Breaking News!

From the Wall Street Journal:

Amid controversy over “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson’s remarks about gays and blacks to GQ magazine, A+E Networks issued a new statement late Friday afternoon that said after consulting advocacy groups and the Robertson family, the network decided to resume filming the show this spring with the reality star.

How about that!  The network has listened to it’s Christian viewers (and others who love their right to express themselves) and reinstated Phil Robertson.  This is a major victory for those of us who believe in Jesus Christ and are sick and tired of seeing Christian values pushed aside.

But, not to worry, there will be another assault on Christianity from another quarter before long.  Let’s all pray that those of us who were upset about Phil-Gate will continue to stand up for our Lord and Savior, and for anyone who is denied the right to express their religious views.


Jesse Jackson Weighs In on Phil Robertson

No surprise here, Jesse Jackson has decided to add his two cents worth on Phil-Gate, the controversy surround comments that Phil Robertson made in a recent interview with GQ Magazine.  Unlike the Robertson interview, I haven’t been able to locate a complete transcript of what Jackson said, but based on numerous media reports, he said

“These statements uttered by Robertson are more offensive than the bus driver in Montgomery, Alabama, more than 59 years ago.  At least the bus driver, who ordered Rosa Parks to surrender her seat to a white person, was following state law. Robertson’s statements were uttered freely and openly without cover of the law, within a context of what he seemed to believe was ‘white privilege.”

I think if I had been fighting for civil rights in the 50s and 60s, Jackson’s comments would be highly offensive.  The bus driver who ordered Rosa Parks to give up her seat was a major villain of the movement.  To say that what Robertson said was “more offensive” must make many African Americans blanch.  It almost seems that Jackson is defending the bus driver.

To review, here’s exactly what Phil said about racism in his interview,

“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field…. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”

Now, I’ve been down this road repeatedly with commenters on this blog and elsewhere and I’m still trying to figure out what’s offensive about this statement.  Did he say that blacks weren’t the victims of discrimination?  No.  Did he say racism didn’t exist?  No  What he said was that he never saw it with his own eyes.

Again, not to be redundant, I grew up in an all white suburb of Saint Louis in the 50s and 60s.  I didn’t go to school with a black person until I went to college.  Did I know that there was discrimination?  Of course I did.  Did I see it for myself?  No, I did not.  And I have to admit, at the fear of Reverend Jackson’s wrath, that the few African Americans I did come in contact with seemed to be happy.  I know most of them were God-fearing people.

In fact, while I was in college, I worked in a department store as a manager trainee.  We had a black janitor who was one of the happiest human beings I’ve ever known.  Mostly because of his great disposition, the decision was made to make him a suit salesman.  Nobody who had ever worked in that men’s department had ever sold as many suits as this guy did.  I was his boss and he made twice as much as I did!  It’s no wonder he never saw himself as a victim.

Could it be, in that ancient age before we all became entitled to everything, that blacks (and all lower-income people) put their faith in God and didn’t go around feeling sorry for themselves?  Maybe they chose not to be unhappy, based on their faith in a merciful God.

Phil was out in the field picking cotton right along with the African Americans.  He calls himself “white trash”.  Could it be that he considered the blacks as his equals, maybe even superiors?  Seems reasonable to me.

Keep in mind that this short paragraph is the only reference to race in the entire GQ interview.  I seriously doubt that Jackson has read it.  God knows there are enough misquotes floating around, both on the Internet and on the mainstream media, to make him think he doesn’t have to read it.  Besides, it seems like no matter what stupid thing JJ says, he always gets a pass because the media are afraid of him.

I just can’t believe that he would call Phil Robertson worse that Rosa Parks’ bus driver with so little to back up his claim.  Phil and his sons may be bearded, long-haired, duck hunting, rednecks, but no one has produced the slightest thread of evidence that any of them are racists.  In fact, Willy and Korie have an adopted son, Willy Jr.(Phil’s grandson) who is black.  Doesn’t sound racist to me.

Maybe for once in his life, Double J should get the facts before he goes off on a rant.  It seems to me that he’s a lot more racist than Phil Robertson.

Follow up:  Today I had lunch at Cracker Barrel.  You may recall that CB pulled their Duck Dynasty merchandise off the shelves then apologized and put it back.  Today there wasn’t a sign of any DD merchandise in the store.  What happened?  They put it back on the shelves and their customers removed it, one item at a time.

More on Phil Robertson

Thanks for all the excellent comments on my previous post.  Phil-gate has started a lot of wonderful conversations all over the Internet and in other places.  (You may recall an old-time method of communication where two or more people actually sit in the same room and TALK TO EACH OTHER.  That’s happening too.)  As I said yesterday, this isn’t about Phil Robertson and it’s not about A & E.  It’s about public discussion of religious issues. Some commenters here and elsewhere have cried “foul” wondering why A & E isn’t protected by the same free speech rights as Phil Robertson.  They most definitely are.  The cable cops have not shown up at their headquarters with a warrant for anyone’s arrest.  Yes indeed, they are perfectly within their rights to suspend or even terminate Phil for violating their company policy. But here’s the thing, you and I have a right to demand that our media sources uphold a certain standard.  Obviously for millions of us that standard includes allowing their employees to express their religious views.  If the network wants our business then they should give us what we want.  If they don’t want our business, that’s ok too.  There are a lot of other channels. It’s worth mentioning that an A & E representative was present at the GQ interview.  As part of the ABC/Disney conglomerate, the network definitely could have applied pressure on the magazine to filter Phil’s comments.  They did not.  Hmmmmm. I would like to comment on a comment made by Chaz Peters on my earlier post.

Loved this article. On a side note you mentioned that Robertson’s stance on homosexuality is in alignment with the Catholic Church. Sadly, according to statements from the newest Pope and the conclusions of the Third Vatican Council, the catholic church has changed its official position on that matter. In fact they appear to declare that God has changed His opinion as well. It might be nice if you wrote on this matter as I see it as of far greater concern world-wide than the Duck Dynasty controversy.

This is a misunderstanding perpetrated by the same media that are saying Phil is a racist and a homophobe.  The Pope has actually said nothing of the kind.  What he has said corresponds to the ancient teaching going all the way back to Christ.  “Hate the sin.  Love the sinner.”  Being homosexual is not a sin.  Performing homosexual acts is.  We, as Christians, are not called to judge others even though most of us do it and even think we’re very good at it.  Logically then homosexual men and women are called to be celibate.  Of course our “modern” society laughs at such an old-fashioned notion.  Doesn’t it say in the Bible, or the US Constitution, or the Magna Carta, or somewhere that we all have the right to sexual satisfaction? Sorry but no.  In fact, Scripture tells us that a celibate life is the most excellent life of all.  But why would we expect society to believe that when they either don’t believe anything in the Bible or choose to believe just the parts that suit them? No, Church teaching hasn’t changed.  God’s opinion hasn’t changed.  And, unfortunately, the media’s ability to twist and spin a public figure’s words to fit their story hasn’t changed either.

The media are counting on us to forget this story in a short time.  They hope that Christmas and New Years and other news stories will push Phil-gate out of our consciousness.  Please don’t let that happen.  Stay informed.  Make your feelings known at every opportunity.  I’ve been wondering for years what it would take for Christians to be fed up enough to take some action.  Maybe the time is now.

4th Sunday of Advent

(This is my homily for the 4th Sunday of Advent)

Today  is the fourth Sunday of Advent.  All the candles on the Advent wreath have been lit.  Now, it’s time to take the wreath down and decorate the church for Christmas.  Father and I will hang up the purple vestments until the first week of March when Lent will begin.


For the past three weekends we’ve been hearing about John the Baptist and his ministry of preparing the way of the Lord.  Remember Jesus called John the greatest man ever born of a woman.  But He promised us that the least person in heaven would be greater even than John.  We have hope because that includes you and me.


But today the Gospel takes a different tone.  There’s no mention of John.  Today’s story is about Mary and Joseph.  It’s a critical story because it gives us some insight into what these two people had to do to fulfill their part in salvation history.


The angel of the Lord has visited Mary and told her that she would bear a son.  In Friday’s  Gospel reading from Luke the angel tells Mary, “He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”  As we all know, Mary told the angel, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word.”


Now, Mary was engaged to Joseph.  When Joseph realized that Mary was pregnant his first impulse was to “divorce her quietly.”  Remember, things were much different in Mary and Joseph’s world than they are today.  In our world unmarried mothers are not scorned.  They’re not ashamed of their situation and some even brag about it.  Famous people, especially members of the Hollywood crowd go on talk shows and talk openly about their pregnancies.  They are proud of what they’ve done and don’t seem the least bit concerned about their sinfulness.  But for about the first 1,900 years of the Christian era, being an unwed mom wasn’t something to be celebrated.  It was the cause of great shame and embarrassment.


So, it’s not hard to understand how Joseph felt.  Mary had brought shame on herself and on him.  Guys, put yourself in his place.  What would you have done?  Matthew tells us that Joseph was a “righteous man”.  He was “unwilling to expose her to shame.”  I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I would have been as gracious as Joseph.


But the angel appears to him in a dream and explains what’s going on.  Mary has conceived through the Holy Spirit.  Her son will save His people from their sins.


The experts tell us that Mary was young, probably a teenager.  Joseph was older.  Imagine what his friends and family must have said.  “It serves your right, Joseph.  You decide to marry this young girl and she turns up pregnant.  What did you expect?”  Think about the gossip.  But, he ignored the taunts of his so-called friends and did what the angel told him to do.  I’m sure he spent a lot of time in prayer.


So here we have two ordinary people who’ve been asked to make huge sacrifices so that the prophet Isaiah’s words would be fulfilled:  “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means God is with us.”


Joseph, being a “righteous man” and a devout Jew, surely was familiar with Isaiah’s prophesy.  Surely he and Mary spent a lot of time talking about what was about to happen.  Maybe they both had planned on having a big family.  Maybe Joseph had big plans for his carpentry business.  If they were engaged, they must have spent a lot of time talking about what their lives would be like as a married couple.  But all that changed in an instant.  And today we thank God that they were willing to give all that up for the greater glory of God.  If either one of them had said no 2,000 years ago, our lives would be very different today.  By agreeing to God’s plan they set things in motion that would change the world forever.


You and I also play a part in God’s plan.  Even though we will probably never be recognized by the world, every time we say yes to God’s plan, we start a chain-of-events that changes the world.


Is there anyone here who’s never seen It’s a Wonderful Life?  It was on TV last night.  George Bailey was given a wonderful gift.  He gets to see what his world would have been like if he’d never been born.  Of course it’s fiction, but it’s definitely a story that should make us think.  What would our world be like if we’d never been born?  What little things have we done that have changed other people’s lives?  Chances are, like George, we have no idea.  God does great things through ordinary people and things.


If you’ve been following the news this week, you know about Phil Robertson.  He’s been attacked for stating his Christian beliefs.  And the whole thing has had some remarkable results.  There’s a Facebook page called “Bring Back Phil Robertson”.  In just two days it’s received more than a million “likes”.  Americans are standing up for their faith (and Phil’s) in amazing numbers.  God is working a miracle with something as simple as a duck call.  It’s a beautiful thing to happen just a week before Christmas.


My recent blog post on Phil-gate has had more hits than all my previous posts put together.


I could stand up here all day and talk about things that have happened in my life that can only be explained by God’s intervention.  He put the right person in the right place at the right time to give me something that I needed.  Maybe it was something they said.  Maybe it was something they did.  But, God’s hand was in it.  I know all of you could do the same.


So, as we prepare to celebrate the greatest event in the history of mankind, it’s good to reflect on today’s story.  Two ordinary people from a very small town said yes to God and changed everything.  That’s what Christmas is about.  That’s what our Catholic faith is all about.  Christmas is a time when we focus on a great miracle.  But miracles happen every day.  We may be the catalyst for a miracle and never even know it.  Thank you Mary and Joseph for saying “yes”.



Why Phil Robertson is the Most Dangerous Man in America

philThe headline reads: “A&E declares war on ‘Duck Dynasty’s’ Christian values.”  It seems the patriarch of the Robertson family made some “offensive” comments in an interview with GQ Magazine.  Before we go any further, mull that over for a moment.  A camo-wearing, bearded, red-kneck duck hunter being interviewed in a magazine called “Gentlemen’s Quarterly”?  Is the world as we know it coming to an end.  I’d say it is, but I digress.

For the uninitiated, Duck Dynasty is the saga of the Robertson family of West Monroe, LA.  The patriarch of the family, Phil, invented a duck call that sounds very much like a real duck.  (Several ducks actually.)  This duck call has made the family and their company, Duck Commander, very successful.  Phil’s son Willy has parlayed the success of Duck Commander and the unique lifestyle of the family into quite an empire, including the hugely successful TV show.

In spite of their newfound wealth, the Robertson men continue to do the things that they’ve always done, primarily hunting and fishing and making duck calls. The hook is that these multimillionaires still look and dress like red necks (their words, not mine) and wear very long hair and beards..  It doesn’t hurt that each of the sons has married a beautiful “yuppy” woman.  There’s also the mom, Miss Kay, and Uncle Si, the family philosopher.  They are unabashedly Christian.  Phil is a reformed drunk and womanizer who found Jesus and doesn’t hesitate to talk and preach about it.  In fact, Phil and all of his sons are ordained ministers.  There’s the rub.

At the end of each show the family gathers around the dinner table and joins in prayer before the meal, something that must make the A & E executives cringe.  They’ve tried to get Phil and company to forego the end of the show prayer with no success.

So, here’s the deal.  Duck Dynasty is the most-watched cable reality show ever.  A & E (and the Robertsons) are making a ton of money.  Clearly the network is between a rock and a hard spot.  They love the money but they hate it that the family is so blatantly Christian.  Most of their attempts at censorship have failed.  They’ve gone so far as to “bleep” non-profane language just to give the impression that the family swears from time to time.  It just ain’t so and it’s a pretty cheesy trick to play on their biggest cash cow.  What to do?  What to do?

Now we’re back to the GQ interview.  The Interwebs have been going crazy today, both pro and con on Phil’s comments.  As usual, it’s obvious that the critics haven’t bothered to read the interview.  You should.

There are two basic things that have the anti-Christian crowd in an uproar.  First are his comments on homosexuality.  The writer asked him “What, in your mind, is sinful?”

“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

Notice carefully that he said “homosexual behavior”.  Phil is a fundamentalist Christian but his view is right in line with the Catholic position on the subject.  Hate the sin.  Love the sinner.  BTW, the quote is from 1 Corinthians 6: 9-10.  Look it up.  One interesting comment on another web site was that Phil doesn’t speak for all Christians.  Clearly he only speaks for those who believe the Bible.

He also said,

“We’re Bible-thumpers who just happened to end up on television.  You put in your article that the Robertson family really believes strongly that if the human race loved each other and they loved God, we would just be better off. We ought to just be repentant, turn to God, and let’s get on with it, and everything will turn around.”

Really, Phil?  How does he get away with such hateful comments?

Another group that has it’s panties in a knot is the NAACP.  They say Phil is racist.  Here’s what he said about growing up in pre-civil-rights-era Louisiana.

“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field…. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”

Again, look at the words.  Where is he saying anything about being anti-black.  He’s reporting what he saw and what he lived.  I see no denial that there were racial problems in those days, just that they didn’t exist in his world.  I grew up in the 60s in an all-white suburb of Saint Louis.  The only African-Americans I ever came in contact with were bus drivers, cab drivers, an occasional waiter or a janitor.  Like Phil, the blacks that I knew were always extremely happy.  I’m sure they felt the effects of discrimination but I never saw it either.  In a letter to A & E, the NAACP wrote in part, “”As you may know, Phil attacked both African Americans and LGBT people in a recent GQ interview.  Sorry guys, nice try but it just isn’t true.  Just who is the “bigot” anyway?  Does the NAACP have a problem with white Christians?

So that’s the crux of the controversy.  A cable TV network that features such epic shows as Storage Wars , Storage Wars New York and Storage Wars Texas ( where people try to make money on the misfortune of others who can’t pay the rent on their storage lockers), Bonnie and Clyde (which glorifies ruthless bank robbers), Rodeo Girls (insert joke here), and several series on house flippers, gets in bed with a family of fundamentalist duck hunters and now they’re concerned about the message that the Robertsons are sending?  They should thank God (if they believed in Him) for sending them a show with some moral values.  But obviously these country bumpkins are too smart for them.  A & E can’t figure out why Americans love the Robertsons, they can’t make them go away because of their 17 MILLION viewers and the millions of dollars that they put in the till, and they can’t censor their show because we already know who they are.  That’s why 17 million of us watch.

I notice, too, that in spite of their issues with Phil, the A & E website still contains eight pages of Duck Dynasty merchandise including an $8,500 Duck Dynasty Segway and an $800.00 camo recliner chair.

So we get back to the original question:  Why is Phil Robertson the most dangerous man in America?  First of all, he’s a man of conviction.  He knows what he believes and he’s not afraid to say it.  This is a rare quality in America today and most sensible people will respect him for it even if they don’t agree with everything he says.

Second, he has God on his side.  His scripture quotes are accurate.  He and his family and company represent values that are fading away in our society.  Deep down I believe most of us wish we could return to the more simple life and that includes praise and worship of the One who gave us everything.  If God is for us, who can be against us?

Third, and most dangerous of all, he doesn’t care what you and I think.  He’s made his millions.  He and the family are set for life.  If the TV show goes away, he’ll just keep making duck calls, preaching the Gospel, and hunting his beloved acreage.  His devotion to God and family is real, born of a lifestyle that was full of sin.  He found Jesus and all he really wants is for us to find Him too.

And finally, at least for now, he has a big megaphone.  The TV show has given him a huge audience.  Thousands of people come to hear him and his sons preach the Gospel all over the country.  His church in West Monroe is full to overflowing every Sunday.  With or (hopefully) without the “Arts and Entertainment Network”, he will continue to be a force to be reckoned with.  The current controversy will just increase his fame and his influence.  A Facebook page, Bring Back Phil Robertson, started today, already has 638,000 “likes”.  The A & E page, which has been up for five years has 580,000 likes.  Imagine that!

What we need is more “dangerous” men and women like Phil Robertson in this world.

The Robertson Family Christmas Album

The Robertson Family Christmas Album