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Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – October 16, 2013

Talking about the “things that matter most” on October 16
 
4:00 – The Global War on Christians: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Anti-Christian Persecution
From Iraq and Egypt to Sudan and Nigeria, from Indonesia to the Indian subcontinent, Christians in the early 21st century are the world’s most persecuted religious group. According to the secular International Society for Human Rights, 80 percent of violations of religious freedom in the world today are directed against Christians. In effect, our era is witnessing the rise of a new generation of martyrs. Underlying the global war on Christians is the demographic reality that more than two-thirds of the world’s 2.3 billion Christians now live outside the West, often as a beleaguered minority up against a hostile majority– whether it’s Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East and parts of Africa and Asia, Hindu radicalism in India, or state-imposed atheism in China and North Korea. In Europe and North America, Christians face political and legal challenges to religious freedom. Long-time Vatican analyst John Allen exposes the deadly threats and offers investigative insight into what is and can be done to stop these atrocities. Christians today indisputably form the most persecuted religious body on the planet, and too often its new martyrs suffer in silence. John is here to try and shatter that silence.
 
5:00 – Walking with Mary: A Biblical Journey from Nazareth to the Cross
Mary appears only a few times in the Bible, but those few passages come at crucial moments. Catholics believe that Mary is the ever-virgin Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven and Earth. But she also was a human being–a woman who made a journey of faith through various trials and uncertainties and endured her share of suffering. Even with her unique graces and vocation, Mary remains a woman we can relate to and from whom we have much to learn. In his most recent book, Walking with Mary, Edward Srilooks at the crucial passages in the Bible concerning Mary and offers insight about the Blessed Mother’s faith and devotion that we can apply in our daily lives. He joins us to follow her step-by-step through the New Testament account of her life, reflecting on what the Scriptures tell us about how she responded to the dramatic events unfolding around her.

Chaplains offering real prayers at fake POW/MIA rites?

Dang! Just when you thought that the news couldn’t get any weirder and darker for the U.S. military and, in particular, for military veterans. I’ll get to the chaplains in a minute.
First of all, here’s a shout out to NBC News for covering this story and, whether it was intentional or not, including the highly relevant religious angle.

So what’s the lede? A branch of the U.S. Department of Defense has, for seven years, been holding fake memorial rites marking the “arrival” of the remains of soldiers who died in battlefields during World War II, Korea, Vietnam, etc.

After NBC News raised questions about the arrival ceremonies, the Pentagon acknowledged Wednesday that no honored dead were in fact arriving, and that the planes used in the ceremonies often couldn’t even fly but were towed into position.
The solemn ceremonies at a military base in Hawaii are a sign of the nation’s commitment to returning and identifying its fallen warriors. The ceremonies have been attended by veterans and families of MIAs, led to believe that they were witnessing the return of Americans killed in World War II, Vietnam and Korea.
The ceremonies also have been known, at least among some of the military and civilian staff here, as The Big Lie.

The reality on the ground is actually quite complex, because the flag-drapped “coffins” are not empty.

But the remains are not “arriving” and the remains of the soldiers in the transfer cases may or may note be from the battlefields that are announced in the ceremony. Or the remains may have come from those battlefields months earlier. Or, or, or — you get the picture.

Read the rest: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/getreligion/2013/10/chaplains-offering-real-prayers-at-fake-powmia-rites/
 

The Federal Takeover of Catholic Education

Catholic students

As teachers throughout the country introduced the new Common Core curriculum—the federal standards for mathematics and English Language Arts—in their classrooms this fall, most parents had no idea this radical change in their children’s education was coming. Some might have noticed over the past month that there were dramatic changes in the textbooks and tests that their children were bringing home. Others may have noticed that in language arts, their children are now being introduced to some very different kinds of books—texts with more emphasis on technical or informational material, and less emphasis on classical literature. It would be difficult not to notice, as the Common Core curriculum is a dramatic change in the ways in which education is being delivered. Yet, few parents, and even fewer elected political representatives, knew this was coming.
 

A recent poll by Phi Delta Kappa International and Gallup revealed that 62 percent of the population has never heard about the Common Core curriculum. Now that they are finally finding out about what can only be called a federal takeover of public education, it may be too late. The curriculum has been created, the books have been purchased, and the standards have been implemented. Assessment testing has already begun. Many are asking how something like this could happen without parental and local input. Others are wondering how education could have become federalized when there are already laws in place to prevent just such federal intervention?

The answer is that it was a stealthy appropriation by the federal government to take control of the curriculum in the local public schools—and now, in some private schools also. The federal takeover involved no parental input, and very little involvement by elected representatives. It had to be done covertly because there are indeed laws protecting states against unwanted federal intrusion into the educational curriculum of local school districts. The General Education Provisions Act, the Department of Education Organization Act, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act all protect states against intrusion by the United States Department of Education. The problem is that the “intrusion” has not been entirely “unwanted” by state political leaders—especially the governors of each state. Enlisting the state governors as allies in the creation of the curriculum through the National Governor’s Association, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation used the lure of more than $150 million in grant money—and the promise of future federal funds—to convince the leaders of budget-strapped states to support the federal standards.

Working collaboratively with the Obama administration, the Gates Foundation helped to subsidize the creation of a national curriculum that has now been adopted by 46 states and the District of Columbia. Endowing the creation of the Common Core State Standards in English language arts and mathematics, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has committed an additional $76 million to support teachers in implementing the Common Core—a standardized national curriculum. This, on top of the more than 100 million they have already awarded to the National Governor’s Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers to develop the Common Core in the first place.

Read the rest here: http://www.crisismagazine.com/2013/the-federal-takeover-of-catholic-education

A Case of Mistaken (Sexual) Identity

closet_door_with_key
 
My favorite novel of mistaken identity has always been C. S. Lewis’s The Horse and His Boy. It’s the perfect fairy tale, beginning with a miserable young boy, Shasta, growing up in Calormen, treated like a slave by Arsheesh, the man who he assumes is his father. When one of the lords of Calormen, a Taarkan, offers to buy Shasta from Arsheesh, Shasta learns how “his father” found him adrift in a river when Shasta was an infant. Lewis tells us that Shasta had never loved his father, nor felt like he belonged in Calormen, so this knowledge “took a great weight off his mind. ‘Why, I might be anyone!’ he thought. ‘I might be the son of a Tarkaan myself—or the son of the Tisroc (may he live forever!)—or of a god!’” The rest of the book chronicles Shasta’s adventures with the talking horse Bree and two other companions as they journey north, towards Narnia, where Shasta discovers his true identity: He is indeed the son of a king, heir to the throne of Archenland, the ally and friend of Narnia.
 

For Lewis, Shasta is obviously “Every Man,” born into this world just as the writer of Hebrews wrote of the Patriarchs who “acknowledged themselves to be strangers and aliens on earth,” desiring a “better homeland, a heavenly one.” Like Shasta, we know innately that something is wrong with the world and don’t realize our true identity as beloved sons and daughters of the King of Kings. Henri Nouwen said that “one of the enormous spiritual tasks we have is to claim that [identity] and to live a life based on that knowledge, and that’s not very easy. In fact, most of us fail constantly to claim the truth of who we are.” These words of Henri Nouwen have a deep significance for me, because as he did, I am a man who lives with same-sex attraction. As I have worked through my faith to claim my true nature as a beloved son of God, I have come to believe that the greatest case of mistaken identity in the world today concerns sexual identity. The contemporary litany of sexual identities come from Calormen, not Narnia and the North. They come from the world, not the mind of God.

As a man who came back to the Catholic Church because of the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and sexual identity, I have watched with great concern as I see “coming out” become more and more commonplace, particular at younger and younger ages, including in the Church. The USCCB wisely cautions against this in their 2006 document, “Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care”:

For some persons, revealing their homosexual tendencies to certain close friends, family members, a spiritual director, confessor, or members of a Church support group may provide some spiritual and emotional help and aid them in their growth in the Christian life. In the context of parish life, however, general public self-disclosures are not helpful and should not be encouraged.

Though I’ve never “come out” in the world in which I live my daily life, I decided to write publicly about this part of my life because I have great concern for the way our culture negatively influences the young Shastas in the Catholic Church who may be confused about who they are after realizing they live with same-sex attraction, and decide to “come out” because the world teaches them that their sexual inclinations comprise one of the chief definitions of “who they are” and that in order to be truly “authentic” they need to reveal this about themselves. The counsel of the bishops to avoid public disclosures of homosexual attractions reflects the best interests for these young men and women who tragically have been conditioned to accept the modern concept of sexual identities, and to use phrases such as “I am gay” to describe themselves, which reveals the ease by which we can become imprisoned by the culture in which we live, in the way John Paul II wrote in Veritatis Splendor:

It must certainly be admitted that man always exists in a particular culture, but it must also be admitted that man is not exhaustively defined by that same culture. Moreover, the very progress of cultures demonstrates that there is something in man which transcends those cultures. This “something” is precisely human nature: this nature is itself the measure of culture and the condition ensuring that man does not become the prisoner of any of his cultures, but asserts his personal dignity by living in accordance with the profound truth of his being.

Read the rest here: http://www.crisismagazine.com/2013/a-case-of-mistaken-sexual-identity?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CrisisMagazine+%28Crisis+Magazine%29

 

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – October 14, 2013

Talking about the “things that matter most” on October 14

4:00 – The Bad Catholic’s Guide to the Catechism: A Faithful, Fun-Loving Look at Catholic Dogmas, Doctrines, and Schmoctrines
Masquerading behind the guise of the old-fashioned Catechism that generations of Catholic school kids in plaid skirts or clip-on ties had to memorize, John Zmirak has written a candid handbook which provides a witty take on the Catechism. Objections from relativist, New Atheist, dissenting Catholic, and other points of view are featured, with intellectually sound questions and bracingly funny answers. Penned by a Yale-educated author who worked both in the mainstream, secular media as well as for Catholic outlets, the study reveals the whole range of contemporary criticisms aimed at the Church—and how to answer them in kind. John joins us.

5:00 – What Should We Expect in the Government Shutdown / Debt Ceiling Debacle?
As the government shutdown continues, the debt ceiling deadline looms and no progress in Washington apparent, Americans are worried about what the impact will be in their lives. Economic analyst George Schwartz helps us sort it out

5:20 – PBS Correspondent Prescribes Monastic Wisdom for U.S. Congress
In the face of government shutdown and unprecedented political dysfunction, PBS correspondent and Chicago Public Radio commentator Judith Valentesuggests that how we got to this place has very little to do with politics and very much to do with habits of the mind and heart.  The solution? Members of Congress should read The Rule of St. Benedict, the sixth-century classic guide to monastic living, for advice on how to extricate themselves from this mess. She is here to explain why.

Supreme Court Heads Into a New Term

Abortion, public prayer and HHS mandate cases are under review.

10/09/2013
National Catholic Register

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court is diving into a new term, with several cases threatening court precedents dealing with abortion and public prayer.

Church leaders and religious-freedom advocates are also waiting to see whether the high court will agree to hear one or more appeals in legal challenges to the Health and Human Services’ contraception mandate filed by for-profit employers who oppose the federal law on moral grounds.
While the justices are not slated to hear blockbuster cases like recent challenges to the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, or the federal Defense of Marriage Act, The Washington Post noted that the high court has increasingly become the “uneasy arbiter of America’s intractable social conflicts.”

Indeed, for John Kennedy, the Catholic CEO of Autocam, a Michigan-based manufacturing company and one of 30 for-profit employers who have sued Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius over the federal contraception mandate, the high court now offers his last hope, after the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against him.

“The 6th Circuit said I could only practice my faith within the four walls of my church. I hope the Supreme Court agrees to a review of the HHS mandate and it recognizes that the law impinges on the religious freedom of all business owners who don’t believe in birth control and abortion-inducing drugs,” Kennedy told the Register, after he wrote an op-ed for USA Today outlining his objections to the federal law.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/supreme-court-heads-into-a-new-term?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NCRegisterDailyBlog+National+Catholic+Register#When:2013-10-9%2017:20:01#ixzz2hKpPgicg

Pope Francis’ Interviews and the Bigger Picture

Father John Wauck discusses the Holy Father’s ‘relentlessly personal’ approach.

10/10/2013
National Catholic Register
Courtesy Opus Dei
Opus Dei Father John Wauck
– Courtesy Opus Dei
 

Opus Dei Father John Wauck teaches in the School of Church Communications at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome. During the 2013 papal conclave, he served as a television commentator for ABC.
On Oct. 8, he spoke with the Register’s senior editor, Joan Frawley Desmond, about Pope Francis’ efforts to reach alienated Catholics and the public through an unprecedented strategy of informal interviews that reportedly bypassed Vatican filters.

Two recent interviews with Pope Francis have produced inaccurate headlines attacking pro-life activism and Catholic conversions. New York Times columnist Ross Douthat worried that the Pope’s communications strategy — which Douthat described as an “almost-frantic engagement with the lapsed-Catholic, post-Catholic and non-Catholic world” — could backfire. What’s your view?

It’s important for everybody to calm down and look at the big picture.
Pope Francis, the Successor of Peter, is the most popular man on the planet. There are worse things that could happen, especially given the water under the bridge, such as the abuse scandals.
You can quibble about how he is saying things, but we are in a good place. Even the need to explain and interpret the Pope’s words is not bad, because you get to talk about things.
I lived through the whole Da Vinci Code excitement, and in the end, it was a gift. It made Opus Dei open the door and shine the light, and people found Opus Dei was okay. It wouldn’t have happened without the novel.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/pope-francis-interviews-and-the-bigger-picture?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NCRegisterDailyBlog+National+Catholic+Register#When:2013-10-10%2008:10:01#ixzz2hKowyISE

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – October 11, 2013

Talking about the “things that matter most” on October 11

Live from the EWTN / Catholic Radio Association Conference in Birmingham, AL

4:00 – “Grace Unplugged” – #1 Fan Favorite on Opening Weekend
From Facebook to Fandango, from Rotten Tomatoes to Twitter, from Yahoo to your emails, “Grace Unplugged” fans are speaking up and speaking up loudly. This faith-filled family film is Fandango’s No. 1 viewer-rated movie in theaters! We talk to director Brad Silverman about this story about a prodigal daughter and the strained relationship with her father.

4:20 – Spiritual Disciplines Segment:The Devil’s War on Silence
There are key strategies of indirect attack that the enemy of our souls uses to significantly disrupt our spiritual progress. One is the corruption of human sexuality. As the analogy of holy spousal love is one of the most effective in understanding divine intimacy, the enemy desires to corrupt human sexuality in order to further obscure what it means to understand the possibilities of union with God. Similarly, there is another indirect attack that wreaks havoc on the soul’s ability grow in intimacy with God — noise. In our culture, noise is everywhere. Dan Burke, author of Navigating the Interior Life, is here to discuss these attacks.

4:40 – Shaping Our Nation: How Surges of Migration Transformed America and Its Politics
It is often said that America has become culturally diverse only in the past quarter century. But from the country’s beginning, cultural variety and conflict have been a centrifugal force in American politics and a crucial reason for our rise to power. The peopling of the United States is one of the most important stories of the last five hundred years, and in Shaping our Nation, bestselling author and demographics expert Michael Baroneilluminates a new angle on America’s rise, using a vast array of political and social data to show America is the product of a series large, unexpected mass movements—both internal and external—which typically lasted only one or two generations but in that time reshaped the nation,  and created lasting tensions that were difficult to resolve. He joins us today.

5:00 – Bambinelli Sunday: A Christmas Blessing
Alessandro is staying with his grandparents, who run a small shop that sells figures for the presepe (Nativity scene), while his parents look for work in another country. To help with the boy’s loneliness, his grandfather encourages Alessandro to make his own figure of the baby Jesus. They will bring that figure to Rome in two weeks to have it blessed by the Holy Father on Bambinelli Sunday. Through the events that occur in the time leading up to receiving the blessing in St. Peter’s Square, Alessandro comes to see his world in a new way, and receives the best surprise of all in the end. It’s the latest children’s book by Amy Welborn and she is here with us. 

5:40 – A Catholic Look at the Government Shutdown and Debt Ceiling Debate
To hear liberals and the mainstream media tell it, it would be something verging on Armageddon. Whole government agencies would cease to function. Tens of thousands — make that hundreds of thousands — of government bureaucrats would be furloughed. Regulations could not be enforced. Taxes could not be collected. Welfare checks could not be distributed. And the sausage factory that is the United States Congress would stop. To which millions of Americans are increasingly inclined to respond: So what’s the bad news? But seriously, says Sam Gregg, there is much to be gained from the federal government shutdown. He is with us to explain.

Debt Limit – a Guide to American Federal Debt Made Easy

An old one but made relevant for today by recent government actions. Undoubtedly the numbers are worse than they were when this video was originally made:
 
Uploaded on Nov 4, 2011
The United States debt limit explained. A satirical short film taking a look at the national debt and how it applies to just one family. Watch the guy from the Sprint Ads, Ferris Bueller Superbowl Spot and plays Arwin! (also in the upcoming film PAIN AND GAIN) Produced by Seth William Meier, DP/Edited by Craig Evans, 1st AC Brian Andrews, Sound Mixer Gus Salazar, Written and Directed by Brian Stepanek. Help us spread the word by clicking ads or at www.debtlimitusa.org.
 
 

The New Narcotic

Public Discourse

New neurological research reveals that porn is as potently addictive as heroin or cocaine.
 

But what if I told you that the internet “is the greatest drug dealer in the United States?”

A growing body of research supports such an assertion as it relates to a new “narcotic”: internet pornography. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimated that in 2008 there were 1.9 million cocaine users. According to the Central Intelligence Agency, there are an estimated 2 million heroin users in the United States, with some 600,000 to 800,000 considered hardcore addicts.

Compare these numbers to the 40 million regular users of online pornography in America.

Dr. Jeffrey Satinover

Neurological research has revealed that the effect of internet pornography on the human brain is just as potent—if not more so—than addictive chemical substances such as cocaine or heroin. In a statement before Congress, Dr. Jeffrey Satinover, a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, physicist, and former Fellow in Psychiatry at Yale, cautioned:

With the advent of the computer, the delivery system for this addictive stimulus [internet pornography] has become nearly resistance-free. It is as though we have devised a form of heroin 100 times more powerful than before, usable in the privacy of one’s own home and injected directly to the brain through the eyes. It’s now available in unlimited supply via a self-replicating distribution network, glorified as art and protected by the Constitution.
 

Though pornography, in one form or another, has been around for most of human history, its content and the way people access and consume it have drastically changed in the past few decades with the advent of the internet and related technologies.

Read the rest here: http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2013/10/10846/

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