Tag Archives: Christian

Texas Adoption Bill

The Texas Legislature made some waves earlier this month when the House sent the Senate a Bill about the rights of conscience in Child Welfare Services.  It’s called HB 3859.  This link goes to the text of the bill.  The New York Times, and Atlantic Monthly, have written about it. Equality Texas is particularly opposed to it, saying the bill would trample the rights of Gay and Lesbian couples.  ABC News complains loudly the bill could allow Texas Adoption Agencies to ban Jews, gays, and Muslims.

If you want to, take a few minutes and go to the link and read the bill for yourself. We won’t go away while you’re gone.  We’ll still be here.  We promise.

Are you done reading, yet?  Good.  The whole Bill is about four pages long in 10 point font, a little longer if I make the writing bigger for old eyes.  The Texas Legislature isn’t like Congress in that respect.  Congress likes bills hundreds of pages long, or even thousands, written in complex legalese that require a JD to even pronounce the words.  The Texas Legislature drafts short bills in plane understandable language.

Does the text contain the name of any religion?  It does not.  Does it specifically call out gay, lesbian, transgendered children or couples? It does not.

Then what does it do?  This bill simply protects the right of conscience of any private agency that works in child welfare.

  • If there were a Muslim Adoption Agency in Irving, Texas, that wanted to ensure Sunni couples adopted Sunni children and Shi’a couples adopted Shi’a children, they would be protected.
  • If there were an LGBT organization in Austin that wanted to step up and make sure LGBT kids get placed with LGBT families, as long as they have a religious explanation, they would be protected.
  • I dare say, that a Child Welfare Agency full of Secular Humanists who refused adoptions to Christians would also be protected by this law, as long as they explained their position in religious terms and referred them to another agency.

What this Bill actually does is protect everyone’s right of conscience.  I expect that if it were to become law and be challenged in court, it would even protect Atheists who have religious reasons to keep Christians from adopting.  The bill would require any agency refusing services on religious grounds to refer those seeking services to another agency that would help them, or to the Texas Department of Child and Family Services.

What this Bill doesn’t do is allow anyone to use threat of law suit or government force to coerce someone else to violate sincerely held beliefs.  Don’t we need more of that?  Don’t we as a society want more protection for all sincerely held beliefs, even if those beliefs aren’t exactly the same as anyone else’s?  Don’t we want more liberty and less coercion?

On thing we do need to ensure is that while Texas is requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, the Legislature and State Agencies make adoptions easier and less expensive. Not harder.

If we’re truly pursuing Virtue here, then we need to make it easier for couples (or singles) who would nurture children and help them flourish to adopt, regardless of creed, belief or religion. As a society we should keep children out of the hands of the violent and the abusive regardless of creed, belief or religion.

Thank you for reading.  We do appreciate you.  If you liked (or hated) what you read here, please tell your friends and click the follow button.

And lest I forget, these views are my own and I’m not writing here to represent the Texas Military Department, the Texas National Guard, the U. S. Army or the DoD.  All these organizations have Public Affairs Offices and spokespeople who should not be confused with me.

Jewish Fall Holy Days – Alef (So, what are We Celebrating, vol 2, parts 8 and 9)

Jews the world over have just celebrated Rosh HaShannah and Yom Kippur.  Sukkot is coming up in just a few days.  Rosh HaShannah, means the head of the year, or New Years. Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement.  Sukkot is the Feast of Tabernacles or the Festival of Booths.  I’m going to focus on Rosh HaShannah and Yom Kippur in this piece.

Those of you who have read me for a  while will know that when I write about religion or about religious holy days, I usually write about Judaism and Christianity together.  For Holy Days, I tend to write about them in groups that are connected thematically or happen to fall next to each other on the calendar that year.  Judaism observes a calendar based primarily on lunar cycles, while the civil calendar is based on the solar year.  Thus Jewish Holy Days move around a few days or weeks, earlier or later, within the Gregorian calendar, each successive year.  For example, the eight nights of Hanukkah and Christmas usually overlap or fall close together in late December. Though sometimes Hanukkah falls several weeks earlier.

There aren’t any Christian religious holy days that fall on or near Rosh HaShannah and Yom Kippur, so there isn’t really anything to pair them up with besides each other.  This isn’t going be exhaustive or encyclopaedic.  I’m just going to hit the high points and then leave myself some room to write more about them next year.  So, if I failed to mention your favorite tradition or left out something you feel is important, write about that in the comments.

Okay, here goes. Rosh HaShanna and Yom Kippur (part 8)

According to scripture, the fall cycle of Jewish Holy Days starts on the first of day of the seventh month, the first of Tishri. For many Jews preparation starts the prior month in Elul, which is traditionally a time for reconciliation and making amends. Spending the month of Elul making amends isn’t commanded in the Scriptures, but it’s practical. If it’s been a bad year, it may take the whole month. If it hasn’t, then we’re spending the time reconnecting with friends and relations.

The first of Tishri is celebrated as Rosh HaShanna or New Years’ in rabbinical Judaism. It’s a time for commemorating the creation of the world by the Divine and celebrating the Divine as King over mankind. Another component of the first of Tishri in many congregations is the Feast of Trumpets or Yom Teruah. It’s a day for blowing shofarim or ram’s horn trumpets and rejoicing.  In some Messianic Jewish or Hebrew Roots groups, Yom Teruah is regarded as heralding the return of the King, Messiah Yeshua.

Ten days later comes Yom Kippur. The Day of Atonement. In ancient times, when the Jews had The Temple in Jerusalem (or before that, the Tabernacle in the wilderness) Yom Kippur was the one day of the year when the High Priest entered the Most Holy Place.  All the Jews would fast, and no one would work, on Yom Kippur.  Before entering the Most Holy Place the High Priest would offer a series of sacrifices covering himself, all the other priests, etc.  He would also wash several times. Then they would take two goats, and onto one goat, called the Azazel goat, the High Priest would symbolically transfer the sins of all the people.  The other goat, he would sacrifice and take its blood into the Most Holy Place with him.  The Azazel goat would be set outside the camp, or taken to a cliff and thrown down on the rocks.

In modern times, prayer services are substituted for all sacrifices.

The prayer services on Yom Kippur are largely about confession and repentance and dedication to serving God.  But its group confession and group repentance and group dedication.

Kol Nidre (part 9)

Now, what I really want to talk about in this piece is the tradition of Kol Nidre.  It’s a prayer service held at sundown on the evening that Yom Kippur starts.  It features the assembly of the congregation, the closing of the doors, and the Cantor singing the Kol Nidre.  Kol Nidre is prayer asking for God to forgive us for and release us from vows made falsely, usually under pain of torture or death — such as conversion to another religion. Or from vows we have intended to fulfill, but didn’t. It is by no means permission to lie, cheat, or steal in business or civil matters.

It is widely regarded that Kol Nidre was written by rabbis in Europe during the Middle Ages, when Jews were frequently under various persecutions by Catholics or Muslims.  Under threat of torture or death, many Jews would change their names, begin going to the other religion’s worship and prayers in public, but practice their Judaism in private.  They would become crypto-Jews and hope that soon the King, Sultan, Prince, Bishop, or Caliph who decreed the persecution would be overthrown or die, or that they could move somewhere far away and practice their Judaism openly again.  Jews asked themselves questions like, “How can we serve God, if we’re dead?  How can my great grandchildren serve God, if they are never born because my bloodline is extinguished in this persecution?”  The answer was Kol Nidre.  We convert in public, but in private, before Yom Kippur, we will ask God to absolve us of the conversion.

For those of you keeping score at home, this is precisely how a guy who calls himself StThomas comes to be writing about Judaism in the first place.  My real last name is a Spanish forced conversion name.  So, somewhere up the family tree, one of my  grandfather’s great grandfathers faced that decision about changing his name and going to Mass.  Some would call that cowardly.  I say it takes more courage to live in hope of freedom.  And none of us have faced the Spanish Inquisition or ISIS.  I’m sure you’d like to think that when Jihadi John has picked you out to star in an ISIS / Daesh video and he threatens you [redacted to be in good taste]…. well, I hope you get the point.

So, Kol Nidre has become more dear to me in recent years.

But here’s the lesson for our daily and relentless pursuit of virtue. We need to make things right with our friends and relations. We also need to make things right with God.  Judaism tends to focus on the making amends to friends and relations with 39 days devoted to that and one evening to Kol Nidre.  Christianity, with its Confirmation, rededication, and numerous alter calls, tends focus more on getting right with God.  As men and women of faith and virtue we cannot neglect either.  We must make amends to our friends and relations; we must ask forgiveness from the Divine and we must live more righteously tomorrow than we did yesterday.

Opinions expressed in these writings are my own and are not endorsed by any Rabbi, Rebbe, Priest, Minister, Pastor, Bishop, Imam or Shiekh; neither are they endorsed by my employers, the National Guard, or the Department of Defense.

If you have a favorite Rosh HaShanna or Yom Kippur tradition that you want tell the Internet about, please share in the comments.  If you enjoyed this piece, why not take another moment and follow some of the links below to others?  Why not click the follow button, and bring your friends back with you?

Choosing who we are and what we value (part 1)

Constitution Day falls in September, in the USA.  It makes the date when the U. S. Constitution went into effect after the ratification process in the thirteen original States.   Constitution Day also reminds of the promise made to many of the States which had hesitated to ratify the Constitution because it didn’t sufficiently guarantee the rights, privileges and immunities they had recently fought a war to secure.  The first Congress of the U.S. made good on that promise and delivered in the form of the Bill of Rights.  The Bill of Rights secures in the law of the land many rights specified and alluded to in the Declaration of Independence, among the life and liberty, private ownership of property, freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.  The Constitution does not mention the Divine, but the first amendment secures freedom of religion; that is to say, freedom to conduct our lives and daily affairs according to our understand of the Divine and what the Divine calls us to do and to avoid; or not.

It wasn’t that long ago that Americans recognized the role of the Divine in the affairs of men. The Declaration of Independence refers to unalienable rights granted by a Creator, appeals to the Supreme Judge of the world, to Divine Providence, and Nature’s God. The Continental Congress opened its regular sessions with prayer during the War for Independence. Presidents have ended speeches with “God bless America,” for as long as newsmen have had recording devices to capture their words. Our money still says “In God we trust” on it.

There was no debate over whether it was the Congregationalists’ God, the Puritans’ God, the Catholics’ God, the Deists’ God or the Jews’ God. All agreed that man was under the Divine and had a responsibility to understand and operate within Natural Law.

We have a couple more religions in our country today than we did at the time of the founding. And while the secularists, humanists and atheists claim to control the national agenda, over 80% of Americans believe in the Divine as some form of Deity, with most of those being Christians and Jews. Americans and their institutions used to acknowledge that even though many of us understood the Divine differently than others (all those different sects and denominations) we all agreed that the Divine was over us and we had to operate within Natural Law.

As I tipped in the title of this post, this is going to be a series, because I can’t get to everything I want to say in one post of readable length. Eight hundred words being the standard length for a “column,” from the old days of ink and paper and printed newspapers.  In this series, I’m going to highlight some major cultural decisions we’re facing today, in the U. S. and the world, and make a moral, ethical case for doing the Judeo-Christian right thing. Hopefully, this series will be interspersed with some pieces on the Jewish fall Holy Days and reviews of fall TV premiers.  But I may leave off writing about the television, because another series of mine, “So, what are we Celebrating,” is still missing any more than a passing reference to the Jewish fall Holy Days. I feel remiss in that omission. Soon, it will be time that I rectified that.

 

Thankfulness (or so what are we celebrating, Vol. 2 pt 1)

Ferguson, Missouri, burns.  Protestors march in Manhattan, Philadelphia and Oakland.  Retailers have trumpeted their Black Friday SALES!, SALES!, SALES!! since the neighborhood children counted their Halloween candy.  Common Core teaches that the Pilgrims were terrorists and we can only acknowledge the Native Americans at Thanksgiving.  It’s ten o’clock at night and I will not let the news or advertisers or newfangled school curriculum steal my Thanksgiving.

I wrote about the First Thanksgiving last year, but I’ll touch on it again briefly.  The Pilgrims were deeply religious Christians who may have held fast to some Jewish traditions as well. They didn’t arrive at Plymouth Rock blowing up people who disagreed with them or employing superior firepower to drive the Natives off their land.

Miles Standish and the others did take some Native American lands — by accident.  They landed within close distance of some Native American settlements that had been left behind while the tribe went south for winter.  The Pilgrims were just grateful for a structure to sleep in that wasn’t the Mayflower and food to eat that wasn’t hard biscuits.  The Pilgrims arrived here living out the Covenant they had just made during the voyage across the Atlantic, a covenant with the G-d of Heaven and earth, Who made the sea, the sky and the land and with each other.  
What they were celebrating a that first Thanksgiving, was a harvest bountiful enough that those who had worked the land wouldn’t starve in the winter, bountiful enough to share with the Native Americans who had returned a few months before and become their friends.  They were all thanking G-d in their own way.  The Natives may have called Him the Great Spirit and Pilgrims may have called Him the G-d of Abraham, but they were all acknowledging Divine Providence on that First Thanksgiving.

So, here’s what I’m thankful for.  I’m thankful that I got to take my son, St Thomas-the-Younger to some interesting places this past year: the Grand Canyon, and New Orleans.  I’m thankful for a son who looks up to me and his mother, but is more concerned with his own relationship with G-d and growing into whom G-d has called him to be, than with being like either of his parents.  I’m thankful for a son who dares to tell me what he really thinks and feels, from time to time.

I’m thankful for my audience:  All forty or fifty or a hundred of you.

I’m thankful for a dad who encouraged me to write, a mother who taught me to spell and a step-father who taught me to train.  I’m thankful for an uncle who keeps pursuing his dreams, whether that’s being a plumber (1979), a Sheriff’s officer (2008-ish), or a detective (2011).

I’m thankful for an apartment that’s just the right size and has gas heat.

For all these and others that escape me, I’m grateful to Divine Providence.

And that’s all I can think of right now.  It’s nearly eleven p.m.  I need to sleep soon.  It will be morning in a few hours, even though the daylight doesn’t get here till I’m driving to work.

What are you thankful for?  Tell us about it in the comments.

And for those of you keeping score at home, this is, in fact, Part 15 of ‘So, what are we celebrating.’  Constitution Day was 13 and Veterans’ Day was 14.

These opinions are my own, and not those of my employers.

 

Election Week: Principles and Faith over politics

In 1994 Republican Newt Gingrich nationalized a midterm Congressional election with the Contract for America.  Recently the White House attempted to do the same thing stating, “these policies are on the ballot.”

So, let’s take a moment and review the policies supported by the White House and their allies, the results of those policies, who has opposed them and what the results have been.  Know your issues. Know your candidates. Vote your conscience.

Let’s take a look at the policy legacy of Attorney General Holder: Fast and Furious, reading news reporters’ emails and tracing their phone records, attempting to prevent banks and credit providers from doing business with fire-arms and ammunition manufacturers and sellers, held in contempt of Congress.  Operation Fast and Furious for those who may not remember was Dept. of Justice initiative that allowed US gun stores to sell weapons to known associates of Mexican based criminal Cartels without track the weapons.  This resulted in the murder of at least one U. S. Border Patrol Agent.  How did Congress and the Committees in the House and the Senate that provide oversight over the Dept of Justice respond?  We saw some very insightful questioning in the House by Rep. Trey Gowdy from SC and a House resolution holding Attorney General Holder in contempt.  But did Speaker Boehner allow the House attempt to exercise the Power of the Purse and defund any of these initiatives?  No.  From the Establishment Republicans we get talk but no action.

Let’s look at the policy legacy of Senate leader Democrat Harry Reid.  He has proposed a Constitutional amendment that would empower the national and State governments to regulate speech in political campaigns and election seasons, effectively allowing the ruling class to stifle dissent.  Over a hundred bills, he hasn’t brought the floor of the Senate for debate.  Only once since the Ominbus spending bill of 2009 has the Senate  passed a budget and sent it to the President.  When Senate leader Reid does bring a bill to the floor, he rarely allows amendments.  Among the bills that Reid did allow to the floor were comprehensive immigration reform (a.k.a Amnesty) and gun control.  And what did our oh, so conservative Republican opposition leaders in the Senate, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Sen. John Cornyn of Texas do to stop immigration reform and gun control?  Not much.  It was up to Tea Party favorites Sen. Cruz of Texas and Sen. Lee of Utah to rally the public to call their Senators and stop these measures.

Let’s consider the policy legacies of HHS Secretaries Sebelius and Burwell.  Sec Sebelius oversaw the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) which as seen health plan premiums go up by an average of $2500, not down, and seen deductables double or triple. So families are spending over three to four times more out-of-pocket before their health plans pay for anything.  The ACA has forced lesbian couples to pay for men’s health treatments and gay couples to pay for maternity coverage.  Further the ACA has forced men and women and families of faith who purchase individual and family health policies that pay for coverages the religions object to.   And I haven’t even touched on the increased amounts of paperwork physicians and surgeons must now file (taking them away from patients), restrictions on the supply of medications and the numbers of patients hospitals can treat, and squeezing payments to hospitals which has resulted lay offs of hospital staff.  And all the Establishment Republicans would do is pass meaningless repeal resolutions and hold hearings about the HealthCare.gov website.  After promising to repeal the ACA during their last election campaigns, McConnel and Cornyn whipped votes against a House measure to defund the ACA a year ago.  Sec. Sebelius oversaw the implementation of these policies and Sec. Burwell has not reversed them.  The Establishment Republicans had all of the substantive issues I just named off that they could have challenged in the ACA and all they wanted to talk about was website!  And let’s not forget that HHS removed the work and job training requirements for welfare and foodstamps that has seen their rolls swell to the size of a medium European nation!

And let’s not forget the illegal immigration surge of last summer and the lack of Ebola quarantines or travel restrictions this fall.  What did the Establishment Republicans do to counter any of this?  They verbally attacked conservatives who pointed out the problems and proposed actual solutions.   They disparaged deportation of the illegal immigrant surge, and proponents of restrictions on travel visas out of the Ebola hot zone.

So, if you like your Representative or Senator, you can keep him or her.  Know your issues.  Know your candidates. Vote your conscience.

Here are some voter guides to help you sort the wheat from the chaff.  Some of these you may just want to reverse what they say!

https://www.nationalpriorities.org/analysis/2014/voters-guides-2014/

http://www.cc.org/voterguides

http://www.catholicvote.org

http://www.prochoiceamerica.org/elections/2014/voter-guide/

or go to http://www.slate.com or http://www.politico.com or http://www.family.org

Now, the real question is what can we do about all of this?  Two answers come to mind: one from Lady Margaret Thatcher, the other from my son, St Thomas the younger.  Lady Thatcher once said, “First you win the argument, then you win the election.”  St Thomas the younger pointed out the solution isn’t in politics, the solution is in faith.  We’ve got to look into our hearts, into our sacred texts, into our prayerlives and find out what the Saints and Sages have writ about principles that will apply to our situation today.  We’ve got to remember that the Creator is the source of our rights; we’ve got to keep Him front and center in our lives.  And then we’ve got spend our money with businesses that agree with our values. We’ve got to talk to our friends and get them involved.  We’ve got to start helping our neighbors, so they don’t have to go to the Government.  We’ve got to be the change we want to see in the world.

These opinions are my own.

If you like what you’ve read and you want to read more, check out my other posts, click the follow button, sound off in the comments, and bring back ten of your friends.

 

 

Support Israel’s fight against terrorism (Hamas)

Okay, I’ve let this go on in silence long enough.  I have to add my voice.

Support for Israel is support for civilization.  Support for Hamas is support of terrorism.  The featured picture is just one example.

Israel is a pluralistic democracy with many political parties, an independent judiciary, women’s rights and citizens who practice many religions.  Israel has even seated in its parliament ethnic Arabs, who practiced Islam but lived in peace with their Jewish neighbors as Israeli citizens.  Israel is a world leader in medical research, computer technology and their produce is among the finest in the Mediterranean.

In Gaza, Hamas rules. Period.  They marry girls who should be in middle school to grown men.  Hamas has driven the Christians, who used to live among the Palestinians and fight with them against Israel, out of Gaza.  While Qatar and the UN pour funds into Gaza, Hamas doesn’t build industry or grow crops to sell to their neighbors; they build tunnels into Israel, store weapons in schools, fire rockets from hospitals and residential neighborhoods.  In fact, for the last 14 years Hamas has launched 100s of rockets every year into Israel.

When the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) sends counter-fire back at the points of origin of the rockets, they always warn the Palestinians first.  The IDF warns Palestinians with txt msgs, phone calls, radio broadcasts, recently even training missiles that produce merely a puff of smoke.  When the point of origin happens to be an apartment building, or a UN shelter, who is wrong:  Hamas who launched a military weapon from a civilian location and then beat the women as they tried to flee with their children after IDF warnings? Or Israel for launching back at a site that fired at them?

Think about it like this.  If a terrorist organization took over Fort Worth or Minneapolis or Liverpool and started launching rockets at Dallas or St Paul or Cardiff: what would Americans or Britons do?  Would we just allow the rocket fire week after week, after month, after year for fourteen years?  I don’t think so.  We would stop it.  We would root out the barbarians and bring them to justice.  This is what the IDF is doing right now in Gaza. It’s a war, not a police action, but the analogy holds.

So, I support Israel because they stand for the same values and principles as the America I grew up in and the UK I grew up thinking of as my closest ally.  I support Israel because they fight for the same values and principles as the British, Australian, Canadian, New Zealander, Polish, other NATO Allies and coalition of the willing, I fought next to in Iraq as an officer in the U.S. Army.  Israel supports the values and principles of JFK, Reagan and Thatcher.  If Hamas would lay down its weapons of war and live in peace with its Jewish neighbors like that Arab Muslim who served in the Israeli parliament, I could welcome Palestinians into the Family of Man.

Thank you for reading.  Some of my sources are at the bottom.

If you like what you read, click ‘follow’ and bring your friends back.

If you have a story or a thought about the Israeli-Arab conflict, sound off in the comments. I will clean up the language of anyone who writes something ugly, but I welcome dissenting opinions.

Views and opinions expressed in these writings are my own, unless attributed or documented to someone else, and either way are not necessarily those of my employers.

 

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4539651,00.html

 

http://www.israelvideonetwork.com/1-million-simple-arguments-that-will-change-how-you-look-at-israel

 

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CDkQFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fmiami.cbslocal.com%2F2014%2F07%2F25%2Fambassador-rips-media-for-coverage-of-israel-gaza-conflict%2F&ei=IQDXU_SvDKGh8AGp24GoAQ&usg=AFQjCNH622HcFpEfKaVJ_KE1oKSRhuZ49Q&bvm=bv.71778758,d.b2U

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charity and Economics, part 2 -or- Context is everything

The last weekend of April 2014was very eventful: Benghazi emails hit the press, an old racist (who happens to own a basketball team) made some racist remarks and the Holy Father, Pope Francis, canonised two new Saints: Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII…. and the Holy Father also tweeted about the root of evil.

Pope Francis issued a tweet saying, “Inequality is the root of social evil.” That was it.  No context, no elaboration…

 At least not until I dug through news sites for two days.  At length, I found the explanatory, background materials published separately, in which the Pope explained that he was referring to our individual responsibilities to help each other, especially that the wealthy should help the poor.  Okay, I accept that as the background.  But all that was publicised was the seven word tweet.  I expect millions of people in a hundred countries heard about the tweet.

But how many people are going to dig for the explanatory materials?

To most, it must have sounded like the spiritual leader of a billion Catholics was on the same page with the President of the United States, declaring that income inequality is somehow bad.  I wrote about that a few weeks ago, in a post called Income Inequality is Upward Mobility.

Income inequality is a good thing; it’s hope for improvement.  Read my prior post.

What the Holy Father actually wrote, though, was “Inequality is the root of social evil.”  Let’s set aside for a moment, the fact that Christian and Jewish Scriptures both declare that “Love of money is the root of all evil.”  This I will come back to.  I want to talk about just plain inequality for a few moments.

There are all kinds of inequality.  As Wesley Snipes once observed, “White men can’t jump.”  I resemble that remark.  I am not a good basketball player.  Some people are very good at basketball and many other sports.  The Director I work for is a much more talented athlete than I; he’s good at soccer, basketball, volleyball, etc.  So, we have inequality of talent.

Some people have movie star looks, like Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Scarlett Johansson and Sigourney Weaver.  Some people, like a lady who works in the same building as I do, aren’t so blessed in the looks department.  So, we have inequality of looks.

Some people have the ambition to stay with a particular skill until they become Olympic calibre, or the best in the world, like Mark Phelps, Billy Jean King and Michael Jordan.   Others, like Steve Jobs, the guy from ‘Ten Dollars and a Laptop,’ and Billy Joel, make and lose two or three fortunes in a lifetime, but they keep getting back into the thing they love: computers, business and music, because they have the drive to just keep going.  So, we have inequality of ambition.

Talent, looks and ambition can all lead to success or failure, depending how each of us apply them.

But what is the source of talent, looks and ambition.  I contend that we’re all either born with these things, or we aren’t.  Ambition, properly applied can make up for a lack of most things.  But again, we’re either born with it or we aren’t.

And what is the source of things we’re either born with or not?  God. The Scriptures tell us that God formed each of us in our mothers’ wombs.

God forms each of us as individuals, He makes us each unique.  He gives each of us a purpose and the talents to carry it out.  But He is the source of our different combinations of inborn talent, looks and ambition.  And different combinations of talent, looks and ambition lead to inequality.

So how can inequality be a bad thing if God is the source of it?

Let’s get back to that Scripture verse, I said to leave aside before, shall we?  “Love of money is the root of all evil.”  Love of money:  valuing things over people, valuing the temporary over the eternal.  Love of money leads to covetousness and as I wrote in my first Pursuit of Virtue post: covetousness leads to a host of other sins.

So, inequality isn’t the problem.  People being taught that it’s okay to covet is the problem.

The Pope related this in his explanatory materials, but it really didn’t come across in the tweet.  And, of course, most of the press just publicised the tweet.  Seven catchy words fit better in a headline or a sound byte, than 24 pages of context and explanation.  That’s why I’m an essayist and not a tweeter.

If people covet their neighbor’s skills or possessions or wealth, they will focus on the material, not the eternal. They will focus on what their neighbor has and want to take it or destroy it.  They will ignore, or not sufficiently develop, their own talents.  And failure to understand your purpose, failure to appreciate and develop and use your talents, that’s a poverty worse than dirt floors, lack of food and muddy water.

What do you think about inequality?  Are you a fan of Pope Francis? Or was Saint John Paul your Pope?  Sound off below in the Comments.

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