Monday, February 26, 2007

A Protestant Looks in on Catholic Charismatics

This a response to an interesting Roman Catholic blog "Dubious Criticisms of the Gift of Tongues".

The reality is that today many, many good, practicing, orthodox Catholics have experienced praying in tongues. Yet, understandably, many others recoil with fear and suspicion at such claims because it is something new that the Holy Spirit is doing after many centuries of its being relegated to the experience of mystics and canonized saints.

Some of those who understandably recoil, keep an open mind they know that the Popes and the bishops have embraced and continually encouraged the Catholic Charismatic Renewal as part of the universal call to holiness authentically and explicitly affirmed by the texts of Vatican II.

Some of those who initially recoiled have themselves gone on to experience the gift of praying, or even singing, in tongues, not as a mark of privilege or superior holiness, but as a gift of God given for the edification of the one praying. St. Paul so states the matter, "For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit" (1 Corinthians 14:2; all biblical citations are from the RSV translation) and so "edifies himself" (1 Cor. 14:4a, quoted in part; good advice.

Every Catholic, every Christian, should read one Corinthian 12-14 carefully and with an open mind. And if the one praying is edified and brought closer to God and thus becomes more holy, then others who come into contact with that person will likely also be edified. Of course, the mere fact alone of receiving the gift of praying in tongues, just as the mere fact of receiving the gift of teaching or administration or helping or preaching, does not automatically make the person holy.

What those gifts do, when properly exercised in decency and in order (see 1 Cor. 14:40), is to help others become holy--to build up, directly or indirectly, the Church, whose mission is the universal call to holiness. But all of these gifts, including the gift of tongues, can also make the recipient of the gift holier if the recipient continually asks God to give him more of the Holy Spirit in the course of exercising all his gifts for the good of the Church, just as we seek sanctification in our daily work.
Just because we might pray the Rosary daily (which I myself try to do and highly recommend to others) does not make us holier than anyone else without first and continually and sincerely opening our hearts to embrace God's will and to obey it. Without such an attitude of openness to God's messages and of obedience to God's will, the Rosary becomes mere babbling (as anti-Catholics like to say)--and so it can happen with those who exercise the gift of praying in tongues or any other form of praying without freely corresponding to the grace and favor of God.

Now, some Catholics who consider themselves orthodox do not keep such an open mind toward the gift of praying in tongues, even though it is explicitly mentioned in Section 2003 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (tolle lege!/pick up and read!) as an extraordinary charism or gift. They (I assume, in good faith) instead instill fear in people by raising the specter of evil spirits. My response is that it is a good idea for charismatics, and all other Catholics for that matter, to pray the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel to rebuke the evil spirits who are real and who indeed prowl throughout the world. But those evil spirits do not just aim at charismatic Catholics and their praying in tongues. Those evil spirits lurk everywhere and can pervert even the most hallowed and most common of Catholic practices.

The worst sin most consistently condemned by Our Savior in the Gospels is that of hypocrisy. In fact, he calls the Pharisees, the paragons of piety, children of the devil precisely because of their hypocrisy (John 8:44). So, even the most orthodox in their Catholic practices can be subject to the influence of the devil. Even a devotee of the Latin Mass or the Tridentine Mass may be acting under the influence of the devil. Does that mean we should avoid Latin or Tridentine Masses? Not at all. We should pray that God and his angels protect us from the devil, we should frequent the sacraments, we should do all those things that can build us up in Christ, with trust and without undue fear, for we are now children of God who no longer have the spirit of fear of the Pharisees so suspicious of Jesus (compare Romans 8:15-17).

In fact, from my experience, some Catholics treat charismatic Catholics in the same way the enemies of Jesus treated Jesus, who was even accused of being possessed by the devil himself (see Luke 11:14-23). It is quite interesting that Jesus was so accused right after he uttered these words: "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?" (Luke 11:13). That verse just quoted is the heart of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal: ask the Father to give us more of the Holy Spirit and to give us all the good gifts the Father has for us.

Just like Jesus, today, charismatic Catholics are accused by some of being possessed by devils. The best reply to this accusation is Jesus' reply. Jesus pointed out that he was indeed casting out demons, that he was attacking the kingdom of Satan, and that it was illogical for Satan to attack his own kingdom because "every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste" (Luke 11:17, in part). In the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, many, many orthodox Catholics have found a greater hunger to read Scripture, have found a greater hunger for more prayer (including contemplative prayer and the Rosary), a greater hunger for the Sacraments, a greater desire for Eucharistic Adoration, a greater closeness to Mary who was so uniquely and so fully overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, and a greater love for the Pope and the magisterium, all the time yielding fruits of praise to God, evangelism, varieties of lay ministry, and many priestly vocations and vocations to the religious life, including the vocation of consecrated virgins. All of those things lay waste to the kingdom of Satan. Satan is not behind them. The logic pointing this out is not mine. It is the logic of Our Savior in the Gospels. Don't take my word. Pick up and read.

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Jesus tomb found

I saw the news today that they have found Jesus' and Maria's tomb. Let's hope years from now some extra terrestrial beings don't land on our planet in search of Jesus' tomb, ending up in some Latin American country. They will find half the graves with the names Jesus and Maria.

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

God knows what He is doing.

In today’s Lectionary reading, as God is leading the Israelites to their final destination, we read: in Deut. 7:22 “The Lord your God will clear away these nations before you little by little; you will not be able to make a quick end of them, otherwise the wild animals would become too numerous for you.” The Torah reads “else the wild beasts would multiply to your hurt.”.

There is a message here to us who get impatient with God when He does not move things along fast enough to suit us. He does know what He is doing.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

God is Breaking Through

We live in the most exciting time in Christian history. God is breaking through. Apparently, it has not been easy. We heard the heart of the Father when He said: “ often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Mt 23:37)

There is the fascinating story in the Book of Daniel alluding to God’s difficulty. (Dan 10:12) Daniel had fasted and prayed for weeks. When God’s messenger finally broke through, he said: “.... from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia (a spiritual power) withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and remained there with the kings of Persia.“

These two previous illustrations reveal at least two of the problems God has had getting through to us. In one case He wants to get through, but there is something the people are not doing which will let Him. In the second case,there are powerful evil spirits in the heavenlies blocking Him.

As I said above, our generation is seeing breakthroughs and they are coming to two groups of people with whom I am closely acquainted. I have the good fortune to have in my family, an effective spiritual teacher from each of the two groups.

One group witnessing breakthroughs, takes Jesus at His word when He said:
Mark 11:23-24 "For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."

God is honoring that approach with wonderful miracles of healing and prosperity.

The second group seeing breakthroughs, are turning the Great Commandment into behaviors. Lk 10:27 “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength,”

Individually and in groups, they are loving with all their hearts in beautiful
songs of love. They speak love words to Him. They let the Holy Spirit use their vocal chords to speak love to Him. They are dancing before Him with all their strength. And 24/7 their thoughts keep going to Him. They also believe their worship is punching holes in the heavenlies.

And both approaches are working. People all over the world are seeing miracles beyond their wildest dreams. It is a wonderful time to be alive and to be a Christian

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Liberal Flip Flops Conservative

Charismatics I know, all became politically conservative, including myself. My hope is this blog might provoke some comments. As a psychologist, I like to make sense out of my behavior.

Like most young people, I came forth from my university experience as a thoroughly indoctrinated lefty. I have the bona fides to show for it. In Mississippi, I met with the Freedom Riders trying to undo segregation. As a result, I had to flee with my family. Over the years, I stealthily indoctrinated my students. I served in President Kennedy’s Peace Corps and President Johnson’s War on Poverty. In Mexico, I studied with the radical priest Ivan Illich, along with many of the radicals of that time.

I  protested the Viet Nam War, was nearly arrested in the March on Washington, and was pelted with rotten fruit on my campus as one of a handful of anti-war professors.

Then I was struck down by God and came off the floor a radical conservative. I look back asking myself. ”What happened?”. Following is an attempt to explain that to myself.

My entire adult life has been dedicated to empowering others. When the palpable power of God poured into me that night, I arose empowered with full confidence that I could now lick this life.

I then saw that much of what I had been doing was not only not the best way to empower, but much of it was disempowering. First, it was disempowering, because our paternalism was creating what we psychologists call “learned. helplessness.” Secondly, by taking the money from those who were succeeding, we were disempowering them, and finally and most relevant, we were impeding the discovery of finding true empowerment.

Politically, along came Ronald Reagan singing: “Only when the human spirit is allowed to invent and create, only when individuals are given a personal stake in deciding economic policies and benefitting from their success -- only then can societies remain economically alive, dynamic, progressive, and free. Trust the people.” I heard empowerment

He was followed by Gingrich: “Respecting the judgment of our fellow citizens as we seek their mandate for reform, we hereby pledge our names to this Contract with America.” Gingrich had and still has the creative ideas that will release the power in people.

So, a 60's radical, who marched in the streets chanting “Power to the People!”, became an 80's radical marching in the street chanting “Power to the People!

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

God's Discipline

Yesterday, my blog discussed how I dealt with confusing Scripture by watching what Jesus did when I could not understand what was said.  Today’s Lectionary reading turned out to be another one of those puzzling Scriptures.
My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
or lose heart when you are punished by him;
for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves,
and chastises every child whom he accepts.’

In my confusion, if I apply my principle of watching Jesus’ actions as a way of understanding God, then I ask myself, “How did God (Jesus) discipline? Seems to me that the worse His beloved disciples received was a chewing out from time to time.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Inventing Excuses for Healing Failures

Larry King once asked Oral Roberts: “Rev. Roberts, when God does not heal someone you have prayed for, how do you explain that?” The famous healer's reply: “I don’t know."

I always admired Oral Roberts for that answer.

As Christians, we take our stand on the Scriptures to tell us who God is and what He does.. Sometimes Scriptures are very confusing. The subject of healing being an example. Confusion though, does not give us license to make up our own religion.

I do have my own way of resolving difficult Scripture for myself. I always start with Jesus. When even His words confuse me, then I fall back on a saying my grandmother taught me: "Actions speak louder than words." That saying even helped me be a better psychotherapist. When I don't understand what a person is saying, I watch what he does.

Therefore, if someone asked me the question posed to the Rev. Roberts, why did God not heal someone, I would have to reply, "I don't know, I never saw Him (Jesus) not do it."

Jesus healed everyone who asked Him. When did any one ever see Jesus do such things as these: “God took your little sister to heaven because she was so sweet, He wanted her with Himself.” Or, “God did not heal in order to bring you closer to Himself, or "God uses your sickness to teach you." etc. etc. Fill in the awful explanations you have heard.

Where do such people get their religion?

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Chocolate is good for you

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Hey, and we thought we were stuck with broccoli.

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Congress fiddling

A number of studies have revealed that when doctors go on strike, death rates can go down.

I am thinking there is a similar occurrence in Washington. When the Congress shuts itself down trying to pass meaningless troop surge protests, they are not passing any laws. So, we are safe for a little while.

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Home Sweet Home

This is our home and looking out the front windows this morning, I am seeing the same scene as is in the picture. The snow is beautiful, but will this winter ever end?

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Our Mind at Work

I am putting this post here so I can refer to it later.

Science is a method of “understanding”,”predicting” and “controlling”. We say we “understand” something if it harmonizes with what we already know. We say we “predict” something when we have observed patterns of events repeating themselves enough times to allow us to predict from one event to the next. The functions of understanding and prediction, allow us to control our environment.

The preceding is a definition of science and its purpose. It is also a description of our reasoning processes. The mind has as its purpose, understanding and prediction for the purpose of control. When our mind is successful, we are being rational.


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I listened to Barak Obama’s coming out speech. Echos of Rodney King’s plaintive: “Can’t we all get along?”

If Obama becomes president, he can sit down in Osama Bin Laden’s cave in Pakistan and see how that line goes over. Then later he can try it on Putin and Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong Il and Chavez.

Won’t this then be the sweetest world?

I wrote this post originally on Feb 12. On Feb 14 Ann
Coulter topped me.
Musing over the possibility of white guilt, she wrote:

Only white guilt could explain the insanely hyperbolic descriptions of Obama's "eloquence." His speeches are a run-on string of embarrassing, sophomoric Hallmark bromides.

She concludes:
Maybe liberals aren't secret racists expunging vast stores of white guilt by hyperventilating over B. Hussein Obama. Maybe they're just running out of greeting card inscriptions.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Episcopal Anglican Make or break

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Don't miss this if you are inerested in the historical conference going on now in Tanzania. This meeting is a make or break meeting for the future of both the Episcopal and the Anglican communions.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

What Every Christian Cult Member Should Know

In yesterday’s Lectionary reading, Jesus said to his followers, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. (Matt 24ff)

Don’t you wish every young person who falls into the hands of a Christian cult leader, would familiarize themselves with that Scripture?

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The Bible; What a Book!

Our Bible, in and of itself, is a miracle. Think of it. At least 40 different people, over a period of 1600 years, wrote on the same theme, with little possibility of consultation with one another.

Unless I have been misinformed about Islam, their book was written by one man.


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Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Psychic/Metaphysician vs Seer/Prophet

I was having lunch a few days ago with one of Christianity’s preeminent seers. He made an outrageous statement that irritated me. I had mentioned something about psychics to which he retorted: “Psychics always prophecy negative things.”

I was annoyed because I knew what he said was not accurate, but more importantly, stupid statements on the part of our recognized leaders can result in loss of credibility for the rest of us. Following is my take on the difference between psychics and Christian seers. (For the sake of brevity, hereafter, I will just use the words psychics versus seers. Alternate titles can be metaphysicians versus prophets which I will explain later.)

Years ago, a buddy of mine asked me to accompany him to what he called a psychic reading. The psychic did not fit my stereotype, as she was a classy lady in a fine home and an expensive car out front.

Emerging from his reading, my buddy said “Hey, she picked up some things about you, but she says that because she does not have your permission, it would be inappropriate for her to tell you. I told her you would love to hear it.”

After I insisted, she began to unveil some things about me. At first, I naturally suspected that my buddy, either intentionally or inadvertently, had revealed information to her. But then she went into overdrive and began to bring out secrets not even my buddy knew.

Remember, I am a psychologist, so of course my psychological radar went up to full power. I realized instantly that my knowledge had just been kicked up a notch. There is a way of knowing beyond the normal.

That realization filled me with joy. We are not alone!

Shortly thereafter, I had the experience with my first Christian seer/prophet as related in my earlier postThe Zapped Psychologist,

As a psychologist, I had to explain to myself the difference between the psychic and the seer/prophet. Most psychics prefer the term metaphysics. Meta means “going beyond, “transcending”Physics is nature known through science. Thus a metaphysician is one who transcends what we accept as natural. We psychologists also talk of the para normal--meaning along side the normal.

The seer/prophet also transcends.

The difference between psychic/metaphysician on the one hand and the seer/prophet on the other, is not the content of what they reveal, so much as it is the source of what they reveal. The outcomes also are different.

Psychic/metaphysicians can make you aware of another dimension of reality that is accessed by yours and/or their paranormal abilities. That is what the psychic/metaphysician did for me.

Also, using paranormal abilities, seer/prophets on the other hand, bring you into direct communion with Jesus. That is what the seer/prophet did for me (In 1Co 14:25, St. Paul describes the effects of a seer/prophet revelation: “And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he (a non-Christian) will worship God,”

The purpose of the psychic/metaphysician is to “know thyself”. The purpose of the seer/prophet is to know the One who knows you.

The psychic/metaphysician believes his or her abilities are normal to everyone. Interestingly, paranormal abilities do run in families. The seer/prophet believes his or her extra ordinary abilities are gifts from God. Interestingly, paranormal gifts often showed up early in many of seer/prophets, even before knowing Jesus. (This was true for the seer/prophet I spoke of in my opening sentence as well as the seer/prophet who impacted my life.) The real gift of the seer/prophet though is his or her ability to bring one into direct relationship with Jesus.

The psychic/metaphysician leaves you to your own abilities. The seer/prophet leaves you with the abilities of Christ. There may be other differences, but it is hard to beat what the seer/prophet did for me.

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Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Paranoia of God Deliverance

Deliverance from irrational reactions to God can come slowly and sometimes immediately.

As a psychotherapist, I have had patients whose negative issues with God cleared up along side the issues with their earthly parents. Somehow, parent emotional responses had cross-wired with God responses. Often the person only recognized their problem with God after it disappeared.

I often likened what happens as similar to having a physical disorder, take anemia, for instance. The person accepts that the tired feeling is the norm. One day a doctor diagnosis anemia, gives some pills and zappo, they feel good. Only when they have been delivered can they exclaim “so this is the way a normal person feels!”

My paranoia of the Father as I label the condition, was more spiritual than psychological.

In my first blog below,The Zapped Psychologist, I relate an encounter with God and was delivered from a problem I did not recognize until it was gone.

I wish I had another analogy I could use that would describe what sudden deliverance is like. The one I am about to use though, is similar.

I was in an office one day with a woman who was almost totally catatonic. Usual approaches had failed. In desperation, I took off my psychologist’s hat and donned my priest’s. Suspecting something deeper than I had ever encountered, I tried to get her to just say aloud the name of Jesus.

She tried, but the word would not come out.

I was treading somewhere I had never been, and really did not know what I was doing. So, I retreated to my office. There I began to quietly pray.

Suddenly, an inner, almost audible voice, said, “Brace yourself, she is coming.” To my alarm, there she was at the entrance to my office. Pathetically, she began to beg me to stop praying. “I know you think you are helping, but you are damaging my brain. You must stop!”.

In my panic, I had enough presence of mind to realize that there was no way she could have known I was praying, plus there was no way I could have known she was coming. I knew I was in over my head.

So, I said to her “I will call a friend of mine who knows about these things. But, Jane “I am not saying this to you, I am talking to that something or someone who is talking to me.”

I dialed my friend and he responded, “I am on my way right now.”

At that exact moment, she snapped up straight, color returned to her face and she exclaimed “It’s gone! It’s gone!” Raising her hands to her head, she said “It was like a giant vulture had his talons deep in my brain. I heard a whirring noise, and he was gone!”

(Afterwards, she went back to college, graduated with honors and did the same in graduate school.)

My point is that people have problems with God and don’t even suspect abnormality. There is such a thing as sudden deliverance, after which the person becomes aware that they were in trouble. They are also aware of being delivered.

So, my message is that everyone should check themselves for irrational paranoia of the Father. It can be gotten rid of, some by psychotherapy and the more serious condition, by prayer. (Mt 17:21).

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Monday, February 5, 2007

Movie Little Miss Sunshine

What a great message! Even dysfunctional people in families that care about one another, can make it through the crises of this life. Psa 68:6 God setteth the solitary in families.

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Sunday, February 4, 2007

email problems

To email me, please click on the "view my complete profile" on right. I don't trust the button at the end of each post. I do know the one on my complete profile under "CONTACT" gets to me.

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Signing on

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My Bolivian Stole

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Bishop Lyons at Eucharist

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The frontal was designed by Father Charles Osborne on right in picture and made by Myra Osborne. They design and sell incredible original works.

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Bolivia priests out front at AMIA

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Islamic mothers, American mothers

I hope everyone watched the special on Islam last night by Fox TV. (Click on link above). The contrast between the Islamic approach and ours is so mind boggling as to be beyond human imagination.

Islamic women told us how they had no status in their towns until their sons or daughters blew themselves to smithereens . They were so proud, they wanted the rest of their children to do the same. One woman even boasted that three of her children had done this inconceivable act.

I could not help but think of the 180-degree difference in attitudes between them and us. A Cindy Sheehan gains status in our society because her son was killed fighting the enemy. But her notoriety comes because we all grieve with her--even those of us who feel she is misusing her son’s death.

As each child killed himself in the Islamic communities, other parents were clamoring to have their children blow themselves to pieces. In the American community, each time we lose one of our precious children, it is so horrific, we want to stop fighting.

The question is “Which of these totally contrasted attitudes can win the protracted struggle ahead of us?”

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The Rt. Reverend Frank Lyons, Bishop of Bolivia

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Intrepid Priests of Bolivia

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Intrepid priests of Bolivia

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Saturday, February 3, 2007

Hillary wouldn't fight

Senator Clinton said yesterday that if she had been president, she would not have gone to war against Saddam.

So, she becomes president. All the world's intelligence agencies, including our own, alert her that a rogue nation has developed both nuclear and chemical weapons as well as the means to distribute them. They give every evidence of not only willing to use them, but to put them in the hands of any of our enemies who want them.

Will her plan be to go on TV and to give her rendition of a deer caught in the headlights?

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Friday, February 2, 2007

Clueless Boston Hoaxers

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The two men who frightened many Bostonians this week with their devices wired to bridges, could be a metaphor of a lot of Americans. Coming out from the station house, the stupid things they said, reveal they are clueless.

The scary part is you wonder how many other in this country are in total denial regarding the crisis we are in. In the 1970's movie Cabaret, as the Nazis closed in on them, the people danced, wined and dined and sang “life is a cabaret”

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