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This blog is closed

Friends,

Thank you for reading my blog. I have founded a new blog called The Praetorium: The Intersection of Faith, Culture and Politics. I have moved content from this blog to the new one. I hope you’ll visit and see what I’ve been up to.

Sincerely,
Patrick.

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Camping: Going there

I don’t know about you, but I’m still baffled by most modern technology. I’m sitting in the passenger’s seat whizzing down I-75 at 75 miles per hour and blogging. I’ve got my AT&T air card plugged into my laptop and am connected at a speed that rivals my home Wi-Fi. I don’t know how it works, but I think it’s pretty amazing. I’m no techno geek (at least I don’t think I am), but I’m fascinated by the ability to communicate virtually anywhere.

My wife, three children and I have just begun a great adventure — or what could amount to a great adventure —our first family camping trip. Jonathan, 6, is reading books. Jenna, 4, is listening to Cat Chat on CD with half an ear … bored … talking … asking when she can watch a movie. Stephen, 2, is watching the trees whiz by and singing: “Uh! Uh! Uh!” He alternately takes a basket (formerly filled with books) and puts it on his head saying, “Dark!”

White County Water Falls

White County Water Falls

We’re headed 750 miles north to Cleveland, Georgia. We’ll be camping at the southern edge of the Chattahoochee National Forest where we hope to see three amazing waterfalls, do some hiking and biking (they’re strapped to the back of the minivan), and see some of God’s great creation.

This all began about two weeks ago when, in a fit of insanity after returning home from two trips (10 days away from home), I said to my family at the dinner table: “What would you think about taking a camping trip?” Before I could make any qualifications to my query, everyone at the table unanimously shouted: “YES! When can we leave?” I’ve since learned to keep my road-weary comments to myself.

Anna Ruby Falls

Anna Ruby Falls

Then the planning began. Where to go? What to see? We’ve been in Florida for more than four years and everyone seemed bored of the flat terrain and warm weather (if you can image that). So, Georgia was it. We scoped out a few state parks online, but they all looked a little too much like Florida. South Carolina looked good, too, but a real forest was what held the greatest attraction for me at least. The others were easily swayed. They were ready for just about anything. So when we discovered that the Chattahoochee was within driving distance, we were hooked.

We aired out the tent, brought the camp stove down from the attic and borrowed a few sleeping bags. Amazon shipped me a five-bike carrier for the van and here we are. Michele and I had camped a few times before we had children. We had been waiting for the right time to go. I guess we found it.

Day One didn’t go according to schedule. We planned a 3 p.m. departure, but our minivan battery died as we were about to pull out of the driveway. When I boosted it with my car, we noticed that the battery had a three-year warranty. Lucky break. Then we read the date on the battery: 09/06. Yup. The warranty expired one month ago. Ain’t it always the way. Wal-Mart was good enough to inform me that the battery had a prorated warrant, so I ended up paying exactly half of the new battery’s sticker price.

We’ll be in The Villages in an hour, ending our first night at my in-laws’ rental property. Then an early start should get us through Atlanta before rush hour. We should be camping real hard by dinner time. God willing, of course, and our new battery keeps us going!

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The right kind of health care reform

I used to marvel at how the U.S. Post Office could move a letter from Miami, Florida, to Fairbanks, Alaska — more than 5,000 miles — for only 44 cents! After doing a little research, I wondered no longer. The post office can’t even move my utility payment half a mile down the street for the price of a stamp.

Most analysts estimate that the USPS will spend $7 billion more than it takes in this fiscal year. As a result, the government monopoly has floated the idea of a five-day delivery cycle, a move that would require Congressional approval. Although the Postal Service receives no tax dollars for its operations, it’s still mandated to provide mail service to everyone in America, and Congress maintains oversight.

Similarly, most government-run programs are running massive deficits. The Government Accountability Office estimated that by 2027, the combined costs of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and net deficit interest will eat up all federal revenue. Furthermore, Amtrak would cease to exist without government subsidies. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? Disasters.

Without getting into the minute details of ObamaCare, it’s sufficient to say that the government doesn’t have a good track record of running its programs. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the new health care reform bill introduced by Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) will cost $880 billion over 10 years. That alone is enough put the brakes on yet another disastrous government boondoggle.

President George W. Bush added $2.5 trillion to the public debt over his eight years. President Barrack Obama has more than doubled that in less than three months — and the meter keeps running.

However, I’m encouraged by prelates like Sioux City Bishop R. Walter Nickless who wrote that “no health care reform is better than the wrong sort of health care reform.” He joins a chorus of bishops across the country who are calling for principled reform that will reduce wasted spending, increase access and help those most in need.

“The Church will not accept any legislation that mandates coverage, public or private, for abortion, euthanasia or embryonic stem-cell research,” Bishop Nickless writes. “We refuse to be made complicit in these evils, which frankly contradict what ‘health care’ should mean.”

As legislation begins to move through Congress, we must make our voices heard. Tea Parties and massive rallies have drawn national headlines, but we also have to make sure our congressmen know that health care reform has to respect all human life, include guarantees that it won’t add to our already crippling deficit, and that conscience rights are protected for health care workers who object to controversial procedures.

Massive government spending is not the answer to health care reform, nor is it the answer to the recession. Let’s work hard and pray for a solution that respects life and the private sector.

Patrick Novecosky is Legatus Magazine’s editor. This editorial appeared in the October 2009 issue of Legatus Magazine.

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Pilgrim of peace

Holy Father calls for Palestinian state during Holy Land pilgrimage

by Patrick Novecosky
Legatus Magazine
June 2009 Issue

Pope Benedict XVI stepped into the fray of Middle East politics by endorsing a Palestinian state during his recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

During his May 15 farewell speech at the Tel Aviv airport, the Pope stressed the need for universal recognition of Israel’s right to exist and the Palestinians’ “right to a sovereign independent homeland.

“Let the two-state solution become a reality,” the Holy Father said, noting that six decades of bloodshed in the Holy Land has distressed him.

“No more bloodshed! No more fighting! No more terrorism! No more war!” he pleaded. “Instead, let us break the vicious circle of violence. Let there be lasting peace based on justice; let there be genuine reconciliation and healing.”

A model for peace

The impassioned speech was one of the many highlights of Pope Benedict’s May 8-15 pilgrimage to the Holy Land, which began with a four-day stop in Jordan. In many ways, his visit mirrored that of Pope John Paul II, who visited Jordan and Israel in 2000.

Pope Benedict began his journey with a stop at Jordan’s Mount Nebo, where tradition says Moses gazed out upon the Promised Land before his death.

“It is appropriate that my pilgrimage should begin on this mountain.” This holy place, he said, should remind all Christians to “undertake a daily exodus from sin and slavery to life and freedom.”

The Pope visited a mosque in the Jordanian capital of Amman before participating in vespers at St. George Melkite Cathedral. It was inspiring to see the Jordanian Christians’ affection for the Holy Father. They shouted, waved flags and sang when he entered the cathedral. The applause was almost deafening.

More than 30% of Jordan’s 109,000 Catholics piled into Amman International Stadium on May 10 for the papal Mass. The youth presence was impressive. Thousands of young people cheered and sang long before the Holy Father’s arrival. A song written especially for the papal visit — “Benvenuto Benedetto in Jordania” (Welcome to Jordan, Benedict in Italian) — rang through the crowd dozens of times throughout the morning.

In his homily, the Pope exhorted the Middle Eastern Christians to stay in the Holy Land and give testimony to Jesus in this conflict-plagued region.

“Fidelity to your Christian roots, fidelity to the Church’s mission in the Holy Land demands of each of you a particular kind of courage: the courage of conviction, born of personal faith, not mere social convention or family tradition; the courage to engage in dialogue and to work side by side with other Christians in the service of the Gospel.”

In his farewell address in Amman on May 11, the Holy Father hailed Jordan as a model for peace and religious tolerance in the Middle East.

“I would like to encourage all Jordanians, whether Christian or Muslim, to build on the firm foundations of religious tolerance that enable the members of different communities to live together in peace and mutual respect,” he said.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II has gone to great lengths to foster interreligious dialogue, the Pope said. “This spirit of openness … has contributed to Jordan’s far-sighted political initiatives to build peace throughout the Middle East.”

Two-state solution

The Holy Father wasted no time getting down to business after touching down in Israel. He called for a Palestinian state in his first speech. He went on to meet with other religious leaders, visit the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and celebrate Mass in Nazareth for about 50,000 pilgrims.

Together with Israeli president Shimon Peres, the Pope planted an olive tree at the presidential palace as a sign of the close relationship between Jews and Christians. He called this gesture, along with meeting with Holocaust survivors at the Yad Vashem memorial, the most memorable of his pilgrimage to Israel.

“So many Jews … were brutally exterminated under a godless regime that propagated an ideology of anti-Semitism and hatred,” he said. “That appalling chapter of history must never be forgotten or denied.”

The Holy Father also met with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in the Palestinian territories. He called the security wall separating Palestinians from Israelis “one of the saddest sights for me during my visit to these lands.” Acknowledging how hard it will be to achieve lasting peace, the Pope said said he had prayed “for a future in which the peoples of the Holy Land can live together in peace and harmony without the need for such instruments of security and separation.”

Patrick Novecosky is the editor of Legatus Magazine. He was in Jordan for Pope Benedict’s four-day visit to that country.

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Welcome to my slice of the blogosphere.

This is my inaugural comment in my first blog. Don’t expect anything profound yet. I’m just getting used to blogging. Fascinating and profound are to follow. Someday. God willing. Stay tuned … if you dare.

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