View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Huckabee successfully addresses anti-Catholic concerns

After a visit to a church whose minister has been accused of anti-Catholicism, Governor Mike Huckabee got some crititcism.

He addressed those concerns in an interview with Catholic Online:

As part of that interview he said -

"To be honest, I have never thought about having “a view” about Catholics in America.

Rather, I have enjoyed strong, personal relationships with many Catholics over the years and I would hate to think about my life without those relationships having been there.

For more than a decade, I marched side-by-side with Catholic Bishops in Arkansas’ annual March for Life.

Throughout my years as Lieutenant Governor and Governor, I enjoyed a very close relationship with leaders and members of the Catholic Church in Arkansas.

My pro-life record is largely the result of this close working relationship.

My relationships with Catholics predated my entry into politics. When I was pastoring a Baptist church in Texarkana, I had the opportunity to work closely with the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word at the St. Michael Hospital near my church. I was always welcomed warmly by the sisters when I visited the sick.

As a pastor, I held joint services with my neighboring Catholic congregation, was invited to speak in Catholic churches for special services, and had regular breakfast meetings with the Bishop of the Arkansas Diocese, Bishop Peter Sartain, now in Illinois.

Those early years of ministry showed me the value of working with caring people whether or not every one of our religious tenets line up exactly. In short, if I held any animosity toward Catholics, I don't think Justice Scalia would have ever taken me up on my invitations to go duck hunting.

As I mentioned before, many of my top-level staff and closest advisors are Catholic, including my national campaign manager, national campaign director, my policy advisor and my campaign’s chief operating officer."

Hopefully, Catholics will feel assured, and not be afraid to back him.


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Ron Paul disses Lincoln

Ron Paul was a guest on Meet the Press on December 23.

Here's part of the transcript:

MR. RUSSERT: I was intrigued by your comments about Abe Lincoln. "According to Paul, Abe Lincoln should never have gone to war; there were better ways of getting rid of slavery."

REP. PAUL: Absolutely. Six hundred thousand Americans died in a senseless civil war. No, he shouldn't have gone, gone to war. He did this just to enhance and get rid of the original intent of the republic. I mean, it was the--that iron, iron fist..

MR. RUSSERT: We'd still have slavery.

REP. PAUL: Oh, come on, Tim. Slavery was phased out in every other country of the world. And the way I'm advising that it should have been done is do like the British empire did. You, you buy the slaves and release them. How much would that cost compared to killing 600,000 Americans and where it lingered for 100 years? I mean, the hatred and all that existed. So every other major country in the world got rid of slavery without a civil war. I mean, that doesn't sound too radical to me. That sounds like a pretty reasonable approach.

Hmm. Didn't Ronald Reagan once quip tha there was an 11th Commandment: "Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican."

Oh, wait, Paul was also critical of Reagan.

MR. RUSSERT: You're running as a Republican. In your--on your Web site, in your brochures, you make this claim: "Principled Leadership. Ron was also one of only four Republican Congressmen to endorse Ronald Reagan for president against Gerald Ford in" '76. There's a photograph of you, Ronald Reagan on the right, heralding your support of Ronald Reagan. And yet you divorced yourself from Ronald Reagan. You said this: "Although he was once an ardent supporter of President Reagan, Paul now speaks of him as a traitor leading the country into debt and conflicts around the world. "I want to totally disassociate myself from the Reagan Administration." And you go on to The Dallas Morning News: "Paul now calls Reagan a `dramatic failure.'"

REP. PAUL: Well, I'll bet you any money I didn't use the word traitor. I'll bet you that's somebody else, so I think that's misleading. But a failure, yes, in, in many ways. The government didn't shrink. Ultimately, after he got in office, he said, "All I want to do is reduce the rate of increase in size of government." That's not my goal. My goal is to reduce our government to a constitutional size. Completely different. I think that--matter of fact, he admitted in his memoirs that he had a total failure in Lebanon, and he said he relearned the Middle East because of that failure. And so there--he--you know, he...

MR. RUSSERT: But if he's a total failure, why are you using, using his picture in your brochure?

REP. PAUL: Well, because he, he ran on a good program, and his, his idea was a limited government. Get rid of the Department of Education, a strong national defense.

Umm. Right.

Huckabee had it right. "Paul is dead."

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas greetings

Our parish produced Christmas cards this year from a picture taken of the parish's creche.
I included two haiku.

I know some of you have received these in the mail or e-mail, but I wanted to share them with all of my friends who visit this blog.
Merry Christmas!
Happy birthday, Jesus!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Double Standards on Discrimination

I was troubled when I read Rochester School Board Member Cynthia Elliott's piece in our local newspaper that basically said it would be better for African American students to be taught by African American teachers.

I understood all her points and where she was coming from, but it still troubled me.

And I thought: What if I as a white teacher had written a piece arguing that it would be better for white kids to be educated by white teachers? Hoo boy, would I have been under attack, with words like racist and bigot tossed at me.

There just seems to be a double standard on some issues.

I hadn't written about this before, though, but another discussion elsewhere got me to thinking.

The discussion involved religion in schools. In thinking on that issue, I recalled my daughters' Christmas experiences in public schools.

They were involved in music and acting, so they were often part of the annual "Holiday Concerts."

The concerts included secular holiday songs, Gospel music, and Channukah songs.

But Carols? No way.

I asked about this. I was told that the permitted songs reflected cultural heritages, while carols were religious.

Gospel music isn't religious????

And isn't Irish Catholic a cultural heritage? (Two out of three of the daughters are red heads!)

I was fine with the Channukah songs and the Gospel music. I would not want to see them eliminated. But there was something that seemed grossly unfair about the things left out.

I guess some forms of discrimination are acceptable.

Huckabee reaches out to Catholics

Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee was recently interviewed by Catholic Online. (

Here's part of it:

Governor Huckabee: “I believe that life begins at conception and ends at a natural death. Life is a gift from God.

Every child deserves a quality education, first-rate health care, decent housing in a safe neighborhood, and clean air and drinking water. Every child deserves the opportunity to discover and use his God-given gifts and talents.

What I accomplished as Governor proves that there is a lot more that a pro-life President can do than wait for a Supreme Court vacancy, and I will do everything I can to promote a pro-life agenda and pass pro-life legislation.

I'll veto any pro-abortion legislation Congress passes. I will staff all relevant positions with pro-life appointees. I will use the Bully Pulpit to change hearts and minds, to move this country from a culture of death to a culture of life."

QUESTION: How have you lived that commitment personally, as well as in your years of public service as an elected official?

Governor Huckabee: “I have always been actively and aggressively pro-life. No candidate has a stronger or more consistent record on the sanctity of life than I do.

When I was elected Lieutenant Governor, and later Governor, I marched in the annual Right to Life parade down Capitol Avenue in Little Rock. I did this at a time when no other state-wide elected official in Arkansas would participate in this event.

I first became politically active when I helped pass Arkansas' Unborn Child Amendment, which requires the state to do whatever it can to protect life. As Governor, I used that Amendment to pass pro-life legislation. The many pro-life laws I got through my Democrat-controlled Legislature are the accomplishments that give me the most pride and personal satisfaction.”

QUESTION: What have you done to build a new culture of life and defend the right to life against the encroachment of what the late Pope John Paul II rightly called a culture of death?

Governor Huckabee: “As Governor, I banned partial birth abortion; I required parental notification; I required that a woman give informed consent before having an abortion; I required that a woman be told her baby will experience pain and be given the option of anesthesia for her baby; I allowed a woman to have her baby and, if she was unable to care for it, leave the child safely at a hospital; and I made it a crime for an unborn child to be injured or murdered during an attack on his mother.

I support and have always supported passage of a constitutional amendment to protect the right to life. As President, I will fight for passage of this amendment. My convictions regarding the sanctity of life have always been clear and consistent, without equivocation or wavering.

I believe that Roe v. Wade should be over-turned.

I applaud the Supreme Court's recent decision in Gonzales v. Cathcart forbidding the gruesome practice of partial birth abortion.

While I am optimistic that we are turning the tide in favor of life, we still have many battles ahead of us to protect those who cannot protect themselves, and so it is vital that we elect a pro-life President.”

The interview touches on other issues, including education (and schol choice), Iraq, taxes, immigration, and terrorism.

Sounded good to me!


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Letter to editor about Huckabee (re: Cohen)

The following letter to the editor by me was published in the local newspaper December 11:

Huckabee took honest way out

In his Dec. 5 column ("Huckabee's moment of shame"), Richard Cohen accused former Gov. Mike Huckabee of "punting" when ABC's George Stephanopoulos asked if former Gov. Mitt Romney, a Mormon, is a Christian.

Cohen also accused Huckabee of having obdurate and narrow-minded religious beliefs.

I suggest that Cohen has a narrow-minded view of Christianity and Huckabee.

Huckabee told Stephanopoulos, "Mitt Romney has to answer that. ... It's not for me to determine what somebody else's faith is."

He was stating common Christian beliefs that each person has to account for his own faith, and you can't judge what is in others' hearts. Moreover, Huckabee left ministry long ago to become a public servant. He is running to be president of a multi-faith United States, not evangelical-in-chief.

Huckabee's style is to avoid tearing down others — as he declined to do to Rudy Giuliani in the same interview. He is trying to focus instead on issues and a vision for America.

Echoing Cohen's football reference, I think Cohen fumbled the ball with this column.


Saturday, December 01, 2007

Mike Huckabee's Immigration positions

Mike Huckabee is rising in the polls – leading in at least one poll in Iowa, and second nationally in the most recent Rasmussen Tracking Poll. Consequently, he is coming under increasing attack.

One target of critics is Immigration. Governor’s Huckabee’s record has been distorted – particularly in terms of “scholarships for illegal immigrants” - and his positions have been ignored or even misrepresented.

Here are some of the things he is actually calling for:

He says our borders must be secure.

He supports the $3 billion the Senate has voted for border security.

He opposes amnesty and sanctuaries for illegal aliens.

He opposes giving driver’s licenses to illegal aliens (as was proposed by Governor Spitzer in New York).

He believes that employers who hire illegal aliens should be punished with fines and penalties.

He opposes the economic integration of North America that would create open borders among the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

So his positions are pretty clear.

As for the issue of illegal immigrants getting tuition in Arkansas, the facts are different than his opponents are implying.

There was a bill in 2005 that would've given children of illegal immigrant the lower in-state tuition rates offered to other Arkansas students. There was also an academic merit-based state scholarship that would've been able to apply for if they met the criteria.

But the children of Illegal immigrants had to have gone through the Arkansas school system, and had to have the ability to pay instate tuition rates for college education.

Further, the proposed law contained a clause that said those children who accepted the lower tuition would have to file an affidavit stating that they intended to legalize their immigration status.

Thus, if enacted, the law would have affected a limited number of such students, not the large numbers of students Governor Huckabee’s opponents have tried to imply.

The law did not pass anyway.

When challenged at the You Tube Debate about the issue by Mitt Romney, Huckabee replied, "In all due respect, we're a better country than to punish children for what their parents did. We're a better country than that."

I respect his compassion.