Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My New Archbishop on Faith, Reason, and Catholic Education

While I'm still very new to the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and I haven't yet met Archbishop Naumann, I was very pleased to read an article he wrote in our diocesan newspaper on faith, reason, and authentic Catholic colleges. I also knew it'd rock when I saw that he quoted Thomas Woods, another new Catholic to this archdiocese! Read on for more!

Catholic colleges: Where faith and reason seek truth

Recently, I celebrated the baccalaureate Mass at Benedictine College in Atchison and participated in the graduation ceremony at Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kan. In both cases, the celebration of the academic achievement of the graduates was done in an atmosphere where faith and reason were perceived as friends, not enemies.

Benedictine College has built two new dorms in the last five years and has doubled its enrollment in the past decade. This dramatic growth has corresponded to a decision by the leadership of Benedictine College to renew its commitment to its Catholic identity and mission.

Donnelly College was founded a little more than 60 years ago by the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas in cooperation with the Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison. Many of the current Donnelly graduates are the first individuals in their families to earn a degree in higher education.

Benedictine College and Donnelly College have many differences. Yet, they are both institutions of higher education where faith and reason are recognized as two avenues that lead to the same destination — truth.

The Feb. 22 edition of Newsweek magazine included an article entitled: “Harvard’s Crisis of Faith: Can a Secular University Embrace Religion without Sacrificing its Soul?” The article began with this sentence: “It doesn’t take a degree from Harvard to see that in today’s world, a person needs to know something about religion.”

However, Lisa Miller, the author of the article, went on to observe: “But in practice, the Harvard faculty cannot cope with religion. It cannot agree on who should teach it, how it should be taught, and how much value to give it compared with economics, biology, literature, and all the other subjects considered vital to an undergraduate education.” Miller did not miss the irony of “Harvard’s distaste for engaging religion as an academic subject,” since it was founded in 1636 to educate and form Christian ministers.

While it is true that Harvard still boasts a graduate divinity school, it is separated by half a mile from the main campus. This geographic separation is, in many ways, symbolic of the absolute separation of faith and reason in most institutions of higher education which has led to an impoverishment of the American university.

This is not in any way to denigrate science or enlightened rational inquiry of any type. It is simply an acknowledgment that, isolated and on their own, they are not capable of providing understanding of the fullness of human experience. In my opinion, students at Benedictine and Donnelly Colleges are being offered a more well-rounded and complete education than that received at Harvard, where there is such reticence to address respectfully the importance of religion in the human experience.

Sadly, many today are ignorant of the origin and history of the university in Western civilization. Dr. Thomas E. Woods, who has four Ivy League degrees, including an undergraduate degree from Harvard and a doctorate from Columbia University, authored the book: “How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization.” In a chapter entitled “The Church and the University,” Woods observes:

“The university was an utterly new phenomenon in European history. Nothing like it had existed in ancient Greece or Rome. The institution that we recognize today, with its faculties, courses of study, examinations and degrees, as well as the distinction between undergraduate and graduate study, comes to us directly from the medieval world. The Church developed the university system, because, according to historian Lowrie Daly, it was ‘the only institution in Europe that showed consistent interest in the preservation and the cultivation of knowledge.'”

The fact that colleges and universities trace their origin to the medieval Catholic Church surprises many 21st-century Americans who have been subjected to secular propaganda that constantly pits religious faith as an enemy of reason. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In reality, many secularists deny the existence of universal truths. Unfortunately, it is this secular nihilism that dominates much contemporary art, literature, film and, unfortunately, higher education. By denying universal truths, accessible to all through reason, the requisite foundation for a commonly accepted moral code is also destroyed.

In contrast, Catholicism embraces that there is indeed objective truth. Faith and reason are complementary paths leading to a common end. Authentic higher education is a place where faith and reason intersect, where these two avenues to the truth are honored and explored.

During this time of year, many families celebrate the college graduation of a son or daughter. I hope you are pleased to know that your church was responsible for the development of the university in Western civilization.

Many high school graduates are preparing to enter college next year. In selecting a university, I encourage families not just to consider a school’s academic reputation, but whether it provides an atmosphere where the life of faith will also be nurtured.

Unfortunately, just choosing a college that was Catholic in its foundation does not guarantee an environment where a young person’s Catholic faith will be fed. Some Catholic colleges seem only to embrace their Catholic identity when they are soliciting contributions from their alumni.

At the same time, many state and secular universities have excellent Catholic campus ministries. However, even places with outstanding programs, like the St. Lawrence Center at the University of Kansas, only reach about one-third of the Catholic students on campus.

If you want to increase dramatically the chances of your son or daughter growing in their Catholic faith during their college years, encourage them to go to Benedictine College or a similar university where the Catholic culture is rich and vibrant. If this is not possible, help your son and daughter develop a plan for growing in their knowledge of the faith and their prayer life during these formative years of young adulthood.

To paraphrase the Gospel: What does it profit a person to gain a prestigious degree and lose one’s soul in the process?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Reflections on the Rosary: The Annunciation

“Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.” Not only are these the first words which the archangel Gabriel uses to address the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:28), they are also the first words of the Rosary’s most controversial – and common – prayer, the “Hail Mary”. Sadly we often forget that the first half of the prayer comes entirely from scripture (Luke 1:28, 42) and the second half dates to a popular Christian devotion in Ephesus during the 3rd-4th century – that’s right, half of the most identifiably “Catholic prayer” comes down to us from lay Christians, not clergy!

Most important is that the first of the Rosary’s twenty mysteries begins just as the Bible begins: with one man and one woman, but in this case it is the New Adam and the New Eve. Unlike the first Adam and Eve, however, the New Adam will draw his flesh from the flesh of the New Eve. Furthermore, just as the Holy Spirit hovered over the waters of Creation (Genesis 1:2), so too will the Holy Spirit come upon Mary. And just as God spoke words and things were created, so too will he speak through Gabriel and, with Mary’s consent, the eternal Word of God will become flesh in her womb. Where Adam and Eve failed, Jesus and Mary will triumph – and we cannot understand the relationship of Jesus and Mary without any kind of understanding of Adam and Eve.

Before examining the words of Gabriel as used in scripture and in Catholic devotion, it is important to note that Luke 1 is not the first time people have encountered the archangel Gabriel. Good Jews and Christians familiar with the Old Testament prophet Daniel will readily recall the prophecy given to Daniel by Gabriel in which the promised messiah will not come for another 490 years – and if you do the math it all works out to Christ coming around the first century! Mary certainly would have known this and the news for her would have been all the more joyous.

But even knowing that the promised messiah would enter the world through her, the words which Gabriel used to address her must have been all the more joyful (this is the first of five “Joyful Mysteries” after all). Gabriel says “Hail!” as if Mary was royalty – for indeed she was royalty. In Israel when the Kings of Judah reigned, the queen was not the wife of the king but rather she was the mother of the king. In announcing the good news of the king’s coming, Gabriel is also announcing the restoration of the kingdom in a new and radically perfected way.

The Kingdom of God is at hand and Mary shall be the new Queen Mother reigning with her Son, the King.

More still, Gabriel addresses Mary not as “Mary” but rather as “full of grace.” It is important to recall that many important people of the Bible undergo name changes which signify their status and relationship with God and the People of God. Abram’s name is changed to Abraham, Jacob to Israel, and Simon to Peter. Before God, Mary is “full of grace” and after the Annunciation Mary has a new and unique relationship with God – and not just merely with God but with each Person of the Trinity. She is now the daughter of the Father, Mother of the Son, and spouse to the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, Mary will often be referred to as “woman” – not because she is being disregarded but rather because she is the woman of Genesis 3:15, the promised woman from whom shall come the victor over sin and death and as we shall see, she will be the “woman clothed with the sun” (Revelation 12).

Mary’s response to all this was: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). Perhaps if there is something overwhelmingly important to be drawn from all this is the complete humility exercised by all those present at the Annunciation. Here first is Gabriel, a mighty and powerful archangel of God, addressing Mary not merely as a queen among men but as his own Queen (indeed Mary is also known as the Queen of the Angels). Furthermore, Mary’s response isn’t to become proud and arrogant but rather to beautifully embrace the Lord’s will and act in faith. Perhaps most important is the fact that God should become man, allowing Himself to dwell as an infant in the womb and one day be murdered for us all, rising from the dead and presenting a redeemed humanity in Himself before His heavenly Father.

Now that’s good news to spread, live out, and – in the Rosary – pray!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Reflections on the Rosary: Introduction

It has been said that riding to one’s own coronation would be a joyful thing even if the ride wasn’t too particularly pleasant, and that riding to one’s own execution would be a dreadful thing even if the ride was in a limousine. So which one of these situations are you and I in and what is our destination?

Quo vadis? Where are you going?

I think this is a question most of us fail to consider. We’re typically too caught up in our everyday lives to think about the long term – indeed the eternal long term. Ask anyone why they went to school and they’ll tell you it was to be educated. And when you ask them why they were educated, they’ll tell you it was to get a job. Keep pressing them and they’ll tell you all about getting married, raising a family, and retiring to some tropical island. But then what? What was it all for?

Quo vadis?

This may seem like an odd way to open a series of posts on the Rosary, but too often we can’t get past seeing a string of beads with a crucifix dangling from it – and if we do, the thought of praying fifty “Hail Mary’s” seems daunting at best and perhaps even idolatrous at worst. Most people miss out on the fact that the Rosary is a meditation on the mysteries contained in the Gospel. Through this prayer we walk the life of Christ and quite literally pray the Gospel. In the Joyful Mysteries, we dwell on the Annunciation and the early life of Christ, the Luminous Mysteries contemplate the public ministry of Christ, and in the Sorrowful Mysteries we prayerfully join Christ in his passion and death.

But there are also the Glorious Mysteries. In the Rosary we encounter Christ in a new way and we are given Mary as a model of Christian sanctity – and this is particularly true when praying the Glorious Mysteries. The Rosary is certainly a journey with Christ, but it is also a reaffirmation of what God does in the lives of the faithful. Mary certainly didn’t have it easy. She is told that a sword of pain will pierce her heart just as much as the heart of her Son would be pierced (see Luke 2:35). Mary’s “yes” brought God into the world, but she would one day watch as her divine Son would be tortured and murdered by his own people. But Catholics believe her faithfulness was not without future glory because we believe she was taken by God into heaven body and soul and that she now reigns as Queen Mother with her kingly Son. The Rosary thus reminds us of this glory and gives us a renewed hope of our future resurrection from the dead into glory with all the angels and saints.

In the coming posts, I’ll be taking a closer look at the Rosary and its many mysteries. In the meantime, I would strongly recommend praying it and dwelling on the mysteries as best as possible, recounting that these events actually happened in human history so as to bring about our new lives in Christ – and this will be particularly true for me in that I have been gifted with a Rosary from the Holy Land making the whole prayer that much more concrete!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thomistic Thursday: Thomas Aquinas the Saint

As an apt student of philosophy, I was highly tempted to make my blogging reboot a dedication to St. Thomas Aquinas. I realized, however, that a little Thomas goes a long way and that I should really place most of my emphasis on areas of more importance (e.g. my Psalm Saturday series). Nevertheless, I have decided that my favorite philosopher-saint will get his own day.

That day is, of course, today!

If you’re not familiar with his life, I highly recommend G.K. Chesterton’s biography of St. Thomas Aquinas. He drew the title “Dumb Ox” from the nickname Aquinas had in school – but while he may have been quiet and mild-mannered, Thomas possessed a keen intellect and desire for sanctity. Indeed, when he decided to become a Dominican monk his family locked him away for a time and his brothers tempted him with a prostitute. Driving her away by wielding a firebrand, he used it to sear a cross into the bedroom door and his family quickly realized he was serious about his faith!

During his life, Aquinas wrote volumes of theological works – including his masterpiece, the “Summa Theologica.” It is this very “Summary of Theology” which I would like to discuss through the following series of blogs posts. While Aquinas’ brilliance will be noted here, it is of the most importance to stress once more his desire for holiness. At the proceedings for his saintly canonization, a fellow monk testified that he heard the Lord speak to Thomas in their chapel. God said told Thomas that he had spoken great words of theology and asked him what he desired in return.

Aquinas’ reply: “Only you, Lord.”

Thomas Aquinas is known as the Angelic Doctor – and while this may be particularly true because of his ontology regarding angels, it may also be true because his saintly heart was so open to the grace of God that his intellect was made more free to dwell on theology, the “sacred science.” Ultimately the human person possesses an intellect to know with and a free will to love with. Aquinas’ life was a life of love for God – but this love always led to a hunger for more divine knowledge. Because of this, he found himself in a wonderful cycle: the more he knew God, the more he loved God; the more he loved God, the more he came to knowledge of God. In other words, Aquinas is a model image of what the human person should be like.

That’s why he’s a saint.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Psalm Saturday: Psalm 1

Daily prayer is a must for the Christian. In fact, we are really called to live a life of prayer. Our words and deeds ought to be blessings and moments of sanctity whereby we proclaim God and great gift of salvation he bestows upon us through the merits of his son, Jesus Christ. But when we take time specifically for prayer, the Psalms should be in everyone’s prayer arsenal. Every kind of prayer – and everything you might need to pray about – can be found in the Psalms. Like most Catholics, however, I haven’t spent nearly enough time in Psalms.

But I am now.

While I am spending more time dwelling on the Pslams, I decided it would be a good idea to reflect upon one on the weekend. Today I would like to offer a brief introduction and a look at Psalm 1. These posts, however, will not follow them all in order but I thought best to start at the beginning for this first reflection.

In case you didn’t know there are 150 Psalms, each of which is a prayer offered to God in praise, thanksgiving, adoration, contrition, or supplication. Outside of the Lord’s Prayer, there is no better school of prayer found in the Bible. They are an important element in each and every Catholic Mass and they can also be found in daily Catholic prayers like the Liturgy of the Hours. During the first centuries of Christianity, many monks would recite all 150 Psalms daily and this would become the basis for the pattern of the Rosary (which traditionally included 150 Hail Mary’s). If you’re looking for Psalms in your Bible, you’ll need to turn to the Old Testament as they date from ancient Israel. After centuries of Jewish-Christian strife, the Psalms today provide a wonderful connection between Christians and Jews.

Since Psalm 1 is rather short – only six verses – so let us turn to it in its entirety:

Happy those who do not follow
the counsel of the wicked,
Nor go the way of sinners,
nor sit in company with scoffers.
Rather, the law of the LORD is their joy;
God's law they study day and night.
They are like a tree
planted near streams of water,
that yields its fruit in season;
Its leaves never wither;
whatever they do prospers.

But not the wicked!
They are like chaff driven by the wind.
Therefore the wicked will not survive judgment,
nor will sinners in the assembly of the just.
The LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked leads to ruin.

The title for Psalm 1 is True Happiness in God’s Law, and for a practicing Jew the Law of Moses was of the greatest importance. In Gospels, however, Jesus is asked about the Law and he summed it up in two commandments: (1) love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your might, and (2) love your neighbor as yourself. If only we follow these two commandments, we shall fulfill what is found in the Law of Moses and find true happiness. The concepts of law and happiness, however, may easily remind us of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount during which he acts like a New Moses who goes up upon the mount and gives us a New Law. Indeed, the beginning of each of the eight beatitudes is often translated as: “Happy are they who…” It is here that we may find our beatitude – our blessing or objective happiness.

It should also be said that this new law of love is by nature active. Our lives in Christ must begin in faith but be expressed and shared with others through love so that we may be, as the Psalm says, “like a tree… that yields its fruit in season.” As Christians, we look forward to the Second Coming of Christ and the union of heaven and earth in the New Jerusalem. Indeed, the Book of Revelation speaks of the tree of life which is united to the river of life-giving water (see Revelation 22:1-2). While there are seasons of fruit in this life, in eternity the fruits of the tree of life are year round and bountiful!

Even in this life, however, St. Paul tells us it is important that our “faith works through love,” (Galatians 5:6), and in order for us to yield good fruit, we must be intimately bound to Christ who is the true vine (see John 15:4-5). When Jesus sent the Apostles out into the world to preach the Gospel, he reminded them that he would be with them – indeed we must remember that Christ is not only with us, he is working through us now precisely because we are members of his body! This is why Pope Leo the Great in the 5th century wrote:

"Christian, recognize your dignity and, now that you share in God's own nature, do not return to your former base condition by sinning. Remember who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Never forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of the Kingdom of God."

Nevertheless, there are the wicked who “will not survive judgment.” Yes, Christians do believe in that placed called hell. But it should be noted that avoiding hell is an entirely simple process – I didn’t say it was easy, but it is simple. Whether or not you believe in Purgatory (as I do as a Catholic), we can both agree that following the two great commandments spoken on above will guide one past perdition and on to the gates of heaven. Love is the answer. It means placing God first and serving others. It means self-sacrifice.

Ultimately it means entering into the “assembly of the just” – the Communion of Saints.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

An Unexpected Change of Events

Well it has been a ridiculously long time since my last blog post and it would appear that now is just as good a time as any to resume once again. A month ago I would have figured I’d be pleasantly enjoying (well probably not pleasantly enjoying) my training with the U.S. Army, but as it goes I have found myself along a different and altogether unexpected path. After a week of doctor’s appointments, it appears the Army docs are placing me on hiatus. It’s very long and complicated story which I have had to repeat far too many times to go into much detail here, but all I can really do is relax, pray, and go with the flow.

And since I find myself at home once more, what could be better than write a blog post or two? Well, yeah, visiting family and friends – but I’m doing that, too. But I’ve also taken a good deal of time to reflect and pray and writing more here will be a good thing to get back to. In fact, I even have a set of themes planed to come throughout the week, so you’ll have to check back to find out what I have cooking. I will give a hint, however. While most things we want in life are really not what we need, a great deal of the things that we need are sadly not what we want. Often times it takes the formation of good habits to properly dispose ourselves to simply see and understand what we really need! So on that note, two-thirds of what I write will be on topics that I need to spend more time thinking and writing about, while the other third will regard those things that have been on my mind and I’d really like to talk about. I’m not sure if that’s much of a hint, however. But if you’re at all like me, then perhaps these things are needs for you as well.

And in that case, we’re in this boat together.

Perhaps I should, as this is my first post in since January, be sure I make sense out of my post’s title. You may think that “An Unexpected Change of Events” merely refers to my change of status with the U.S. Army – but it really helps me begin my new series of posts at the beginning: God. More specifically, it refers to His altogether peculiar relationship with all that He has created.

You see, last weekend Catholics throughout the world celebrated the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity and it is of course more than fitting to speak first about God before going on to any other topic. Before he ascended into heaven, Jesus commanded the Apostles to: “…make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…” (Matthew 28:19-20). The heart of Jesus’ words here is the fact that the very nature of God is unitive, self-donating love – a love which enables God to be supremely one in essence but three in person. For a wonderful meditation on the Trinity, check out the Athanasian Creed!

But while Christians believe in the Trinity based on the teachings of Christ, it must be said that God has not merely revealed Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit because he wants us to do divine mathematics, but rather because he has called us into a relationship with himself and he has planned this from before the creation of the universe. Even in the event of sin (the choosing of self-love over God’s love), God set in motion a rescue plan for humanity in Christ. Redemption in Christ, however, is not an end in itself, however, but rather the beginning of a new life of sanctity upon a battlefield – for we are war, though “…not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens” (Ephesians 6:12). We are at war with the enemies of love.

But love is the key to victory and Jesus manifested this at Calvary.

The passion, death, and resurrection of Christ, however, was truly an unexpected change of events – but it is continuing to this day through the application of grace to the faithful. Called into natural life at conception, God calls us into the supernatural life of grace through faith and baptism into a body of believers, the Church (see Mark 16:16 and Ephesians 1:22-23). Redeemed and re-ordered we must now participate in spiritual warfare and “fight the good fight,” as St. Paul would say.

Quite unexpected. Quite peculiar. But that’s what makes God, God.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

More Anglicans Returning to the Catholic Church

Here's the text of an article written by Tim Drake concerning Rome's outreach to Anglicans troubled by the Anglican Communion's departure from historic Christian moral and sacramental theology:

As 2010 gets under way, many in the Church are anxious to see how last year’s apostolic constitution inviting disaffected Anglicans into the Catholic Church will play out.

While the expectation is that more significant numbers of Anglicans in Britain, Africa and India will accept the offer outlined in Anglicanorum Coetibus, observers say that the decree will impact traditional Anglicans in the United States, as well.

The Traditional Anglican Communion includes approximately 400,000 Anglicans worldwide. The American province, known as the Anglican Church in America, includes approximately 5,200 communicants in four dioceses. Over the next few months, all of the provinces will be holding synods to put forward the question of how they will be responding to the apostolic constitution.

“The expectation is that our general synod will accept the Holy Father’s offer,” said Christian Campbell, senior warden of the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Orlando, Fla., and a member of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Church in America’s Diocese of the Eastern United States. “It is not so much a question of whether or not we desire to avail ourselves of the offer — inasmuch as it is a direct and generous response to our appeal to the Holy See. The question now is how the apostolic constitution is to be implemented. We have practical concerns, and we are presently working with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to resolve any outstanding questions.”

Campbell said that the first Traditional Anglican Communion provinces will be entering the Catholic Church within the next six months.

One example of a parish that stands ready to enter en masse is suburban Philadelphia’s Church of the Good Shepherd, an “Anglo-Catholic” parish.

“We’ve been praying for this daily for two years,” said Bishop David Moyer of the Traditional Anglican Communion. Moyer was one of 38 bishops in the communion who signed a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and petitioned Pope Benedict XVI in October 2007 for a way for disaffected Anglicans to be united with Rome.

“The majority of our members will be on board with this,” said Father Aaron Bayles, assistant pastor at Good Shepherd. The parish has approximately 400 members who could come into the Catholic Church.

Yet, many Anglicans will not be embracing the offer.

“The Episcopal Church will be only mildly impacted,” said Father Douglas Grandon, a former Anglican pastor who was ordained a Catholic priest in May 2008 and serves as associate pastor at Sacred Heart in Moline, Ill. “Most of those clergy and bishops have already left who had any Catholic sense. In the U.S., the primary ones who will consider this would be the Anglo-Catholics.”

Some Episcopal pastors and parishes upset with the direction of the national Episcopal Church (it has elected two bishops who are openly homosexual and has given the nod to blessing same-sex unions) have placed themselves under the leadership of more conservative bishops in the U.S., Africa or the Americas. For example, approximately 20 Episcopal parishes in California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas and Canada have left the Episcopal Church to join the Southern Cone of the Americas, an Anglican province in South America.

For those seeking to accept the Vatican’s offer, examples do exist of communities that have already done something similar. Since the implementation of the Pastoral Provision in 1980 — which allowed for the Catholic ordination of married Episcopal priests and authorized the establishment of personal Catholic parishes that retained certain Anglican liturgical elements — several Anglican-use communities have been created in the United States.

San Antonio’s Our Lady of the Atonement became the first to enter the Church in 1983. At the time, it consisted of 18 people. Today, the Church has more than 500 families. Three Anglican-use communities exist in Texas. In addition, since the Pastoral Provision was made available, more than 100 Anglican priests have gone through the process to become Catholic priests.

The Pastoral Provision, however, differs from the apostolic constitution.

“The story of the Pastoral Provision is that of a hard-fought battle by a few courageous pioneers,” said Campbell. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t implemented in such a way as to bring a large number of people into the Church. It was perceived as being primarily a mechanism for the reconciliation of individual Episcopal priests. By comparison, the apostolic constitution is not about reconciling individuals, but groups of Anglicans in a corporate fashion.”

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

How Safe is America?

The botched Christmas terror attack making headlines in the news for failed security, intelligence, and counter-terror agencies is merely the recent-most act of war on America that began on November 5 with the Ft. Hood shootings. It was there that the psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan stormed the fort, screaming “Allah Akhbar!” and killed thirteen people while wounding thirty more (including a family friend of mine). While the current Administration has busied itself with labeling the attack a “tragedy” committed by a man who merely needs to be committed, the truth of Hasan’s terrorist motivations are becoming clearer and clearer. Former Democratic VP nominee Joe Lieberman went on record saying the Ft Hood attack was “the most destructive terrorist attack on America since September 11, 2001.” Ultimately the terrorism at Ft. Hood has led to our current situation in Yemen, which former GOP presidential nominee John McCain calls the new front in the War on Terror.

The connection between Ft. Hood and the second, albeit failed, terror attack on Christmas is the man Anwar al-Awlaki. Known as “the bin Laden of the internet,” al-Awlaki is a known al-Qaeda recruiter who recruited radical Muslims in the United States and is now helping to build a formidable al-Qaeda network in, you guessed it, Yemen. Furthermore, al-Awlaki preached to three of the 9/11 terrorists from a mosque in northern Virginia and was the personal spiritual advisor to Hasan, the terrorist shooter at Ft. Hood. But while the Obama Administration continued to pass off the Ft. Hood shootings as non-terror related, it began applying pressure on the Yemeni government while launching airstrikes on al-Qaeda camps in Yemen. Why would Obama do such a thing?

One word: Healthcare.

That’s right, Obama’s efforts to “fix” the economy have brought the unemployment rate above 10% while his efforts to “reform” healthcare has backfired at almost every turn. As the Ft. Hood terror attack took place, Obama was deeply entrenched in war on healthcare, not on terror. During his first year in office, the only new tactic the Administration has offered to fight terror is to close Guantanamo Bay, the prison where we are holding “enemy combatants” (i.e. the prisoners of war captured during the War on Terror thus far). As we shall see, the decisions to close Guantanamo Bay marked a shift away from fighting terror that has only helped terrorists while lead us to continued problems in Yemen.

What’s important to note is that the Ft. Hood terrorist continued to stay in contact with the al-Qaeda recruiter al-Awlaki since 9/11 and up until the attack in November. At the beginning of October, however, al-Awlaki announced the attacks coming the following two months when he said, “The simple answer is: America cannot and will not win, the tables have turned and there is no rolling back of the worldwide jihad movement and when this new front of jihad starts in Yemen it might become the single most important front of jihad in the world.” Shortly after announcing this to the world, Hasan began his final preparations for the attack on Ft. Hood while Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the attempted Christmas suicide bomber, called his father to let him know they would never speak again.

The fact is, America had plenty of warning regarding these attacks. Unfortunately our government is being run by those who seek to give more protection to terrorists than to its own citizens. Indeed, the strategy of closing Guantanamo Bay has been to treat the prisoners of war as if they were American citizens. This is exactly what has happened with the attempted suicide bomber, Abdulmutallab, who was speaking to authorities until the government sent in a lawyer to keep him from speaking to us. Now there are undoubtedly more attacks being planed against America by our enemies, but the government will not allow the military to conduct standard interrogations against captured soldiers at war with us. What’s worse, many of the prisoners kept at Guantanamo Bay are from Yemen and are scheduled to sent back to Yemen –then to be released back to al-Qaeda by the Yemeni government! Thus what we see is case after case of this Administration weakening America’s protection against foreign threats.