Saturday, October 23, 2010

Luca once was gay


"Luca era gay" is the title of an Italian pop song by Giuseppe Povia which created quite a stir in February 2009 at the "Festival di San Remo". Here is a report from an Italian writer.
The title of his song, implying that some gays can change to heterosexuality, was sufficient to destabilize the Italian gay movement. Gay activists threatened to block the festival, and Europarlimentary member Vittorio Agnoletto asked for a European resolution to stop Povia from peforming the song.

Povia, himself, received death threats. The gay association "Everyone" denounced Povia to the Procura of the Republic for alleged "homophobia."

"Luca Era Gay" recounts the transformation of a man named Luca from the gay lifestyle. Without the help of psychologists and psychiatrists, he digs deep within himself to understand the sources of his homosexual attractions. An emotionally disconnected, detached father and a smothering mother, he says, created confusion about his sexual identity: "I looked for men who would be my father, I went with men not to betray my mother."

The song also alludes to a superficiality in homosexual relationships. He says, "between love and deceit, often we betrayed each other."

The song ends with this verse: "This is my story, only my story. No disease. No healing. Dear dad, I forgive you even if you didn't come back. Mum, I often think of you, I love you and sometimes I still bear your reflection, but now I am a father and I am in love with the only woman I have ever loved."

The music, a soft rap with dramatic tunes, carries a direct and honest text while never judging homosexually oriented people for their own personal lifestyle choices.... Povia's song went on to the finals and Saturday night, won second place in the San Remo Festival, while outside the theatre, gay activists continued to protest against him.
Here is the video and a translation of the lyrics. Judge for yourself. Is this song offensive? Would it ever get airplay in the United States?




"Luca era gay" lyrics translated by vitavagabonda.blogspot.com.

Intro:
Luca once was gay but he’s with her today. When Luca speaks, he holds his heart in his hands. Luca says: Today I am a different man.

1st Verse:
Luca says: Before I talk about the change in my sexuality, let me make one thing clear: If I believe in God, I can’t depend on human beings for my answers. Human thought is divided on this issue, so I didn’t look to psychologists, psychiatrists, clergymen, or scientists. My search took me into my own past, and when I dug down deep, I found the answers to my questions about myself.

My mother loved me—too much. Her love became obsession. Under the weight of her beliefs, her attention, I felt myself suffocating.

My father was a man who didn’t make decisions. I could never talk to him because he was always at work, though I suspected the truth was a little different. In fact, when I was twelve, my mom told him she wanted a separation. I didn’t understand what was happening, but my father said, “Yeah, that’s the right decision,” and after that he started drinking.

My Mom never had a good word to say about my Dad. She used to tell me, “Whatever you do, don’t get married.”

She was jealous of my girlfriends; it felt so unhealthy. And my identity was more confused than ever.

Chorus:
Luca once was gay but he’s with her today. When Luca speaks, he holds his heart in his hands. Luca says: Today I am a different man. (Repeat.)

2nd Verse:
Today I’m a different man, but back then I needed answers. I was so ashamed, I did my looking in secret. There were people who told me, “It’s natural,” but I studied Freud and he didn’t see it that way. I got through high school, still not knowing what happiness was. An older man made my heart race and that’s when I realized I was homosexual.

With him, I didn’t hold back. He showered me with attention, and I thought it was love. Sure, I could be myself, but then the sex became a competition.

I felt like I was the guilty one. I figured they’d catch him sooner or later, but I could make the truth disappear so he wouldn’t get in trouble.

I was looking for my father in all those men. I went with them because I didn't want to betray my mother.

Chorus:
Luca once was gay but he’s with her today. When Luca speaks, he holds his heart in his hands. Luca says: Today I am a different man. (Repeat.)

Finale:
Luca says: I was with a man for four years. Sometimes there was love and sometimes only deception. We cheated on each other constantly.

I was still searching for my truth, for the kind of love that would last forever. Then one night I met her at a party. She was just there with a lot of other people. She had nothing to do with what I was going through, but she listened, she laid me bare, she understood. All I remember is: the next day, I missed her.

So that’s my story—my personal story. No sickness, no recovery.

Dad, I’ve forgiven you, even though you went away and never came back.

Mom, I think about you all the time, and I’ve never stopped caring. Sometimes I still see your face, but I’m a father now, and my heart belongs to the only woman I’ve ever truly loved.

Chorus:
Luca once was gay but he’s with her today. When Luca speaks, he holds his heart in his hands. Luca says: Today I am a different man. (Repeat.)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Planned Parenthood means forced abortions for Chinese women

Mother tells Al Jazeera how her foetus was terminated at eight months after she violated the one-child policy.

At the time of this picture the baby had already been given a lethal injection

China's one child policy



In this exclusive report by Al Jazeera's Melissa Chan, we look at a Chinese woman ordeal. As she was forced to abort her eight month baby, because she violated China's one child policy.

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Forced abortions for Chinese women

China's one-child policy leads to an estimated 13 million reported abortions every year, with many of those ordered by the authorities enforcing the system.

Al Jazeera's Melissa Chan gained access to a hospital in the southeastern city of Xiamen, where she found one mother in a terrible condition.

Xiao Ai Ying was forced to have an abortion eight months into her pregnancy because she already has a ten-year-old girl.

Forced abortions sometimes happen in remote areas of China, but this one occurred in one of the country's most modern cities. They are not condoned by the central government.

Mothers who violate China's one-child policy usually pay a fine anywhere from $1 to $40,000, but are then often sterilised to prevent them from having another child.

Although the officials figures of 13 million abortions seem high, physicians and medical researchers quoted by the state-run newspaper China Daily on Thursday said that once unreported and medication-induced abortions are counted, the actual number is substantially higher.

The rate of abortion in China is about 24 abortions for every 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44, the World Health Organisation and the Guttmacher Institute said in a joint report.

In 2003, the report put the number of abortions in China at nine million, out of a total of 42 million worldwide.

Al Jazeera approached Chinese authorities in Xiamen for comment on this story, but they declined to speak to us.

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Luo Yan Qua Interview



In this exclusive report by Al Jazeera's Melissa Chan, the husband of a Chinese woman speaks out about his wife's ordeal. As she was forced to abort her eight month baby, because she violated China's one child policy. because she violated China's one child policy.

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China's population policy draws wide praise - People's Daily Online
September 29, 2009

Demographers and scholars worldwide have spoken highly of China's family-planning policy over the past 30 years and more, saying it has helped lower the world population growth.

"We know that China, being the most populous country in the world, is especially important in the area of population," said Hania Zlotnik, director of the Population Division of the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).

Whatever happens in China has a great impact on world population, and certainly on the population in the developing world, she explained.

"Thanks to the changes in fertility, especially in China, the growth rate of the world population (and) of the developing country population is a quarter of a point lower today than it would have been if China did not have such a big drop in family size," she said in a recent exclusive interview with Xinhua.

China's family planning policy, which requires most couples have one child in urban areas and two in rural areas, has been in effect for more than three decades. It has helped prevent an estimated 400 million births. That means if China had not implemented its family planning policy, its total population would have exceeded 1.7 billion in 2008.

"So it's a much more complex policy than the slogan of one child per woman. Therefore, China doesn't have, at this moment, one of the lowest fertility in the world," she said. "It has a moderately low fertility. It is being lowered and that is an achievement."

Gill Greer, director-general of the London-based International Planned Parenthood Federation, told Xinhua in a recent interview that the family planning policy has contributed a great deal to China's remarkable economic and social achievements over the past 30 years.

By adopting the population control policy, Greer said, China has reduced its population growth rate and alleviated problems from overpopulation.

"Thus, the policy is very conducive to China's development in various aspects such as economy, education and health care services," she said.

American scholar Barbara Pillsbury, who has worked for the United Nations Population Agency, shared similar views with Greer.

"China won't have achieved so much in the country's development if it did not pursue its population control policy," she said.

Pillsbury compared China's population policy with India and said China has successfully controlled its population while India's population will increase dramatically.

She predicted that by 2040, India will surpass China as the world's most populous country with 1.52 billion people, while China's population is expected to stand at 1.45 billion.

Carl Haub, a senior demographer at the non-profit Population Reference Bureau, based in Washington DC, told Xinhua that birth planning, a basic national policy that China has stuck to for over30 years, has helped reduce the country's population growth rate.

"It has not only lowered China's demand for resources from outside the country, but also relieved pressure on the domestic labor market," he said.

In this way, the Chinese government could focus its efforts on providing better material conditions for its people, and improving their living standards," he said.

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Further reading:
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What does NOW (National Organization for Women) have to say about women being forced to have abortions in China? For an organization that purports to defend women's rights world-wide, they are strangely silent. After an exhausting search of their website the only thing I could come up with is a "legislative update" warning about the danger of restrictions on funding for UNFPA (United Nations Fund for Population Assistance) in China.
Finally, this dangerous amendment denies U.S. contributions to the United Nations Fund for Population Assistance (UNFPA) unless the president certifies that UNFPA has stopped all program activities in China. This latter provision is related to reports of coerced abortions in China. Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Ben Gilman (R-NY), Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Jim Greenwood (R-PA) tried in vain to pass a substitute amendment that would have countered many of Smith's bad provisions, but this failed by a vote of 218-210.

Urge your member of the House of Representatives to support of international family planning programs without the Mexico City gag rule and any other constraints concerning abortion. The health of women in many developing countries is dependent upon programs which the U.S. helps to support and these women deserve to have full reproductive health information and services.
This statement from NOW was under the section for "reproductive rights". These rights as defined by NOW apparently don't include the right of women in China to choose to keep their babies when that conflicts with China's eugenic birth control policies. I challenge anyone to provide evidence that NOW has ever condemned China's forced sterilization or abortion policies. Just like Planned Parenthood – whose founder, Margaret Sanger, NOW credits as one of the founders of the women's movement – NOW is a pro-eugenic organization. Their uninhibited advocacy of abortion is in keeping with their elitist, pro-eugenic agenda.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Of Mice and Men and "values clarification"


I recently watched the movie "Of Mice and Men" with my daughter. She had been assigned the book to read in her English class. Having never read the book, I was appalled by the choice of this grisly tale for classroom discussion.

The book's author, John Steinbeck, has cleverly contrived a tale in which the killing of a mentally deficient man appears to be justified. It is a perfect introduction to eugenics for young people from a secular humanist point of view. First a sick old dog is killed (euthanized), then at the very end Lennie is killed (euthanized) by his friend George.

I asked my daughter if anyone in her class had objected to the killing on moral grounds, and it appears that all of them seemed to agree that the killing was justified and the best possible choice for George given the circumstances. None of the students seemed to realize that the "circumstances" were complete contrived by the author in order to elicit a particular moral judgement from his readers.

Just today I was reading about a speech by Archbishop Chaput of Denver who has made a name for himself as a staunch defender of the Catholic faith. He was discussing the loss of a "moral vocabulary" in young people. He used as an example the reaction of some young students to a short story titled "The Lottery". This is a story about a fictional town where a "sacrificial victim" is chosen each year by way of a lottery. (My daughter's class was assigned to read this morally repugnant story a few years earlier.)

I was reminded of an article I had read recently about "values clarification".
Children learn to establish values through exercises in which they rank or compare items or opinions based on personal preference. To accustom students to reveal themselves, exercises generally begin with topics that are benign, such as arranging short lists of foods, sporting events, or vacations spots in order of preference. Ice breakers, typically used in (adult and student) retreats, in which participants must exchange benign personal information (who else wears glasses?, etc.) are a values clarification vehicle meant to accustom individuals to reveal themselves.

Once students are comfortable sharing their personal position, a barrage of moral dilemmas may be hurled at them, asking them if they agree strongly, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, disagree strongly, and to forth. As the exercises progress, the points become more controversial and more personal: Should children have the right not to accompany their parents to church? Should homework be abolished? Should teens be free to engage in sex before marriage? Is euthanasia a good idea? Students whose ideas differ from the majority are subject to awkward public scrutiny and ultimately may be pressured to abandon their convictions and to join the crowd instead.
You can see how stories like "Of Mice and Men" and "The Lottery" could be easily used as a way to initiate a conversation about values. This doesn't sound so terrible, except that the purpose of "values clarification" is not to teach children the difference between right and wrong; it is to encourage "critical thinking" with regards to morality. It encourages young people to believe that they should be their own arbiters of right and wrong; good or bad.
Christians should note that Jesus never used values clarification. Jesus taught by moralizing. He clearly defined right, wrong and sin. Jesus described the Kingdom of God with clever analogies; creative parables containing references people could relate to. While his stories sometimes were confusing they never contained mixed messages that might put the listener in the occasion of sin. Jesus' goal, while developing well-formed consciences in his followers, was to spawn love for God and to generate understanding for the necessity of total obedience to God.

Values clarification, on the other hand, works to slowly erode a child's well-formed conscience and Christian values in favor of personal choice. "A person's values are simply the personal standards or criteria he uses in decision making, and for that reason should not be dictated by another individual" (italics added).7 Values clarification teaches children to shun traditional morality and family rules. It is no wonder that even small children upon returning home from school are boldly telling their parents that they will run their own lives.
When it comes to teaching arithmetic, we teach our children that there is an absolute right or wrong. When it comes to teaching English, students are taught how to spell correctly and how to right grammatically correct sentences. But when it comes to teaching values, our children are taught that there is no right or wrong. Everything is relative and the children are "free" to choose and decide for themselves.

This promotion of a value-free society is no accident. This agenda is promoted by the secular humanists that have become increasingly radical in their demands that religion be abolished from public life - especially in the schools. The history can be traced back to John Dewey and the original "Humanist Manifesto". More recently there was the Frankfurt School which included Herbert Marcuse who was called the "Father of the New Left". He was the one that coined the phrase "make love, not war".
In an address at the US Naval Academy in August 1999, Dr Gerald L. Atkinson, CDR USN (Ret), gave a background briefing on the Frankfurt School, reminding his audience that it was the ‘foot soldiers’ of the Frankfurt School who introduced the ‘sensitivity training’ techniques used in public schools over the past 30 years (and now employed by the US military to educate the troops about ‘sexual harassment’). During ‘sensitivity’ training teachers were told not to teach but to ‘facilitate.’ Classrooms became centres of self-examination where children talked about their own subjective feelings. This technique was designed to convince children they were the sole authority in their own lives.

Atkinson continued: ‘The Authoritarian personality,’ studied by the Frankfurt School in the 1940s and 1950s in America, prepared the way for the subsequent warfare against the masculine gender promoted by Herbert Marcuse and his band of social revolutionaries under the guise of ‘women’s liberation’ and the New Left movement in the 1960s. The evidence that psychological techniques for changing personality is intended to mean emasculation of the American male is provided by Abraham Maslow, founder of Third Force Humanist Psychology and a promoter of the psychotherapeutic classroom, who wrote that, ‘... the next step in personal evolution is a transcendence of both masculinity and femininity to general humanness.
There is an underlying hypocrisy in this so-called secular humanist "tolerance" which is recently becoming ever more apparent. The humanists only advocate a neutral value system as a way of attacking Christian values. Once their "humanistic" values begin to take hold in society, they abandon their neutral position and have no problem in attacking and condemning those with opposing points of view.

This is a very far-reaching subject and I can only hope to scratch the surface in a short article like this, but I hope you can see how this begins to explain the powerful forces at work behind the scenes that are shaping our culture. At the same time, I hope you can begin to appreciate the subtlety of some of these methods of attack. They do not consist of a overt attack, but instead use a subversive method which aims at undermining the foundations of Christian culture.

Recommended reading:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Young musician from Gaza



Mahmoud Kohail, eight, has studied the qanoon for just under a year, but took first prize in a Palestine-wide competition in oriental music for ages seven to 11. "Everyone asked me how many years he had been studying," laughs Najjar. "When I told them it had been only 80 hours, they couldn't believe me."

Emad Kohail, Mahmoud's father, is an accomplished oud player, and his mother a talented singer. Also a doctor of mental health and alternative medicine, Emad Kohail explains how music has helped his son.

"Mahmoud suffered the same post-traumatic stress disorder [(PTSD)] that nearly all Gaza's children suffer, as well as an attention deficit disorder," he says. "Music has made an immense difference in Mahmoud's behavior. It has been a therapy for his PTSD and as a means of teaching him to focus."

Ibrahim Najjar agrees that music is therapy, and constructive for children's learning and mental health. "There is a big difference in the students' behavior from when they first came. Now, they are calmer, and listen and respect each other. I teach them this, but also to behave like this in all aspects of their lives."

Mahmoud Kohail

David Plays the Harp for Saul
I Samuel 16

Samuel saw seven young men from the house of Jesse, yet were the one God had chosen as king. Samuel asked, "Are these all your children?"

"There is one more," said Jesse. "The youngest of all. He is a boy in the field caring for the sheep."

And Samuel said, "Send for him; for we will not sit down until he comes." So after a time the youngest son was brought in. His name was David, a word that means "darling," and he was a beautiful boy, perhaps fifteen years old, with fresh cheeks and bright eyes. As soon as the young David came, the Lord said to Samuel, "Arise; anoint him, for this is the one whom I have chosen."

David Anointed King

Then Samuel poured oil on David's head, in the presence of all his brothers. But no one knew at that time the anointing to mean that David was to be the king. Perhaps they thought that David was chosen to be a prophet like Samuel.

From that time the Spirit of the Lord came upon David; and he began to show signs of coming greatness. He went back to his sheep on the hillsides around Bethlehem, but God was with him. David grew up strong and brave; not afraid of the wild beasts which prowled around and tried to carry away his sheep. More than once he fought with lions and bears, and killed them, when they seized the lambs of his flock. And David, alone all day, practiced throwing stones in a sling, until he could strike exactly the place for which he aimed. When he swung his sling, he knew that the stone would go to the very spot at which he was throwing it.

And, young as he was, David thought of God, and prayed to God. And God talked with David, and showed to David his will. And David was more than a shepherd and a fighter of wild beasts. He played upon the harp, and made music, and sang songs about the goodness of God to his people.

David Plays Before Saul

But while the Spirit of God came to David among his sheep, that Spirit left King Saul, because he no longer obeyed God's words. Then Saul became very unhappy, and gloomy in his feelings. There were times when he seemed to lose his mind, and a madness would come upon him; and at almost all times Saul was sad and full of trouble, because he was no more at peace with God.

The servants around Saul noticed that when some one played on the harp and sang, Saul's gloom and trouble passed away, and he became cheerful. At one time Saul said, "Find some one who can play well, and bring him to me. Let me listen to music; for it drives away my sadness." One of the young men said:

"I have seen a young man, a son of Jesse in Bethlehem, who can play well. He is handsome in his looks, and agreeable in talking. Then I have heard that he is a brave young man, who can fight as well as he can play; and the Lord is with him."

Then Saul sent a message to Jesse, David's father. He said: "Send me your son David, who is with the sheep. Let him come and play before me."

Then David came to Saul, bringing with him a present for the king from Jesse. When Saul saw him, he loved him, as did everybody who saw the young David. And David played on the harp, and sang before Saul. And David's music cheered Saul's heart, and drove away his sad feelings.

Saul liked David so well that he made him his armor-bearer; and David carried the shield and spear and sword for Saul when the king was before his army. But Saul did not know that David had been anointed by Samuel. If he had known it, he would have been very jealous of David.

After a time Saul seemed well, and David left him, to be a shepherd once more at Bethlehem.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Lazarus, come out!

[NOTE: This is a followup to my last article on the 33 miners of Chile.]
When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Sir, come and see."

And Jesus wept.

So the Jews said, "See how he loved him." But some of them said, "Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?"

So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay across it. Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the dead man's sister, said to him, "Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days." Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?"

So they took away the stone. And Jesus raised his eyes and said, "Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me." And when he had said this, he cried out in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!"

The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, "Untie him and let him go."

 – John 11:32-44

One of the miners, Mario Sepúlveda, gave an interview shortly after he arose from the land of the dead - like Lazarus. In it he describes an ordeal with the devil.
"I was with God and I was with the devil. They fought over me. And God won, because I took hold of the better hand - the hand of God."
But I'll tell you this. When they were underground – separated from the temptations of society – they were much closer to God than to the devil. But now that they are back in society, the devil will be all around them. This is how it is for all of us whether we realize it or not. We are surrounded by temptations. Society no longer feels that it has a responsibility to protect its citizens from sin, in fact we are encouraged to engage in sin.

If you take a close look at the CNN report on the miracle of the butterfly what you will find is that it not only attacks the faith in God of the Chilean people, it attacks the Catholic Church and Christianity itself.  The CNN reporter frames the event in such a way that faithful Chileans are seen as superstitious.

The whole rescue is portrayed in such a way that it reinforces the secular world view. The rescue capsule is called "the Phoenix" – a mythical bird representing death and rebirth – rather than something like "the Lazarus" which would call attention to the resurrection of Christ. We are supposed to give thanks to man and his science, rather than God who created Man and gave him the faculties to do wondrous things.

We are supposed to ignore the simple faith of the miners that allowed them to survive for the first 17 days without any real reason to maintain their hope that they would be saved. During those first days they had to ration among themselves the food and water at their disposal, but how did they come up with a reasonable rationing plan when they had no idea how many days they would be without help from the outside?

According to news reports, the amount of food and water should have been enough to last just a few days. And yet the obvious analogy to the miracle Jesus performed with the loaves and fishes is never drawn in the mainstream press. Why not? Isn't this a wonderful opportunity to remind their audiences of the relevance of the story of Christ to modern day living? Surely this could not offend any non-Christian viewers, any more than the reminder of the mythical phoenix could be viewed as offensive by non-pagans.

Then the 33 miners had to endure many more days of living in cramped quarters; separated from their loved ones; in a world of darkness and despair. There was nothing to sustain their spirits except their own faith. Any number of things could have gone wrong with the rescue effort. They did not know how long they would have to endure their subterranean imprisonment. And despite the best efforts of their would-be-rescuers, there was always the chance that their last breaths would be taken in their shared living tomb - buried under 700 meters of rock.

But the secular press tells us we should ignore all the prayers of those buried underneath the ground and their loved ones above. We should instead focus on the marvelous technology that was used to free the miners from their live burial.

Any talk of a miraculous rescue should be instantly ridiculed. Faith should be depicted as superstition founded on ignorance. We should believe in the power of science not only to achieve a technical solution to the rescue, but to rescue us from our antiquated beliefs. And we should learn to fill that spiritual longing in our souls with material goods. Buy. Buy. Buy!

Buy, to keep the advertisers coming. Buy, to keep the economy humming. Buy, to bury our emptiness in our purchases.

In my last post, I ended with the parable of the persistent widow from Luke chapter 18, which illustrated how we should pray always in order to maintain our faith. But our secular society replaces pray, pray, pray with buy, buy, buy. We are kept constantly diverted by the next gadget, and the next, and the next; like a hamster in its cage, amused by new toys.

And as the Pharisees plotted to kill Jesus, so today the secular society is plotting to kill Christianity – not by crucifying its followers, but by smothering us under an avalanche of temptations. We are unknowingly buried alive under the rubble of our possessions, and Jesus is shouting to us "Lazarus, come out!"
Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what he had done began to believe in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.

So the chief priests and the Pharisees convened the Sanhedrin and said, "What are we going to do? This man is performing many signs. If we leave him alone, all will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our land and our nation."

But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing, nor do you consider that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish."

He did not say this on his own, but since he was high priest for that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not only for the nation, but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God.

So from that day on they planned to kill him.

 – John 11:45-53
The Catholic bishops of Chile, remind us that we should not stop praying for the 33 miners now that they have been brought to the surface. In their statement they said, "May this re-encounter with life be an opportunity for them and for all of us to appreciate the most precious things we have: life, our dignity as children of God, faith, the treasure of the family." These are things we often take for granted.

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UPDATE: I was over at the Vigilant Citizen website, where he has an article mostly about the occult significance of the number 33 as it relates to the miners. I don't happen to agree with his analysis on this one, but here is a link in case you're interested.

One of the commenters left a link to this YouTube video which shows that there is a biblical message on the back of the T-shirts the miners wore when they came to the surface. The quote is from Psalm 95 verse 4.
Porque en su mano están las profundidades de la tierra,
Y las alturas de las montes son suyas


In His hand are the deep places of the earth;
The heights of the hills are His also.
(BTW, if you want to see how badly a politically correct translation of the Bible can butcher a verse, take a look at this "gender neutral" version of this verse from the American Bishops approved New American Bible: "Whose hand holds the depths of the earth; who owns the tops of the mountains." It sounds like it's asking a question rather than making a statement. No wonder that the NAB version of the Psalms has not been accepted by the Vatican. This shows to what extent the American Bishops have been swayed by the American feminist movement.)



One more comment on the T-shirts. I noticed right away what appeared to be an inverted star on the front of the T-shirts, which appeared to be an occult symbol. I'm sure this was unintentional given the use of Biblical references all over the rest of the T-shirt. The star is clearly part of a stylized version of the Chilean flag.

Stylized Chilean flag on T-shirt
Rather than inverting the star, what the artist has done is to place it at a 45 degree angle in order to create a diagonal that divides the blue on the bottom and the red on the top. Unfortunately, this has the same effect as inverting the star. (In the same picture, you can see a Chilean flag on the rescue pod.)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The parable of the miners and the butterfly


Two miners were in a vehicle deep underground when the mine began to collapse around them. First there was a huge boulder that fell behind their truck and blocked the route from which they had just come. Then as the ground shook beneath them, there appeared before them a white butterfly. The driver stopped the vehicle as he and his companion gazed in wonder at this apparition deep within the mine. They had never seen a butterfly at this depth before. As they were caught in rapture, the walls of the mine before them collapsed. If they had not stopped to see the butterfly, they would have surely been crushed in the huge pile of rock and dirt. They were immediately surrounded by a cloud of dust so thick that they could not see their own hand held before their eyes.

After the dust had settled, they were able to find their way to an emergency shelter. There, they gathered with other miners who had managed to escape with their lives from the frightening collapse. As they told their story to the other miners, they came to believe that the "white butterfly" they had seen just before they were plunged into darkness was a guardian angel sent to guide and protect them.

I can imagine Jesus telling this story as a parable to his disciples and then asking them, "Do you believe what the miners saw was an angel sent from God?" I then imagine the Apostle Thomas saying that since he was not there, he could not be sure. And then I imagine Jesus turning to Peter and saying to him, "And you Peter, what do you believe?" And Peter replying, "Lord, I believe that with God all things are possible."

 ------------

You can read for yourself the CNN account of the miracle of the butterfly in the San José mine in Chile. And then it is up to you to decide: Is this a story of "superstition" or faith?

As Jesus told Nathanael, "You will see greater things than this." But when you see them will you have the faith to believe?
Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth." But Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see."

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, "Here is a true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him." Nathanael said to him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree." Nathanael answered him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel."

Jesus answered and said to him, "Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this." And he said to him, "Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."

- John 1:45-51
Jesus told his disciples the parable of the persistent widow and then he asked them, "But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" Have we all become like the cynical judge, "who neither feared God nor respected any human being"?
Then he told them a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, "There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, 'Render a just decision for me against my adversary.'

For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, 'While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.'"

The Lord said, "Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"

- Luke 18:1-8
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Saturday, October 9, 2010

The anti-occult Tempest - a preview

Caliban, Miranda and Prospero

Anyone concerned with occult influences on society can't help but to have noticed the upcoming movie adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest. The trailer for the movie is full of dark magical imagery and symbolism. This is nothing less than a deliberate misinterpretation of Shakespeare's last play. It is well accepted that the magician Prospero in the play practices a type of "white magic".



The deliberateness of this misinterpretation is on display through the choice of a female Prospero. This bow to feminism will not dare be criticized. While the racist depiction of the brute Caliban as a Black man will scarcely be commented on. Such is the depth to which our "politically correct" society has descended.

I confess that I have never read the Tempest and am only now beginning to familiarize myself with this famous piece of stagecraft. So this is only a preview of my thoughts on the play after reading some plot summaries and a few commentaries on the theme of the play.

Nevertheless I have begun to craft an analysis of the play from a Catholic perspective. At first this seemed daunting, if not impossible, given the play's obsession with magic and pagan gods. But I think that Shakespeare gives us the key to unravel this drama hidden within the last few lines of the play.
PROSPERO:
Gentle breath of yours my sails must fill, or else my project fails, which was to please.
Now I want Spirits to enforce, art to enchant,
And my ending is despair, unless I be relieved by prayer,
Which pierces so that it assaults Mercy itself and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardon'd be,
Let your indulgence set me free.
The key word here is "indulgence". This inescapably points to the Catholic view of the afterlife which includes Purgatory. Indulgences were one of Martin Luther's chief complaints against the Catholic Church and Protestants hastened to condemn the very concept of Purgatory. Or as the Bard might say...
BARD:
"They purg'd it from 'er Bibles, and fed it to 'er geese;
So all poor sinners 'ternal souls, shall'd freely be r'leased.
"
The clue that William has left for us here in the last line of his last work -- spoken by Prospero, a character that most critics have associated with the Bard himself -- is that the fantasy that the audience just witnessed did not take place on some lost island in the Mediterranean or any place else on planet Earth for that matter. It takes place in some remote corner of Purgatory.

Prospero and all the rest of the inhabitants of the Island left the world of the living and entered into the world of the dead - which is where the story unfolds. The tempest, the storm at sea, represents the transition from life to death. Lost souls that they are, they don't realize that they have died.

At the end of the play, the characters have achieved the state of Grace necessary to leave their Island-Purgatory and go their final resting place in Heaven. "All's well that ends well." Think of the Wizard of Oz and how we find out in the ending that it was all a dream. Well in this case it was not exactly a dream, but what we find out at the end is the reason for all the strange goings on.

"O brave new world!"

As I was reading about The Tempest, I was reminded that the title of Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" is derived from the play's dialogue.
MIRANDA:
O, wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, that has such people in't!
How tragic it seems for the transhumanist Huxley to have quoted from the Catholic Shakespeare. Huxley, who fashioned himself to be a great intellectual, grotesquely misinterprets Shakespeare's true religious beliefs. The "brave new world" that Shakespeare imagined was Heaven; while Huxley's "brave new world" was a dystopic inferno.

Perhaps Huxley imagined a world of super-humans like Prospero's where magical powers became reality, but Prospero relinquishes his magic at the end. He has learned the secret of life; that Grace comes through the submission to the Divine Will. This is the paradox of Christ's teachings; that we become truly free through submitting ourselves to our Divine Master.

In Huxley's last writings he ponders the mysteries of Shakespeare, and of The Tempest specifically. He went to his grave thinking he had discovered some existential truth, when in fact he had been deceived. The Truth was always there, easily within his reach. Perhaps as Prospero says, a prize that is won too easily is not always appreciated for its true worth: "this swift business I must uneasy make, lest too light winning make the prize light."

For the "intellectual" like Huxley, the story of Salvation in the Bible is "too easy", or just too accessible. They search the world looking for a better answer, like an incurable romantic looking for a new adventure - the more exotic and more intellectually challenging the better. But why would God make eternal happiness only available to a few intellectually gifted? As even the ancient Greek philosophers warned us, it is our own Hubris which is our greatest impediment to attaining Holiness. True humility is a rare commodity, and even rarer among the gifted and talented.

Becoming a saint is not easy, it only appears to be so to those who have never attempted the first steps down that path. Pray for your departed loved ones in Purgatory. Ask the Saints in heaven to intercede on their behalf. St. Thérèse of Lisieux specifically dedicated herself to pray for the souls of sinners.
A MORNING PRAYER WRITTEN BY ST. THERESE

O my God! I offer Thee all my actions of this day for the intentions and for the glory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I desire to sanctify every beat of my heart, my every thought, my simplest works, by uniting them to Its infinite merits; and I wish to make reparation for my sins by casting them into the furnace of Its Merciful Love.

O my God! I ask of Thee for myself and for those whom I hold dear, the grace to fulfill perfectly Thy Holy Will, to accept for love of Thee the joys and sorrows of this passing life, so that we may one day be united together in heaven for all Eternity.

Amen.

"Get thee to a nunnery!"

[NOTE: This is a follow up to my previous post: "The hidden Catholic meaning of Hamlet".]

St. Teresa of Ávila
HAMLET: Get thee to a nunnery, go: farewell. Or, if thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool; for wise men know well enough what monsters you make of them. To a nunnery, go, and quickly too.
- Shakespeare's Hamlet Act 3 Scene 1
These words "Get thee to a nunnery!" from Shakespeare's Hamlet have been the subject of much debate and confusion. This is partly due to the way that nuns have been defamed in Protestant culture right up to the present day.

I happened to come across the words of a real nun whose life overlapped that of Shakespeare's. They may shed some light on Hamlet's intent when he repeatedly proclaims to Ophelia, "Get thee to a nunnery!"

I have no idea whether the writings of St. Teresa of Ávila (1515-1582) would have been available to Shakespeare (1564-1616). I don't know if the Spanish originals would have been published during Shakespeare's lifetime, or if English translations would have been available. Regardless the words of St. Teresa have relevance to Shakespeare's writings since they describe the religious climate of the times in Europe that was being swept with the hysteria set in motion by the teachings of Martin Luther (1483-1546).

The Lutheran revolutionary movement was every bit as violent and caused as much upheaval as the later Marxist revolutionary movement. In both cases one of the main targets was the established Church. Luther's intentions may have been good and pious, but the resulting damage to Christian institutions is still reverberating in today's world. "A house divided..."

There's no doubt in my mind that others with less pious intentions joined in the Lutheran revolution against the Church with the motive of gaining power at the Church's expense - or simply because of their hatred of Christianity. Today's overtly anti-Christian revolutionaries avoid physical violence, preferring more subtle social and psychological forms of warfare. It is through the "magic" of movies, music and TV that they spread their malicious message. It's through the courts and the legislative bodies that they erode the power of the Church.

Without further ado, I present to you the first chapter of St. Teresa's "The Way of Perfection" which is addressed to the nuns under her authority. As you read it I think you'll find that there are glaringly obvious parallels to our present times. And it also seems to me that there is much relevance to Shakespeare's tragic characters of Hamlet and his dear Ophelia.

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CHAPTER 1

Of the reason which moved me to found this convent in such strict observance.

When this convent was originally founded, for the reasons set down in the book which, as I say, I have already written, and also because of certain wonderful revelations by which the Lord showed me how well He would be served in this house, it was not my intention that there should be so much austerity in external matters, nor that it should have no regular income: on the contrary, I should have liked there to be no possibility of want. I acted, in short, like the weak and wretched woman that I am, although I did so with good intentions and not out of consideration for my own comfort.

At about this time there came to my notice the harm and havoc that were being wrought in France by these Lutherans and the way in which their unhappy sect was increasing.[11] This troubled me very much, and, as though I could do anything, or be of any help in the matter, I wept before the Lord and entreated Him to remedy this great evil. I felt that I would have laid down a thousand lives to save a single one of all the souls that were being lost there. And, seeing that I was a woman, and a sinner,[12] and incapable of doing all I should like in the Lord's service, and as my whole yearning was, and still is, that, as He has so many enemies and so few friends, these last should be trusty ones, I determined to do the little that was in me -- namely, to follow the evangelical counsels as perfectly as I could, and to see that these few nuns who are here should do the same, confiding in the great goodness of God, Who never fails to help those who resolve to forsake everything for His sake. As they are all that I have ever painted them as being in my desires, I hoped that their virtues would more than counteract my defects, and I should thus be able to give the Lord some pleasure, and all of us, by busying ourselves in prayer for those who are defenders of the Church, and for the preachers and learned men who defend her, should do everything we could to aid this Lord of mine Who is so much oppressed by those to whom He has shown so much good that it seems as though these traitors would send Him to the Cross again and that He would have nowhere to lay His head.

Oh, my Redeemer, my heart cannot conceive this without being sorely distressed! What has become of Christians now? Must those who owe Thee most always be those who distress Thee? Those to whom Thou doest the greatest kindnesses, whom Thou dost choose for Thy friends, among whom Thou dost move, communicating Thyself to them through the Sacraments? Do they not think, Lord of my soul, that they have made Thee endure more than sufficient torments?

It is certain, my Lord, that in these days withdrawal from the world means no sacrifice at all. Since worldly people have so little respect for Thee, what can we expect them to have for us? Can it be that we deserve that they should treat us any better than they have treated Thee? Have we done more for them than Thou hast done that they should be friendly to us? What then? What can we expect -- we who, through the goodness of the Lord, are free from that pestilential infection, and do not, like those others, belong to the devil? They have won severe punishment at his hands and their pleasures have richly earned them eternal fire. So to eternal fire they will have to go,[13] though none the less it breaks my heart to see so many souls traveling to perdition. I would the evil were not so great and I did not see more being lost every day.

Oh, my sisters in Christ! Help me to entreat this of the Lord, Who has brought you together here for that very purpose. This is your vocation; this must be your business; these must be your desires; these your tears; these your petitions. Let us not pray for worldly things, my sisters. It makes me laugh, and yet it makes me sad, when I hear of the things which people come here to beg us to pray to God for; we are to ask His Majesty to give them money and to provide them with incomes -- I wish that some of these people would entreat God to enable them to trample all such things beneath their feet. Their intentions are quite good, and I do as they ask because I see that they are really devout people, though I do not myself believe that God ever hears me when I pray for such things. The world is on fire. Men try to condemn Christ once again, as it were, for they bring a thousand false witnesses against Him. They would raze His Church to the ground -- and are we to waste our time upon things which, if God were to grant them, would perhaps bring one soul less to Heaven? No, my sisters, this is no time to treat with God for things of little importance.

Were it not necessary to consider human frailty, which finds satisfaction in every kind of help -- and it is always a good thing if we can be of any help to people -- I should like it to be understood that it is not for things like these that God should be importuned with such anxiety.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The secret Catholic meaning of Hamlet

King Claudius, Prince Hamlet, Queen Gertrude
"To be, or not to be..."

To be, what? As in any great work of art, the answers are many. When viewed from different angles and perspectives, we may interpret the work differently.



Shakespeare's Hamlet has been interpreted in as many ways as may seem possible, and yet... It is only recently that it has begun to be interpreted from a Catholic perspective.

Why Catholic? Because, it is a little known fact that Shakespeare was raised in a devout Catholic family within Anglican England. And evidence suggests - more than suggests - that he himself was a practicing Catholic; although by necessity in secret. There then is the motive for searching for the hidden Catholic messages embedded in his greatest work.

"To be [Catholic], or not to be [Catholic]. That is the question."

To be a Catholic in Elizabethan England meant fines, imprisonment... even death. But for the believer, to not be Catholic held forth an even more frightful penalty... eternal punishment. And to be Catholic offered a reward that would make up for all the earthly suffering.... eternal life.

And now the puzzle pieces begin to fall into their places and the secret code begins to reveal itself unto us. The story of Hamlet seems quite contrived and unbelievable, but is it any more improbable than the actual story of the Protestant Reformation in England? Both stories begin with a King marrying his deceased brother's wife.

The Queen plays an important part in both stories. In the history of England, her name is Catherine of Aragon; in Hamlet her name is Queen Gertrude.

The corresponding historic English king's name is Henry VIII, while in Hamlet the king's name is Claudius. And so our story commences and begins to unfold.



Shakespeare's audience could not have helped but to have noticed the similarities; and yet how did this seeming lack of due respect for English nobility escape the censors? King Claudius is the main villain in this play. "The play's the thing, wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king." Could it have been the conscience of King Henry VIII of which Shakespeare was speaking?

While the similarities between King Henry VIII and King Claudius are kept to a minimum, the similarities of Queen Gertrude to the real life Queen Catherine are more striking. In Hamlet, Queen Gertrude is painted as a person of very low virtue, and this would be in keeping with the depiction of Catherine of Aragon in Elizabethan England. Queen Gertrude, Hamlet's mother, hops in bed from one king to another in a matter of months. And this initially seems to be the main cause of Hamlet's "madness". In reality it was seven years from the time of death of Catherine's first husband, Arthur, to her marriage with his brother Henry. And Catherine had only been married to Arthur for six months before he fell ill and suffered an untimely death at the age of just 15. Catherine was 15 at the time of their marriage and had turned 16 by the time she became a widow. She swore that the marriage had never been consummated, which allowed her subsequent marriage to Henry VIII to be blessed by the Catholic Church.

In the play Queen Gertrude seems to represent Olde England - before Henry VIII's break with the Catholic Church. And by association, what appears to most disturb Shakespeare is the way that England has hopped from the arms of the Catholic Church into the "bed" of the Protestants so swiftly. Catherine herself was not a participant in this betrayal. She always maintained loyalty to the Catholic Church, so Gertrude seems to actually represent the English people themselves - and in particular the English Protestants. The truth is that the people had little say in the matter, and most were probably not in favor of the change initially.

Towards the end of the play Queen Gertrude appears to be leaning in favor of Hamlet over King Claudius. So what does Hamlet represent? Before getting to that, I would like to discuss Hamlet's father. He seems to represent the Catholic Church in England, which is "poisoned" by King Henry VIII's decree. Hamlet subsequently represents the sons and daughters of the Church that remain faithful to their forefather's religion. They must go in hiding and secretly practice their faith, just as Hamlet must disguise his true intentions in the play.



And then there is Ophelia, Hamlet's sweetheart. She seems to represents the "spirit" of England. Hamlet [representing the Catholics of England] loves her and always remains faithful to her. This is in contrast to the Protestant view of Catholics as "disloyal" to England.

Ophelia's father, Polonius, is a bit harder to figure out. My interpretation is that he represents an older pre-Christian tradition. His philosophy seems to trace back to the Stoics in Ancient Greece. And so Ophelia, if she is the "spirit" of England, is a pagan spirit. And her brother Laertes likewise seems to also worship the ancient pagan gods, more so than the one true Christian God.



In this scenario, King Claudius inescapably represents the Church of England, which would be viewed by the Catholics as an evil force. Claudius [Protestants] view Hamlet [Catholics] as possessed by a form of madness [the Catholic faith]. And yet "there is method in this madness". Catholics see the real presence of Christ - "a ghost" - in the Eucharist, while the Protestants see only a physical symbol; nothing else.

So there you have it. Seen from this perspective, the play is about the struggle between Catholic, Protestant, and pagan forces for the soul of the English people - represented by the Queen.

Hamlet [the Catholic] kills the pagan Polonius and his son Laertes. Pagan Ophelia initially seduces Catholic Hamlet, but later Hamlet - fortified by the appearance of his father's spirit - rejects Ophelia. The death of her father Polonius at Catholic Hamlet's hand drives her mad and causes her to take her own life. Ophelia's funeral [the death of paganism] is cause for contemplation over the meaning of death by Hamlet - "alas poor Yorick" - but it is not viewed as a great tragedy within the context of the play.

(Oh and lest I forget, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, appear to be some outside Protestant agitators which have come to spy on Catholic Hamlet. The proof of this is that they are depicted as students from Wittenberg University where Martin Luther taught theology. They provide us with some comic relief and ultimately are dealt with in the manner of spies - they are executed.)

Hamlet [the Catholic] battles throughout the play with King Claudius [the Protestant] over Queen Gertrude [the English people]. Gertrude is unintentionally poisoned by Claudius [the Protestant].  Her death signifies the poisoning of Christianity in England with Protestant ideas. We can also see the influence of pagan ideas on Christianity represented by Polonius who is an adviser to the King and Queen. Shakespeare makes it quite clear that he considers this advice to be foolish and devotes much of the comic elements in the play to mocking this "sage" advice.

Hamlet is mortally wounded in a duel by Laertes [the pagan] at the coaxing of Claudius [the Protestant]. Hamlet's death may represent the corruption of the Catholic Church at that time with pagan ideas. Before he dies Hamlet kills Claudius [the Protestant] - who initially set in motion the vicious cycle of violence that envelops the country - with his own poison. Earlier Claudius had killed Hamlet's father by pouring poison in his ear. This odd method of delivery suggests to me that the poison represents slanderous accusations aimed at the Catholics by the Protestants. For instance, defamation campaigns depicting Irish Catholics as rapists and baby killers were common around this time.

(By the way, I suspect the duel between Catholic Hamlet and Pagan Laertes is a metaphor for a philosophical debate. The pagan philosophers like Plato and Aristotle would be expected to win the debate against the Catholic theologians according to the thinking of Protestants. But Hamlet tells Horatio that he has improved his dueling [debating] skills recently, and surprisingly he is winning the duel before Laertes resorts to foul play.)

In the end it is the Norwegian Prince Fortinbras that becomes the new King of Denmark. Horatio, representing a recusant Catholic, bears witness to the whole scene. Horatio's character seems to parallel the Apostle Peter. He is deeply flawed and even declares his intent to commit suicide at the end before he is dissuaded by Hamlet. This runs parallel to Peter's flawed reaction when Christ is arrested - he cuts off the priest's ear before Jesus stops him and makes him put away his sword. We also see in Horatio's comments regarding suicide the continuing struggle between pagan and Christian forces.

Hamlet espouses many different philosophies before finally fully embracing Catholic teachings just before the final duel. This causes Catholic Hamlet to firmly reject suicide while welcoming a sacrificial death. He has finally overcome his initial motive of revenge for personal gain. Although he still ultimately kills the Protestant King, he does not do it in any hopes of gaining the crown for himself. Perhaps Shakespeare is also telling Catholics in the audience to put aside their feelings of revenge against their fellow Protestants. This motivation produced disastrous results under Mary I (the daughter of Catherine and Henry the VIII) and had only strengthened the hand of the Protestants. And the ghost of Hamlet's father was very clear that the Queen [representing the English Protestants] was not to be harmed.

Denmark clearly represents England in this scenario. What then does Norway represent? In the history of the Protestant Reformation, Denmark imposes the Protestant religion on Norway. In Hamlet, it could very well be that Norway represents Catholic Ireland. It appears to me that Shakespeare is offering up a prophetic vision of some future king that will restore Catholicism to England once the cycle of violence has reached its conclusion. There even seems to be an Apocalyptic element in the last scene in which none of the main characters escape death.

An alternate explanation for Fortinbras and his army is that they represent an army of angels. Hamlet sees their mission in Poland to be pointless and a waste of lives, but if their mission is spiritual then the saving of even one human soul is worth the loss of many angels. (Poland was Catholic at the time, but threatened by Protestant forces.) The finale then represents a convergence of the forces of the City of God with the City of Man. Fortinbras, whose name means "mighty arm", is like a Messiah sent from Heaven. I tend to think of him more like St. Michael than Christ, mostly because he is seen at the head of an army. In this sense he is not really a Messiah, but an angel. The word "angel" means "messenger from God." (Although, like a Messiah, he becomes the new King of the people of Denmark.) Norway, in this interpretation represents some far off - almost mystical - place to the north. Even the snow suggests the clouds in the distant heavens above.

Shakespeare's contemporary Christian audience would have been left contemplating the ultimate destination of the souls of Hamlet, Ophelia, Claudius, Gertrude, Polonius, Laertes. In the afterlife they would not be judged according to their status such as a king or a queen, but simply as souls that had spent their bodily lives on Earth choosing between good and evil.

Claudius has doomed himself to go to Hell through his actions and lack of repentance. He had an opportunity at the end to halt the final tragic scene, but he had already sold his soul to the Devil and was unable and unwilling to redeem himself.

Gertrude seems to have sacrificed herself in the final act, and so has won partial redemption. Her act of drinking the poison intended for Hamlet, while seeming accidental, may have actually been deliberate. Perhaps not realizing the depths of Claudius' depravity, she would have expected him to intervene in her drinking from the poisoned cup intended for Hamlet. Just before she died she came to realize the cause of her death, but she does not have time to prepare her soul properly for death. Her fate seems to be to go to purgatory for a lengthy time where she will meet up with the spirit of her dead true husband, Hamlet's father.

Laertes asks Hamlet for forgiveness as he lays dying. This brings to mind the good thief that was crucified with Christ. In return Laertes offers his forgiveness to Hamlet for the death of his sister and father. And one can only be reminded of the Lord's prayer - "forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us". Even though Laertes is a pagan and not a true believer in Christ, he comes to believe in his last moments in the mercy of God and saves himself and his sister Ophelia from the fires of hell which envelop his father. Although he will have to share a time in purgatory with his dear sister, they ultimately will hear the trumpets on the Last Day.

Hamlet, who has entered into the duel with Laertes with a sense of dark foreboding, achieves an imperfect sort of martyrdom. He finally accepts God's will in his life. And though his death is a tragedy, he is finally able to live up to the world's princely expectations of him. His soul ascends into heaven assisted by angels not because of his earthly nobility, but because he freely chooses to exchange his crown of gold for a crown of thorns. He becomes a saint.

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Now read some short excerpts and see how this Catholic interpretation gives new meaning to Shakespeare's Hamlet.



[NOTE: Here Hamlet describes the former Catholic King to Queen Gertrude, and then contrasts the current Protestant King with him.]

HAMLET:
Look here, upon this picture, and on this,

The counterfeit presentment of two brothers.
See, what a grace was seated on this brow;
Hyperion's curls; the front of Jove himself;
An eye like Mars, to threaten and command;
A station like the herald Mercury
New-lighted on a heaven-kissing hill;
A combination and a form indeed,
Where every god did seem to set his seal,
To give the world assurance of a man:
This was your husband. Look you now, what follows:
[NOTE: Here he describes the Protestant King to the Queen.]
Here is your husband; like a mildew'd ear,
Blasting his wholesome brother. Have you eyes?
Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed,
And batten on this moor? Ha! have you eyes?

[NOTE: The "moor" is literally a mooring for a boat, but it could also be comparing the Protestants to moors (Muslims).]

--------------

[NOTE: Here Hamlet begs Gertrude to return to the Catholic faith.]

HAMLET
Confess yourself to heaven;
Repent what's past; avoid what is to come;
And do not spread the compost on the weeds,
To make them ranker. Forgive me this my virtue;
For in the fatness of these pursy times
Virtue itself of vice must pardon beg,
Yea, curb and woo for leave to do him good.

QUEEN GERTRUDE
O Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain.

HAMLET
O, throw away the worser part of it,
And live the purer with the other half.

[NOTE: Gertrude realizes that the nation is torn in two [twain] by the religious differences. Hamlet tells her to choose Catholicism - "the purer half".]

--------------



[NOTE: This scene takes place at Ophelia's (symbolizing the pagan nymph) funeral.]

LAERTES
[NOTE: The brother of Ophelia mourns her death which he blames on Catholic Hamlet.]
O, treble woe
Fall ten times treble on that cursed head,
Whose wicked deed thy most ingenious sense
Deprived thee of! Hold off the earth awhile,
Till I have caught her once more in mine arms:

Leaps into the grave

Now pile your dust upon the quick and dead,
Till of this flat a mountain you have made,
To o'ertop old Pelion, or the skyish head
Of blue Olympus.

[NOTE: Pagan Laertes places a magical curse on Catholic Hamlet's head. And he appeals to Greek gods of Olympus.]

HAMLET
[NOTE: Catholic Hamlet complains of the exaggerated pagan grieving and the appeals to the stars.]
[Advancing] What is he whose grief
Bears such an emphasis? whose phrase of sorrow
Conjures the wandering stars, and makes them stand
Like wonder-wounded hearers? This is I,
Hamlet the Dane.

Leaps into the grave

LAERTES
The devil take thy soul!

Grappling with him

HAMLET
Thou pray'st not well.
I prithee, take thy fingers from my throat;
For, though I am not splenitive and rash,
Yet have I something in me dangerous,
Which let thy wiseness fear: hold off thy hand.

[NOTE: Hamlet says that the pagan Laertes - although he may be wise - does not know how to pray. And he warns him that the Christian God is forgiving but "dangerous" if provoked.]

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[NOTE: Laertes last words, asking for forgiveness from Hamlet and offering his own in exchange. His pagan heart can still not comprehend the full doctrine of Christian forgiveness.]


LAERTES
Exchange forgiveness with me, noble Hamlet:
Mine and my father's death come not upon thee,
Nor thine on me.

Dies

HAMLET
Heaven make thee free of it! I follow thee.

[NOTE: Hamlet accepts Laertes forgiveness. He blesses Laertes and understands that by forgiving his foe, he in turn is forgiven.]

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[NOTE: Hamlet's last words. He hopes to hear good news from England. And has a "prophesy" of a better future ahead. He asks his friend Horatio to tell his story to others as an example. This is how the Gospel is spread, first through the story of Christ and later also through the stories of the saints and martyrs that sacrificed themselves and even died following His example.]


HAMLET
O, I die, Horatio;
The potent poison quite o'er-crows my spirit:
I cannot live to hear the news from England;
But I do prophesy the election lights
On Fortinbras: he has my dying voice;
So tell him, with the occurrents, more and less,
Which have solicited. The rest is silence.

Dies

HORATIO
Now cracks a noble heart. Good night sweet prince:
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!

[NOTE: Horatio has a vision of angels. They sing in a heavenly choir as they carry this noble soul to its final resting place.]

=====================

Books by Joseph Pearce on the Catholicism of Shakespeare which inspired this article:
The Quest for Shakespeare
Through Shakespeare's Eyes

Links:
Hamlet by Shakespeare online
Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet on DVD

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hit song "St. Therese Of The Roses" banned by BBC

"My mission - to make God loved - will begin after my death."
"I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. I will let fall a shower of roses."
St. Thérèse of Lisieux, 1873-1897


St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Anyone who thinks that the BBC just recently became anti-Catholic judging by the coverage of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the UK may be surprised to find out that back in 1956 the BBC banned the performance of a song that was essentially a devout prayer to St. Thérèse of  Lisieux.

Here is the Wikipedia entry for the song "St. Therese Of The Roses".
"St. Therese Of The Roses" is a 1956 popular song written by Remus Harris and Arthur Strauss. The song takes the form of a prayer to St. Therese of the Roses (Saint Thérèse of Lisieux) by a man who is about to marry asking the saint for her to send her blessings to himself and his sweetheart so they will have a happy and loving marriage.

A version performed by Billy Ward and His Dominoes was recorded on 18 April 1956 and issued in June of that year on the Decca label (Catalogue No. 29933). In the United States the song reached #27 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the summer of 1956.

In the United Kingdom a version was recorded by the singer Malcolm Vaughan and reached #3 on the Hit Parade. Its success was helped following a controversy involving the BBC when, in October 1956 Vaughan had been scheduled to appear on BBC TV's Off The Record to promote the release of the song, but had the invitation withdrawn after a BBC committee decided that it was unsuitable for broadcast. The reason given was that "the lyric is contrary both to Roman Catholic doctrine and to Protestant sentiment." The resulting controversy coupled with airplay on Radio Luxembourg ensured the record's success. As well as peaking at #3, it stayed in the charts for five months and ultimately sold half a million copies.
While the official explanation claims that the lyrics are "contrary to Roman Catholic doctrine", I can't see how that can be true. You can listen to the song below and read the lyrics, and decide for yourself.

The other thing this brings to mind is that the music industry is capable of exerting an extreme amount of influence over the public. If a song like this could be a hit in 1956, why not today?



St. Therese of the roses
I will come to you each night
Near the altar in the chapel
I will pray by candle light

St. Therese of the roses
Won't you kindly hear my prayer
Give your blessings to my sweetheart
And the love that we both share

Won't you guide us (guide us)
And protect us (protect us)
Through the years that lie ahead
Won't you fill our hearts with sunshine
On the day that we are wed

You're the little flower of heaven
Guiding all who come to you
St. Therese of the roses
I know you'll make my prayer come true

[Instrumental Interlude]

You're the little flower of heaven
Guiding all who come to you
St. Therese of the roses
I know you'll make my prayer come true