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Crime Stats Alarm Black Leaders

BlackonBlackCrime

by Victor Thorn via AmericanFreePress.net

The implications are shocking: Nearly 50% of all black males and 38% of white men will be arrested by the age of 23. These statistics, compiled by four college professors between the years 1997-2008, were published in the January 6 edition of the journal Crime & Delinquency.

The biggest question one takes away from this study is what types of crimes are these young adults committing? Not surprisingly, there exists a great deal of variance depending on the perpetrator’s race.

A 2012 study by the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention revealed that in 2010 black youths committed six times more murders, three times more rapes, 10 times more robberies and three times more assaults than did their white counterparts.

Similar statistics were released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the “Uniform Crime Reports.” They determined, “In the year 2008, black youths, who make up 16% of the youth population, accounted for 52% of juvenile violent crime arrests, including 58% for homicide and 67% for robbery.” By contrast, the only categories where white youths surpassed blacks were in liquor law violations and driving under the influence.

Even black civil rights advocates such as Van Jones, President Barack Obama’s former green jobs czar, confirmed these findings. In his October 5, 2005 article, “Are Blacks a Criminal Race?” Jones wrote, “African American youth represent 32% of all weapons arrests [and] were arrested for aggravated assault at a rate nearly three times that of whites.”

To better comprehend this trend, on January 10 AMERICAN FREE PRESS spoke with veteran journalist and author Alan Caruba. When questioned about the proliferation of black crime, Caruba explained, “The black community is afflicted with all kinds of problems based on a long history of failing to integrate fully into the overall community.”

Pointing to current events, Caruba explained: “The knockout game is a good example of what’s wrong today. It goes straight to the heart of how [blacks] are raised. It’s a disturbing trend that all of us need to pay more attention to.”

The so-called “knockout game” was made popular largely by gangs of teenage blacks who select a random person and try to knock them unconscious with one punch to the head or face.

Although few publications other than AFP have the courage to buck political correctness and address the actualities of this social cancer in a forthright manner, in a 2011 speech Philadelphia’s black Mayor Michael Nutter offered the following admonishment to black youths:

“You have damaged your own race,” he said. “Take those damned hoodies down. Pull your pants up and buy a belt because no one wants to see your underwear or the crack of your butt.”

Summarizing this entire matter was former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy who, on September 30, 2005 declared:

“Some identifiable groups . . . commit crime at a rate that is higher than the national rate. Blacks are such a group. That is simply a fact.”

The liberal mainstream media has been making quite a commotion over a recently released study that purports to show states with lax gun laws suffer the worst violence in the United States. In reality, much to their dismay, what the study has really exposed is something regular readers of AMERICAN FREE PRESS already know: Race and poverty play more of a factor in areas plagued by violence than do gun laws alone.

The best example of this is Tennessee, which in 2012 had the dubious distinction of ranking number one in the country for incidences of violent crime, namely murder, assault and rape.

According to the FBI statistics for that year, most of the United States saw a nearly 1% drop in crime rates. In Tennessee, however, the violent crime rate went up by 6.8%. More specifically, the Volunteer State was first in aggravated assaults, with an estimated 479.6 for every 100,000 residents for a total of 41,550 violent crimes in 2012.

On January 7, AFP interviewed longtime Tennessee resident and attorney Keith Alexander for insight into this matter.

Alexander is a co-host of the popular weekly radio program “Political Cesspool,” carried by several AM radio stations across the country as well as on Internet radio.

“The problem in Tennessee is mostly in Shelby County,” said Alexander. “Over 50% of the violent crimes happen in Shelby County, and Memphis makes up about three-quarters of the population in Shelby County.”

He added that about 65% of the population in Memphis is now black.

“Blacks flock to where whites go like fleas on a dog,” he said. “All these Mississippi Delta cities are in decay as blacks keep moving in to milk whites for money. They want affirmative action programs, government jobs, section 8 housing, and more government money for their children.”

As an attorney, Alexander understands the crime statistics for his state.

“Domestic violence is rampant among black couples,” he said. “However, the courts have a vested interest in getting more such cases prosecuted because they receive more government funds this way. Prosecutors will not allow women to drop domestic violence charges, or the men to cop a plea to a lesser charge. Instead, they urge men to plead guilty with the promise that they will not be incarcerated. But the assault still goes on their record.”

Tennessee is not alone in this. The other states in the top 10 most violent list all demonstrate similar racial and economic disparities. They include by order of their ranking: Nevada, Alaska, New Mexico, South Carolina, Delaware, Louisiana, Florida, Maryland and Oklahoma. More importantly, it is misleading to rate crime by state when it is cities that make all the difference.

Maryland stands out among the other violent states on the list given its stringent gun-control laws. Overall, the Old Line State has the highest median income in the nation, the third-lowest poverty rate and one of the highest proportions of adults with a college degree. But in Maryland’s case, one city, Baltimore, is responsible for giving that state a bad name.

There are already strict gun-control laws in Baltimore, but that has not stopped that city from becoming the fifth most dangerous in the nation, dragging the entire state down when it comes to violent crime statistics. Baltimore also has the highest poverty rate in the state and, like Memphis, a high concentration—65%—of blacks.

The 2005 report “The Color of Crime” by the New Century Foundation lays it out: “Blacks are seven times more likely than people of other races to commit murder, and eight times more likely to commit robbery. . . . Blacks are an estimated 39 times more likely to commit a violent crime against a white than vice versa, and 136 times more likely to commit robbery.”

What the left won’t tell you about black crime

Operation Triple Beam II

In the summer of 2013, after neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, a Hispanic, was acquitted in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, the political left wanted to have a discussion about everything except the black crime rates that lead people to view young black males with suspicion. Presi­dent Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder wanted to talk about gun control. The NAACP wanted to talk about racial profiling. Assorted academics and MSNBC talking heads wanted to discuss poverty, “stand-your-ground” laws, unemployment and the supposedly racist criminal justice system. But any candid debate on race and criminality in the United States must begin with the fact that blacks are responsible for an astoundingly disproportionate number of crimes, which has been the case for at least the past half a century.

Crime began rising precipitously in the 1960s after the Supreme Court, under Chief Justice Earl Warren, started tilting the scales in favor of the criminals. Some 63 percent of respondents to a Gallup poll taken in 1968 judged the Warren Court, in place from 1953 to 1969, too lenient on crime; but Warren’s jurisprudence was sup­ported wholeheartedly by the liberal intellectuals of that era, as well as by politicians who wanted to shift blame for criminal behavior away from the criminals. Popular books of the time, like Karl Menninger’s “The Crime of Punishment,” argued that “law and order” was an “inflammatory” term with racial overtones. “What it really means,” said Menninger, “is that we should all go out and find the n–– and beat them up.”

The late William Stuntz, a Harvard law professor, addressed this history in his 2011 book, “The Collapse of American Criminal Justice.” “The lenient turn of the mid-twentieth century was, in part, the product of judges, prosecutors and politicians who saw criminal punishment as too harsh a remedy for ghetto violence,” wrote Mr. Stuntz. “The Supreme Court’s expansion of criminal defendants’ legal rights in the 1960s and after flowed from the Justices’ percep­tion that poor and black defendants were being victimized by a system run by white government officials. Even the rise of harsh drug laws was in large measure the product of reformers’ efforts to limit the awful costs illegal drug markets impose on poor city neighborhoods. Each of these changes flowed, in large measure, from the decisions of men who saw themselves as reformers. But their reforms showed an uncanny ability to take bad situations and make them worse.”

Crime rates rose by 139 percent during the 1960s, and the murder rate doubled. Cities couldn’t hire cops fast enough. “The number of police per 1,000 people was up twice the rate of the population growth, and yet clearance rates for crimes dropped 31 percent and conviction rates were down 6 percent,” wrote Lucas A. Powe Jr. in “The Warren Court and American Politics,” his history of the Warren Court. “During the last weeks of his [1968] presidential campaign, Nixon had a favorite line in his standard speech. ‘In the past 45 minutes this is what happened in America. There has been one murder, two rapes, forty-five major crimes of violence, countless robberies and auto thefts.’”

As remains the case today, blacks in the past were overrepre­sented among those arrested and imprisoned. In urban areas in 1967, blacks were 17 times more likely than whites to be arrested for robbery. In 1980 blacks comprised about one-eighth of the population but were half of all those arrested for murder, rape and robbery, according to FBI data. And they were between one-fourth and one-third of all those arrested for crimes such as burglary, auto theft and aggravated assault.

Today blacks are about 13 percent of the population and continue to be responsible for an inordinate amount of crime. Between 1976 and 2005 blacks com­mitted more than half of all murders in the United States. The black arrest rate for most offenses — including robbery, aggravated assault and property crimes — is still typically two to three times their representation in the population. Blacks as a group are also overrepresented among persons arrested for so-called white-collar crimes such as counterfeiting, fraud and embezzlement. And blaming this decades-long, well-documented trend on racist cops, prosecutors, judges, sentencing guidelines and drug laws doesn’t cut it as a plausible explanation.

“Even allowing for the existence of discrimination in the criminal justice system, the higher rates of crime among black Americans cannot be denied,” wrote James Q. Wilson and Richard Herrnstein in their classic 1985 study, “Crime and Human Nature.” “Every study of crime using official data shows blacks to be overrepresented among persons arrested, convicted, and imprisoned for street crimes.” This was true decades before the authors put it to paper, and it remains the case decades later.

“The overrepresentation of blacks among arrested persons persists throughout the criminal justice system,” wrote Wilson and Herrnstein. “Though prosecutors and judges may well make discriminatory judgments, such decisions do not account for more than a small fraction of the overrepresentation of blacks in prison.” Yet liberal policy makers and their allies in the press and the academy consistently downplay the empirical data on black crime rates, when they bother to discuss them at all. Stories about the racial makeup of prisons are commonplace; stories about the excessive amount of black criminality are much harder to come by.

“High rates of black violence in the late twentieth century are a matter of historical fact, not bigoted imagination,” wrote Mr. Stuntz. “The trends reached their peak not in the land of Jim Crow but in the more civilized North, and not in the age of segrega­tion but in the decades that saw the rise of civil rights for African Americans — and of African American control of city governments.” The left wants to blame these outcomes on racial animus and “the system,” but blacks have long been part of running that system. Black crime and incarceration rates spiked in the 1970s and ’80s in cities such as Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Washington under black mayors and black police chiefs. Some of the most violent cities in the United States today are run by blacks.

Black people are not shooting each other at these alarming rates in Chicago and other urban areas because of our gun laws or our drug laws or a criminal justice system that has it in for them. The problem is primarily cultural — self-destructive behaviors and attitudes all too common among the black underclass. The problem is black criminal behavior, which is one manifestation of a black pathology that ultimately stems from the breakdown of the black family. Liberals want to talk about what others should do for blacks instead of what blacks should do for themselves. But if we don’t acknowledge the cultural barriers to black progress, how can we address them? How can you even begin to fix something that almost no one wants to talk about honestly?

Jason Riley is a member of the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board.

Correcting Six Mistakes from the Same-Sex Marriage Oral Arguments Last Week

A note from Al:

The big news out of the oral arguments on homosexual marriage had to do with religious liberty. I pointed out that the exchange between Justice Alito and the government’s lawyer regarding the possible loss of tax exemption was the most significant exchange of the oral arguments. Here James Phillips of Brigham University corrects some particular errors of the day that no one has yet corrected. So if no one else did it, I guess James figured it was up to him. Enjoy. – Al Kresta

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by James Phillips via ThePublicDiscourse.com

In the craziness of the two and a half hours of oral argument last week concerning whether the Constitution requires states to recognize same-sex relationships as marriages, it’s understandable that some errors were made. With the luxury and wisdom of hindsight, this essay corrects those errors.

Error Number One: Massachusetts Marriage Rates Have Stayed the Same

During the questioning of Michigan’s attorney, John Bursch, Justice Sotomayor commented that “In Massachusetts, we’ve got data that it’s—the rates have remained constant since they changed their laws.” Unfortunately, Mr. Bursch did not correct her error.

Justice Sotomayor is only correct if Massachusetts includes same-sex marriages in that number. But that’s not helpful, since the argument being made is that redefining the institution of marriage will, in the long run, lower the opposite-sex marriage rate. In Justice Sotomayor’s defense, she is probably relying on the amicus brief filed by Massachusetts and other states where they deceptively report overall marriage rates—which include the new addition of same-sex marriages—and claim there has been no decrease in marriage rates since the state adopted same-sex marriage.

But what Justice Sotomayor missed is an opposing amicus brief filed by 100 Scholars of Marriage that actually obtained data from the state of Massachusetts on opposite-sex marriage rates since 2003 (the year before the state adopted same-sex marriage). Those data—the only relevant data here—paint a different picture. Opposite-sex marriage rates have dropped by 8.9 percent since the state redefined marriage.

And Massachusetts is not alone. The marriage scholars were also able to obtain data on opposite-sex marriage rates from three other states that have legalized same-sex marriage, and they likewise have seen declines: Vermont (-5.1 percent), Connecticut (-7.3 percent), and Iowa (-9.2 percent). Other states have not had same-sex marriage long enough for data to be reported, since there is usually a lag of a couple of years before data are available.

Of course, correlation does not prove causation. But Justice Sotomayor was wrong: opposite-sex marriage rates have declined in Massachusetts since the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Error Number Two: Because Some Men Leave Their Wives and Children, Marriage Does Not Help Keep Fathers Around

Justice Sotomayor also committed what is commonly referred to as anexception fallacy. This is where someone reaches an overall conclusion about a group on the basis of a few exceptional cases. Thus, when Mr. Bursch was making the argument that redefining marriage to include same-sex couples will disconnect marriage from the long-held norm that the institution binds children to their biological mother and father, Justice Sotomayor responded:

Marriage doesn’t do that on any level. How many married couples do fathers with the benefits or the requirements of marriage walk away from their children? So it’s not that the institution alone does it and that without it that father is going to stay in marriage. He made a choice . . . Some mothers do the same thing.

This is a classic example of the exception fallacy. Of course some men and women walk away from their marriage and their children. But that is the exception, not the rule, and it is certainly counter to the social norm of marriage that gently pushes parents to stay together and raise their children.

It is rather shocking that a justice of the United States Supreme Court would claim that “on any level” marriage does not have that effect and longstanding purpose. It is also disappointing that she would commit such a basic error of logic.

Error Number Three: The Purpose of States’ Recognizing and Regulating Marriage is to Bestow Dignity on Couples

Justice Kennedy expressed surprise when Mr. Bursch argued that the states arenot in the marriage business to bestow dignity. Justice Kennedy responded:

I don’t understand this is not dignity bestowing. I thought that was the whole purpose of marriage. It bestows dignity on both man and woman in a traditional marriage. It’s dignity bestowing, and these parties say they want to have that—that same ennoblement. Or am I missing your point?

Yes, Justice Kennedy was missing the point. He was confusing the reason that a couple may desire to be married with the reason that a state would want to recognize and regulate marriage. Those are distinct.

Take a driver’s license, for example. Why would a sixteen-year-old want to get a driver’s license? To be like his or her peers, to be accepted or cool, or at least not be an oddball. A teenager will also want to feel more grown up and to have more freedom. But why does the state grant driver’s licenses to teenagers? It’s not so that sixteen-year-olds feel better about themselves, or feel more accepted by their peers, or feel more like an adult, or have more freedom. States hand out driver’s licenses to teenagers (after the requisite driver’s education courses and driving tests) to regulate who can drive cars in the interest of keeping the roads safe for all citizens.

The same goes for marriage. Couples and states do not have the same purposes.

Justice Kennedy was also possibly confusing means with ends. Even assuming, for the sake of argument, that states were interested in bestowing dignity on couples by allowing them to marry, that would be a means to enticing couples to marry. The end or purpose of encouraging marriage in this way would still be the fact that society—particularly children—benefits when men and women marry. It makes no sense for the state to go through the trouble and expense to regulate and subsidize marriage if the state gets nothing out of it in return—and it’s not simply about bestowing dignity on consenting adult love of all sizes and shapes.

Further, Justice Kennedy’s conception of state motivations for granting the right to marry to couples is most likely unconstitutional under his own jurisprudence. If a state is only allowing couples to marry in order to bestow dignity upon them—with the state getting no benefits in return—then either the state has no rational basis for granting marriage rights, or the state is acting out of animus toward the unmarried, or toward other, non-marital, forms of consenting adult romantic relationships. For if the state has no rational basis for believing that a law would provide a tangible benefit, then privileging one group over the other would violate the Constitution according to Justice Kennedy’s own opinions.

Thus, as a matter of fact, of logic, and of constitutional analysis, Justice Kennedy is wrong.

Error Number Four: The Only Harm to Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage Is Making Marriage More Adult-Centered

Several justices struggled to see how redefining marriage in genderless terms would cause any harm or have any impact on the institution of marriage. As Mr. Bursch correctly but incompletely argued, legalizing same-sex marriage will alter the institution to be primarily concerned with fulfilling the desires of adults rather than the needs of children.

But that’s not all. As the 100 Scholars of Marriage made clear in their amicus brief, several other important and beneficial social norms will be eroded, if not erased, by same-sex marriage, including:

- Gender-diverse parenting: the norm that children both need and deserve to be raised by a man and a woman, not only because of what they learn from interacting with a parent of each sex, but because men and women parent and interact with their children differently, providing distinct but complementary benefits. By its very structure, same-sex marriage eliminates this norm and its attendant benefits to children.

- Biological bonding: the norm that marriage binds children to their biological mother and father in a family unit. Same-sex marriage and parenting, by definition, means that at best only one of a child’s biological parents will be in the home. While death, divorce, or parental delinquency create exceptions, elevating the exception to the norm undermines that norm and the benefits it produces.

- Postponing or channeling procreation: the norm that procreation should only responsibly occur within the stable bonds of marriage. Same-sex marriage is not, and biologically cannot be, about procreation. By redefining marriage in this way, the institution becomes less about being the socially recommended “place” and “time” where procreation is recommended.

- Placing social value on raising children: the norm that society values and needs children to be born and raised by their parents. Again, same-sex marriage is not primarily about procreation, and its acceptance attenuates this norm for the institution as a whole. Of course, same-sex couples can adopt or one member of the couple can reproduce with someone of the opposite sex, but these are secondary purposes and behaviors.

What impact will the weakening or elimination of these norms have on the institution of marriage, and thus the behavior of society? Put another way, as Justice Breyer asked, “what’s the empirical connection?”

Well, the last major alteration to the institution of marriage—no-fault divorce—did have unintended negative consequences, reducing marriage rates and increasing divorce rates more than expected, with children and women suffering the consequences. Additionally, the Netherlands, the country that has had same-sex marriage the longest, after controlling for other factors, has experienced a drop in opposite-sex marriage rates among young women after adopting same-sex marriage.

The truth is, no one knows for sure what the effect will be—but it clashes with history, common sense, and theory to assume it will be innocuous.

Error Number Five: There Is a Parallel between Brown/Loving andLawrence/Obergefell

The time between the Supreme Court decision calling for desegregation of elementary schools, the famous Brown v. Board of Education, and the decision invalidating state laws that prohibited mixed-race marriages (Loving v. Virginia), was thirteen years. Similarly, the time between the Supreme Court decision striking down laws criminalizing homosexual sodomy (Lawrence v. Texas) and today is also thirteen years.

Twice during oral argument Justice Kennedy, almost thinking aloud, noted those two time frames were equivalent. He thus implied that it was time to constitutionalize a right to same-sex marriage.

But while the number of years may be the same, the time is not really equivalent. Even Justice Kennedy seemed to hint at that. If one thinks of the thirteen years as the numerator in a fraction, the denominator is remarkably different in these two instances. At the time of Loving, state prohibitions on inter-racial marriages had been in existence in only some of the states, and then at most for about 300 years if we go back to colonial times in Virginia and Maryland.

But man-woman marriage has been the law in every state since the birth of the nation—and in every Western nation for millennia. As Justice Kennedy put it, “I don’t even know how to count the decimals when we talk about millennia.”

Not all thirteen year periods are equivalent. They certainly are not here.

Error Number Six: Age Restrictions on Marriage Are Equivalent to the Definitional Element of One Man and One Woman

While debating whether states should be required to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, the issue of age restrictions arose. Despite states’ varying age restrictions, it is rare for a state not to recognize a valid out-of-state marriage between a man and a woman, even if one or both of the spouses are too young to legally marry in that state.

Several of the justices questioned whether there was a difference between recognizing exceptions to age restrictions and recognizing same-sex marriages.

In short: yes, there is. Not all exceptions are equal. Age has never been a part of the definition of marriage. That is evident from the fact that there was such variation on which age should be the legal cutoff. There are two historical and universal components to the definition of marriage in the United States, and in the Western world: gender diversity and only two spouses, one man and one woman. All other features—age, race, religion, coverture, dowry—are not part of the fundamental definition and thus vary, if and when they are found in marriage law.

Thus, the difference between age restrictions and defining marriage as only between one man and one woman is the difference between degree and kind. The definition of marriage is unchanged by the fact that a spouse is seventeen rather than nineteen. But marriage has been redefined if it is not between a man and a woman.

Ideally, oral arguments clarify the issues at stake in a particular case. Unfortunately, they sometimes perpetuate errors instead—in this instance, at least six. Whichever way the Supreme Court ultimately decides, it should do so based on fact and truth, not error and fallacy.

Surely the people and the Constitution deserve as much.

James Phillips is currently a visiting assistant professor of law at Brigham Young University.

“The Avengers” and Friedrich Nietzsche

A note from Al:

Fr. Barron has a good eye for the philosophical and theological themes present in films and other pieces of pop culture. I haven’t seen the new Avengers movie yet but probably will eventually. When I do I’ll be testing the point of view he advances in this keen critique. – Al Kresta

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by Fr. Robert Barron via WordonFire.org

*SPOILER ALERT*

C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and their colleagues in the Inklings wanted to write fiction that would effectively “evangelize the imagination,” accustoming the minds, especially of young people, to the hearing of the Christian Gospel. Accordingly, Tolkien’s Gandalf is a figure of Jesus the prophet and Lewis’s Aslan a representation of Christ as both sacrificial victim and victorious king. Happily, the film versions of both The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia have proven to be wildly popular all over the world. Not so happily, Joss Whedon’s “Avenger” films, the second of which has just appeared, work as a sort of antidote to Tolkien and Lewis, shaping the imaginations of young people so as to receive a distinctly different message. It is certainly relevant to my purpose here to note that Whedon, the auteur behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and many other well-received films and television programs, is a self-avowed atheist and has, on many occasions, signaled his particular dissatisfaction with the Catholic Church.

I won’t rehearse in too much detail the plot of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Suffice it to say that the world is threatened by an artificial intelligence, by the name of Ultron, who has run amok and incarnated himself in a particularly nasty robotic body. Ultron wants to destroy the human race and has produced an army of robots as his posse. Enter the Avengers—Tony Stark (Iron Man), the Hulk, Black Widow, Captain America, Hawkeye, and Thor—to do battle with the dark forces. There is an awful lot of CGI bumping and banging and blowing things up, but when the rubble settles, we see that the real struggle is over a perfect body—a synthesis of machine and flesh—that Ultron, with the help of brainwashed scientists, is designing for himself. After pursuing the bad guys on a wild ride through the streets of Seoul, the Avengers recover the body, and Thor, using one of the fundamental building blocks of the universe or lightning or something, brings it to life. Exuding light, intelligence, and calmness of spirit, this newly created robot/human/god floats above the ground and announces that his name is “I am.” Just before his climactic battle with Ultron, “I am” declares that order and chaos are two sides of the same coin and that wickedness is never eliminated but keeps coming around in an endless cycle.

Although some have seen Biblical themes at work in all of this, I see pretty much the opposite, namely, an affirmation of a Nietzschean view of life. Whedon, who was a philosophy student at university, delights in dropping references to the great thinkers in his work, and one of the most cited in “Ultron” is none other than the man I take to be the most influential of the 19th century philosophers, Friedrich Nietzsche. At a key moment in the film, Ultron in fact utters Nietzsche’s most famous one-liner: “what does not kill me makes me stronger,” and the observation made by the newly-created “I am” is a neat expression of Nietzsche’s doctrine of the eternal return of the same. At the heart of the German philosopher’s work is the declaration of the death of God, which signals that all values are relative, that we live in a space “beyond good and evil.” Into that space, Nietzsche contends, the Ubermensch, the superman, should confidently stride. This is a human being who has thrown off the shackles of religion and conventional morality and is able to exercise fully his Wille zur Macht (Will to Power). Asserting this will, the superman defines himself completely on his own terms, effectively becoming a god. Here we see the significant influence of Nietzsche on Sartre and the other existentialists of the twentieth century.

The Avengers is chock-a-block with Ubermenschen, powerful, willful people who assert themselves through technology and the hyper-violence that that technology makes possible. And the most remarkable instance of this technologically informed self-assertion is the creation of the savior figure, who self-identifies with the very words of Yahweh in the book of Exodus. But he is not the Word become flesh; instead, he is the coming together of flesh and robotics, produced by the flexing of the all too human will to power. I find it fascinating that this pseudo-savior was brought about by players on both sides of the divide, by both Iron Man and Ultron. Like Nietzsche’s superman, he is indeed beyond good and evil—which is precisely why he cannot definitively solve the problems that bedevil the human race and can only glumly predict the eternal return of trouble. If you have any doubts about the Nietzschean intention of Joss Whedon, take a good look at the image that plays as The Avengers comes to a close. It is a neo-classical sculpture of all of the major figures in the film locked in struggle, straining against one another. It is in complete conformity with the aesthetic favored by Albert Speer, Leni Riefenstahl, and the other artists of the Nazi period.

What the Christian evangelist can seize upon in this film is the frank assertion that the will to power—even backed up by stunningly sophisticated technology—never finally solves our difficulties, that it, in point of fact, makes things worse. See the Tower of Babel narrative for the details. And this admission teases the mind to consider the possibility that the human predicament can be addressed finally only through the invasion of grace. Once that door is opened, the Gospel can be proclaimed.

Son Of Gay Dads Denied Baptism In Florida Episcopal Church

A note from Al:

I wonder if the Episcopal Church requires parents to be believers and to raise up their children in the teaching of Christ. It seems that would help calm the hysteria that requires everyone always be included even if they reject the terms of membership. – Al Kresta

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by Antonia Blumberg via HuffingtonPost.com

Baptism is usually a time to celebrate new life and spiritual community. But for Rich McCaffrey, a new father in central Florida, the ritual took on a hurtful note when he had to cancel his son’s baptism — because McCaffrey and his husband are gay.

McCaffrey and his husband, Eric, began attending the Episcopal Cathedral Church of St. Luke in Orlando, Florida shortly after adopting their son, Jack. They hoped to become part of a spiritual community in which they could baptize their son,McCaffrey explained in a May 2 Facebook post.

The church’s dean, Anthony Clark, initially agreed to the baptism and encouraged the family to schedule it for the 6 p.m. Sunday service, “since those who worship at that time tend to be the most ‘open,'” according to McCaffrey. The parents chose April 19.

Things turned sour on April 16, when, three days before the planned baptism, Clark told them that “there were members of the congregation who opposed Jack’s baptism” and the service would have to be temporarily cancelled.

“Jack’s baptism turned out to be the very opposite of what it should have been,” McCaffrey wrote on Facebook. “It became about Jack having two dads, rather than a community opening its arms to a joyful little soul, one of God’s children.”

McCaffrey’s Facebook post has been shared more than 1,000 times as of Wednesday afternoon.

After the news spread, Bishop Greg Brewer of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida, where St. Luke is located, contacted McCaffrey to make amends, according to Joe Thoma, communications director for the diocese.

Thoma said Brewer was “caught by surprise” when he learned of the baptism’s cancellation and wanted to repair the situation. After Brewer and McCaffrey spoke on the phone Sunday, the two released a joint statement saying they would not give any interviews or comments “to protect the privacy of their conversation.” (McCaffrey did not respond to a Facebook message requesting comment.) The two are scheduled to meet again Thursday and release a joint statement on Friday, Thoma said.

Clark called the cancelled baptism a “regrettable misunderstanding” in an article in Episcopal Cafe, a Web site focused on church matters. “I’ve reached out to them so that we might resolve the misunderstanding and make this right moving forward,” he told the site.

Thoma said that Clark was “supportive” of Brewer’s meeting with McCaffrey. Clark’s office told The Huffington Post Wednesday that Clark was out of town and unable to comment on the incident.

While the episode has put the church into the “public glare,” Thoma said, it also created an “opportunity to reconnect and connect with many people one-on-one” on the issue of LGBT inclusion in the church — something that McCaffrey said had been thrown into question.

“Is this how the church loves its neighbors and respects the dignity of human beings?” he wrote on Facebook. “Or are we only afforded that respect and dignity if you fit the church’s view of what a family is?”

There may yet be a happy outcome for the family, but McCaffrey has already taken some lessons for his son from the experience.

“Do not be fearful of what you don’t know,” McCaffrey wrote near the end of his post. “Keep your heart and mind open to diversity among people, thoughts and experiences.”

Narcissism Kills—A Lesson From the Germanwings Plane Crash Tragedy

by Dr. Rick Fitzgibbons via Aleteia.org

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A burning question in the minds of millions of people is why Andreas Lubitz deliberately crashed a jetliner into the Alps killing himself and 149 innocent passengers.

Early reports indicate that he was struggling with depression about his career lead many people to erroneously conclude that this illness caused his actions. Severe depression and hopelessness lead to self-destructive behaviors and rare violent actions against others, but not to massive killing.

If it wasn’t depression, then what was it that drove Lubitz’s evil behavior?

His former girlfriend of seven months has given us important clues. She has related that he said, “One day I’m going to do something that will change the whole system, and everyone will know my name and remember.” She has stated that if he deliberately brought down the plane, “it is because he understood that because of his health problems (most likely with his vision), his big dream of a job at Lufthansa, as captain and as a long-haul pilot was practically impossible.”

When she felt unable to deal with his growing problems and his increasingly volatile temper any more, she ended the relationship. She related, “During conversations he’d suddenly throw a tantrum and scream at me. I was afraid. He even once locked me in the bathroom for a long time.”

He appeared to have made a desperate last attempt to win her back by buying her a brand new Audi car only weeks ago. She apparently said no, as the car was never delivered.

In some individuals, when it becomes clear that they cannot have what they want and feel entitled to, they develop severe anger and go into a rage against others, including murderous behaviors. Others engage in the violent act of rape because they feel entitled to sex.

What is the psychological conflict that causes this maladaptive thinking and emotional and behavioral responses? It is the most extreme form of selfishness, described in the mental health field as narcissism. This progression is comparable to the common struggle with anger—its most severe manifestation is a sociopathic, criminal personality.

Academic psychologists Twenge and Campbell  have described the alarming growing narcissism in the culture in the their book,Narcissism Epidemic: Living in an Age of Entitlement. Narcissism results in an exaggerated sense of self-importance, grandiose thinking, an exaggerated desire to be recognized, and intense rage in some when they do not obtain what they desire.

Lubitz essentially told his girlfriend that if he could not be recognized as an important international pilot with Lufthansa, he would find another way to make a name for himself in the aeronautics industry. He succeeded in his goal by now being identified as one of the greatest villains in aeronautical history.

In our clinical experience, narcissism is rarely identified as a source of sadness, anger, and violent impiulses. In fact, it was only in thesecond edition of our American Psychological Association textbookon the treatment of anger through forgiveness therapy in 2015 that we identified it as a major source of anger in children and in adults. In 2000 we did not fully understand its role in the development of excessive anger in psychiatric disorders.

Now, given the epidemic of narcissism in the culture, we attempt to evaluate its influence in all patients with mood, behavior and personality disorders.

Selfishness from a Christian perspective has its origin in the Fall and Original Sin. Parents do not have to teach toddlers to shout “Mine!” when an object they desire is held by someone else. It is only at three-and-a-half to four years of age, after much patient correction and good example by parents, that children are finally willing to take turns and share with others.

The significant dangers of self-love used to be communicated in our churches, families, and schools as an important aspect of personality development. We were taught that the dangers of self-love could even lead to hatred of God, as Saint Augustine warned. But decades of pop psychology promoting inflated self-esteem, indulgent parenting, and moral relativism have made “me first” normative.

Selfishness needs to be recognized as having a harmful effect upon all of us. Pope Benedict XVI compared its action to the effect of gravity: selfishness pulls all of us spiritually earthward, making it harder for us to break free and pursue a life of love and service to others, rather than being in the Pope’s words “a prisoner of the self.”

In this narcissistic culture it is a destroyer of marriages, family relationships, sexual morality, loving relationships in singles, friendships, the unborn, and faith.

The good news is that a daily commitment to grow in virtues, particularly generosity and self-denial, and in grace, can lead to a mastery over selfishness and anger and prevent the development of narcissism.

Rick Fitzgibbons, MD, is the director of Comprehensive Counseling Services and the Institute for Marital Healing outside Philadelphia. Trained in psychiatry at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Child Guidance Center, he co-authored Helping Clients Forgive: An Empirical Guide for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope with Dr. Robert D. Enright, University of Wisconsin, Madison, for American Psychological Association Books. 

Germanwings Co-Pilot Appears to Have Rehearsed Fatal Dive, Report Says

A note from Al:

People are still mystified by Address Lubitz’ actions. Apart from biochemical problems in his brain chemistry, there may just as well be a psychiatric problem that has great moral significance: narcissism.

Additional reading:

Article: Narcissism Kills – Dr. Rick Fitzgibbons

Book: The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement

- Al Kresta

by Nicola Clark via NYTimes.com

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PARIS — Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot suspected of deliberately flying a German airliner into the French Alps, appears to have rehearsed the plane’s fatal dive during an earlier flight on the day of the crash, the French authorities said in a preliminary report published on Wednesday.

The initial findings by the Bureau of Investigations and Analyses, known by its French abbreviation B.E.A., show that the co-pilot repeatedly set the Germanwings plane’s altitude to 100 feet during its outbound flight to Barcelona, Spain, from Düsseldorf, Germany, on March 24.

The maneuvers, which were captured by the plane’s flight data recorder, took place while the flight’s captain had left the cockpit temporarily.

“To us, it is clear that this was some kind of rehearsal,” Rémi Jouty, the director of the B.E.A., said in a telephone interview. “We see the same actions being taken in the same circumstances, at a moment when the co-pilot was alone in the cockpit.”

The new information contained in the 29-page report provides further evidence suggesting that the 27-year-old co-pilot crashed the Airbus A320 intentionally after locking the captain out of the cockpit, killing himself and 149 others, on its return leg to Düsseldorf.

An initial analysis of a cockpit audio recording retrieved from one of the plane’s so-called black boxes just days after the crash led a French prosecutor to declare that Mr. Lubitz had acted deliberately.

Investigations by the German police later revealed that Mr. Lubitz had a history of severe depression dating from at least 2009, and that he had scoured the Internet for methods of committing suicide in the days before his final flight.

The French report indicates that Mr. Lubitz’s trial run was so fleeting that it went undetected by air traffic controllers, who had already given instructions for a moderate descent to 35,000 feet from 37,000 feet. The flight’s captain, Patrick Sondenheimer, also apparently did not notice the maneuvers, which occurred about 20 minutes into the flight and while the captain was out of the cockpit for roughly five minutes.

The report says that the co-pilot selected a target altitude of 100 feet “several times” for durations ranging from a few seconds to up to three minutes during the captain’s absence.

French investigators did not try to explain Mr. Lubitz’s actions, but they were unambiguous about his role in the crash.

“We cannot presume what was going on in his mind,” Mr. Jouty said. “But based on all the information that we have gathered so far, we can affirm, categorically, that this crash was the result of an intentional act, a series of steps that, taken together, all point in the same direction.”

The report notes similarities between his control inputs on the two flights and, in its analysis of the second, ill-fated flight, supports the French prosecutor’s initial conclusions. The co-pilot “intentionally modified the autopilot instructions to order the airplane to descend until it collided with the terrain,” according to the report.

“He did not open the cockpit door during the descent, despite requests for access made via the keypad, the cabin interphone and knocks on the door,” it said.

In the wake of the crash, Germany established a task force of aviation, medical and government experts to study the circumstances that led to the fatal descent and how it might have been averted.

Last month, two working groups met to discuss possible changes to cockpit door security systems and to review the standards for monitoring pilots’ mental health. The group expects to publish its initial findings before the summer.

The European Commission in Brussels is also expected in the coming days to announce the formation of a high-level working group that will propose rules intended to prevent similar disasters. Although Mr. Lubitz is the highest-profile example of pilot suicide, his was not an isolated case. Over the past two decades, a series of fatal airline crashes have been attributed to deliberate actions by the pilot.

The B.E.A. investigation is limited solely to determining the facts of the case and to making recommendations to safety regulators with the intent to reduce the risk of a similar episode. Unlike the separate criminal inquiry being conducted by French prosecutors, it will not seek to apportion legal responsibility for the crash.

France is one of a handful of countries that routinely seek criminal indictments in air accidents, regardless of whether there is clear evidence of criminal intent or negligence. Such indictments typically target the airline, legal experts said, but they can include individuals.

Any criminal case against Germanwings and its parent company, Lufthansa, will hinge on whether prosecutors can prove that the airline was negligent in its oversight of Mr. Lubitz.

Evidence uncovered by German prosecutors after the crash indicates that Mr. Lubitz had sought treatment for psychological issues in the months before the flight, but that he had hidden his illness from his employer.

Lufthansa has admitted that Mr. Lubitz informed the company of a previous episode of severe depression, which had led him to interrupt his pilot training for several months in 2009. Mr. Lubitz was reinstated after an evaluation by a flight doctor found him fit to return to the cockpit. But the airline does not appear to have imposed any special monitoring of him beyond the minimum required for any pilot who had a flagged health issue.

The French report says that Mr. Lubitz started his basic training at the Bremen campus of Lufthansa’s prestigious flight school in September 2008, but suspended it just two months later for “medical reasons.”

He did not resume his training until late August 2009.

During his absence, Lufthansa’s flight doctors twice refused to certify Mr. Lubitz as fit to fly, citing his depression and the medicine that had been prescribed to treat it.

According to the French report, a Lufthansa doctor informed Germany’s Federal Aviation Office, which licenses pilots, that Mr. Lubitz had been denied medical clearance on July 14, 2009.

But two weeks later, he received a valid “Class 1” medical certificate that noted that he had a medical condition, although it did not specify whether it was related to a psychological issue. The flag instructed flight doctors to contact the aviation office before evaluating Mr. Lubitz for his required annual physical.

Barbara Schädler, a Lufthansa spokeswoman, declined to comment on the French report. A spokeswoman for the German regulator did not immediately respond to telephone calls or emails requesting comment.

Because of Germany’s strict privacy laws, the details of Mr. Lubitz’s condition and of his treatment were never shared with Lufthansa managers. Flight doctors who examined him after his reinstatement reported no signs that his depression had returned — something that would have set off an alert to the airline and to German regulators.

But documents made public last week showed that Mr. Lubitz’s depression did catch the attention of American regulators. The Federal Aviation Administration raised questions about his fitness to fly in 2010, when he sought a student pilot’s license to continue his training at a Lufthansa-owned flight school in Arizona.

According to the documents, the F.A.A. ultimately granted Mr. Lubitz a license after a doctor in Germany certified that he had recovered fully and was no longer taking antidepressants.

The French report indicates that Mr. Lubitz was in Arizona for four months, from November 2010 until March 2011, before returning to Germany. He continued his flight training while also working under contract as a Lufthansa flight attendant for another two years, significantly longer than the 11 months that the airline had previously disclosed, before being hired by Germanwings.

He did not become a fully licensed commercial pilot until February 2014, barely more than a year before he crashed the plane into a mountainside.

Given the worldwide attention the crash has received, French prosecutors are widely expected to move ahead with a criminal indictment, despite some diplomatic pressure to transfer the case to a German court. Brice Robin, the prosecutor in Marseille who is in charge of the investigation, is expected to reach a formal decision about whether to proceed before the summer.

“I cannot imagine that the prosecutor would close this case,” said Stéphane Gicquel, secretary general of Fenvac, a French association that represents the families of accident and disaster victims. “It is too high-profile.”

We Could Use a Little Fire and Brimstone

A note from Al:

Here’s a piece that follows up on yesterday’s article “The Catholic Church Young People Actually Want.” –  Al Kresta

by David Mills via Aleteia.org

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It was his senior year, said the oldest man sitting round the table in the pub, and the first day of religion class in his Catholic high school the teacher handed out thin paperbacks printed on cheap paper. They’d had a real textbook the year before. A younger man remembered studying doctrine one year and coloring pictures the next. And the youngest at the table, a new father in his late twenties, said that all he’d known in his CCD classes was the lite version.

My companions at dinner were all victims of a revolution in catechetics. What most struck me as they talked was how sentimental was the teaching, and how light and thin it was. It sounded frivolous. The teachers may have loved the Church and the Faith, but they taught Catholicism as if it were a subject they didn’t really care about and didn’t expect their students to care about either.

The materials and methods made the Catholic Church look like one of those companies that makes products no one wants anymore and keep lowering the price in the hope — a hope even the salesmen feel is vain — that people will buy their stuff anyway. The catechetical authorities sounded like people who’d taken seriously Mary Poppins’ advice that a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down and decided to keep reducing the medicine and increasing the sugar.

It was fundamentally un-serious. The oldest man remembered even at the time noticing the symbolism of the big heavy hardbound book he carried to biology class and the small floppy paperback. Biology was an important subject to be mastered with effort, Catholicism wasn’t.

When I looked at Christianity as a fairly secular teenager, I was looking for something serious, something dramatic, something that mattered. Very early on the Catholic Church impressed me as the most serious version of Christianity. What her critics saw as faults, especially her dogmatism and her moral rules, I saw as signs that she knew life was a game to be played for keeps and that winning and losing meant everything. In a world that could be so frivolous about so much, even the ends of human life, she stood for the belief that the way we live means something ultimate.

That’s still true, but even so, I wish normal Catholic life were more overtly serious in this sense. I would find it a great help in not sinking into the complacency that seems to be our, or at least my, natural mode of spiritual life. (I exclude my own pastor from this, and others I know.)

We ought to hear a lot more about sin and the broad road to Hell, for example, than we do. And about Purgatory too. We don’t get a sense from most preaching and Catholic writing that our choices actually matter. We move in only one direction, and that’s up. God is infinitely indulgent (which is not the same thing as infinitely loving). He is always ready to let us back in apparently without our having to repent, as long as we feel regretful. Sins don’t leave a mark.

In all the homilies on the Parable of the Prodigal Son I’ve heard, the priest has always emphasized the father’s welcome, and sometimes touched on the older brother’s resentment. It is indeed a story about God’s never-ending love for us, but it is also the story of the prodigal son’s return, and that I’ve never heard spoken of.

The son had to walk a long way as a starving man with no money to get to his father. He hadn’t just moved into town and started partying, he had travelled to a far-off land. It was a long way back and getting home cost him. And when he finally got home, he had to tell his father he was sorry even after his father embraced him. Returning home didn’t make his life as it had been before. Although his father forgave him for rebelling, he’d thrown away his inheritance and picked up who knows what diseases.

That’s a drama. It’s a story of sin and redemption that could have ended without the redemption. It’s a story of choices that mattered and mattered both in this life and the next. The prodigal son could have died in that far-off land. He could have been too proud or too invested in his sins to return home. The Parable of the Prodigal Son tells us that life is a serious thing, and that reconciliation costs us, but that’s not the way it’s usually preached.

How often do we hear anything remotely like C. S. Lewis’s words inMere Christianity about the ultimate importance of every choice we make? “Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different than it was before,” he wrote.

And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state of the other.

That also describes a drama. It’s also a warning to stay alert at all times and a promise of a great reward if we do. It’s a reminder that life is a serious affair.

I can guess why the softer versions of Catholicism appealed to so many. It wasn’t just the sixties, liberalism, compromising clerics, and the other reasons often given. Older friends have told me stories of growing up with a harsh, cold version of Catholicism, something out of the stereotypes. They needed to hear the gospel as good news. Priests have told me of the number of people they see who are paralyzed by guilt and the feeling God can’t possibly love them (as well as the ones who feel no guilt at all). They need to hear about the Father who runs to embrace them.

Still, we need more seriousness. Many of us laymen need it, because we need all the help we can get to seek first the Kingdom of God as Our Lord instructed us and not shuffle along expecting everything to turn out all right anyway.

The world needs it as well. A materialistic world is a world that has trouble being serious, whether we’re talking about materialism as a philosophical position or a consumerist practice. It tends to be a world in which few things really matter. People have an instinct for meaning, a sense that this world is not all there is and that what they do should count for something beyond their death.

Speaking Out About the Transgender ‘Delusion’

by Brian Fraga via NCRegister.org

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Walt Heyer lived for eight years as a woman named Laura Jensen.

Having suffered from gender-identity disorder since he was a child, Heyer was a married, successful businessman when he underwent cosmetic surgery to alter his sex  at age 42.

However, Heyer said surgery and hormone treatment failed to address his underlying psychological issues. After undergoing therapy, attaining sobriety and turning his life to Christ, Heyer says he was able to accept his biology and return to living as a man.

Heyer, now 74 and married to his second wife for 18 years, is an author and public speaker who devotes his life to helping others who regret their choice to undergo what is known as “gender-reassignment surgery.”

A nondenominational Christian, Heyer has told his story in the novel Kid Dakota and the Secret at Grandma’s House and in his autobiography, A Transgender’s Faith. He also spreads awareness through his blog, WaltHeyer.com, and website, SexChangeRegret.com.

Courtesy of Walt Heyer

Heyer discussed his journey in a recent interview with the Register. Heyer also offered his thoughts on whether American society has reached a tipping point on the “transgender issue” in the wake of Bruce Jenner’s April 24 interview with ABC News, during which the Olympic gold-medal athlete and reality-television star described his lifelong struggle with “gender dysphoria.”

Has society reached a tipping point, a so-called transgender moment?

If we just look at the media, which has great influence and power, and look at what they’re putting out there, then one would certainly think that we’re at a tipping point. However, I think if you dig into society, aside from the media, most people would say that the whole gender-change thing is dubious, in terms of really thinking anyone can change genders. I think there’s much more of a media selling point. It’s like great advertising for gender change, but I think, still, the majority of people are skeptical that it’s effective.

What did you think of Bruce Jenner’s interview and his statements on being “transgender,” including his comment that he has a female soul?

Well, keep in mind I was right where he was at one time, so I don’t want to minimize or degrade anything that he’s saying. But people who are in the throes of trying to switch from one [sex] to the other will say anything, absolutely anything, to convince people that what they’re doing is because they have to. Part of what his dialogue was about was much like mine was at the time. We’re trying to convince ourselves that it’s actually necessary.

What I saw was somebody desperately trying to sell the audience with “I’ve been struggling with this all my life. Finally, I’m going to be fine.” But then, if you look at his ambiguity, he was not willing to identify a female name. He said, “Yeah, I’m a man, but I have the soul and brain of a woman.” All those are things that no one can prove.

It’s very hard when you just look at a glass TV screen and listen to what somebody is trying to sell you — that is a gender change. What deeper issues does he have? He hid a lot of these things for years. “What else is he hiding?” is my question. There are too many things to consider: What is motivating him to do this when he’s 65 years old?

What do you say when Jenner and other people who identify as “transgender” say this is something that they’ve felt their entire lives?

I know a lot of individuals, and I was one of them, who were cross-dressed at a young age. And Jenner cross-dressed himself. One of the things that happens is we start to fantasize about what it’s going to be like. If we obsess about it or ruminate about it for a long period of time, we begin to develop our own gender-identity disorder if we choose to, if it becomes fun and somehow exciting and exhilarating. I can say it was true for me, and it’s fun for others; but down the road, that feeling goes away, and then you’re left with something very different than excitement: You’re left with depression.

What do you say to the American Psychiatric Association’s decision in 2012 to replace “gender-identity disorder” with “gender dysphoria” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)?

It is true that “gender dysphoria,” in of itself, is not a psychiatric disorder. The problem with the statement is that we know for a fact that people who migrate toward a transgender life are people who suffer from comorbid [two or more] disorders, and those are psychiatric issues and psychological issues. Every last one of them needs to be diagnosed and treated, and it doesn’t get diagnosed and treated, because they [APA experts] pulled the top one out, the “gender dysphoria,” and said, “Well, if you’re gender dysphoric, then you’re fine just the way you are.”

The problem is no one is dealing with the dissociative disorder, the bipolar disorders, the schizophrenia, excessive compulsive [issues] and all those other psychological disorders that make up the driving cause for people desiring to change sexes.

The other thing most people are not aware of is the question of why transgender was taken out of the DSM. It was taken out not for any other reason but for the purpose of political activism. The DSM has become the greatest political tool for the advancing of Kinsey and his 1947-48 moves to make every kind of sex available to anybody, because he believed any kind of sex was good sex. … It didn’t matter what it was.

How old were you when you first began experiencing signs of a gender-identity disorder?

My grandmother began cross-dressing me when I was 4 years old, and she did that until I was probably about 6 1/2 years old. She even made me a beautiful, purple chiffon evening dress. She fawned all over me when I was dressed like that. She loved me as a little girl, not so much as a boy. I took the dress home when I was probably 6 1/2. I was not allowed to go back to [see] my grandmother because my dad, who was a part-time police officer, exploded when he found out. My mom was horrified at what her mother was doing. It was a secret all that time. I was supposed to keep the secret.

Once you plant the seed, it grows. You’re fostering gender dysphoria from the first time you put a dress on, not much different than the first time a drug addict takes the drug. He’s hooked. There’s very little difference when someone cross-dresses like [Jenner] did. You get hooked.

How and when did you decide to go through “sex reassignment” surgery and live as a woman?

I told my first wife that I was struggling with it, just like [Jenner] said, and we just kind of blew it off and said, “It’ll be fine.” [I thought] “She can fix me,” and [figured] that once I got married and had kids, the feelings would go away.

But you keep it a secret, and it’s the secret that really becomes the issue, because you’re trying to hide it from everybody, all the family and everybody else. Everybody copes in a different way. I coped by using alcohol. But I was very successful. I had a wonderful career in aerospace. I worked on the Apollo space missions. I was an automobile executive with a very large, $300-million corporation at that time. But I was using alcohol to suppress or cope with my feelings about changing gender, but the truth is, it probably did nothing but enhance it. So by the time I had been married 17 years, like Jenner, I had had enough, and I decided to change genders.

How did you realize that living as a woman was not the answer?

I lived eight years as a female. I had a successful career, working-wise, as a female for eight years. But I realized after studying psychology that no one can change genders. That’s the first thing you learn when you break the delusional disorder down. It is a delusion to think you can change genders. You can’t. It’s total nonsense. You can live in a masquerade, and the surgeries make it look like you changed genders, but you actually don’t.

When I came to that realization, then I began considering the Lord. I started studying and working toward that goal of having my identity in Christ instead of in my gender. It took a while. I got treated for my dissociative disorder by a psychotherapist. I was able to come into a relationship with Jesus Christ. My life was restored back to my birth gender, and I’ve lived that way for over 20 years now.

Psychotherapy was the key, along with Jesus Christ, in restoring my life: psychotherapy to get my head screwed back on correctly, and I discovered that when I was studying psychology at university in California. Once you begin to get a clear head, you start to get your sanity back; then you realize God didn’t make a mistake and that you need to turn your life over to Christ. At least that’s what it was for me.

How does your Christian faith influence the way you now approach the “transgender” issue?

I look at it like it’s a community of people who are psychologically disturbed, and they need psychological treatment. But because activists are trying to prevent them from having psychological treatment, they are going to stay unhealthy psychologically.

A fair-minded person would look at the staggering attempted-suicide rate, which is somewhere between 40% and 50% [for gender-confused people]. You’d stop and say psychologically healthy people, under the worst conditions in their lives, don’t attempt suicide. It’s only unhealthy people, psychologically, who are so unprepared for what life throws at them that [makes them] just give up on life. So we’re dealing with a small population of people who are not receiving good psychotherapy. They are people who believe that they can change genders, so they’re delusional from the start, and no one is going to diagnose them with a disorder until after they have surgery, in most cases, because all the psychotherapists are afraid to say anything. They’re handcuffed and fearful of losing their licenses.

How did you attain a different view of your sex?

It took a lot of work. It probably took two years to unravel all the nonsense. I had to go to Alcoholics Anonymous. I had to stop drinking. I had to start going into therapy. I had to start thinking about who really is in charge of my gender, which is the Lord. You begin to start putting all these pieces together. Certainly, sobriety, not drinking, and being in psychotherapy is a good start for anybody to gain some psychological health and begin to get  sanity back.

How did turning to Christ help you deal with your own sexual-identity issues?

I had a vision of Christ. I met with a Christian therapist in his office. He said, “Let’s pray,” so he began to pray. All of a sudden, during that time, the Lord Jesus Christ actually appeared to me. He came to me with his arms stretched out. I saw myself as a baby. I saw the Lord, all dressed in white, his arms outstretched, and he grabbed me as a baby and cradled me in both of his arms and held me to his chest, and said, “You are now safe with me forever.” Then he went out of the room, and he was gone. And from that moment forward, I was redeemed, restored and healed.

That was the redeeming moment. From then on, I’ve been serving him to try to help others not fall into the pit of having their bodies mutilated by surgeons who are doing it for the money. I doubt that any person actually needs surgery. I get letters all the time from so many people who regret it, and many [who identify as] transgenders today send me letters thanking me for what I’m doing.

You remarried after resuming your life as a man. How has that been?

I have a great relationship with my wife. You don’t stay married very long if you don’t have a good relationship. I even have a very good relationship with my first wife, and so does my current wife, who is the editor on everything that I write. She has an MBA from Berkeley, and she’s brilliant. She’s the driving force behind me getting out there [to tell my story].

How to overcome the Good Samaritan Syndrome

A note from Al:

The spiritual and corporal works of mercy provide an antidote to the problem pierce describes. None of us can exercise all of the spiritual and corporal works. We have areas of giftedness and talent. Those are the areas we must cultivate. and simply die to the possibility that we can do all. We aren’t God. We are not even Atlas, trying to shoulder the world. Dorothy Day is also a good guide in applying this insight.’

- Al Kresta

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by Gregory F. Augustine Pierce via NCRonline.org

The story of the good Samaritan has always challenged me. In fact, it has become my spirituality touchstone. My bottom line is: Do I regularly help the guy out of the ditch or not?

When the Samaritan businessman traveled down the dangerous road from Jerusalem to Jericho and encountered a man set upon by robbers, he did what every one of us wants to do: He helped the victim. He didn’t just call 911 or put a couple of bucks in the guy’s begging cup. He pulled him out of the ditch, put him in his own car, delivered him to the closest thing to an emergency room they had in those days, paid for his care, and checked on him a few days later on his return trip.

Wouldn’t we all like to do what that good Samaritan did whenever we come across someone in dire need? Yes, but we are all but paralyzed by what I call the Good Samaritan Syndrome.

That syndrome is the result of modern communications that bombard our eyes with countless people dying in ditches every day. It’s all right in front of us all the time, on TV or the Internet or in almost every book, magazine and news source we read. Tsunamis in the Pacific, Ebola in Africa, ISIS in the Middle East, global warming, human trafficking, dire poverty, intractable homelessness … I give up.

Those are just the big ones from the news. Then there is all the personal tragedy we encounter. A father dies too young because he didn’t receive good health care, a child is born with a birth defect, a woman stands by the side of the road with jumper cables in her hands. Your kids need help, your elderly parents need help, your neighbor needs help, strangers need help.

I swear sometimes that if the good Samaritan were around today, he would figure out a bypass to Jericho.

Is there any way to overcome the Good Samaritan Syndrome and be effective? Jesus’ good Samaritan couldn’t have helped everyone in the world either. He wouldn’t even been aware of all the people that needed his help, and even if he did, he wouldn’t have had the means.

We do know and we do have means, but the syndrome tempts us to tune out entirely because we can’t follow our instinct to help everybody. Our challenge is to make hard judgments about where we can help most meaningfully.

For me, the best remedy for the Good Samaritan Syndrome is in community organization. Since I left college, I have been involved in congregationally-based organizing through the Industrial Areas Foundation, the largest network of local faith and community organizations in the U.S. First I was an organizer myself, and then a volunteer leader. It is the only way I have discovered to help people without burning myself out.

Let me give you just one example: gun violence.

Like you, I watch in horror the latest mass shootings and the almost nightly killings, and I want to do something, anything, to help. That is a good instinct, one I don’t want to lose. Leviticus says that I am not to stand idly by while the blood of my neighbor is being shed. But what on earth am I to do?

Because my church is a member of United Power for Action and Justice in Chicago and because United Power is an affiliate of the national Industrial Areas Foundation, I can do something. I can’t do everything, but I can do something.

What I was able to do is help organize a national campaign we call “Do Not Stand Idly By” to pressure gun manufacturers to become part of the solution to gun violence, rather than remain part of the problem. We are organizing congregations of all faiths and denominations to join us in this effort. Is it the only way? No. Will it work? I don’t know. Might it work? Yes. Do I need to be involved in it? Absolutely.

Good Samaritans suffering from the syndrome of “too many people and causes to help” can find this avenue effective on all kinds of concerns. It has these advantages:

It is a collective effort rather than an individual effort. The good Samaritan has to organize a League of Good Samaritans if he (or she) is going to clean up that dangerous road to Jericho.

It gets at the root causes of problems rather than merely dealing with the effects. The road to Jericho needs better police protection, not only generous Samaritans.

It can take a wider view and stick with an issue longer than any individual Samaritan can do.

So, I belong to a church and my church belongs to a community organization so that I can be an effective good Samaritan in the 21st century. That is where the rubber meets the road, where I choose to befriend my Good Samaritan Syndrome.

[Greg Pierce is the publisher of ACTA Publications in Chicago and the author of The World as It Should Be: Living Authentically in the Here-and-Now Kingdom of God.]

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