Saturday, January 11, 2014

Book Reflections: See You in a Minute: A Mother's Journey Through the First Year of Grief


I have a personal interest in Misty Novak's book; See You in a Minute: A Mother's Journey Through the First Year of Grief.  My family has a close connection with the Novak family.  My mom and grandma are especially close with the author, Misty Novak.  We also know Dan well from church and sporting events.  Growing up in Anderson, IN and being a member of the same church, St. Ambrose Catholic Church, it was impossible for me to not to know Zack.  Everyone, it seemed, knew Zack.  My sister, Jenny, has always been involved in the music ministry at church, so she had several interactions with Zack.  His musical talent was unquestioned.  His joy for life was infectious.  I am sad to say that I personally didn't know Zack that well, but I knew enough to know that he was a truly special person.  I sought this book out primarily because I know the Novak family.  I wanted to know more about Zack's life, and Misty provided many great stories about Zack that are truly inspirational.

After reading this book, I have an even greater respect for Misty and Dan Novak.  As a man, I am particularly impressed with Zack's father Dan Novak.  Misty understandably was heartbroken as any mother would be at the loss of her child.  Her grief was intense and will never completely go away.  Dan undoubtedly felt similar pain, but he had to stay strong for his wife.  He selflessly put the needs of his wife and family before all else.  Dan is a model father and husband.  Misty also possesses many wonderful qualities.  She is a very faithful person, and it shows throughout this book.  While I believe this book can teach us all many lessons about the stages of grief and how to interact with people who have experienced tragic events, ultimately I believe that this book is about a celebration of life.  The life of Zachary Novak in particular.

Zack's life can teach us all several valuable lessons.  He truly was a special person.  His talents will forever be missed by many.  His legacy, however, will live on forever.  The world is a better place because of Zachary Novak.  May we all strive to live our lives with the same joy and love that Zack lived his life.  Please do yourself a favor and buy this book.  Once you have finished reading the book, please come back to this page and leave a comment with your thoughts.  If you know the Novak family and had any interactions with Zack, please leave a comment below sharing your story.  God bless the Novak family for their courage and their great example!  We will never forget the great Zachary Novak, a good and faithful servant of God.

God bless,

Mike

Saturday, March 2, 2013

A Discussion about Sexuality

There has been a lot of discussion in the sports media this past week about what questions should NFL teams be able to ask potential prospects specifically in regard to their sexual orientation. Is asking a man if he likes girls at the NFL Combine discrimination based on sexual orientation? Why does a player's sexual orientation even matter? Will a prominent NFL player openly admit that he is gay? Would this be progress similar to how Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball? These are the questions sports media and personalities are asking. This discussion has prompted me discuss in much broader terms my understanding of sexuality from a Christian perspective.

I believe that many if not most of the problems in our culture are the result of our rejection of Jesus and his teaching on sexuality. Many people on both sides of issues regarding sexuality are very passionate. Unfortunately, there are people who discriminate and hate people because of their sexual orientation. Jesus never advocated hatred for any person. Also unfortunately, many Christians who believe that homosexuality is disordered and morally wrong are quickly labeled incorrectly by gay rights advocates as bigots who discriminate and are intolerant of people who have a different sexual preference. Or should I say sexual orientation?

What is sexual orientation?

Sexual orientation can be defined as a person's natural preference in sexual partners; distinguishing between heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual. Sexual preference suggests a degree of voluntary choice, so gay rights advocates prefer the term sexual orientation or sexual identity. I point out these seemingly minor differences because the words we use to describe a person can effect our perceptions. The word natural suggests that a person's sexual preference is not a voluntary choice. The fact is that no one knows exactly the origins of a person's sexual inclinations. Most scientists believe that it is probably a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences. This conclusion seems to suggest that people are not born gay, but neither is sexual orientation entirely a person's voluntary choice. This is still up for debate, but for argument's sake let's just assume that sexual orientation is not entirely a voluntary choice.
---
What does the Catholic Church believe?  Below are quotes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.


Chastity and homosexuality
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.



Saturday, February 9, 2013

Book Reflections: Planned Bullyhood

Planned Bullyhood

Planned Bullyhood

A church friend of mine let me borrow this book.  She started reading it but couldn't get through it because she thought it was too political.  I had heard about Karen Handel's book about the funding battle between Planned Parenthood and Susan G. Komen which took place just over a year ago, but had not had a chance to read it until now.  I have lots of thoughts on this book so here goes...

Overview

Karen Handel was VP of Public Policy at Susan G. Komen when the controversy peaked.  This book is her explanation of the situation as she saw things.  Now for the back story   As someone who was well aware of the Planned Parenthood/Susan G Komen longtime partnership, I was paying very close attention to the events in late 2011, early 2012 when rumors that Susan G. Komen was going to end funds to Planned Parenthood.  This was great news!  I had always wanted to support Susan G. Komen, because the fight to end breast cancer is a great endeavor.  Unfortunately, because of their connection to Planned Parenthood, I could never in good conscience support Susan G. Komen.  Susan G. Komen announced changes to their granting policy which would directly effect funds they were giving Planned Parenthood.  When news of this went public, many such as myself praised the decision, but Planned Parenthood and their allies were vicious as usual in attacking Susan G. Komen.  Oddly, although not so surprisingly, the press too saw this as an opportunity to attack Susan G. Komen.  This made no sense to me.  Why should Susan G. Komen, a charity with a mission to fight breast cancer, be forced to fund abortion giant Planned Parenthood?  Susan G. Komen should have been confident in their decision and trusted the American people would eventually be smart enough to recognize this and understand the decision.  In a very disappointing turn of events after just 3 days of public outcry from Planned Parenthood, Susan G. Komen reversed course and decided to continue funding Planned Parenthood.  Unfortunately, Susan G. Komen lost any credibility they might have had after this decision, and continue to this day supporting Planned Parenthood, which does not even provide mammograms for women.  It was just reported on Life News that breast cancer services at Planned Parenthood is down.  Everyone who knows much of anything about Planned Parenthood knows that they are in the abortion business.  Karen Handel was instrumental, although not solely responsible, in trying to implement the new granting strategy.  Her efforts are admirable.  If she was the one in charge at Susan G. Komen, I am sure that Susan G. Komen would have followed through with the new granting policy and they would have been much better off in the long run.  She resigned from Susan G. Komen soon after their disappointing decision to continue funding Planned Parenthood.

Running for Governor of Georgia

In the first chapter, Karen Handel talks about her disagreements with Georgia Right to Life and her run for Governor in 2010.  I found this chapter to be the most frustrating for a number of reasons.  First, Karen talks badly about the other candidates for Governor, rehashing arguments she made during her run for Governor.  I felt this was unnecessary and seemed a little vindictive to me.  Then she discusses her feud with Georgia Right to Life, which I wrote about on this blog when it happened.  You can read my blog post about Handel and GRTL here.  I was unaware of Karen Handel's personal issues with having trouble conceiving.  I sympathize for her and her husband, and understand the sensitivity to the issue of infertility.  I (and the Catholic Church for which Karen is a member) disagree with her position on IVF, but I respect her for being honest and saying what she believes.  I hope that after all she's been through, she might one day discover the grave problems with IVF.  It is very possible that the leadership at GRTL was insensitive in singling out Karen Handel.  I was disappointed however that Karen labeled GRTL bullies.  GRTL and those of us who are passionately pro life are not bullies of the like of Planned Parenthood.  That is not to say we are without fault.  We can do a much better job explaining issues and being more empathetic and sympathetic to those who have had difficult circumstances.  I also hope that Karen will understand why the Church is against abortion in all cases, even in cases of rape or incest.  Karen Handel, as she states in this book is certainly not a Pro-Life hero, but she has done a great service for the pro-life cause whether she wanted to or not.

Susan G. Komen

The reason I was most interested in this book was to learn more about Susan G. Komen.  Why did they fund Planned Parenthood in the first place, how did they decided to end that funding, and why in the world did they cave to Planned Parenthood after just 3 days?  All of these questions are now answered.  I have been a little critical of Karen Handel in the past for her positions on some life issues which many people struggle with, but I must say that she is a very good leader.  She joined Susan G. Komen and immediately began to make positive changes.  She has backbone and she isn't afraid to make difficult decisions.   Unfortunately, the same can't be said for most others at Susan G. Komen who are in leadership positions.  It is clear that Susan G. Komen was and is in disarray.  One of the greatest problems was that most of the people at Susan G. Komen are supportive of Planned Parenthood and their mission.  They knew that the grants they were giving to Planned Parenthood were 'crappy' and was not the best use of their donor's money.  Once they finally made the decision to end funding, they quickly changed their mind and caved to Planned Parenthood.  Until there is a change in leadership at Susan G. Komen and a complete split from Planned Parenthood, I will not support Susan G. Komen in any way and encourage others to forgo support as well.  This is unfortunate, but there are many other great charities to support.

Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood is a bully.  I have known this for a long time.  I have also known that they have lots of allies in the media.  Planned Parenthood frequently outright lies about the services they provide and get away with it.  They are heavily involved in politics, supporting liberals who will support their abortion agenda, and yet they receive taxpayer dollars.  This infuriates me and should you as well!  They not only bully pro lifers like me who are sickened by abortion and all the lies Planned Parenthood spreads.  Karen Handel better understands, as many pro lifers have known for a long time, how evil Planned Parenthood is and how powerful they have become.

Summary

I enjoyed this book.  Despite my disagreement with Karen Handel about IVF and abortion in cases of rape and incest, I have much more respect for her after reading this book.  I have a little better understanding about her as a person and how she has come to believe the things that she believes.  She has convinced me that she is a great leader, and she was a great asset to Susan G. Komen.  She looks at most things through a political lens.  I personally don't see things this way all the time, but it is very clear that Planned Parenthood has a very strong political agenda.  I would encourage all pro life people to read this book.  I think there are many things that we can learn, especially about how we need to do a better job at communicating our message.  We need more people who are willing to stick their neck out, like Karen, to do something courageous.  We need to call out Planned Parenthood when they outright lie.  We need to be more loving and understanding with those who don't agree with us on every issue.  Many people who disagree with us may simply be ignorant of the issues.  It doesn't mean that they are bad people.  We need to educate ourselves and we need to share the truth with others in an effective way.  We need to demand for charities and our government to end all funding to the evil abortion loving Planned Parenthood.  We need to control the message.  We need to stay focused.  We must stay strong and refuse to be bullied, regardless of the cost.

God bless,

Mike



Saturday, January 26, 2013

Book Reflections: Forgotten Truths to Set Faith Afire!: Words to Challenge, Inspire and Instruct

Forgotten Truths to Set Faith Afire!

I was able to download this book for free over Christmas break.  This is a spiritual guide book that is probably best used as a reference as opposed to reading it straight through like a normal book as I did.  He set up the book by topic and provided numerous helpful quotes from a variety of sources such as the Catechism of the Catholic Church, popes, and saints.  This book will be a nice one to have on my kindle for times when I want to read some helpful quotes from the great Catholic thinkers on a particular issue.  It is currently selling on Amazon for under $1.  Hard to beat that deal.

Forgotten Truths to Set Faith Afire!

God bless,

Mike

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Pray for Newtown


Yesterday afternoon, I received news of a terrible shooting at an elementary school in previously unknown Newtown, CT.  Rarely does a news story affect me emotionally, but immediately I knew that this story was different.  I immediately felt a great sense of pain and sorrow.  I could think of nothing else the remainder of the day.  I was devastated and sickened to learn that a young man, 20 years of age, could shoot his mother in the face, travel to the school where she taught and kill 26 people including 20 children ages 5-10!  Unbelievable!  What could possibly be going through his mind?

Undoubtedly, this event will generate a lot of discussion about how we can prevent such occurrences from happening again.  We must have this discussion.  These mass shootings and tragedies are occurring more frequently and more horrifically now than I can remember ever before.  Our culture and society has some serious problems and we need to talk about some serious solutions.  I don’t have all the answers, but I know a good place to start.

We need God.  We have seen a steady push in our culture to eliminate God in the public, and in some instances we have even made it difficult to practice one’s faith privately as well.  I believe that the vast majority of the problems our county and world face are spiritual problems.  We need to foster a culture that values all human life.  ALL human life!  I cried yesterday thinking about the tragedy in Connecticut.  I don’t cry often, but I cried yesterday.  The events break my heart.  I pray for the souls of those who lost their lives yesterday.  It is especially hard to learn that so many children lost their lives.  I have a special place in my heart for babies and children.  I think about how the loss of so many lives impacts us all, but most especially the parents, family members and friends.  I in no way want to downplay the events of yesterday in Connecticut, but did you know that in the United States over 3000 innocent children are brutally killed every day in their mother’s womb?  Over 3000 children in the United States… every day!

Yesterday our nation grieved.  Appropriately so!  The loss of innocent lives is devastating.  The proper response to such tragedies is grieving, sorrow and prayer.  26 people lost their lives in the tragedy yesterday.  Horrendous news, but why does this tragedy bring us to tears when the loss of over 3000 children every day does not even enter our minds on a daily basis.  How can we explain this contradiction?

We were shocked and surprised by yesterday’s events, but should we have been?  In a culture that allows and sometimes even encourages mothers to make a choice to kill their own child resting in womb, which should be the safest place for a child, how can we be shocked that a deeply troubled young man would have no regard for the value of his life or the lives of others?  In a culture that values life based on how that individual can benefit ourselves or society instead of recognizing the inherent value of every human life, why are we so surprised when lives are taken?  In a culture that glamorizes brutal violence, why should we be surprised when we see that violence in real life?

Yesterday’s tragedy has ignited lots of emotions in all of us.  We can see with our own eyes images of children crying.  These children have names.  We can witness their personalities and the friendships they’ve built.  It is real to us.  We can easily identify these innocent children as victims.  Conversely, abortions are most often times secret.  It is a choice that mothers make.  The ‘procedure’ is usually overseen by a doctor.  The child is not fully developed.  The child is hidden in the womb.  Many times the general public may never even know that an abortion has taken place, and so many don’t mourn the loss of children’s lives through abortion.  Many see abortion as a woman’s choice.  Many see abortion as a medical decision and the baby as a condition.  I stand in prayer outside of abortion clinics not to condemn women who make the terrible choice to abort their child, but hopefully to give them one last chance to change their mind and save the life of their child.  We in the pro life movement want to offer women hope, love and support.  We want them to truly understand the decision they are making, which is terminating the life of their child.  Until we as a culture recognize and understand that we are killing our children every day in great numbers through abortion; until we grieve and mourn the loss off children in the womb like we mourn the loss of the many innocent lives taken in yesterday’s tragedy, these tragedies will continue to occur and occur more frequently.

Yesterday I stated on my Facebook page that I trust in God that some good might come of this horrific tragedy, and I am already seeing much good.  Parents are hugging their children.  People are looking at life in a slightly different way.  People are expressing to those close to them how much they love them.  People are starting to discuss how we as a culture need to change so that we can avoid these tragedies in the future.  People are turning to God in prayer.  People are bonding with their neighbors.  It is easy to focus on all of the bad in the world, but there are a great number of really good people.  God can work through the most horrendous tragedies.  God is at work today.  Listen to Him and act accordingly.

God bless,

Mike

Friday, October 5, 2012

Let Me Be Clear: Mitt Romney is the Obvious Choice This November for Faithful Christians

President Obama frequently uses the phrase; let me be clear, to emphasize a point.  Well now Mr. President, if you don’t mind, I’d like to borrow your phrase.  To all my fellow Christians and people of faith, let me be clear, this is a very important presidential election in November and the differences between the candidates are stark.  As with all things there are some grey areas and not any one politician or political party is perfect.  However, let me be clear, there is an obvious choice for faithful Christians this presidential election and the man we should all support and vote for is Mitt Romney.

Who are our choices for President?

  • Barack Obama (Democrat)
  • Mitt Romney (Republican)

I have heard from a couple people who have reservations about both candidates, and so they say that they will be voting for Ron Paul or some other third party candidate.  While I respect these people’s passion, the fact of the matter is that either Obama or Romney will win.  No candidate will be perfect, but these are our two options so responsible voters will look at the two options and decide which of the two will be better for our country. Thankfully we have one candidate that is pro-life, pro-marriage, and who respects our religious freedom.  As a bonus, Romney also has a great plan for improving our economy, which would be much better for the poor than government handouts.  So we have a choice: Obama or Romney?

What are the most important issues people of faith should consider when voting?


The USCCB has released a voter guide for the 2012 election.  While I understand why Catholic Bishops would not publicly endorse candidates, it is their job as our spiritual leaders to help form our consciences.  The document, called "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship," lists seven major themes that should be on the minds of Catholics and all Christians when deciding on how we should vote.  The most important issues as follows:
  • ·         Respect for Life
  • ·         Respect for Family and Marriage
  • ·         Respect for Religious Liberty
  • ·         Concern for the Poor
  • ·         Immigration Reform
  • ·         Terrorism and War

Other issues are also important; the debt, the economy, healthcare, etc.  It is important to note the difference between issues that are intrinsic evils, things that are always wrong no matter the circumstance, and those issues which require prudential judgment.  Although I’m sure it is not the intention of the USCCB, sometimes I believe that they talk about so many issues that the faithful can become confused as to which issues are of the utmost importance.  Also, it is not always made clear that there can be disagreement about how to solve certain problems such as how to best serve the poor.  It is unquestionable that Christians are called to help the poor, but does that mean Christians must support a big and ever expanding government in the midst of a debt crisis?  Absolutely not!  However, abortion is an intrinsic evil that can never be justified.  Candidates who actively and enthusiastically support abortion should never be rewarded with our vote.  Thankfully, some individual bishops have spoken up and made this distinction.  Philadelphia Archbishop Chaput is one of those Bishops.

President Obama is not only supportive of abortion and the largest abortion provider Planned Parenthood, but as a senator he went so far as supporting the killing of a baby born alive after a failed abortion.  Sickening!  It is inconceivable to me that any person of faith could vote for a man with those values.  Connected closely to the right to life is the right of religious freedom.  As we have seen from President Obama, he has infringed upon our religious freedom with the HHS mandate.  Interestingly, he is quick to condemn anyone who criticizes Islam, but I never once hear him defend the rights of Christians.  One other major contradiction I would like to point out is Obama's message regarding Fatherhood.  If you think fatherhood is so important Mr. President, why do you no longer support marriage?  Obama is now "enlightened" and believes in and supports "gay marriage," which will confuse kids, diminish the role of fathers, and hurt families.  You would like to think that someone who professes to be Christian would act more Christian. 

I encourage you to read the document released by our American Catholic Bishops regarding faithful citizenship.  No candidate or political party perfectly aligns with the teachings of Jesus Christ and his Church.  Let that not discourage us, but rather motivate us to make our voices heard.  While we have a clear choice this election, we must continue to promote Christian values regardless of who wins this election.  My hope and prayer is that Romney will be our next President.  Let’s make this happen!  God bless you and God bless America! 

Your comments are welcome and encouraged.  Who are you voting for and why?     

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Book Reflections: The Didache

The Didache

The Didache

This short document is invaluable for those interested in Church history and would be a great addition to a Bible study.  It was written by some of the earliest Church Fathers and may have even been written before some of the New Testament.  It offers a great insight in the the customs and life of the early Christians.  You will read about the Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist among other things.  It is amazing to think that when we go to church on Sunday we are doing the same thing that the earliest Christians were doing.  Pretty awesome!  I found a great review of this book on Amazon that I recommend you read if you want a more in depth review.

An Invaluable First Century Christian Document

God bless,

Mike

Book Reflections: Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America

Ameritopia

Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America

"We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator (God) with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." - (United States of America Declaration of Independence, July 4th, 1776)

The purpose of this book is to educate the American public on threats to our liberty.  Mark Levin is a powerful voice for conservatives in America.  This historical and well researched book I believe accurately reflects the principles on which America was founded, and how we as a country are straying from those principles spelled out in the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, by allowing more and more federal government intervention in our lives.  We are falling into a Utopian totalitarianism.  If we don't recognize this reality and start to shift back to the ideals and principles upon which made this country so great, our country will forever change and not for the better.  Do you want to live in America or Ameritopia?  As for myself, I choose America! I highly recommend this book if you love the United States of America and want to see it continue to be the leader around the world for freedom, human rights, and hope.

---

Notes:

Political Utopianism = Totalitarianism

Utopian ideas first and most powerfully expressed by Plato, St. Thomas More, Hobbs, and Marx.

I have great admiration and respect for St. Thomas More, so I was very interested in the chapter regarding his book; Utopia.  It is a fictional writing, and it is unknown if he was a proponent of all the political aspects he wrote in the book, but the society in which he wrote about denied individuals some basic and essential freedoms.  I do not believe that St. Thomas More had bad intentions, and he saw a lot of political corruption in his time which likely led to some of his biases, he became a marauder for standing up for his Catholic faith, so I take that into consideration.  I believe that he brought up some valid concerns about the current society, and he aptly identified pride as one of our greatest sins and obstacles to a faithful and moral life.  Regardless of his good intentions, the society described by St. Thomas More is not at all desirable because of it's denial of individual freedom in several instances.

John Locke and Charles Montesquieu had a great influence on the founders on how American would be governed.  Most notably, America was to be a land with limited government and free people with inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.


There will be no perfect society here on earth because we are a fallen people, but a society that respects individuals freedom gives us the best chance at a good and moral society.


---

God bless,

Mike