A Homily – The Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

First Reading – Isaiah 45:1,4-6 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 95(96):1,3-5,7-10 ©

Second Reading – 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5 ©

Gospel Acclamation – John 17:17

Alternative Acclamation – Philadelphians 2:15 – 16

The Gospel According to Matthew 22:15 – 22 ©

(NJB)

The Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Be mindful of how the prophet speaks.

God, the creator of the universe does not intervene in the course of human affairs. God does not appoint kings, or grant victory in battle.

All such talk is vanity.

It is right to praise God; the creator of the universe. It is right to treat our discourse concerning God respectfully and honorably; God is holy and our discourse should bear in mind the sacred nature of God’s blessed work, but it is wrong to think of God as a Lord.

Know this!

God has already judged the world, and judged the entirety of the created order and God has proclaimed that it is good.

Take heart in this and let your faith rest in it.

God is not to be feared, God desires our trust.

There are no other God’s but God; the divine is one, but we should respect and strive to understand all language concerning the sacred and the reality of the divine, from whatever culture or nation it comes.

Listen!

Do not put too much stock in the buttery words of the apostle when he speaks to the church in Thessalonika, and remember this when you read the text he was there to ask them for money.

Remember this as well, God has chosen everyone, and God loves everyone without exception. The Thessalonians were no different than any other group of people in being the objects of God’s love.

And Remember, the Holy spirit blesses everyone and anyone can feign conviction, or a greater degree of conviction than they actually possess.

Listen!

You cannot lie and serve God at one and the same time.

Take joy in the work that is in front of you. Be content, for you have found your purpose sharing the word of life, and remember: if you are not engaged in loving service to your sisters and brothers, to the stranger and even your enemy, then you are not engaged in God’s work.

Consider the Gospel reading for today.

Listen to Jesus, the way has nothing to do with the concerns of political parties, and zealots.

Pay taxes or not, it does not matter. What does matter is whether the choices you make reflect the desire of God to see all people living well, fed, housed, clothed and educated, to see that their basic needs are met.

If paying taxes, no matter who the taxes are paid to, furthers the ends of a just and ethical society, then pay them. If not, then not.

If waging a tax protest advances the suffering of the people, to no good end, then do not protest; pay. If not, then not.

Be mindful in all things you do, and evaluate the choices you are pondering both for the immediacy of their impact, and the long-term consequences that will flow from them as well.

Follow the good, be humble, love justice and be merciful all the days of your life.

First Reading – Isaiah 45:1, 4-6 ©

I Have Taken Cyrus by His Right Hand to Subdue Nations Before Him

Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whom he has taken by his right hand

to subdue nations before him and strip the loins of kings, to force gateways before him that their gates be closed no more:

‘It is for the sake of my servant Jacob, of Israel my chosen one, that I have called you by your name, conferring a title though you do not know me.

I am the Lord, unrivalled; there is no other God besides me.

Though you do not know me, I arm you that men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that, apart from me, all is nothing.’

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 95(96):1, 3-5, 7-10 ©

Give the Lord glory and power.

O sing a new song to the Lord,

  sing to the Lord all the earth.

Tell among the nations his glory

  and his wonders among all the peoples.

Give the Lord glory and power.

The Lord is great and worthy of praise,

  to be feared above all gods;

  the gods of the heathens are naught.

It was the Lord who made the heavens,

Give the Lord glory and power.

Give the Lord, you families of peoples,

  give the Lord glory and power;

  give the Lord the glory of his name.

Bring an offering and enter his courts.

Give the Lord glory and power.

Worship the Lord in his temple.

  O earth, tremble before him.

Proclaim to the nations: ‘God is king.’

  He will judge the peoples in fairness.

Give the Lord glory and power.

Second Reading – 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5 ©

We Constantly Remember Your Faith, Your Love and Your Hope

From Paul, Silvanus and Timothy, to the Church in Thessalonika which is in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ; wishing you grace and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We always mention you in our prayers and thank God for you all, and constantly remember before God our Father how you have shown your faith in action, worked for love and persevered through hope, in our Lord Jesus Christ.

We know, brothers, that God loves you and that you have been chosen, because when we brought the Good News to you, it came to you not only as words, but as power and as the Holy Spirit and as utter conviction.

Gospel Acclamation – John 17:17

Alleluia, alleluia!

Your word is truth, O Lord: consecrate us in the truth.

Alleluia!

Alternative Acclamation – Philadelphians 2:15 – 16

Alleluia, alleluia!

You will shine in the world like bright stars because you are offering it the word of life.

Alleluia!

The Gospel According to Matthew 22:15 – 22 ©

Give Back to Caesar what Belongs to Caesar

The Pharisees went away to work out between them how to trap Jesus in what he said. And they sent their disciples to him, together with the Herodians, to say, ‘Master, we know that you are an honest man and teach the way of God in an honest way, and that you are not afraid of anyone, because a man’s rank means nothing to you. Tell us your opinion, then. Is it permissible to pay taxes to Caesar or not?’ But Jesus was aware of their malice and replied, ‘You hypocrites! Why do you set this trap for me? Let me see the money you pay the tax with.’ They handed him a denarius, and he said, ‘Whose head is this? Whose name?’ ‘Caesar’s’ they replied. He then said to them, ‘Very well, give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar – and to God what belongs to God.’

The Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien – Author

I learned how to read novels by reading Tolkien.

 

My mother had a beautiful edition of The Hobbit, hard bound in a green case with gold leaf and gilt pages. There were lovely illustrations in the book, and maps drawn by the author himself.

 

I pulled it off the shelf when I was in the third grade and I read it. Then I read the Lord of the Rings, followed by the Silmarillion, his Unfinished Tales edited by his son Christopher, and then a biography of the man himself.

 

Before I began to read his other works, I began to re-read those books. I read them all, many times over: eight, nine, ten times.

 

I remember a sensation I had on my third time through the Silmarillion, I experienced a heightened sense of understanding that came to me because I had become a better reader. It wasn’t just that I was re-reading the same material, but my vocabulary had expanded and I was able to comprehend more of the material.

 

The picture was filling in and the world that Tolkien created was coming to life.

 

I added his smaller lesser known works to the corpus of material I consumed, when I was still in the seventh grade I read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Beowulf. These works resonated with my other reading interests, such as the collected and various tales of King Arthur, they also put me in touch with the broader tradition of the Viking sagas.

 

Then I began to read books about Tolkien and Middle Earth written or compiled by other authors, The Tolkien Companion, the New Tolkien Companion, along with various encyclopedias, bestiaries and anthologies depicting the arms and armor of Middle Earth.

 

Reading Tolkien put the idea in my head that I wanted to be a writer. Reading his work over and over again gave me a deep appreciation for the care and the craft he put into the work of devising his fantasy world.

 

Through Tolkien I came to have an early appreciation for the power of myths, their malleability, and the potential that we have as creative people to fashion our own myths and communicate them to the broader world.

 

Through his writing Tolkien dramatized the basic conflicts he saw at work in our civilization, conflicts between the bucolic and pastoral life with the forces of industry that seemed to be destroying the planet, the disasters of modern warfare and the suffering they visit on the world.

 

The collected stories of Middle Earth are a form of social criticism that is more relevant than ever in the twenty-first century.

 

Tolkien 

 

Given First – 2020.09.02

RIP Chadwick Boseman – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

08.29.2020

 

RIP Chadwick Boseman

 

I am a comic book fan.

 

I was in the Marvel camp, and the Avengers were my crew.

 

The Black Panther was an Avenger, but he was not in the regular part of the line-up. He came around when the team was in trouble, he would help them get out of jam.

 

He was a super-soldier, like Captain America, only different he powers came from another source, something ancient, something spiritual, something magic and African. He seemed to be the equal of Captain America in nearly every way, and Chadwick Boseman personified him perfectly.

 

I woke to the news of Mr. Boseman’s passing and it made me really sad.

 

Watching the news I saw a number of tributes to him and the sadness has not passed, it sticks around because Mr. Boseman did something unique through his portrayal of the Black Panther, something he did not achieve in his portrayal of Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall and James Brown; in the persona of the Black Panther he became a living icon.

 

He appeared in four Marvel movies as T’Challa, first as prince then as king of the mythical African country of Wakanda. The movie, Black Panther became the first superhero movie to be nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards, it was nominated for a total of seven, and won three.

 

Chadwick Boseman’s portrayal of T’Challa was the reason (as far as I am concerned).

 

One of his co-stars referred to him as regal, and I absolutely agree. He was positively regal, he walked like a king, not like the head of some sick old dynasty, but as a leader a person of substance, confidence and compassion.

 

His work generated the movement hashtag Wakanda Forever, he inspired people, and he is already missed.

 

He was a born and raised in South Carolina, a graduate of Howard University, a husband and a hero.

 

Wakanda Forever!  

 

OIP

The Greatest of All Time – A Hero for the Ages

Muhammad Ali left us, and departed from the world four years ago, the greatest of all time is gone

Muhammad Ali held the world in his hands, the greatest of all time lives on.

I heard the news of his passing, waking in the middle of the night
I heard the news of his passing, I listened to the stories and cried

Ali, the greatest of all had died

Of all the heroes I ever fell for, he was the only one that was truly alive
The only one I ever prayed for, the only one I thought could make a difference in our time.

Ali spoke to the heart, he spoke for justice and freedom, he told the truth and he spoke of love.

He spoke to the world in the same way that he fought, he spoke to and fought for everyone.

He spoke in rhythms that dazzled and he spoke in words that hurt.

He floated past us
He struck us with his sting
As beautiful as the butterfly
As ominous as the bee

With the symbols of his fame he took on the powers of the world

Bumaye, Ali…Bumaye

He was a prophet in our time, he praised us as he scolded us, sharp tongued and pretty.

Ask him, he was the prettiest.

I remember the day in 1980 when I heard the news that he had lost the championship.

Muhammad Ali lost! They said Ali would never fight again!

All the kids on the school bus murmured, Ali was not the greatest after all, and the world stopped making sense.

Muhammad Ali gave my generation permission to be ourselves, be bold and to brag, to be good and do right.

Muhammad Ali taught us to question, to challenge authority, to shun war. Muhammed Ali was right.

He taught us to risk the things you desire most, to give up titles and money and fame

He let them go for the things that matter most to him, to serve the truth, seeking justice, to work on behalf of the poor and the outcast as he drew breath.

Ali handcuffed lightning and put the thunder in jail

His star rose like the sun.
Four years ago it set.

ali-1
Given First (as an essay) – 2016.06.04

Albert Einstein – Physicist, Activist, Hero

EinsteinIn 1905, two years after the Wright brothers flew the first airplane at Kitty Hawk, Albert Einstein, at the age of twenty-six, published his groundbreaking work in physics that fundamentally changed our understanding of the world, of time and space, of mass and matter, of gravity and the universe itself.

It was a heroic feat of genius.

Einstein is not the greatest physicist who ever lived. There were limits to what he was able to grasp, he spent his entire life in search of a theorem he called the cosmological constant, he hunted it like King Pelinore hunted the questing-beast, a mathematical construct which he was never able to define, it eluded him throughout his days.

By the end of his life, what the world came to understand as the province of theoretical physics had passed Einstein by. He grappled with the men who came after him, men like Heisenberg with his uncertainty principle, countering their “uncertain” view of the world with his famous maxim, “God does not play dice with the universe.”

Einstein was right…I think, but then again…who knows?

Einstein lived a humble life. I cannot speak to his actual personal humility but he famously wore the same suit of clothes every day, stating in effect that he had too much on his mind to bother with trying to sort out what he would wear on a daily basis.

I have always felt some kinship with him on this front.

Einstein was deeply engaged with the world, even though he was just a man of letters, remote and detached; nevertheless, he was an ardent member of the international peace movement. He was also a principle advocate behind the development of the atomic bomb, convincing the Americans that Germany was well on its way toward splitting the atom, and that if they did Hitler would certainly use that power to win the war.

Einstein’s advocacy for peace and his role in advancing us toward the nuclear age are somewhat paradoxical, but they show us the most important thing about his character, and that was his commitment to humanity and our collective wellbeing.

The man was a hero!
Given First – 2020.04.18

Presidents Day – Presidents Speak for Themselves, a Reflection

Presidents Speak for Themselves
A Reflection
Presidents are human beings.

They have all been men (so far), flawed men, everyone who has ever held the office, has been flawed. Some have had heroic attributes. All of them have had craven moments.

There have only been forty-four of them, until now, now we are living through the chaotic and criminal presidency of the 45th.

A couple of other presidents have barely made it into office, only a handful have won the office while failing to earn the popular vote, the 45th is one of them.

The forty-third was appointed by the Supreme Court, it was the first time that ever happened. Nevertheless, all of our presidents have legitimately held the office…until now.

Today the occupant of the oval office, the forty-fifth person to do so Is Donald J. Trump. When he took the oath of office I was prepared to accept him, even though he lost the popular vote. I was prepared to accept him, but I quickly realized that I could not, because there is certain intrigue surrounding his victory that has tainted it for all time. There was foreign interference by the Russians, the conspiracy of his campaign to collude with them and defraud the people of the United States. There was other domestic malfeasance such as; voter suppression, and other shadow campaigns, by actual candidates, and run by anonymous groups on social media platforms that took from the majority of the people the candidate that they preferred.

I was prepared to accept him, just as I had accepted Regan, and Bush who were also elected to the highest office, without my support, or my enthusiasm, or my vote.

I accepted them because I believed that they would uphold the rule of law (even though plenty of illegal things were done during their administration, done in their name and in the name of the American people).

Despite the flaws of those Presidents I believed they would support the American system, the separation of powers, the separation of Church and State, the freedom of the press, and an independent judiciary.

By and large, they did.

The forty-fifth president has not, and will not.

Donald Trump is seeking to undermine the courts, at every turn. He actively undermines our institutions and works to undermine the rule of law. He continues to solicit foreign interference in our elections, and he has turned the instruments of law enforcement against his political rivals.

He dismantles our alliances, pulling out of treaties, starting trade wars, usurping the powers of Congress, and lying through his teeth, to the American people, about what he is doing and what his motives are.

His has declared National Emergency so that he can manage his political problem. He has assumed emergency powers, this is the path to a dictatorship.

This weekend he referred to himself as our king.

He must be stopped.

Consider George Washington, did you know that the city of Cincinnati was named after him. Cincinnati was named after Washington, in his day our first President was affectionately called “The Modern Cincinnatus,” a Roman general from the time of the Early Republic, (c. 519 – c. 430 BCE), who was granted emergency powers by the Senate of Rome, twice, so that he could defend the Republic. He was given the title Imperator and given supreme authority, and on both occasions, upon the resolution of his mission, he laid that power down.

In the same way George Washington set the standards for all future presidents, by refusing to be called anything other than Mr. President, eschewing such titles as Highness, Majesty, Excellency. He served two terms, then he laid down the gauntlet of power, suggesting that to hold power longer would lead the country to an imperial presidency.

Forty-five presidencies later, we are faced with the criminal and corrupt regime of Donald J. Trump.

It is the duty of any person who has ever sworn the oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, to oppose this man and his criminal regime right now.
He has called the free press an enemy of the people.

This kind of rhetoric makes him a threat to the Republic. The power of his office makes him a threat to humankind

Donald Trump should listen to the words of these presidents, and we should listen to him. We should take seriously the things he says and does in our name.

The words of the presidents:

1st George Washington (Two Terms)
“If men are to be precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter…reason is of no use to us; the freedom of speech may be taken away, and dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the slaughter.”
A Real President – April 30, 1789 – March 4th, 1797

2nd John Adams
“The liberty of the press is essential to the security of the state.”
A Real President – March 4th, 1797 – March 4th, 1801

3rd Thomas Jefferson (Two Terms)
“The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure.”
A Real President – March 4th, 1801 – March 4th, 1809

4th James Madison (Two Terms)
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
A Real President – March 4, 1809 – March 4th, 1817

5th James Monroe (Two Terms and Last of the Founders)
“Free people seldom intrigue together; because there is no motive for it. Between the leaders however of a free people, and the neighboring monarchs, such intrigues have often taken place, and always will take place, whilst liberty is odious to monarchs, and men can be found base enough to betray her.”
A Real President – March 4, 1817 – March 4th, 1825

6th John Quincy Adams (Lost the Popular Vote)
“The freedom of the press should be inviolate.”
President – March 4, 1825 – March 4th, 1829

7th Andrew Jackson (Two Terms)
“As long as our government is administered for the good of the people, and is regulated by their will; as long as it secures to us the rights of persons and of property, liberty of conscience, and of the press, it will be worth defending.”
March 4th, 1829 – March 4th, 1837

8th Martin Van Buren
“There is a power in public opinion in this country – and I thank God for it: for it is the most honest and best of all powers – which will not tolerate an incompetent or unworthy man to hold in his weak or wicked hands the lives and fortunes of his fellow-citizens.”:
A Real President – March 4th, 1837 – March 4th, 1841

9th William Henry Harrison
“There is no part of the means placed in the hands of the Executive which might be used with greater effect for unhallowed purposes than the control of the public press. The maxim which our ancestors derived from the mother country that “the freedom of the press is the great bulwark of civil and religious liberty” is one of the most precious legacies which they have left us. We have learned, too, from our own as well as the experience of other countries, that golden shackles, by whomsoever or by whatever pretense imposed, are as fatal to it as the iron bonds of despotism. The presses in the necessary employment of the Government should never be used “to clear the guilty or to varnish crime.” A decent and manly examination of the acts of the Government should be not only tolerated, but encouraged.”
A Real President – March 4th, 1841 – April 4th, 1841

10th John Tyler
“The guaranty of religious freedom, of the freedom of the press, of the liberty of speech, of the trial by jury, of the habeas corpus…will be enjoyed by millions yet unborn…”
A Real President – April 4th, 1841 – March 4th, 1845

11th James K. Polk
”Thank God, under our Constitution there was no connection between Church and State, and that in my action as President of the United States I recognized no distinction of creeds in my appointments office.”
A Real President – March 4th, 1845 – March 4th, 1849

12th Zachary Taylor
“As American freemen, we cannot but sympathize in all efforts to extend the blessings of civil and political liberty, but at the same time, we are warned by the admonitions of history and the voice of our own beloved Washington to abstain from entangling alliances with foreign nations.”
A Real President – March 4th, 1849 – July 9th, 1849

13th Millard Fillmore
“The law is the only sure protection of the weak, and the only efficient restraint upon the strong.”
“Church and state should be separate, not only in form, but fact – religion and politics should not be mingled.”
A Real President – July 9th, 1850 – March 4th, 1853

14th Franklin Pierce
“While men inhabiting different parts of this vast continent cannot be expected to hold the same opinions, they can unite in a common objective and sustain common principles.”
A Real President – March 4th, 1853 – March 4th, 1857

15th James Buchanan
“The country is indebted for the clause prohibiting Congress from passing any law respecting an establishment of religion or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press or of the right of petition. To this we are also indebted for the bill of rights which secures the people against any abuse of power by the Federal Government.”
A Real President – March 4th, 1857 – March 4th, 1861
16th Abraham Lincoln (Assassinated, Ended Slavery)
“Whenever this effect shall be produced among us; whenever the vicious portion of [our] population shall be permitted to gather in bands of hundreds and thousands, and burn churches, ravage and rob provision stores, throw printing-presses into rivers, shoot editors, and hang and burn obnoxious persons at pleasure and with impunity, depend upon it, this government cannot last. By such things the feelings of the best citizens will become more or less alienated from it, and thus it will be left without friends, or with too few, and those few too weak to make their friendship effectual. At such a time, and under such circumstances, men of sufficient talent and ambition will not be wanting to seize the opportunity, strike the blow, and overturn that fair fabric which for the last half century has been the fondest hope of the lovers of freedom throughout the world.”
A Real President – March 4th, 1861 – April 15th, 1865

17th Andrew Johnson (Impeached)
“Notwithstanding a mendacious press; notwithstanding a subsidized gang of hirelings who have not ceased to traduce me, I have discharged all my official duties and fulfilled my pledges.”
Impeached President – April 15th, 1865 – March 4th, 1869

18th Ulysses S. Grant (Two Terms)
“Let us labor to add all needful guarantees for the more perfect security of free thought, free speech, and free press, pure morals, unfettered religious sentiments, and of equal rights and privileges to all men, irrespective of nationality, color, or religion.”
A Real President – March 4th, 1869 – March 4th, 1877

19th Rutherford B. Hayes (Lost the Popular Vote)
“I am not liked as a President by the politicians in office, in the press, or in Congress. But I am content to abide the judgment the sober second thought of the people.”
“But at the basis of all prosperity, for that as well as for every other part of the country, lies the improvement of the intellectual and moral condition of the people. Universal suffrage should rest upon universal education. To this end, liberal and permanent provision should be made for the support of free schools by the State governments, and, if need be, supplemented by legitimate aid from national authority.”
President – March 4th, 1877 – March 4th, 1881

20th James A. Garfield (Assassinated)
“In the long, fierce struggle for freedom of opinion, the press, like the Church, counted its martyrs by thousands.”
A Real President – March 4th, 1881 – September, 1881

21st Chester A. Arthur
“If it were not for the reporters, I would tell you the truth.”
A Real President – September 19th, 1881 – March 4th, 1885

22nd and 24th Grover Cleveland (Elected Twice, Serving Two Non-consecutive Terms)
“Officeholders are the agents of the people, not their masters. Not only is their time and labor due to the government, but they should scrupulously avoid in their political action, as well as in the discharge of their official duty, offending by a display of obtrusive partisanship their neighbors who have relations with them as public officials.”
A Real President – March 4th, 1885 – March 4th, 1889, March 4th, 1893 – March 4th, 1897

23rd Benjamin Harrison (Lost the Popular Vote)
“God forbid that the day should ever come when, in the American mind, the thought of man as a ‘consumer’ shall submerge the old American thought of man as a creature of God, endowed with ‘unalienable rights’.”
President – March 4th, 1889 – March 4th, 1893

25th William McKinley (Assassinated)
“Equality of rights must prevail, and our laws be always and everywhere respected and obeyed. We may have failed in the discharge of our full duty as citizens of the great Republic, but it is consoling and encouraging to realize that free speech, a free press, free thought, free schools, the free and unmolested right of religious liberty and worship, and free and fair elections are dearer and more universally enjoyed to-day than ever before. These guaranties must be sacredly preserved and wisely strengthened. The constituted authorities must be cheerfully and vigorously upheld.”
A Real President – March 4th, 1897 – September 14th, 1901

26th Theodore Roosevelt (Two Terms)
“To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”
A Real President – September 19th, 1901 – March 4th, 1909

27th William Howard Taft
“The intoxication of power rapidly sobers off in the knowledge of its restrictions and under the prompt reminder of an ever-present and not always considerate press, as well as the kindly suggestions that not infrequently come from Congress.”
A Real President – March 4th, 1909 – March 4th, 1913

28th Woodrow Wilson (Oversaw the end of Women’s Sufferage)
“Publicity is one of the purifying elements of politics. Nothing checks all the bad practices of politics like public exposure.”
A Real President – March 4th, 1913 – March 4th 1921

29th Warren G. Harding
“We must not abridge the freedom of speech, the freedom of press, or the freedom of assembly because there is no promise in repression.”
A Real President – March 4th, 1921 – August 2nd, 1923

30th Calvin Coolidge
“The freedom of the human mind is recognized in the right to free speech and free press. The public schools have made education possible for all and ignorance a disgrace.”
A Real President – August 2nd, 1923 – March 4th, 1929

31st Herbert Hoover
“Absolute freedom of the press to discuss public questions is a foundation stone of American liberty.”
A Real President – March 4th, 1929 – March 4th, 1933

32nd Franklin D. Roosevelt (Four Terms)
“Freedom of conscience, of education, or speech, of assembly are among the very fundamentals of democracy and all of them would be nullified should freedom of the press ever be successfully challenged.”
A Real President – March 4th, 1933 – April 12th, 1945

33rd Harry S. Truman (Two Terms)
“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.”
A Real President – April 12th, 1945 – January 20th, 1953

34th Dwight D. Eisenhower (Two Terms – Hero of the Second World War)
“Censorship, in my opinion, is a stupid and shallow way of approaching the solution to any problem. Though sometimes necessary, as witness a professional and technical secret that may have a bearing upon the welfare and very safety of this country, we should be very careful in the way we apply it, because in censorship always lurks the very great danger of working to the disadvantage of the American nation.”
A Real President – January 20th, 1953 – January 20th, 1961

35th John F. Kennedy (Assassinated)
“Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed-and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian law-maker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy. And that is why our press was protected by the First Amendment–the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution–not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and the sentimental, not to simply “give the public what it wants”–but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion.”
A Real President – January 20th, 1961 – November 22nd, 1963
36th Lyndon B. Johnson (Two Terms, Passed the Civil Rights Act)
“Democracy is a constant tension between truth and half-truth and, in the arsenal of truth, there is no greater weapon than fact.”
A Real President – November 22nd, 1963 – January 20th 1969

37th Richard Nixon (Two Terms, Resigned)
“You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference.” ~ Last press conference before resignation…
Resigned the Presidency amid Charges of Corruption and Obstruction of Justice
January 20th, 1969 – August 9th, 1974

38th Gerald Ford (Un-elected)
“I believe in the first amendment and the absolute necessity of a free press.”
President – August 9th, 1974 – January 20th 1977

39th Jimmy Carter
“When people are intimidated about having their own opinions, oppression is at hand.”
“We live in a time of transition, an uneasy era which is likely to endure for the rest of this century. During the period we may be tempted to abandon some of the time-honored principles and commitments which have been proven during the difficult times of past generations. We must never yield to this temptation. Our American values are not luxuries, but necessities – not the salt in our bread, but the bread itself.”
A Real President – January 20th, 1977 – January 20th, 1981

40th Ronald Reagan (Two Terms)
“The First Amendment was not written to protect people and their laws from religious values. It was written to protect those values from government tyranny.”
A Real President – January 20th, 1981 – January 20th, 1989

41st George H. W. Bush
We know what works: Freedom works. We know what’s right: Freedom is right. We know how to secure a more just and prosperous life for man on Earth: through free markets, free speech, free elections, and the exercise of free will unhampered by the state.”
A Real President – January 20th, 1989 – January 20th, 1993

42nd Bill Clinton (Two Terms, Impeached but not Removed)
“The road to tyranny, we must never forget, begins with the destruction of the truth.”
A Real President – January 20th, 1993 – January 20th, 2001

43rd George W. Bush (Two Terms, Lost the Popular Vote in the First)
“I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy…that we need the media to hold people like me to account. I mean, power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive and it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere.”
A Real President – January 20th, 2001 – January, 20th 2009

44th Barack Obama (Two Terms)
“We have to uphold a free press and freedom of speech — because, in the end, lies and misinformation are no match for the truth.”
A Real President – January 20th, 2009 – January 20th, 2017

45th Donald Trump (Lost the Popular Vote, Elected with the Aid of a Foreign Adversary, Impeached but not Removed)
“The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, AABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”
A Fake President, Failing – January 20th, 2017 – One year and one month in, and it cannot be over soon enough.

These words speak for themselves. One of these quotes is not like the others.

The despot uttered it should be removed from office, not because he made this statement, but for this sentiment and his many other crimes.

Vote him out of office, it is the only way to save the Republic.

Remember This:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
– U.S. Constitution, First Amendment

Drifting

Consider existence
Consider the river of life
I question in my ignorance
The coming of a god

What a being that must be
To achieve the dominion of
Worship, wield the scepter of law
The center of all things

I stood on the mountain
A dust mote in the whipping wind
Chaos robbed me of my reason
In the eye of the storm

The infinite and I
The world appears beneath my feet
As I birthed the endless event
The path of eternity

Though I crossed the heavens
Yet still, I lacked the sight of god
Swimming in the endless ocean
My mountain, become sand

Consider the rivers
That shaped my world, and carried me
I searched, but I did not find God
In the flowing current

Only the evidence
Of the divine passing, that has
Reduced my world to dust, drifting
Between the constant stars

A Homily – The Second Sunday of Christmas (Year A)

First Reading – Ecclesiasticus 24:1-2, 8-12 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 147:12-15, 19-20 ©
Second Reading – Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-18 ©
Gospel Acclamation – 1 Timothy 3:16
The Gospel According to John 1:1 – 18 ©

(NJB)

The Second Sunday of Christmas (Year A)
Be mindful!

There is truth in the sage’s reflection, and much that is false.

God has given us the Spirit of Wisdom, Sophia, who from eternity has issued from the creator like God’s own breath.

The Spirit of Wisdom is God’s own spirit and that spirit animates all that live, all who ever lived, and all who ever will be.

Now Listen!

God’s spirit is not a gift that belongs to a specific people, in a specific place at a specific time.

The Spirit of Wisdom is not property that can be transmitted like an inheritance.

It does not belong in Jacob’s tent, on Mount Zion, in Jerusalem or the house of Israel.

There are no people on the face of the Earth, or anywhere in the universe, who occupy a privileged place in relation to God.

God loves all of God’s children equally.

The creator establishes the material conditions for all things. In God’s wisdom God has established the cycles of life and death. Material power is of no concern to God, ignore the Psalmist when he dwells on these topics, they are not instructive.

God does not seek power, God seeks to be honored by God’s creatures, and we honor God through the service we provide one another.

We honor God when we emulate God’s love for creation, through ministries of healing, taking care of the hurt and the sick, feeding the hungry and welcoming the exile.

Do not follow the Psalmist into error.

The Psalmist fails to recognize that God is truly the God of all people; not merely the God of Jerusalem, of Zion, of Judah and Israel.

God does not favor one people over another, one tribe or one nation.

God does not the fill the belly of one person while allowing another to starve.

God does not favor one army over another, one city over another in time of war.

God does not favor war at all.

The season of winter, of summer, of spring and fall; they do not reflect the judgement of God, they are cyclical, and the weather is wild, it expresses the freedom and chaos of the natural order. In relation to human behavior it only reflects the laws of consequence and causation.

Be mindful!

A good winter is not evidence of God’s grace, neither is a bad summer evidence of God’s judgement.

Love God, and show that love by the love you exhibit to your enemies, to the stranger and to the less fortunate among you.

Remember the life of Jesus, and God; whom he called Father

Consider this:

If you are caught up in the consideration of God’s glory, ask yourself this: What is glory?

God is the creator of the universe. God’s greatest place is in relationship to us, God has said so, and we are God’s children, and God is our loving parent.

Pray this:

May each and every one of us come to the full knowledge of God.

There is hope in the knowledge of God, and remember that the hopes you have for yourself and those you love is to be extended to everyone, even those you do not love, for that is the way that leads to the knowledge of God, and our understanding of our relationship with the divine.

If you think that God has promised riches and glories as the inheritance of the saints, remember this, the first will be last and the last will be first. Know that spiritual riches are not counted in gold and silver, and precious things, but in love, companionship and friendship with God, which we experience primarily through our friendship with one another.

We all need each other.

Good governance requires good people. Know them, understand who they are before you appoint your leaders, put them through a process of discernment.

Choose well.

Be mindful.

Christian faith is not about who Jesus was and how the world saw him, our faith means trust in God, and trust can only be based on our understanding of the creator as a loving and caring being.

Let us reflect for a moment on the Gospel for today.

John’s Gospel is unlike the others. Its authors were the farthest removed from the life of Jesus. They wrote their narrative of his life between 120 and 150 years after his death.

John’s Gospel is also the furthest removed from the actual ministry of Jesus, it is more concerned with the cosmic identity of Christ, with Jesus as the Word of God, more than with the lives of actual people or the ministry of healing, mercy, and justice that was Jesus’ actual occupation.

The gospels of Mark, Luke and Matthew are commonly referred to as the synoptic gospels. The events that they narrate are closely linked to each other and follow the same basic pattern; even though there are differences.

Luke and Matthew rely largely on Mark for their structure; Mark having been written first.

Luke came second and took a little step farther back in time than Mark. Whereas Mark begins with the baptism of Jesus, Luke begins with the story of his birth.

Matthew, coming third in the sequence goes a little farther back in time than Luke. Matthew opens with the story Jesus’ descent from Abraham. While John, coming last, takes the reader all the way back to the beginning of time.

John narrates some of the same events as the other gospels do, but with a markedly different character, all designed to tell us who Jesus is, God’s own self.

The historian in me objects to this treatment of the life of Jesus, but it is what it is, and this fiction, having taken hold of the Christian imagination represents a historical reality all of its own.

John’s prolog, which we are given today, tells us very little about the persons of Jesus, or John the Baptist, but a great deal about what Christians believed about God, the creator of the Universe, and about creation itself.

Even though it was a common view in the ancient world that our material condition was essentially corrupt; as evidenced by our experience of pain, sickness, and death. The Christian community of John was articulating faith in its essential goodness.

It affirms the unity and oneness of all creation; having been brought into being through the Word of God, the Logos; God’s reason, or rational will. This tell us that life itself has purpose, it is not random, it not the product of chaotic forces. Creation comes from the goodness and light of the eternal God, it informs that not one thing or being exists apart from God.

The Gospel encourages us in the hope that no matter how bad things are for us as we experience the drama of creation, the darkness will not overcome the light. Also, that the world and humanity itself are worthy of the love of God, so much so that God becomes a human being, living and suffering with us in the spirit of compassion and solidarity.

This teaching is also remarkably esoteric and deeply personal. While encouraging the believer to have hope, it also reminds the reader that they must also persevere in the face of rejection and violence.

Many people to not want to hear the truth. They prefer their own cozy view of the world, they prefer their tribal and national gods, their totems and taboos, their neat philosophies and mores, their magical-realities and superstitions to the sober understanding of what it means to be a child of God.
First Reading – Ecclesiasticus 24:1-2, 8-12 ©

From Eternity, in the Beginning, God Created Wisdom

Wisdom speaks her own praises, in the midst of her people she glories in herself.

She opens her mouth in the assembly of the Most High, she glories in herself in the presence of the Mighty One; ‘Then the creator of all things instructed me, and he who created me fixed a place for my tent.

He said, “Pitch your tent in Jacob, make Israel your inheritance.”

From eternity, in the beginning, he created me, and for eternity I shall remain.

I ministered before him in the holy tabernacle, and thus was I established on Zion.

In the beloved city he has given me rest, and in Jerusalem I wield my authority.

I have taken root in a privileged people, in the Lord’s property, in his inheritance.’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 147:12-15, 19-20 ©

The Word was made flesh, and lived among us.

O praise the Lord, Jerusalem!
Zion, praise your God!
He has strengthened the bars of your gates
he has blessed the children within you.

The Word was made flesh, and lived among us.

He established peace on your borders,
he feeds you with finest wheat.
He sends out his word to the earth
and swiftly runs his command.

The Word was made flesh, and lived among us.

He makes his word known to Jacob,
to Israel his laws and decrees.
He has not dealt thus with other nations;
he has not taught them his decrees.

The Word was made flesh, and lived among us.

Alleluia!
Second Reading – Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-18 ©

Before the World Was Made, God Chose Us in Christ

Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all the spiritual blessings of heaven in Christ.

Before the world was made, he chose us, chose us in Christ, to be holy and spotless, and to live through love in his presence, determining that we should become his adopted sons, through Jesus Christ for his own kind purposes, to make us praise the glory of his grace, his free gift to us in the Beloved.

That will explain why I, having once heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus, and the love that you show towards all the saints, have never failed to remember you in my prayers and to thank God for you. May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and perception of what is revealed, to bring you to full knowledge of him. May he enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope his call holds for you, what rich glories he has promised the saints will inherit.
Gospel Acclamation – 1 Timothy 3:16

Alleluia, alleluia!

Glory be to you, O Christ, proclaimed to the pagans.
Glory be to you, O Christ, believed in by the world.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to John 1:1-18 ©

The Word Was Made Flesh, and Lived Among Us

In the beginning was the Word: and the Word was with God and the Word was God.

He was with God in the beginning.

Through him all things came to be, not one thing had its being but through him.

All that came to be had life in him and that life was the light of men, a light that shines in the dark, a light that darkness could not overpower.

A man came, sent by God.

His name was John.

He came as a witness, as a witness to speak for the light, so that everyone might believe through him.

He was not the light, only a witness to speak for the light.

The Word was the true light that enlightens all men; and he was coming into the world.

He was in the world that had its being through him, and the world did not know him.

He came to his own domain and his own people did not accept him.

But to all who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to all who believe in the name of him who was born not out of human stock or urge of the flesh or will of man but of God himself.

The Word was made flesh, he lived among us, and we saw his glory, the glory that is his as the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.

John appears as his witness. He proclaims:

‘This is the one of whom I said: He who comes after me ranks before me because he existed before me.’

Indeed, from his fullness we have, all of us, received – yes, grace in return for grace, since, though the Law was given through Moses, grace and truth have come through Jesus Christ.

No one has ever seen God; it is the only Son, who is nearest to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.
The Second Sunday of Christmas (Year A)

Emergence 4.0 – Part Five (a), Jim; Appendix, Chapter Three, Breeding

Jim abducted people, he experimented on living tissues. He dissected cadavers and sent genetic materials back to the replicants of himself, to his myriad of dopplegangers that were spread throughout the Empire. He sent them through space on a journey of thousands of light years.

He used that genetic stock to introduce subtle changes into the DNA of the population of thousands of worlds. The subjects of his experiments were became a source of sustenance for him to carry out a material change in the condition of the citizens of the Empire.

He used them like food or medicine to revive a dying person.

Jim discovered something in the human race that affected the consciousness of its entire population, nanoparticles of the heavy metal magnetite collecting in the cerebellum, interacting in a unique way with Earth’s magnetic field, allowing for the possibility of psychic cynergy among the humans of Earth.

This dynamic established the conditions for Earth’s nous-sphere.

He found the abnormalities in himself first, after recognizing something unusual in the cognitive functions of his host body. He was hyper alert to the feelings and thoughts of the human beings he lived among

He tested the limits of his empathic powers, and he found at the upper end of its natural curve that he could cross the threshold into true telepathy.

It was an outstanding and surprising revelation.

He isolated the physical components of the telepathic abilities in himself first. Then he found the same components distributed in various degrees throughout the bodies of Earth’s human population.

He developed programs to augment it.

Jim understood a great deal about the phenomenon of consciousness.

The Collective had been engineered on the basis of its science.

Jim’s personal history, suggested to him that he had been among the original members of the Collective, one of the engineers who had built the first machines that captured the essence of the individual to house them in a perpetual state of being.

He had seen the early failures and witnessed their first successes. He had been among the first volunteers to enter the Collective, after the technologies had been perfected.

He possessed these memories, though he was doubtful of whether they actually belonged to him. He had not always remembered them, but the memories came with him when he emerged from the great sleep.

Even if they were not his own, he owned them now. He owned them completely. They comprised an essential part of his identity.

He understood that consciousness is essentially an electromagnetic phenomenon. He did not understand why consciousness of the type that the Ancient People possessed, had emerged in his ancestors and nowhere else in the known galaxy, except possibly on the planet Earth.

Jim hypothesized that there was as element at work in the cognitive process of human-beings, nanoparticles of magnetite, which had bonded with the human brain in a strong link, connecting each person to its magnetic field and through that field to one another, thereby creating a field of cynergy not un-like the electromagnetic fields that comprised the Collective.

The type of consciousness which the Ancient People possessed was not merely a product of their genetic endowment, it was also a function of their interaction with a unique environment.

This is what he found on Earth.

He theorized that no species could advance to the point of becoming a spacefaring civilization if their home planet did not have these properties, properties which allowed the inhabitants to connect with one another through a subconscious field.

Creativity and inventiveness happened there, through an unconscious collaboration in the nous-sphere.

Jim came to believe that the Ancient People had created the Collective at the height of their scientific achievement, on a world that had these same properties. They subsequently traveled to other worlds, built colonies and seeded life on a million other planets, on planets that did not have such properties, while in the meantime, their cradle-star went supernova, destroying the world that had spawned their civilization.

This was a secret that he had to protect, keep safe and secure.

He could not go back and study that planet to confirm his hypothesis.

Jim developed a secondary interest.

For the first time in over a billion years he wanted something more than to pursue the destruction of the Continuum and the dissolution of the Empire.

He feared that another version of himself would at some point abandon the plan he had devised, but despite his fears he pushed forward. He used their agency to conceal his covert activities; on Earth, throughout the Empire and on HomeWorld.

He advanced his clandestine ambitions against the Continuum.

There were many times when he had to sacrifice the lives of his dopplegangers. When he had to shred the consciousness of one of his ghosts dwelling in the circuitry of HomeWorld. He always did so with great reluctance. In every instance he saw his own likeness to the Continuum, as if he were just another monster in the machine.

The knowledge he gathered was everything, he deemed that it was worth the cost. He believed that those whom he sacrificed believed the same. They belonged to one another through their absolute commitment to their ideals.

Through his testing and experimentation, Jim found that nowhere else in all the Empire did the unique genetics of the population combine as they did on Earth, combining to form the electromagnetic structure of an orgainc cynergenic field.

He experimented on tens of thousands of people, both the living and the dead.

Every single one of his living subjects spent the remainder of their lives in shock and terror, in fear and wonder, as they were slowly peeled apart in the sterile chambers of Jim’s laboratories, an environment that was completely foreign to them, by machines they had no frame of reference for.

The chambers were cold, brightly lit, filled with shining steel, and gravity defying objects.

After thousands of years of putting people under the knife and the microscope, he finally found the proof, a mutation in the genetic profile that allowed for the critical capture of the magnetite nanoparticles, housing them in the cerebral cortex, a concentration strong enough to allow for a cognitive connection that linked the humans of Earth, one to another, via the planet’s magnetic field, the strength of which formed an organic cynergy, a naturally occurring version of the Collective that the Ancient people and Jim as one of them, had engineered long ago.

The mutation had been a side effect of one of the many that had been devised by the Ancient people on their way to Earth. The capture of the magnetite created a kind of antenna in the human brain, interfacing with the electromagnetic functions of human consciousness.

This had not been intentional, nevertheless…it was real.

Jim’s research led him to believe that similar conditions must have held together on the native planet of the Ancient people, and not found on any other world since they had left the place of their ancestral birth.

The natural Collective field fostered creativity and ingenuity at levels which could not be replicated without it. On every other world in the Empire individuals lived out their lives in complete insularity, relying on artificial networks and data sharing to approximate true community.

Once Jim understood the mechanism for the way in which the human race interacted with the cynergenic field, he was able to map out the changes for the genetic profile that he needed to establish in order to strengthen and enhance those features.

His discoveries confirmed the necessity of his work and filled him with esteem.

Jim intended to introduce changes into the genetic profile of each tribe at the same time so that he could establish a base set of conditions upon which to build his design, then he would be able monitor the effects of that intervention by breeding the traits he was looking for into individual tribes separately.

In the scale of time that he and the Collective were used to operating in, he had precious little of it to work with. He had tens of thousands of millennia but her feared he would lose the gambit before the next great planetary disaster struck Earth.

He planned to optimize the retention of nanoparticles in the cognitive structures of the brain, making each person a transmitting and a receptive node in the field of consciousness. He intended to stabilize that by giving each and every one of them access to the type of memory that was locked into the root-code of their genetic structure. Jim theorized that enhancing their access to their genetic memories would contextualize the input they were receiving from the nous-sphere. It would ground them as he actualized them.

He took his greatest risk by exporting his work off world, he sent tiny vessels speeding back across the void on a trek of light years to be recovered by him and his agents at the fringes of the Empire.

He needed to safeguard his discoveries against disaster and against the possibility of his failure, so that they could be recreated on any other world that the Empire discovered, providing that it had the same conditions that had obtained on the blue-green marble known as Earth.

His struggle would continue even in the event of his failure.

That much he guaranteed.

The application of genetic science was meticulous.

It was artistry.

Jim created physical markers that would manifest themselves in the characteristics of the gene-pool he was developing. He could tell at a glance whether an individual was a part of one of the control groups he was studying, or an outlier.

There were many markers for every tribe, these guided him; pigmentation, hair color, eye color, the presence or absence of freckled skin; moles and birthmarks, these told him different things.

The markers helped him map his progress toward his signal goal, which was the birth of a human being possessing a mind powerful enough to harness the fullness of human consciousness, and stable enough to channel all of its raw emotion, the pain and fear that would be caused by the coming cataclysm, and transmit it through the quantum field of the worm hole like an invading host, directly into the Collective, to wield it like a battering ram against the Continuum.

He was a weapon smith practicing a different kind metallurgy.

What he was forging would be the deadliest weapon ever constructed.

He was weaponizing consciousness itself.

It would hit the Collective with the destructive force of a billion stars, or so he told himself when he was thinking of his work in the terms a poet might use.

When he found himself in this soliloquy he realized he had gone far beyond his original mission, which was the elimination of the Collective and the eradication of the Continuum.

He was being shaped by his sojourn on Earth, just as much as he was shaping humanity.

Jim understood the risks he was going to take. He was about to recreate the same type of risk that he had engineered on the HomeWorld, the duplication of his consciousness, as many times as was necessary for him to be able to carry his mission forward on the limited time scale that was available to him.

Jim was resolved to plum the limits of his discovery, if there were any limits to what he had found.

The difference between what he was doing on Earth, and what he had accomplished on the Central Planet were considerable. In both locations he needed multiple-independent nodes of action. On HomeWorld, each and every node was connected by its field of collective consciousness.

They were a society of one.

On Earth their connectivity through the cynergenic field was more tenuous, it operated on a different frequency.

It was less immediate.

Though it was possible for each unit to act autonomously on HomeWorld, each copy of himself could break away from the plan, or sabotage it, but he and the other members of his private cabal would have known immediately, and while this possibility existed, there was not even the slightest hint of defection.

On Earth he was faced with considerable unknowns.

Jim cloned himself, planting his dopplegangers in every population center around the world, each one connected to the prime version of himself through the cynergenic field, as they were on HomeWorld, only this field was weaker, there were gaps in it, places where individuals could hide, or disappear.

Continuum would have destroyed the Earth with him, it would have delighted in it.

Emergence 4.0
Part Five (a), Jim

Appendix Chapter Three, Breeding
A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek

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