Saturday, May 16, 2020

Trump's supporters.

THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE. Sadly, our Lamestream Media is TOTALLY CORRUPT! - Trump tweet

I'm sure everyone has seen reports on this story - the lockdown protests.  Some of the behavior exhibited by protesters, has been threatening and intimidating.  In Michigan some have shown up with guns and militia gear.  In Minnesota the Governor's residence was littered today.  President Trump calls them 'good people' and no doubt some of them are.  Yet he praises the worst behavior and stirs up more anger, dismissing journalists he sees as reporting 'fake news' as 'not essential.'  Trump admits on Twitter that his supporters, especially the 'orange shirts'  online, are his best campaign people.  (Wish I had the actual tweet.)  They are free and they are being used by Trump. 

He thrives on social media propaganda - that's clearly his strategy - he stirs up his supporters.  He publishes numerous tweets per day, using inflammatory language similar to right-wing, radio talk-how hosts.  He tries to silence MSM and replace it with unverifiable claims on social media, supported by his base, who organize on social media.  Fox and friends is his network.  Nothing new, I know.  I also know it's free speech.  But social media is his machine, and he is using people he would otherwise despise.  As Howard Stern affirmed, “The people Trump despises most, love him the most.”
Stern went on to say that Trump would be “disgusted” by the MAGA crew. “Go to Mar-a-Lago, see if there is any people who look like you,” he said. “I’m talking to you in the audience.” - Source
(My apologies to friends and others of good will, who support Trump.)

Friday, May 15, 2020

Conspiracy thinking in America.

“Nonsense is nonsense but the history of nonsense is scholarship.” - Saul Lieberman*

In an Atlantic piece, The Conspiracy Theorists Are Winning, by Jeffrey Goldberg, the author explores the growing influence of conspiracy theories in American politics.  Goldberg writes:
I had spent years in the Middle East listening to complicated nonsense, and I was familiar with the long and dismal history of Russian conspiracy-mongering. It was always a relief to know that in the United States, conspiracism was usually—not always, but usually—a marginal phenomenon. Men like Alex Jones were more often than not a source of bemusement, not a cause for fear. Healthy societies develop antibodies to protect themselves from fantastical thinking, and America, democratic, free, and transparent, was a healthy society. I was wrong, of course. - Goldberg
I've been running into more and more young people - at the store and elsewhere, who are convinced MSM does nothing but fake news. They place their trust in Trump and what the White House tells the country. I have started to wonder if the disinformation campaign coming from the White House is a deliberate propaganda machine, as was that operated by Goebbels in Nazi Germany? Trump loves conspiracy theories, as Goldberg notes:
"Trump does not defend our democracy from the ruinous consequences of conspiracy thinking. Instead, he embraces such thinking. A conspiracy theory—birtherism—was his pathway to power, and, in office, he warns of the threat of the “deep state” with the ferocity of a QAnon disciple. He has even begun to question the official coronavirus death toll, which he sees as evidence of a dark plot against him. How is he different from Alex Jones, from the conspiracy manufacturers of Russia and the Middle East?

He lives in the White House. That is one main difference." - Goldberg
Conspiracy theory as propaganda.

At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist myself ... For a longtime now, I've attributed the blame-game played by the administration, pretty much to Trump alone, with some help from his staff of course. It just seemed like ordinary dissimulation tactics - political double-speak. Until now. It strikes me as a deliberate strategy - and not just dumb mistakes. I hate giving Trump credit for intelligence - but there seems to be a growing, recognizable effect happening across the country. After Kushner's remark a few days ago about pushing back the election, I wouldn't be surprised if the the administration attempts to do just that.
Trump does not defend our democracy from the ruinous consequences of conspiracy thinking. Instead, he embraces such thinking. - Godlberg
My apologies to my Catholic friends who support Trump, but the "consequences of conspiracy thinking" is indeed ruinous. Catholics need to be aware of this more than anyone else, since many can find themselves influenced by Catholic private revelation and 'locutions from heaven'. Many times private revelation, and or the interpretation of the message, goes hand in hand with conspiracy theories.

The apparition circuit has often acted as a sort of conduit for conspiracy theories. Especially today, with the opposition to Pope Francis and the Ordinary Form of Mass, not to mention the recent letter from Archbishop Vigano. Vigano and his followers are pointing the finger at a left-wing, Socialist, Masonic conspiracy aimed at a Global takeover - a New World Order. They frequently refer to OL of Fatima to defend their position, suggesting previous Popes ignored Our Lady's directives. In doing so, they risk making themselves cooperators in the right-wing populist movement.

*The Lieberman quote is taken from Goldberg's article.  I find it especially interesting in reference to some of the Catholic conspiratorial thinking.  Even scholars can sometimes convey an impression of acceptance of the intentions of the purveyor of misinformation, while attempting to refute the more fantastical interpretations of an event, or message.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

The Hermit of Loreto

An elderly Tom Zimmer sitting outside the Holy House.

Tom Zimmer

I'm sharing this story because I met Tom Zimmer, many years ago. I only realized after reading this story that he has died. He was an eccentric, and was known to receive Communion several times a day - since throughout the day, he attended every Mass he could.  Tom also knew about and pretty much followed nearly every apparition ever reported. He had a huge devotion to The Mother of All Nations, and Our Lady of the Roses - Bayside and San Damiano. Needless to say, I was skeptical about his spirituality. He took copious notes, his writing similar in style to that of the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski.  His printing extremely small, filling every space on a sheet of paper. He did this in a spirit of poverty. Though he could be a bit critical of the post-VII Church, he was devoted to the Ordinary Form and faithful to Catholic teaching in every way.

I met him in Garabandal, then later, at San Damiano, and then again in Rome. He was tall and very thin, and had thick black hair when I met him.  He looked gaunt and seemed to be fasting all the time.  Without boasting, he told me he originated the Pieta prayer book, but never accepted payment. His spiritual life was devotional, many rosaries, chaplets, litanies and novenas. He prayed without ceasing. He was an authentic soul, a genuine pilgrim, and a very gentle man - albeit eccentric. I do finally believe that he was a very holy man as well. The Capuchins seem to think so as well.

I'm genuinely sorry, if not ashamed, that I dismissed him as crazy or naive, just because his spirituality/devotion was expressed in response to reputed apparitions and locutions from Heaven, and his prayer seemed to be centered around so many devotions of popular piety.  Eccentrics, fools for Christ, however one describes men or women like Tom, they cling to Christ and Our Lady, and persevere to the end. Thank God for men like Tom who contradict the proud, the self-righteous, and the rigid.

(Edit note:) The claims he made about Trump are interesting, that's all.  If he made such a statement it isn't a testimony to Trump's personal holiness.  Indeed, he could be a bad man and yet under his watch, the U.S. could well return 'back to God' as Tom put it.  That said, as far as promonitions and locutions go, remember what St. John of the Cross said regarding them:

"[...] Souls are misled by imparting to God's locutions and revelations a literal interpretation, and interpretation according to the outer rind.  As has been explained, God's chief objective in conferring these revelations is to express and impart the elusive, spiritual meaning contained in the words.  This spiritual meaning is richer and more plentiful than the literal meaning and transcends those limits."[...] "Anyone bound to the letter, locution, form, or apprehensible figure cannot avoid serious error and will later become confused for having been led by the literal sense and not having allowed for the spiritual meaning which is divested of the literal sense.  ('The letter kills, the spirit gives life' - 2 Cor. 3:6)" - Read St. John of the Cross, The Ascent, Bk II, Chapter 18 and 19

The Story about Zimmer:

[I] spoke with Fr. Giuseppe Santarelli, who has been in Loreto for decades and would surely know more.
 I knew Fr. Santarelli to be one of the more erudite and learned friars in Loreto. He works as the director of the “Congregazione Universale della Santa Casa” which promotes devotion to the Holy House and publishes a magazine, among other things. So I popped in and introduced myself.
I immediately sensed that Fr. Santarelli, not much taller than five feet, was a kindly gentleman. I told him that I was there to inquire about an American “penitent” who lived in Loreto back in the 1990s and prayed frequently in the Holy House. 
Fr. Santarelli cut me off, “Ah sì, Thomas Zimmer si chiamava... certo che mi ricordo...” (“Ah yes, Thomas Zimmer was his name, of course I remember him...”). He went on to say that everyone in Loreto knew of him. 
I told him about the “premonition” Tom had made about Donald Trump and that a video of an American priest discussing it had just gone viral on the internet. Fr. Santarelli just smiled and added that he did not know anything about that, but that him making such a prophecy was perfectly in character. I asked him what he knew about Thomas.

He said Tom was in Loreto for about ten years, he was very pious and devoted, he went to Mass every opportunity he could, he was constantly in prayer, he spoke fluent Italian and possibly other languages, and the friars held him in high regard. The only issue that any friars may have had with him is that he received Communion more than twice daily, and they asked him to refrain from doing so. He said that he knew Tom had gone back to the US before he died. He didn’t recall exactly, but he thought somewhere around 2008.
He said that the basilica had received word of his death and they had a record of it. He took me into another room where there were some archives and pulled out a ledger or two, but could not find the document he was looking for. 
He then said that he had a photo of Tom, and he pulled out a hardbound book from a different shelf. It was a type of album. In it, Tom Zimmer can be seen frail and hunched over leaning on a cane sitting in front of the Holy House. He let me take a picture of it. - Tom Zimmer, Hermit of Loreto

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

A glimmer of hope.

Amazing Grace, Honoré Sharrer

I was surprised by an artist today.

Actually, an old schoolmate contacted me on FB.  I remembered her from art class.  We weren't friends, but I recall her student work and admired her technique.  She was rather aloof, she said 'withdrawn' due to PTSD at the time.  Most likely only diagnosed until later in life.  She apologized for ignoring me, but I never perceived her solitary concentration on her work as anything more than an 'artist at work'.  She was especially talented and her work was very detailed. 

Later in the day, I received an email from an auction house for a fine art sale.  I came upon an intriguing work by a female artist I was unfamiliar with, Honoré Sharrer.  The one piece I saw reminded me of my own work.  I had never heard of her before.  I especially liked her work, thinking to myself, 'I need to go back to painting.'

I noted on FB: "I need to start painting again - this has been a very long, difficult year - I can't wait for things to get better. I have to work through them."

It seems to me time is short - I need to work on my project.  No matter how much my thoughts reproach me.  Some days it is very difficult.  Purifying trials are necessary for humility - I think any artist, like the saint, needs to be plunged into nothingness, as it were ... to experience a sense of their own powerlessness.  To no longer seek to please men ... to be liberated from the opinion of men.

Yet there remains a sense of purpose within, an irresistible attraction.

I hope.

Pope Francis asks Our Lady of Fatima for an end to the pandemic.

“In our prayers we ask God, through the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for peace for the world, the end of the pandemic, the spirit of penance and our conversion,” Francis said at the end of his weekly Wednesday general audience. - Crux

It is good to keep in mind that the authentic interpretation of the message of Fatima rests with the Church.  For many decades, many sources have used private interpretations of the message and secret of Fatima to advance their own agenda - especially in opposition to the Popes and Vatican II.  Not a few are recognized by their inclination to sensationalize the message with conspiracy-theories concerning apostasy and chastisement fears.  It is perhaps the chief reason so many people dismiss the Fatima devotion, including the message and associations promoting it, due to a sort of  'right-wing cult' effect.  

Fatima is not over by any means. St. John Paul II declared the message is as relevant in our time as it was in 1917. Pope Benedict XVI also intimated as much. In the texts connected with the CDF's interpretation of the third secret, he said something to the effect, "though it seems these things have been fulfilled..." likewise, while at Fatima, the Holy Father said it was a mistake to believe the 'mission' of Fatima was complete.

What we add to these sayings, how we personally interpret the texts and visions is mere speculation - often based or reinforced by dubious revelations or sayings attributed to the Pope himself - as was done with what St. John Paul II was alleged to have said at Fulda regarding the third secret.

Many sensationalize the messages and apparitions in and through private interpretation and speculation. To overlay private revelations and prophecy onto Scripture is often misleading and can be a source of greater confusion. Though the imagery may appear to fit and events seem to coincide, we cannot of ourselves determine the meaning. That is always the responsibility of the Holy See.

As any good Carmelite, and much like her holy mother in religion, St. Teresa of Jesus, Sr. Lucia was and is 'a daughter of the Church' - she submitted her writings to the discernment of the Holy See. The Holy See has faithfully documented the message, as well as interpreted Sr. Lucia's account here: The Message of Fatima.

Today Pope Francis invokes Our Lady of Fatima, praying for an end to the pandemic through the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Pope Francis of course, entrusted himself to Our Lady of Fatima at the beginning of his pontificate.  In 2017 he visited Fatima and canonized the two seers, Jacinta and Francisco.  

Ignore the Fatimists, do not listen to the cult surrounding the false prophets who deform and misrepresent Our Lady's message from heaven.

Remember, the Holy Father, the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, is indeed at the center of the message and secret of Fatima; the Mother of God directs us always to Christ, and does not act outside the Church - the Holy Father is Christ's vicar entrusted to guide the Church by Christ himself. Our Lady is Mother of the Church. She cannot and will not go against the Church.

"Dear pilgrims, we have a Mother. Clinging to her like children, we live in the hope that rests on Jesus." - Pope Francis

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Archbishop Vigano’s Appeal Was Sharply Criticised by German Bishops

Thank God someone is responding to Vigano's growing fanaticism.

Vigano has so gone off the rails - if his followers-supporters do not recognize this fact, then they too are on the road to perdition - to use their private-revelation-style terminology.

Archbishop Vigano and his followers are pointing the finger at a left-wing, Socialist, Masonic conspiracy aimed at a Global takeover - a New World Order. The Vigano letter has a 'pernicious' tone, if you will.  It seemed to me it isn't that far off from referencing the dandy of conspiratorial, fabricated tropes: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. In fact, surfing with the remote, I happened upon an Evangelical-type religious talk show, wherein  the quests were in process of discussing just that - and not in an objective way.

I'm grateful the German Bishops have rejected the COVID-19 conspiracy, laid out by Vigano.  Vigano has recently demonstrated his ability to spread disinformation and confusion, relying upon conspiracy theories and 'secrets' which are without credence, except in the right wing circles he seems to be accepted by.  Don't fall for their conspiracy theories - religious or secular in origin. Especially be wary of religious leaders who rely on dubious private revelation, old conspiratorial tropes sparking fear and distrust.  This stuff only leads to scapegoating cultural groups of people.

German Bishops Response

The German Bishops recently admitted they “made themselves complicit” in Nazi crimes in and through their support of "soldiers and the regime", albeit rejecting any agreement with Hitler's racist ideology. (Story here.)  Fortunately, their position on the Vigano statement demonstrates their eagerness not to make the same mistake in this crisis. 

Vigano’s appeal was sharply criticised on Facebook by the vicar general of Essen, Fr Klaus Pfeffer. “I am simply speechless as to what is being spread here about the Church and Christianity: crude conspiracy theories without facts or proof together with a right-wing populist militant rhetoric which sounds very frightening.”
His bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck of Essen, recalled on Facebook at the weekend, that the Church could contribute to overcoming the pandemic by “practising solidarity as a clear sign of its commitment to the common good and to social justice."
That was exactly the opposite of the position taken by “the populists and other conspiracy theoreticians” and it was the Church’s duty clearly to contradict such theories “irrespective of who formulates them”, Overbeck said.
In an official statement Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg said he fully agreed with the statement by the conference president Bätzing.
Bishop Gebhard Fürstof Rottenburg-Stuttgart tweeted: “Whosoever reinterprets the efforts of politicians to save human lives from the pandemic into a dubious world conspiracy, is playing with fire.” - Source