When people within the system realize what has happened, they try to correct “the mistake.” They ask Fitzmaurice why he wants to live this way. They think they know the answers. They even think they know better than he does what it’s like to have this disease. 

But they don’t know. And they don’t know Fitzmaurice.

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I sat in the classroom fourteen years ago, but not as a student. It was my last parent-teacher conference. Soon my youngest child would graduate.

I didn’t understand the nature of this class. Something about America, but not history. Something about government, but not civics. It was a half-year course, an elective, seemingly designed to fulfill a requirement of time studied, or time served, if you will.

When I asked the teacher the purpose of the class, he replied that he taught students what their rights were as Americans.

He didn’t respond to my mention of their duties. Continue Reading…

Some have argued that the monuments and the flag stand for freedom from an oppressive federal government. If that were ever true, it no longer is.

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Fear or Faith

August 10, 2017 — 3 Comments

I remember the moment I realized the Cold War was happening. Standing in my parents’ bedroom. A chill filled my stomach as a sense of vulnerability ran through me. Maybe I was eight or ten.

I asked my parents if the Russians would bomb us. My parents had lived through the Great Depression and World War II. They were not alarmed.

“Don’t worry about it. You can’t do anything about it anyway,” Mother said. Words that surprisingly reassured me.

Years later, the Iron Curtain fell. Peace came to the world. Continue Reading…

I wanted to entertain a bored grandson when I thought of the movie. The boy was intrigued because I said the football scenes were actual footage from Penn State’s games in the early 1970s.

Before long the story grabbed him. The movie, like all sports movies, wasn’t about a game as much as it was about something much larger. Character, sacrifice, love, family, and even suffering.

The movie was Something for Joey, the story of John Cappelletti’s quest to be the first Penn State football player to win the Heisman Trophy. But, as I said, it’s more than that. Continue Reading…

“Our ancestors believed in two worlds, and understood this to be the solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short one. We are the first generations of man that actually expected to find happiness here on earth, and our search for it has caused such unhappiness.” Peggy Noonan, 186

It’s a strange paradox, this world–America and the rest of the West–we inhabit. We have advanced technology and medical care, round the clock entertainment we carry in our pockets, and more food than we can (or should) eat.

We drive air-conditioned cars on well-maintained roads. We drink clean water and have central heating and indoor plumbing. Most of us have little to fear from terrorism and war. We are comfortable.

And even if we are poor, there are programs to feed us, house us, and clothe us.

Yet we are unhappy. Continue Reading…

We know how it ended. But we always seem to forget how it began.

It ended with liberation and the end of war. It ended with Nuremberg and the promise of “Never again!”

But it began with kinder euthanasia–the supposed mercy killing of children. The Holocaust Encyclopedia (HE) calls the program “a rehearsal for Nazi Germany’s subsequent genocidal policies.” A program we remember.

First, they came for infants and toddlers with severe mental or physical disabilities. No one else spoke up for they were not among the targeted.

Then they came for disabled children up to the age of seventeen, then to the physically disabled and elderly (HE). The weak of any age. Those who were not weak did not speak up. Continue Reading…

The Real Church Schism

July 27, 2017 — 6 Comments

“It is . . . dechristianization . . . with the man defined strictly without God and without transcendence. Religion is experienced as a feeling, but not worshiping God as creator and savior. In this great picture, these factors are not good for the transmission of the lived Christian faith, and for this reason it is necessary not to lose our energies in internal struggles, in conflict with each other, with the so-called progressivists seeking revenge by hunting all so-called conservatives. Cardinal Muller

It’s a fascinating discussion. Cardinal Muller talks as if there is room for compromise between conservatives and the “so-called progressives.”

How would compromise work?

Abortion? The baby is dead or alive–there is no in between place.

Gay marriage? A valid union or an invalid union–no wiggle room there either.

More to the point–“worshiping God as creator and savior”? If we are to commit ourselves to true worship, we affirm the transcendence of humanity.  We affirm that people are more than we see through human experience. There is more beyond this world. And we are accountable to our “creator and savior.” Continue Reading…

When I was a kid, war movies were history. World War II movies were the history my parents had lived. The war was the big event of their lives, in which they had participated, Mom as a typist in the Coast Guard, Dad, as a Navy medic in the South Pacific.

So we laughed at The Wackiest Ship in the Army. We thrilled at Patton. We mourned at The Great Escape

The events these movies depicted–sometimes quite accurately–were important to know about. But they didn’t seem to be something we might still experience. Then I grew older. And my kids grew up.

The actors in war movies were now younger than I was, not the older heroes almost of myth, but young men and women. Much like my own kids.

And the world changed too. War became something we could experience. It was something many of us were experiencing. Continue Reading…

“First, there’s no moral equivalence between the agony experienced by victims of sexual abuse, especially children, and the hardships of a falsely accused priest. The point is not to compare the two things, but rather, that you can’t remedy one injustice by creating another.” John L. Allen

First, there was Tawana Brawley. More recently, as Thomas Guerino points out, there was the Duke University Lacrosse team. A gang rape at the University of Virginia. And Alan Dershowitz–a Harvard law professor accused of having sex with an underaged girl.

All those stories fell apart. They weren’t true. It’s a big problem today–false accusation. We are wide awake, we hope, to allegations of abuse of all kinds.

But sometimes people tell lies because of malice or greed. Continue Reading…