31 August 2008

Identifying an Acceptable Alternative to American Citizenship

Regular readers of the site will know that I am fiercely against patriotism, nationalism, and the idea that Christians would make double allegiances - to God and to a nation-state. As many of you have privately shared with me by e-mail, and as I myself recognize, while I can babble on all I want about my views, there really isn't anything I can do about it.

I was thinking about this again tonight, and have done some research. I was born in Oakland, California, and so, by default, I am an American citizen. The fact that I refuse to claim it by profession or allegiance anymore doesn't change the fact that I am one when it comes to the law. I have no way to formally give up said citizenship without leaving the United States, possibly never to return.

Of course, this could launch me into a tirade (which I will spare you, dear reader, from having to digest in this post) on the rank fury that the travel process on this planet involves (i.e., passports and visas used to curtail the individual freedoms of people to visit where they please), but at the moment I want to focus on a subportion of this issue. I have had several people ask me why, if I am so determined to refuse to claim myself as an American, I don't just leave the country and be done with it. Simply put, I don't have a problem with America, per se... I have a problem with the concept of pledging allegiance to any nation-state. I like my community, am willing to pay my taxes, and obey all just laws. I have a good life, and I wouldn't trade that in for anything. It is a blessing from God.

So it got me thinking... and perhaps this gets a bit too "Starship Troopers" (anyone who has ever read the Heinlein classic or seen the first movie in the series will know to what I refer), but I have to ask aloud why anyone deserves 'citizenship' from birth anyway.

As an adult, I have made a conscious decision to separate myself from association with a nation. Yet, because I was born here, the choice was made for me. Interestingly enough, some people born on (technically) American soil aren't citizens, only nationals. Now, in practical application I don't know how this works out for them, but citizenship carries with it a level of expectation. A citizen should be willing to serve the state through jury duties, voting, military service (or alternative public service if they are physically unable to serve in the military), etc. Some of us don't want that; we simply want to be able to live our lives as either nationals (non-citizen, of course) or as legally-resident aliens. The latter would probably be my preference.

I have investigated several alternatives to American citizenship - none of them appear to amount to much more than a money-making scam.

There is the "Embassy of Heaven" (website) who will gladly invalidate all of your state-issued identification and documentation and send you (for a modest fee) everything from license plates to passports. (A Kingdom of Heaven Passport runs $50.00.)

On the other end of the spectrum, there is the "World Government of World Citizens" (website) who issue an equally dizzying number of "World Citizen" documents (I can't find their prices, though).

Other groups exist to help you with tax evasion and the like (under the guise of Global Citizenship of one form or another), and I am definately not interested in such groups.

So, what is a Christian to do when he feels compelled to forsake the nationalism that causes so much needless violence, squanders resources, and squelches the freedom of conscience, travel, and thought of those residing in their borders. I fear that there is no acceptable alternative that would actually do what I am seeking...

But if you have any leads, I'd be happy if you'd let me know.

28 August 2008

Construction Update

Big update on the house, as it has been a few weeks since I have last posted pictures...

The first picture is from a few weeks ago when the cement footer and slab were poured... yesterday they delivered our lumber. Today we have pretty darned close to an entire house. Enjoy!

Mythbusting the Moon

Regular readers of the site know that I am a huge fan of the show Mythbusters on the Discovery Channel. Last night, as most of the United States probably watched Bill Clinton woo the crowds in Denver, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman (together with the Build Team) set out to prove that the moon landings were not faked.
It was a fun episode, with some unique twists. I am sure it will be re-airing this week, so if you get a chance to check it out, take the time out to give it a look-see.

27 August 2008

Country First? Excuse me... what about God?

Just in case you thought this was a biased website with a axe to grind against the Democrats, well, you were wrong.

The Republican National Convention begins next week. The theme? Country First.


I thought the Republican Party was the party of faith, family, and freedom. Somehow, they seemed to miss this when planning their big party up in Minnesota. What the Republicans are positing to the American public is the notion that duty to the nation trumps anything else. Oh, I am sure they won't admit it, they may even vehemently deny it, but their own words (and logos) speak against them.

It now boggles my mind even further when I try to figure out why Christians even bother to associate with the Republican party. Aside from their pro-life stance, the Democratic party has cornered the market on the compassion side of policy in Washington. So, please, remind me again, fellow Christians, why we should be staining our hands with this hipocracy?

Sure, I suppose this comes across to many as extremist nut-jobbery... but at least I am not alone. I encourage you, if you are considering abstaining from voting, to read this article by Mark Van Steenwyk at JesusManifesto.com. You may not agree, but you will find it through provoking.

26 August 2008

Pelosi, Biden, Need to Get Their Facts Straight on Abortion

Fox News is reporting (link) that the Roman Catholic archbishops of Denver (+Chaput) and Washington D.C. (+Wurel) have railed on two American legislators, Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi of California, and the presumptive vice-presidential nominee for the Democratic party, Senator Joe Biden.

First, let me applaud the two bishops for standing up - to the point of +Chaput telling Biden not to recieve the Eucharist in the Denver Archdiocese.

Now, let's factually disprove their allegations that the Church, in her earliest years, did not have a firm belief regarding abortion...

"You shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill one who has been born." The Didache (80 AD)

"We say that those women who use drugs to bring on abortion commit murder. And we also say they will have to give an account to God for the abortion." Athenogoras (175 AD)

"(Among Christians) murder is once for all forbidden. Therefore, we may not destroy even the fetus in the womb... To hinder a birth is merely a speedier way to kill a human. It does not matter wether you take away a life that has been born, or destory one that has not yet been born." Tertullian (197 AD)

"There are some women who, by drinking medical preparations, extinguish the fetus within the womb. So they commit murder before they give birth." Mark Minucius Felix (200 AD)

"Among surgeon's tools ther is a certain instrument that is formed with a nicely-adjusted flexible frame for, first of all, opening the uterus and then keeping it open. It also has a circular blade, by means of which the limbs within the womb are dissected with careful, but unflinching care. Its last appendage is a blunted or covered hook, by which the entire fetus is extracted by a violent delivery. There is also a copper needle or spike, by which the actual death is brought about in this treacherous robbery of life." Tertullian (210 AD)

"Are you to dissolve the conception by aid of drugs? It is no more lawful to hurt a child in the womb than to hurt one who is already born." Tertullian (212 AD)

"You shall not slay your child by causing abortion, nor kill the baby that is born. For 'everything that is shaped and has recieved a soul from God, if it is slain, shall be avenged, as being unjustly destroyed'" Apostolic Constitutions, citing Ezekiel (390 AD)

So, Senator Biden and Representative Pelosi, don't just read your Catechism or quote Thomas Aquinas as your ancient source of authority... go back to the heart of the Church, and actually read what the Scriptures and the Church Fathers have to say. If you disagree with what your Church teaches, that is your business... but don't go around pretending to be good Roman Catholics.

If you want to be a Catholic who can freely disregard the Pope whenever you please, there are several Independent Catholic churches out there that don't require you to forsake your abortion policies... in fact, they'll gladly welcome you and the publicity you bring them.
Lying or, at least, mis-informed believers serving the state. Remind me again why Christians serving in elected office is a good idea?

25 August 2008

Yahweh No More

While I was on vacation a few weeks back, several stories began to run in cyberspace about a ruling from Rome concerning the use of the name Yahweh in Roman Catholic liturgical circles. You can read an article from CNS at this link.


How pathetic.

Before you begin sending along the notes about how it is foreign to both Jewish and Christian tradition to actually speak the Tetragrammaton (YHWH) aloud, let me just say this: Jesus Christ has come to bring us to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That relationship is so personal, so tender, that we can address God as Abba (Father). God, in Christ, has revealed his inmost self, the depths of his heart, to his people. That love, expressed in blood, abides with us today.

God is truly near to us, he embraces us intimately and opens to us the mysteries of the Kingdom. He is Yahweh! If we are to claim that Christ has come to reconcile us to the Father, then there is no legitimate reason for us to avoid proclaiming God's glory by using his holy name... for we, who have been marked with his holiness, are reflections of his love in the world!

Removing Yahweh from the sacred language of Catholic Christians is a huge step back to the insane fear-mongering that the Christian Church has, for far too long, used to coddle its people into a psudeo-relationship with Christ. We should follow Jesus not out of fear, but out of a sense of awe and wonder for what he has done for us. To quote the oft-repeated Protestant praise chorus, "Our God is an awesome God!"

I feel very sorry for those who will no longer be able to sing, with confidence, the words of songs like "Yahweh, I know you are near..." I was reared on these songs, and they introduced me to a loving, personal, immanent God. Rest assured that I will go on singing them, even if my Roman Catholic brothers and sisters are no longer allowed to do so.

I suppose this also means that Rome will soon ban the Alleluia from the liturgy, as the Alleluia is derived from Hallelujah, meaning "Praise to Yahweh!" Too bad. I thought that was an ancient part of Christian tradition. Oh well, I suppose we'll just have to come up with something else before the Gospel.

20 August 2008

The Primitive Catholic Call

Our world changes every day. We do not know, in spite of the signs and portents, what tomorrow will bring us. The only surety that we, as Christian brothers and sisters have, is that the love of Christ will enfold us and embolden us for mission and ministry, no matter the circumstances we face. We have been promised, boldly, the presence of the Spirit today, tomorrow, and until the day when our Lord returns. We daily do well to thank God for these gifts; gifts that are priceless and of unquestionable beauty.

This does not mean, however, that discouragement and sorrow has no impact upon the believer. All of us, particularly those of us in ministry, have –from time to time- experienced the pain and sorrow of falling short in our calling, either on a personal or professional basis. For so many of us, it is the unchanging faith that we profess that buoys our spirits in the midst of those trials. Among those who have chosen to follow the Primitive Catholic way, many stories can be told of sorrow, fear, exhaustion, and pain. Anyone who elects to take the ‘path less traveled’ is bound to hit some bumps in the road, and find themselves alone in the midst of the darkness when the proverbial tire blows in the rainstorm.

For the past decade, I have been a vocal proponent of the concept of a Primitive Catholic movement. It has been, and often is, a very lonely and demoralizing place to be. Fellowship opportunities are limited, congregations are practically non-existent, and at times the boundaries of what can be called ‘Primitive Catholic’ are blurred or obscured… sometimes by the uncertainty that texts may suggest, at other times by our tendency to embrace what is safe, and often by our own hubris.

This must change, or the dreams of those who seek to live out a personal commitment to the ancient, patristic, and biblical Christian faith will find themselves not only homeless, but quite probably hopeless, in the face of what passes for Christianity in most of the western world today.

And so, this is a call… a summons to action, not talk, among those who strive and seek to follow the path of the Fathers in the Primitive Catholic way.

It is not a call to revolt from and leave our jurisdictions and congregations, forming some idealistic Primitive Catholic Church which, most probably would be doomed – at this point – to a quick death. This is a call, instead, to flower and bloom where planted. To peacefully and peaceably be beacons for the love, compassion, and theology of the Primitive Church. It is a call to conform ourselves to Christ (as opposed to conforming him –and his message- to our desires) in obedience, imitating his obedience to the divine plan of redemption and sanctification. It is a call to come together, regardless of denominational affiliation or individual rank, so that we may stand together humbly before God, seeking his will for the future of our vision of the faith, and his guidance in where we go from here.

It is a call to a radical and revolutionary commitment to discipleship in Jesus Christ, one that will see us, as our patristic forefathers, as parts of local Christian bodies that will make the kind of changes that we desperately want to see in the midst of our society.

It is a call to you.

The call, which is in essence a reflection of the call of the Scriptures, demands much. We must conform ourselves to Christ. We must obediently follow him without dissembling or demanding our own way or understanding. We manifest that obedience when we, faithful to Scripture and the ancient, undivided, and unquestionably uniform tradition of the Church, submit ourselves to God’s Word and Will, and make ourselves truly his hands and feet.

The call, in part a spiritual and mental assent to a new way of thinking, is also a personal commitment to encourage and uplift our Primitive Catholic brothers and sisters. How so?

First, through a daily commitment to prayer for the Church Universal, particularly her unity; a unity which I am convinced will only be found in a joyful surrender to the beliefs, practices, and love of the ancient Church.

Second, through personal commitment to stand as a beacon for the belief, practice, and love of the ancient Church… wherever you find yourself planted today.

Third, through regular communication and prayer with, and encouragement of, other Christians, particularly those who, in the Primitive Catholic movement, may feel isolated, lonely, or un-served.

Fourth, by actively supporting an annual or bi-annual physical gathering of Primitive Catholics for mutual edification, dialogue, and consideration of how God wishes to use us and our convictions to bring a new vitality and energy to the Church, and to renew the visage of the Church in the eyes of a world that is becoming more and more hostile on a daily basis to the concept of surrender to God in Christ… a surrender that even many of our Christian brothers and sisters cannot see the truth of… a surrender that ultimately sets us free.

Would you, my friends, who consider yourself a Primitive Catholic, accept the call? If so, please, join me… let us gather together in fellowship, encouragement, and praise to God who has spoken so tenderly to our hearts. Let us give him glory, and let us come together… and together let us forge a future for our parishes, our denominations… and our world.

(A Contact Me button can be found near the top of the left-hand column of this webpage. Please use it to e-mail me with your support, questions, or thoughts.)

Father Robert Lyons
Indianapolis, Indiana
August 20, 2008

Gentle Giants of Ganymede, Chapter 14

Before starting in on my next assignment for TrekMovie.com (the forthcoming Destiny Trilogy) I've been taking a few weeks to do some pleasure reading outside of the Trek realm. Tonight I happen to be reading "The Gentle Giants of Ganymede" by James P. Hogan. The book is the sequel to Hogan's first novel, "Inherit the Stars" (see my Amazon review here.)

A few minutes ago, I finished Chapter 14. It was short, only a page and a half, but I don't think I have ever read such a touching chapter in the nearly twenty years I have been reading fiction (with the possible exception of reading the climactic chapters of "Where the Red Fern Grows" when I was in seventh grade.)

I don't know if Hogan ever tools around the 'net looking for comments on his thirty-year-old books, but, Mr. Hogan, if you happen to be stopping by... thank you for such a wonderfully written and meaningful chapter!

19 August 2008

Recent Reading

Some flash reviews of a few novels I have recently read:

The Gripping Hand
Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

The sequel to "The Mote in God's Eye", released nearly twenty years after the original. "The Gripping Hand" is a fascinating look into the Moties lives, exploring how, over a quarter century, they prepared for the day when they would look to leave their system and move into the stars. It was an interesting read, but it ended with something of a sputter. It feels like something is missing, though the story's resolution is satisfying enough. A good read, but not quite as good as the original work by the duo.

The Eternity Artifact
L. E. Modesitt, Jr.

An outstanding premise - tantalizing evidence of past intelligent life in the universe that isn't around anymore, and the adventures and challenges of the mission that sets to discover the truth. Lousy execution. Set over a milennia from now, it fails to inspire, suprise, or even make one think. The writing style is so cryptically casual as to make the book unreadable (it took me two years of off and on reading to plow through this sucker...), and the ending doesn't redeem the story at all.

Blah. Yea, that's the best word. Blah!

07 August 2008

Construction, Day 4

Updating our building process, the forms have come off the footers. It's amazing how small the place looks at this point, but we've been through the same floor plan at various stages of construction and know its final size. Two photos are here from this evening, one from the back yard looking at the breakfast nook (the bump out that you see), the second looking at the front from the street.

Pictures of the New House (Construction Update)

As noted the other day, our new house got started on Monday morning. Her are some pictures from the worksite.

On Monday, the temporary driveway was put in place (gravel) and the house-plot was graded. We are building a two story house with no basement. The house will build out to the left of the driveway.

By Wednesday, (it's hard to see here, but trust me!) the footers for the walls had been set up and poured. As you can see, we have a basic treeline (that could stand some filling in) behind the property.

04 August 2008

Construction - Day 1

Well, today was the day, our first house has begun. Kristen and I are building with Centex Homes near Bargersville, Indiana, and plan to move in mid-December (what a nice Christmas present!).

We had our preconstruction meeting this afternoon, but at lunchtime Kristen drove past the house and saw that they had laid the temporary gravel driveway and had graded the peak of the property for foundation work. She got a few pictures, and I'll post them in a few days as an addendum.

Over the coming months, I'll be blogging about the construction process, including pictures.

All original material (C) 2007-2010 by Father Robert Lyons.

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