Tuesday, September 27, 2016

What the World Needs Now, is Philosophy, Sweet Philosophy

One of the main draws to Catholicism for me was how reasonable it is; what we teach and what we believe about God, the world, the Scriptures, justice, sexuality, etc. is just plain reasonable to me, and I see a world that is becoming largely devoid of reason. Sure, I didn't always think this way, but through research, prayer, dialog, and contemplating the alternatives, I continue to be drawn deeper into the truths of the faith and find them brilliant, as well as perfectly reasonable.

When Benedict XVI spoke about the necessity of faith and reason at Regensburg, the world fixated on a quote he used from a medieval Byzantine emperor, showcasing his point that the world is becoming increasingly fundamentalist in two opposing directions; fundamentalism in religion strips reason away, and we see that in Christians who proclaim that “God hates fags” or that the world is 6,000 years old and that there was no such thing as dinosaurs; we can see it in Islam with the barbarity of ISIS, or in Hinduism with the many gang rapes occurring in India, or in Israel where Orthodox Jews are burning down churches, vandalizing monasteries, and demanding Muslims and Christians to leave the Holy Land. On the other side, we see militant atheism and militant secularism, removing from life any belief in eternal consequences, living life for the moment, refusing to acknowledge simple truths (such as there being two genders); instead of engaging in discussion with other points of view in order to discern the truth, they insist that either they’ve discovered all the truth they need regarding the afterlife, or the other group insists that there ARE no truths to discern, that truth is in the eye of the beholder.

The Catholic faith (and our Orthodox brethren) embrace faith and reason; as St. John Paul II said in his encyclical of the same name, “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.” The Catholic Church has a proud heritage in the sciences, such as helping to develop the Big Bang Theory (Fr Georges LemaĆ®tre), working with space exploration (there are over 30 craters on the moon named after Catholic priest-scientists), and developing the field of genetics (Augustinian friar and abbot Gregor Mendel). St. Albert the Great, a Dominican priest from the thirteenth century, founded Germany’s oldest university and in the thirty-eight volumes of his collected writings he wrote extensively on logic, theology, botany, geography, astronomy, astrology, mineralogy, alchemy, zoology, physiology, phrenology, justice, law, friendship, Scripture, and love. St. Hildegard of Bingen, a Benedictine abbess from Germany, wrote many volumes on theology, Scripture, natural medicine for curing ailments, and botany (as well as writing music, prayers, sermons, poems, and developing an artificial language).

Reason – science – is not foreign to Christianity, but since the “enlightenment”, atheist philosophers have put it into the minds of Westerners that the greatest scientific achievements occurred once universities and laboratories were ripped out of the hands of churchmen; that’s just not true – during the golden age of the medieval period, great strides in these fields were developed by devout Catholics – clergy, Religious, and laity – because it was all in order to discover God through his Creation, as well as what he let us understand through our reason. Sadly, once Western Christianity was severed by the Reformation and many colleges and universities became secular, a wedge was driven between faith and reason, a wedge that continues to grow wider and wider with each passing generation. We now live in a country where a significant portion of our youth in college had no religious upbringing and they see religion mainly as an impediment to progress and learning. Sadly, for many, their exposure to Reformation theology and its limitation to the Bible alone has caused them to reject Christianity as an unenlightened religion; they see the philosophy contained in Buddhism or the peaceful meditation of the New Age as more appealing that Christianity; it is a sad testimony to what has happened to Western intellectual thought since our divisions of the 1500s.

In my mind, you cannot have faith without reason – when faith becomes unreasonable, you get fundamentalism – and when your faith is fundamentalism, you breed atheism; it’s very simple. A return to philosophy and theology, and a rediscovery of the rich scientific achievements made by the Catholic world, is in order, especially when having to discuss things with atheists who only want to listen to scientific arguments. It’s not all science, of course – faith and grace are incredibly vital – but in order to get the discussion going, you meet people where they are. Archbishop Sheen showed us how dynamic our evangelization is if we’re schooled in rhetoric and philosophy. Being Christian is about having a relationship with Jesus Christ and from there we grow in love for our neighbor and in desire for virtue; many have discounted formal theology and schooling (especially since so many have betrayed the Church in the name of education and theology), but knowing the faith is vital. “Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet 3:15).

Believing in God is reasonable. The Catholic faith is reasonable. Relativism is not reasonable. Atheism is not reasonable. Abortion, "gender fluid", androgyny, and feminism are not reasonable. Philosophy, theology, Scripture study - all guided by the Catholic Church - are the most reasonable things that I've ever come across in my entire life.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Finally - My Favorite Time of Year Returns

I tend to feel more joy this time of year; once we pass the autumn Ember days (mid-September), the days start getting cooler, the leaves start changing, the bugs start dying, the air starts to fill with chimney smoke at night, and the constellations start to change (my buddy Orion is coming back). As autumn is in full force, the warmer clothes and blankets come out. No more air conditioning and there are more nights and days of open windows and fresh air. I start making more "cool weather" recipes, like soups, stews, and my South Beach oven-roasted nuts recipes (many of which are my favorite recipes).

Columbus Day arrives, a day which I continue to honor, as it brought the Catholic faith to the Western Hemisphere. As we proceed through October, the houses all around start to be decorated for the holidays. I love Halloween - not just because of all the holiday programs and the happy memories of homemade costumes and trick-or-treating, but also because it is All Hallow's Eve, the vigil of All Saints Day.

All Saints Day is followed by All Souls Day and the month (November) dedicated specifically for prayers for the souls in Purgatory. Indulgences for the souls are granted to us through praying in a cemetery (what's more Halloween than that?). Autumn decorations abound, with houses dressed in scarecrows, pumpkins and gourds, stalks of indian corn, and (at least for now) imagery of pilgrims and Native Americans. Thanksgiving is falling out of fashion, due to the guilty conscience of progressive Americans, but as a Christian, I still believe it's important to give thanks to God for our bounty; also, thank God we have a four day weekend!

When growing up, we always waited until Thanksgiving weekend to decorate the house for Christmas. As a Catholic, I've tried to embrace the season of Advent, using the time to meditate on the prayers of the season and the writings of the Church Fathers as we anticipate the Nativity of Our Lord (as well as the second coming of Christ); I also own a CD of beautiful hymns of the Advent season. Houses get decorated with lights, Nativity scenes, and Christmas (or winter) decorations. Christmas shows are on tv and Christmas (or winter) music is on the radio and playing in the stores. The weather starts to turn very cold and if we're lucky, we'll get to see a little snow. The nights are dark, turning into nightfall as early as 5pm. I usually set up the Nativity set the first Sunday of Advent (it is traditional that you refrain from placing the baby Jesus in the set until Christmas Eve, but most times I'm lazy and put him in the scene the day I set it up). I've always said that if I do put up a tree (tree lots have popped up everywhere), I would wait until after the third Sunday of Advent, known as Gaudete Sunday (and if I really wanted to push it, I would refrain from decorating the tree and apartment until the fourth Sunday of Advent, although that's in a perfect world).

Christmas comes, my favorite holy day and season. As I've mentioned elsewhere, in the Catholic Church we celebrate the "day" of Christmas for eight days; we celebrate Christmastide for 12 days (the 12 Days of Christmas), and the season of Christmas until February 2. I love the "classic" Christmas songs (like Rudolph, Frosty, Jingle Bells, Deck the Halls, etc.) but I can't stand most of the Christmas music on the radio (most of which never mention Christmas unless it's the day of when the singer is proposing to get together with their love). Of course, I love the Christmas carols we're all familiar with (the ones sung in Church); I had bought a radio several years ago that allows me to plug in my ipod (which has since died) specifically so that I could play Christmas music in my living room.

Although New Year's approaches quickly after Christmas, for me it's more of a celebration of the eighth day of Christmas and the day where we mark both the Holy Name of Jesus, and the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. Through January and into the first days of February, we mark the visit of the Magi, the circumcision of our Lord, the baptism of our Lord, and the purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

It's all about anticipation: autumn points to winter, which points to spring. Advent points to Christmas, which points to Easter. This time of year reminds me of all my happy childhood memories, of which they are innumerable. It also reminds me of the days and life to come. I can't help but enjoy this time of year, every year, and look forward to the life to come when every day will be eternal rest and joy.

The Preservation of English Christianity

Without excluding liturgical celebrations according to the Roman Rite, the Ordinariate has the faculty to celebrate the Holy Eucharist and the other Sacraments, the Liturgy of the Hours and other liturgical celebrations according to the liturgical books proper to the Anglican tradition, which have been approved by the Holy See, so as to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared.

---- Anglicanorum Coetibus

September 24th is the feast day of Our Lady of Walsingham, which is the patronal feast of the US' Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. For more information about this oft forgotten apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, please click here to read more.

The approach of this holy day coincided with the latest numbers of the health of the Episcopal Church, and this gave me pause, allowing me to meditate on the Ordinariate and what that means for Anglicanism. The Episcopal Church in the United States is going to disappear, as is Anglicanism in Canada and elsewhere. New numbers released show that in the United States the average amount of Episcopalians showing up at their parish for Sunday worship is a mere 58 people. 71% of the Episcopal Church's parishes report less than 100 people attending on any given Sunday; less than 4 percent attract 300 people or more. All in all, the Episcopal Church has seen a 26% drop in attendance since 2005.

Church attendance is shrinking across the board - no one is immune - but these numbers are devastating. To give a comparison, as of 2015 there were 17,337 Catholic parishes in the United States; there are only 6,500 Episcopalian ones. There are 81.6 million Americans who identify themselves as Catholic; there are less than 1.8 million Episcopalians in this country - in Canada, 1.6 million Canadians identify themselves as Anglican (compared to 12.7 million Canadian Catholics).

This had to have gone through Benedict's mind when he was establishing the Anglican Ordinariate. There is no doubt that English Christianity has left its imprint on the world, thanks in part to the United Kingdom's worldwide empire over the last few centuries, leaving Anglican/Episcopal churches on nearly every continent and giving the world the grand English prose of the Book of Common Prayer and the King James Version of the Holy Scriptures. To this day, at least in the US, the most beautiful churches I've been to have been Episcopal churches. They took many things that were Catholic and put an English spin to it, creating something that was - and still is - truly unique and beautiful. While there is a great deal of variety within Anglicanism, the parts of it that remain connected to her Catholic past allow us to see a beauty connected to her past, as well as speaking to us in the present; many prayers in the BCP are English translations of prayers from the liturgies of England prior to the liturgical reform of Pope St. Pius V (d. 1572), so they are a window into a past that even the Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite (the "old Latin Mass") doesn't reach.

This is an ANGLICAN parish in Kent, England.

Benedict XVI, knowing the faith of those Anglicans/Episcopalians who desperately wanted to keep these beautiful traditions and spirituality, which although planted by the Catholic Church nearly 1,500 years ago, was reformed outside of communion with Rome into something that still gave the world an expression of faith and a deep love of Christ - the pope had to have known the decline of that denomination. Gone were the days of hope in the late 60s and early 70s when millions believed they would see a reunification between Rome and Canterbury within their lifetime; now are the days when the staunchest Anglicans/Episcopalians seem to be the most progressive or the most traditional - and neither group is interested in communion with Rome. However, out of that small group in the middle, there were men and women who longed for faith, morals, and tradition built on rock instead of the shifting sands of popular culture; this group appealed to the Pope for an opportunity to be Catholic, but hoped to keep the things about Anglicanism (and English Christianity in general) that weren't opposed to Catholic teaching, and the Pope gladly complied with the petition of the faithful. We now have three Ordinariates: in the US and Canada, in England and Wales, and in Australia, with rumors of there being another one day in South Africa (although that remains to be seen).

As a member of the Ordinariate, I've been tasked with keeping English Christianity alive. I'm encouraged to worship according to the traditions of Anglicanism as approved by Rome. I'm challenged by Rome to reach out to my separated brothers and sisters in the Episcopalian/Anglican tradition, to bring them home to Rome. The Ordinariate is not just so that we can continue to have pretty liturgy in English; it is to preserve Anglicanism and English Christianity; it is to be a tool in the reunification of Christians. Rome has said this; we have our marching orders. Right now we're in the early days of the Ordinariate and much can happen, good and bad.

There are some schools of thought that see the Ordinariate as "the place" where tradition-minded Protestants may come as Catholics, experiencing liturgy and traditions that they may find familiar; other schools of thought see the Ordinariate as the template for other denomination-based Ordinariates, like the much-whispered about "Lutheran Ordinariate" that I heard mentioned several years ago - if Presbyterians or Lutherans or other denominations came to believe in the Catholic faith and saw Presbyterian Ordinariates or Lutheran Ordinariates, keeping their faith traditions alive while preserving a unity of faith as found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, that might be something to think about. And it's all thanks to the forward thinking, wisdom, and generosity of Pope Benedict XVI, prompted by the Holy Spirit, and in response to the heartfelt requests from concerned, faithful Anglicans and Episcopalians; what St. John Paul II started, Pope Benedict built upon with great hope and faith. It is up to us and future generations to continue building upon this foundation.

Justin Welby, the (Anglican) Archbishop of Canterbury, said something very true and powerful when he traveled to Assisi, Italy, for an interfaith prayer meeting with Pope Francis, Patriarch Bartholomew, and members of many non-Christian faiths, including Jews, Muslims, and Hindus. Archbishop Welby said:

"Mercy begins with the mercy that each of us experiences in the sacrament of reconciliation; the knowledge that we ourselves are accepted...[Mercy is the] engine of reconciliation [and] the source of our capacity for the evangelization of the world in which we live...The failure of ecumenism [Christian unity] imprisons mercy and prevents its liberation and its power with one another...If we do not suffer together, we do not know the meaning of the ecumenism of mercy...When they kill us, they do not ask if we are Anglican, Presbyterian, Catholic or Orthodox; we are one in Christ for them. So why are we divided when they are not killing us? [By not reconciling with each other] our worship is diminished and our capacity to grow close together with God is reduced. [Evangelization] depends on the world seeing visibly that we belong to one another and that we love one another. Without that, we have nothing to say to a world that is incapable of resolving its own differences."

Amen. This is why I believe in Christian unity, "that the world may believe" that the Father has sent the Son. And this is why it's important that the Catholic Church has chosen to give a home to the unique and beautiful traditions of Anglicanism, shrinking at an alarming rate, but now always existing in the Church founded on the rock of Peter, "and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it" (Mat 16:18).

Friday, September 9, 2016

Moderation: Let's Try This Again

I keep trying to tie my appetite/habits to the liturgical calendar and seasons, while also trying to live out the Rule of St. Benedict, as well as some of what Pope Francis talked about in Laudato Si' - it really feels right, like it's a way to find moderation, to tie it to seeking virtue, and uniting my efforts to the cross. Here's another try, making it simple to the best of my ability.

Seafood: They recommend eating seafood at least three times a week; to the best of my ability, I'll eat seafood on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. My attempt to have fresh fish on those days proved too expensive at this time, so I've purchased frozen fish and am trying to make some recipes other than a fillet with veggies on the side.

Vegetarian meals: Under normal circumstances, my lunch is usually a salad, but dinner on Tues, Thurs, and Sat (when not a feast or Solemnity) shall also be vegetarian (either another salad or a vegetarian meal). I have several cookbooks and websites that offer wonderful and creative vegetarian meals. Plus, I'll allow myself to enjoy a pasta meal as a vegetarian meal, no more than twice a month (because I always overdo things - it's very easy to eat WAY too much pasta).

Wednesdays & Fridays: Fast days; as the Church recommends, on these days only one full meal and two smaller meals, that when taken together, do not exceed the size of the full meal. Additionally, these days are ones of abstinence (no meat). For better use of my time, I also fast from social media on these days. The same will be conducted on Ember days.

Waste Not, Want Not: I have a cupboard absolutely filled with ingredients - dried and canned beans, brown rice, bouillon, seasoning, herbs - and it continues to sit there, month after month, as I spend, spend, spend on new ingredients. For once, I'm going to be a real home cook and prepare the stuff I have at home; to be creative, and to use what I have on-hand (perhaps I might run to the store for an onion or broth or something like that, but until I cook it all, I'm not buying anything else on a grand scale). Starving people would kill to have what I ignore in my pantry.

Solemnities (including Sundays) & feast days: Days to eat meat during one of my meals, and to enjoy alcohol (other than wine, which is consumed daily with dinner); no junk food. Ever. Even on Solemnities. No.

Snacks & Dessert: Most modern "diet" plans recommend eating every two or three hours so as to keep blood sugar/insulin levels level, which helps in weight loss and in regulating hunger; I've found all of these things to be true, so I will continue to do this. I usually take unsalted nuts, fruit, string cheese, yogurt, and Organic Protein from Stoneyfield Farms - stuff like that. Dessert will continue to be mainly sugar-free Jello or some sweet fruit.

Eat/drink according to season: I want to live closer to the cycle of seasons, to enjoy a deeper relationship with Creation. One of the ways I hope to do that is to incorporate more products of the season into my diet; for instance, since autumn is starting soon, I'll try to make some meals that use squash, which is more abundant this time of year. Also, there are particular beers that are brewed in particular seasons and on the rare times I choose to have a beer, they will stay within that seasonal range.

Quality of products: My dream is to eat organic foods, and foods that are as natural (the least processed) as possible. Sadly, I just can't afford that kind of lifestyle right now - perhaps in a few months, after changing some of my purchasing habits. In the meantime, I'll continue to buy some organic and non-GMO products. Also, I will continue to eat whole grains over "white" foods.

Holidays/vacations: These are the rare times during the year, even though it may not be a Solemnity or feast, where I enjoy meat on a non-meat day (except Fridays) or have a few extra beers or a slice of cake or something. I'm talking about things like a person's birthday, July 4, Memorial Day, the day or two after Thanksgiving, or the rare times I'm on vacation; so we're only talking about a couple weeks' worth of days scattered over the course of a year. Every realistic "diet" plan suggests that you don't cut yourself completely off from these "naughty" snacks because (especially since I suffer from an addiction to overeating) you'll find yourself obsessing over having them until you explode and gorge. If it turns out I cannot handle having these things, then I'll have to use prayer and support in order to avoid them forever (kind of depressing, isn't it?).

Exercise: My least favorite part of all of this, but a necessary part. Right now I try to get 10,000 steps a day, mainly through my normal activities at work and in the home, as well as walking in the park for some fresh air. However, that's not enough to help me lose weight and burn off excess blood sugar; it kills me, but I'll probably have to rejoin a gym or buy some home exercise equipment sometime soon. In the meantime, I'll do my best to...

Get outdoors: Mentally speaking, I need to get out more often. Walks in the park, trips to the beach, star-gazing, fishing, visiting local parts, hiking, perhaps camping. I'd like to do this kind of stuff at least once a week. I can't spend my whole life indoors being lazy, and being out in nature will help me orient my life to caring for Creation, as set out by Pope Francis in Laudato Si' (carrying on what was started with St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI).

I try to do these things because I've never cared about my health for me. Whenever I lost weight, it was for someone or something else: to stay in shape for a loved one, to get into shape in order to attract someone, and other such reasons - it's never been because I deserve to be healthy or because our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit that should be treated with dignity and respect, especially since we're made in the image and likeness of God. So, I have a lot of self-image stuff to work on, to see my health as important, that I deserve to live a healthy life, because that's what God intended for me. I want to get off the medication, get my life in order, and live for the Lord and my neighbor to the best of my ability - I cannot do that while sitting on the couch, too sore to move, too full to stay awake, and too focused on myself.

I know God loves me no matter what my size, but the proof that God doesn't intend for us to be obese is the fact that obesity leads to hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, bad joints, and all sorts of other health issues. I used to disregard my health because I never cared about my appearance, seeing such a thing as vanity, plus convincing myself that I wanted people to only care about what was on the inside. Lastly, I have never been interested in living a long time - to this day, as long as I have been to confession, the Lord can take me anytime because I believe in him and believe that he is faithful to his promises. This world sucks. I long for the day when Jesus triumphantly throws Satan, his demons, and even death into the pit so that Creation is fully renewed and we once again live in the loving presence of God forever and ever. Why would I want to delay my part in that plan by trying my best to live as long as possible? No, I want to live forever, but not in this world - in the next. How could I not? Just watch the death and destruction, hate and violence, on the news and then look at just some of the promises God has made to us:

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall feed; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The sucking child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Is 11:6-9).

...and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more (Is 2:4).

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a great voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away" (Rev 21:1-4).

All these bad reasons for losing weight, plus dealing with what I believe is a lifetime of food addiction, I never cared about my health. However, meditating on the Rule of St. Benedict, becoming an oblate, praying the Daily Office, trying my best to go to daily Mass, continuing my education, and reading the writings of the saints (and our recent popes), my conscience is being challenged to live a life that's a bit more meager, offering to others, the less-fortunate, what I don't use on myself; it also keeps my mind more focused on the next life instead of just on this one. Lastly, it helps me remember how much I'm loved by God, even on those days when I'm frustrated, or angry, or depressed, or sinful. That's why I cannot give up on myself - because God never gives up on me.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Colin Kaepernick

Much has been made by the media and others over Colin Kaepernick's choice to not stand for the national anthem. While I think Kaepernick is a bit misguided (with his pro-Castro shirt as proof), I think I can understand and support what he's doing.

#1, I don't worship America. I see many Americans treating the flag as if it were a holy relic and the anthem as if it were a glorious hymn. We are a great nation with tremendous blessings, but we also engage (or have engaged) in great evils, such as ethnic cleansing of our Natives, slavery, abortion, eugenics, pornography, and perpetual warfare. While I love this country and am proud of her achievements, I do not think she is a "shining city on a hill" or a utopia; she is flawed and has saints as well as sinners in her ranks, and she is often in need of reform. There is nothing wrong or unpatriotic about saying that.

#2, Kaepernick is in a position to make such statements. Many look up to him. Unlike many punks I knew in high school who thought they were pretty badass to not stand for the pledge, Kaepernick (because of his position) is doing something that people are actually noticing; he is using his position to promote a dialogue about what he perceives as an injustice. While it's true that many blacks are reaching pinnacles of prestige and power that previous generations could only dream of, there are still millions and millions who live lives of poverty in neighborhoods of violence, drugs, and corruption.

#3, politicians don't care. Just like abortion, drugs, immigration, and war, politicians refuse to solve any of the major problems facing America because to do so would reduce our need for them, which would eliminate their power, careers, and income. They don't want to solve any of the problems.

#4, this is no different than when those on the Right hang up a "Don't Tread on Me" flag or insist that they will fight the government in the streets if they have to in order to protect the country. How is his protest against the system unpatriotic, while the protest of those on the Right are somehow making our Founding Fathers smile from above?

#5, there are injustices in America, especially in the black community. There are. It's one of America's biggest blights. We enslaved them. Then, after we freed them, North and South discriminated against them for 100 years (the North covertly, while the South openly). Then, all the industrial jobs of the cities - jobs that would help blacks - were shipped overseas. Then, the nation cared more about reality television than the fact that black-on-black crime continues to skyrocket, all the while with many cops (not most, but many) abuse their power (against whites and blacks, but disproportionately against blacks). Blacks are disproportionately imprisoned, their sentences are longer, those sentenced to death are disproportionately black, they get sub-par representation in court, their schools are allowed to rot, a majority of blacks are born in single-parent households, and a majority of abortion clinics are put in minority neighborhoods in order to continue the eugenic policies of the founders of the American birth control/abortion industries. America yawns when these things happen, to the point where the only time we'll listen or pay attention is when there are riots in the streets.

I'm not a fan of Kaepernick as a player - never have been - and his insinuation that Castro's Cuba is somehow a haven for equality shows how little he knows about Cuba. But he does know about being black in America, and being a famous African-American doesn't make a person immune to prejudice and injustice. And as a man in a public position, he wants to do some good and make America focus on helping all of us succeed. There's nothing wrong with that. There's nothing unpatriotic about that. He's tired of seeing one major segment of the population continue to languish, generation after generation, and all Americans - especially Christian ones - should share his concern and outrage. Many African-Americans are baptized Christians, members of the Body of Christ, and as St. Paul told us, "If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together" (1 Cor 12:26).