Sunday, July 26, 2015

Do you see the emperor's frocks?

Gay unions and the tale of the emperor's invisible clothes

Almost two centuries ago, Hans Christian Andersen wrote a short tale about a very vain emperor who hired two tailors, who were in fact swindlers, to make him new clothes. The two promised to make for him the finest suits made of special fabric. They told him the cloth they would use would be invisible to those who were not worthy of their position and to those who were stupid. The emperor’s ministers could not see any cloth but they feared saying so, lest they be deemed unworthy of their position or be considered stupid. Finally, the swindlers pretended to put on the new clothes on the emperor who also pretended that he saw the cloth, lest he be deemed unworthy of being emperor. As he paraded down the streets, a child from the crowd, who was too young and simple to keep up with any pretense, cried out: But he does not have any clothes!

After two centuries, it seems to me that this story is being repeated with the issue on “gay marriage.” This time I would seem to be the child who simply cries out what he sees.
My initial observation about the debates surrounding this issue is that anyone who declares his opinion against gay marriage is right away labeled a bigot. This term is understood as a person who obstinately sticks to his own opinions and is intolerant of other contrary opinions. Another label attached to those who disagree with gay marriage (and the gender ideology accepted and promoted by the LGBT groups) is “homophobic.” This term is understood to refer to an attitude that includes hatred, antipathy, contempt, prejudice and rejection of the persons who practice the lifestyle of the LGBT ideology.
It may happen that because people do not want to be called bigots or homophobic, they are moved to support the LGBT lifestyle and gay marriage. But why the pretense? Why pretend that gay “marriage” is marriage when it really is not?
Now, having said that, I might be labeled by the LGBT groups as a bigot and homophobic. But am I?

If by bigot we mean one who obstinately sticks to his own opinion and is intolerant of others’, I would say the issue at hand here is not a matter of opinion but a matter of scientific truth or fact. That the emperor in the tale was naked was not a matter of opinion but of fact. That marriage is between a man and a woman for the purpose of having children and establishing a family is also a fact, a given of nature. I’m just sticking to the facts. Of course, people can deny the facts or can invent their own. But doing so does not change the truth. Now following our definition, could it be that the LGBT ideologists are the real bigots?

If by homophobic we mean one who hates or has antipathies toward the LGBTs, I have to say I do not have such feelings or demeanor. As a priest I have always welcomed them with open arms.

The adjective “homo” has two meanings. One is from the Greek word that means “similar”; and so homosexual means same sex. The other is from Latin, and it means “man.” Using this latter meaning, could it be that the LGBT ideology is really homophobic, that is one that shuns or rejects the true nature of man?

Just like Pope Francis, I do not judge the persons who follow and practice the LGBT ideology. Who am I to judge, he said? What I condemn is the error and the tyranny of that ideology. Gay marriage is not marriage. And like the little child in the tale who cried out that the emperor was naked, I must say, homosexual acts are shameful.

- Fr. Cecilio Magsino
Philippine Daily Inquirer / July 17, 2015

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The circle of life beyond Mufasa's words to Simba

There's a place for everyone under the sun -- that much I have accepted. Each of us has a role to play, each of us has the freedom to realize our potential, to pursue our dreams, to make the world better. One day, however, I was wondering what could possibly be the role of ants in the grand scheme of things. Why in the world did God create ants? They are indeed amazing creatures as anyone who observes their behavior can arrive at. Systematic, hardworking, can even lift and carry around things that are bigger than them -- who wouldn't find them fascinating? It's no wonder these tiny creatures are the stuff of inspirational anecdotes. I'll admit, though, that at the time the "why-on-earth-did-God-make-ants?" question, admiration was not what I was feeling for the tiny ones. They were annoying, always quick to appear only moments after bread crumbs dropped on the dining table or a drop of gravy spilled near the kitchen sink. There they were, arriving in single file and circling the potential loot, then minutes later it was like an entire battalion had gotten wind of the news and was ready for battle or whatever it was they were programmed by nature to carry out.

Some friends have wondered out loud, too, what could possibly be the reason for cockroaches' existence. Well, to this I have no answer and I don't exactly spend time thinking about it. But after watching the short video below, I have no doubt that God -- in his infinite wisdom and goodness -- created these seemingly useless creatures with a clear purpose in mind. They, too, have a place under the sun, and I will probably understand the big picture only when all is revealed at the end of time. Meanwhile, the following shall suffice in putting in the proper perspective the workings of the natural world:

Ending her gay relationship: A woman shares her story

In a previous post I had shared the testimonies of four men who were, at one time or another, in homosexual relationships. They eventually decided to break free from those relationships and live as God had intended them to. Based on their accounts, their love for God proved to be more than their love for their partners and for the lifestyle they hung on to for so long.

As I read their stories, I wondered -- as I had done several times before -- where the stories were of women getting out of same-sex relationships. It was more common to come across news and features of gay men who talked about their journey. And then I stumbled on this:

If you want to read yet another diatribe that’s “pro-gay” or “anti-gay,” then this article isn’t for you. We’ve all had quite enough of those anyway, haven’t we?
I just want to tell a little of my story, with the hope that maybe someone out there will hear me differently than so many of the aforementioned sound bites circulating right now. Warning: You may not like the way my story turns out. You may feel sorry for me, or even be angry with me. You may feel flustered that my story doesn’t fit nicely into a theological box that you would like to keep nice and tidy. You may hate the advice I have to give, but please know that what I share is coming from a place of love and concern. Prayerfully, I’ll even encourage someone out there.
So…here it goes.

I am a Christian, one who believes that what the Bible says about sexuality is of great importance. I’m also someone who was in a same-sex relationship for many years, even as I claimed Christ. For a long time these were the two things that defined me.
There are lots of us out there actually, even in the most conservative of churches. Most often we don’t talk about it, but today I will, because I want you to know that there is a story contrary to the one heard on repeat in the media every day.
It was during college when I met the person who would quickly become my best friend, someone I would eventually consider something more akin to a soul mate. It took a couple of years, but eventually the emotional closeness we shared gave way to a physical intimacy.
To make a long, long story short: I was terrified about what was happening, but I also loved it. As our familiarity and affection toward one another grew, a coldness and distance was developing between God and me. Because of this, I tried many times to fight against it, but was unwilling to cut off the friendship, so I just carried on, the depth of our relationship kept hidden from the outside world, even as we actively pursued ministry together. We lived together for years until the Lord painfully pulled our lives apart.
Oh and friends, did I mention that I LOVED her? It wasn’t a “butterflies in the stomach” kind of love. It was a ‘You are my person” kind of love. The, “Whatever life throws at us, I want it to be with you,” kind of love. And life threw a lot at us. I would have gladly spent every minute of the rest of my days with her. I loved her certainly no less than someone loves their spouse. We had shared 8 years of friendship as well as the same home and the same pets (read: children). We had worked together, gone to school together, eaten all our meals together, traveled the world together, and shared all our deepest thoughts with each other.
So I know what it’s like to truly love someone and be frustrated that if only one of you was a different gender it would all be ok. I know what it’s like to genuinely love Jesus and want to serve Him, and yet, to feel this other undeniable pull; this thing that says, “You’re different.” I get it: the unwanted attraction you sense when you were just minding your own business, or the discouragement you feel when you think that because you’re too butch or too effeminate, no one of the opposite sex would find you attractive even if you wanted them to.
I so desperately wanted it to be ok. I wanted the Bible to say it was ok, so I looked for those who argued that it did. I read articles and books about the Greek being mistranslated and passages being taken out of context, but as much as I wanted them to be the answer, I knew enough about how to read my Bible on its own grounds that I was hard to convince.

Full story

Friday, July 24, 2015

Going with the flow, no questions asked

"It troubles me that we are so easily pressured by purveyors of technology into permitting so-called 'progress' to alter our lives without attempting to control it—as if technology were an irrepressible force of nature to which we must meekly submit." 

- Hyman G. Rickover (1900-1986), United States Naval Admiral / "Father of the Nuclear Navy" 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Helping abortion workers find freedom

There is something grim about praying for people who commit grave harm on others -- not the kind that involves mentioning them and their rehabilitation and then that's it (though a sincere prayer said this way of course gains merit as well in the eyes of God). I'm talking about keeping them in mind for an extended period of time, just like I did for the second time several days ago.

It was a day or two after news of the cash-for-baby-organs being carried out by Planned Parenthood broke out that I decided that my rosary for the day would be offered for everyone involved in that organization -- current and past. So for nearly 30 minutes, my heart and mind were fixed on the scenes from the Gospel, praying the prayers to please the Lord, and doing it all for abortion providers. It had quite a sobering effect.

I recalled the first time I did a similar thing -- it was around 2008 or 2009 and my co-worker Petrufied and I decided to participate in the Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity in our own way. It was an annual event carried out in schools across the US and a few other countries whereby students keep silent the entire day and hand out materials  that express their life-affirming values and explain why abortion is wrong. Most of the participants put adhesive tape over their mouth with the word LIFE written on the tape. We didn't do it that way but I remember Petrufied wore a bright red and black bandanna around her wrist like a cuff (I don't remember what symbol I used, though).

On that day when I prayed the rosary, my sole intention was all abortionists out there. It sure felt strange offering prayers for people whom you knew killed babies regularly and for a living, but since they were committing such atrocious acts, I did my best to pray with as much attentiveness, love, and spirit of penance as I could.

It's easy to regard abortion workers as "the bad guys" because let's face it -- no matter how one twists and turns the issue to make abortion look like a necessity or a noble service for women or a selfless thing to do or the saving grace of poor women, it is basically the killing of a human being. In fact, it is considered a failure when the baby survives. Imagine calling something a success when the growing baby inside his/her mother's womb dies as a result of the procedure.

I just had a thought: if an abortion doctor or anyone who assists in abortions happens to be reading this, I assure you that hope is something you will get out of this, so let me get right to what I had set on sharing when I started this post. Abby Johnson, a former director of a Planned Parenthood facility in Texas, left the industry several years ago, but her journey didn't end there. She had the abortion clinic workers in mind when she put up And Then There Were None, a non-profit organization that helps clinic workers leave the abortion industry. More than 100 workers have broken free of the industry since And Then There Were None opened its doors so far. There really is hope. Have a look:

And Then There Were None website

And Then There Were None Facebook page

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Superheroes get acquainted with pop culture

Thor's gung-ho disposition -- so charming :-)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Does Planned Parenthood offer discounts on fetal parts bought in bulk?

Who knows if such an inquiry would one day be brought up by some company or shady characters in the black market when Planned Parenthood makes an underground "Up for grabs! Healthy heart-and-lungs package from 24-week-old, and freshly harvested fully developed liver!" announcement?!

The latest news regarding Planned Parenthood is revolting, but it is only the latest of a string of practices that worsen already serious societal ills and which glaringly show why Planned Parenthood deserves to be shut down. The recently disclosed evidence showing the abortion provider's trafficking of fetal organs shouldn't distract us from the fact that it is still responsible for the death of more than 300,000 human lives every year.

And just in case you have allowed some people's dazzling arguments to convince you so that a part of you doubts the humanity of babies in their mother's womb, it's really simple:

This and this are worthy reads to bring you up to speed and help you form your own judgment on the issue. And more developments on the investigations to be conducted by the U.S. House of Representatives and five states (as of this writing) are here.

The 12-year-old 'angel' of Guatemala

The 'angel' of Guatemala: 12-year-old chooses death over gang violence

.- When 12-year-old Ángel Ariel Escalante Pérez was confronted by gang members demanding that he kill a bus driver in Guatemala, he said no.

It turned out to [be] a life or death decision.

The gang members threatened to kill Angel if he did not murder the bus driver. He refused to do so and was thrown off a bridge.

Angel was found in critical condition on June 18, around 1 p.m. He was discovered below the Belice bridge in Guatemala City by a group of neighbors from the Jesús de la Buena Esperanza (Jesus of Good Hope) settlement.

Full story

When "based on a true story" spells the difference

A scene from the 2012 movie "Argo"

I only recently watched the movie "Argo" and though I had known the plot, I had forgotten how the story ends. (In case you're unfamiliar with the movie, a synopsis and some quick facts are here, and this sheds some light on the accuracy of the story on which the 2012 film is based.)

It was not the first time that I viewed a movie with no knowledge of how the story ends, but I don't recall any other movie-watching experience that had me feeling prolonged tension as much as "Argo" did (except for "The Passion of the Christ," but that is a different matter altogether). Why? Probably because while I watched, I knew that the events -- at least the general scenario -- happened in real life, and that spells the difference. Take, for instance, "World War Z," which I happened to come across on HBO one night right before the movie started. I knew nothing about it; I only recalled hearing the title somewhere. I watched with interest... oh, Brad Pitt is here. And then bizarre things started happening.... and then grotesque creatures started appearing. Zombies? This is a zombie movie? I said to myself, amused.

But I continued watching, and watched with interest till the end. Curiosity, I think, kept me glued -- I wanted to know how the story would end, and starting the viewing with a blank slate made a significant difference.

It was nearly with zero knowledge that I started watching "Vantage Point" years ago. After seeing a trailer on TV, my interest was piqued enough to want to see the whole thing. The trailer also afforded me a glimpse of the film without it being coherent enough to let me put the pieces together and predict outcomes of important scenes. Thanks to the flashback-type of narrative, the actual sequence of events came out jumbled up, thereby keeping me from making any sense of the scenes before getting to watch the film.

And then there's "Escape Plan," another movie that I just happened to come across while channel-flipping one night. I missed the opening credits so if the big stars' names rolled, I didn't see them. Which is why after watching Sylvester Stallone do his usual tough-guy-nonchalantly-executing-his-moves-quietly scenes, I was flabbergasted when Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared about halfway through the film. Pleasantly flabbergasted in a superficial way, but still enjoying the experience and looking forward to seeing how the rest of the movie would unfold.

Now that I think about it, watching a movie -- and probably reading a book -- brings with it some level of thrill when you go into it blindly or almost blindly. (Of course for movie buffs, viewing with the added sensory experience of dialogue, music and other sound effects for the whole auditory dimension, makes for more excitement.) But "Argo" was an extremely different experience for me, primarily because it depicted real events. "World War Z" had zombies; "Vantage Point" was fiction and had well-known actors in it --and I think its strength lies in the awesome storytelling method and skillful editing. "Escape Plan" was an entertaining Hollywood flick. "Argo," besides depicting true-to-life events, was devoid of over-the-top action and special effects. It seemed real. And that's why I was so tense when the suspense really started building up. Oh my, what's going to happen to them? Oh gosh, no.... I caught myself thinking repeatedly during the last half hour or so of the movie.

When the movie ended, I took a quick break and decided I would watch "The Matrix" next  (I had obtained copies of several movies from my niece, thereby enabling me to go on a viewing marathon of sorts). And you know what? About 20 minutes into it, I lost interest and started nodding off. Too flashy, too Hollywood-ish probably. After watching "Argo," my system just seemed unprepared for leather-clad characters jumping and kicking in slow motion and identical-looking men in shades and suits who looked too "synthetic" for comfort. It just wasn't a good time for out-of-this-world fiction with all-out special effects. That will be for another day. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A hodgepodge of headlines around the globe

July has been most interesting so far in quite a few parts of the world. While a lot of people continue to do good, there are some places whose residents are experiencing one kind of ordeal or another due to circumstances beyond their control. Some yield to the suffering; others fight back. There are those who take it all in stride while working towards something better.

The bad news can bog us down if we're not vigilant about the amount and kind of materials we read everyday. And that's why I start and end the list of headlines below with stories which demonstrate that the world we live in is a good place as long as we continue to do good.

So, we take a look at what's been happening in other parts of the world, and we do what we can to make the world better -- from where we are, with what we have.

Nine-year-old Filipino Daniel Cabrera

Filipino boy receives scholarship after photograph of him studying on the street goes viral

Christian farmers fined $13,000 for refusing to host same-sex wedding are fighting back

74 children executed by ISIS for 'crimes' that include refusal to fast, reports says

Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto

Kenyan leaders to Obama: Don't lecture us on gay 'marriage'

Oregon bakers on $135k fine: 'Christians get ready for civil disobedience'

Pope Francis' Mass in Ecuador focuses on family, draws multitudes

Atlanta Fire Chief fired for 'anti-gay' views 'absolutely' wants his job back

Kansas police officer buys diapers, shoes for mom who shoplifted them for kids

Giving the "friend" role a rest

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Stop the presses!

Or maybe that should be "Hold the publish button!"

Before anything else, share this with every atheist you know. And every believer, too. Everyone is bound to learn something new here.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Marching to your own beat -- home-style

The kind of music one is listening to can, to a certain extent, affect the person's mood. Take the choice of songs on your playlist and how this influences your driving experience. Have you tried working your way through horrendous traffic jams or navigating along major streets known for the presence of "King of the Road"-minded drivers with hard rock and heavy metal playing over your speakers? How about trying to stay awake on the third hour of driving alone with only stretches of corn fields as your view on both sides of the road, while listening to Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata (1st movement), Chopin's Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2, or Brahms' Lullaby over and over? While listening tastes vary with each person, there is normally a link between auditory stimulation and a person's mood. Which is why I suddenly got the idea of accompanying my next dishwashing session (actually, chore-doing in general) with a particular sound that I accidentally stumbled on when the Strauss waltzes playlist was all done -- which I had discovered later on -- and wafting over the speakers was a jubilant, strikingly robust tune.

I didn't know Strauss also composed music for marching bands. I thought his was all waltzes for balls and royal banquets, I said to myself. Curious, I peeked at my computer and saw that since YouTube now has a tendency to go on to the next video as soon as the last one is done unless the viewer/listener clicks on the pause or stop button, a non-Strauss thing was playing. It was called "The best Austro-German Military Marches"! What do you think of that? It sure was lively and it reminded me of parades and country fairs that I had never attended but seen in movies and on television.

Well, I could use this kind of jubilant mood while I do the dishes! I thought. Lately the enthusiasm with which I greet and carry out the tasks at home (dishwashing, cleaning, preparing meals, and the little cooking I do) had been dwindling, making me again wish I had Jedi powers to work the sponges, rags and brooms while seated comfortably from afar or even while blogging and chatting on Facebook simultaneously.

Sure, taking care of the home -- which includes doing some work (sometimes a lot of work) for its upkeep and often putting the needs of your loved ones on top of yours -- is a duty of love, with that last word deserving of the emphasis. There are no menial tasks, Petrufied underscores here. After all, "house chores, though effectively tiresome and repetitive, are never a lowly occupation. It takes some know-how to get them done well, some patience to get them done at all, and a lot of love to get them done with ease," she writes.

That's not to say we're spared from feeling bored when things seem to become monotonous and in instances that going out of the house for this and that other errand (or for some window-shopping!) is simply not an option. Regular rest is necessary, and if you must, "embroider" the tasks so that they don't make you fall into the feeling of drudgery, especially when keeping the house clean and cheery, doing kitchen work for your family, and all-around keeping the home in tiptop shape are such noble tasks. What "embroidery" is that? Nothing about needlework here; it means doing what you can to make them more exciting -- like what I plan to do the next time I'm in the kitchen working the sponge and suds. I've had quite a few different musical genres accompany me at the sink but this Austro-German Military Marches will be a first! Let's see how that'll work out! I'm pretty thrilled at the thought. Wish I had a Sgt. Pepper costume to go with it!

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Breaking free: 4 gay men speak out

The following contains testimonies from men who, at one time or another, engaged in homosexual activity and who know well the struggles that come with being attracted to persons of the same sex. There may be cultural differences (two are from the Philippines while the other two are in the West) but amid all of these and amid the experiences they have gone through, the one thing that led them to seek the truth and, inadvertently, to a joy and freedom they did not know before then, was the choice to love God. As one of them put it, "I'm attracted to men, but I love God more."

Kung ako lang ang masusunod, gusto ko rin sanang mag-asawa ng kapwa ko lalake kasi 'yan ang hilig ng katawan ko at ilang beses na rin ako nagmahal ng kapwa ko lalake. Umabot pa noon sa puntong nangarap kaming magpakasal kahit bawal pa noon. Pero kumilos ang Diyos sa buhay ko hanggang sa natunton ko na mas mahal ko ang Diyos kaysa sino mang lalake na dumaan sa buhay ko. At ayon sa banal na kasulatan, hindi ang makiapid sa kapwa ko lalake ang gusto ng Diyos para sa buhay ko. May dakila Siyang plano para sa buhay na ibinigay Niya sa akin. Kaya pinili kong sundin ang Diyos imbes na ang sarili ko. Ang plano Niya ang perpekto. Ngayon, mayroon akong kapayapaan at ligaya sa buhay na hindi kayang tumbasan ng anupaman. Salamat sa pagpapatawad mo o Diyos! Alleluya!

(If it were up to me, I would like to marry another man because that would be following the dictates of my body and I have loved men several times. It even reached a point in which we dreamed of going through with a wedding despite its being prohibited at the time. But God worked in my life until I realized that I love God more than any man who had entered and would enter my life. And according to sacred scriptures, to fornicate with other men  is not what God wants for me. He has a great plan for the life he has given me. Hence, I chose to follow God rather than my own desire. His plan is perfect. Now, I have peace and joy that nothing whatsoever can equal. Thank you for your forgiveness, oh God! Alleluia!)

- Cesar Evangelista Buendia, from a post on his Facebook account (set to public)

* * * * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * * * *

According to [Jovi Atanacio], while many members of the same sex desire union with their romantic partners because of love, Atanacio believes true love desires more than just physical and emotional union.

“It wishes the good of the other. It wishes the good of the other person, encouraging him or her to embrace the virtue of chastity,” he explained.

He clarified, however, that chastity does not mean turning one’s back on love, pointing out it is but a profound and courageous expression of that same love.

Single and chaste, Atanacio, who also maintains the Facebook group “Wanted: Filipino Saints”, underscored the need to grow in the understanding of what love really means.

“If two members of the same sex profess love for each other, they will strive to do what is best for one other. They will encourage one another to identify themselves as beloved children of God who happen to experience same-sex attractions, rather than people who are defined by their sexual urges and happen to believe in God.”

- from 'I'm attracted to men, but I love God more' - Catholic man

* * * * * * * * * * *

The other day, I was joking with someone about smoking crack, like you do because people make jokes about using hard drugs with the understanding that, ‘oh, nobody I know deals with that.’ And then literally the day after I made that joke, I found out that somebody who I’ve known for a very long time has been smoking crack for months and months.

And that is exactly the sort of situation I dealt with growing up, which is where it was sort of standard to make jokes, ‘ha ha, gay people’ because nobody we know is gay – and of course if you hear that sort of thing all the time, you begin to think of yourself as outside of the realm of normal human experience.

Is that how you felt growing up?


Do you think that that actually pushed you more outside ‘the realm of normal human experience,’ because you perceived it to be that way?

Very much so. It sounds cliché to say it, but your perception really does become your reality. If you believe yourself to be of such a nature that you don’t actually belong in society with most other people, then you begin to interpret small thoughtlessnesses as large exclusions, and so you become less able to interact with your actual peers. And then they see you beginning to draw back, and start to think of you as someone who doesn’t really want to be part of their group anyway.

How have you managed to overcome that in adulthood?

Partly through therapy; partly through the group, People Can Change; partly through friendship; and partly through my spiritual director.

- Joseph Prever a.k.a. Steve Gershom, from Why choose celibacy? A gay Catholic speaks out, the second of a 2-part interview

He's having a ball

Well, what do you know? I was all set to write "Whoever came up with this awesome invention is a genius!" And then a comment below the video I'm sharing here led me to the website that gives the lowdown on how the ingenious ball launcher came to be. It's called the iFetch and, like many other tools and gadgets we easily take for granted nowadays, it was invented out of pure necessity -- in this case, a schoolboy needed a solution to his dog's incessant barking which was keeping him from getting his homework done. With the help of his grandfather he came up with one! You can read the rest of the story plus other details on the iFetch website.

And here is the cute little dog having some serious fun with the automatic ball launcher:

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