Lift Ev’ry Voice

See the source imageTo be clear, the proposal is a national hymn, not a replacement for the national anthem. First verse sings as follows:

Lift ev’ry voice and sing,
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the list’ning skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea,
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.

Will this place White GOP Christians in a bind? It’s known for its association with Black churches. How many times was this hymn followed up by a firebombing or a lynching. And still, people sang “Let us march on till victory is won.”

Good for Rep. Clyburn for suggesting it.

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Acolytes and Lectors

I did notice this liturgical news earlier this week. Yay, but yawn.

I can imagine the hand-wringing about it in traditional circles. The so-called minor orders were suppressed in the early 1970s. But they made a comeback in the heady years of retreat from liturgical reform. The notion of men-only in these lowest of clergy ranks has been used as justification for the men-only practice in servers and lectors in many parishes and a diocese here and there. There’s hardly a connection with parish volunteers and the old clergy system anymore. Today’s lay lectors and servers are just better at their role, especially if they have been well-discerned and formed in the role.

In some places, the lingo has just been altered to satisfy some fragment of tradition. Readers instead of lectors. Servers instead of acolytes.

This would have been a positive development in 1975 or so. I can’t see significant impact today. Pastors in parishes and dioceses will still do as they have done or as they please. Lector and server rosters are populated with females and that will continue. There won’t be an uptick in numbers.

The real issues confronting us in liturgy and ministry are untouched by this. We need baptized persons realizing their vocation in the foundational sacrament as disciples. Not spectators. Liturgical ministers need discernment and formation, as they always have.

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Fratelli Tutti 74: More On Those Passers-By

People can wrap themselves in the mantle of Christianity, but the behavior does not always match. Among today’s Christians, orthopraxis does not always accompany orthodoxy.

74. One detail about the passers-by does stand out: they were religious, devoted to the worship of God: a priest and a Levite. This detail should not be overlooked. It shows that belief in God and the worship of God are not enough to ensure that we are actually living in a way pleasing to God. A believer may be untrue to everything that his faith demands of him, and yet think he is close to God and better than others. The guarantee of an authentic openness to God, on the other hand, is a way of practicing the faith that helps open our hearts to our brothers and sisters.

Listen to the doctor with the golden mouth:

Saint John Chrysostom expressed this pointedly when he challenged his Christian hearers: “Do you wish to honor the body of the Savior? Do not despise it when it is naked. Do not honor it in church with silk vestments while outside it is naked and numb with cold”.[Homiliae in Matthaeum, 50: 3-4: PG 58, 508]Paradoxically, those who claim to be unbelievers can sometimes put God’s will into practice better than believers.

All citations of Fratelli Tutti (which can be found on this link) are © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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White Danger

Blizzard1 - NOAA.jpgWell yes, that whiteness is certainly a danger.

I’ve attempted to engage a few people on social media with their alarm (which I know is genuine) about social media groups getting “cancelled.” I was also following some news where law enforcement agencies determined that overlooking the president’s January 6th mob was a sound approach compared to women, blacks, and others of non-whiteness.

Big, big error, it seems.

Ask white policemen who were trampled, injured, and killed in the events at the Capitol.

Am I concerned for conservatives as a “big” group getting put down by progressives as a “little” group? No. First, I think that diehard conservatives and progressives inhabit small portions on the fringes of the political spectrum. Second, if seventy-four million Americans really wanted to hunt down Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi and put them to death, I have no problem with a smaller group of eighty-one million sending them to the time-out corner.

I do have observations about the early days of 2021:

  • I’m concerned about non-violent protesters losing their jobs.
  • That said, if a person violated the law at the Capitol last week and is convicted to prison time, I don’t see how an employer can be required to hold a job until its yellow ribbon time on the old oak tree.
  • But I am in favor of ex-convicts being able to get good employment and return to society as law-abiding taxpaying voters and otherwise good citizens.
  • I’ve been a skeptic on social media from the start. I use it to connect with family and friends. I enjoy the political or religious repartee. But it’s a pale second place to actually engaging people live and in person.
  • I recognize that so-called big tech is little different from big ag, big oil, big media. They’re in it to make money for shareholders and huge money for founders. They use me, and I use them.
  • I don’t think a social media group has any more right to a mostly free platform than I have for desiring to post an essay on a more popular blogger’s website.
  • If it seems like some conservatives are getting picked on this past week, maybe it’s because they’ve gotten largely a free pass most of the last year. It’s just catching up to them.

Politically, religiously, or whatever, I have no problem with conservatives in principle. I observe many of them have migrated far away from original creeds. Their groups seem little interested in tacking farther from their extremist portions. They will lose the center, people of color, the young, the newcomers to the US. No wonder they seem to want to obstruct good things from the majority of their neighbors if the other side is behind it. No wonder they want to limit voting opportunities. No wonder they often have to peddle lies. No wonder they want to cut off hard-working contributors to our society if they are coming from other nations.

As an older white man, I strive to look to where others are persecuted. Women. Blacks. Young people. As a Christian I’m concerned about the religious persecution of Jews, Muslims, and yes, even pagans. As one born in this country, I’m concerned about immigrants, refugees, and visitors. As one who has abandoned public protesting, I’m concerned about peaceful protesters and their mistreatment by yes, old white male Christian Americans.

Yes, some white people present a grave danger to the US. Seems like last week woke up some people. Good. And may good come of it.

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Fratelli Tutti 73: Look Closely At The Passers-By

73. The parable then asks us to take a closer look at the passers-by. The nervous indifference that makes them pass to the other side of the road – whether innocently or not, whether the result of disdain or mere distraction – makes the priest and the Levite a sad reflection of the growing gulf between ourselves and the world around us.

Jesus frames his parable by introducing “respectable” folk. And preachers over the centuries have pointed out various excuses for them: ritual impurity, bait for a crime, busy lives. These are excuses in the Reign of God. Jesus does not prioritize religious practice above human need. And clearly, if robbers are intent on using a wounded person to draw in a helper, the criminals might as well not bother and just attack the new innocent directly.

Excuses place us at a safe distance from the needy and the poor.

There are many ways to pass by at a safe distance: we can retreat inwards, ignore others, or be indifferent to their plight. Or simply look elsewhere, as in some countries, or certain sectors of them, where contempt is shown for the poor and their culture, and one looks the other way, as if a development plan imported from without could edge them out. This is how some justify their indifference: the poor, whose pleas for help might touch their hearts, simply do not exist. The poor are beyond the scope of their interest.

All citations of Fratelli Tutti (which can be found on this link) are © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Some of my friends in social media are wringing hands over a certain purging on certain platforms. I’m still reading them on the main ones, including blogs, so it hasn’t hit just yet to the ordinary everyday non-seditionist.

ParlerSo, the facebook alternative parler lost its service provider. Despite being used by last Wednesday’s rioters, this is supposedly a bad thing. Someone choosing not to do business is a business thing isn’t it? I’m not sure it’s really prejudice against conservatives as such. Just the ones acting like jerks.

I asked a friend who migrated to parler some questions. If I wanted to post my thoughts on a more popular person’s social media site, why shouldn’t I have the freedom to do so? Am I being censored in the same way that amazon and the google aren’t providing for conservatives?

Not too sure about some of the complaints. I definitely see a lot of conservatives on facebook, for instance. I also read the criticism of big tech, and I wouldn’t stoop to defend big corporations. I’m just as skeptical of big oil and others. I think many of my friends on the right would be alarmed to find we were in agreement about big things bad and small things good. I also know that the parler braintrust is less forgiving of critics on their platform than Mark Z is on his.

Meanwhile, I think Stephen King censored me by not having me write a chapter in one of his bestsellers and getting me 5% royalties.

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Lies And Consequences

As a civic-involved citizen, I suppose I could feel less sad for members of the Capitol mob facing the local music as they return to real life. I’ve always been a skeptic of cancel culture, as readers here know. I doubted its effectiveness when bishops disinvited speakers, or lay people got fired from church jobs. Sometimes, cancelling just upped book sales. Which wasn’t a bad thing in some cases.

Tiki Barbados Bamboo TorchI don’t know what last Wednesday’s rioters were thinking with their social media presence. Maybe the average seditionist unfriended all the voices of reason in her or his firmament of friends and opted instead for those fine people with tiki torches and bullhorns.

A person posts video of themselves advocating the breaking of windows, committing violence against fellow citizens, and generally spreading falsehoods left, right, and cyber. Is this smart behavior? It seems to imply a new national order was expected on the 7th of January. Was that insightfully prescient?

My parish celebrated a baptism this past weekend. Before parents, godparents, and parishioners profess positive affirmations about faith, we are asked to reject a certain dark angel. In history, the questions that follow have been worded. “And all his show?” or “And all his lies?”

Show is certainly a synonym for what goes on in the US executive branch and its followers these days. Who needs a mainstream medium when one can ask one’s spouse to capture video with a camera and broadcast it to one’s friends and family online? And lies? If you asked any of the president’s lawyers what their chances of prevailing in the courts to overturn an election, I’m sure the answer would have been something along the lines of “Absolutely zero; but I’m getting a shipload of billable hours out of this.” And guess who’s paying for those hours?

Somebody’s been duped by lies and falsehoods in all this, and more: they’re willingly paying for it.

Image result for fabric lettersI think the consequences for some of the “I was just kidding” seditionists might be as simple as Nathaniel Hawthorne. Sew the letter S into one’s polo shirts? Maybe just post an “S” as a personal identifier on all of one’s social media accounts.

Do people deserve to lose jobs? I’m not sure that’s the best way in most of these cases. Certainly, if a protester needs to go to prison for a year or two, I wouldn’t expect a yellow ribbon on a realty company, or a college office. Otherwise, maybe restorative justice is a thought. If someone urinated on the floor in the Capitol, then maybe a few hundred hours of community service cleaning bathrooms is a thought. Suggested that BLM infiltrated the mob? Paint those letters in one’s driveway or carve it into one’s shrubbery.

One way or the other, commenters take a crack at convincing me one way or the other. One thing though: nobody gets off on this. Not good behavior.

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Fratelli Tutti 72: Robbers

With this section Pope Francis begins to look at “The characters of the story.” He begins with the aftermath of the crime.

72. The parable begins with the robbers. Jesus chose to start when the robbery has already taken place, lest we dwell on the crime itself or the thieves who committed it. Yet we know them well.

An analysis of the past few days as well as the current world situation:

We have seen, descending on our world, the dark shadows of neglect and violence in the service of petty interests of power, gain and division. The real question is this: will we abandon the injured man and run to take refuge from the violence, or will we pursue the thieves? Will the wounded man end up being the justification for our irreconcilable divisions, our cruel indifference, our intestine conflicts?

It happens often enough in the US; the Holy Father could be writing about our particular nation.

All citations of Fratelli Tutti (which can be found on this link) are © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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A Servant’s Heart

Eloquent, and worth watching:

I believe that in in German, the phrase that he is referring to “a servant’s heart” would be Dienerherz (“servant heart”). A very good word my paternal great grandparents and grandparents would have learned in their childhood. Most of my professional life has been devoted to fiduciary law and regulation. The loss of the fiduciary sensibility by people attracting the most fans (some of them also being voters) in our culture, something that recurs regularly in our history and against which we need booster shots for improved immunity – for a while – has been a feature of much of the last 50 years of American public life. For a fiduciary, the first-person singular is the last perspective to consider, rather than the first. Dienerherz – Servant-Heart: a very good principle to live by. As individuals and as a people. We have been graced with many models to emulate.

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The Servant

In looking for a servant in the mold of Jesus, consider the measure of the prophet Isaiah from this weekend’s reading. Look for a person …

not crying out, not shouting,
not making (their) voice heard in the street.
a bruised reed (they) shall not break,
and a smoldering wick (they) shall not quench …

(Isaiah 42:2-3a)

Before getting into whom this doesn’t sound like, let’s think about the people we know for whom this fits. I can count a few teachers, a mentor, and my most recent boss.

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Fratelli Tutti 71: Opportunities For Mercy

Pope Francis sees “inertia,” but many people experience upheaval. 

71. The story of the Good Samaritan is constantly being repeated. We can see this clearly as social and political inertia is turning many parts of our world into a desolate byway, even as domestic and international disputes and the robbing of opportunities are leaving great numbers of the marginalized stranded on the roadside.

I think the inertia is old ways of being human–racism and sexism especially–are being challenged, questioned, and discarded. And the whites are in resistance.

In his parable, Jesus does not offer alternatives; he does not ask what might have happened had the injured man or the one who helped him yielded to anger or a thirst for revenge. Jesus trusts in the best of the human spirit; with this parable, he encourages us to persevere in love, to restore dignity to the suffering and to build a society worthy of the name.

I’d add that Jesus invites the believer to notice what is happening in the present moment. What gesture of mercy presents itself to us in our daily life? How can we act on it?

All citations of Fratelli Tutti (which can be found on this link) are © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Et Tu, Racism?

Fallout from sedition at the Capitol will be settling for some time. The president’s supporters have forced racism into the limelight yet again. At some point the US will need a reckoning on it, difficult as that may be for conservatives and liberals alike.

Social media friends were quick to comment on Wednesday the difference between how the 2020 protests were handled. Of course, the BLM outrage was directed at local police as part of the nation’s problem. If whites in blue were feeling threatened, they certainly interpreted that accurately.

A friend’s friend on social media offered up a what-about-Kavanaugh to me. Discounting the white Karens, it’s also about sexism. Policing the protesting of the Supreme Court was a very tidy affair compared to this past week.

My hope is that if police indeed see allies in the white privilege movement, the loss of one of their own on Wednesday will wake them up. Violent agitators would sweep them away if given the opportunity. Siding with seditionists might save one’s skin in a tough moment, but as they say, the whole world is watching now. The next protest that involves women or people of color, we’ll be watching very closely.

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Fratelli Tutti 70: Reacting To A Painful Sight

70. It is remarkable how the various characters in the story change, once confronted by the painful sight of the poor man on the roadside. The distinctions between Judean and Samaritan, priest and merchant, fade into insignificance.

For us, I suppose the distinctions of class, race, ideology grow less important as we are confronted by need. For the Christian, what is our response to those in need?

Now there are only two kinds of people: those who care for someone who is hurting and those who pass by; those who bend down to help and those who look the other way and hurry off. Here, all our distinctions, labels and masks fall away: it is the moment of truth. Will we bend down to touch and heal the wounds of others? Will we bend down and help another to get up? This is today’s challenge, and we should not be afraid to face it. In moments of crisis, decisions become urgent. It could be said that, here and now, anyone who is neither a robber nor a passer-by is either injured himself or bearing an injured person on his shoulders.

All citations of Fratelli Tutti (which can be found on this link) are © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On Making Music

This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.

I posted this on my parish music ministry’s group page Monday. Little did I realize I would need the inspiration myself a good bit more later this week.

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Words And Females

Now that somebody has started off a new culturewar round with “a-women,” I was reminded of popes accepting gifts from girls on this season. Does that make them fe-magi?

See the source image

Pope Benedict XVI endorsed it too:

See the source image

Images from Catholic New Service photographer Paul Haring. By the way, I like the Pope Francis era crowns more.

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