“Our once great western Christian civilization is dying. If this matters to followers of Jesus Christ, then we must set aside our denominational differences and work together to strengthen the things that remain and reclaim what has been lost. Evangelicals and Catholics must stand together to re-establish that former Christian culture and moral consensus. We have the numbers and the organization but the question is this: Do we have the will to win this present spiritual battle for Jesus Christ against secularism? Will we prayerfully and cooperatively work toward a new Christian spiritual revival ― or will we choose to hunker down in our churches and denominationalisms and watch everything sink into the spiritual and moral abyss of a New Dark Age?” - Mark Davis Pickup

Saturday, April 25, 2015

NEVER GIVE UP ON LIFE

Although Canada's Supreme Court unanimously struck down
Morally corrupt Supreme Court decision
the nation's laws against assisted suicide,
ordinary people must reject the court's corrupt cynicism and betrayal of life's sanctity. The high court has endorsed the killing of suicidal people with disabilities or have sunk beneath their circumstances, but we, the people, must not give up on life despite anguish or sorrow we may experience. 


Always choose life even when it does not seem worth living or is near its natural end. If you do not choose life for your own sake, then choose life for the sake of those who will come after you who may consider suicide. Live for more than yourself. Always be a witness for life and posterity.

Charlie Chaplin was a great comedian and accomplished pianist.
He wrote the beautiful song 'Smile' in 1936 at the height of the Great Depression. He wrote the melody of Smile for the film Modern Times. The lyrics were written by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons.

Life is worth while.

[Click image below or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHPDrInbybw for Charlie Chaplin's "Smile".




Thursday, April 23, 2015

UN POPULATION COMMISSION STUNNED BY RESISTANCE TO THEIR SEXUAL AGENDA

https://c-fam.org/turtle_bay/un-population-commission- schellshocked-by-resistance-to-sexual-agenda/

Click on link above for Stephano Gennarini, J.D, "UN Population Commission Shell-shocked by Resistance To Sexual Agenda", Center For Family and Human Rights, (Washington, DC) 18 April 2015.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

CHRIST UNDERSTANDS EVERY GRIEF

Today I met a 14 year old boy who was paralyzed in a freak accident last summer. He is quadriplegic. It's not yet been a year since his accident. I'm not sure if the reality of severe, permanent disability has been fully internalized for him or his parents. It is a hard grief journey that will utterly break their hearts.

Life with serious disability is a very hard journey. I know, I've lived with degenerative multiple sclerosis for over 30 years. At the deepest point of grieving, life can seem like an endless series of disappointments, accommodations and compromises, lost opportunities, and inexpressible sorrow. One can feel totally alone, even in a crowded room.


Such a loneliness


Disability is a lonesome journey. It's not that friends are unkind -- just hard to find. Then there are those dreaded moments at the end of each evening when one must make his way to the terror of the bedroom. It's in there that darkness awaits to engulf a grieving person in fitful sleep-wake torture. A chorus of despair, self-doubts and fear may whisper, "You are alone. Nobody understands."


It is there, in the middle of an endless night, lying wide awake staring into darkness, that the horrible truth of life's misfortune can seem too great to bear. A human soul lays open like a gaping wound. Whimpers break into sobs of raw, pulsating grief. I know, I've been there! It is a dangerous place to be.

Grievers beware! Emotions are unreliable, they are apt to intensify the feeling of isolation out of all proportion. Tears obscure vision and grief distorts perceptions of reality.

There is no such thing as an endless night. It only seems that way. The longest night must eventually give way to dawn. It is only fear and grief that tells us otherwise. Even the pitch black of arctic winter days will, in due course, transform into a peculiar summer midnight sun.

Many people with profound disabilities have risen above their predicaments and abyss of intense grief to incredible spiritual heights and human achievements -- sometimes in spite of their disabilities and sometimes because of them.


Beethoven
Perhaps the most famous example is Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827). Most of his vast contribution to the world of music was written in either partial or complete deafness. 

George Frederic Handel (1685-1759) suffered from manic depression. His beloved Messiah was written at the end of a depressive bout.

John Milton (1608-74) was blind when he wrote Paradise Lost (1667). Paradise Lost is generally considered to be the greatest epic in the English language. (Remember that John Milton also wrote Paradise Regained.)

Elizabeth Barrett Browning was an "invalid and a recluse" to use the phrasing of one biographer. There was nothing invalid about her -- her gift for lyric poetry is with us to this day.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was physically disabled from polio at the age of 39, yet as America's 32nd president he led an entire nation through most of the Great Depression and the Second World War.

Grief, sorrow and fear are not unique to people with disabilities:
they are common to the human experience. Everybody is acquainted with sorrow. Everyone is afraid. With the exception of babies and small children, everyone has fears from the past and fears of the future.

Most people are afraid of serious self-examination lest they come face to face with inner demons, character flaws and emotional handicaps. They might be challenged to go through a difficult process of change. Some people fear being forgotten while others fear being remembered.

We are afraid of committing ourselves wholly to love yet afraid of being unloved. Many people are afraid of committing themselves to lives with purpose -- yet despise those who do.

Some people are afraid of dying outside God's grace yet they are afraid to truly live within it. We may be afraid being seen as extreme yet are afraid to venture outside mediocrity.


Helen Keller
Helen Keller (1880-1968) went deaf and blind before she was two years old. In an era when society restricted the lives of people with disabilities (not to mention women), Keller overcame monumental obstacles to rise to international stature advocating world peace, women's suffrage, human dignity and civil rights for people with disabilities.


Family of the heavy-hearted


She said: "When it seems that our sorrow is too great to be borne, let us think of the great family of the heavy-hearted into which our grief has given us entrance. Inevitably, we feel about us their arms, their sympathy and their understanding."

That's my point. All humanity longs for affinity and the understanding of others. All humanity is longing for belonging. The young teen grieving his paralysis may not yet know it but his grief has given him entrance into the "great family of the heavy-hearted". 

Those of us who are full-fledged members of that "great family"
have the Passion and cross of Christ as our chief example and inspiration. It is to Christ we can ultimately turn with the knowledge that his sufferings dwarfed all human pain and sorrows. There is no grief Jesus does not understand. Christ is the ultimate affirmation. He is the ultimate over-comer. He can change us, if we allow it, from victims to victors. In the darkest night of your soul let Christ bring you through it to bring you to a morning of understanding, and ultimately home. -- Mark 

[Click on image below or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwDRZMoJtkk for Libera, "You Were There"]





Tuesday, April 14, 2015

INCLUSION AND DISABILITY

Social inclusion of people with disabilities is an important and
necessary component to healthy, enlightened vibrant communities. People with disabilities have unique contributions to make to their communities and society. They have an indispensable place in church life.  And the Church has a critical supportive role to play in the lives of people with disabilities and their families, helping them to live lives as normal as possible. 

We can work to remove barriers that curtail or stop disabled people from reaching their full potential that Christ intended for them. It is a wonderful witness to a world that is cold and hard.

[See Australian video Social Inclusion and disability by clicking below or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZCYYMeVHNw. It's just over 2 minutes long.



Thursday, April 9, 2015

SEND A LIFE AFFIRMING MESSAGE THIS ELECTION

A number of months ago I spoke at an information seminar 
Me speaking to ALIES
information session

for the Alberta Life Issues Educational Society (ALIES). I was thrilled to see Catholics, Orthodox and evangelical Christians coming together in common concern over Canada's direction toward euthanasia and assisted suicide. That Christian concern to resist Canada's culture of death must spill into the streets, make its collective formidable presence felt on election ballots, and openly demand protection for all vulnerable human life. Resolute and even militant Christian unity, is now necessary.

This is election time in Alberta. Albertans must question political candidates that seek their support whether they will work to stop taxpayer funded abortions? Will they work to protect healthcare professionals' conscience rights not to participate or refer for physician assisted suicide? If a political candidate's answer is no to either of these questions, the candidate is unworthy of your vote. If no candidate in your constituency will stand up for the protection of all vulnerable humanity, spoil your ballot by writing "no pro-Life candidate" on it before putting it into the box. If you are using electronic ballots, spoil your ballet then send a tweet to Party leaders informing them of your action.

The sanctity of all human life is more important than supporting candidates that will tolerate more killing. 

Mark

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

THE LAW OF HUMAN NATURE STILL EXISTS

Is there anything so wicked as a man trying to silence his conscience?  It is a willful act that happens in stages: Bit by bit, incident by incident, rationalization by rationalization, the voice of a man’s conscience can be stifled—that still small voice within him eventually becomes fainter, until his heart turns to stone and covers the voice within.

But even within a stone-heart, his conscience knocks and pounds against the inner granite wall, making muffled cries of protest.

How many murderers have used alcohol or drugs to dull a stabbing conscience! How many corrupt business tycoons keep their lives busy with the hum of constant shady wheeling and dealing to distract them from a relentless nagging conscience? Occasionally, at an unexpected moment, a whisper of conscience escapes from behind their stone hearts and catches them off-guard—only to be quickly squelched. 

Perhaps they tell themselves they wouldn’t be so cruel if it weren’t for their own abusive upbringing.  Perhaps they ease a twinge of shame by telling themselves it was their own poverty as a child that drives them to accumulate ill-gotten wealth so their own little ‘Johnny’ or ‘Suzy’ won’t have to endure deprivation.  Besides, the wily old tycoon has done good things too. Remember that charity drive for crippled children he hosted in 1972?  It must have helped dozens of kids!

As long as a man is still making excuses for his bad behavior, we know his conscience is alive. There’s still hope for his humanity. As long as he’s trying to hide his misdeeds, there is still acknowledgement of good and evil and right from wrong. The fact that the evil or misdeeds are hidden bears witness that he knows what is right.  

Natural law

People of older times called this innate sense of right from wrong the Law of Nature or Natural Law—a standard of decent behavior that people instinctively understood beginning in early childhood. It was innate and did not need to be taught. 

C.S. Lewis began his marvelous book Mere Christianity, by addressing the Law of Human Nature.  He started with the premise that people everywhere ascribe to a common standard of Objective truth, a set of rules of fair play or morality to which they expect others to know about.  You can tell this by the way children and adults alike quarrel. Lewis wrote:

"They say things like this: “How’d you like it if anyone did the same to you?” ─ “That’s my seat, I was there first”─ “Leave him alone, he isn’t doing you any harm” ─ “Why should you shove in first? ─ “Give me a bit of your orange, I gave you a bit of mine ─ “Come on, you promised.”

Lewis noted that seldom does the other party reply: “To hell with your standard.” No! The offender pretends that there’s some special reason why “the person who took the seat first should not keep it, or that things were quite different when he was given the bit of orange, or that something has turned up which lets him off keeping his promise.”  In fact they both agree with a common standard of decent behavior. The fact that they are quarrelling indicates that they are trying to show the other person is in the wrong. Otherwise, as Lewis wrote they would “fight like animals”.

C.S. Lewis originally put this idea forward in the 1940s for a series of British radio broadcasts.  Mere Christianity was not published until 1952.  The idea of a natural moral law ingrained into humanity has weaved throughout history.  America’s founding Fathers talked of ‘Truths’ that are ‘self-evident’ (human equality and being “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”)

Saint Paul referred to natural law written on human hearts (Romans 2.14-15). The Catholic church teaches that “natural law expresses the original moral sense which enables man to discern by reason the good and the evil, the truth and the lie:” (The Catechism of the Catholic Church No. 1954). Pope Leo XIII (1810-1903) said, “the natural law is written and engraved in the soul of each and every man.” St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) said,

“The natural law is nothing other than the light of understanding placed in us by God; through it we know what we must do and what we must avoid. God has given this light or law at the creation.”

Brave New World

And yet I see rampant immorality with little obvious guilt. People parade their sin in the streets! How can this be?  Abortion advocates successfully secured abortion on demand, resulting in the deaths of millions. Biomedical researchers are raising the prospect of experimentation on embryonic human life. They advocate strip mining comatose patients for their organs. Euthanasia and assisted suicide proponents are gaining success in various jurisdictions.

People with serious progressive disabilities (like me) are left to wonder what awaits us in the Brave New World of the 21st Century?!  Has modern secular man been able to finally eradicate God’s natural law from the human heart?[1]

The church teaches this is not possible.

“Even when rejected in its very principles, it cannot be destroyed or removed from the heart of man. It always rises again in the life of individuals and societies.” (CCC, No. 1958.)

And history teaches this too. Despots and scoundrels, prevaricators and deniers of natural law have risen before. They have their day in the limelight but the natural law they denied or twisted still beckons good people back to the Truth.

The Church speaks the Truth to provide moral clarity to humanity—even at the darkest moments of confusion. If this generation rejects the principles of natural law and God’s Word, another generation faithful the Word of God will rise to replace error with Truth. I believe this with all my heart. I must!

Mark 




[1][1] For more reading on these subjects see Wesley J. Smith’s books (Culture of Death, Encounter Books 2002) & Consumer’s Guide to a Brave New World (Encounter Books, 2005).

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

HOLY WEEK, CHOICE & THE PROBLEM OF EVIL AND SIN

We are in Holy Week 2015, so it is most appropriate to consider the problem of evil and sin. The sacrificial Passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ was to settle with God the problem of human sin and evil. I have often heard the question, "If there is a God, why does he permit evil?" At a different moment the same person will extol and demand personal choice. (The Freedom to choose is the mantra of our age.)

The problem is this: The moment there is a possibility of choice there is a risk of making the wrong choice. A perfect God of love wants to love and be loved perfectly. Real love involves our choice to love God back -- or we can reject Him. God took that risk. I suppose He could have created a world where the objects of his love had no choice but to love him, like robots. But that is not love. 

C.S. Lewis put it this way in his classic Christian book Mere Christianity:


C.S. Lewis
"God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong, but I can't. If a thing is free to be good it's also free to be bad. And free will is what made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata -- of creatures that worked like machines -- would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for his higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that we have to be free."

My generation (the baby-boomers) have illustrated the risk of
choosing as much (or more) than previous generations. My generation took a freedom to choose and twisted it into barbarity of the licence of choice where the weakest and most vulnerable must pay for the choices of those with power over them. Large swaths of my generation threw off restraint and have scoffed at the Giver of freedom. 

This has resulted in the deaths of millions upon tens of millions of children before they ever saw the light of day or took their first breath. Now freedom to choose will soon expand to killing suicidal people with disabilities, incurable conditions or "psychological pain", in my nation (Canada). Choosing to reject God is wreaking havoc of the social and legal fabric of  America too, and other parts of western civilization. We chose evil rather than good. 

In the same way as people go to Auschwitz and wonder how such evil is possible, future generations may look at the remnants of our abortion clinics and wonder the same thing.

Our choices will either save us or condemn us. 


The good news is that we can change what we have chosen and choose God rather than ourselves. The beautiful paradox is that when we give God our broken selves, He gives us back ourselves healed and more  complete, able to finally love and be loved more fully than we ever imagined possible, if we allow Him to. 

And that brings us back to the point of Holy Week which we are observing now. Christ's Passion and death on the cross was the ultimate expression of perfect love to pay the penalty for our sins and choosing evil over good. It is a free gift for all you accept it and believe in his atoning sacrifice at the cross. Repentance is liberating! It frees us from choosing what was wrong and evil to choosing what is right and holy. Repentance and faith in Christ opens new horizons for an ecstasy of experiencing His perfect love and inklings of paradisial joy that awaits God's children.[1]


[Click image below or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKpEUxgZR5Y for Father Robert Barron on the "Problem of Evil": 10:00 ]



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[1] John 1.12-13; Romans 8.14-16 & 21; Galatians 3.26; 1John 3.10 & 5.2.