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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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Sending a Message about the Inviolability of Life

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The Imams “expressed ‘shock and utter disgust’ at Saturday’s ‘cold-blooded murders,’ and said the actions of the attackers ‘alienates them from any association with our community for whom the inviolability of every human life is the founding principle'” (Q.5:32).

They are certainly sending a strong message. Maybe the Church should also refuse public funeral services for Catholics who violate our basic principles about the dignity of persons and the sanctity of life? Ah, but then there are those challenging and annoying teachings about loving those who hate you, forgiving those who hurt you and giving to those who would take from you.

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ATHEIST COMMANDMENT 10

“Leave the world a better place than you found it.”

big-bag-of-money-6497-largeThis is a nice platitude but that is about all it is. The truth is that we have very little control over the world. We can try to make a positive difference over our small piece of it, but even here things often do not go our way. Indeed, we might be in conflict with one another as to what makes the world better. Is it technology, more parks, electric cars or gas guzzlers, laws that promote “choice” over human life, legalizing sodomy, what? Those who promote justice for some often want it revoked for others. That was a facet of the religious liberty fight between the Church and the current government administration. Often we experience life as a mess and leave the world in a mess. Despite progress can we say that the world is a better place than in the past? There are still acts of terrorism and genocide. This year it was estimated that the one percent of the world population owns over 50% of the world’s wealth and resources. There is an old saying about this— the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

We live and we die. Many people just scrape along, try to find some happiness and deal with dreams realized and/or broken. Relationships give comfort and belonging but there is also betrayal and abandonment. We are a society of givers and takers and critics debate as to which it might be better to be.

Catholic Charities is the largest social service organization in the world just behind the U.S. government. Believers are often very generous to those in need. I heard one atheist share his deep regrets that they were frequently shamed by believers in how they respond to the needy and human suffering. Why is that? What is it about the so-called “pie-in-the-sky religion” that also focuses on earthly struggles and pain? Why is it that by comparison non-theistic forms of humanism often become oppressive and part of the problem?

ATHEIST COMMANDMENT 9

“There is no one right way to live.”

Eye-3372-largeAnd what is this supposed to mean? Would the atheist tolerate a radical Islam that covered a woman’s face and body, reducing her to property, denying her an education and life outside the home? Would they turn a blind eye to a pre-civil war south where slavery allowed a genteel life for some and one of brutal servitude for others? This so-called commandment is actually nonsense. The truth is that while there are many different states of life and a certain cultural diversity; nevertheless, there are ways of living that countermand human decency and the laws of God. Keeping harems or same-sex partners would also fall within prohibited acts; however, I suspect the atheist critic wants to make room for deviancy. Once more there is a problem with specificity. Who decides what an appropriate lifestyle is and is not? Failure to make any judgment will lend legitimacy to anything and everything.

The Christian would argue that there is a right way to live and that is to live in right relationship with God and man. Sex outside of heterosexual marriage is a sin. A lifestyle that depends upon the oppression of others is a sin. A life that is addicted to booze and drugs is one that faces imminent destruction. Commercialism and materialism will ultimately fail to satisfy the longing of the soul. We live in such a way, in accordance with our nature, so that we can draw out the best that makes us human. We are social creatures which need to interact with each other in a manner that both preserves human freedom and insures the healthy functioning of society. Putting it bluntly, there are right “ways” of living and there are wrong ways, too.

I am somewhat surprised that that a man who promotes science would suggest this dictum. The Mythbusters devote each episode at dispelling myths and trying to ascertain the truth. There is little truth in this so-called new commandment. As with the proper fuel for a car a protocol before a dangerous experiment or explosion— there is a right way and a wrong or dangerous way to proceed.

This new law is really just an excuse for liberality and unhampered toleration. Not that I think he really means it because I suspect there are elements to the Christian life that he would find personally objectionable. In other words, the rule here is biased with unspoken exceptions. He would stretch the definition of marriage and family. Marriage, itself, might be viewed as an unnecessary human construct. Obviously, the atheist critic would not interpret it as a sacrament configured to give grace.

Man is not the final arbiter of right and wrong. The rejection of this truth is at the heart of many contemporary problems. Everything is politicized, even human behavior. If the law says something is right, many presume that it must be okay. The war against drugs goes badly, so advocates argue for their legalization and taxation. When the prostitution situation resists resolution, there is a lobby that suggests making it legal with defined health or safety standards. Assault against children, even in the womb was reckoned as manslaughter and a war crime but now it is regarded as a right of women to choose. Within living memory homosexuality goes from being criminalized to being protected and promoted as a basic civil right. No matter what the issue or behavior, people no longer turn to ministers or philosophers but to lawyers and politicians.

This process promotes a lie… about human nature, about God and his commandments… and about our sphere of influence. The subjective eclipses the objective. The relative dominates over point of permanence. The end result is that we damage ourselves and all our associations. Not only is there a loss of a sense of sin but also of any concrete definition.

ATHEIST COMMANDMENT 8

“We have the responsibility to consider others, including future generations.”

landscape-with-a-tree-swirl-cloud-4545-largeWhy? God is out of the picture, so why care? No matter what we do, top scientists tell us that the universe is doomed. It is hard enough to care for ourselves and find happiness. Does it really make sense to care for others and generations unborn? We already abort half a million unborn children in the U.S. each year. If the living does not matter then caring about prospective people seems arbitrary and meaningless. Cold and honest atheistic logic cries out: “Maybe it would be better to let the poor and the defective die outright? If we eliminate the world’s refuse, then there will be more for us and the Western elite. We can make the world safe for endangered species by subtracting overcrowding populations of humans. Do we have any more right to the earth than the animals? Show me scientifically that we have an obligation to others and the future! Prove it or give it up. Our personal world might be better off if there were a few less mouths to feed.”

Anyway, we are all such hypocrites. Look at all the stuff we buy these days that comes from slave labor and where people are oppressed. If it is cheaper, it is better… that is today’s mantra. We take advantage of the poor and the worker. The host of Mythbusters can make up this commandment… but even his television show bobble heads and DVDs are manufactured in Chinese sweatshops. We can thus avoid paying local workers at all and pay others a non-livable wage. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer! Yeah, we really care about others… NOT!

As a Christian, I believe that every person has an incommensurate worth. All human life is sacred and we are called to be good stewards of creation. I believe that there is something immortal and lasting about every person conceived into this world. We are all God’s children and God loves you no more or less than he does me. I believe there is an order and a divine plan. It is important to play our part as instruments of divine providence.

ATHEIST COMMANDMENT 4

“Every person has the right to control over their body.”

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This modern commandment is directly connected to the issue of legalized abortion. Atheists deny the existence of a soul. Thus it is easy for many of them to discount the embryonic as human with rights. Despite a human developmental trajectory, the unborn (at least at early stages) is judged as no more than tissue or at most, only a human being “in potency.” This commandment would have more credibility if there were respect for the body and/or the separate but dependent integrity of the unborn child. Frequently language games will be employed to avoid the truth about the child’s humanity in the womb. When it comes to issues like partial birth infanticide an irrationality takes hold. It is argued that it would be cruel to adopt a child out to strangers; and yet, with adoption they would become a loving family. The blindness of selfishness is heinous. If there be a physical defect, a strained comeback might point to a dubious or difficult quality of life. Frequently there is an appeal to overall viability although medical science is saving the lives of increasing premature babies. Certain ethicists have noted that young children (up to maybe three years of age) are not really viable without constant adult intervention. They just do not know how to care for themselves. That is why a few rogues are proposing “post-birth abortion.” Beyond the logical inconsistencies, the pro-abortion position gives rights to some and strips them entirely from other persons. The definition of a baby becomes shallow: “it is only a baby if you want it.”

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Life issues are often interconnected. A consequence of this maxim would also be assisted suicide. If the person has absolute dominion over the body then he or she can terminate the life of that body whenever he or she deems to do so. With God extracted from the equation, he no longer has sovereignty and out goes the fifth commandment: “Thou shalt not kill.” Turning to lesser matters, it would also permit all sorts of bizarre tattoos and piercings. Indeed, one could turn his or her body into a for-profit advertising banner if so desired. This is really a monstrous commandment and points out that separated from God; we really do not know how to be good. Since we are our bodies, this permissive commandment would also open the door to all sorts of distortions in sexual behavior, way beyond the evils of artificial contraception and fornication. The Christian would argue that personal control of the body is not absolute. We must respect that all life belongs to God and the plan of nature by which we are made. We must also respect others, including the little people who start out in the womb.

A Courageous or Timid Church?

Msgr. Pope touches a cord on the Archdiocesan Blog that is very dear to my heart, the fact that a “timid” Church is in contradiction to its very nature as a sign of contradiction in the world.

Msgr. Pope speaks of the new secularized faith as “Sad, pathetic, wrong, and cowardly—hardly the revolutionary faith that got Paul arrested. . . . We have got to rediscover how revolutionary our Catholic faith truly is to this world gone mad. And as we proclaim healing and an allegiance to something other than this world, we will become increasingly obnoxious to the world around us. . . . No tame, domesticated Christianity will threaten or change this world. When Paul preached, the people rioted. Modern preaching too often incites only yawns and indifference.”

St. Paul and the other apostles did not qualify the Gospel and so they faced arrest, torture and martyrdom. The early Church was persecuted precisely because the truths of Christ allowed for no compromise or tolerance for participation in false worship. Even a pinch of incense to the Roman gods or to the so-called divine emperor was too much. Today’s world misconstrues the incident of the Roman coin and the likeness of the emperor. When Jesus said give to God what belongs to God and to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, he was avoiding a trick to have him either arrested by the authorities or to be rejected by the crowds as a traitor. Ours is a jealous God. What belongs to him? The answer is everything, even Caesar! Many in contemporary society play games with their Christianity. They create a false image of Christ to follow, one that would have fit in nicely with the pantheon of ancient pagan deities. Indeed, the battle over religious liberty is a symptom of this— as if believers could restrict their faith and values to the inside walls of churches and during Mass. And yet, the dismissal at the end of Mass echoes our commission to take the Good News out into the world. The ideal is not co-existence with the world or evil but rather to plant the seeds for repentance and conversion. Today many Catholics are silent upon important issues. A candidate for the office of governor in Maryland is a “practicing Catholic” and yet he is on the record as pro-abortion, yes even for allowing partial-birth infanticide. How can we reconcile this with the faith? The issues continue to mount: no fault divorce and remarriage, same-sex marriages, lack of support for parochial schools, contraception giveaways in public schools, free contraception, abortion on demand and growing sympathies for euthanasia. Sins are counted as rights and Catholics and their Church are expected to fall in line. Wimpish silence satisfied in the past, and that was bad enough, but today complicity is demanded.

St. Paul would exorcize the demonic, not try to accommodate it. Too often we hear from churchmen that we do not want to alienate politicians on “other issues” that are important to us, like the status of immigrants, or just employment, or the dismissal of capital punishment, or tax breaks for churches, etc. We cower to the power of the secular world when we should bring the authority of Christ to bear on the challenges of our day.

Christianity was persecuted by the Roman Empire precisely because it was viewed as intolerant. Today, much of the faith has lost its teeth. The enablers for the murder of children are invited without sanction to take Holy Communion. Even high level shepherds hypothesize ways to get around or to turn a blind eye to homosexuality, adultery and fornication. We are urged to find a new language, removed from that used in Scripture, so that no one might get their feelings hurt. The fact that these activities might cost people the kingdom and their share in everlasting life does not seem to measure up anymore. Who are we to judge? We are the people given the gift of the Holy Spirit and who follow the Light of the World, dispelling the darkness. What is saving faith? It is courageous obedience to God, qualified by charity. That’s who we are and what we are about!

Racism, Semen & the Designer Child

The article entitled “White woman sues sperm bank after she mistakenly gets black donor’s sperm,” by Lindsey Bever ran on October 2, 2014 in THE WASHINGTON POST about a white lesbian couple litigating against the sperm bank that gave them semen from a black donor when they had specifically asked for white only.

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Jennifer is all upset about the mix-up. She lives in a white Ohio neighborhood and says that she does not want her daughter to face the discrimination she has suffered. The little girl conceived is now two years old. She is suing the sperm bank for “wrongful birth and breach of warranty and economic damage.” Her money was refunded and she was given an apology, but this is not enough for her.

She seems blind to her own initial prejudice and how the whole process reduced a child to property or a commodity. Every child conceived (even if in sin) is a unique individual. Different semen would have meant that a different child would have entered their lives. Instead of prizing the child they have been given, the couple are lamenting the loss of a child they might have had. This is petty and sickening.

Would they look this little black (or bi-racial) girl in the eyes and tell her that they would rather trade her in for a straight haired, blue-eyed white child? Probably not, but in a fashion that is what the lawsuit is doing as they project their anger and disappointment upon the sperm bank. Such places should not exist so I would shed no tears if they should have to close. But I have no sympathy for this couple either. My sadness is for this child.

Instead of rejoicing in the miracle of her child, the article says the mother wept about the mistake. “All of the thought, care and planning that she and Amanda had undertaken to control their baby’s parentage had been rendered meaningless. In an instant, Jennifer’s excitement and anticipation of her pregnancy was replaced with anger, disappointment and fear.”

We are told that not all her friends and families are “racially sensitive.” In other words, her circle is composed of racial bigots. It sounds to me that this couple was not “sensitive” either. They are saying that they wish they could do it over again. Where is the gratitude in this? Would they trade her in for a white child? There is an old saying, “Birds of a feather flock together.” One is known by his or her friends. The problem is not the child, but the people with whom the couple associates.

The fact remains that same-sex couples cannot naturally have children. They must conceive either through heterosexual fornication or immoral medical intervention. There is no actual sharing of DNA even if they find donors of the same race. In this vein, there is a fiction or personal deception that taints this situation. The silliness of the upset is amplified when the mother talks about problems in finding hair care for an “African American girl.” Did she imagine brushing the blond hair of her pasty white girl with curls? Now she wants to hold others accountable when in my estimation they are all guilty, that is everyone but the child.

This is just the beginnings of a moral issue that will grow worse in the years to come, especially with increased DNA manipulation. The issue is human selfishness and the desire for designer children. Would she have aborted the child had it been a boy? Were boy fetuses aborted?