Faith-based groups outdoing the feds: Rector aids storm cleanup

Home News Tribune JOHN MAJESKI

Says faith-based groups outdoing the feds

SOUTH RIVER – It’s been said that any form of devastation or violence seen on television can never fully prepare a person for witnessing the real thing.

Recently back from the Hurricane Katrina-ravaged Gulf Coast, the Rev. David F. Garretson knows this to be true.

“It had a sense of unrealness,” Garretson said of the landscape in and around Biloxi, Miss., where he spent more than a week coordinating relief efforts with International Orthodox Christian Charities. “I’ve never seen anything like that. It looked like the set of a sci-fi movie.

“The people were the walking wounded,” he added.

Garretson, rector of Saints Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church on Whitehead Avenue, was flown to Mobile, Ala., on Sept. 8 with the Rev. David Kossey of Manhattan. Garretson said his services had been requested by IOCC because he had received disaster training following 9/11. He arrived home two days ago.
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First fight yourself, then society Dennis Prager

When my older son was about 8 years old, I was putting him to bed one night and asked him what he learned that day in school. Normally he would answer, as nearly all boys do, by saying, “Nothing.” But that night he had an answer.

“I learned I have a yetzer hara,” he told me. As a student at a religious Jewish school, he was using the Hebrew term for the desire to do what is wrong. It is basic Jewish theology that the human being has two innate drives — one for good and one for bad — and that life is a constant battle with the bad drive. While Christian theology uses different terms, such as “sinful nature,” both traditions believe that the greatest battle for a better world is usually with oneself.

This is another significant way in which the Judeo-Christian value system differs from the dominant value system — that of the Left — in the contemporary West. Whether the ideology calls itself radical, leftist or liberal, its primary emphasis is on “social justice,” i.e., making society more just. Now, of course, Judeo-Christian values also seek to create a just society. Any system rooted in the Old Testament prophets and teachings of Jesus is going to be preoccupied with how to make a just society.

The differences lie elsewhere. There are two major ones.

The first is that the Left frequently defines “social justice” differently than Judeo-Christian values do. For most on the Left, “social justice” means social equality and social fairness. It is not fair that some people have more than others. This is why the Left believes that courts should be far more than umpires when adjudicating justice: they should be promoting fairness and equality.

The other difference, the focus of this column, is that leftist ideologies are so preoccupied with “social justice” that they generally ignore personal character development.

Judeo-Christian values believe the road to a just society is paved by individual character development; the Left believes it is paved with action on a macro level.

That is one reason the Left is far more interested than the Right, i.e., religious Jews and Christians and secular conservatives, in passing laws, whether through legislation or through the actions of judges. That is how the Left believes you make a better society. There is, incidentally, a second reason the Left passes so many laws: As the Left breaks down the self-discipline of Judeo-Christian religions, more and more laws are needed simply to keep people from devouring each other.

That the Left is more concerned with social change than individual change and the Right is more concerned with individual than social activism can be seen in many areas.

Many parents, for example, measure their child’s character by the child’s social activism, not by his or her behavior toward fellow students. If the child has walked for AIDS, or marched for breast cancer, or works on “environmental issues,” the child is deemed — and the child deems himself — a fine person. That he or she might mistreat less popular kids in class is not considered.

There are, of course, religious Jews and Christians who do not lead decent lives and there are leftists who do. But leftist ideals, being overwhelmingly macro, will always be more appealing to the less decent who want to feel good about themselves. That helps explain those Hollywood celebrities who lead narcissistic, hedonistic personal lives but nevertheless feel very good about themselves by raising money for “peace” or by demonstrating against global warming.

I first became aware of this vast discrepancy between “social activism” and personal ethical behavior when I saw the personal behavior of the “pro-peace,” anti-war, activists at my graduate school (Columbia University) in the early 1970s. They demonstrated for world peace but led personally narcissistic lives. Their theoretical altruism was all macro. Meanwhile, most of the religious students were preoccupied with personal character issues.

Why? Because Judeo-Christian values have always understood that the world is made better by making people better. On occasion, of course, a great moral cause must be joined. For example, it was religious Christians who led the fight to abolish slavery in Europe and America. But in general, the way to a better society is through the laborious and completely non-glamorous project of making each person more honest, more courageous, more decent, more likely to commit to another person in marriage, more likely to devote more time to raising children, and so on.

That is why all those peace studies institutes and courses are morally meaningless. Only by people learning to fight their yetzer hara will peace reign on earth.


The Virtues of Virtue

Signs of moral renewal?

New York Times (Free registration required) DAVID BROOKS August 7, 2005

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the rate of family violence in this country has dropped by more than half since 1993. I’ve been trying to figure out why.

A lot of the credit has to go to the people who have been quietly working in this field: to social workers who provide victims with counseling and support; to women’s crisis centers, which help women trapped in violent relationships find other places to live; to police forces and prosecutors, who are arresting more spouse-beaters and putting them away.

The Violence Against Women Act, which was passed in 1994, must have also played a role, focusing federal money and attention.

But all of these efforts are part of a larger story. The decline in family violence is part of a whole web of positive, mutually reinforcing social trends. To put it in old-fashioned terms, America is becoming more virtuous. Americans today hurt each other less than they did 13 years ago. They are more likely to resist selfish and shortsighted impulses. They are leading more responsible, more organized lives. A result is an improvement in social order across a range of behaviors.


Moral police have been disarmed

The Daily Telegraph

After a lengthy investigation into criminal behaviour among young people, the committee reached the following conclusions: the main causes were the “improper conduct of parents”, the “want of education” and the “want of suitable employment”. Moral guidance and civilised order were seen as the remedies.

Sound familiar? This was the opinion of a report from the Society for Investigating the Causes of the Alarming Increase of Juvenile Delinquency in the Metropolis, established in 1815, just after the end of the Napoleonic Wars. The circumstances then, of course, were very different. When a police chief spoke recently of gangs of “feral” children in our towns and cities, his grasp of history was somewhat tenuous. In the 19th century, some children were literally feral, wild and untamed, with no family to return to, no social workers to look after them, no welfare state to provide for them.


A culture awash in porn

Town Hall Rebecca Hagelin April 29, 2005

“Porn is just another form of entertainment now.”

The speaker, an 18-year-old concession-stand worker named Ben Meredith, was explaining to a Los Angeles Times reporter why virtually no young people were trying to get in to see “Inside Deep Throat” at an Orange County, Calif., theater.

Given the rating (NC-17) and the subject matter (the making of the notorious 1972 movie “Deep Throat”) one might expect to find some curious teens infiltrating the theater — or at least trying to. Instead, the Times reporter writes, the audience was “overwhelmingly middle-age” and “not a young person was in sight.”

Which didn’t surprise Ben, a freshman at the University of California-Irvine. “I mean, porn is really easy to get now. It’s like, who cares?”


You won’t read it in the papers

Town Hall Mona Charen April 29, 2005

Last month, the leading lights of journalism reported (with a trace of smugness) the results of a study showing that adolescents who took a pledge of sexual abstinence were almost as likely as those who took no pledges to contract sexually transmitted diseases.

The Washington Post noted that the report “sparked an immediate, bitter debate over the wisdom of teaching premarital abstinence.” Bill Smith, vice president of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, crowed, “Not only do virginity pledges not work to keep our young people safe, they are causing harm by undermining condom use, contraception and medical treatment.”
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Sexual indoctrination of children

Boston Globe
Arrested father had point to make. Disputed school’s lesson on diversity

CONCORD — For David Parker, the first alarm went off in January, when his 5-year-old son came home from his kindergarten class at Lexington’s Joseph Estabrook School with a bag of books promoting diversity.

Inside were books about foreign cultures and traditions, along with food recipes. There was also a copy of ”Who’s In a Family?” by Robert Skutch, which depicts different kinds of families, including same-sex couples raising children.

The book’s contents concerned Parker and prompted him to begin a series of e-mail exchanges with school officials on the subject that culminated in a meeting Wednesday night with Estabrook’s principal and district director of instruction. The meeting ended with Parker’s arrest after he refused to leave the school, and the Lexington man spent the night in jail.


Silenced priest warns of gay crisis

If this is true the Catholic Chuch is in grave trouble.

Starting today, 290 of the nation’s Catholic bishops will meet at the Capitol Hyatt for their yearly business meeting and to tie up loose ends on the massive sexual-abuse crisis that has shaken the U.S. Catholic Church to its core in the past two years.

Although it’s been less than a year since the church revealed that there were 10,667 cases of abuse committed by 4,392 priests in a 50-year period, the message at the meeting will be that the crisis is under control.

Read the entire article on the Washinton Times website.


Reader comments on my review of “Epidemic: Teen Sex is Killing our Kids”

I was doing some research and came across your review of Meg Meeker’s Epidemic: Teen Sex Is Killing Our Kids. Your advice to parents that they “should listen to the music their children hear, watch the same television shows, read the same magazines, and rent the same movies” is essential.

I would add one more thing. READ THE BOOKS YOUR TEEN IS CHECKING OUT OF THE PUBLIC AND SCHOOL LIBRARIES. The number of books classified as “young adult” that are filled with explicit sexual descriptions of oral sex, homosexual sex, sex between teens and adults, sex between children, lewd and vulgar language, profanity, sexual violence, etc. is staggering. There are two websites that are detailing some of this information for parents: and We need to get the word out. Thanks.


Stability for Tragic Kosovo

By Paul M. Weyrich Commentary

Many Americans’ view of Kosovo — if they have one at all — is shaped by the tragic stories they see on CNN.

Some may even remember that our country, as part of NATO, participated in bombings there in 1999 to protect Albanian refugees as part of a war that lasted for over two months. Most Americans pay Kosovo little mind, viewing it to be the staging ground of a conflict that holds no important consequence for the United States.
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From Touchstone Blog – Fr. Robert Hart
One sample paragraph:

Responding to a pro-life Kerry voter:

On the other hand, she may just be an old fashioned Maryland voter, the type who enters the voting booth in the spirit of the three monkeys who stopped ears, eyes, and mouth, saying “see no evil”, “hear no evil”, “speak no evil.” Mr. Kerry has already told us that he will only appoint as federal judges and Supreme Court justices, people who “will protect a woman’s right to choose,” meaning that a pro-abortion prejudice is going to be his litmus test. He would probably be able to appoint at least four Supreme Court justices, enough to seal the fate of unborn children for several more decades. The ban on Partial Birth Abortion would be dead, and Roe vs. Wade could never be challenged. Furthermore, we could expect such a Supreme Court to uphold every anti-life ruling some judge might hand down in the lower courts, defeating every legislative effort to prevent tax money for paying for these abominable procedures, or to in any way lessen the number of abortions.


Is the Church “Too Political?”

Fr. Frank Pavone (Roman Catholic)
National Director, Priests for Life

Like many Catholics, I’ve been troubled for years at the fear that is so prevalent within the Church about addressing matters of politics. I am very familiar with the legal limitations that the Church chooses to accept under IRS and FEC regulations. But the fear I refer to takes matters further than the government ever dares to take them. This fear literally paralyzes perfectly legitimate activity.

What activity, you ask? Take, for example, the internal legal directive that was sent out a few months ago to dioceses around the country, telling them not to quote the President of the United States speaking about the “Culture of Life,” because after all, this might be interpreted as support for his re-election.
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