US Catholic Bishops signal the prolongation of their Republican captivity.

Your holidays and festivals I detest, they weigh me down, I tire of the load. When you spread out your hands, I close my eyes to you; though you pray the more, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood! Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds before my eyes; cease doing evil, learn to do good. Make justice your aim, redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow. Isaiah 1

In Catholic Church history, the period of time 1309 – 1377 is known as the “Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy.”  Seven bishops of Rome reigned, not in Rome, but in Avignon, France where they were firmly under the thumb of the King of France. In the future, when sufficient time has passed that historians can reflect on this era, I think their judgment will be that during these critical and turbulent times, one of the great historical tragedies has been the “Republican Captivity” of the United States Catholic Bishops.

We are not lacking in evidence of this assertion.  Consider the continued crusade of the Bishops against “gay marriage.” Let it be said that I am obedient to the Church’s teachings on marriage and sexual morality. When I read the Gospel, I see the call of Jesus to holiness — “Be ye therefore perfect, even as my Father in heaven is perfect.”  But when I think about the proclamation of the Gospel, I recall the words of Paul to the church in Corinth:

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

So it seems to me that walking in the footsteps of Jesus, our attitude towards those who disagree with us on moral issues should be a proclamation of the love of God as revealed in Christ Jesus, a love which should be as evident in our deeds as in our words. But instead of a loving proclamation of the Gospel towards gay people, our Bishops are running up and down the land crying out with loud voices that gay marriage is somehow a threat to the sacrament of marriage.  The language of the bishops’ crusade is not the language of the Gospel. It is the dehumanizing political rhetoric of the Republican Party. Can it be that the Roman Catholic Bishops of these United States have forgotten what Christ said to Peter?

I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. Matthew 16:18

That seems pretty clear to me. Nothing on this earth in the temporal realm, and no combination of demon hordes from Hell, can “threaten” the sacrament of marriage because it is part of the Deposit of Faith, an integral component of the Church, and it is protected by supernatural graces.  To suggest that a secular political issue “threatens” a sacrament is hubris and shows a marked lack of faith.  That in itself is disturbing coming from our own bishops.

Further, since when did we decide that the involvement of the State had something to do with the Sacrament of Marriage?  We don’t get a Baptism License for our children, nor an Ordination license for our seminarians. And we don’t pay a tax to the State to go to Confession nor do we apply to a bureaucrat for the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. Our confirmandi do not require state paperwork to receive Confirmation and we celebrate the Eucharist without the permission of the state authorities.

So why this weeping and wailing and much gnashing of teeth about state-issued marriage licenses and the sacrament of Marriage? In many other countries, the “legal” marriage is completely separate from the sacramental marriage.  Couples do a “state marriage” before a magistrate and then go before a priest or deacon to celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage.

If we want to talk about religious liberty and the Catholic Faith, perhaps we should begin by getting the State out of the business of “licensing” marriages, since the requirement to get a license from the State to contract a Catholic marriage seems to me to infringe upon our rights as Catholic Christians to celebrate the sacrament of marriage.

I do not doubt we have problems within and without the Catholic Church in regard to marriage. But those problems are not the fault of gay people and gay marriage has nothing to do with our marital problems.  About 1/3 of Catholic marriages end in divorce.  With only 6% of the world Catholic population, the diocesan courts of the United States grant 60%+ of the Catholic world’s annulments. By some estimates, American Catholic dioceses have annulled more marriages than the entire Church has done since its founding.

Small wonder, therefore, that Archbishop Vincenzo Fagiolo, head of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, was moved to refer to the volume of annulments in the United States as a “grave scandal.”  What God Has Joined Together: the annulment crisis in American Catholicism. Robert Vasoli, Oxford University Press, 1998.

But of course, let’s not talk about this gigantic I-beam proceeding out of the eyes of every Catholic bishop. Let’s ignore the catechetical failures of the Catholic clergy of these United States regarding marriage formation. Instead. . .  let’s pick away at the specks in the eyes of others, over which we have no control, and sign up for a hysterical political agenda that conceals ulterior motives.

Why would we do this if not at the behest of our political master manipulators in the Republican Party?

This naked emperor should be publicly called out. The crusade against “gay marriage” is not about protecting marriage. It’s about getting votes for Republican politicians.

If it were a crusade to protect marriage, we would have started with a deep and thorough examination of conscience regarding the role of the clergy in the devastating problems of married families in these United States. We didn’t do that.  The Bishops’ crusade, of course, is a great distraction from their own failures as pastors and teachers.

The Bishops also renewed their “Fortnight of Freedom for Religious Liberty.”  Here again it is not hard to see the directing hand of the Republican magisterium. I am all in favor of religious liberty and I think the government should leave the Catholic Church alone when it comes to the issue of mandating contraception coverage in our insurance policies.

However . . .  I must ask — where was our “Fortnight for Life” when the United States rolled into Iraq with a war that was condemned as unjust by the two most eminent moral authorities of the first decade of the 21st century? I am speaking of Pope John Paul II and then Cardinal Ratzinger, the cardinal-prefect of the Congregation for the Defense of the Faith.

Over the last 14 years, I have written in excruciating detail about the moral relativism of the US bishops regarding unjust war. Where were these bishops and their talk about the non-negotiable right to life from the moment of conception to the time of natural death when the bombs rained down on the civilian population of Iraq and people died in their hundreds of thousands as a consequence of our unjust war? I’ll tell you where they were — they were sacrificing their moral authority on the altars of the false gods of Political Expediency and American Military Nationalism.

They praised the war with their very timid comments about it, they proceeded to say almost nothing about it for the rest of the war, and they remain silent today about our continued involvement with the unjust war in Afghanistan. There was no Fortnight for Peace or Fortnight for Life to remind the Catholic people of our teachings on unjust war. There was no bishops’ crusade up and down the land in defense of peace and life in the face of war. It was business as usual as the bishops abandoned the people of Iraq and Afghanistan and our own soldiers to the not-very-tender mercies of unjust war.

Why would the Bishops have become so “negotiable” on the “non-negotiable right to life” of the people of Afghanistan and Iraq and our soldiers if not at the behest of the political magisterium of the Republican Party?

Nothing about this political captivity has benefited the Catholic Church. The Bishops have frittered away their authority and abandoned their authenticity to the point that people no longer see them as moral authorities.  The clergy-led catechetical collapse continues its devolution of our faith. In an era when the signs of these times call us to renewed holiness and an orthodox praxis of our faith, the US Catholic Bishops remain stuck in a rut of political rhetoric that benefits no one but the powers that be in the Republican Party.

Thus, I think this reading from the third chapter of the book of Micah the prophet is an appropriate conclusion for this reflection.

And I said, Listen you leaders of Jacob, house of Israel! Is it not your duty to know what is right, you who hate what is good, and love evil? . . .  When they cry to the Lord, he shall not answer them, rather shall God hide from them at that time, because of the evil they have done. Thus says the LORD regarding the prophets who lead my people astray. . .

Therefore you shall have night, not vision, darkness, not divination; The sun shall go down upon the prophets, and the day shall be dark for them. Therefore, because of you, Zion shall be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem reduced to rubble, And the mount of the temple to a forest ridge.

Novena to St. John Chrysostom on behalf of the United States Catholic bishops.

P.S.  See also my Open Letter to VP Biden.

Posted in Catholic, international issues, Peace, War and Peace | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Ten days car free in Okie City.

Ten days “car free” in Okie City ended today when my mechanic called and said they had finally figured out all the little problems that resulted from the attempt on May 25th to steal my car, the second such event in three months, and the car would now reliably start.  The first time the thieves got away with the car, but it was recovered.  However, there was a $280 repair bill to replace the steering column. The mechanics installed a kill switch, which disconnects the ignition so that even if hot wired, the would-be thieves would not be able to start the car, and that kept the car in my driveway.  It didn’t stop them from destroying the steering column AND the car’s computer, so this time the bail was $573. In the meantime, I had an interesting time getting around without the use of a car.

  • I bought a bus pass — although that took two trips downtown, since on the first trip I didn’t have cash or a check on me and as it turns out, the city bus system does not take debit cards.  They did give me a day pass free as a consolation prize.  A second trip to the downtown city bus center was successful.  I also picked up all the route schedules while there at the center and wandered around downtown a bit.  I used the free downtown bus system to go to the food court at the Park and Robinson for lunch.
  • The bus pass is good for 30 days from when it is first used.  So you can buy it any time in the month; it’s not bound to the calendar month.  For those of us over 60, it’s half price — $25 — which is quite the good deal.   To qualify for the senior pass, you have to bring your ID and fill out a form at the downtown transit center, and there is about a 5-10 minute wait. If you lose it, it’s $5 to replace.  It’s good for 3 years before it has to be renewed.
  • The first time you use your bus pass, you insert it into a slot on the fare box and it disappears down into the machine and then is regurgitated with the date and time of the first ride on the back.  On subsequent rides, you run it through a magnetic strip reader with the magnetic strip facing towards you.  If on the senior or special needs ride, you’re supposed to carry your transit ID with you, although none of the bus drivers asked me for mine.
  • Generally, the buses arrived within 5-10 minutes of the scheduled time.  The transit management’s advice is always to be there 10 minutes in advance, but that isn’t always possible on transfers.  The East West NW 23rd route usually crosses Classen only 2-3 minutes ahead of the scheduled time for the North or South bound Route 5 (which runs up and down Classen eventually on the outbound side ending up at Mercy Hospital).  So I missed some of those connections and made some.
  • It pays to invest in a messenger bag, or over the shoulder bag, or something similar.  I got nicely caught up on my periodical reading.  Depending on the purpose and length of the trip, I loaded it with my lunch, extra reading material, calendar, etc.
  • It helps to have some portable music or radio.  I have a little transistor radio, well, it’s not actually a transistor radio, but it looks just like one I had back in the 60s and is about the same size, lol.  Am-Fm-shortwave. If you must know, I got it from http://www.ccrane.com which is where I typically buy electronic stuff online that isn’t computer-related.  I’ve been buying from them for years and have always been happy, even when I had to return something because it quit working.  You have to have earbuds as silence is the rule on the bus as far as radios and other electric devices are concerned.
  • Carry refreshing liquids!  Especially if your outing involves walking.  I carried an insulated cup of iced non-sweet tea with lemon or lime.  I often had to stop and refill it when passing a convenience store.
  • I had lots of nice conversations with people of all races both on the bus and waiting at the bus stops.
  • The walk to Epiphany, from Lyrewood and Wilshire (last outbound stop on Route 8 and closest to my work), always went faster and easier than the walk back, which always took longer and was more grueling.  The former was typically in the morning, the latter the evening.  It would take 30 minutes to walk to the church and 45 to walk from the church to the bus stop.  The only sidewalk runs along Wilshire from Lyrewood to Rockwell, and there are pedestrian amenities at the Rockwell and Lyrewood intersection, but that’s it.  Not one additional inch of sidewalk and no pedestrian crosswalks from Lyrewood and Rockwell to Epiphany, whether I went up Rockwell and cut across the New Church property, or went up NW Expressway and cut through the Archdiocesan pastoral center property to get to Epiphany.  Got lots of strange looks from drivers, so much so that I stopped looking at the drivers, lol.  There are some disturbed people driving along NW Expressway is all I can say about that experience.
  • All the walking was good for me.  The least I walked on any day of the last ten was 1 hour, and several days involved 1-1/2 to 2 hours walking.  All my doctors are texting me — “Sell the car Bob, sell the car.”  ;).
  • A friend gave me a ride to church on Sunday AM and a coop board member gave me a ride home Sunday evening after a Coop board meeting at Epiphany.  Otherwise I would have had to use Uber or Yellow Cab.
  • I did one ride on Uber, to go to a party on Saturday night. Then I walked home (from 47th and Shartel) and it was a nice evening walk.
  • Doing anything that going somewhere took Planning.  First I decided the time I needed to be somewhere (if the trip was time bound in any way).  Then a look at the system map at http://www.embarkok.com  to see what routes were needed.  I typically used routes 5, 8, and 23 for most of my travels.  Next was figuring times and connections to get me there and making an estimate of the walking time at the end of the bus journey.  I used a rule of thumb of 1.5 to 2 minutes walking per block.  So if I needed to walk from NW 23 to NW 33, that’s 15 minutes of walking.
  • I estimate the cost of a year without a car for me at $4,415, most of which would be for the estimated 168 cab rides that I would need to go back and forth to my job at Epiphany on Sunday, and come home from work on evening after rehearsals and meetings (36 choir rehearsals/year, 10 parish councils, 10 liturgy boards, 52 Sundays, etc). The other costs are $300 for 12 $25 bus passes and monthly home delivery for my food coop order.
  • If the city extends bus service to midnight, and if the #8 route is one of the evening routes, then my annual cost goes to $3,040.  If they add Sunday service, that knocks my transit cost to $1,790.  Even if there was Sunday service, I would still take a taxi to work, as I have to be there at 730 AM and the Sunday bus is unlikely to run early enough for me to walk 30-45 minutes at the end of the rout eto Epiphany.
  • The annual cost for me operating a car, based on the average monthly cost for the first five months of 2014, times 12 months, is $4,305.  If the capital cost of a car is added to that expense, then car-free is a clear winner.  The $4,350 included $280 for this latest repair, but it turned out to be more expensive, $573.
  • You can’t be in a hurry if you’re not driving a car.  Well, you could get in a hurry I suppose but it wouldn’t do you much good unless you called a cab or Uber.  That’s an interesting psychological side-effect that I wasn’t expecting.
  • If you signal for a stop, check to make sure the electronic display above the driver says STOP REQUESTED.  If not, you might not have pulled the cord hard enough or the pull cord may be out of order (it was out of order on one bus I read).  So don’t be afraid to holler out “You passed up my stop” if the bus driver doesn’t stop.  I ended up doing that a couple of times.  The concept of where the buses stop as a “bus stop” seems a bit hazy, but generally it is at the far corner of an intersection or a place that is marked with a bus stop sign.
  • You have to carefully calculate how much you buy if you go shopping.  One trip to the Super Cao Nguyen almost was “too much fun” for the return walk lol.  So it’s useful to have sturdy reusable bags with straps that go over your shoulder, because you will get tired fast carrying bags in your hands.  Everyone has a cheap reusable shopping bag for sale, but I’ve never seen one with a shoulder strap.  Mine are home-made except for my messenger bag, which really isn’t suited for groceries, lol.  If I was going car free, I would buy one of those small fold-up carts.
  • You see the city from a much different vantage point with a car free lifestyle.  When seen via “street view,” Oklahoma City is a different place.  It is much more interesting.
  • People are shocked at news that you are without a car for an extended period.  Even for me, it’s considered “weird.”
  • There was only one “snafu” that caused me to be late.  I was waiting for the route 8 bus, and about the right time for it a bus pulled up, but it was labelled route 9. So I waved it on.  Then about 15 minutes went by with no bus and I’m thinking, “Hmmm. . . ” so I pulled out my stack of schedules and as it turned out, if that was a route 9 bus, it was way off course.  So I had to wait an hour for the next Lyrewood and Wilshire bus, which I did at the bus stop since to walk home and back would have consumed 40 minutes and I didn’t want to walk that much, lol, for 20 minutes at home. I had plenty to read and drink and NPR on the radio so I was relaxed and comfortable.  I don’t know why the snafu on the labeling of the bus. It was an electronic sign so probably someone just forgot to change it.  In the future, I am going to try to pay more attention to what routes might potentially come my way and if a bus stops that isn’t one of those routes, I’ll ask the driver what route he’s driving.
  • I think this would almost be impossible if I lived in the 73132 zip code. It was much easier to do from the 73106 zip code, since this zip code has high transit density (for OKC anyway), and most things I need are within walking distance — two major independent grocery stores, 4 pharmacies, the Asian district with all of its shopping and restaurants, OCU with its library and cultural amenities, the Plaza District, and downtown is a short bus ride away.
  • Non-money benefits from car-free living: better physical condition, lower blood sugar,more time to read, more opportunities to randomly meet interesting people, less of a feeling of hurry to my life.
  • So the third time will be the charm. I’m thinking if thieves trash my car again I’m going to sell it and stick with the bus, cab, and feet.  I may change my mind, and it remains to see how i would do in winter, but this was more do-able than I thought it was going to be.
Posted in Good and Frugal Government, Climate Instability, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Living, Peak Oil | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Public Ideological Masturbation at the Legislature

The Legislature has adjourned, thanks be to God.  The stench of its activities — and the wreckage of its inactivities — has been worse than usual.  There has been way too much Public Ideological Masturbation, and very little good governance. I’m thinking all these legislators who make so much of their “conservative” ideology are effectively traitors to the common good of the people of the state.  They are the Oklahoma equivalent of the commissars of the old Soviet Union — so blinded by their ideology they can’t see the realities of these times. The Preamble of the Constitution of the State of Oklahoma reads:

Invoking the guidance of Almighty God, in order to secure and perpetuate the blessing of liberty; to secure just and rightful government; to promote our mutual welfare and happiness, we, the people of the State of Oklahoma, do ordain and establish this Constitution.

“Mutual welfare and happiness” — a/k/a in the federal Constitution as “the general welfare” —  promoting and protecting the common good is among the most primary and fundamental purposes of government! Yet, these legislators crudely and without any shame put their personal political ideologies ahead of their sworn constitutional duty.  The Founding Fathers of the United States warned us against these kinds of politicians.  From Washington’s Farewell Address —

. . . I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State. . .  Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally. . . the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it. . . It serves always to distract the public councils, and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another; foments occasionally riot and insurrection.

John Adams said:

There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.

For my money, the most telling incident of the entire session was the passage of the bond proposal to fix up the state capitol, while turning down a bond proposal to fund storm shelters in schools.

One hundred twenty  million dollars to spiff up and repair their politicians palace?

And Not One Cent for storm shelters for schools.

Jesus said,”For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Posted in Good and Frugal Government, Collapse, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Living, Social Justice | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A letter to the Oklahoma Corporation Commissioners regarding the security of our electrical grid

These questions are directed at all three of our Corporation Commissioners — Patrice Douglas, Bob Anthony, Dana Murphy. If this is not the right address to email for them, and if you are unable to forward this email, please inform me of their correct email contacts.

A Wall Street Journal story earlier this year reported that the country could be plunged into darkness by taking out nine critical substations:

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304020104579433670284061220

“The U.S. could suffer a coast-to-coast blackout if saboteurs knocked out just nine of the country’s 55,000 electric-transmission substations on a scorching summer day, according to a previously unreported federal analysis. The study by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission concluded that coordinated attacks in each of the nation’s three separate electric systems could cause the entire power network to collapse, people familiar with the research said. The U.S. could suffer a coast-to-coast blackout if saboteurs knocked out nine of the country’s electric-transmission substations on a summer day, according to a previously unreported federal analysis. National War College Professor Dr. Richard Andres discusses. A small number of the country’s substations play an outsize role in keeping power flowing across large regions. The FERC analysis indicates that knocking out nine of those key substations could plunge the country into darkness for weeks, if not months.”

  • What are the Oklahoma utility companies and the Oklahoma Corporation Commission doing to protect our state’s  electrical grid from this kind of attack?
  • Are the Commissioners holding hearings or doing other investigations of the security of Oklahoma’s grid?
  • If the eastern power grid is vulnerable to an attack on only four substations, how can we protect our grid from problems elsewhere?

I hope the Commissioners understand the gravity of a situation where the electrical grid across the state went down and stayed down for a considerable period of time. I hope they are actively involved with insuring that our electrical grid remains safe and secure.

Alas, as near as I can tell, there is zero security in place protecting the electrical substations that I frequently drive by here in Oklahoma City. Last year, an electrical substation in California was attacked with rifle fire, and it didn’t take long for that station to go down due to an attack with ordinary commercially available rifles.

Some may say that an attack on the electrical infrastructure of Oklahoma is a low probability event, but that’s what people said once upon a time about Pearl Harbor, and the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. As a taxpaying citizen of the state of Oklahoma, I expect that my leaders are taking steps to protect us from this kind of high-impact threat. I would hate to wake up some morning and find out that I was wrong.

Thanks for your assistance. The Commissioners’ answers will be posted at my blog, http://www.bobwaldrop.net .

Bob Waldrop 1524 NW 21 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 405-200-8155

Posted in Good and Frugal Government, Collapse, Corporation shenanigans, Middle East, Oklahoma City, Safe Community, War and Peace | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Solitary Episcopal Witness — to the protection of all human life, including those in the way of the US imperial juggernaut.

Below is the text of an email I received from Fr. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy, an Eastern Rite Catholic priest who is a leading advocate for peace and like me, a critic of the poor response of the US Catholic Bishops to the unjust wars of the United States government.  His work has been important to my own spiritual formation as a peacemaker. Begin forward. . .

Christ is risen! He is truly risen! Friends, I hope you will be able to find the time to view this short documentary, In Solitary Episcopal Witness,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8DC0LTzOtA

on Bishop John Botean’s 2003 Pastoral Letter morally denouncing the War on Iraq as gravely evil. Bishop Botean, being a summa cum laude graduate in philosophy from the Catholic University of America, being an award-winning musician and being multi-lingual is as cognitively capable as any other Catholic bishop or priest. Yet, it is he alone who on March 7, AD 2003, less than two weeks before the government of the United States launched its invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003, wrote a Pastoral Letter* to the people of his diocese which was publicly read from every pulpit in every Romanian Catholic Church in the U.S. on Sunday, March 9, 2003.

In it Bishop Botean communicated to the people in his pastoral care that participation in the coming U.S. War against the people of Iraq would be participating in an unjust war, that is, in an intrinsically grave evil, by all the traditional moral standards of the Catholic Church. No other sitting Catholic Bishop of a diocese in the United States told his people before, or even during this decade long war, that this was by the standards of Jesus and Catholic moral theology an unjust war, and that therefore the killing and maiming done by those directly participating in it at any level was participation in unjustified homicide, which is always and under all circumstances gravely intrinsically evil and never morally permissible.

This mini-documentary, In Solitary Episcopal Witness, on Bishop John Botean and the source of his decision to publicly morally condemn the War on Iraq, is so titled as an allusion to Gordon Zahn’s seminal biography on Blessed Franz Jagerstatter, which is titled In Solitary Witness.

The title was chosen not only because Bishop Botean is the only Catholic Bishop, who is the Ordinary of a diocese in the U.S., who so spoke about U.S. Catholic participation in the War in Iraq, but also, because like the decision of Blessed Franz Jagerstatter to reject Hitler’s call to arms, Bishop Botean’s Pastoral Letter on this matter did not find much support from many quarters from which vigorous support would have normally been expected.

I suspect part of the reason for this is that in our gong-booming, cymbal-clashing, hyper-partisan politicized secular and religious society, Bishop Botean’s Pastoral Letter morally denouncing the War against Iraq finds little to nothing of its source, purpose, motivation or end in the world of governmental politics. Hence, liberal Catholic and Christian professional and amateur politicos and mass media pundits, and conservative Catholic and Christian politicos and mass media pundits—minus a few exceptions here and there—relegated this unique episcopal document in the history of the American Catholic Church to the “not-in-our-interests bin.”

Maybe this thirty-minute documentary can help make a bit clearer the whys and wherefores of Bishop Botean’s Pastoral Letter. And, maybe with such awareness it might be transferred to the “urgently-in-our-interests bin.” There is much, much to ponder, personally and as Church, in this short video-documentary on the writing of a Pastoral Letter.

I hope you will ponder it, share it and dialogue on it in light of the millions of human beings killed and maimed in Iraq since the day this Pastoral Letter was read from all the pulpits of one diocese in the United States. I hope you will do this because in the end this Pastoral and video are not exclusively, or even primarily, about a war or war. They are about the salvation of souls, the redemption of all humanity, by the only means by which the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels taught that humanity could be redeemed: love, love as He, who is the visible image of the invisible God, loved us.

+ Emmanuel Charles McCarthy

Posted in Catholic, international issues, Middle East, Peace, Peak Oil, Social Justice, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Got my goobermint paper!

Now I have the City’s permission to build a life-saving structure on my property.  I had an email from the contractor who said they had been trying to fax the needed paperwork but the City’s fax machine wasn’t cooperating.  She called the developmental services dept, and “talked with someone who was not very nice,” (surprise!), who would only clarify that yes she was dialing the right number.

Something must have worked because the code technician called me yesterday and said I was good to go at the price of $53.50, so I gave them my debit card number and that was that.

I guess I should have asked if they are going to mail me some paper or something.  In 2005, I had a real sheet of paper, inscribed with the appropriate bureaucratic incantantations, certifying that I had placated the appropriate powers and paid my dues.  I was required “by law” to post it where it could be seen from the street.  So I made a copy and posted the copy on a stake in the middle of a garden bed. If the paper was that valuable, I didn’t want some heathen running off with the original like someone did with my rosemary bush a while back.  Who knows what would happen. Maybe the same people who come and take you away if you tear that tag off your pillow would have swooped down and done something nefarious to me and my household.

So it is all over except for the actual installation, Deo gratias. And truthfully it was much less of a hassle than last time, so I’m glad they’re learning a few things.

Now I have will have room for 14 adults standing. Or some combination of adults, kids, dogs, cats, and whatever other critter might be brought. It will also eventually have some jugs of wine and beer that will be aging down there, and the occasional basket of apples and some winter squash. So if we do have to dive into the ‘fraidy hole’ as they are sometimes known around these parts, we may have to pass some time passing the bottle. Yes, I will also have a bucket filled with leaves in case our stay is prolonged.

Tomorrow is the delivery day of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative and so I will be helping with the grand sorting that goes on at our operations center in the Old Farmers Market District.

Then after a few hours at work — which will involve rehearsing with a cantor for a wedding, working through the readings and liturgies for the summer and picking music and taking care of some miscellaneous musical odds and ends I will be off to the house of my friend the Reverend Deacon Aaron Taylor (of St Benedict’s Russian Orthodox Church here in central Oklahoma) for some, well, probably it will involve discussions and booze.  Fortunately he lives close enough to me that I can walk, lol, There and Back Again, hopefully with no adventures in between.  Well, meeting up with some hobbits would be fine, but the orcs can stay away.

The process of selecting music is an on-going project for my music ministry that never ends, because as soon as I am through with summer and fall ordinary time, well, here comes Advent and Christmas and then winter ordinary time, Lent, Easter. . . plus assorted and miscellaneous holy days, weddings, funerals, and etc.  Yes, I have 14 years of records of what I have chosen previously, but each year is a brand new opportunity to read the readings and see what speaks to the present time.  Sometimes I pick the same hymns.  Often I don’t. At times I look at what I picked in the past, and wonder, “What was I thinking of?”  Well, usually I have some methods to the madness of my musical selection process, but I don’t always remember what it is several years later.  IN ANY EVENT. . . The priests and deacons have their homilies, but I pick the hymns and anyone who thinks I don’t, at every liturgy that I plan,  preach a sermon with my hymn selections hasn’t paid any attention to their texts.

PS. Mark your calendars for BLESS THIS HOUSE — a musical offering for the 30th anniversary of the Dedication of Epiphany Church, Sunday, July 6th, 6 PM, potluck at 5 PM.  Featuring the choirs and musicians of the Church of the Epiphany.  And the only time you will ever get to sing We Three Kings in July.

Posted in Good and Frugal Government, Catholic, Climate Instability, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Living | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Storm Shelter Permit: Attempt the first — FAIL

This morning I made my first attempt to get the storm shelter permit/.

Letter from an engineer regarding the boyancy of the shelter (i.e. guaranteeing it won’t float out of the ground — CHECK!

Letter from an engineer certifying that the shelter is designed to meet or exceed the structural strength necessary to resist the combined load of concrete and soil plus 100 pounds/square foot load line, thus complying with the state’s storm shelter code — CHECK!

Letter from an engineer certifying that the shelter is designed to comply with FEMA shelter standards — OOPS!  I did have a letter from an engineer that states —

. . . The design for the construction of the storm shelters meets and or exceeds the FEMA Design Requirements or Standards.
Therefore, it is the opinion of this engineer that the construction and installation per theinstallation instructions should be considered appropriate for use in Oklahoma.

Alas, that wasn’t good enough.  The engineer should have stated which FEMA standard this design meets or exceeds.  My thought is — “Good grief folks, it is a structural steel shelter encased in six inches of concrete buried in the ground with a foot of dirt on the top.” What part of “this storm shelter works” does the City not understand?  If the engineer says it meets the FEMA statistics, what does it matter if an additional bureaucratic note of the identifying number of the standard?

At least I didn’t have to wait more than a couple of minutes and the lady was nice and said she would call me when the contractor faxes her the proper document and I would not have to make a second trip downtown.  So they have learned something since my last attempt at getting a permit from that office which involved THREE trips downtown because I was given THREE different demands for info.  There would have been a fourth if I hadn’t made a scene and a supervisor came out who determined that my original app was sufficient and the other two trips were not necessary because I was given bad info by the staff.

It is beyond my comprehension why there isn’t some sort of expedited system for tornado shelter applications.  We don’t have anything much in the way of public tornado shelters. As far as OKC government is concerned, everyone is On Their Own when the funnel clouds bear down on the City.  Thus, it seems to me that they should make it as easy as possible to get this permit.  I don’t understand why I even had to go downtown.

  • There are special permits to install a pool, fences and signs, but not shelter. For a shelter, I had to fill out the same form you would if had built a house. It asks “prior use of the area,” I wrote in “container garden”. I hope that info was informative and useful to them. Why not have a shelter permit?
  • There are FAXABLE (!!!!!!!) permits for electrical, plumbing, and mechanical work (and I think that is a good thing), but why not a faxable permit for storm shelters? I had to drive downtown, pay two dollars for parking. OK, I got to admire the new PARKING garage the city is building for God-Only-Knows how much money across the street (gotta keep those tax subsidies rolling for the cars you know), but still, it was  a waste of time and two dollars.

All in all, I am not persuaded that anything about this process really serves the common good. It just seems like bureaucratic make-work.   Oh, and let’s not forget Ka-Ching, the sound of the City’s cash register picking my pocket for (near as I can tell from the City’s website) $55 for the permit fee.

I suppose if this were the worst thing to happen to me this year, I’d be making out pretty much like phat rat.  But the part of me that strives for excellence wonders why Oklahoma City doesn’t analyze all of its rules and regulations and make some determination as to what actually is necessary and what isn’t.

For example, why not have the shelter contractors register with the city and provide the details for their plans?  Then, if a homeowner is using a City approved plan, there would be no need for a permit. The common good need — ensuring that shelters are adequate to the demands of the storm — is met, and much bureaucratic make-work and citizen annoyance is avoided.

Posted in Good and Frugal Government, Climate Instability, Environmental Sustainability, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Living, Safe Community | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Why Oklahoma is becoming such a miserable place to live.

Oklahoma is becoming an increasingly miserable place to live.

I am increasingly of the opinion that the best way to help the poor in Oklahoma is to help them move to a different state.

All it takes is a look at our political system to find out the reasons for our on-going devolution into misery.

The filing period has just closed for the 2014 elections.

  • Half the State House of Representative races have only one candidate.
  • 1/3 of the State Senate races have only one candidate.
  • 1/3 of the state officer races have only one candidate.

We have low voter registration rates and low voter participation and indeed, what’s the point of registering and voting in Oklahoma?

The Democrats have apparently folded up shop.  Oklahoma remains one of the worst states in the nation in terms of its rules to put new parties on the ballot.  No political competition is allowed.  Indeed, Russia has more liberal rules for qualifying a new political party than does Oklahoma.

So it comes to pass that Oklahoma is run by a one party kakistocracy (“government by the worst elements of a society”).

If you don’t believe that, just watch  one of T.W. Shannon’s campaign commercials for US Senate.  Or listen to Mary Queen of Lynch Mobs Fallin bragging about her campaign slogan — “More Misery for the poor”.

What does God say about the poor? well. . . we could start with. . .

“What do you mean by crushing my people and grinding down the poor when they look to you? Those who oppress the poor blaspheme their Maker,  but the one who is kind to the needy glorifies God. The rich who oppress the poor are like a devastating rain that leaves no food. ”

And then move on to. . .

“Better to be poor and walk in integrity than to be crooked in your ways and rich. Those who shut their ears to the cry of the poor will themselves also call and not be heard.”

And. . .

“Do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the alien or the poor; do not plot evil against one another in your hearts.”  More at “Here is what God says about the poor.

 

Posted in Good and Frugal Government, Campaign News, Collapse, Oklahoma Living, Social Justice | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Bob Must Get a City Permit. Get Ready for Verbal Pyrotechnics.

I should sell tickets for this event.

In mid May I am having a tornado cellar installed.  I finally found someone who would put extra dirt on top to enhance its utility as a root cellar/wine and beer aging cellar. Tornado King USA, out of Muskogee, if you’re interested.

Installation of a storm shelter requires a City Permit.  There was a recent article in the paper about how to do this, but it promised a bit more than the City Website delivered.  They have special forms for permits for fences, pools, and signs, and no form specifically for storm shelters. No list of the requirements to get the permit either. How easy would it be for them to have a page for “Storm Shelters”? Well, as someone who has literally hundreds of pages of info on the internet, I can tell you right now that a web page is damn easy to do and cheap too.  Certainly cheaper than having extra staff on hand to answer the calls from the THOUSANDS of people installing shelters this year.

So I had to make a phone call.  That started last week.  I was on hold for a long time and then got a message “leave a message and we’ll call you back.” I left a message and of course, no one called me back.  I tried again today and had better luck, and actually got a list of requirements, which I am posting here. We’ll see if this is actually the real list of requirements once I pile all this up and fax it in.  That is one improvement over my last attempt at a city permit during my extreme green renovation of 2005.  That required three trips downtown because I was told I needed different items. It would have required a fourth except that I made a scene and demanded to see a supervisor. Post permit event, I sent several scathing emails, scathing I say, about the 20th century business practices of the permit dept.  Now they have the ability to take applications by fax, and it only takes SEVEN TO TEN BUSINESS DAYS for them to get around to looking at the permit.

So I am presently scheduled for a mid May installation.  We’ll see if it happens.  Here are the requirements:

The shelter application requires —

  • Application (I downloaded that from their site)
  • Copy of the official plans
  • Letter signed by the engineer stating it will not float out fo the ground, it could also be a statement on the plans
  • Full site plan showing property lines and structures showing how far the shelter is away from the house and the property lines. They said I could do the drawing myself.

We live in Tornado Alley.  As far as OKC is concerned, everyone is On Their Own for tornado protection.  Schools and churches that used to provide public shelter space are closing their doors.  You would think that they would have an expedited, easy process that would encourage people to build storm shelters. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!  We can’t do that can we?  How will they know they’re important down at City hall if they don’t force us to genuflect before them and pay for a “permit of privilege” that allows us to spend our own money to protect our lives and the lives of those we love by building a storm cellar on land that we have bought and paid for with our own hard earned money?

Posted in Good and Frugal Government, Climate Instability, Collapse, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Living, Safe Community | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Pothole filled!

potholepatchI am Shocked! Shocked I Say! Shocked AND Amazed! to report that the perennial pothole at NW 21 and North McKinley was filled with some asphalt yesterday morning. The City did not repair the underlying problem that causes it to periodically reappear. This is maybe the third or fourth time it has been filled with asphalt in the last decade. So it will be interesting to see how long it takes for it to be refilled.

Even so, it’s nice to have the symptom repaired, thank you Okie City. I understand the City is too poor and thus can’t treat the underlying problem, but symptoms are important too and so it is better to not ignore them. After all, Oklahoma City has expensive habits that constrain its priorities.  Keeping the movers and shakers downtown happy is not cheap! Their projects suck up all our cash. Thus the rest of the city continues to deteriorate while downtown it is Party On Dudes!

So it goes on the road to the ash heap of history.  In the meantime, us peasants should be grateful for whatever crumbs fall from the Downtowner table onto our neighborhoods.

Posted in Good and Frugal Government, Collapse, Economic Prosperity, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Living | 1 Comment