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Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – January 9, 2014

Talking about the "things that matter most" on January 

4:00 – Kresta Comments

4:40 – The Forest of Assassins
The Forest of Assassins is a great read, a novel as good as the best journalism, with vivid and accurate details driving a tale of danger and deception and betrayal during the Vietnam War. This book doesn't just feel researched, it feels lived. Whether tightening the suspense – our protagonist, Navy Lieutenant Hank Dillon eyeball to eyeball with a VC soldier and watching for the skin to whiten on the man’s finger curled around the trigger of his AK-47 – or describing the oppressive heat of an innocent afternoon on the Mekong Delta, David Forsmark and Timothy Imholt make you believe every word of it. Dave joins us.

5:00 – Why I Don’t Call Myself a Gay Christian
Daniel Mattson is a Roman Catholic, living with a homosexual inclination and committed to chastity. But he does not identify as “gay.” Rather, he says “I live with same-sex attraction.” He refuses to identify as gay because the label “gay” does not accurately describe who (or what) he is. More fundamentally, he refuses to use that label because he desires to be faithful to the theological anthropology of the Church. Dan joins us today.

5:40 – Challenges to the HHS “Contraception Mandate” Continue: Why and Where Do They Stand?A number of cases challenging the HHS co-called contraception mandate were heard and ruled on over the last two weeks. We talk to Rob Muise of the American Freedom Law Center and Erin Mersino of the Thomas More Law Center who are handling many of these cases.

Orthorexia–When “Eating Right” Goes Wrong

I read a fascinating article at Christianity Today about an interesting twist on problem eating.  …I’m equally concerned when I see how easily the devotion to ‘healthy’ and ‘righteous’ eating can take a pernicious turn and become legalistic, judgmental, isolating and even crippling. Not long ago, I met a woman who was deeply concerned about [Read More...]

Exposing the Lie: Marriage and Manipulating the Media

No doubt you’ve seen the headlines, Marriage Is Not an Antidote to Poverty.  It’s a lie–or at least wishful thinking.  If Marlboro came out with a pr campaign that said, “Anti-Smoking Efforts Fail to Curb Lung Cancer Rates” would you believe it?  Or would some part of you say, “Hmmm.  Maybe there is something else [Read More...]

New York Times Misunderstands the Little Sisters of the Poor

The most telling part of the editorial was its concluding paragraph, which reads (in full, with one interpolation by me): “like the cases of the private employers [such as Hobby Lobby], the suit by the nuns’ group boils down to an unjustified attempt by an employer to impose its religious views on workers.”
One could probably develop an entire course on what is wrong with this country’s liberal elite’s understanding, and valuation, of religious liberty out of that one sentence.
–Professor Gerard V. Bradley
Notre Dame School of Law
Gerard V. Bradley

Professor Gerry Bradley, noted scholar in the fields of constitutional law as well as law and religion, took issue with the New York Times’ report last Friday on the Obama Administration’s legal memorandum affirming its opposition to the complaint by the Little Sisters of the Poor.  The Sisters contend that they should not be forced to facilitate free distribution of contraceptives and abortifacients to any of their employees who might desire them.  “Among its many, many mistakes,” he writes of the NY Times' report:
“…are these three: First, even though the folks who run Hobby Lobby and other complaining for-profit companies are admirable people who also deserve relief from the HHS mandate, it is a dull mind indeed which can see no relevant difference between the Little Sisters of the Poor and a huge commercial chain store; two, employees are not made to accept, or to have “imposed” upon them, any religious view by dint of being expected to pay for their own abortifacient or contraceptive drugs; third, there is no basis for the Times’ imposition of “impose” upon the Little Sisters.
The Sisters’ tiny outfit does not belong to them. They do not make others endure or suffer for their — the Sisters, as “employer” — views by keeping alive the mission and purpose of the organization itself, as the Catholic charity that it is. That character (or charism, one might say) is the common property of everyone associated with it, from the Little Sister who is in authority to the Little Sister who scrubs the floors — and to everyone in between.  The identity and meaning of the entire outfit is shared by all who choose to join it; it is wholly a collaboration among all who toil therein for the purpose of serving those most in need.
Read the full article here.

Jesuits Dismiss One of Their Own

Fr. John Dear
dismissed from Jesuit order

A Jesuit priest who is well known for pacifism and civil disobedience has been dismissed by his religious order.

The Jesuit order has called Fr. John Dear, who has been arrested some 75 times for civil disobedience actions across the country during his 32 years as a Jesuit, “obstinately disobedient to the lawful order of Superiors in a grave matter."  Among the issues which Father Dear, a National Catholic Reporter columnist, has protested are U.S. policies on Latin America, nuclear weapons development, and the cooperation of Jesuit educational institutions with American military recruiting programs such as the ROTC.

According to a report in the National Catholic Reporter, the dismissal also raises the specter of Pope Francis, the first head of the Catholic church to belong to the Jesuit order, having to confirm the dismissal of one of the order's members.
Fr. George Murphy, rector of the order's community in Berkeley, Calif., called Father Dear "a fine man."  He said, "I think he was a little impulsive and I suspect he's still got a bit of that in him—but he's just got a keen sense of justice and a desire for peace in the world."
Father Dear, while no longer a member of the Jesuit order, is still an ordained priest.  However, he will be unable to serve in any public ministry until a diocesan bishop grants him faculties to minister in a particular diocese.   Father Dear says, in a column today announcing his dismissal from the Jesuits, said that he does not know whether any U.S. bishops will welcome him into their diocese, and he is unsure if he will remain a priest.
The National Catholic Reporter has the full story.

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – January 7

Talking about the "things that matter most" on January 7

4:00 – 6:00 – The “Lists” of 2013

Top ten lists. Everybody loves lists and this time of year is rife with lists. Today we talk about some list topics of interest to Catholics and ask you to participate. John Allen joins us on the most under-reported Catholic stories of 2013. Steven Greydanus looks at the best films of 2013. Al reviews the best and worst of reporting on Pope Francis. And we ask what content might be on the “top Catholic stories of the year” when we do this segment in January of 2015. 

“Manning Up.” The Truth About Masculinity

My son, Jacob, has a provocative post about masculinity at his website.  I think he offers some powerful insights on the confusing messages we send to boys about masculinity and how the theology of the body can help young men respond to those messages.   Here’s a sample… One of the biggest lies that the world [Read More...]

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – January 6

Talking about the "things that matter most" on January 6

Best of Kresta due to Michigan’s “Snowmageddon”  - Al snowed in

4:00 – Education in Virtue
The Disciple of Christ- Education in Virtue is a Christian curriculum structured on the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas regarding the virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit.  It aims to provide a consistent structure and systematic instruction for youth to learn about the virtues so that they can form the habits and dispositions necessary to live as disciples of Jesus Christ.  This curriculum emphasizes Christian discipleship as indispensable toward human flourishing and the quest for joy.  It has been developed in response to the call for a New Evangelization, firmly conveying the reality that happiness is found in a life of holiness. The genesis of the project, Sr. John Dominic of the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, is here to discuss it

4:40 – Kresta Comments

5:00 – Reflections on the Christian Life: How Our Story is
God’s Story
In our hearts, we know that every event in our lives is providential and that each of us plays a critical role in the unfolding of the story God has written. We believe that God's will is anchored deep within our soul, and so too is the desire to know it and to live it. Acclaimed Catholic author Anthony Esolen claims that the story of your life has already been written and can be discovered by considering the life and person of Jesus. Only in God does the world possess meaning, and therefore, only in relation to God, are our lives genuine stories. He is here to discuss his proposition.

What Do Pope JPII, Pope BXVI, and a Lesbian Feminist Have in Common? (Guest post by Dave McClow)

In a WSJ interview with Bari Weiss, Camille Paglia, a self-described “notorious Amazon feminist” who is identified as a lesbian and a mom, actually sees that we have a problem with how we view men in our culture.  This is the theme I discussed in my previous blog, “Towards a Theology of Authentic Masculinity.”  She [Read More...]

A Gay Man Agrees With Phil Robertson

The author of this guest post has asked that we not use his real name.  Living in an environment in which merely supporting the Biblical worldview could bring charges of “homophobia”, he fears the effect it would have on his career and his social relationships.  Let’s just call him “Bob”.
Here is his story.

*     *     *     *     *
I am “gay” and I agree with Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty.
If free speech and equal rights actually do exist, then I would hope that people will not try to silence what I am about to say.
It goes like this: I am “gay” and I agree 100% with Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty.
He has my support, and more importantly he has my prayers. Every single person (including myself) out there needs to further wake up to the magnitude of what is happening, and realize that “a prayer is worth more than a posting”, and that we need to pray first and foremost before anything else. Pray for what? Pray that people will wake the heck up, and see that they are being lied to and that there is more to the story…but I am not talking about Duck Dynasty or Phil Robertson, I am talking about the topic of homosexuality.
In short, the culture of this day tries to have it both ways. They promote the idea that “I define me”, which is fine – it is accurate to say we can choose to embrace any particular identity. However, the culture also promotes the idea that just because you experience a certain type of attractions, you must self-identify in a particular way (if you want to be honest with yourself, that is). The culture closes the door on people even being able to become aware that the attractions we experience are not the same thing as the identities we choose to embrace. That is, the culture of this day lies to us by not differentiating our non-specifically chosen sexual attractions, from the specific choice that we make when we embrace an identity as our own. One more time, because it is THAT important, the culture says that “being gay” (or “being straight”) is “who you are”, when in reality, it is not who you are, unless you make it who you are, by specifically choosing to wholeheartedly self-identify and define yourself in that way.
What does this all boil down to? The matter of elevating the conversation.
Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty spoke about homosexual behaviour, but is there a bigger question to look at?
When Pope Francis talked about not judging gay people, it seemed as though it was the first time the media was exposed to the idea that the attractions we experience are not the same thing as the way we specifically choose to self-identify and define ourselves. Whether Catholic or Christian non-Catholic such as Phil Robertson, as Christians we are taught to self-identify not according to any single facet of our being, whether it be sexuality or otherwise. Why? The reason is simple… we are more that our sexualities.
This short video will help explain what that means a little better…(more article below the video)

A Matter of Identity
To self-identify and define ourselves according to our sexualities is not a way in which we can reflect the fullness of who we are. To self-identify according to one facet of our beings (in this case, our sexualities) is to self-identify in a reductionist fashion – we reduce ourselves and our sense of purpose to be tied to our reductionist self-concept. Rather than self-identifying and defining ourselves according to one facet of our beings, or less than the fullness of our beings (in this case our sexualities), we as Christians are called to self-identify and define ourselves first and foremost according tothe fullness of our beings – as persons – persons who are equal in dignity and worth in the eyes of God. That is, we are called to self-identify and to identify others not according to our sexualities, but rather as persons – persons who are all beloved children of God (regardless of one’s attractions or the life-journey one has taken thus far).
God’s love is for all persons, and this is a truth I discovered in the Catholic Church – in the last place the world taught that I should even look! Amidst a world that was telling me that the Catholic Church could never love someone like me, it was in there that I found the greatest love. It was in there that I was invited to uninhibitedly pursue a greater degree of truth about myself. I never received that invitation from anywhere outside the Church. With people loving me enough to walk with me on my journey, I came to realize on my own terms that serving Christ meant to be open to the virtue of chastity (different than celibacy). I came to further understand that, as the virtue of chastity is a Christian virtue, all true Christians should have zero problem with affirming people into growing further in the virtue of chastity. This matters because the whole mess of today has less to do with “who is gay”, “who is straight”, or what anyone thinks about that, and more to do with who upholds the idea that we should be open to growing in the virtue of chastity? That is where we should concentrate our energy. That is why I stand in support of Phil Robertson – even if he doesn’t stand for the virtue of chastity in all areas, he also doesn’t pander to the drones of the world who have bought the idea that one can uphold the virtue of chastity while self-identifying according to their sexuality, or while pursuing sexual acts (fantasy or physical) that are designed for mere gratification (even if it is mutually agreed-upon objectification).
Our Voices Have Been Silenced
Anyway, when I say “I’m gay”, I begrudgingly use that word knowing full well that people will think that I am someone who might be marching in a gay pride parade, and who is saying “being gay is who I am, and I want the world to know, so I can feel good about myself.” However, I will not be doing that – not for any reason of shame (I harbor no shame or guilt), but rather because I simply specifically choose to not self-identify and define myself in that way. Persons and groups who will try to silence persons like us will inform the public that we are the ones who are being dishonest with ourselves (dishonest about what, I don’t know, because we are perfectly honest with ourselves about the existence of our attractions). The fact of the matter is, doing that is the best strategy the entire pro-gay movement has, because if people like me were actually given a voice or were taken seriously, we would blow the lid off of the lies they are promoting. Thankfully, more and more people are “coming out” of “coming out”. In other words, more and more people are sick of being lied to. I know I am.
Pray, Pray, Pray
The fact of the matter is that we all have room to learn on this topic – correction: we all have lots to learn. However, unless we start asking bigger questions, we will remain entrenched in cyclical arguments with each other that will get us nowhere. Wait a minute – that is actually not entirely true. It is true that we will not get anywhere positive, but we will certainly earn a deficit. Why? Because engaging in that cycle immobilizes the good people of the world in arguments that will be relatively fruitless (relying on ourselves rather than trusting God). I would invite all people of the Christian world to enter fervent prayer (for hearts to be opened to growing in understanding of this topic), and I also invite everyone to elevate the conversation by using clarified language. Think about it – not clarifying our use of language leads to ambiguity in communication. Do we not owe it to ourselves to clarify our speech if we have any regard to truth and pursuing greater self-honesty? I think we do, and thus I think clarifying the way in which we speak is an absolute necessity – especially in this time and age. Further, clarifying how we speak about this shines a light on the falsehood that is promoted by our culture that just because I experience x, that means I am x (this falsehood is of course the cornerstone of the movement itself).
Square Watermelons?

With that, I invite you to into a learning journey; an uninhibited learning journey, where you are free to peruse all sources, not just the kinds that might “suit my motives”. I invite you into this knowing full well that this invitation will not be given by “the other guys”. It cannot be given by the other guys, because uninhibited questioning, leads to the discovery of the unanswerable questions…and with regards to homosexuality and the social movement that is sweeping the globe. It does not take long to reveal the ugly truth – the truth that identity embraced means a heck of a lot more to the movement than simply being honest about the existence of one’s attractions. We know this already on account of the insistence that our young people embrace the gay “identity” as “who they are”, so they can grow into this type of identity.

However, to embrace an identity is far beyond the matter of simply being honest with oneself about the existence of one’s attractions. Furthermore, to embrace a reductionist identity is to place limiting parameters on yourself and your self-concept. At this point I am always reminded of those “square” watermelons that are on those “Meanwhile in Japan” memes. Really, they are just watermelons that have grown into the parameters that have been placed around them. Embracing any form of identity has a similar effect. The watermelon becomes a square watermelon once those parameters are put in place. Likewise, we grow into the parameters we place onto ourselves, every time we wholeheartedly embrace any type of identity as our own.
Imposing Shame onto Christians
Regardless, along your learning journey, I just hope that you will include more than one point of view and will fairly evaluate other sources, despite the public push to have one voice speak for all of us. Clearly nowhere else in life is like that, and neither is this. Yet it is strange how the world invites questioning at all levels, except for this. Hmm… I trust you will be able to draw your own conclusions about that – but mine are that there is a serious investment in having people self-identify according to their sexuality. We know today, that the targeting is due to the reality that the Catholic Church (and many other Christian Churches at the moment) will never affirm people into becoming invested in those sorts of identities. This movement has been masterfully designed to draw people away from the Catholic Church and Christianity in general, and of course to impose shame on young people on account of their faith association. It is actually quite genius – the culture has found a way to shame children for being Catholic, and then turn against them against the faith of their family… and it is working. However, this tactic is a house of cards that today is starting to collapse because of people like you who have started to ask questions, instead of simply blindly accepting the message of our culture today. You deserve more than to be indoctrinated – but the culture of this day apparently begs to differ.
Haters Gonna Hate
It should be of no surprise that I won’t share my name here. There will be backlash because there always is, anytime something counter-cultural is introduced that shines a light on the falsehoods being presented as truths. But know this: I, and persons like me, are among you, and we have been silenced. We have been threatened with intimidation tactics to keep our mouths shut. That by the way, is what tolerance they speak of, actually looks like. Our stories are greeted with protest, and the message is effectively sent (amongst the crowds of people who think they are doing a good thing) that what we have to say is not welcome. In other words, people rally around the idea that only they can be heard, and it is done in the name of free speech and equality. Sounds like equality alright – equality for people who are illogical and one-sided. However, we know that what we have to say – if we present it with true humility as an invitation to grow in deeper understanding of what is really going on, we can turn this world on its head. Be it known I speak this without intending an anti-activist approach or revolution, but rather with an illumination into the hearts of humankind, provided by God., in His time.
Will you stand up for equality and share our voices? We hope you do.
I don’t even have to convince you who is telling you the truth and who is lying to you. I respect you enough to invite you to ask questions, while the “other guys” will not. There are a series of questions below that any person should not be threatened by…yet I know they are not well-received by the world at large. The point is: Ask questions about what is being taught, and you will know who is being threatened by those questions. How? They will steer you away from those questions, or out rightly attack you in some form or fashion. Where questions are unwelcome and where the uninhibited pursuit of truth is unwelcome, let that be a red flag to you. Regardless of whether your are ready to start this journey or not, what you and I both must acknowledge at this point in time is that “that which is not-specifically chosen” needs to be considered distinct from “that which is specifically chosen”, and thus attractions need to be considered distinct from the identities we choose to embrace. I invite you to consider who upholds that truth and who does not. Furthermore, once again I invite you to see how that invitation will not be given by all sides.
Phil Robertson, I am “gay” (describing my attractions), and you have my support 100%. Here is why:
Unchaste sexual sin (in whatever form – including opposite sex), is sin, and it is destructive to family, individuals, and to our hearts and souls. We have to look beyond the short-sightedness of our day, to see that the openness to grow in the virtue of chastity provides the foundation for the greatest probability of having healthy, stable parents, which in turn is better off for the children (secular studies support this all the way to the bank). And the better off the children, the better off our world will be. Forget the focus on toys this Christmas, rather make your priority being fully present and “in the room” when with your children. All the distractions of our world will never replace the stability of a home, but stability of the home starts with and is amplified by the desire to be chaste. The thing is, the desire to be chaste will draw a person to eventually not want to live in an unchaste way anymore. You can try, but once you realize you are trying to satisfy longings that are diametrically opposed to one another, the fantasy comes crashin’ down.
This is why what Phil Robertson brought up is so important – it is a chance to discuss the greater question of the openness to the virtue of chastity. Persons pursuing same-sex relationships and engaging in homosexual unchaste activity, just as persons engaging in opposite-sex relationship and heterosexual unchaste activity, are all guilty of the same sin – the closedness to the virtue of chastity. So, even though the world want’s you to think this is a “gay thing” and that “gay people” are being attacked, don’t fall for it. It’s an everyone thing. The reality is the authentic Christian Churches “punish”all people in the same way, with the invitation to pursue a life of self-mastery (chastity) in all areas of life. The only way I can see it being a “punishment” is if I went back in time to my old life, where I was one of those people who self-identified and defined myself according to my sexuality. I was invested in that identity, just as how so many others are of this day. But because I was invested in that identity, so much so as to define “who I was” according to my sexuality, I could not conceive of the idea that chaste living could be anything less than a cruel punishment. Today I see it as just the opposite, but God first had to open my heart to receive the desire to be chaste – and it has brought inner peace and joy beyond what I ever before knew was possible!
See, like Phil Robertson, I too turned to Christ, and he received me where I was in life – in a state where I thought not even He could love me (Christ, not Phil). And He (Christ again) has given me the desire to grow in that virtue. I understand first-hand that you cannot simply “talk with someone” and change their mind about chastity – rather you have to rely on God, which means to pray for His graces to do what He is calling you to do in His time. Phil stood up for what he believes in, and he has taken the fall without denying Christ. I hope that I might have that much courage if I were in his shoes, when facing the “tolerance” of our world today. However, at least people are starting to ask questions, and his losses will not be in vain but will rather act towards the journey to greater truth for many people – maybe even you. For that reason I repeat again: despite the attractions I have been permitted by God, Phil Robertson, I am with you 100%, and GOD BLESS YOU and GOD BLESS AMERICA!
- Your Brother in Christ

This article appeared originally at the website Pursuit of Truth.  Click here for more information.

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