TV coverage of the dramatic landing unfold, my thoughts were the same.

Wow. What a beautiful job.

There are two things Jet Blue Airways should do immediately.

First, buy that pilot a drink.
Second, give him a raise.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, head of the active duty forces responding to Hurricane Katrina, knew what he was dealing with when he spoke to the press in New Orleans Tuesday in preparation for the pending onslaught of Hurricane Rita.

"Let's not get stuck on the last storm," he warned reporters, right up front.

Honore then began to give pertinent information on current evacuation plans. But when the media representatives insisted on questioning the good general on events pertaining to Hurricane Katrina, to the detriment of his disseminating urgent public evacuation information as Hurricane Rita approached, Honore pronounced them "stuck on stupid."

I don't know how much of America will hear about this. So far, coverage has been extremely light and carefully varnished. I suppose that's to be expected. Who wants to publicize being called stupid--more than once--by a general? But you can read the transcript of Honore's remarks at Radioblogger, and better yet, listen to over three minutes of audio that is priceless in its no-nonsense bluntness. I, for one, felt like standing up and cheering when I heard it.

So if MSM is S.O.S., what does that make Lt. Gen. Honore? A-OK with me.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Unsung Progress, Unacknowledged Aid

Victor Davis Hanson does his usual excellent job of laying out the facts in his essay on our foreign successes and setbacks since 9/11. I continue to find it fascinating that almost none of the amazing accomplishments of our troops ever makes the MSM news.

This truth was underscored by a conversation, for lack of a better word, that I had this week with a left-wing radical (Froggy would call her a moonbat). Among her impassioned points: the atomic bombs that ended WWII were war crimes, our military is brainwashed, we invade any country we want to pillage and control, just look at all the invasions of Latin America under Reagan, we're currently fighting for oil in Iraq, and "there was a reason" for September 11.

Yes, I agreed, there was a reason. Radical Islamist hatred of us was the reason. Of course, you can guess the indignant response to that. "They" just want the big, bad U.S.A. to "leave them alone."

Excuse me, I asked, but who's been attacking whom since the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979? I cited the requisite examples--Beirut 1993, Khobar Towers, WTC 1993, U.S.S. Cole--to no avail. According to her, America is just a bully that pushes every other country around.

Exactly how were we bothering "them" on the morning of 9/11? I told her flat out that there was no justification for 9/11 on any grounds, period. It was the last full sentence I was able to manage with this seething lefty.

Naturally, you can't reason with such a radical lunatic, so I didn't waste too much time or breath debating her. Interestingly, this woman is not even American--but she has lived here for decades and enjoys all the benefits this country has to offer, although she insisted to me that many other countries "had more freedom" than the U.S. Funny, she didn't name any...but then, I didn't ask, because at that point I knew I was dealing with a fire-breathing leftist fanatic and was only interested in excusing myself from the scene of psychosis as quickly as possible.

She didn't answer my one question: Who will help the less fortunate countries of the world, if the U.S.A. does not? That's probably because there is no answer, although such hard core lefties would rather die than admit it. There is no where else to turn except towards America.

So we as a nation will continue to roll our rock of Sisyphus by ourselves, up to the top of our mountain of responsiblity, each time learning more lessons, gaining more traction, and achieving better progress, each time hoping that this will be the trip that finally sweeps the burden downhill, away from us. And each time knowing that we are in this task unheralded, unappreciated, for the long haul, and alone.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Getting Serious About Relief

Please check out the title link to NZ Bear's Hurricane Katrina Relief Connections. As stated on the website:

The mission of Relief Connections is to provide a forum where community, religious, and civic groups affected by Hurricane Katrina can connect with similar groups across the nation and world who can aid in their recovery.

Reconstruction in the storm-devasted Gulf Coast region will be ongoing for a long time. Our fellow Americans need support not just in the immediate aftermath of the deluge, but over the long haul of hard work. Relief Connections is a smart and generous means to that end.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

My Thoughts Exactly

A culture that goes to such perverse lengths to disdain its heroes cannot survive and doesn’t deserve to.
~ Mark Steyn

I'm glad that Mark Steyn stated the case for me, brilliantly, and much better than I possibly could.

"Disgusted" is the mildest term I can use to describe my own reaction. What's next? A "Rug of Remembrance" at the Pentagon?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Tolling Bells Remembered

From the bells of the church adjoining, I am daily remembered of my burial in the funerals of others. (16)

Now, this Bell tolling softly for another, says to me, Thou must die.

As therefore the Bell that rings to a Sermon, calls not upon the Preacher only, but upon the Congregation to come; so this Bell calls us all...Who casts not up his Eye to the Sun when it rises?...who bends not his ear to any bell, which upon any occasion rings? but who can remove it from that bell, which is passing a piece of himself out of this world? No man is an Island, entirely of its self; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a Clod be washed away by the Sea, Europe is the less...Any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee...(17)

~ John Donne, from Meditations 16 and 17 (with apologies for modernized spelling)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Questions for An All-Wet Mayor

I have some questions for New Orleans foul-mouthed Mayor Nagin:

Why are you blaming the Federal government for your city's tragedy while fleets of New Orleans buses sit marinating in filthy hurricane water? (HT: Radioblogger)

Did it ever occur to you to evacuate your city's people away from danger? If it did occur to you, did you decide it was easier to leave them in the storm's path and then shift blame to the Feds?

Why was the mayor of NYC able to manage a sudden terrorist attack on 9/11 while you couldn't begin to manage a natural event that is common to your city and that gave you many days advance warning?

Why can't you accept responsibility for your shortcomings in this disaster?

And finally, why can't you keep a civil tongue in your head?

Just wondering.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Actions Scream

When my children were growing up, I would advise them to watch what people do more than listen to what they say. "Actions scream," I used to say. It was a cautionary statement reminding the kids not to be swayed by charming or clever talk, but rather to watch the behavior of an individual for the true window into heart, mind, and soul.

What is transpiring in the wake of Hurricane Katrina is a prime example of my message. At all levels of government today, there is more political fingerpointing going on than there was on the purple-inked election day in Iraq. Most comical to me are the members of Congress bemoaning the bureaucracy of FEMA being rolled into the Department of Homeland Security--after they voted for it!

All this handwringing is irrelevant at present, and the verbosity is very tiresome to deal with. It gets in the way. All our energies are much more crucially needed to aid in the burgeoning relief efforts. There are marvelous accounts of rescue and generosity. If they could get as much media coverage as the political blame game, even more Americans than have already done so might be inspired to assist.

Yes, government made terrible mistakes in this crisis. Whether local, state, or federal blame is ultimately assigned or shared is not the priority right now. Helping our American neighbors to put their lives back together should stay front and center. It is heartwarming to watch small armies of private citizens creating their very own relief agencies, driving supplies to the disaster sites, providing shelter, medicine, clothing, and other necessities. People are doing it on their own, without benefit of the alphabet soup of government agencies. They're just rolling up their sleeves and helping to make things right.

Kids, remember what your mother told you. Actions scream.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Good Neighbors Blogging

Today is the final day of the "blogburst," the 5-day period, September 1st through September 5th, that bloggers devoted to promoting charitable aid to our neighbors impacted by Hurricane Katrina. There isn't much more to say, except that if you haven't made a contribution to the relief efforts yet, please do so. Even a few dollars donated by any individual to a worthy charity will make a positive difference in many lives.

If all Americans contributed just a few dollars, we would be well on the way to funding the beginning of recovery. If we all continued to donate on a regular basis over time, the work will proceed that much faster.

My chosen charities are Catholic Charities Hurricane 2005 Relief Fund and Soldiers' Angels Operation Katrina Soldiers Relief Fund. But there are many other reputable charities and relief organizations, linked here, and here.

Pay a visit to The Truth Laid Bear to see what progress American neighbors have already made in the relief efforts, with the help of the blogosphere. Then dig deeply, into your hearts and your wallets, to help however you can.

Funding the relief efforts for our fellow Americans is very good work. Happy Labor Day to all.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Hands On Help

I'm enjoying a beautiful, sunshiny Labor Day Weekend in Southern California. I realize how fortunate I am to be safe and dry, with food, clothing and shelter. So I did what small things I could this weekend to help Hurricane Katrina's suffering survivors.

Yesterday, I mailed my two checks. One went to Catholic Charities headquarters in Virginia, to the Hurricane 2005 Relief Fund. The other went to the Soliders' Angels Foundation Operation Katrina Soldiers' Relief Fund.

But mailing a check and physically helping out are two different things. Yesterday, while visiting the Soldiers' Angels website, I saw a request for care packages listing specific items needed:


Fill one or more 1-gallon size Ziploc bag(s) with...

1 new wash cloth
1 new hand towel
1 new bar of soap
1 new comb
1 new fingernail clipper
1new pack of dental floss
1 new toothbrush
1 small travel size tube of toothpaste
1 small travel size shampoo
1 small packet of tissue
1 small package of adhesive bandages

NOTE: All included items need to be new and unused.

Mailing addresses are provided for the packages at the same site. So today, after Mass, I went shopping at Target and Big Lots. It was a good feeling to be doing something "hands on" to help. I made eight packages, 4 ladies and 4 mens. Pete had the great idea of using an attachment on our sweeper to vacuum pack the bags. The ladies packets fit snugly into one priority mailing box, the men's packs in another, we'll ship them out Tuesday via priority mail.

We will return to cash donations for the next round of giving. But for now, doing something tangible for our fellow Americans in need was very gratifying. Boxing up care packages wasn't what I had originally planned to do this Sunday afternoon. But it was certainly more worthwhile than just about anything else.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

A Commitment to Help

What has happened along America’s Gulf Coast is tragic and devastating beyond words. That sad fact does not stop the political opportunists from exploiting any event for their own selfish purposes. The pathetic drivel being spewed by the left in the face of so much suffering and loss is beneath contempt, and it will not advance their negative agenda.

Americans know that this is not the appropriate time for such harmful partisan nonsense. Now is the time to put all of our national energies and resources into helping our fellow citizens get out from under the heels of this terrible crisis and up on their feet again.

If you prefer to be part of the solution in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, rather than throwing more polluted water onto the victims via a torrent of bitter words, choose a good charity and support it faithfully. As this disaster is epic in its proportions, ongoing support from Americans is necessary for many months, probably years.

I invite you to research the long list of worthy charitable organizations, and choose one or more that you feel will be a trustworthy steward of your donations. Make a commitment to send a certain amount that you will be comfortable with for a long period of time. Then send a regularly scheduled check, or donate online, as you pay your monthly bills.

I have chosen to split my donations between Catholic Charities 2005 Hurricane Relief Fund and Soldiers’ Angels Operation Katrina Soldiers Relief Fund.

Catholic Charities, founded in 1910, will be a vital force in the redevelopment of the ravaged region. As noted on their website:

Catholic Charities USA is the membership association of one of the nation's largest social service networks. Catholic Charities agencies and institutions nationwide provide vital social services to people in need, regardless of their religious, social, or economic backgrounds. Catholic Charities USA supports and enhances the work of its membership by providing networking opportunities, national advocacy and media efforts, program development, training and technical assistance, and financial support.

Regular readers of this blog know that Soldiers’ Angels is a cherished organization of mine. The Angels have set up this special fund to assist our troops and their families whose homes are located in Hurricane Katrina’s afflicted areas.

Our troops sacrifice so much for us at home. May each of us find it in our hearts to give a small measure of support back to them, in this time of unprecedented need.