sage Rev. James Martin: Liberation theology has also animated some of the great Christian witnesses of our time. Several of my brother Jesuits (and their companions), some of whom wrote and taught liberation theology, were assassinated at the University of Central America in 1989 by Salvadoran death squads, precisely for their work with the poor, as Jesus had encouraged them to do. Archbishop Oscar Romero, the redoubtable archbishop of San Salvador who was martyred in 1980 after standing for the marginalized, also heard the call of Christ the Liberator. So did the four courageous Catholic churchwomen who were martyred that same year for their work in El Salvador.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-james-martin-sj/glenn-beck-vs-christ-the-_b_698359.html

Rev. James Martin, S.J.

Catholic priest and author

 

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After his colossal “Restoring Honor” rally in Washington, D.C., Glenn Beck took aim at one of his favorite targets, Barack Obama, but in a novel way.  Beck regrets saying a few months ago that President Obama was a “racist.”  What he should have said, he now realizes, was that he didn’t agree with Obama’s “theology.”  And what is Obama’s theology, according to Beck?  Liberation theology.

Here’s Beck’s definition of the arcane area of study known as liberation theology:

I think that it is much more of a theological question that he is a guy who understands the world through liberation theology, which is oppressor and victim….That is a direct opposite of what the gospel is talking about…It’s Marxism disguised as religion

As Ronald Reagan used to say, “There you go again.”  A few months ago, Beck decided to demolish the idea of “social justice,” by telling Christians that if their priests, pastors or ministers use that buzz word on Sundays they should leave their churches. 

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As he may or may not have known, the tenets of “social justice” encourage one not only to help the poor, but also address the conditions that keep them poor.  He called that “communist.”

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That approach didn’t work out that well for Beck since so many Christian denominations these days, particularly the Catholic Church, espouse social justice explicitly.  So he backed off.  But liberation theology?  Really? 

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A little history: Liberation theology began in Latin America in the 1950s and 1960s, and was later developed more systematically by Catholic theologians who reflected on experiences of the poor there.  The term was coined by the Rev. Gustavo Gutierrez, a Peruvian priest, in his landmark book A Theology of Liberation, published in 1971. 

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Briefly put, liberation theology (there are many definitions, by the way) is a Gospel-based critique of the world through the eyes of the poor. 

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Contrary to what Beck implies, the liberation theologian doesn’t see himself or herself as victim; rather proponents call us to see how the poor are marginalized by society, to work among them, to advocate on their behalf, and to help them advocate for themselves. 

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It has nothing to do with seeing yourself as victim.  It is, like all authentic Christian practices, “other-directed.”

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It also sees the figure of Jesus Christ as the “liberator,” who frees people from bondage and slavery of all kinds. 

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So, as he does in the Gospels, Christ not only frees people from sin and illness, Christ also desires to free our fellow human beings from the social structures that keep them impoverished. 

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This is this kind of “liberation” that is held out. 

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Liberation theologians meditate on Gospel stories that show Christ upending the social structures of the day, in order to bring more–uh oh–social justice into the world. 

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Christians are also asked to make, as the saying goes, a “preferential option for the poor.”

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It’s not hard to see what Beck has against “liberation theology.” 

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It’s the same reason people are often against “social justice.” 

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Both ideas ask us to consider the plight of the poor. 

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And that’s disturbing. 

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Some liberation theologians even consider the poor to be privileged carriers of God’s grace. 

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In his book The True Church and the Poor, Jon Sobrino, a Jesuit theologian wrote, “The poor are accepted as constituting the primary recipients of the Good News and, therefore, as having an inherent capacity of understanding it better than anyone else.” 

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That’s pretty threatening for any comfortable Christian. 

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For not only do we have to help the poor, not only do we have to advocate on their behalf, we also have to see them as perhaps understanding God better than we do. 

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But that’s not a new idea: It goes back to Jesus.  The poor, the sick and the outcast “got” him better than the wealthy did.

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Perhaps because there was less standing between the poor and God.  Less stuff. 

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Maybe that’s why Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew, “If you wish to be perfect, sell all you have, and you will have treasure in heaven, and follow me.” 

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Like I said, pretty disturbing, then and now. 

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It’s hardly “the opposite of the Gospel,” as Beck said. 

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The opposite of the Gospel would be to acquire wealth and fail to work on behalf of the poor. 

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In its heyday, liberation theology was not without controversy: some thought its emphasis on political advocacy skirted too close to Marxism–including Pope John Paul II. 

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On the other hand, John Paul didn’t shy away from personally involving himself in direct political activism in Poland. 

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It was the Latin American version of social action that seemed to bother him more.

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But even John Paul affirmed the notion of “preferential option for the poor.” 

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“When there is question of defending the rights of individuals, the defenseless and the poor have a claim to special consideration,” he wrote, in his great encyclical Centesimus Annus, which celebrating 100 years of–uh oh–Catholic social teaching.

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Liberation theology is easy to be against. 

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For one thing, most people don’t have the foggiest idea what you’re talking about. 

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It’s also easier to ignore the concerns of the poor, particularly overseas, than it is to actually get to know them as individuals who make a claim on us. 

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There are also plenty of overheated websites that facilely link it to Marxism.

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My response to that last critique is to read the Gospels and count how many times Jesus tells us that we should help the poor and even be poor. 

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In the Gospel of Matthew, he tells us that the ones who will enter the Kingdom of heaven are those who help “the least of my brothers and sisters,” i.e., the poor.  

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After that, read the Acts of the Apostles, especially the part about the apostles “sharing everything in common.”  Then let me know if helping the poor is communist or simply Christian.

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I have no idea if President Obama espouses liberation theology.  But I do. 

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And for me it’s personal. 

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Between 1992 and 1994, I worked with East African refugees in Nairobi, Kenya, and participated in Catholic parishes who tried to help poor parishioners (i.e., all of them) reflect on their daily struggles through lens of the Gospel. 

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And the Gospel passages that spoke of liberation for the poor were a lifeline to me and to those with whom I worked. 

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Oh, and it’s not only Jesus.  His mother had something to say about all that, too.  “He has filled the hungry with good things,” says Mary in the Gospel of Luke, “and sent the rich away empty.”

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Liberation theology has also animated some of the great Christian witnesses of our time. Several of my brother Jesuits (and their companions), some of whom wrote and taught liberation theology, were assassinated at the University of Central America in 1989 by Salvadoran death squads, precisely for their work with the poor, as Jesus had encouraged them to do. 

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Archbishop Oscar Romero, the redoubtable archbishop of San Salvador who was martyred in 1980 after standing for the marginalized, also heard the call of Christ the Liberator. 

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So did the four courageous Catholic churchwomen who were martyred that same year for their work in El Salvador.

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These are my heroes.  These are the ones who truly “restore honor.”

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It’s hard to ignore the fact that Jesus chose to be born poor; he worked as what many scholars now say was not simply a carpenter, but what could be called a day laborer; he spent his days and nights with the poor; he and his disciples lived with few if any possessions; he advocated tirelessly for the poor in a time when poverty was considered to be a curse; he consistently placed the poor in his parables over and above the rich; and he died an utterly poor man, with only a single seamless garment to his name. 

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Jesus lived and died as a poor man. 

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Why is this so hard for modern-day Christians to see?

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Liberation theology is not Marxism disguised as religion. 

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It is Christianity presented in all its disturbing fullness.

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Glenn Beck’s opposition to “social justice” and “liberation theology” is all the more difficult to understand because of his cloaking of himself in the mantle of devout believer. 

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“Look to God and make your choice,” he said during his rally on Sunday.

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If he looked at Jesus more carefully he would see someone who already made a choice: for the poor.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_Seminar

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The historical Jesus was an itinerant Hellenistic Jewish sage and faith healer who preached a gospel of liberation from injustice in startling parables and aphorisms. 

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An iconoclast, Jesus broke with established Jewish theological dogmas and social conventions both in his teachings and behaviors, often by turning common-sense ideas upside down, confounding the expectations of his audience: He preached of “Heaven’s imperial rule” (traditionally translated as “Kingdom of God“) as being already present but unseen; he depicts God as a loving father; he fraternizes with outsiders and criticizes insiders.

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Rather than revealing an apocalyptic eschatology, which instructs his disciples to prepare for the end of the world,  the authentic words of Jesus indicate that he preached a sapiential eschatology, which encourages all of God’s children to repair the world.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/01/03/writing-and-eventually-dying-a-good-death-expressing-sharing-love-to-the-end/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/sublime/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/27/i-will-die-a-good-death/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/14/because-in-the-end-great-journeys-of-integrity-are-walked-alone-sage-steven-kalas/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/does-your-life-have-purpose/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/randy-pausch-steven-kalas-living-meaningfully/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/harriet-beecher-stowes-prophetic-engine-sage-joan-d-hedrick/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/does-your-life-have-purpose/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/randy-pausch-steven-kalas-living-meaningfully/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/harriet-beecher-stowes-prophetic-engine-sage-joan-d-hedrick/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/01/09/oprah-winfreys-popular-wisdom-books-are-not-always-right-sage-steven-kalas/

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Hawai’i “lip service” to progressive reform — exposed via regressive tax structure  —

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http://www.staradvertiser.com/news/breaking/20130130_Hawaii_among_most_regressive_states_for_taxation.html?id=189043491

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Hawaii among most regressive states for taxation    By Erika Engle [Pahoa school alumnus]

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Hawaii has been declared one of the “Terrible Ten” most regressive states for tax laws, by the nonpartisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, based in Wash., D.C.

An ITEP study released today found that Hawaii has among the highest taxes on the poor, alongside Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, and Washington.

The nonprofit research organization’s findings are reported in the fourth edition of its study titled, “Who Pays? A Distributional Analysis of the Tax Systems in All 50 States,” released today.

http://www.itep.org/

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Hawai’i hypocrite Democrats fare just as negatively as our detested  GOP  —

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http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/28/opinion/krugman-makers-takers-fakers-.html?ref=paulkrugman&_r=0

Class warfare   — rich GOP vs. poor Democrats   —

Republicans have a problem. For years they could shout down any attempt to point out the extent to which their policies favored the elite over the poor and the middle class; all they had to do was yell “Class warfare!” and Democrats scurried away. In the 2012 election, however, that didn’t work: the picture of the G.O.P. as the party of sneering plutocrats stuck, even as Democrats became more openly populist than they have been in decades.

The New York Times

Paul Krugman

Readers’ Comments

“They only call it a class war when we fight back.”

As a result, prominent Republicans have begun acknowledging that their party needs to improve its image. But here’s the thing: Their proposals for a makeover all involve changing the sales pitch rather than the product. When it comes to substance, the G.O.P. is more committed than ever to policies that take from most Americans and give to a wealthy handful.

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Like the new acknowledgment that the perception of being the party of the rich is a problem, this represents a departure for the G.O.P. — but in the opposite direction. In the past, Republicans would justify tax cuts for the rich either by claiming that they would pay for themselves or by claiming that they could make up for lost revenue by cutting wasteful spending. But what we’re seeing now is open, explicit reverse Robin Hoodism: taking from ordinary families and giving to the rich. That is, even as Republicans look for a way to sound more sympathetic and less extreme, their actual policies are taking another sharp right turn.

Why is this happening? In particular, why is it happening now, just after an election in which the G.O.P. paid a price for its anti-populist stand?

Well, I don’t have a full answer, but I think it’s important to understand the extent to which leading Republicans live in an intellectual bubble. They get their news from Fox and other captive media, they get their policy analysis from billionaire-financed right-wing think tanks, and they’re often blissfully unaware both of contrary evidence and of how their positions sound to outsiders.

So when Mr. Romney made his infamous “47 percent” remarks, he wasn’t, in his own mind, saying anything outrageous or even controversial. He was just repeating a view that has become increasingly dominant inside the right-wing bubble, namely that a large and ever-growing proportion of Americans won’t take responsibility for their own lives and are mooching off the hard-working wealthy. Rising unemployment claims demonstrate laziness, not lack of jobs; rising disability claims represent malingering, not the real health problems of an aging work force.

And given that worldview, Republicans see it as entirely appropriate to cut taxes on the rich while making everyone else pay more.

Now, national politicians learned last year that this kind of talk plays badly with the public, so they’re trying to obscure their positions. Paul Ryan, for example, has lately made a transparently dishonest attempt to claim that when he spoke about “takers” living off the efforts of the “makers” — at one point he assigned 60 percent of Americans to the taker category — he wasn’t talking about people receiving Social Security and Medicare. (He was.)

But in deep red states like Louisiana or Kansas, Republicans are much freer to act on their beliefs — which means moving strongly to comfort the comfortable while afflicting the afflicted.

Which brings me back to Mr. Jindal, who declared in his speech that “we are a populist party.” No, you aren’t. You’re a party that holds a large proportion of Americans in contempt. And the public may have figured that out.

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http://bible.cc/proverbs/16-18.htm

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Proverbs 16:18

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Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

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Pride goeth before destruction – Here pride is personified: it walks along, and has destruction in its train.

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And a haughty spirit before a fall – Another personification. A haughty spirit marches on, and ruin comes after.

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http://bible.cc/matthew/19-24.htm

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Matthew 19:24

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And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

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A rich man – This rather means one who loves his riches and makes an idol of them, or one who supremely desires to be rich. Mark says Mark 10:24 “How hard is it for them that trust in riches.” While a man has this feeling – relying on his wealth alone – it is literally impossible that he should be a Christian; for religion is a love of God rather than the world – the love of Jesus and his cause more than gold. Still a man may have much property, and not have this feeling. He may have great wealth, and love God more; as a poor man may have little, and love that little more than God. The difficulties in the way of the salvation of a rich man are:

1. that riches engross the affections.

2. that people consider wealth as the chief good, and when this is obtained they think they have gained all.

3. that they are proud of their wealth, and unwilling to be numbered with the poor and despised followers of Jesus.

4. that riches engross the time, and fill the mind with cares and anxieties, and leave little for God.

5. that they often produce luxury, dissipation, and vice. that it is difficult to obtain wealth without sin, without avarice, without covetousness, fraud, and oppression, 1 Timothy 6:9-10, 1 Timothy 6:17; James 5:1-5; Luke 12:16-21; Luke 16:19-31.

Still, Jesus says Matthew 19:26, all these may be overcome. God can give grace to do it. Though to people it may appear impossible, yet it is easy for God.

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Thornton Wilder on the will to meaning in life [no one can take away your positive attitude, even if you do not own your conscious death]   [The Bridge Over San Luis]   –

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But eventually we die, and memories of those who die [also leave] Earth, and we ourselves shall be loved and forgotten. 

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But the love will have been enough, for all those impulses of love return to the one who made them.  

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Even memory is not necessary for love.  

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There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning [one’s own attitude].

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The phrase “the only meaning” suggests that our actions do not possess any greater purposes than to  love and to be loved [to have purpose], sine qua non — raison d’ etre.

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Wilder’s “the only meaning” is analogous to great sage Viktor Frankl’s “the angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory”  — no one can take away your own attitude, even at your death  — for good – for our solace, comfort, and peace in our hearts.

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Messenger birds signaling a tragic traffic accident young victim’s  divine destination/new home in Heaven are angels [Psalms 91:11-12], and a parent’s  discernment is a gift of the spirit.  [1 Corinthians 2:15] [Proverbs 18:15]

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” For you may be entertaining angels unaware”

Hebrews 13:2

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Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.

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The Bible tells us 366 times – providing even for a leap year! – not to be afraid “The Lord will guard your going and your coming both now and forever.” (Psalm 121 v.8)

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“A heart to love, and in that heart, the courage to make love known.” Shakespeare’s “MacBeth” So deep!! In the most beautiful way!! * *

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http://bible.cc/1_corinthians/2-6.htm

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1 Corinthians 2:6

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–Be not of this world–

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“How be it we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought.”

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That come to naught – That is, whose plans fail; whose wisdom vanishes; and who themselves, with all their pomp and splendor, come to nothing in the grave; compare Isaiah 14. All the plans of human wisdom shall fail; and this which is originated by God only shall stand,

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1 Corinthians 1:26-27  —  Remember, dear   brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or   powerful or wealthy when God called you.   Instead, God chose things   the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are   wise.   And He chose things that are powerless to shame those who   are powerful, so the same God chose those who reside in the forsaken social   margins.

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http://lindaellis.net/the-dash-poem-by-linda-ellis/

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I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on her tombstone, from the beginning…to the end.

He noted that first came the date of her birth and spoke of the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time that she spent alive on earth. And now only those who loved her know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own, the cars…the house…the cash. What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.

So, think about this long and hard. Are there things you’d like to change? For you never know how much time is left that can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough to consider what’s true and real and always try to understand the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger and show appreciation more and love the people in our lives like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile, remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy is being read, with your life’s actions to rehash… would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent YOUR dash?

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Our Issei [first generation] immigrants from Japan had their creed of giri [serve justly] ninjo [humanity].     Japan samurai were split by these incompatible notions.    Our Nisei [second generation] 100th Batt./442nd warriors such as my dad Toshi 1913-1998 had their creed of kuni no ta-may [serve our U.S.A. faithfully and courageously — all in — “go for broke, bruddah!”].

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samurai_cinema#Themes

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A recurring conflict the ideal samurai encounters is the ninjo and giri conflict. Ninjo is the human feeling that tells you what is right and giri is the obligation of the samurai to his lord and clan. The conflict originated from overwhelming control of the Tokugawa bakufu government over the samurai’s behavior. Often samurai would question the morality of their actions and are torn between duty and conscience. This conflict transcends eras in samurai films and can create the perception of the protagonist as being the moral underdog or steadfast warrior. In The Last Samurai, Katsumoto is no longer of use to his emperor and sentenced to self-disembowelment. He goes against his duty to follow through with his sentence and flees to fight his final rebellion against the central government’s army. Ninjo and giri conflict is dynamic to the character of the samurai.

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yamato damashii [corazon/kokoro/heart!]

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5 Responses to sage Rev. James Martin: Liberation theology has also animated some of the great Christian witnesses of our time. Several of my brother Jesuits (and their companions), some of whom wrote and taught liberation theology, were assassinated at the University of Central America in 1989 by Salvadoran death squads, precisely for their work with the poor, as Jesus had encouraged them to do. Archbishop Oscar Romero, the redoubtable archbishop of San Salvador who was martyred in 1980 after standing for the marginalized, also heard the call of Christ the Liberator. So did the four courageous Catholic churchwomen who were martyred that same year for their work in El Salvador.

  1. Pingback: If we’re going to write, it is because we have a desire to express ourselves, even if we don’t quite understand what we wish to say. It might just be an inner yearning, but by making the choice to engage in the process rather than the result, our work

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  3. Pingback: If we’re going to write, it is because we have a desire to express ourselves, even if we don’t quite understand what we wish to say. It might just be an inner yearning, but by making the choice to engage in the process rather than the result, our work

  4. Pingback: If we’re going to write, it is because we have a desire to express ourselves, even if we don’t quite understand what we wish to say. It might just be an inner yearning, but by making the choice to engage in the process rather than the result, our work

  5. Pingback: the great & sage Rev. James Martin on liberation theology | Curtis Narimatsu

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