Saturday, September 15, 2018

The Preaching of Pope Francis on the Sin of Self-Righteousness

I believe that one of the major developments in the Magisterium of the Church under Pope Francis is in the area of the sin of self-righteousness, a major theme across many of his homilies, also his encyclicals and other documents of the Magisterium.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church is silent about this sin, but the recent spate of Pope Francis homilies have been focusing on the theme of self-righteousness, or "accusing others" as he calls it.  I started to notice Francis picking up this theme on September 6 (https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/mass-casa-santa-marta/2018-09/pope-francis-homily-daily-mass-accuse-oneself-not-others.html) when he taught that the Christian way is to accuse ourselves, not others.

But, it is his Sunday homily on September 10 (https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/mass-casa-santa-marta/2018-09/pope-francis-homily-daily-mass-newness-gospel.html) where he starts shaking the ground.  The First Reading is the part of I Corinthians 5 where Paul is admonishing the Church of Corinth to root out sexual immorality.  The Pope picks up on this theme with his term "novelties."  For Francis, the "novelty" is the idea that we we have evolved beyond some primitive early church morality.  I think he is thinking of the idea of many Catholics and even some priests and bishops that a person can live a homosexual lifestyle as a Christian, because "today, it can be done this way."  The Pope clearly states, "There is a distinction between the 'newness' of Jesus Christ, and the 'novelties' that the world proposes to us as a way of living."  Notice, however, that the Pope does not name any names.  He is following his own advice from the earlier homily and he is not accusing anyone.  Another fascinating aspect of the same homily is the allowance of Pope Francis for the sin of weakness, which he clearly distinguishes from the hypocrisy of someone who claims to be a Christian but lives out the "novelties."  At the end of this homily, Pope Francis brings up the theme of the next homily: the great accuser, Satan who accuses the people of God of their sins.

Notice how Francis successfully walks the tightrope between liberty and law.  I have never read a Pope accomplish this as successfully as Pope Francis does.  As much as I love John Paul II and Benedict XVI, they tended to focus on the moral teachings without warning against the risk of self-righteousness.  Francis upholds the moral teachings of Jesus and the Church while simultaneously calling out self-righteousness.

In is his homily on Monday, September 11 (https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/mass-casa-santa-marta/2018-09/pope-francis-mass-great-accuser-bishops-scandal.html), Pope Francis says that the "Great Accuser," Satan, is attacking bishops of the Catholic Church to create scandal.  This is an incorporation into the Magisterium of the Catholic Church the basic Evangelical (and Scriptural) understanding of the role of the Accuser of the Brethren.  When Satan accuses us of our sins, our response must be, before God, to accuse ourselves of our sins in agreement with Satan, and then to thank Jesus for shedding his Blood of the Cross for the forgiveness of our sins.  My own opinion is that Pope Francis has Vigano in mind, who accused a ton of bishops in his 11 paged "Testimony" (http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/ex-nuncio-accuses-pope-francis-of-failing-to-act-on-mccarricks-abuse).

In his next homily on Tuesday, September 12 (https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/mass-casa-santa-marta/2018-09/pope-francis-at-mass-mercy-is-the-christian-style.html), the Pope points out that when we participate in this accusation process, we are actually entering into Satan's logic.  Again, I think he is homing in on Vigano, but the Pope -- a better man than I am -- actually refrains from accusing Vigano of self-righteousness, again following his own homiletic advice.  Pope Francis is silencing himself and he is refusing to enter into the logic of the Accuser of the Brethren.

It is obvious to me that the Pope is deeply troubled by the sin of self-righteousness, more than he is on fitting into the American news cycle, which interprets his homilies in light of the top stories of the hour.  He has even risked the misinterpretation of his words as an attempt to silence sex abuse victims from accusing abusers.  A future Pope, if not Francis himself, may incorporate this development of doctrine of the sin of self-righteousness into a future update to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  I love that our Pope is not trying to please any American political discourse.  By focusing on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, this Pope is rejected by both ideological political spectrums.  He does not fear any man.  He is preaching the Word of God.  "He who has ears, let him hear!" (Matthew 11:15)

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Almost two years at Kennedy International

Well, I am closing in on two years working at Kennedy International.  This is a reminiscing post on the positives of working at Kennedy International.

I love seeing my work in production and being used by people in the same building where I work.  The Drop Ship line is now using the angular mobile website that I wrote to ship over 1000 packages per weekday.  This is an exhilarating experience unlike a software house, where the programmer is disconnected physically from the end user by a project manager.  I love that I can take a walk in the warehouse and see my technology in use.

I love sitting underneath a shipping containing in the shade and watching the warehouse employees play soccer at lunch, while I eat Guatemalan cuisine cooked by the wife of one of the warehouse managers (for a bi-weekly fee).  Just yesterday, an electrical contractor looked at me sitting outside under my shipping container, and he said to me, "You're living the life!"  I smiled and said, "Yes."

I like not being the most conservative person in the office.  I work for a company with a strong Orthodox Jewish culture.  The office is a nice break from the surrounding postmodern culture,and I do not stick out with my catholic viewpoints, at least not anymore than anyone else sticks out.  I know that I likely may never work in an environment like this again, if I were to move on to another employer.

I like the size of my projects.  I have been getting projects which are 3 to 6 months in length, on average, with a lot of quick "win" in-between projects.  A quick "win" is when you do a small thing, but it makes a bit positive impact, like fixing an error that was getting on the nerves of 10 or 15 people.

I appreciate that I was given the opportunity to hone my Angular skill set.  I now have two projects under my belt.  The first project took 6 months due to the learning curve.  The second project was about as complicated as the first one, but it took me 2 months.

I like who I work with.  I have a great manager who is very flexible and allows me to use new technologies.  The development team is small, three of us working for the VP of Operations and Technology, who is also in the programming trenches.  I get along great with my other two co-workers.

I like the pace of change -- fast!  We are growing so fast, that we just moved to a warehouse that is 40% bigger than the last one, and we are already running out of space.  I continue to support automation of the shipping processes and my goal is to work myself out of this job.

Friday, September 22, 2017

One year at Kennedy International

I had my one year anniversary my place of employment, Kennedy International.  It has been quite a ride.  I am learning a lot about EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) which is a standard that businesses use to send business documents to each other.  At Kennedy International, we use EDI to receive Purchase Orders and to send Shipping Notifications, Invoices, and more.  It is really fun working in a warehouse.  We are gaining the efficiencies that we will need to stay competitive in this age of the Amazon takeover.  At Kennedy International, we get the Jewish holidays and today is Rosh Hashanah.  This is why I have time to write this little blog post.  I'm on holiday!  Happy New Year!

I drive to Dayton for work every weekday now.  They are building new warehouses like crazy out there.  As the retail stores close, they are being replaced by warehouses which need to carry all the items which you are ordering everyday over the Internet from your home computer.  I am enjoying being on the cusp of this wave.  EDI is the language of Internet commerce.

On another note, this Sunday, I am grilling at the Saint Joseph Parish International Picnic.  I'm bringing in my charcoal grill, burgers, hot dogs, and condiments.  It is going to be a lot of fun.  2PM in front of the church.  Come on over, have a burger and tell me you heard about it on my blog.

I'm enjoying my family.  Tonight, I think we are going to watch the new Beauty and the Beast, which just went onto Netflix.  And on Sunday, after the International Picnic, we are planning to watch Guardians of the Galaxy II.

In the name of simplification of my life, I'm getting ready to shut down my web server, since my last web hosting client will soon be off the server, and I can no longer afford the luxury.. I'm pointing www.boundbrook.com to the Bound Brook NJ Events Facebook page.  And, soon I will point www.mild.net directly to this blog.

That's it for now.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

My new job and GIT

In September, I started work at Kennedy International (http://www.kennedy-intl.com/).  No, it's not the airport.  It's a wholesale company located in Dayton, NJ, with a showroom in New York.  It's a lot of fun and I'm learning a ton!

It's been a while since I have written a technical post.  One of the things we are doing is integrated GIT (https://git-scm.com/) into the workflow among our small development team.  I want to share about two articles which do an excellent job of explaining how GIT works.  I just wanted to share the love by passing them on here: https://lostechies.com/joshuaflanagan/2010/09/03/use-gitk-to-understand-git/.

While I'm at it, here is another article: http://haacked.com/archive/2011/12/13/better-git-with-powershell.aspx/.  This one extols the benefits of using PowerShell and it explains how to set up Poshgit from PowerShell very quickly and get rolling with it.

Why stop there.  Next, watch this video on Git Training for the .NET Team.

Happy coding!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

August 2016 Update

I haven't written much in the past 3 years about my journey.  I have been working towards my Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy.  With some savings, I had decided to attempt schooling full-time to complete the degree faster.  Over the past 3 years, I took 10 courses and I accumulated a few hundred hours of clinical experience.  In the process I experienced three different types of internships, but -- sadly -- two of the internships fell short of the requirements of the Master's program at Northcentral University.  The program took longer than originally estimated and this past month I ran out of cash flow.  So, I am looking for a good website development opportunity.  If you have any web development job leads, feel free to reach out to me.

At the same time, I am discerning the formation of a men's healing prayer ministry group that might meet every 2 weeks.  We would practice healing prayers models such as Unbound and Immanuel Approach.  In the group, we would learn about these models, and when comfortable, we would practice helping one another to connect with Jesus and seeking our own healing.  If you are a male who is interesting in joining such a group, feel free to reach out to me.

Friday, March 11, 2016

A Review of John Eldredge's Beautiful Outlaw.

I recently finished reading John Eldredge's book Beautiful Outlaw.  You know, I'm always discerning new material through my dual Catholic/Evangelical lens.  Lots of great material in the book.  Life changing material.  It's hard to read a book by John Eldredge and not have it affect how you pray, how you think about reality, how you see life.  This book was no different.  Please forgive me now as I speak out of both sides of my mouth, but the truth is this: I am internally conflicted.

Part of me was disturbed by the relationship/religious dichotomy which Eldredge inherits from his Evangelical culture.  When people make that distinction, the hairs on my back bristle and I get defensive.  After all, part of me says, the word "religion" is rooted in the Biblical language of covenant.  In the Latin, the word "religion" means "to bind."  It refers to any oath taken which creates permanent relational rights and obligations, such as marriage.  Or, any sacrament.  Religion should not be opposed to relationship, anymore than commitment should be opposed to love.  Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote about religion as the virtue of giving worship that is due to God.   I find myself wanting to quote James 1:27, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."

On the other hand, as I raise myself up as smarter than John Eldredge, I also become uncomfortable with my own smug self-righteousness at quoting scripture and tradition.  Eldredge takes straight aim at the "religious spirit."  I think such a spirit exists.  I have renounced it in my own life and immediately experienced a lifting of some sort of oppressive regime away from me.  What's the difference between a self-righteous catholic and a self-righteous evangelical?  The catholic also knows how to quote tradition (and most of them do not know how to self-righteously quote scripture).  In some ways, I am worse than the rest, because I can leverage ammunition from both scripture and tradition.  From the perspective of self-righteousness, its hard to distinguish between using the Bible (and Tradition) as a sledgehammer and encountering Jesus as the Word of God, which makes this sin of pride one of the most sinister of them all, because it does not leave behind any guilt.  However, a tell-tale sign is that one no longer feels connected to Jesus.  "I'm right!"  Yes, but when was the last time you felt yourself connected to Jesus?  "That's emotionalism!"  Are you sure it's not just pride?  "On the contrary, if I were to deny the truth, then I would be guilty of false humility, which is just pride."  And back and forth the internal conversation goes.  It's painful to admit that I am having a cognitive argument about being right apart from any sense of a connection with Jesus.

The core of John Eldredge's book is Jesus.  He wants to call attention to what the real Jesus is like and how so many in the church preach a counterfeit Jesus.  And when John says "church," he is not singling out the Catholic Church.  Oh, no.  He is also taking direct aim at his own Evangelical culture.  And so, he spends a chapter on each of the following qualities of Jesus: playful, fierce intention, extravagant generosity, disruptive honesty, scandalous freedom, cunning, humility, trueness, and beautiful.  I would encourage anyone to read Beautiful Outlaw in order to grasp John Eldredge's picture of the real Jesus.  I think he is right on the money most of the time, even if he does take it over the top in some of his negative comments toward Catholicism.

Why, John, do you seem to have such an axe to grind against the Catholic Church?  Well, he answers that question in his book.  Eldredge writes, "My mom went to Catholic school; it made her walk away from church and God. The fruit of that seems pretty clear" (p. 169).  I think Catholics need to cut Eldredge some slack, because the experience he describes here is all too common.  I think Catholics would do well not to respond to another negative emotional experience with an apologetic debate.  So, I'm basically saying in hypocritical fashion, do as I say, and not as I just did above, like when I got all hot to trot over his relationship/religious dichotomy.

What about the person who feels the call to religious life?  As in, a calling to be a priest, religious sister, or religious brother?  In this sense, religion takes on a positive connotation of making a mature gift of self to Jesus and following Him in a permanent and radical way.  John Eldredge completely misses this aspect of "religion" in his book.

I'm painfully aware of my internal contradictions some of which which I have laid bare in his blog post.  However, I  expect this window to disappear as God's healing continues to integrate me into the way he saw me before the foundation of the world.  "What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from his body that is subject to death?  Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:24-25)

I look forward to seeing how the Holy Spirit is going to renew his Church and bring His people back together.  It is the work of the Lord and I will enjoy the ride, and how the Lord works out my own internal conflicts in the very life of the Church, bringing His healing to us all.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

May 1st, 2014 Flooding and Levy Pictures

I took a little drive this morning and snapped some pictures of the flooding.  This first picture is Shepherd Avenue in Middlesex, between Route 28 and Mountain Avenue.  It was a steady flow of water going across the road.


According to http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/crests.php?wfo=phi&gage=bdkn4, this was the seventh highest crest in recorded history at 34.65 feet and they never had to close the gate to South Bound Brook.  I call that an amazing triumph of engineering.


As you can see here, they did close the East street gate as a precaution.  Turns out they didn't have to.  Better safe than sorry.  The gate opened back up around 11:45 AM this morning.


I drove around behind my old West Main Street stomping grounds where we used to live.  You can see the levy holding the water back.  I remember during Hurricane Floyd looking out my backyard window at the flood waters over-topping those tracks. Today, I noticed for the first time that the levy is a number of feet higher than the freight railroad tracks.  I think that the levy would have been high enough to keep the Hurricane Floyd waters back.



Here is the new pumping station behind Jamie Fine Chemicals.  It was operating, pumping the water out of the collecting area by the Rock Machine Park and over the levy.


This interesting vehicle rode by.  I guess they were checking the tracks.


Another shot of the levy.  You can see it holding the water back on the left side.  The levy turns to the right and connects to the passenger train tracks along side Talmadge Avenue.



A shot of the freight train trestle from the levy behind West Main Street.


A shot of the passenger train bridge parallel to the raised bridge over Talmadge Avenue.  During a flood a few years ago, the water rose above that bridge and came into Bound Brook through those tracks.  This time around, the gate across the tracks is operational.  They did not need to close it this time around, because the waters did not rise enough.





Here, the Delware-Raritan Canal is overflowing into the Raritan river.


Overall, the Greek Brook Flood Control Project is an amazing feat of engineering.  There are multiple layers or protection which can be put into place, depending on the water levels.  However, that does not solve our town's antiquated sewer system.  Vosseller Avenue was closed due to some sewer issue.  I saw some water bubbling up out of the sewer.  One of these days, I'm sure that will be fixed, too.