Thursday, November 20, 2014

Online Holiday Food Drive

by M. J. Joachim

Effectively Human is hosting the 2nd Annual Holiday Food Drive this year. Please help us share the information, so we get as many people participating as possible.

What? When? Where? Who?
2nd Annual Holiday Food Drive

December 4 - 6, 2014

Everywhere on the World Wide Web

Hosted by Effectively Human

Goal
To help fill our local food bank shelves, so as many people as possible can get the food they need.

How?
Promote local food banks via sharing their websites on our social network sites, profiling them in our writing, sponsoring activities for them and volunteering to help them in any way we can.

For 3 days we want to saturate the web with anything food bank and hunger related to raise awareness about hunger and help feed those in need.

Why?

Because people are hungry, food banks need our support and we want to help.

#feedthehungryeh

For more information, please visit the Effectively Human Blog.

Here’s to lots of less hungry people in the world. Please help us spread the word about this. You are welcome to copy and use the banner if you want. Thank you.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved   Photo credit:  Jeremy Hawkins

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Religion and Politics Entwined

by M. J. Joachim


We finished watching Borgia this past week. Something Lucrezia said during one of the last episodes made me stop and think. 

“Religion limits the mind. Spirituality expands the soul.”

One has to understand that the Borgia reign took place during a time when religion and politics were entwined. It was a battle between Catholics and non-catholics. Religion has always played a role in defining our behavior, even when so many of those in authority didn’t follow the rules.

Subjects are expected to be submissive, willing to give up their freedom and right to think and act for themselves, considering it a greater good to act for the benefit of the Church. Yet, there were still many saints during this time, people who put God first, even at the expense of challenging the Church. Many of these same people were challenged by the powers that be in the Church, because as much as they obeyed the precepts of the Church, they also questioned those who imposed those precepts without following them themselves.

There is a difference in Catholicism as an institution and Catholicism as a faith, just as there is a difference in Mormonism as an institution and Mormonism as a faith, or Protestantism as an institution and Protestantism as a faith or even Buddhism as an institution and Buddhism as a faith. No group is exempt from the powers and authorities or rules and expectations vs. the spirituality of their faith. Individuals alone must determine how to respond to each in turn.

So I ask the question, 

Do we want to be limited by the rules that bind us, or do we want to fully open our hearts and souls to the God who made us? 

One does not necessarily need to exclude the other. Wisdom demands that we recognize abuses of power, keeping ourselves pure when others might defile us with their iron hand.

This does not apply only to religions of the world. As mentioned in an earlier paragraph, religion and politics were very much entwined. As much as things changed, perhaps they have also remained very much the same.

Can you think of one or more incidents in today’s times where politics and religion have joined forces to limit the minds of their subjects and followers? Can you think of one or more incidents in today’s times where politics and religion have butted heads, because neither was in the interest of the greater good, and both sought to keep their power and control?

It definitely gives one pause…

Thank you for visiting me here today. 

Wishing you only good things,

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Borgia Geneology, GNU Free Documentation License

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Reflecting on the Beatitudes

by M. J. Joachim




I opened up my Bible today and this is what I read, “What values of society do the Beatitudes challenge?”

From Matthew 5

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  • Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
  • Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
  • Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
  • Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
  • Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
  • Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
  • Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  • Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

The first thing I notice about the Beatitudes is that the first and last each promise the kingdom of heaven to those who suffer. The only thought that readily comes to mind regarding society today is that we all suffer in some way, shape or form, so the kingdom of heaven will one day belong to each and every one of us.


The next thought that occurs to me is that I’ve never met a person who didn’t cry. Mourning is a natural human condition that happens when people feel a sense of loss. Doesn’t this too, apply to each and every one of us?

Meekness, on the other hand is a little bit different. Rebellious and haughty spirits will not receive much for their anger and opposition. Gentle spirits, calm heads will prevail, especially when it counts.

People hunger and thirst for righteousness all the time. The question that needs to be asked is, “Whose righteousness and how does it affect their opposition?” One man’s righteousness is another man’s trial and affliction. Don’t just take my word for it. I’m sure many of us have been on both sides of this beatitude, fighting for the sake of fighting, fighting for a cause that will help or hurt many more lives than our own, fighting for our own freedom at the expense of our brother’s. The news is full of stories where both sides of a dispute agree no one is the winner, when the verdict is finally revealed.

Mercy, kindness, compassion, love - these are things the world is in dire need of in today's society. How is it that we have reversed their meaning, to sympathize with those who violate other human beings? How is it that we re-victimize victims, in the name of justice and finding the truth? Nobody is right if everybody's wrong, but nobody's wrong if everybody is right either. Are we not obligated to take a stand at times, addressing errors which will likely lead to more errors, or at the very least, minimize the pain of another, because we simply don't choose to stand up for what is right?

Cleanliness of heart, purity - sex sells, violence is cool, especially in video games and action adventure movies. Common sense is practically not common at all anymore. It’s probably a good thing they close our eyes when we die, because not many of us will be able to see God anyway.

Is there such a thing as a peacemaker in our world today? It almost seems as if everything creates a battlefield, and we all are enlisted to fight for whichever side we deem best meets our own personal needs and desires. What is peace, if not something we preserve in our individual hearts? For it is only there that we can truly hear the voice of God, when we are silent enough to actually listen to what He is saying to us.

The saddest thing of all is that too many of us persecute each other in the name of God, but there is nothing godly or Christian about our actions. We are not actively being God’s servants when we do this. We are fighting for our will be done, not “Thy Will Be Done.” We get persecuted and in turn persecute the person or people persecuting us. This is how it is in today’s society. Most of the time it’s not even about who is right and who is wrong, but about who is victorious in getting their own way, regardless of the means they use to get it.

We’ve strayed a long way from the promises of God. The farther down the path we go, the more we end up trying to fix where we just came from, not so much for the glory of God, but more likely because we didn’t look at the bigger picture and reacted on impulse, without considering the consequences of our actions.

I didn’t mean for this post to go in such a dark and dreary direction today. The Beatitudes usually give me promises of hope when I read them. Today, however, they shine a light on our human condition, calling us out for being guilty of not loving our fellow man as we love ourselves, and being willing to sink to the depths of ingratitude to prove it.

Claiming we are Christian is one thing. Being Christian is a matter of the heart. For only the heart reveals the true nature of man, and God alone has the power to change it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Please share them in the comments. Thank you.

Also, I’d like to invite you all to the new Effectively Human Google+ Community I created yesterday. Please stop by and see if it’s something you might be interested in joining. Hope to see you there.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Sermon on the Mount, Jan Brueghel, the Elder (1568 - 1625), Getty Center, PD-US

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Prayer for Veterans and Their Families

by M. J. Joachim




You asked me what I wanted and this is what I said, “To defend my native country, I’m willing to lay dead.” You sent me into battle. I heard the warriors cry. “If this is what you want, Lord, I’ll lay down my life and die.” You took me down a long path, of broken hearts and limbs. I gave my choice so willingly, to battle for their freedoms.


As citizens we honor the soldiers in our lives, not just today, but always as we cherish all their cries. Their families not sheltered from the wrath these wars do play, we hold them close in our hearts, each and every day. For those who’ve gone before us, and those still coming home. For all those readjusting, the battle field now gone. For those who are too frightened, and those who’ve lost their limbs. For all our glorious soldiers, may Heaven sing God’s hymn.

This is for all those who serve and risk their lives to keep us safe.

We love you, Comrades! Thank you for your service!

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Tomb of the Unknowns, Arlington National Cemetery, PD-US

Monday, November 10, 2014

Borgia, Blind Faith and Innocence

by M. J. Joachim


A few months back my husband and I started watching a show called Borgia on Netflix. It’s a period series dating back to the 1400’s. Borgia became Pope Alexander VI. His papacy appeared to be about power, fame, fortune, status and family glory. A lot of it was about conquering the New World back then, dividing up lands and taking as many territories as possible through war.

This history of the Church is not necessarily a pretty one, and in many instances, it’s not all that Christian either. That’s not to say that Catholicism isn’t the fullness of the faith. On the contrary, for it is in our weaknesses that we often prevail the most, provided we are open to what our weaknesses have to teach us about ourselves.

Having faith like a child does not mean being ignorant of the blights against us - those imposed on us, or ones we have created ourselves. Even children have an innate sense of right and wrong. They know truth and are capable of understanding when things don’t make sense or contradict each other.

Which is why we must be vigilant in our faith, preserving the lessons Jesus teaches us about it, listening to those who not only subscribe to those lessons, but also who act as if those lessons actually mean something. For indeed they do, and no one knows the heart of a man except the God who made him. Most of us don’t even rightfully know ourselves as well as God does. Yet we carry on as if we have all the answers, blindly expecting others to do the same.

It’s not my place to tell another person how to live. I have enough problems figuring it out for myself, and even when I do good, I often fall far short of what I might have done, if only I had the mind of a child and were able to see the world through innocent eyes.

Thanks so much for visiting Christian Catholic today. Your comments and shares of my work here are always appreciated.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: EEIM, A Child Eye, Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 4.0 International License

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What About the Children?

by M. J. Joachim




I know marriage is a sacrament, and ideally couples should get married before having kids, especially according to certain religious institutions. I’m not knocking marriage or sacraments at all in this post. However, we live in a culture where this doesn’t always happen, sometimes by choice, sometimes by unplanned pregnancies, where children end up being born whether their parents are married or not.


It breaks my heart that those children’s parents are often frowned upon by snooty religious folks. I speak from a Catholic background, but I’ve seen this happen in many organized religious institutions. Are any of us so naive as to believe the children of those parents don’t pick up on the disapproval of their parents?

True love doesn’t make conditions about whether or not a person abides by the rules enough to be loved. It doesn’t shun or disrespect other people, because their circumstances may or may not be ideal - according to who’s standards, btw? Did God say parents of children born out of wedlock are worse people than any other person out there? Did He say the children should be okay with their parents not being good enough for their holier than thou Christian judges, peers dealing with their own set of human imperfections, which may or may not be more scandalous than giving birth to a child, if not as obvious?

It seems to me shunning parents who give birth out of wedlock is a sure way to decrease numbers in the pews. Instead of embracing family, for once a child is born (whether the parents are married or not) a family now exist, organized religion plays a big part in defining family, and when that family doesn’t follow the rules, losing that family because they lack the love to embrace all people in that family, regardless of their circumstance as members of that family.

Somehow I don’t think the God who lived and died for us out of love for us, expects us to behave this way, whether we think we own His morality code or not. Somehow I don’t think it’s very moral to act this way in the first place. Only God can create a life. Judging the parents, which in turn is judgment passed onto the child, whether we think so or not, is pretty much like telling God His choice to make a life in that particular situation wasn’t the best one He’s ever made, which in turn makes me think it might be akin to judging God Himself in a way, and that just can’t be good at all.

Love is the answer, and if it’s not working, increase the dose. I saw that on Facebook the other day, and I couldn’t agree more!

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Percentage of birth to unmarried women, selected countries, CDC, US Federal Government, PD-US