Portrait of a Murder as a Young Man

06-28-2015Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

A portrait of a murderer as a young man.

Much has been said and written about the motivations and causes for the young man who massacred nine people at Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. For sure we can never fully unravel the twisted darkness of evil but we can at least examine it by parts to learn how to disarm it.

The first thing that always crosses my mind when I hear of these violent tragedies is "what chemicals was the perpetrator using or withdrawing from"? In this case we quickly learned (often the drug history of killers is kept from the public under the guise of medical confidentiality) he was a regular drug user including the prescription drug Suboxone (which is more recently being used by the medical industry to treat symptoms of narcotic withdrawal, especially heroin and other opiates and to replace methadone since users don't have to go to a clinic to obtain each dose). The drug is indicated for short-term use but many people stay on the drug for a very long time. While it does not have the intoxicating power of heroin it does distort thinking and reflexes (which is why most psychotropic drugs including alcohol and medical marijuana, have warning labels that tell you not to drive or operate heavy equipment while taking the drug). Additionally Suboxone is known to push young people into highly anti-social and destructive behavior. As usual the focus is on guns but it is time we start looking at the role psychoactive and mind-altering drugs play in these mass shootings.

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Election Oddity

06-21-2015Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Ground Control to Major Tom
Your circuit's dead,
There's something wrong
Can you hear me Major Tom
Can you hear me Major Tom….

—"Space Oddity" by David Bowie

An Election Oddity. As things shape up for the next presidential election cycle my brain is starting to short circuit.

Since the 1980's our society has overdosed on the notion of "diversity". You're simply not acceptable to polite society unless you represent diversity of a very narrow and specified Zeitgeist. Even corporations, institutions and organizations have all contorted themselves to be able to proclaim: "we are diverse". Even though the Church is very diverse, members from every nation, ethnic, cultural and language group on earth, it obviously, so we were told, flunked the diversity test when the cardinals failed to elect the first ever black, Jewish, lesbian Pope and instead elected as usual a old celibate Bishop from Argentina. So much to my befuddlement as I look at the candidate line-up I see on one side running for president: two Hispanic men, one black man, one woman and a few middle aged white men. On the other side I see one elderly white woman and a few middle aged to elderly white men. But I am told the latter really represents diversity and not the former. What am I missing here?

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Euphemisms

06-14-2015Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

In one of my first letters of the year I wrote that the push for Assisted Suicide would become harder and fiercer as the year progresses. Right on cue the Gallup Organization published the results of a poll that showed a 20% increase in support for assisted suicide but with one caveat: support increases when assisted suicide is described euphemistically rather than accurately. Support increases to 70% when people are asked if they support "aid in dying" or as the poll asked: "allow physicians to end a patient's life by some painless means". However support decreases to 51% when the process is described as "allowing physicians to help patients commit suicide". (As we head into another election cycle be very careful to read how polls phrase questions because the phrasing of the question and not the actual issue determines how people respond.)

You can see why the pushers of Assisted Suicide press hard to change words and use propaganda to sell death on demand. Even the Euthanasia Society has changed its name twice since 1976 first to the Society for the Right to Die and now know as Choice in Dying. It all sounds very lovely and democratic but though the words changed the underlying reality did not but they count on your ability to be easily fooled. "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me" well in this case words can actually kill you.

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He, She or...

06-07-2015Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Admittedly I am stupefied by the lightening speed with which the issue of transgender and transsexual lifestyles has been normalized in our culture. The issue is probably best symbolized by the very public transformation of former Olympic Gold medalist Bruce Jenner known now as Caitlyn. The way in which the media has promoted his change to her with thunderous applause and the highest accolades outdoes any other historical issue in my lifetime. And as expected no journalist has dared to report on the dark underside of making such a lifestyle change. There are plenty of people who went down this road and deeply regret it (see: "Sex Change Surgery: What Bruce Jenner, Diane Sawyer and You Should Know" www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2015/04/14905/ ).

This is a major cultural shift that is the crowning achievement of those who want to deconstruct the Judeo-Christian understanding of the human person. And I say cultural because culture is what drives everything: change the culture and you will change people's value system. Pope John Paul II understood this well and it is why he so heavily challenged us to shape a culture of life. Our efforts in that area have certainly born fruit, though there is still a long way to go. As with Abortion, trans/lifestyles, once you understand fully the issue and other solutions you have to ask yourself, "what really is the most loving thing to do" in order to help those with this struggle?

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