Interactive Friday

Friday, February 2, 2006 — We decided that my Friday blog entries would be informal and interactive — and today is Friday! There are so many intelligent and worthwhile comments coming in from all of you that I am tempted to begin posting them on Mondays and Wednesdays as well. They could go at the bottom of my regular news item analysis. But for now, until you convince me otherwise, we’ll stick with our present system of “Interactive Fridays."

More than one of you has remarked that I don’t seem to be pushing religion and have wondered (and sometimes complained) why that’s so. Two reasons: First, I don’t think religion should ever be pushed. As the noblest expression of who we are as human beings, it must be a fully HUMAN expression, meaning it can only be done well if it is done FREELY. Second, while there is certainly a need for religious teaching, discussion and motivation, I am appalled by the lack of serious ethical and moral discussion on current events. That’s what I want this blog to be about. You can write in and ask me about ANYTHING, but the blog itself will stick to making ethical sense of what’s going on in world news.

Coming from a large family, my brothers and sisters always took it upon themselves to keep me humble, and from the content and tone of a few of your e-mails, there are a handful of you out there who want to do the same! Ouch! I’ve got pretty thick skin, so we’ll keep going. It’s kind of funny how sensitive we can be: the ratio of positive responses to negatives may be overwhelming, but the negative ones have a way of stinging and sticking.

I’ll post quite a few e-mails today, since last Friday you asked me for more. Don’t feel like you have to look at them all. They have no logical order, so you aren’t going to miss the punch line if you decide to take a break. The first batch will be reactions to my February 1st posting on the State of the Union address, and the second will be about the January 30th posting, "Real Suffering, Real Solutions." I’ve mixed in both the positive and the negative. Here we go:

Your Reactions to: “State of the Union Vertigo”

Father Jonathan,

I just may become "addicted" to your no-nonsense way of cutting through what's been said. I was particularly tuned into the sentence about the complaining without a viable alternative. That is what is SO LACKING in the crazy divisiveness in political rhetoric. Thank you, again. GOD BLESS YOU.

Brenda, San Bernardino, CA

RESPONSE: Brenda, you’re right. It’s easy to criticize and knock down, but it's hard to build. We’ve got to try.


Father Jonathan,

I find you far too critical of our president, a visionary man (which one day history will prove). Bush does what he says and means what he says. Quite refreshing, if you ask me. I would think a priest like you would welcome and respect the depth of this man's faith. There are too few Catholics in the pews who can match it. Bush is willing to try and overturn Roe v. Wade. You ought to be elated. And by the way, when do we ever hear from the pulpit about the folly of voting for candidates that support the killing of babies? I’m not dizzy. I am hopeful that just maybe this country is starting to find it's moral compass, too bad you are another cynic. You must be a Democrat!

Pat, Grand Rapids, MN

RESPONSE: Ouch! I’ll let this next reader (below) respond for me.


Dear Father Jonathan,

As a first time reader of your blog and after noting the subject matter, I braced myself for some level of "Bush Bashing." When I could find none — just honest assessment and a thoughtful tone — I was nicely surprised! Thank you, for being fair-minded about President Bush's State of the Union address and offering reasonable critique.

Anne, La Grande, Oregon

RESPONSE: Anne, thanks for coming to my aid. And Pat (above), stick with me here. We probably agree on a lot of things.


Dear Father Jonathan,

Each and every time you impart your wisdom on FOX News, my day is made! I feel what you say is needed, comes from the heart, and is so well thought out. I am not sure how your being a contributor came about, but I thank whoever had the insight to bring you on board.

As a mother of three sons, I get extremely worried about the world they are inheriting. Each day seems to bring another situation more horrific than the last. I don't discount the good news, but I think perhaps we need more of it. Thank you so very much for what you bring to all of us. You are so appreciated.

Jane, Houston, TX

RESPONSE: Jane, from the genuine concern and care expressed in your e-mail, I have no doubt that your three boys are going to turn out just fine.


Father Jonathan,

I find your summary of the State of the Union speech to be amazingly incisive and cogent! Perhaps we back in the States should tape it and watch it six hours or so after the fact, so that we're watching in the middle of the night as you were.

And you're a Michigan fan, eh? Well, I cannot argue with their gridiron prowess, but I'm forever an Eagle (as in Boston College)!

Dennis, Boston, MA

RESPONSE: Dennis, I’ll take Boston College over Ohio State any day.


Father Jonathan,

Thank you for your honest (and brief) analysis of the State of the Union address.
Much gratitude for your pointed summary of what we are to do about it!

God Bless,
Cynthia, Bend, OR

RESPONSE: Cynthia, understood! I’ll try to keep my future entries brief as well.


Oh come on Father! You are in Rome communicating from the people who invented pomp and pageantry. No one does 'extravaganzas' like the Catholic Church! As for the SOTU address, I found it adequate, and agreed and disagreed on several issues. By and large, it was the usual ritual that occurs every January. I agree that the subject matter is too vast to cover in one hour, but it's tradition. Just like the traditional incense (which makes ME dizzy) during one of the special masses several times during the year and at funerals we Catholics have. It's all smoke and mirrors, whether politics or religion.

By the way, you are an awesome commentator and your coverage for FOX News has been a breath of fresh air verus some of the old fogies they used to consult with.

Thanks and Blessings,

RESPONSE: C.F., I laughed out loud when I read your second paragraph after feeling like I was on trial during the first. You’re right, there are a lot of smells and bells in Rome. It’s called liturgy. My choice of words, “pomp and pageantry," may have been too harsh. Thanks.


Father Jonathan,

You couldn't have said it better! I think your synopsis was great and to the point. I only hope you are right in the next to last paragraph, when you go along with many of us Americans, and wish the politics would stop and people would come together for the good of all.

God Bless and have a good day!
Mary, Blue Bell, Pa.

RESPONSE: Mary, I know what you mean. Politics tend to get dirty. But we do have some good politicians and a few great ones. We just need more. Any volunteers?


Your Reactions to: “Real Suffering, Real Solutions”

Father Jonathan,

Yes! It does make sense. When bad things happen, some people turn away from God. But I turn to Him and He makes me stronger. I've lost my Mom, two grandparents, and my brother — all within the past four years. All the while, God was there. And although I never seen a reason for my brother's untimely death, I know that there is a purpose. I love the Lord.

God bless,


Father Jonathan,

I don't understand why people gripe and fuss when things get bad like no power, A/C, and all the nice things we were used to before Katrina hit. I just thought back to when I was a teenager on the farm in Tennessee. Back then, we had a roof over our heads, food, water, and clothes to wear. The people who were doing the most griping were people who had a house that they could live in. I kept saying, "Keep it and give it to those who are worse off then I am." They would reply, "You were in a hurricane you deserve it too." I know people here are still living in tents, but I blame that on the people who are supposed to help these people. They worry too much about paperwork and red tape. There is a time for that, and this is not the time.

Thank you for taking time to read this; I know you are a very busy man.

Very respectfully,
John, Gulfport, MS

RESPONSE: John, you are a humble and good man. Thank you. Let me know if I, or one of our readers, can help in some way.


Father Jonathan,

I enjoy reading your blogs, and this particular one is very close to my heart. My father, who passed away in 2003, was in my mind, a present-day Job. He suffered for forty years with several different afflictions that crippled his health and put him in a position that he could not provid for his family. My mother had to become the primary income provider for us. His illnesses were severe. I will not get into all of that except to say one of them was a serious heart problem. I actually had to tell my dad in his later years that it was important to tell the doctors how bad the pain was, because all he would ever say to their questions was, “no complaints today.”

As I write this I am starting to shed tears, not in sorrow but because I am so proud of him and what he stood for all his life. God was always first, never second, and the values that he and my mother instilled in me will never be forgotten. He touched many people with his testimony and I could not have had a better father, friend or role model for my life.

When things around me are looking dark in my life, I just think about my father and what he would say; and suddenly everything becomes lighter.

No complaints today,
Terry, Fayetteville, Arkansas

RESPONSE: Terry, I would have liked to have known your father.


Father Jonathan,

When my father died of cancer in June of 1991, my sister and I both had similar feelings of, "why Dad?" He was a good simple man, who loved his family and worked really hard. So why would he be a victim of a horrible disease? I prayed many times for him to be healed during his illness and questioned whether my prayers were being heard, and I really questioned my faith.

However, my dad never seemed to question, but to grow stronger with his faith. He had gotten to the point where he couldn't talk, but was able to write short sentences. Once when our preacher was visiting him, Dad wrote, "I love God and he loves me." That simple sentence spoke volumes of my dad's faith and love for God.

But here is the final answer to the questions that I had about my prayers for Dad's healing. Within a three-week time frame, my sister, myself and our preacher all had dreams about Dad. In each of our dreams (which we didn't share with each other prior to the other one's dreams) Dad came to us and was healed. That, to me, shows that God's perfect healing is sometimes through death, which isn't the end, but the beginning of a new life.

Melinda, Nashville, TN

RESPONSE: Beautiful.


Hello Father Jonathan,

I read your bit on suffering. I agree wholeheartedly. Suffering builds character. I would not be the person I am today if not for my terrible experiences. I work with people who suffer a lot. My response, many times, is that we should not deny or avoid our suffering. I find that Americans have a more difficult time with suffering, unlike other cultures or races. It's because others have lived with more of it and have learned how to interpret it. Also, some Americans have a sense that they are beyond anything negative. They feel that it's shameful when bad things happen to them. I have my own thoughts on the subject.


RESPONSE: Juanita, you are right. Our quick-fix culture makes accepting long-term suffering much more difficult. Some things can’t be fixed in the here and now.

Until Monday, God bless, Father Jonathan

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