Wednesday 31 July 2013

A great read... Inspiring. Intelligent. Catholic.

I'm not usually one for Women's magazines but a few months ago I was intrigued by the strap-line of Regina, a new online Catholic magazine for women: Inspiring. Intelligent. Catholic. That's a lot to live up to.

As those readers who know me in real life are aware, I spent most of my pre-motherhood adult years working in academia and the media and have done a fair bit of journalistic writing in my day. In other words I'm a jaded hack and it takes a lot to impress me. Despite my initial cynicism, I'm delighted to say that Regina has lived up to its strap line and having the first issue on my iPad made a long and otherwise tedious cattle-class transatlantic flight pass almost unnoticed. I read it, re-read it and wanted more. My only complaint was that there wasn't enough of it -- and, that I had to wait until August 1st for the next edition.

Some members - I'm not sure how many - of the editorial team were stealthily travelling around England during the early summer gathering material for the issue that hits the virtual news stands tomorrow. The theme: The Secret Catholic Insider's Guide to England. The magazine's Facebook page has been trailing various articles, including articles about the Traditional Latin Mass in England, the missing history of recusant families, Chesterton, the Oxford movement converts and many more. It looks like it will make good summer reading - inspiring, intelligent and Catholic.

Regina magazine is free and can be read online or downloaded onto a reading device / tablet. Find the main website here, 'like' it here on Facebook, and subscribe for free here.


Monday 22 July 2013

Predatory atheists

Friendly atheists just dying to support their Christian friends in crisis...

It's happened too many times to be a coincidence. Someone in my circle of friends is having a difficult time - death, divorce, illness - and I lend a sympathetic ear. Obviously I'm not the only one doing this, but sometimes I find that if the person has had some involvement with the (Catholic) Church, past or present, this will come up in our conversations: largely because they will ask me "is it true that the church says X or Y?" or because they'll make a statement along the lines of "well my problem would be even worse if I was still practising the faith because of X or Y or Z" where X and Y and Z are fallacies usually picked up from the culture at large. I'm happy to correct misconceptions or point to resources that might be helpful, but that's the end of it. None of the people I'm thinking of could be described as religious but clearly they have some issues to do with religion that I'm happy to help with if it's within my ken.

Well. We can't be having that now, can we? Today I was told on no uncertain terms that "mutual friend A" who is in the middle of a nasty marital separation "has made it clear that she does NOT want to be dragged back into Church". I contacted "friend A" -- who had contacted me with questions about the Church and marriage dissolution and / or divorce -- who confirmed that she had not said anything of the sort to anybody. I pointed out -- as if I needed to -- that I had no plans to drag her or anybody else for that matter "back into Church" but that I would be at the end of the phone line / email should she need me.

This isn't the first time that I've been rather bossily told -- and not always by the same person -- that I must not not try to "convert" lapsed Catholic friends when they're in the middle of the crisis. The tacit assumption is that they're screwed up enough thanks to that church of yours, thank you very much, so just back off. The irony is that whilst I've prayed privately for these friends, I've never told them, nor have I in any way tried to coerce them "back to church" -- whatever that means.

...BUT ... and it's a big BUT... every time a lukewarm or lapsing Catholic friend has had a crisis, the proselytising atheists have appeared, like sharks circling their prey with smug toothy grins. "Oh how awful that you feel guilty because of that stupid faith that was rammed down your throat as a child..." they crow "yes of course you're better off without it -- the last thing that you need right now is to worry about being judged by some church people" and so forth. The benign atheists are there with their smiles and their sympathy and their tea with a missionary zeal that would put Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses to shame.

Please join me in asking St Rita, the patron saint of women with difficult husbands, to pray for my friend who is going through a huge trauma -- not helped by the "help" of friends who see this as an opportunity to undermine her fragile faith.

Tuesday 2 July 2013

Who's the (Sugar) Daddy?

I was unhappy - but not surprised - to see photos of the British Embassy in Paris sporting a rainbow flag this past weekend to celebrate that city's homosexual "pride" event. British Ambassador to France, Peter Ricketts said

Who on earth authorised these clowns to fly a flag representing a minute fraction of the population in place of the Union flag? The embassy is there to represent all of Britain, not a minority group (albeit a vociferous one).

The Foreign Office has form on this matter: in 2008 they flew rainbow "pride" flags over various embassies, sparking protests and diplomatic rows that resulted in the FO sending a memo to all embassies requesting that they only fly national flags because "...flying other flags opens up too many potentially difficult and divisive questions...we should continue to restrict flag-flying... to national flags, as currently set out in guidance".

Either this guidance has changed, or a wilful blind-eye is being turned to the display and caution about "difficult and divisive" issues has been thrown to the wind.

It's interesting timing as well, with David Cameron intent on forcing through same-sex marriage legislation in the UK while France is racked with protests against the Loi Taubira which legalised same sex marriage. Cameron has been so keen to force through same sex marriage that I strongly suspect that he knew about or even suggested the rainbow flag on the British Embassy in Paris:  in these days when gay-friendliness seems to be the currency of cool among first-world leaders, perhaps Cameron wants to be seen lending (im)oral support to the ghastly Francois Hollande.

...but compared to the gay-friendliest leader of all, Cameron and Hollande are mere wallflowers. Newsweek current cover proclaims Obama the  "First Gay President" but the picture takes things a step further: a halo suggests a sainthood. This is nothing if not perverse.

In May The New Yorker cover depicted a "gay pride"-styled White House in anticipation of the DOMA debates:

...and this week, after the repeal of the Defence of Marriage Act, a frankly creepy image of children's characters "Bert and Ernie" from Sesame Street cuddled up in front of the TV. The implication is clear: they're homosexual. This is particularly nasty as it points us towards a future where no close non-sexual friendship will be believed to be chaste. Bert and Ernie, Noddy and Big Ears - they're all at it so you'd might as well break it to the kids now...

Savvy social commentator (and atheist), Spiked's Brendan O'Neill warns that "[a]nyone who values diversity of thought and tolerance of dissent should find the sweeping consensus on gay marriage terrifying...I have been doing or writing about political stuff for 20 years, since I was 18 years old, during which time I have got behind some pretty unpopular campaigns and kicked against some stifling consensuses. But I have never encountered an issue like gay marriage, an issue in which the space for dissent has shrunk so rapidly, and in which the consensus is not only stifling but choking."

But why this rush - this state-sanctioned headlong rush -  to embrace all things homosexual? Why are leaders of first world countries falling over themselves to ingratiate themselves with the militant homosexual lobby and the media following suit?

I'm old enough to remember when any one of the things mentioned above would have caused such a high degree of scandal as to be unthinkable. And that time wasn't very long ago. 

Follow the money. Cherchez la femme. Both good sleuthing tips when looking for motivation. But in this case "suivez l'homme" might be more apt; and not just any old man but a debauched Father of Lies, the ultimate "sugar daddy". 

 Cameron, Obama, Hollande:  here (on the right) is your master, whether you realise it or not.

St Wolfgang and the Devil (c.1483) by Michael Pacher

St Wolfgang of Regensburg: Ora pro nobis!