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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving! 

A special day set aside in our nation to give thanks to God for all His gifts to us.

Thanksgiving has a long history in our country, but the theme of giving thanks goes much further back in history, as recorded in the Bible. Some celebrations of giving thanks in America predate the Pilgrims, including  the celebration of Mass by Spanish settlers in what is now St.Augustine, FL. The end of this Thanksgiving weekend coincides with the First Sunday of Advent, as discussed in this reflection a few years ago by Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput, starting the season of spiritual preparation for Christmas.

Have a good time with family and friends and don't eat any more than I would. ;-)

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Monday, November 07, 2016

The 2016 Election 

Well, the campaign that seems to have lasted forever is finally coming to a conclusion. From a herd of seventeen Republican candidates and four Democratic candidates (recall Martin O'Malley and Jim Webb?), the winnowing process gradually narrowed the fields. I actually participated in the process, running as an alternate delegate candidate for Ted Cruz in the Maryland primary this year. And now the hand has been dealt, with the two major candidates (plus several minor ones). Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will be elected this week.

Hillary Clinton is dragging chains of baggage longer than those of Jacob Marley's ghost. Clinton Foundation corruption, unsecured email server, Benghazi, Whitewater, etc.

And the there are the critical issues of life, liberty, security and prosperity. (Protecting life from in the womb until natural death is a threshold issue for me.) Judicial nominations are critical. Not to mention the soaring health care premiums that many of us are experiencing.

As I noted at the top, Donald Trump was not my first choice (or 2nd, 3rd, etc.) for the Republican nomination. Trump is certainly an unconventional candidate with rough edges and a checkered past (and I in no way excuse or condone the alleged acts of sexual harassment). I think he came into the race with a huge ego and a lack of understanding of most of the issues and of how government works. While much of the ego remains, he does seem to have shown increasing seriousness about issues, from foreign/defense policy to protecting life to the economy and even on the future in space.

Some fear that Trump's sometimes rude or outlandish comments during the past year in a half make him and his supporters the equivalent of the fascist dictatorships that arose in Europe during the last century. While I could be proven terribly wrong, I don't think that is likely. I believe that the extreme corruption and deceitfulness combined with the radical world view of Clinton and her associates may present the greater danger to our way of life. Consider the WikiLeaks revelation of the audacity of campaign chair John Podesta and others to think that they could organize a movement to undermine the teachings of the Catholic Church. (Taking on the Church founded 2,000 years ago by Jesus Christ would be an ultimately futile gesture, but other powers in history have engaged in severe persecution in the attempt.)

One other thing. When the history of this election is written, the story of the media may be as big as that of the candidates. The bias of much of the established media toward liberal issues (especially social/cultural liberalism) and candidates, became so much more overt this time. Yet, the rise of alternate networks and especially of Internet social media have made it increasingly difficult for anyone to impose a single narrative on the reporting of current events. A fundamental reason our society is so divided is that people are relying on different sources of information, with many deeply distrusting the long established media institutions. Whatever the election outcome, an altered media landscape may be a long term consequence of this divisive political season.

Finally, we need to pray for the candidates and for the nations. History is ultimately in God's hands. (Recall 2 Chron 7:14.) We also need to be sure that our deep divisions do not separate families and friends. Whatever the outcome, may we gather in two weeks in Thanksgiving for our blessings.

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