Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thomas Aquinas’s Secret to Sainthood

Thomas Aquinas’s Secret to Sainthood


The innocence of this 13th century sage is perhaps the quintessence of his character, and the most seemingly incongruous element of his renown.

St. Thomas Aquinas

There are a great many saints who will never be known on this side of God's grace; whose lives merited heavenly bliss but not the history books.  But this host of secret saints represents the central secret of what it means to be a saint: who a person is is more important than what a person does.  In other words, the prestige of sainthood is not necessarily determined by what is done but how it is done.
Thomas Aquinas is a saint; and his sanctity, by this reasoning, is prior to anything of note that he may have done — such as writing the Summa Theologica.  Bearing out the distinction between character and career, the Summa suddenly becomes a sign of the holiness of St. Thomas and not the reason why he was holy.
Most people know and recall Thomas for being a master theologian, philosopher, teacher, preacher, and a Doctor of the Universal Church — for thus is his overwhelming legacy.  Few are aware of his position concerning the role of "playful deeds and jokes" to maintain a healthy mind.  There are only a handful of legendary anecdotes and historical scraps which offer insight into the soul, into the person, who achieved such wonders and earned such titles.  Those that do exist are strangely suggestive of one whose profundity is both foreign and familiar.  A profundity reserved for angels and infants.
Though Thomas Aquinas was a man of formidable stature with a fair head like the sun at the crest of a hill, he possessed a delicate genius.  He looked upon the world with the authentic wonder and perceptive power of a youth, and engaged it with a youth's zeal, honesty, and solemnity.  There are few things more serious than a child engrossed in his play, and Thomas resembled one of these in his work.  The brilliance of his writings shines with a virtuosity like play.  Though the connotation may exist, and with good reason, to depict or classify Thomas as an austere academic of furrowed brow and no nonsense, there is a straightforward delight and precision about this saint and his compositions that can evoke the schoolboy as much as the scholastic.
The heart of this mystery surrounding Thomas Aquinas is a terrible innocence.  By a miraculous grace, Thomas was permitted to retain a moral integrity throughout his fifty years of life, and a disposition that was not drawn towards the darker regions of human depravity.  His sins were reputedly the simple sins of small children, and this virtue freed his intellect from the temptations and distractions that drive away wisdom.  Thomas had the liberty to examine the intricacies of the worlds around him unencumbered with the disturbances that human nature often introduces.
The traditional origin of this purity and clarity of both mind and heart occurred when Thomas was nineteen and his brothers, in an attempt to dissuade him from joining the Dominicans, locked him in a tower with a seductress.  As any furious and frightened boy might have done, Thomas chased the harlot about the room with a flaming brand.  Once she escaped, Thomas fell into a deep sleep as two angels descended to his prison and, like a child, dressed and trussed him up in a girdle — a garment of perpetual chastity.  From that time forth he was not given to lust nor to the unruly motions of the flesh, and able to apply himself entirely to the beauties and truths of the mind with uncanny poise and precision.  This particular power of the innocent remained intact in Thomas Aquinas, allowing him to wield the gravitas and eloquence that comes out of the mouths of babes and sucklings.

The innocence of this 13th century sage is perhaps the quintessence of his character, and the most seemingly incongruous element of his renown.  When Thomas was a small child, a tremendous storm burst over the ancestral castle and a lightning bolt shot into the chamber killing both his sister and his nurse.  This tragedy left the lad with a terror for thunderstorms that persisted throughout his life.  When the skies rumbled and flashed, he was known to creep into the priory chapel and thrust his head into the tabernacle — as any toddler might creep into his parents' room on such a night.  Is this the behavior of a man possessed with mystic reason and iron logic?  On the contrary, is there any man wiser than a man who is like a child?
"Thomas! Thomas!" two snickering friars called, rousing their brother who was bent over his books.  "Look out the window — there are pigs flying about in the sky!"  Thomas rose at once and bounced to the window incredulously.  The friars laughed.  Putting the finishing touch on the jest, the saint responded, "I would rather believe that pigs can fly than believe that my brethren could lie."  Could such waggish wit reside in a severe philosopher?  On the contrary, can anyone be a philosopher without a childish sense of humor?
"The proof from authority," reads the Summa, "is the weakest type of proof according to Boethius."  Is it possible that the all-serious Summa could entertain a joke amid its judiciousness?  On the contrary, is it possible that anyone who is serious enough to be a saint would not be as lighthearted as a youth?
The paradox that is presented by these ingenuous characteristics of the ingenious Angelic Doctor is one that should comfort rather than confuse.  Paradoxes and Paradise seem to go hand in hand.  It is wonderful to think that even the most heavenly enlightened and intelligent of men was seemingly one of childlike simplicity, honesty, and solemnity.  At the height of his history as a scholar, he was discovered in his cell scrawling away, as was his wont, but paying rapt attention to invisible teachers — St. Peter and St. Paul, in fact, as he once confided to one of his brothers.  The great teacher was also a great student, taught the secrets of the Sacred Scriptures from the blessed Apostles themselves.  And an apt pupil was Thomas, as St. Albert the Great, his visible teacher, knew well.
Like a new Thomas who could believe without seeing, Thomas Aquinas was finally given what he longed for.  No one quite knows what happened as he knelt in the dark church before that crucifix.  All that is known for certain is that he was not alone.  "Thomas, thou hast written well of Me," Christ said to his child.  "What reward wouldst thou have?" "Nothing but Thyself, Lord," was Thomas' reply.  It was then that St. Thomas saw something that brought a joyful end to his labors, something that made him famously call the prodigious and ponderous library that he had written "so much straw."  He shrugged at it all with a smiling indifference, as a child does over an old toy.  His mind and pen turned to the Song of Songs, to poetry, and music.
When Thomas took to his deathbed in 1274, a star hovered over the monastery as it did for the Holy Infant.  A priest was called in to hear the last confession of a giant — one who had understood and undertaken the truths of heaven and earth.  G. K. Chesterton describes what followed in his glorious biography:  "...the confessor, who had been with him in the inner chamber, ran forth as if in fear, and whispered that his confession had been that of a child of five."
The "hidden Deity" was hidden from Thomas no longer.
St. Thomas Aquinas adored his God and gave glory to Him through his works;  but it was his love that won him eternal glory and the sun for a crown.  If he had remained — as his schoolfellows called him for his quiet manner — the Dumb Ox for his entire life, heaven would yet have been his by virtue of his love.  But the Dumb Ox filled the world with his bellowing, and Thomas trod his path to Paradise by the high road instead of the low road — but his direction, whatever the road, was determined by the soul he housed in his great body.  The miracle of his labors was a mere result of a much deeper miracle.  And though many souls besides his were saved through the miracle of his mind, the greatest miracle of all is that a child could be so wise.  ACKNOWLEDGEMENT Sean Fitzpatrick. "Thomas Aquinas's Secret to Sainthood." Catholic Exchange (January 28, 2014).
Reprinted with permission of the author and Catholic Exchange.
image:  St. Thomas in stained class, County Tipperary, Ireland/ Andreas F. Borchert, Wikimedia Commons.
Sean Fitzpatrick is a native of Ottawa, Canada, and a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College, CA.  He taught literature, mythology, and poetry for ten years at St. Gregory's Academy, and is now working for the Clairvaux Institute to found a new school in the classical tradition.  Mr. Fitzpatrick is a children's book illustrator and an aspiring writer.  He lives in Scranton, PA with his wife, Sophie, and four children.
Copyright © 2014 Catholic Exchange

Monday, January 27, 2014

Satan, Sin, and Sociology

Satan, Sin, and Sociology

Satan falling from heaven, as depicted by Gustave Dore in an illustration for John MIlton's "Paradise Lost".

In his first homily, given on March 14th, Pope Francis cautioned the faithful that “he who does not pray to the Lord, prays to the devil.” “When we do not profess Jesus Christ,” he further insisted, “we profess the worldliness of the devil, a demonic worldliness.” Since that day, he has spoken often of the one he has called the “prince of this world,” and the “father of lies.” And, in the book, On Heaven and Earth, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio devoted an entire chapter to “The Devil”, warning that Satan’s fruits are “destruction, division, hatred and calumny.”
For many Catholics—especially post-Vatican II Catholics—speaking aloud of evil, sin, and Satan is something they may never have experienced, even in Church. Some may have to resort to the internet (or dictionary) to look up a definition of calumny. It seems that after a long hiatus, evil and sin have been “rediscovered” by some.
More than sixty years ago, T. S. Eliot wrote about the sense of alienation that occurs when social regulators begin to splinter and the controlling moral authority of a society is no longer effective. He suggested that a “sense of sin” was beginning to disappear. In his play,The Cocktail Party, a troubled young protagonist visits a psychiatrist and confides that she feels “sinful” because of her relationship with a married man. She is distressed not so much by the illicit relationship, but rather, by the strange sense of sin. Eliot writes, “Having a sense of sin seems abnormal” to her—she had never noticed before that such behavior might be seen in those terms. She believed that she had become “ill.”
Writing in 1950, Eliot knew that the language of sin was declining even then, yet most of us would assume that the concept of sin was still strong. Looking back though, it seems that for many, the sense of sin was already beginning to be replaced by an emerging therapeutic culture. Within that growing culture of “liberation”, people no longer viewed themselves as sinful when they drank too much, took drugs, or engaged in violent or abusive behaviors. Rather, such actions were increasingly viewed as indicators that such individuals were victims of an illness they had little or no control over.
Promoted by the psychological community and popularized by practitioners like Carl Rogers, the therapeutic mentality began seeping into the Church as psychologists began advising Catholic dioceses about implementing the therapeutic culture within the Church itself. Seminarians were instructed to move away from making judgments about others, and instead, use the language of illness and therapy. Suicide was no longer a sin that deprived the victim of Christian burial, rather, it was evidence of sickness. Drug and alcohol abuse were no longer character flaws or the result of choices, rather they were evidence of a defective gene pool that “forced” the victim into the illness of substance abuse.
Sociologists—who understand better than most how deviant behavior becomes defined and re-defined—began paying attention to the culture shift. Sociologist Philip Rieff, an expert on the thought of Freud, warned in his now-classic book, The Triumph of the Therapeutic that “psychological man” was beginning to replace “Christian man” as the dominant character type in our society. Unlike traditional Christianity, which made moral demands on believers, the secular world of “psychological man” rejected both the idea of sin and the need for salvation.” Speaking of a “sense of sin”, an “occasion of sin”, or sinfulness itself was no longer allowed.
Perhaps this is why it is so unusual to experience the revival of the language of sin now that Pope Francis actually speaks of “real” sins—not just metaphorical ones. Speaking of specific sins—sins like calumny—that we may have learned about long ago, but have forgotten about, Pope Francis has begun the process of chipping away at the therapeutic culture in the Church and beyond. And as he reminds us of sin, he reminds us that there is evil—real evil—in the world and in our lives, with a real entity called Satan as the source of this evil.
Indeed, it is Pope Francis’s references to Satan that are so striking, especially since so few public figures speak of Satan. And, whenever anyone dares speaks openly of Satan, “enlightened” people are scandalized. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia found that out last October when he was interviewed by a skeptical reporter for New York Magazine.Justice Scalia casually responded to a question about his legacy in a way that appeared to startle the interviewer. Claiming that he has “never been custodian of my legacy,” Justice Scalia said “When I’m dead and gone, I’ll either be sublimely happy or terribly unhappy.”
The New York Magazine reporter was incredulous—asking him: “You believe in heaven and hell?” And, Justice Scalia responded “Of course I do.” The reporter said she didn’t.
Justice Scalia then astonished the bewildered reporter even more by leaning in, and whispering, “I even believe in the Devil…Yeah, he’s a real person. Hey, c’mon, that’s standard Catholic doctrine. Every Catholic believes that.” She could hardly believe it—responding that “Every Catholic believes this? There’s a wide variety of Catholics out there.”
It is true, sadly, that there are indeed a number of Catholics who have never been taught that the Devil is “real”. It is just unbelievable to them. But when Pope Francis said Mass in the Vatican’s St. Martha guesthouse last October and warned the faithful, “We must always be on guard against deceit, against the seduction of evil,” he meant a real evil presented by a real demon. For Pope Francis, “there is a battle, and a battle where salvation is at play, eternal salvation.” He has also said, “The presence of the devil is on the first page of the Bible, and the Bible ends as well with the presence of the devil, with the victory of God over the devil.”
So many Catholics seem to have forgotten that, and we should be grateful to Pope Francis for the reminder. Some of us may not even know what is on the first page of the Bible because we have not read it. Many of our Evangelical sisters and brothers have never forgotten it. As Russell Moore, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, recently wrote on the pages of First Things, “Evangelicals are a narrative driven people…The centrality of the Gospel demands a certain form of public engagement. The Gospel, after all is the announcement of God’s redemption of sinners through the life, death, resurrection, and ongoing reign of Jesus Christ.”
Catholics need to re-learn that language—and Pope Francis, building on the work of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, is teaching us to go back to the Bible to see as Russell Moore reminds us, “the universe is shaped around the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that losing our living sense of the ultimate telos leads to an unsustainable teleology.” Perhaps we all just needed to reminded that Satan is real.
Religious writers have often called Satan an “evil genius” because of his ability to hide in plain sight and tempt us in subtle ways. C. S. Lewis offers a compelling description of the way in which the “Father of Lies” cunningly tries to convince us to turn away from God. In his satirical Screwtape Letters, Lewis creates a senior demon named Screwtape who is instructing Wormwood, his young protégé on how best to capture a soul for hell. When Wormwood wants to tempt the target to commit great evil for great profit, Screwtape advises his young demon-in-training that it is not necessary to get the target to commit the “big sins.” Rather, as Screwtape says in Letter XII, “the safest road to hell is the gradual one, the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”
Pope Francis is warning us of these gentle slopes without signposts. Cautioning us about the “small” temptations—the greedy reach, the neglect of the poor, the dangers of gossip, or pride. Francis has already spoken many times in just a few months of the temptations of Satan and the reality of evil. But, that is not enough—Catholics need to begin to believe that the devil is real and active. In Letter VII, Screwtape tells his young protégé that the most effective thing he can do to bring souls to hell is to convince people that Satan does not even exist: “The fact that “devils” are predominantly comic figures in the modern imagination will help you. If any faint suspicion of your existence begins to arise in his mind, suggest to him a picture of something in red tights, and persuade him that since he cannot believe in that, he therefore cannot believe in you.”
Pope Francis refuses to allow this deception to continue—and this is why he is so very important for our Church.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Women share abortion regets on Roe anniversary

‘An emptiness inside me that was unexplainable’: Women share abortion regets on Roe anniversary

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 24, 2014 ( – It was a bitterly cold day in the nation’s capital Wednesday as thousands of pro-life Americans marched on the United States Supreme Court on the 41st anniversary of its Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion nationwide.
As the marchers braved single digit temperatures and a below zero wind chill to demand a reversal of Roe v. Wade, a group of 20 pro-abortion counter-protesters waited for them in front of the court, chanting shrilly, carrying coat hangers and signs that said “Keep your politics out of my” womb and “Dr. Tiller is my hero.”
The protesters’ chants were easily drowned out by the first wave of young people to complete the March, chanting “We love babies, yes we do, we love babies, how about you?”
But then the crowd fell largely silent as, a few feet away, around a lone microphone, a group of about 30 women began to assemble, all carrying signs of their own that read, “I regret my abortion.”
These women had gathered at the court's steps to put a human face on the tragedy of abortion – not just for the babies who died having never felt their mothers’ touch, but for the mothers themselves.
These women came together armed with nothing more than a microphone and their life stories to present a single, unified message: When it comes to post-abortion trauma and regret, “We will be silent no more.”
“The deep, dark secret of my two abortions kept me enslaved for over 30 years,” said one of the women, Leslie. “The damages of unresolved guilt, grief and shame played havoc on my personal life, but I never connected the dots,” she said. “Like most people who’ve experienced abortion, I tried to bury the emotional pain and memories deep in my soul. I did my best to strain forward in motherhood, marriage, career, and community involvement. But my heart wouldn't settle...those abortions haunted me...and living a lie was killing me!”
Laura, another post-abortive mom, told the crowd that after her abortion, she thought “it was all over, like an eraser. Now no one would know what a terrible person I was.” She later married the father of the baby she had aborted, but said she felt like “used goods.” She found herself tormented by depression, fear, nightmares, and thoughts of suicide. “What was supposed to be an eraser, hadn’t erased anything at all,” she said. “It was destroying me from the inside.”
Another woman, Leigh Ann, said she had an abortion at age 19, “primarily out of fear of how my parents would react to me being unwed and pregnant.” She said she “naively and conveniently believed the all the lies about abortion without considering asking more questions before following through with my decision.”
“Immediately following the abortion,” said Leigh Ann, “I experienced mixed feelings of relief and an emptiness inside of me that was unexplainable. For a decade I remained muddled about the decision and when doubts surfaced, I suppressed them.”

Leigh Ann said that the “emptiness” she felt after her abortion soon developed into “anger and depression.” Later, when she gave birth to a child, she suffered from severe anxiety that someone or something would harm him, a fear she blames on her suppressed guilt over the abortion.
Click "like" if you want to end abortion!
“Post-abortion stress syndrome is real,” Leigh Ann said. “I just didn’t know I was suffering from it back then.” She said she finally found relief after joining a church and asking God for forgiveness. “I began to really look to God for help,” she said. “I came to accept the truth that my abortion resulted in the death of my child and God’s forgiveness came freely when I repented. But the healing took much longer.”
Many of the women reported that the way they found healing and the courage to break their silence was by attending post-abortion retreats or Bible studies, such as Rachel’s Vineyardand Forgiven and Set Free.
“The more I understood about God, the more His peace filled my heart – which made no room for the negative feelings,” said Leigh Ann, who participated in a Forgiven and Set Free study. “I will always have regret for the things I did wrong, but having God’s love has given me the hope and joy I was missing.”
Many of the women also said they feel that breaking the silence around abortion regret is an important part of showing the world the truth about how harmful abortion is not only to babies, but to women.
“Women who have had abortions are the only people in the world who tell people of their sin over and over and over,” Amy, who had two abortions soon after Roe, told the crowd. “No one else holds a sign for the world to see saying, ‘I committed adultery,’ or ‘I stole money from my family,’ or ‘I lied a lot,’ or ‘I cheated on my husband,’ or ‘I cheated on a test’... No one. No one. It is very lopsided. Why does this happen?”
Amy said, “Perhaps the one reason is because these women, whom God has forgiven, love Him so much that they want to help someone else stop from committing the same sin. They share their very heart and soul with strangers in order to save others.”
“During my abortion, I felt as though I was being torn apart,” said Maggie, who aborted her baby after discovering her boyfriend was cheating on her. “After my abortion I was disabled, the secrecy magnified my shame and became toxic to my health and spirit,” she said. “I already had two other children but how do you parent when you are suffering so deep? For years, my children had a zombie as a mother.”
One day, while Maggie was working at a gift shop, a young girl came in and confessed she was considering abortion. “Immediately I shared my testimony with her, hoping to spare her from a lifetime of pain,” Maggie said. “She thanked me for my testimony but left undecided.”
Maggie said, “About a year-and-a-half later, I heard a knock at the gift shop door. I began to shake because there, to my surprise, she stood in front of me with her beautiful six-month bouncing baby boy. Her words will forever echo in my heart: ‘I want to introduce my son to the woman who saved his life.’”
“After that incredible experience,” Maggie said, “I went to confession, then attended a Rachel’s Vineyard weekend retreat. I found the group setting very helpful, I learned that I was not alone. Others had experienced the same symptoms, especially the trauma resulting from not voicing the pain.”
Maggie addded, “The support system and healing process of Rachael’s Vineyard opened me up to God’s mercy and love and spiritually, I found my way back home. Renewed, I vowed to do everything within my power to help prevent other women from suffering as I did, as I am ‘Silent No More.’”

Thursday, January 23, 2014

One of Pope Francis’ New Cardinals Angers Gay Advocates – By Speaking the Truth!

One of Pope Francis’ New Cardinals Angers Gay Advocates – By Speaking the Truth!

The newly appointed Cardinal Fernando Sebastian Aguilar, the 84-year-old Archbishop Emeritus of Pamplona Spain, said:
“Homosexuality is a deficient way of manifesting sexuality because (sexuality) has a structure and a purpose, which is procreation.” “Homosexuality, which can’t achieve this purpose, is a failing…” “Our bodies have many deficiencies. I have high blood pressure — a deficiency I have to correct as I can.” “Saying homosexuals suffer a deficiency is not an insult. It’s a help because in many cases of homosexuality it is possible to recover and become normal with the right treatment.”
Concerning the wildly misinterpreted opinions of Pope Francis on homosexuality, he continued: “It is one thing to be compassionate towards a homosexual person but another thing to morally justify the practice of homosexuality. All (the Pope) is doing is offering comprehension and compassion and showing a desire to welcome those who have gone astray.”
As a former gay man and as someone who spent many years in that lifestyle, and successfully left it, I can testify that what the Cardinal said is absolutely true. Over the years, as I talk with countless gay men, the same almost identical stories keep reappearing: some form of childhood trauma that forever changed the way they thought about and perceived themselves and the opposite sex. Oftentimes, it’s sort of a given in the gay world, i.e. my overbearing mother, or my unloving father. Nowadays, I am also witnessing an increase in young people who were drawn to homosexuality because of early exposure to pornography and a culture that celebrates “progressive” forms of sexual expression – such as: gender-bending, metro-sexuality, and trans-genderism. Nevertheless, it all can be traced back into childhood. Hence, because a locus or starting point can be discovered, like the Cardinal stated, healing is possible. From personal experience, I discovered that Catholicism offered the best solution: an acceptance of our woundedness, embracing chastity, and a Love for the Cross. 

A Bangladesh Grows in Brooklyn

A Bangladesh Grows in Brooklyn

by DANIEL GREENFIELD January 23, 2014
Walk along Church Avenue past Beverly Road and turn east onto McDonald Avenue and you will see where the old standards of working class Brooklyn, aging homes with faded American flags and loose siding flapping in the wind, surly bars tucked into the shadows of street corners and the last video stores hanging on to a dying industry give way to mosques and grocery stores selling goat meat. 

Mosques grow like mushrooms in basements and above stores offering halal patties, pizza and fried chicken. Newspapers with strange characters peer through the broken glass of red vending machines. Old men glare at interlopers, especially if they are infidel women, and old women finger the fringes of colorful shawls behind the dirty windows of hole-in-the-wall stores.

This is where Mohammed Siddiquee settled a dispute the old-fashioned way by beheading his landlord. 

Mohammed beheaded Mahuddin Mahmud making it a case of Mohammed on Mohammed violence almost in time for the original Mohammed's birthday. Mohammed wasn't the first man in Brooklyn to use violence to settle a rental dispute, but beheadings are more traditional in his native Bangladesh than in Brooklyn.

Four years ago in Bangladesh, a bricklayer was murdered and his severed head burned in a kiln because a fortune teller had told the owners that this was the way to make the malfunctioning kiln produce red bricks. Over in Brooklyn's neighboring borough Queens, Ashrafuzzaman Khan, Bangladesh's most wanted war criminal, heads up the local Islamic Circle of North America, whose Islamist thugs beheaded poets and buried professors in mass graves. 

But beheadings are still unusual on Avenue C even if there is a mosque near Old New Utrecht Road.

Here in Kensington, where the alphabet streets that march across Brooklyn down to the ocean in Coney Island begin, the streets are dusty and the bars retreat along with the alphabet from those areas marked by the green and the crescent, by the alien newspaper and the angry glare. And there is another one like it at the other end of the alphabet where the Atlantic Ocean terminates the letters at Avenue Z bookending the Brooklyn alphabet with angry old men and phone cards for Bangladesh.

These spots are not quite no-go zones yet. There aren't enough young men with too much welfare and too much time on their hands who have learned that the police will back off when they burn enough things and councilmen will visit to get their side of the story.

For now first generation immigrants who look decades older than they are and their young children walk the streets. That generation will grow up being neither one thing nor the other, neither American nor Bangladeshi, ricocheting from American pop culture to the Koran, from parties with the infidels to mosque study sessions until they explode from the pressure of the contradictions the way that the Tsarnaevs who huffed pot and the Koran in equal proportions did.  

It isn't the old men who plant bombs near 8-year-olds. And it's not the prematurely aged first generation immigrants who work at construction sites and send money back home. They may keep quiet when they hear such plans being discussed at their local mosque, but they are too tired and too uncertain of this strange country to venture them on their own.

It isn't the old women in black waiting in line for goat or the young women laughing with their friends outside a pizza parlor, knowing that in a year or two it will be time for them to go back home for an arranged marriage. It is the young men who have too much time and energy on their hands, the pampered princes of the old women who call themselves Freddy or Mo at the local high school or community college, who drink and do drugs and who all their American friends swear aren't serious about religion, until they suddenly become fatally serious about their religion.

But all that is still in the future. Avenue C hasn't given birth to its first suicide bomber yet. The Bangladeshi settlements in Brooklyn are quiet places. The mosques rise in gray cement and the tenements and shops close off the streets into small private worlds with their own justice systems,  feuds and secrets.

Overhead may be the same washed out Brooklyn sky, but here and there are miniature slices of Bangladesh, Pakistan or Egypt where the air has a stale smell and the atmosphere is threatening.

Immigration has cut these places off from America and attached them surgically to countries that are thousands of miles away. Immigrants step off a plane from Bangladesh at JFK airport, get into a taxi driven by a Bangladeshi playing Bengali pop tapes and step out into a small slice of Bangladesh on McDonald Avenue.

And when the infidels of Brooklyn wander into their territory, they are glared at as the foreign intruders that they are.

After Mohammed beheaded Mahmud, he rushed to JFK to catch a flight. It was natural for him to think that having settled matters in the brutal style of the Muslim east, that he could fly away  as easily as he had arrived here without considering what lay in the intervening spaces of the American Dar al-Harb between the Dar al-Islam of Avenue C and the Dar al-Islam of Bangladesh.

For the Mohammeds of Brooklyn, the infidels are the space between the stars, the empty air between the rungs of a ladder that their foot passes through without noticing. In the Little Bangladesh and the Little Mogadishu and in Dearbornistan and a thousand other places like them, the non-Muslim is regarded as the minority by a majority whose worldwide numbers are too great to view itself as a minority. Its supremacism is founded on a long history of conquests.

They are little aware of the other Brooklyn that they are pushing aside, the great stretches of the working middle class, the little homes where police officers and firefighters once lived together with teachers and clerks, where plumbers walked to work and bus drivers got on, where the thousands of small businesses from diners to pharmacies turned the grassy stretches of land into neighborhoods.

Bugs Bunny was born here with his Flatbush accent along with a million real workers, soldiers, sailors, inventors, engineers, bums and salesmen who won wars, broke cases, sobbed in bars and brought dinner home to their families. And now, like so much of the urban working class, they are being slowly swept away by time and tide, not from the familiar shores of Coney Island, but by the murkier waters of the Karnaphuli River and the strange world that its tides bring to Brooklyn.

Neighborhoods are defined by the people who live in them, not by the lines on a map in the basement of a municipal building. The city has always had its micro communities; Chinatown at the bottom of Manhattan and Little Tokyo near NYU, Little Brazil off Times Square and Koreatown a block up from the Empire State Building.  The Russians have their stretch of Brighton Beach with its tea rooms and fur coats and Little Italy's butcher shops, bakeries and rows of restaurants are still hanging on.

The micro communities have their own micro communities. Chinatown is split over a conflict between the mutually incomprehensible Hong Kong Cantonese speaking Chinese and the Fujianese speaking immigrants of Red China. The Chassidic neighborhoods break down by a hundred religious movements whose names are derived from Eastern European towns. The Mexicans are shouldering out the Puerto Ricans in neighborhoods that city planners refer to generically as Latino.

But Muslim enclaves are different. They are not outposts, they are settlements. They aren't adapting to the city, the city is adapting to them as many cities around the world do. Islam is not just a culture and the cultures who carry its baggage with them to the old worlds and the new are not toting it along like another ethnic food, a dialect or a national holiday.
In Chinatown, Buddhist temples and protestant churches sit side by side and in Latino neighborhoods, Adventist storefront churches and massive Catholic edifices co-exist; along with them can be found synagogues, Hindu and Zoroastrian temples and the whole dizzying array of religious diversity of a port city defined by its swells and tides of immigrants.

Bangladesh is more than 90 percent Muslim. Hindus are being attacked in the streets of its cities by Islamist mobs because Islam does not co-exist, it does not blend in and add its unique flavors to the multicultural stew pot. The other religions of the city do not demand that everyone join them or acknowledge their supremacy and pay them protection money for the right to exist. Islam does.

Its immigration is also a Jihad, a form of supremacist manifest destiny to colonize the Dar al-Harb and subdue it to the will of a dead prophet with sheer numbers or sheer force. 

The number of Bangladeshis in New York has increased by 20 percent in only four years to an estimated 74,000. And those numbers are an undercounting. They don't take into account the unofficial Mohammeds living in basements while nursing their grudges against their cousins and the whole country. It is a glancing sort of number that shows the accelerated growth of immigrants from a culture with a high birth rate and aggressive immigration strategies.

"I feel like I'm living in my own country," the editor of one of the Bangladeshi newspapers in New York, and there is more than one, is quoted as saying. "You don't have to learn English to live here. That's a great thing!"
And you don't. The curlicues of the Bengali script are showing up more often on the Rosetta Stones of government communications, already swollen with a dozen alphabets. The Bangladeshi immigration lawyers whose mustachioed faces show up on advertisements will eventually go into politics and become city councilmen, state senators and congressmen. Money will flow to their community centers which will bring in the new generation of hip Saudi-trained clerics as speakers, adept at referencing pop culture while preaching the endless holy war of Islam against the world.

Jamaica, Queens is becoming the center of the Bangladeshi presence in New York. Another 
Mohammed, Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, lived here on the second floor of a typical low rise development, indistinguishable buildings crammed together with no back yards or front yards, the bricks studded with satellite dishes so the dwellers could watch the television programs of their home countries, and plotted the mass murder of Americans.

"We will not stop until we attain victory or martyrdom," this Mohammed said in a video recorded before his planned terrorist attack.  His modest goal, in his own words, was to "destroy America" and quoted "Sheikh Osama" to justify the killing of American women and children. 

Mohammed described the United States as the Dar al-Harb, the realm of war, the territory yet to be conquered by the armies of Islam, and said that the only permissible reason for a Muslim to move to the United States was to conquer it by missionary work or by armed terror. 

"I just want something big. Something very big," Mohammed said, "make one step ahead, for the Muslims . . . that will make us one step closer to run the whole world."

That Mohammed is in jail, but there are others like him, with the same humble dream. Some impatiently plot to do it with bombs and others come and live and spread until a minority becomes a majority and the black and white banners of Jihad wave over another formerly free land.

At this hour no one in Little Korea, Little Italy, Little Brazil, Brighton Beach or Koreatown is plotting to destroy America so that his religion can rule the world. That is what sets the Little Bangladeshes, Little Pakistans, Little Mogadishus and Little Egypts apart from every other immigrant group whose dreams for the future are not overshadowed by the iron dream of Islam.     
Daniel Greenfield is a blogger, columnist and freelance photographer born in Israel, who maintains his own blog, Sultan Knish.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Understanding The Benghazi/Chappaquiddick Connection

Family Security Matters

Understanding The Benghazi/Chappaquiddick Connection

by CHRISTOPHER ADAMO January 17, 2014
On July 18, 1969, while most Americans were feverishly devouring the unfolding events of America's first manned moon landing, the late Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy was doing what cretins typically do. He was tooling around in the backwaters of coastal Massachusetts with Mary Jo Kopechne, a young political aid, who was not his wife. This was after throwing a reunion party for the "Boiler Room Girls" a group of women (including Kopechne) who had participated in the presidential campaign of Robert Kennedy.
Most of the tragic events that followed are well known. Kennedy vehemently denied that he had been drinking alcohol. Yet he drove off the road and into a tidal channel, leaving Kopechne trapped in the vehicle where she eventually suffocated. It was nine hours before Kennedy reported the accident to anyone. Forensic investigation revealed that Kopechne could have been rescued after more than an hour, had help arrived in time.
In the aftermath of the Chappaquiddick incident, Kennedy went on to serve one of the most distinguished careers in the United States Senate, eventually being given the title of "Lion of the Senate" by his colleagues. On his death in August of 2009, he was eulogized as a noble statesman. And since that time, it has of course been considered poor form to speak ill of so dignified an individual.
Nevertheless, the ugly reality of Chappaquiddick, and the emptiness of Kennedy's soul and conscience that it revealed, should be considered as telling evidence of the true nature of American liberalism. Having moved on to other acts of hedonism throughout his later life, the manner in which his colleagues, and the left-leaning ones in particular, were willing to laud him is a testament to their own ethical bankruptcy. And the pattern still fits to this day, with the entire atrocity of Benghazi and its aftermath standing as incontrovertible proof.
Had Ted Kennedy possessed even a modicum of concern for the plight of Kopechne, he could well have gotten sufficient help in time to secure her safety. But the amassed evidence of his words and actions throughout the entire night of July 18 revealed that he was fixated solely on how the scandal would adversely affect his own political fortunes. In the days following, though publicly expressing remorse and contrition, he clearly had no intention of owning up to his actions. The notion that he, Ted Kennedy, had not consumed any alcoholic beverage at his own party was but a single glaring example of his consuming disingenuousness.
Furthermore, his initial public appearances in the wake of the event were embarrassingly self-focused, shamelessly trivializing the death of a young woman, while attempting to cast himself as the pitiable victim, brooding a week later in a televised speech "whether some awful curse did actually hang over all of the Kennedys." Extra legal judicial action by which he successfully evaded any jail time only added more evidence of his privileged status and total lack of remorse.
Rolling forward to September 11, 2012, and the horrific atrocities that occurred at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi Libya, it becomes disturbingly clear that the elevated status of liberals, at least in their own minds, has not been confined to the Kennedy dynasty. Neither is their reptilian level of callous indifference to others, including other liberals. Even a brief review of the Benghazi episode, and the real motivations, concerns, and actions of the Obama cabal will reveal abundant evidence to support such a contention.
From the moment word reached the White House that the American consulate in Benghazi Libya was under siege by Islamic terrorists, Obama Administration officials knew they had reason to worry. Barack Obama had incessantly and gratuitously "spiked the ball" over the success of the U.S. Navy Seal mission to kill Osama bin Laden, the master-mind of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Obama had repeatedly invoked the bin Laden mission as political leverage, essentially claiming that by it he had achieved victory in the War on Terror. Such a large scale coordinated assault against an American diplomatic outpost would constitute proof that his proclamations on the end of the terror war were bogus. And with the 2012 presidential election only weeks away, he could not afford the liability of such news.
So the decision was made to flatly deny any terrorist assault was occurring, even to the point of refusing available military aid to the besieged diplomatic corps. The deplorable result of that callous verdict was the torture, death, and mutilation of Chris Stevens, America's Ambassador to Libya, along with three other Americans. Yet the cruel and hard-hearted policy of keeping the military at bay, in hopes of minimizing negative news coverage of the actual resurgence of Islamic terrorism and Obama's complicity in it, represented only a tiny portion of the scandal and malfeasance associated with the Benghazi attacks.
In an act appallingly reminiscent of the cold, dispassionate conduct of Ted Kennedy back in 1969, Obama boarded Air Force One even as the extent of the attacks was being learned, and flew to Las Vegas for a campaign fundraiser, as if to create the notion that he was somehow unconnected with the event and therefore not to be held responsible. Meanwhile, the best and brightest of the Obama Administration were busily concocting a ridiculous cover story, involving a kooky small-time anti-Muslim video, as the supposed explanation for Islamist brutality that defied Obama's rosy promises of having defeated and neutralized the threat of Islamic terror.
Consequently, no individual or organization charged with the protection of American diplomats has ever been held accountable for the obvious lapses in security that left Stevens and his associates vulnerable, and eventually cost them their lives. And no actual culpability is ever likely to be assigned, since the trail would lead directly back to the highest levels of the Obama White House.
Among the greatest affronts of this sordid affair was the deflection by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a Senate investigative committee hearing: "What difference, at this point, does it make?" hysterically spewed as if the only wrongful injury of the entire Benghazi debacle was that inflicted on her by those Senate inquisitors. Clearly, by her words and her demeanor, Clinton was striving to emulate Ted Kennedy in the victim role, dismissing the needless death of underlings as an inflammatory distraction. Yet the contributing factors of the Benghazi disaster, and the political calculations that rendered the lives and safety of Americans inconsequential do make a "difference" in the character of those officials whose inept and self-serving ways set the stage for the event.
On Sunday, it was reported that the Iraqi city of Fallujah had fallen to al Qaeda. Territory secured from Islamist monsters, at the cost of American lives, has now been needlessly ceded back to them. As America's buffer against the encroachment of Muslim terrorist organizations is crumbling, and the likelihood of a new wave of attacks continues to grow, Barack Obama is playing golf in Hawaii and Hillary Clinton is making plans to retake the White House in 2016. Indeed, "What difference at this point does it make?"
Christopher G. Adamo is a freelance writer and staff writer for the New Media Alliance. He lives in southeastern Wyoming. He has been active in local and state politics for many years. His contact information and archives can be found at

St. Anthony the Abbot--January 17

St. Anthony the Abbot

Feastday: January 17
Two Greek philosophers ventured out into the Egyptian desert to the mountain where Anthony lived. When they got there, Anthony asked them why they had come to talk to such a foolish man? He had reason to say that -- they saw before them a man who wore a skin, who refused to bathe, who lived on bread and water. They were Greek, the world's most admired civilization, and Anthony was Egyptian, a member of a conquered nation. They were philosophers, educated in languages and rhetoric. Anthony had not even attended school as a boy and he needed an interpreter to speak to them. In their eyes, he would have seemed very foolish.
But the Greek philosophers had heard the stories of Anthony. They had heard how disciples came from all over to learn from him, how his intercession had brought about miraculoushealings, how his words comforted the suffering. They assured him that they had come to him because he was a wise man.
Anthony guessed what they wanted. They lived by words and arguments. They wanted to hear his words and his arguments on the truth of Christianity and the value of ascetism. But he refused to play their game. He told them that if they truly thought him wise, "If you think me wise, become what I am, for we ought to imitate the good. Had I gone to you, I should have imitated you, but, since you have come to me, become what I am, for I am a Christian."
Anthony's whole life was not one of observing, but of becoming. When his parents died when he was eighteen or twenty he inherited their three hundred acres of land and the responsibility for a young sister. One day in church, he heard read Matthew 19:21: "If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you willhave treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." Not content to sit still and meditate and reflect on Jesus' words he walked out the door of the church right away and gave away all hisproperty except what he and his sister needed to live on. On hearing Matthew 6:34, "So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today," he gave away everything else, entrusted his sister to a convent, and went outside the village to live a life of praying, fasting, and manual labor. It wasn't enough to listen to words, he had to become what Jesus said.
Every time he heard of a holy person he would travel to see that person. But he wasn't looking for words of wisdom, he was looking to become. So if he admired a person's constancy in prayer or courtesy or patience, he would imitate it. Then he would return home.
Anthony went on to tell the Greek philosophers that their arguments would never be as strong as faith. He pointed out that all rhetoric, all arguments, no matter how complex, how well-founded, were created by human beings. But faith was created by God. If they wanted to follow the greatest ideal, they should follow their faith.
Anthony knew how difficult this was. Throughout his life he argued and literally wrestled with the devil. His first temptations to leave his ascetic life were arguments we would find hard to resist -- anxiety about his sister, longings for his relatives, thoughts of how he could have used his property for good purposes, desire for power and money. When Anthony was able to resist him, the devil then tried flattery, telling Anthony how powerful Anthony was to beat him. Anthony relied on Jesus' name to rid himself of the devil. It wasn't the last time, though. One time, his bout with the devil left him so beaten, his friends thought he was dead and carried him to church. Anthony had a hard time accepting this. After one particular difficult struggle, he saw a light appearing in the tomb he lived in. Knowing it was God, Anthony called out, "Where were you when I needed you?" God answered, "I was here. I was watching your struggle. Because you didn't give in, I will stay with you and protect you forever."
With that kind of assurance and approval from God, many people would have settled in, content with where they were. But Anthony's reaction was to get up and look for the next challenge -- moving out into the desert.
Anthony always told those who came to visit him that the key to the ascetic life was perseverance, not to think proudly, "We've lived an ascetic life for a long time" but treat each day as if it were the beginning. To many, perseverance is simply not giving up, hanging in there. But to Anthony perseverance meant waking up each day with the same zeal as the first day. It wasn't enough that he had given up all his property one day. What was he going to do the next day?
Once he had survived close to town, he moved into the tombs a little farther away. After that he moved out into the desert. No one had braved the desert before. He lived sealed in a room for twenty years, while his friends provided bread. People came to talk to him, to be healed by him, but he refused to come out. Finally they broke the door down. Anthony emerged, not angry, but calm. Some who spoke to him were healed physically, many were comforted by his words, and others stayed to learn from him. Those who stayed formed what we think of as the first monastic community, though it is not what we would think of religious life today. All the monks lived separately, coming together only for worship and to hear Anthony speak.
But after awhile, too many people were coming to seek Anthony out. He became afraid that he would get too proud or that people would worship him instead of God. So he took off in the middle of the night, thinking to go to a different part of Egypt where he was unknown. Then he heard a voice telling him that the only way to be alone was to go into the desert. He found some Saracens who took him deep into the desert to a mountain oasis. They fed him until his friends found him again.
Anthony died when he was one hundred and five years old. A life of solitude, fasting, and manual labor in the service of God had left him a healthy, vigorous man until very late in life. And he never stopped challenging himself to go one step beyond in his faith.
Saint Athanasius, who knew Anthony and wrote his biography, said, "Anthony was not known for his writings nor for his worldly wisdom, nor for any art, but simply for his reverence toward God." We may wonder nowadays at what we can learn from someone who lived in the desert, wore skins, ate bread, and slept on the ground. We may wonder how we can become him. We can become Anthony by living his life of radical faith and complete commitment to God.
In His Footsteps: Fast for one day, if possible, as Anthony did, eating only bread and only after the sun sets. Pray as you do that God will show you how dependent you are on God for your strength.
Prayer: Saint Anthony, you spoke of the importance of persevering in our faith and our practice. Help us to wake up each day with new zeal for the Christian life and a desire to take the next challenge instead of just sitting still. Amen