Friday, October 31, 2014

The Smartphone: A Double-Edged Sword


TFP_2146Written by Evan Olwell
 
Technology, the work-saving redeemer of previous centuries, seems to be backfiring. As workers become more dependent on the modern equivalent of the steam engine, the smartphone, one should presumably find more time for recreation, rest and family interaction. After all, machines were meant to make work easier and free up time. Nevertheless, a tool can be as harmful as it is helpful.

The rise of the smartphone might be traced to a few old maxims that state, “time is money,” and “money makes the world go round.” For many employers, profits are seen as all important. Of course, to keep up with competition, the latest and greatest of machines are needed. Many workers find it helpful, if not essential, to have smartphones to keep up in their work.

A recent study in Germany examined 57,000 people and found that more than half of those who had smartphones worked longer hours. The study, done by the Society for Labour, Industrial and Organizational Psychological Research in Oldenburg, published in the online journal, Chronobiology International, found that those who worked longer hours were affected by myriad health complications. Among the medical problems were insomnia, cephalalgia, fatigue, anxiety, stomach and even cardiovascular problems.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Lady Who Snubbed the Rosary

The Lady Who Snubbed the Rosary

In his book, The Secret of the Rosary, St. Louis de Montfort writes of a pious but self-willed lady who lived in Rome. She was so devout that she put many a religious to shame.

One day, hearing of the holiness of St. Dominic, great apostle of the Rosary, she decided to make her confession to him. For penance the saint told her to say a Rosary and advised her to make it’s
recitation her daily practice.

“But, Father, “ she protested, “I already say so many prayers and practice so many exercises…I walk the Stations of Rome every day, I wear sack-cloth and a hair-shirt, I scourge myself several times a week, and often fast…”

St. Dominic insistently advised that she adopt the recitation of the Rosary, but she would not hear it. Moreover, she left the confessional horrified at the methods of this new spiritual director who wanted to impose on her a devotion for which she had no taste.

One day, when she was saying her prayers, she was shown a vision. In this vision she saw her soul appear before the Supreme Judge. She also saw St. Michael holding the scale of her life. On one side he placed all her prayers and penances, and on the other all her sins and imperfections.

Down went the scale on the side of sins and imperfections, outweighing all her good works.

Wide eyed, the good lady cried out for mercy, and turned to Our Lady imploring her help. Our Lady then gently set down on the tray of her good works the only Rosary she had ever said, which was the one St. Dominic had imposed on her as a penance.

This one Rosary was so heavy that it outweighed all her sins as well as good works.

Our Lady then reproved her for having refused to follow the counsel of her son Dominic and for refusing to adopt the practice of the daily recitation of the Rosary.

When the lady came to, she rushed to St. Dominic and casting herself down at his feet, told him what had happened. She begged forgiveness for her unbelief, and promised to say the Rosary faithfully every day. By this means she grew in holiness, and finally attained the glory of eternal life.

Thus says St. Louis de Montfort, “You who are people of prayer, learn from this the power, the value and the importance of this devotion of the holy Rosary when it is said with meditation on the mysteries.”

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The ISIS Problem: Wrong Beliefs Expressed Savagely


deaths-head-487276_640The late Sen. Eugene McCarthy once said that only two kinds of religion are permitted in America: strong beliefs vaguely expressed or vague beliefs strongly expressed. In a similar way, it could be said that the same formula applies to political beliefs.

Keeping everything vague is the basis of a general consensus which supposedly allows everyone to get along. It appeals to a broad sector of American society that wants to neatly sidestep sticky theological and political issues, and pragmatically get around to the business of the pursuit of happiness and the prosperity of the nation. Such an attitude facilitates a willingness to work with anyone who will make a deal.

With such a mindset, it is no surprise that many Americans are experiencing difficulty understanding the ISIS threat. Having so long followed a “get-along” policy, they find it inconceivable that someone would deliberately break all the rules and not seek to get along. Indeed, such Americans are prepared to be very flexible by considering all sorts of bizarre alternatives as long as they are vaguely expressed, but they are mystified when strong beliefs are strongly expressed.

As a result, most people do not have an explanation for ISIS. They simply attribute the problem to “extremism” that results in irrational behavior. Extremism happens when confused young people undergo a mysterious process of radicalization that turns them into terrorists. The solution offered is to eradicate extremism (using extreme means if necessary) and support any form of moderate alternatives (even to the point of using immoderate means).

There are two problems in dealing with the extremist threat in this manner.

The first is that it fails to delve deeply into the reasons why extremists believe in what they do. It does not consider what is believed but rather how it is believed. The issue is the intensity of belief, not its radical message.

The danger in holding such a position is that its advocates tend to assume that any belief strongly held is irrational and must be eradicated. Thus, for example, they will attach the extremist ISIS label to Christians and any others who believe in something strongly. In so doing, it makes any proportional reaction very difficult since it is hard to fight if one believes in nothing.

The second problem is that advocates of this position go to the extreme of assuming that the only way to fight strong beliefs expressed strongly is to hold vague beliefs expressed vaguely. Thus, they will do anything to return to the blessed ambiguity in which they find safety. They will, for example, insist that the Islamic State is not really Islamic or hold that more inter-religious dialogue is needed. In any conflict, they will frantically look for “moderates” to support with the wishful thinking that they will prevail over the radicals and the whole thing will go away.

But alas, in this new world of extremists who behead journalists, the rules have changed. The politics of vagueness is a losing strategy that leads to concession, naiveté and defeat. There is no getting along with those who do not wish to get along no matter how hard one tries to wish it away.

Extremism exists because today’s postmodern world fails to provide meaning to life. Young people desire something to live for, and thus look for strong ideals expressed strongly. Extreme Islam provides them with not only strong ideals but wrong ideals to fill the void. Its tech-savvy militants express these ideals not strongly but savagely by breaking the civilized rules that still govern the world and using the very technology of progress to broadcast their barbarism across the hated West.

What is missing are right beliefs expressed strongly that are worth fighting for. And the West has those right ideas that now more than ever need to be expressed rationally, strongly and apologetically. These ideas include the rule of law, a strong moral code based on natural law, representative government, Christian charity and a passion for justice—all the fruits of Christian civilization.

But the West has lost the will to fight for these ideas, which are the very foundation of the present order. And that is the greater threat. Much more dangerous than the paltry army of ISIS terrorists is the West’s fear of affirming Christian principles strongly.

As published in TheBlaze.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Catholic College to Host Pro-Abortion Speaker (protest here)

 Written by John Ritchie
While dedicated pro-lifers work to save babies, St. Norbert College will be doing something oddly different:
Welcoming a radical pro-abortion promoter to campus.
St. Norbert College -- a Catholic institution in Wisconsin -- has invited avowed abortion activist, Gloria Steinem, to speak next semester.
It’s so wrong and scandalous. Especially at a Catholic campus.
But I still think that you and I have enough time to make a real difference if we peacefully protest today and call the college to cancel Gloria Steinem's talk.
In fact, similar TFP Student Action petitions were really successful in getting other Catholic colleges to cancel pro-abortion speakers on campus.
So let’s do it again.
Because Gloria Steinem is like Margaret Sanger. Or even worse.
She boasted about her own abortion, saying: "it felt positive."
On another occasion, she said: “There is no organization in this country or the world that is more important than Planned Parenthood.” (NJ.com, Sept. 17, 2011)
And she also said this:
"Approximately one in three women in this country needs an abortion at some time in her life. It should be a part of reproductive rights." (The Washington Post - Nov. 19, 2013)
So, I'd like to ask you:
How on earth can a woman like Gloria Steinem with such a public pro-abortion record be invited to give a lecture at a Catholic institute, which ought to be a cornerstone in the defense of innocent life?
The unborn depend on you and your voice.
Thank you for defending innocent life.
 
 
John Ritchie
Written