Lonesome Tree in Sandhills

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Day: Remembering Why

Yesterday's Memorial Day was just another day for most people, in fact many even had the day off.  However, I would like to take this opportunity to remember my Uncle Albert - a typical farm boy from Nebraska sucked into a war machine.  

A few weeks after I was born, Uncle Albert was sent with the re-formed 106th to the Ardennes Forest, arriving on Dec. 15, 1944, the day before Hitler’s army began the last big German offensive in WWII - the Battle of the Bulge. The 106th officers surrendered after German tanks mowed down most of their troops & the rest were marched & shipped in trains for weeks with little food or water to several stalags, ending up in Stalag III-A near the Oder River on Germany's border with Poland. Six months later, a week before Berlin fell, Russia's army liberated those POW camps & my uncle joined a few POWs who commandered a town's firetruck to get back to France. He was discharged 5 mo. later - a mere shell of his former self at 90 lbs. with most of his hair gone when he arrived back on my grandparents' farm, taking 10 years of Grandma's TLC to heal.

These young men were just ordinary guys living through a hell of someone else’s making ~ enduring the usual ravages of war - in hopes of peace among nations.

Contrast my uncle’s experience with that of 200,000+ Germans captured & brought to POW camps in the States. My home state of Nebraska had 9 POW camps that fed the Germans well & provided labor to nearby farmers whose sons were drafted ~ an odd twist of irony.  When the war ended, many of these young men didn’t want to return to Germany to face the destruction, starvation & roving refugees - they stayed and made a life here in the States.

To all who served or are serving now, and to those who lost loved ones or still have family members in Iraq/Afghanistan ~ Big HUGS ~ Moms

Thursday, March 14, 2013

History of the Popes

Anyone Catholic or otherwise interested in the history of the Church, I highly recommend reading “A History of the Popes” (originally published as “Keepers of the Keys” in 1982) by Sir Nicolas Cheetham, an English classics scholar and diplomat, educated at Christ Church – Oxford.

Sir Cheetham (1910-2002) had a successful career as a British diplomat - first to NATO, then as British Ambassador to Hungary (1961-1963) and Mexico (1968-1972). He was the grandson of a British Parliament Member (House of Commons), and the son of a British diplomat and ambassador's daughter (Russian Empire's last ambassador to Italy). He is also the author of a number of books about history (Mexico, New Spain, Greece).

Sir Cheetham’s “History of the Popes” is a slow read as straight history, but an excellent resource book to learn the history of the Roman Catholic Church.

New Catholic Leader: Pope Francis

The new pope, calling himself Pope Francis, is the son of Italian immigrants to Argentina where he was born and became a Jesuit priest.  Promoted by two very conservative popes, it is no surprise that this pope is also very conservative.  Described as living humbly unlike most cardinals, he is known for cooperating with previous military juntas and dictators, but then clashing with President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner - Argentina's first freely-elected female leader. 

Taking the name ‘Francis’ does not necessarily mean anything. This pope may have chosen the name after another Italian - Francis of Assisi, a non-ordained friar, or maybe after a Frenchman - Francis Xavier, founder of his order, the Society of Jesus, aka Jesuits.  Both men, one from early 1200's and the other from the 1500's, had shunned family wealth to “walk the talk” - becoming missionaries for Christianity and the Roman Catholic Church. 

The current crop of cardinals might see in Pope Francis a financial savior with the missionary zeal to convert billions of Asians, perhaps thinking where the money is going to come from in the future.  After all is said and done, the Church as an institution requires a lot of money to survive and all things lead to Rome.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Catholic Birth Control Ban - Do the Math

There are financial reasons why the Roman Catholic Church has continued its stance on birth control (BC) - just do the math to understand.  Is the Vatican's position rational?  I'll let you figure that out.

In 2 generations, Catholic families went from an average of 8 kids who had an average of 5 kids, to my generation with an average of 2 kids. The average total adults in a Catholic family donating to the church dropped from 50 [2+8+(8*5)] to 17 [2+5+(5*2)] after the pill arrived in 1964.  The impact of family members who have left the church because of BC ban magnifies the results.  

My parents had 6 kids & 16 grandkids, but only 4 out of the total of 22 are practicing Catholics.  Using $100 as today's average monthly donation of Catholic adults, the lost revenue annually from just one family is $21,600 (18 x $1200) or $216,000 in a decade if nothing changes. 

The Church's financial experts would look at this impact in the USA of:
1 million families   = $216,000,000,000 = $216 Billion
10 million families = $2,160,000,000,000 = $2.16 Trillion

$2.16 TRILLION is a heckuva lot of money!!

Unfortunately, at the same time families were having fewer kids & therefore higher disposable income, which could have translated into increased donations, the Vatican then doubled down on the BC ban causing those fewer kids to turn away from the church as adults.

Add financial settlements from decades of child sex abuse, which are the tip of this iceberg, and you begin to understand why the Roman Catholic Church faces grave financial troubles today.  To "bring Catholics back to the Church" would require the Pope, the Curia in the Vatican and all the Cardinals, as well as bishops and priests, to completely lift the ban on birth control... and increase the number of available parish priests by taking back those who left to marry.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Religious Poppycock

I keep thinking... maybe the earth slipped on its axis from all the hot air being broadcast 24/7. So many people, so little time to brainwash them into believing black is the new white and the wee little folks are 10 feet tall. Charles Dickens and C. S. Lewis would be having a field day about now what with dour pots calling kettles black and rich rotund Men in Black crying out about being victims. Don Marquis would have Archy telling Mehitabel, "Your kittens are YOUR problem... we cockroaches don't have too many little roaches." And, yes Alice, there really are talking rabbits who wear clothes & check time with a pocket watch.

Dickens, Lewis & Marquis would quickly realize Catholic bishops' crying "foul" over insuring birth control at affiliated universities and hospitals is a Giant Red Herring. Catholic cardinals as well as bishops are using "religious liberty" to drive a mack truck through so they won't have to report child sex abuse to secular authority... nor pay over $700 million in judgments that are on appeal. Don't take my word for it, take Cardinal Egan's word for his belief now, retracting his apology 10 years ago, that the Church has no obligation to report abuse cases.

The bishops are reasserting that Canon Law rules, not governments, to get Congress to overturn the Supreme Court's unanimous decision in United States vs. Lee, 455 U.S. 252 (1982).
Justice Burger, writing for a unimous Supreme Court: "Congress and the courts have been sensitive to the needs flowing from the Free Exercise Clause, but every person cannot be shielded from all the burdens incident to exercising every aspect of the right to practice religious beliefs. When followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity. Granting an exemption from social security taxes to an employer operates to impose the employer's religious faith on the employees."
This isn't new stuff - these folks mean business!  A year ago in March, the "Rights of Conscience Act" Bills were filed in the House & Senate (H.R.1179 and S.1467) and referred to Subcommittees on Health.  The Catholic bishops are now spending $50 million on public relations using code words like "freedom of religion" and "religious liberty" ... with help from their long-time frienemies.

I figure taking the Catholic Bishops' argument to its ultimate conclusion means spending $2 billion/year to Catholic affiliated universities and hospitals could be viewed as a violation of the Establishment Clause.  Then Bishops can tell their Catholic faithful to pay those costs out of their own pockets so they needn't worry about abiding by federal law.  Hummm... pitting Catholics against Catholics??

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Song of Pill Power

The Pill has given women power over their lives since 1964, when my dear Catholic mother said, "If men could have babies, the Pope would make the pill a sacrament distributed at Mass."  Thanks to the Pill, women have been priming the pumps of our economy since then.  Thanks to Juanita Jean's "Thank you, Miss Loretta. You tell Doo & Rick Santorum How the Cow Ate the Cabbage for Loretta Lynn's song about The PILL.  Love that woman's music... she tells it like it is!! (See video on right.)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Jennifer Hudson Tribute to Whitney Houston

Jennifer Hudson showed what a true diva really is when she sang "I'll Always Love You" at the Grammy Awards in tribute to Whitney Houston.  Jennifer herself sets a high standard for celebrity icons.  Bless her heart!  (See video at right).

Saturday, February 11, 2012

British Cuties: Sophia Grace & Rosie

British cuties, Sophia Grace & Rosie, have become regulars on the Ellen DeGeneres Show.  Sophia Grace (8) belts out pop songs by music superstars like she grew up with them from infancy.  Her cousin, Rosie (5), serves as her "hype girl" - as Nicki Manij said, giving her confidence.  She hardly needs any more confidence as you can see in the video.  Enjoy!!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Presidential Election Year - Game On!

Animated Cartoons by Ann Telnaes of The Washington Post
I'll probably sit in purgatory until the Milky Way disappears for this, but...
I just couldn't resist considering men can't have babies....

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Some Seriously Silly Stuff

Like a toddler having a melt down, our nation really needs a "time out" for Some Serious Silly Stuff.

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On was created by comedian, Jenny Slate, after she was dropped by Saturday Night Live for dropping the F-bomb on a SNL show. With help from her fiance, film-maker Dean Fleischer-Camp, Jenny created Marcel the Shell using things around the house and her comedic little-boy voice. Marcel the Shell went viral on the Internet and a STAR was born!

Marcel the Shell is now a celebrity with his very own picture book and iPhone/iPad app, too:
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On: Things About Me

Watch Marcel do his 'thing' in the videos at right & relax with Some Seriously Silly Stuff.