To work for liberty and justice

USCCB prayer for our country after an election

God of all nations,
Father of the human family,
we give you thanks for the freedom we exercise
and the many blessings of democracy we enjoy
in these United States of America. 

We ask for your protection and guidance
for all who devote themselves to the common good,
working for justice and peace at home and around the world.

We lift up all our duly elected leaders and public servants,
those who will serve us as president, as legislators and judges,
those in the military and law enforcement.

Heal us from our differences and unite us, O Lord,
with a common purpose, dedication, and commitment to achieve liberty and justice
in the years ahead for all people,
and especially those who are most vulnerable in our midst.

Amen.

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To vote for life and human dignity

Novena for Our Nation Friday Prayer Intention:
For our Political Engagement to be Guided by our Faith

To know the way of truth and love, justice and peace

Without God man neither knows which way to go, nor even understands who he is. In the face of the enormous problems surrounding the development of peoples, which almost make us yield to discouragement, we find solace in the sayings of our Lord Jesus Christ, who teaches us: “Apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5) and then encourages us: “I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20). As we contemplate the vast amount of work to be done, we are sustained by our faith that God is present alongside those who come together in his name to work for justice. 

— Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, Conclusion (2009)

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To live in solidarity with the poor

We live the Gospel of Life when we live in solidarity with the poor of the world, standing up for their lives and dignity.  Yet abortion and euthanasia have become preeminent threats to human dignity because they directly attack life itself, the most fundamental human good and the condition for all others.  They are committed against those who are weakest and most defenseless, those who are genuinely “the poorest of the poor.”  They are endorsed increasingly without the veil of euphemism, as supporters of abortion and euthanasia freely concede these are killing even as they promote them.  Sadly, they are practiced in those communities which ordinarily provide a safe haven for the weak — the family and the healing professions.  Such direct attacks on human life, once crimes, are today legitimized by governments sworn to protect the weak and marginalized.

— Living the Gospel of Life, article 5

To weave networks of charity

Charity is love received and given. It is “grace” (cháris). Its source is the wellspring of the Father’s love for the Son, in the Holy Spirit. Love comes down to us from the Son. It is creative love, through which we have our being; it is redemptive love, through which we are recreated. Love is revealed and made present by Christ (cf. Jn 13:1) and “poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Rom 5:5). As the objects of God’s love, men and women become subjects of charity, they are called to make themselves instruments of grace, so as to pour forth God’s charity and to weave networks of charity.

— Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, article 5 (2009)

To reintroduce Jesus – the Way, the Truth, and the Life – to our culture
and build a culture of life

To remain free and faithful citizens

Novena for Our Nation Friday Prayer Intention:
Religious Freedom in Society

This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.

The council further declares that the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself. This right of the human person to religious freedom is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby society is governed and thus it is to become a civil right.

Dignitatis Humanae, Pope Paul VI, 1965

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The first amendment was written not to protect the people and their laws from their religious values, but to protect those values from government tyranny. — Ronald Reagan, Campaign Address on Religious Liberty, 1980

May the God and Father of all grant that the human family, through careful observance of the principle of religious freedom in society, may be brought by the grace of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to the sublime and unending and “glorious freedom of the sons of God” (Rom. 8:21). — Dignitatis Humanae, Pope Paul VI, 1965

 

 

To become people of prayer

Prayer Transforms Us

This past summer, and as we progress into fall, as Election Day draws nigh, it has been and continues to be all too easy, especially for passionate people, to lose ground and our sense of reality by watching or engaging too much with “mainstream” media, social media, or otherwise. Only by being people of prayer and through meditation on scripture will we be rooted in truth and able to persevere as the drama that surrounds us unfolds, and the very real, mostly unseen, spiritual battle is fought.

  • May we not be men and women with divided hearts, who claim one thing in public, and another in private.
  • May God’s love for and mercy toward us pervade our entire lives, all we say and do, when other people are watching, and when it is only God who sees.
  • May God transform us through our faithfulness to daily prayer. As God shapes us into the image and likeness of his Son, Jesus, may we then transform our world.

Prayer of Day

Mary, mother of Jesus
and of those who participate in his priestly ministry,
we come to you with the same attitude of children who come to their mother.

We are no longer children,
but adults who desire with all our hearts to be God’s children.

Our human condition is weak,
that is why we come to ask for your motherly aid
so we are able to overcome our weakness.

Pay for us so that we can, in turn, become people of prayer.

We invoke your protection
so that we may remain free from all sin.

We invoke your love so that it may reign and
we will be able to be compassionate and forgiving.

We ask for your blessing
so we can be like the image of your beloved Son,
our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

— Saint Mother Teresa, In My Own Words, Ligouri Publications, 1989

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Pray after you vote

Questions of the Evening

I’m pretty settled in my plan of action for voting, so why do I keep turning to news outlets, and sicken myself – over and over again – by what I hear and see? What is this compulsion, this (bad) habit or vice that drives me to the latest headline or turn of events, even when I know that the mass media is the biggest producer of unreality and mostly a waste of time? Who is saying what now?

>> The 2016 election is a bad soap opera (not that I’m aware of any good soap operas). It is totally unnecessary to torture myself so. Que sera, sera. And I will vote. And you will vote. And hopefully everyone who can will participate in the election.

And Jesus Christ remains the victor.

For every minute of mass media you consume, do you consume one minute of scripture and another minute of prayer? Might we tip the scales in greater favor of Truth and Reality with a fast from the detritus proffered by “mainstream” mass media?

>> May tonight’s psalm settle stomachs and guide us on. May we be at peace in Christ, no matter the turn of events, and continue to hope in the promises of God.

Evening Prayer

Psalm of the Evening: 37:1–9

Do not be provoked by evildoers;
do not envy those who do wrong.

Like grass they wither quickly;
like green plants they wilt away.

Trust in the LORD and do good
that you may dwell in the land and live secure.

Find your delight in the LORD
who will give you your heart’s desire.

Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will act

And make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
your justice like noonday.

Be still before the LORD;
wait for him.
Do not be provoked by the prosperous,
nor by malicious schemers.

Refrain from anger; abandon wrath;
do not be provoked; it brings only harm.

Those who do evil will be cut off,
but those who wait for the LORD will inherit the earth.

Scripture of the Evening: 2 Corinthians 1:18–22

As God is faithful, our word to you is not “yes” and “no.” For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was proclaimed to you by us, Silvanus and Timothy and me, was not “yes” and “no,” but “yes” has been in him. For however many are the promises of God, their Yes is in him; therefore, the Amen from us also goes through him to God for glory. But the one who gives us security with you in Christ and who anointed us is God; he has also put his seal upon us and given the Spirit in our hearts as a first installment.

Pray before you vote

Question of the Morning

As we as we navigate through the labyrinth of the Craziest Election Season Ever,
what ought we do?

>> We ought to do what we always do: remember God and be faithful to daily prayer.

Morning Prayer

Psalm of the Morning: 12

Help, LORD, for no one loyal remains;
the faithful have vanished from the children of men.
They tell lies to one another,
speak with deceiving lips and a double heart.

May the LORD cut off all deceiving lips,
and every boastful tongue,
Those who say, “By our tongues we prevail;
when our lips speak, who can lord it over us?”

“Because they rob the weak, and the needy groan,
I will now arise,” says the LORD;
“I will grant safety to whoever longs for it.”
The promises of the LORD are sure,
silver refined in a crucible,
silver purified seven times.
You, O LORD, protect us always;
preserve us from this generation.
On every side the wicked roam;
the shameless are extolled by the children of men.

Scripture of the Morning: Isaiah 46:9b–10; 11b–13

I am God, there is no other;
I am God, there is none like me.

At the beginning I declare the outcome;
from of old, things not yet done.

I say that my plan shall stand,
I accomplish my every desire.

Yes, I have spoken, I will accomplish it;
I have planned it, and I will do it.

Listen to me, you fainthearted,
far from the victory of justice:

I am bringing on that victory, it is not far off,
my salvation shall not tarry;

I will put salvation within Zion,
give to Israel my glory.

 

Politics & faith: the conflict myth

Stuck in False Narratives That Constrain

Read a good book

This week my public library called to let me know that it was my turn to borrow If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty by Eric Metaxas. Though only nearing the end of chapter two, I’m prepared to say that every American needs to read this book. Liberals. Conservatives. Moderates. Fiscal this/social that. Greenies. Whatever label that you like to wear so long as you care about the United States of America and freedom, read this book.

If you think we need to rewrite the constitution, then maybe you won’t like this book. But give it a try and decide for yourself. If you are unclear about why and how American liberty is at risk, read this book. If You Can Keep It is the perfect read as we sail toward the upcoming election — not because it is a guide for how to vote, but because it reminds us why America is exceptional and has the role of city on a hill for the whole world.

A call to action

If You Can Keep It is a call to action and a call to hope. Metaxas talks about “keeping” America (preserving and maintaining our liberty). I prefer “save” rather than “keep.” My language is a bit more dire, but not unwarranted given the threats to religious liberty, not just from lobbyists, but from President Obama and his administration, and activist Supreme Court justices.

Metaxas wants to educate, inspire, and remind We the People of our responsibilities to the republic. While Metaxas does not believe all is lost, he does caution that American liberty is a fragile thing that requires work. It’s not something to be taken for granted. While there is no need to wallow in despair over the symptoms of our time (i.e., our choices for president), we must resist the urge to disengage.

What is required of us—of each one of us who are “we the people”—is something we have mostly forgotten. — Introduction: The Promise, p 3

Start a conversation

So start a book club and begin the conversation about how We the People must save America. Now is not a time for political correctness. Americans need to both speak up and listen. Thankfully, for the most part, American liberty is a unifying theme.

No shouting, no name-calling, and no nice-nice

When I say start a conversation, I don’t mean just with people who agree with you, think like you, look like you, talk like you, went or go to the same school or church as you. I’m thinking more along the lines of having a National Politically Incorrect Day (or week or month). On this day America turns of the TV, tunes out the mouths with megaphones that yell, talk at, and name call. Leave off the mass media narratives, and rally the ground troops. Passion is human, but nobody shouts or gets hostile. On the other hand, nobody plays the nice-nice game of self-censorship for fear of hurting someone’s feelings.

One minute of mass media would have us believing that respectful dialogue is impossible. I disagree. The problems of our day are serious, and if we do not work together at the local level to start solving them, We the People will be tempted to look toward the government. Too many already do look to the government as savior. We the People need to step up before the government steps in and intrudes on, or worse, chips away at our liberty, especially the freedom to exercise our religion.

A key point Metaxas makes is that the first responsibility of We the People is self-government. And by that he means not politics, but living lives of virtue. The more we are able to govern ourselves, the smaller and less intrusive our federal government can be.

True freedom must be an “ordered freedom,” at the center of which is what we call “self-government.” …People would not have freedom from government, but would have freedom from tyrannous government, or from government that might easily become tyrannous. — Chapter 1, The Idea of America, p 29

What was required was a virtuous people who were prepared to handle the great freedom being proposed….The founders understood that the more each person governed himself, the less there would be a need for strong government, and by their estimation the American people were ready. The faith and the virtue of the American people made possible the most free nation in the history of the world. — Chapter 1, The Idea of America, pp 36–37

An obstacle to overcome: a critical yet misleading myth entrenched in pop culture

As it is with the myth that faith and science are opposed to each other and incompatible, so it is with the myth that faith and politics, too, must be divorced. Where these myths come from and how are they perpetuated are questions worth asking, but not the consideration of today.

If we are to “keep” this republic, we have to see it afresh and really understand what we’re keeping, must have a clear grasp of what this American republic is and how it works. — Chapter 1, The Idea of America, pp 17–18

A second obstacle to overcome: not everyone wants to have a conversation

I talk politics and religion. I don’t care if we agree; the conversation is often more interesting when we don’t. But respect for self and other is essential. To my dismay, I meet too many people who do not want to have a conversation at all or who are so afraid, they lower their voice, less the PC police come after them. It breaks my heart to see so many caring and intelligent people trapped in fear, more difficult though are those who are unwilling to listen, consider other perspectives, or have their preferred narrative challenged.

When I bring up issues facing our country and try to bring a moral component to the topic, some people quickly pronounce “separation of church and state!” It is a mantra to stop the conversation. Don’t hold me accountable to a standard set by your God. The best strategy I’ve come up with when this happens is to ask the person to explain what they mean by that. Many people do not understand that separation of church and state does not mean that you check your morals at the door, that you can’t pray at school or in the halls of government. It means that the federal government cannot establish a religion and compel the people to join it or support it financially.

When religious liberty falls in America, so America falls

Religious freedom is a foundational concept of American liberty. Everyone should care about this freedom, even atheists. Without the foundation of having the freedom to act or not act in accordance with your conscience, all other liberties are at risk.

But it was impossible for the founders to see where after two centuries the things that were secure in their day would change, that faith could be greatly eroded and then pushed out of the public square via a misunderstanding of the concept of separation of church and state; and that via many things, such as Vietnam and Watergate, trust in the institutions of government could be damaged — and yet how ironically and predictably, the people would increasingly assume the government itself could and would do what was necessary. — Chapter 1, The Idea of America, pp 48–49

Only We the People can save America

The only way to save America is to get involved. Citizen, arise and rediscover your duty as an American. Read a good book. Talk politics. Talk faith. Talk freedom. Release yourself from the censorship of political correctness. Discern how to share your God-given gifts for the common good. Take courage! If someone calls you a mean name, smile, and forgive, because the person you are talking to has run out of intelligent and thoughtful things to say.

As I said, I am just finishing up chapter two, so I don’t know where Metaxas will take me next. But I do know that Christians have a responsibility to bring Jesus to the public square. We are not just trying to preserve America, we also have a mission to bring the Good News to everyone.

Everyone who acknowledges me before others, I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father. — Jesus, Matthew 10:32–33; Luke 12:8–9

Let secular France be a warning to us.

We invite catastrophe by sincerely believing that the religious affiliation of a citizen has no political bearing or effect.

IDEA: A Debate Fundraiser to Trump Trump

How incredible it would be to have two women running against each other for the office of president of the United States. What are the odds that would happen in 2016? Are these odds even calculable? Even if neither Carly nor Hillary resides on her respective party’s ticket, We the People want to see them debate. Hence…

Idea of the Day

Whoever sets up the mega-million dollar pay-per-view boxing matches should set up a Carly v. Hillary debate fundraiser. If the fee is a mere $5 to watch and 25 million people watch… well, that is a lot of cash that Carly can raise for the 4,000 crisis pregnancy centers in the United States. (Unlike the CEO of Planned Parenthood, who earns more than half a million dollars per year, plus bonuses, enriching herself off the deaths of the pre-born, a director of a crisis pregnancy center earns about $55,000 per year. Yes, I’ve already determined where Carly’s winnings should go:  to support the weakest and most vulnerable human beings in our country.)

If Donald Trump can run as a Republican, bringing reality TV to our political process and actually end up serving a purpose by engaging the TV-watching masses in the major issues of our day, then let’s take Reality Politics to the next level:  a debate fundraiser starring the two female presidential candidates.

Who would facilitate the debate?

Resumes being accepted. Since I thought Anderson Cooper was the star of the first Democratic debate, I’m nominating him for facilitator of the debate fundraiser.

Who would ask the questions?

Questions would come from two groups:

  • All other candidates who entered the presidential race would ask one question each.
  • Either a person from or a group representing each state would also ask a question. (We might have to go with regions, because of time limitations.)
    My thinking behind that is to draw attention to the role of federal vs. state governance and also to engage regional communities and put faces to issues. For example, a group of high school government students might videotape their question or a few people seeking citizenship might ask about immigration.)

Questions would be organized into timed rounds, just like boxing, such as the domestic economy round, the foreign policy round, the social issues round, and so on.

How to determine the winner?

If you paid your $5 to watch, then you get to vote.

Unresolved:  Would viewers be able to cast votes after a “round” and then the rounds would be tallied or would there be one single vote at the end (that is probably the most practical)?

Since Trump loves to brag about his wealth and claims no one can buy him and since he has so much experience with Miss America pageant “voting,” he can donate his resources and established systems to calculate the winner. This is a fundraiser after all. [A friend with a TV has informed me that Dancing With the Stars has a good phone-in voting system that would work, so Trump may be off the hook here.]

What if Hillary wins?

The money raised will go to pay down the national debt.

IDEA: The Build Your Own President App

My idea of the week is this:  an app that allows you to build your own president. For now the working name for the app is “POTUS,” but only because I have not spent sufficient time (meaning I haven’t thought about it at all) coming up with a better name.

Where the idea came from:  every election cycle I’m disappointed, because I never agree even 80 percent with any one candidate; voting always feels like a compromise. Maybe the incumbant who I voted for last time changed during his first term and flat out lied about who he was and what he was going to do, and I can’t vote for him a second term. So I go scouting the competition and hear candidate A say some things I like and candidate B say some things I don’t like. Then one day candidate A disappoints me on some issue that was on the outskirts of my radar, and I realize, wait a minute, candidate A does not represent me on everything. So I start looking around again to see if anyone can win my political heart.

Maybe this app is called “Vote for Me!” And now I’m thinking it could be used for all levels of elections, not just the presidential race.

My assignment for the techies:  Develop this app for We the People. It’s a game. It’s educational. It’s fun and interesting. It gets regular folk engaged in election cycles, and maybe can reignite a spark for those ensconced in cynicism.

Considerations:  When I first starting turning this idea around in my head, I was focused on the 2016 election, thinking of using real candidate sound bytes from the current campaign trail. But then I thought, that is fine and good for a season, but a second, generic app is also needed that allows people to customize both the candidates and positions.

There are always many more approaches to the issues than are discussed and represented during election cycles, we may need to add other solutions to the issues that are not being promoted in individual campaigns and add those to the database. Ideas from big and small business, from nonprofits, and so on. Candidates often get swallowed up by the Party Line or pushed outside the circle, if they are deemed to “extreme” or inconsistent with party values and big donor special interest. If there is a way for “players” to customize the solutions to each issue, that would make the game more interesting.

While the candidate is built primarily on solutions to issues, you can also create the president’s background, such as gender, age, education, previous work experience, ethnicity, wealth, family, religion (or not). Artists and graphic designers could develop some stock images you could select, or people could upload a custom graphic for their candidate.

You could even put yourself in the election if you wanted to, by developing a candidate based on your own views.

Making it Interactive:  The app allows “players” to enter their candidates into mock elections with candidates created by other people, and all players can then vote.

Some interesting social analysis could be conducted after mining the data of what kinds of presidents We the People build, if we could select from a larger pool.

Is someone doing this already, and I just don’t know because I don’t have a smartphone?

I’m pretty sure Carly Fiorina would like this idea. She promotes the use of technology in government and also as a way to engage We the People in the function of our government. During her appearance at the Heritage Action’s Take Back America Forum in Greenville, SC, last Friday, she gave us dinosaur flip-phone users 18 months to upgrade to a smart phone.

Hmm… Given that it is an app, people from other countries would be able to create U.S.  presidents and participate in the mock elections.

Hmmm… some more…. can candidates collect (fake) donations in this app? Which means that you can download the app and register with “voter” status, versus “candidate” status. If so, the app must include campaign finance rules. How would the app be made interesting for someone who was only going to vote and not building a president? Each voter could be given the maximum amount of money allowable to donate, and could decide to give all of it to one candidate or spread it around to multiple candidates. The people who build their own president can’t have mock elections if there are no voters.

Money… What could candidates do with their fake money? Buy advertisements in the app?

When I shared this idea with my coworkers last week, no one wanted to talk about it and brainstorm with me. I had to fight to get one person to agree, “yeah, that’s a good idea.” Was it because the others are disengaged? Are we too early in the political season? Does Average American believe my vote doesn’t matter and I can’t make a difference? Or… the problems are so great, I’m overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin to effect change?

And that, People, is my idea, which began last week and continues to percolate this week.