Category: Culture

UPDATE: Robertson Family Official Statement

Robertson Family - Duck Dynasty, Duck Commander
Robertson Family – Duck Dynasty, Duck Commander

The following statement is the official Robertson Family response to the decision by A&E TV to “suspend” Phil due to his GQ interview:

We want to thank all of you for your prayers and support.  The family has spent much time in prayer since learning of A&E’s decision.  We want you to know that first and foremost we are a family rooted in our faith in God and our belief that the Bible is His word.  While some of Phil’s unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible. Phil is a Godly man who follows what the Bible says are the greatest commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Phil would never incite or encourage hate.We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right.We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but, as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm.  We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty.   Again, thank you for your continued support of our family.

This is a strong and united stance to take, and it is rather refreshing in today’s world.

For those that think A&E is taking the high road here, and that they are pristine in their place in this situation, remember they once had a show devoted to the Gotti family. For those that don’t know, John Gotti, the patriarch of that family, was a mob boss famous for murder and crime. The family of the reality TV show were made famous simply because of the evil things their father did.

This isn’t about tolerance, morality, or anything of the sort. This is about choosing one set of beliefs over another, all while condemning the latter.

 

Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson Suspended

Duck Dynasty family: The Robertsons
Duck Dynasty family: The Robertsons

Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson has been suspened by TV network A&E for his recent comments in a GQ interview.

A&E says the following to industry-mag Entertainment Weekly:

 “We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the seriesDuck Dynasty. His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.”

Legal analysis aside, what is interesting is that A&E is suspending a man from a show about him and his family for – being himself.

Here is what he said that is being quoted everywhere as the “hateful” and “anti-gay” comments:

“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

People can interpret things in many ways, so I leave you the reader to interpret that how you will. Phil said it and really he believes it.

The question is: is it “anti-gay” or “hateful”?

But the big quote that is getting Phil in all the turmoil here is this one:

“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong,” he says. “Sin becomes fine.”

What, in your mind, is sinful?

“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

The accusation is that Phil is being hateful for believing, and then stating, that homosexuality is a sin.

So at what point does belief and expression of those beliefs turn to “hate”? I do believe there is a line somewhere that this happens, but what is it exactly?

Here is a quote from the same article that not as many folks are quoting:

“You put in your article that the Robertson family really believes strongly that if the human race loved each other and they loved God, we would just be better off. We ought to just be repentant, turn to God, and let’s get on with it, and everything will turn around.”

 

 UPDATE: 

Rod Dreher has a take that makes some decent points.

 

Pope Francis: TIME’s ‘Person of the Year’

Pope Francis, Time's 'Person of the Year'
Pope Francis, Time’s ‘Person of the Year’

From Time:

When, on March 13, Bergoglio inherited the throne of St. Peter—keeper of the keys to the kingdom of heaven—he made the same request of the world. Pray for me. His letter of retirement, a requirement of all bishops 75 and older, was already on file in a Vatican office, awaiting approval. Friends in Argentina had perceived him to be slowing down, like a spent force. In an instant, he was a new man, calling himself Francis after the humble saint from Assisi. As Pope, he was suddenly the sovereign of Vatican City and head of an institution so ­sprawling—with about enough followers to populate China—so steeped in order, so snarled by bureaucracy, so vast in its charity, so weighted by its scandals, so polarizing to those who study its teachings, so mysterious to those who don’t, that the gap between him and the daily miseries of the world’s poor might finally have seemed unbridgeable. Until the 266th Supreme Pontiff walked off in those clunky shoes to pay his hotel bill.

Read more: TIME’s Person of the Year 2013 Pope Francis, The People’s Pope | TIME.com http://poy.time.com/2013/12/11/person-of-the-year-pope-francis-the-peoples-pope/#ixzz2nBKUSPCu

 

There is a lot that can be said about this selection. I wanted to write a, “Why I believe Pope Francis will be the POY” post yesterday, but I have had a horrible stomach thing. Regardless, this places even more media attention on the Vatican. I will save the, “What does this mean…” commentary to those better suited for it.

 

Ross Douthat, Conservative Catholics, and Pope Francis

Ross Douthat, conservative and Catholic columnist for the New York Times, labeled his Sunday

Ross Douthat, NYTimes
Ross Douthat, NYTimes

piece this week: “The Pope and the Right.” Now before you go off, read it, and come back either elated or steaming mad, let’s remember one important thing: columnists get paid to make people read them. The more novel, inflamatory, aggressive, or shocking something is – often the better.1

Douthat though isn’t being too much of anything, instead he is simply stating the obvious. He is addressing the elephant in the room, or in some cases, the uncomfortable conversation that many Catholics are having.2 The topic he addresses is one that strikes close to home – how do conservatives (either politically or theological ones, if that is possible) reconcile the pontificate – so far – of Pope Francis?

His most interesting points though, in my opinion, are made when he attempts to give three arguments for why a seemingly “liberal” Pope can actually be reconciled with American conservative principles. His three premises are (in my own summarized form):

  1. Capitalism, or free market ideals, has a better track record than socialist societies at lifting the poor and marginalized out of poverty and maintaining free society.
  2. Solidarity and Subsidiarity are key components to Catholic social teaching – a la the philosophical pillars of such teaching.
  3. Welfare states (i.e. socialist and liberal states) have produced rather toxic social and cultural policies that fly in the face of Catholic doctrine and social teaching. (e.g. low birth rates, charitable roadblocks, and religious persecution.)

The money paragraph though isn’t one where Douthat doubles-down on American conservative principles, or attempts to contort the Pope’s actions and most recent Exhortation to fit the GOP platform. Instead he challenges “conservative” Catholics, such as myself, to reexamine how we interact with the world – socially and politically – and find a way to fit our politics to our faith, and not the other way around. 

As Douthat puts it:

This Catholic case for limited government, however, is not a case for the Ayn Randian temptation inherent to a capitalism-friendly politics. There is no Catholic warrant for valorizing entrepreneurs at the expense of ordinary workers, or for dismissing all regulation as unnecessary and all redistribution as immoral.

And this is where Francis’s vision should matter to American Catholics who usually cast ballots for Republican politicians. The pope’s words shouldn’t inspire them to convert en masse to liberalism, or to worry that the throne of Peter has been seized by a Marxist anti-pope. But they should encourage a much greater integration of Catholic and conservative ideas than we’ve seen since “compassionate conservatism” collapsed, and inspire Catholics to ask more — often much more — of the Republican Party, on a range of policy issues.

Flannery O'Connor on Ayn Rand.
Flannery O’Connor on Ayn Rand.

Now, I dont want to spend a lot of time in this post on it, but the link talking about ‘compassionate conservatism’ is interesting and ultimately goes to the larger issue I plan to discuss. Yet, I intend to set that discussion up with this post. So for now, I will leave it at this: Douthat seems to say that what is important for Catholics -specifically American conservative Catholics, in light of Pope Francis, is that we find a way to push for policies that cling to Catholic teaching, but hold fast to conservative principles. The latter not for their own sake, but because our faith animates those principles in our culture.

Pope Francis, love manifested in action.
Pope Francis, love manifested in action.

We should not spend the time of Pope Francis hidden away in Mass3 praying for patience and that God’s will be done. While we want those things, of course, it is that there is so much more we can do – and should do.

While many liberal Catholics4 made plenty of fuss during the Pontificate of Benedict XVI about the direction of the Church, the cry for conservatives to “do what they did” or “follow our own advice” is a false premise. Douthat calls this the “Loyal Opposition” argument. He rejects it, and so do I. It is instead our time to continue with vigilance and fortitude. We spent formative years solidifying our faith, now it is time to solidify the world around us – to animate the social teachings and political policies with our hearts grounded in the teachings of the Church.

  1. Case in point, a recent NYT shocking front picture. []
  2. Some of these conversations are private and dare not reach the narthexes and church basements of our parishes. []
  3. in the usus antiquior of course… []
  4. For the record, I am not a fan of using political terminology to explain theological philosophy, it makes sense in this post. []

The @CatholicVote #DeoGratias Project

CV-DeoGratias-E-A-300x350The swell folks over at CatholicVote.org have once again created a nifty little social media campaign to put some Catholicity into the internet. Their email today suggests to people to include the hashtag #DEOGRATIAS on tweets and facebook updates about the things for which we are thankful.

The point is to remind ourselves, and one another, that ultimately our thanks should be directed to GOD. Deo Gratias, or give thanks to God / God is good! is really the ultimate praise for all that we are blessed with in life.

So, this weekend, remember to give thanks, where thanks is due! #DEOGRATIAS

#IStandWithThomasPeters

I Stand With Thomas Peters
I Stand With Thomas Peters

Thomas Peters, best known as “The American Papist” from his blog and his work with CatholicVote.org, was injured in a swimming accident months back. His long road to recovery has taken him and his family along the full spectrum of human emotion and spiritual battles.

Tomorrow, the Catholic Blogosphere will do a full social media assault in support of Thomas: You can find out more at the blog set up to chronicle his recovery: #IStandWithThomasPeters Day

Whether you can help with prayer, financial support, or just through spreading the word – every little bit will help.

 

 

War on Religion

Reports say that the U.S. spied on Pope Francis and others during the most recent Papal Conclave.
Reports say that the U.S. spied on Pope Francis and others during the most recent Papal Conclave.

Is nothing sacred?

From the UK Telegraph:

The National Security Agency spied on the future Pope Francis before and during the Vatican conclave at which he was chosen to succeed Benedict XVI, it was claimed on Wednesday.

The American spy agency monitored telephone calls made to and from the residence in Rome where the then Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio stayed during the conclave, the secret election at which cardinals chose him as pontiff on March 13.

The claims were made by Panorama, an Italian weekly news magazine, which said that the NSA monitored the telephone calls of many bishops and cardinals at the Vatican in the lead-up to the conclave, which was held amid tight security in the Sistine Chapel.

The information gleaned was then reportedly divided into four categories — “leadership intentions”, “threats to financial system”, “foreign policy objectives” and “human rights”.

At that time, Benedict XVI was Pope, suggesting that the Vatican may also have been monitored during the last few weeks of his papacy.

There are so many things to say about this. Things are out of control in our country, that is for certain, but this takes things to a whole new level and actually prompts more questions than there are good answers.

Just remember, we battle not flesh and blood, but powers and principalities.

St. Michael, defend us in battle.

Proper understanding of love, children, and marriage

3togetmarriedSaw this on Twitter today:

It really struck me. I have always believed this type of thinking to be true – that marriage is a vocation because it turns us, and orders us, towards God. The concept: The best way a father can love his children, is to love his wife, their mother, follows along those lines. That love is not a uni-directional, or even bi-directional thing. Love is tri-union; two people and God.

I wonder if that is why God is the Trinity?

As a closing note, this is a great opportunity to suggest to married couples, and especially young adult Catholics that feel called to Marriage – PLEASE READ: Three to Get Married by Fulton Sheen. It explains these concepts better than I ever could, and to puts proper perspective on marriage.

 

Podcast Suggestions

Podcasts - Looking for Catholic theological as well as pop culture podcasts.
Podcasts – Looking for Catholic theological as well as pop culture podcasts.

I am on a podcast search for good Catholic podcasts. I’d prefer more theological/educational podcasts (e.g. The teachings of St. Aquinas) as opposed to pop culture offerings (e.g. Catholic life…). Yet, I am not totally opposed to the latter, if you can convince me why it is worth my time.

I would like to spend the time  I have to listen to podcasts learning something. I have considered Catholic audio books, but I sometimes get distracted listening to books, and prefer to read them. But, here again, I am willing to be sold on specific titles, knowing that the reader and the content of each book is unique. My ultimate goal here is to find something and be swept away to learning-land. So please help me!

Also, I am also looking to listen to non-Catholic offerings, but I am once again looking for something unique, off the beaten path a bit. I am somewhat familiar with popular shows like T.A.R., Fresh Air, etc… but not necessarily all of them, so please leave any and all suggestions just in case I have overlooked even the most popular.

 

 

Believing in the Devil: Justice Antonin Scalia & Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson

Recently two articles came out where the person being interviewed affirms the belief in spiritual warfare. In fact both men boldly declare their belief that the devil is real, and that what we battle against isn’t simply the human condition but evil.

The first, an interview of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in the New York Magazine. Justice Scalia is known for being one of the more approachable members of the Court, but this interview is quite candid even for his standards. The interview is long, but a worthwhile read.1

Justice Antonin Scalia believes in the devil.
Justice Antonin Scalia believes in the devil.

Here is the section on the Devil. [BOLD is writer Jennifer Senior; regular typeface is Justice Scalia]

You believe in heaven and hell?
Oh, of course I do. Don’t you believe in heaven and hell?

No.
Oh, my.

Does that mean I’m not going?
[Laughing.] Unfortunately not!

Wait, to heaven or hell? 
It doesn’t mean you’re not going to hell, just because you don’t believe in it. That’s Catholic doctrine! Everyone is going one place or the other.

But you don’t have to be a Catholic to get into heaven? Or believe in it? 
Of course not!

Oh. So you don’t know where I’m going. Thank God.
I don’t know where you’re going. I don’t even know whether Judas Iscariot is in hell. I mean, that’s what the pope meant when he said, “Who am I to judge?” He may have recanted and had severe penance just before he died. Who knows?

Can we talk about your drafting process—
[Leans in, stage-whispers.] I even believe in the Devil.

You do?
Of course! Yeah, he’s a real person. Hey, c’mon, that’s standard Catholic doctrine! Every Catholic believes that.

Every Catholic believes this? There’s a wide variety of Catholics out there …
If you are faithful to Catholic dogma, that is certainly a large part of it.

Have you seen evidence of the Devil lately?
You know, it is curious. In the Gospels, the Devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore.

No.
It’s because he’s smart.

So what’s he doing now?
What he’s doing now is getting people not to believe in him or in God. He’s much more successful that way.

That has really painful implications for atheists. Are you sure that’s the ­Devil’s work?
I didn’t say atheists are the Devil’s work.

Well, you’re saying the Devil is ­persuading people to not believe in God. Couldn’t there be other reasons to not believe?
Well, there certainly can be other reasons. But it certainly favors the Devil’s desires. I mean, c’mon, that’s the explanation for why there’s not demonic possession all over the place. That always puzzled me. What happened to the Devil, you know? He used to be all over the place. He used to be all over the New Testament.

Right.
What happened to him?

He just got wilier.
He got wilier.

Isn’t it terribly frightening to believe in the Devil?
You’re looking at me as though I’m weird. My God! Are you so out of touch with most of America, most of which believes in the Devil? I mean, Jesus Christ believed in the Devil! It’s in the Gospels! You travel in circles that are so, so removed from mainstream America that you are appalled that anybody would believe in the Devil! Most of mankind has believed in the Devil, for all of history. Many more intelligent people than you or me have believed in the Devil.

I hope you weren’t sensing contempt from me. It wasn’t your belief that surprised me so much as how boldly you expressed it.
I was offended by that. I really was.

I’m sorry to have offended you! 
Have you read The Screwtape Letters?

Yes, I have.
So, there you are. That’s a great book. It really is, just as a study of human nature.

This conversation is such a summation of truth and reality, as it relates to this issue and our culture. When Justice Scalia points out that the Devil is smart, by making people disbelieve in him and in God it reminds me of the saying, “the greatest trick the devil ever pulled is convincing the world he doesn’t exist.”

Then, when he explains that throughout most of history, even some of the smartest and most learned people believed in the existence of the devil, you can sense his dismay and disbelief that the author is, as he puts it, “so out of touch” that she is surprised by his belief. In fact, it “offends” him.

Similarly, Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty shares the belief that the devil does indeed exist and that we are wrapped up in a battle of good and evil.

Phil Robertson, of Duck  Dynasty, believes in the devil and spiritual warfare.
Phil Robertson, of Duck Dynasty, believes in the devil and spiritual warfare.

In a recent interview, Phil says:

You gotta remember, it’s spiritual warfare. I mean, you’ve got people with no moral compass. It ain’t there. So what I tell people is be patient.

They’re the ones, they own the network and we’re filming the show.

We signed the contract with them, ok, and it’s a workhouse, but what people have to understand is, the people of God have to understand, you’ve just got to be patient. You don’t turn that ship quickly. It’s a big ship. A lot of depravity and a lot of heathen and a lot of the evil one. He is entrenched in the United States.

He speaks about it in a very matter-of-fact way. To him, the idea that this is a battle not of flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities is a reality. Just like it is for Justice Scalia.

Two very different men, in very distant parts of culture and society, but they share a common set of core beliefs about good and evil, and the reality of the devil.

  1. There is also a section where the Justice addresses the most recent comments by the pope. []

An Interview with Pope Francis – READ IT!

 

"A Big Heart Open to God" - September 30, 2013 Antonio Spadaro, S.J. The exclusive interview with Pope Francis in American Magazine.
“A Big Heart Open to God” –
September 30, 2013
Antonio Spadaro, S.J.
The exclusive interview with Pope Francis in American Magazine.

So much is being said in the media right now about Pope Francis, and truly much of it is some distortion of what he said or didn’t say.

The best thing we can all do is take the time to read the actual interview. Then, at least we will be starting from fact and not conjecture.

From there we can discuss what it means and if necessary how to apply it to our lives.

But let’s first actually read the interview.

America Magazine – Interview with Pope Francis

Light Of Love – “Imagine Sisters” Movie [WATCH IT HERE!]

The Imagine Sisters project has just released their movie “LIGHT OF LOVE“…

Imagine Sisters present: "Light of Love"
Imagine Sisters present: “Light of Love”

Go watch it! I will have a review later after I do the same!

UPDATE: Watch it right here!

Light of Love from Imagine Sisters on Vimeo.