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27th Jun, 2016

BBC TV COMEDY "Yes Minister" of 30 years ago explains Brexit!

https://www.facebook.com/TheRawStory/videos/10154338097642235/

26th Jun, 2016

BREXIT

LJ fiend reminds us in his Blog
(http://www.patheos.com/blogs/badcatholic/2016/06/how-benedict-xvi-predicted-brexit.html) that Pope Benedict XVI, through his writings, predicted the collapse of the European Union.
Europe, and, by extension, the Western world, has only ever come close to unity by virtue of a common creed. Benedict roots the idea of Europe in the Christianized Roman Empire which, “in connection with the book of Daniel, the Roman Empire – renewed and transformed by the Christian faith – was considered to be the final and permanent kingdom in the history of the world.”
A union without genuine cultural unity, shared mission, and a rooted sense of value will not penetrate to the lowest levels of the community as a felt phenomenon of familial relation. Both the arguments for and against the British exit — focused as they were on the relative economic benefits of remaining or leaving the European Union — showed that whoever won, Europe had already lost. A unity of self-interested nation-states is about as stable as a family of self-interested brothers and sisters. Without an ethical and spiritual unity, it is only a question of time before a person, a community, or a nation asks, “And what is this communion doing for me?”

Again, Benedict noted this rather incisively: “Over the last fifty years, this [monetary] aspect of European unification has become ever more dominant, indeed, almost exclusively influential. The common European currency is the clearest expression of this in the work of European unification: Europe appears as an economic and monetary union, which as such participates in the formation of history and lays claim to a space of its own.” (Reflections on Europe, 2001)
The continued effort of the European Union to achieve unity through money and national self-interest has kept it far from Benedict’s healing advice: “Europe, as a political idea, must finally replace the model of the nation state with a generous concept of cultural fellowship, with a solidarity that embraces all of mankind.”

Benedict’s basic thesis — that true unity depends on the pre-economic and even pre-political foundations of value, morality, mission, and creed — has a lesson for those ex-Europeans on the other side of the Atlantic. Populism, and even racist populism, is not simply the result of poverty or economic crisis. It is very often an evil reaction against a feigned togetherness. For while we seldom hate a person simply for their differences, we are very often tempted to hate a person when we are pushed together, told that we are neighbours and friends when there is no tangible bond of unity between us — some shared truth, history, or creed.

22nd Jun, 2016

IS THE CATHOLIC CHURCH A MAJORITY GROUP?

Why do attacks on gays, Muslims, Jews, and other minority groups generate a vast examination of conscience, while acts of hatred or contempt directed at Christians generally provoke basic silence? If we haven't heard of many assaults on Christian places of worship maybe it is because they attracted precious little media interest and virtually no condemnations from human rights groups.

Is it because Christians are not seen as a minority group? Historically, Christianity has been seen in the West as a rich, powerful, culture-shaping majority, so the notion that Christians can be the victims of discrimination and persecution is a tough sell. Is this silence simply to distract attention from Christianity on matters such as women, abortion, contraception, and homosexuality.

Perceiving Christianity as a "powerful majority" has little to do with contemporary reality. Of the 2.3 billion Christians in the world, most are in places where religious freedom means very little e.g. sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and elsewhere, and while it may appear that baptized Christians in the West remain a majority, those who practise the faith and accept traditional teachings are not. Even in the West it’s no longer the case that Christianity is a socially dominant institution. Emeritus Pope Benedict described the situation facing Christianity in the West today as that of a “creative minority.”


21st Jun, 2016

"IRELAND AND THE END OF DEBATE"

John Waters was for many years a national newspaper columnist in Ireland. Two weeks ago he spoke to an audience on the topic: Ireland and the End of Debate.

In a wide-ranging address he described how the range of acceptable opinion in Ireland has become narrower and narrower over time. He said that rather than helping to open up debate, the media have largely been complicit in narrowing the terms of debates often through allowing voices that dissent from the secular, liberal consensus to be demonised.

He discussed how, in Ireland today, debate on many of the most important issues has been brought to a virtual halt. Token gestures are made in the media at having a ‘debate’ on issues like religion, but usually only in the context of a current controversy.

He said so-called ‘liberal’ assumptions are almost entirely unquestioned and those who do question them are demonised. This drastically reduces the range of opinions ‘respectable’ people are allowed to hold. If they do not hold them, they are expected to be silent.

He said we saw this in last year’s referendum on same sex marriage when the nearly three-quarters of a million people who voted 'No' were practically invisible in the referendum and in the run-up to it. The 'Yes' side almost completely controlled the public space.

In the course of his talk John was asked, what can be done? He replied in the words of Pope Benedict, ‘The truth always has a future’.

His talk can be down-loaded from here: https://www.icatholic.ie/wp-content/video/?ID=37645

19th Jun, 2016

MINGY

I suppose you thought that prayer books were a thing of the past! No way. In these digital age travellers of all kinds around the world can say a few old time prayers.

In the past, a little book of short prayers helped many Irish soldiers serving abroad to keep in touch. They could put the small prayer book in their pocket and then go to military training. However, after their training or exercises, they put their uniform into the washing machine and, hey presto, the prayerbook was destroyed. So, because everybody has a smartphone nowadays, Irish army chaplains serving in Africa came up with the idea of a prayer app.

The little app is called 'Mingy'. The name comes from the practice in Africa of small roadside traders calling out "Mingy, Mingy, Mingy" meaning, 'We have lots of things here'.

In addition to Christian prayers, "Mingy" also contains spiritual scriptures and prayers of other religions for soldiers who are Muslims, Jews or Buddhists.

A priest has shown 'Mingy' to Pope Francis who gave it his blessing.

18th Jun, 2016

AN ECOLOGICAL "WE"

It is only in recent years that I'm realizing how we are one with the Universe. When Queen Victoria said “We are not amused” was she speaking on behalf of the Empire or was she perhaps hinting at  some kind of possession?

Christians believe that God speaks through the wonders of creation. To deny this is to deny in some way the story of the Universe. Revelation comes from an experience of the Divine. Psalm 19 says: "The heavens tell of your glory, O God, and the firmament proclaims your handiwork".

The world as we know it is slipping away. Scientists tell us that, at the current rate of destruction, tropical rainforests could be gone within as little as 40 years. The seas are being over-fished and coral reefs are dying. Biologists tell us that we are currently at the start of the largest mass extinction event since the disappearance of the dinosaurs.

The earth is in trouble and we humans are to blame. We are equal partners with all that exists in a material and evolving universe, and are at a critical decision point. Either we develop a better relationship with the Earth or we destroy ourselves and life on the planet.

We, like Victoria, should not be amused.

17th Jun, 2016

IN NEED?

Do immigrants,"travellers", "roma people", street beggers and ne're-do-wells in general, annoy you? Even the Pope recognises the temptation to feel hostile towards the needy.

It can be tempting to feel annoyed and irritated by them. To see them as a problem. Do they really need us or are they having us on? Can we be too quickly judgemental? Can our hostility make us blind and deaf, unable to recognize, and consequently failing, those who really need our help and support?

Personally, I have found myself cheated of hundreds of euro through my 'innocence'. My confreres and I have now produced food vouchers (5€) which can be redeemed in the neighbourhood corner shop for food only.

I ask myself, is this just a way of escaping my Christian responsibility?

16th Jun, 2016

WHO REALLY RULES THE WORLD?

I’ve been reading about the Bilderburg Group. It’s one of the most secretive and powerful organizations.  With virtually no corporate media coverage, this ultra-exclusive 2016 meeting kicked off last Thursday in Dresden.

Nearly 130 politicians, financiers, and industrialists are attending this year’s conference, with the guest list including the chief of the International Monetary Fund, as well as the former heads of the CIA and MI6. These secretive meetings have been held annually since 1954.

The annual meeting of these global power players — including representatives from government, private industry, media, finance, think tanks, academia, as well as numerous other organizations representing both private and public interests — began their closed-door meetings amid a heavily armed security presence, and extremely little in the way of transparency — with journalists being arrested.

“No minutes will be taken. No reporters will be allowed in. There will be no opening press conference, no closing statement, and participants will be asked not to quote each other.”

Participants are bound by what’s known as the Chatham House Rule, which allows people to make use of the information they’ve received, but not reveal the identity or affiliation of the person who gave it to them. With so many high-powered attendees and so little media coverage, many question the actual intent of the annual meeting.

Make no mistake about it, the fortunes of rulers are created at this event. Will it decide whether Britain will remain in or out of Europe?
 

14th Jun, 2016

CONTEXT

Individual or small group takes on the world (e.g. Star Wars)

USA, EUROPE, MIDDLE EAST today.

Maybe the Catholic Church (and not the Media) was right after all!

13th Jun, 2016

LAUDATO SI' - First Anniversary

Since published in June 2015 Pope Francis’ letter “Laudato Si” has had a deserved and widespread influence on policies on climate change. His letter, written not just for Catholics, but for people of all faiths, stressed some of the most important issues facing the world today, including climate change, the environment, poverty and the world economy. The cry of the earth is the cry of the poor.

During the year since “Laudato Si” Pope Francis visited the United States where he met with top government officials, addressed the United Nations General Assembly where he encouraged care for the planet, and stressed the growing of economies through clean energy and new technologies. Above all else he urged the world to come together to take immediate action to protect our planet and allow people from all walks of life to flourish.

Last December leaders from 195 countries negotiated for two weeks and finally reached a global agreement - the Paris agreement - to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the primary factor driving climate change. The ambition is to keep global temperature rise to 1.5 C as climate rises already threaten the survival of some states.

At least it’s a start.

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