David Ancell's Virtual Home

Unfit for Public Office

  /   Sunday, June 25, 2017   /   Comments(0)

By now, most of the buzz has already calmed down about Bernie Sanders’ criticism of the religious beliefs of Russell Vought that could very easily be interpreted to mean that Christians need not apply for public office. Well, maybe it’s okay to be a Christian as long as you don’t really believe the Christianity is true. Don’t even think about letting your faith influence you in a way that might affect others!

The existence of this mentality really shouldn’t be surprising. Secular society has long looked at some religious beliefs as though they were a personality quirk that needed to be worked around. There was a veneer of “respecting the beliefs of others” as though they were just arbitrary traits of a person that we can just humor. People were supposedly just taught these things, and we can’t expect them to be able to substantiated. This stops the moment someone show that a person takes what they believe seriously.

Sanders and those like him seem to have forgotten one thing – why would anyone believe anything? There’s really only one reason to believe anything, religious or otherwise – because it is true! No matter how beautiful something sounds or how much I like it, there is no point in my believing it if it isn’t true. If something is true, then it’s only logical that anything that contradicts it must be false. If I think my child ate the last cookie, but my wife thinks he didn’t, we can’t both be right. He either did or he didn’t. I know that a lot of people these days say that we really can’t be sure that any one religion is right. However, the people who say that sound darn sure that they are right in saying that we cannot be sure that any one religion is right, and that belief also has consequences for them and others as well.

So, does believing something is right and basing one’s life, including one’s public life on it, render one unfit for office? The left seems to think these days that it not only renders one unfit for public office, but it also renders one unfit for a lot of other things. If anyone wants to know how someone like Donald Trump reached the presidency, I think the actions of the left in this regard are a huge factor. There were enough people who didn’t want to see what would be a continuation of an administration willing to go after the Little Sisters of the Poor for not providing contraception in their insurance plan. There were enough people who were tired of bakers, florists, and other wedding professionals being sued for everything they have for not wanting to participate in a same-sex “wedding.” There were enough people who questioned imposing on everyone the ideology of people who think that they can be one biological sex but yet another gender. Oh, and there are people who are certain that they are right about these things, and they seek to impose them on others. They may not be religious beliefs, but if we look at history careful, we can see that militant atheists and secularists have harmed far more people than religious zealots.. The Communist revolutions of the 20th Century resulted in far, far more destruction of human life than did he Inquisition and the Crusades (the latter of which I will argue actually had a noble purpose).

The problem that makes one unfit for public office isn’t a belief that something is definitely right. Whether someone is fit for public office depends on 1) how people who are, or who are believed to be, in error should be treated 2) the objective morality or immorality of what one believes 3) the person’s willingness or unwillingness to substantiate what they believe. Too many people want to just cry “bigot” or “blaming the victim” instead of coming up with an adult argument. Also, despite popular opinion, religious beliefs can be substantiated. Take a look at the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

To see people’s fitness for public office, look at how they view those of a different belief. What do they want to do – evangelize them, leave them to their fate, or destroy them? If they wish to evangelize, how would they do so – by proclaiming the message or by force? Finally, how would they settle a matter of justice between a believer and an unbeliever? Do they believe in principles of right and wrong that would lead them to render a decision in favor of an unbeliever if justice demanded it? Do they hold people of their own faith accountable for doing what’s right, even to an unbeliever? Obviously, a judge that would always rule in favor of a Christian who stole from a Muslim, Hindu, Jew, or even an atheist isn’t fit to be a judge.

Whether we understand it or not, we want people in office who base their lives on unwavering moral principle and expect the same from others. Every law on the books is someone’s imposition of beliefs in what is right or wrong on others.  Otherwise, what else is going to be the basis for their decisions? They could make them based on whatever benefits them personally, whatever some group of influential or powerful people thinks, or whatever is blowing in the latest political wind. To quote one of my favorite country songs “You’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.” While that may be just a song, I do fear that one of our greatest problems today is that we are indeed falling for anything because little worthwhile is being held to be true.

Category: Uncategorized


My Fasting Strategy

  /   Saturday, April 15, 2017   /   Comments(0)

I must admit that I am not good at fasting. I guess I just like my food too much. Yes, I know I need to do something about it, and having days of fasting like Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are good for me. I guess I have also not been good at getting posts up at the right time since I meant to do this earlier and also meant to post more, but i guess it can give some people who had trouble fasting this year some help.

For me to do a day of fasting, I have to be pretty deliberate about how I am going to do it. Like everyone else, I need to be able to perform the duties of my state of life, and being too hungry doesn’t help with that. I realize that, as one priest said, we get to eat more on fast days than many people get to eat every day. Still, I need a strategy for fasting.

So, here it is … but please note that this isn’t for everyone, and I am certainly not taking responsibility for anyone who shouldn’t do it this way who tries it anyway (or anyone else either). I just want to put it out there to see if anyone thinks it will work.

Here’s the questionable part … I normally eat a big dinner the day before the fast. Maybe I shouldn’t, but as far as I know it’s allowed. Then, I wait until as late as possible to eat anything on the actual day of fasting. It’s like getting it over with early as much as possible. I normally go to work on fasting days to keep my mind off it. I packed a couple of peanut butter or almond butter sandwiches to use as my lighter meals, and I eat the first one when I really need to eat. I then try to wait as long as I can before eating the next one. I have my full meal at home that night to hold me until thee next day.

With this strategy, I have been able to fast while still doing my work. Of course, it helps to go to Mass and Good Friday service on the day of fasting to keep occupied and reminded of why we are doing this. I hope this is helpful for at least some of you.

One other thing … Holy Saturday up until the Easter Vigil is a time to continue prayer, and, you guessed it – fasting! You are not required by the Church to fast on Holy Saturday, but I certainly encourage anyone who can to continued, and so does the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Think if it as a time of reflection on Jesus in the tomb and of waiting for the Resurrection.

Category: Uncategorized


Don’t Forget that There Are Valid Concerns About the New President

  /   Sunday, January 22, 2017   /   Comments(0)

Inauguration Day has come and gone now. Donald Trump has won in an election that was a pretty big upset. Now, he is officially the President of the United States. To be honest, I am much happier about him winning that I would have been about Hillary Clinton, and I am really glad Obama has left office. Still, I am not about to embrace Trump as the savior of our country. I do think there are valid concerns remaining about what he will do.

Clinton was guaranteed to continue the cultural revolution of Obama that would ensure that, ultimately, those who wish to live Christian morality would be reduced to second class citizens at best. I have seen things under Obama that I would have dismissed as paranoia when he first got elected. Just look at the this report from the US Civil Rights Commission (PDF file format) if you don’t believe me. If you think that Trump will do little to stop abortion, you may be right. The catch is that Clinton was guaranteed to work to promote the pro-abortion agenda, including appointing pro-abortion Supreme Court justices. However, one thing that remains to be seen is whether Trump will keep his promise and appoint a pro-life justice to the bench to replace Justice Scalia. Hopefully, he will do so soon, and, with it, work to protect human life. Hopefully, he will work to protect religious liberty even if he has no desire to overturn Obergefell v. Hodges.

This isn’t my only concern. On the day of his inauguration, President Trump signed an executive order which shows that he is serious about dismantling the Affordable Care Act. I do know that there are people who have benefitted greatly from having obtained coverage. I also think that having an insurance marketplace is a good idea. My concern is not so much about the law being repealed. It’s that the law will be repealed without something better to replace it. Mr. Trump sure seems to be in a hurry to dismantle it. This would leave people who do benefit without access to care, and that is not acceptable!

With that being said, I strongly believe that Obamacare will fail in the long run if left standing. We are already seeing premium increases and insurance companies exiting the markets because they were losing money. Eventually, it will become costly enough that it will no longer be affordable for anyone. Deductibles are also quite high, and this is a problem even for people with employer-based plans. I have heard a number of stories of people who have insurance struggling to get health care or having to choose between health care and other necessities because their deductibles are too high. Add to this the draconian contraceptive coverage mandate that would make it impossible for a Catholic like me to own a business and provide health insurance for employees. The fines for not providing free contraceptives were crippling and were many times higher than the fines for not providing coverage at all. We do need something better, and I hope we get it and not just a repeal. For the record, though, I believe that a single-payer program would be a disaster in this country.

Another concern that I have is how well he will handle immigration. I believe that the statements that he is racist, xenophobic, or even fascist are an exaggeration. I also don’t see anything wrong with building a wall to secure our border (though no one should expect Mexico to pay for it). However, those who are here should be treated with compassion, even if here illegally. Many are escaping a bad situation, and this needs to be considered. The way legal immigration is handled could use some work, too.

I could name other issues as well that I hope are not brushed aside. Knowing many of the comments be made, we have to wonder if he will get our country in big trouble. Regardless of what you think about the “women’s march” that is going on, I hope that you realize that his previous comments about women completely unacceptable. When confronted, I would rather he would have at least said that they don’t represent who he is today rather than having dismissed them as “locker room talk.” Even if he had, there would still be cause for concern.

All of this is written to remind everyone who supported Trump (or at least didn’t support Clinton) that legitimate issues exist. We can’t just ignore them and think everything will be ok. We can’t just declare victory even though one threat has been stopped. It’s time to keep praying. Pray for our president and our country!

Category: Uncategorized


Just Say Merry Christmas

  /   Friday, December 23, 2016   /   Comments(0)

When I was in kindergarten, way back in 1980, our teacher had us all make a Christmas card for a craft. She told us that we could choose to write either “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” on the card. That was probably the first time I had heard the phrase “Happy Holidays.” It seemed strange to me then as a young child who hadn’t even been baptized at the time. It still seems strange to me now.

I don’t want to make some huge drama of it every time someone says “Happy Holidays.” I’ll have nothing to do with the ridiculous Starbucks cup controversy from last year. However, I am aware that many people, including devout Christians, don’t seem to think it matters at all. Truthfully, many people may just be saying what rolls off their tongue and not really thinking about it. The thing is that we really do need to think about it.

I’d go so far to say that anyone who is really offended by being wished a “Merry Christmas” is probably someone whom I would term a “professional offendee.” That’s the term I use to describe anyone who finds offensiveness to some group in way too many aspects of human speech (or in things like naming a sports team the “Braves”). Really, how I am going to react if someone tells me to have a Happy Hanukkah or Kwanzaa? I celebrate neither, but I think getting upset about it would be a waste of my energy. It wouldn’t do me much good anyway. It seems that the move towards “inclusiveness” really means anything but Christianity. Did anyone hear about the suggestion from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville last year to make sure that holiday parties are not “Christmas parties but in disguise?”. I dare them to say that about a Hindu festival!

With that, I get into the precise problem. The “War on Christmas,” isn’t about people saying Happy Holidays. It’s rather more concerned with the ridiculous aversion that some have to mentioning Christmas or of specifically celebrating Christmas. A number of businesses who darn well know they are making great profits from the sales of Christmas gifts act as though they think we are just celebrating Generic Winter Holiday. You can see this list from the American Family Association. One street that I drive by frequently advertises “Holiday Trees.” What else are those being used for at this time of year? In a job I held, part of our orientation was a diversity class where we were to discuss how to plan an inoffensive “holiday” party. We had to have it in November so that it wouldn’t look like a Christmas party. Oh, the horrors of our party looking like a named holiday that even many non-Christians celebrate!

We who are Christians should not be ashamed to mention that we are celebrating the birth of Christ. Just as the winter solstice has passed and days are just starting to get longer, we celebrate the Light of the World coming to us. We need not be afraid to simple say “Merry Christmas” to those whom we see. We have something known and very real to celebrate.

So, to all who are reading, I wish you a Merry and Blessed Christmas!

Category: Catholic, Response, Uncategorized


An Important Part of Preparing the Way

  /   Saturday, December 10, 2016   /   Comments(0)

I’m writing this here in the Second Week of Advent. The reading from this past Sunday was about St. John the Baptist. He tells us to prepare the way of the Lord in a very certain way – by repenting of our sins. On Monday, the Gospel was about the man whose friends came through the roof of a house to bring him to Jesus, and the first thing that Jesus did, before healing him physically, was to forgive his sins. On Tuesday, he Gospel reading was about how there is more rejoicing in Heaven over one repentant sinner than over 99 who have no need of repentance. Jesus said he did not want anyone to be lost. On Wednesday, Jesus told us to come to him and rest because his home is easy and his burden light.

In a world where many seem to think that the whole Gospel can be summed up by being completely nonjudgmental, talking about sin isn’t fashionable. However, sin is a real obstacle to being close to God. When we sin, we go against our very purpose in life and offend the one who is holding us in existence. It is a really heavy burden to carry. The good news is that God really wants to forgive our sins, not because they are no big deal. They are a huge deal. God wants to forgive because his love is great. I want to suggest that this Advent, in order to prepare the way of the Lord in our hearts, we need to go to Confession!

So you say … “I’ve done something that I could never tell to the priest.” Well, remember that the priest is there to represent Jesus and to forgive you in his name. Jesus already knows your sin. The priest is there to help bring to you the love and mercy of God in a tangible way. What seems like a big embarrassment to you is probably something he has dealt with many times, and he will be grateful for your courage in acknowledging what you have done so that he can bring you God’s mercy. Having to acknowledge the sin you committed can help you to see what love and mercy God is showing you and to love him in return.

So you say … “I keep confessing the same sins over and over again.” If that’s the case, then please don’t be discouraged. Would you rather be committing new and different sins all the time? Often times we do have things we struggle with for a long time and need to keep trying. Keep fighting the good fight. If you fail, hurry back to God and try again. The Sacrament will give you the grace to carry on the struggle, but do struggle against your sins. Never accept your sins as things that are just a part of you. Resolve to never commit them again, and if you do, know that God is full of mercy and compassion.

So you say … “I would only be confessing out of fear of Hell.” It turns out that if your motivation for being sorry for sin is fear of Hell, that is sufficient to receive forgiveness through the Sacrament. It’s actually called imperfect contrition or attrition. You can think of it as a good starting point, but of course, you want to grow into being sorry out of love for God. It may be that knowing that God loves you and has forgiven you is what will help you learn to truly detest having offended a good and loving God.

So you say … “I am not sorry for my sins.” Well, you may have me there, but first let me be sure. Being sorry for sin is first and foremost an act of the will. You choose to repent. This means that you can choose to be sorry for your sins even if you don’t feel the sorrow. Maybe your sorrow is weak, but it is there. The grace of God is at work, and so is his forgiveness. Just meditate on how much he loved and forgave you, and it can help bring you to a deeper sorrow.

However, if you are really not sorry for a mortal sin, then don’t go to Confession. The absolution won’t work, and you will commit a sacrilege. This has the effect of making you a worse sinner than you were before you entered the Confessional. However, let me remind you that only God can bring you true happiness in this life and the next. You may think you are enjoying the pleasure of your sin, but in fact it is placing a major obstacle between you and the source of your ultimate happiness and fulfillment. This obstacle, if not removed, will separate you from him for all eternity. Why remain there a moment longer? Be sorry for your sin, and turn back to God. Prepare the way for him to be in your heart.

Category: Catholic, Doctrine, Spirituality, Uncategorized


Please Don’t Say This When I Die

  /   Sunday, November 06, 2016   /   Comments(0)

Death is never a pleasant subject. It was not part of God’s original plan for the human race, but it came into the world because of the sin of our first parents. When someone dies, it’s only natural to look to give or receive some consolation in light of this terrible reality. However, I don’t believe in trying to give comfort by compromising the truth.

November is the month of remembrance for the faithful departed in the Catholic Church. The first day is All Saints’ Day. The second day is All Souls’ Day. Often times, when someone dies, people say “He is not suffering anymore.” or “He is at peace.” This is especially tempting when a loved one has suffered a long illness. I ask that you please do not say these things if you are still here and learn of my death or are at my funeral. You may be doing me a great disservice.

I’d be afraid to meet someone who would not hope that I would be saved and be with Our Lord. It is a real possibility that I might not be. If that’s the case there is nothing you can do. However, the best thing to do is hope for the salvation of those who have left this world but realize that they may have to undergo their final purification in Purgatory before being admitted to Heaven. In fact, the primary purpose of a funeral Mass is to offer the Eucharist for the soul of the departed.

The souls in Purgatory are in fact suffering more than the worst suffering in earth. The magnitude of all sins committed and graces spurned by them is seen very clearly at this point. However, the Church teaches us that the purifying fire is altogether different from the punishment of the damned. In fact, such souls, though suffering, will never experience the punishment of the damned. Once a soul is in Purgatory, he or she has avoided Hell forever. There is nowhere to go from there but to Heaven. This is why we refer to the souls in Purgatory as holy souls.

Although I would love to be one of the souls who can go directly to Heaven, there’s a good chance I will need your prayers and other offerings for my soul. Your other departed friends and family will appreciate the same. It will mean far more to them than merely trying to comfort yourself with thoughts or statements that they are not suffering. It will mean more to you, too. After all, do you think that those whom you helped will forget you once they reach Heaven (or even before)? No way! You will have gained a grateful and powerful intercession for yourself before Our Lord. So, take the opportunity to pray for the faithful departed, and help them to reach the place where there truly is no more suffering and no more tears.

Category: Cathechesis, Doctrine, Spirituality, Uncategorized


Lunch Break: How Can We Know

  /   Monday, May 26, 2014   /   Comments(0)

I have posted another Lunch Break edition of my podcast.

Get it here.

This is the second part of my short talks on how God can be known. We cannot scientifically prove the things of God, but neither can we scientifically prove that all knowledge can be proven by science. We can know who God is through revelation and history. The third and final talk in this series will be posted hopefully next week.

Category: Uncategorized


Two Months Later, on the Droid

  /   Wednesday, June 23, 2010   /   Comments(0)

I posted my review of the Droid here a couple of months ago, and now my use of the Droid has expanded a lot.  I’m actually amazed at what I have found for the Android operating system and what has been made available in the last couple of months.  Android is becoming a formidable competitor to the iPhone.  I’m not so much interested in it being an iPhone killer as I am having the competition help each other to be better.

I’ve gotten into the world of streaming audio with Pandora.  Unfortunately, it’s a battery hog that I can’t use for long without plugging in the phone.  Still, it works great over 3G.  Just recently, there has been an application for Sirius/XM Radio.  Now, I have my EWTN radio on the go!  If you are an XM subscriber, you’ll need to look on the Sirius XM site to get the app.  It will work for XM just as well as I no longer have my Sirius subscription.  I had been waiting for this app for as long as I’ve had my phone, especially since there has been an iPhone app available for some time.

On another note, one of my concerns about switching to Android is that my pharmacist references wouldn’t be available.  Thankfully, this wasn’t an issue.  You can get ePocrates from the Android market, but it is in beta and isn’t receiving clinical updates according to the company.  The folks at Lexi were nice enough to move my subscription from a Palm version to the Android version without charging me. They didn’t have the Lexi Calc clinical calculations at first, but they have since added them.

Now, the only thing that is missing is a program like Pocket Quicken.  As I blogged earlier, Intuit, in what has to be my least favorite business decision of 2010, discontinued it.  No, the handheld version of Mint is not an acceptable substitute.  I want something I can update and reconcile with bank records.  I have yet to see an equivalent competitor to Quicken produce an Android version either.

Android is growing by leaps and bounds, and I am ready to see what comes next.

Category: Uncategorized


Struck by Lightning

  /   Monday, June 21, 2010   /   Comments(0)

My wife and I would see the large statue of Jesus known as “Touchdown Jesus” when we drove between Dayton and Cincinnati.  Sad to say, it was struck by lightning and burned.  Here’s another article.  I hope they rebuild it because I liked seeing it on the road side. 

Just before our first date, my wife sent me this picture showing the statue being just right to be part of the Ohio State cheer.  I must admit I missed it the first time I drove through.  Oh well, I saw it later.

Category: Uncategorized


We Have Been Waiting Forever

  /   Friday, January 08, 2010   /   Comment(1)

Despite not getting to blog much, I haven’t lived under a cave when it comes to following what is happening in the Church. With that being said, I just can’t wait for the new translation of the Mass and wish they would implement it right away. The language is just so much better than what we have now.

Unfortunately, I am well aware that not everyone shares my enthusiasm. There’s a campaign going on named What If We Just Said Wait that is gathering signatures on a petition. It makes no sense to me; we have been waiting for years. By the way, you can sign a counter-petition here. The donation is optional; your signature will have been recorded as soon as you leave the petition page.

Truthfully, there probably will be some kind of backlash of varying degrees when this is promulgated. One argument, which I believe to be a very poor one, is that the new translation doesn’t reflect the way we normally speak. My own view on this argument can be found on this post from 2005. And to think, the waiting had been going on for years at the time of this post.

However, the real problem that we are likely to encounter is simply ignorance of what the Mass really is and, for that matter, an ignorance of worship in general. In his last encyclical, Pope John Paul II mentioned that abuses occurred in which the Eucharist is celebrated as though it were merely a “fraternal banquet” (see paragraph 10 in this link).Vatican II called for liturgical instruction (see paragraphs 14 and 19 on this link) to enable the faithful to participate fully in the Mass, but this has never been realized. I have found that it is more difficult to find solid cathechetical material on liturgy than on any other topic. I recommend Jeffrey Pinyan’s Praying the Mass.

Our worship is not a matter of our own expression. It is a response to the command of Christ to “Do this in memory of me.” There is something in particular that we are a part of when we are at Mass. This must be brought forth in the words we use. If we do not convey the proper, accurate meaning to what we are doing, then we are not doing what Christ commanded but are doing something else. Unfortunately, in our world today, the “Dictatorship of Relativism,” spoken by Cardinal Ratzinger not long before he became Pope Benedict XVI, has taken hold of our worship just as it has morality. By providing us with a more literal translation, the Church is helping us to better understand what we are doing. The reason it may be shocking to people is because we never were taught the truth about what we were doing in the first place.

In fact, where is the needed catechesis now? The backlash regarding the new translation could easily be lessened by solid catechesis by people whose hearts and minds are with the Church. I hope we are seeing it soon.

Category: Posts imported from Danger! Falling Brainwaves, Uncategorized


            Older posts



David's Pages

RSS Feed
Atom Feed

Archives