John Jalsevac

Divine discontent

John Jalsevac
John Jalsevac
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December 22, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – About a month ago I was sitting in the leather armchair in my living room. It was late at night and very quiet. I was reading something – I don’t remember what – when suddenly I fell to thinking.

Unfortunately what I fell to thinking about was work. I say unfortunately because I strive to be strict with the separation between work and personal life. I find that if I’m not strict, work has a nasty way of creeping up and seeping into those precious and necessary quiet hours of family, reading, thinking and prayer.

But this time around it was understandable. The following day more than a year’s work, and quite a few years’ worth of dreaming, was about to come to fruition: the following evening the new LifeSiteNews website was going to be launched.

Probably no one was quite as excited about this as me. I’d been thinking about this perhaps from the first day I started working for Lifesite over six years ago: why shouldn’t our website be just as good as that of any mainstream news network?

Ever since then I’d been looking for the opportune time to make this project happen. And once the opening presented itself earlier this year, I assumed the role of “project manager,” working with the design firm to hammer out the details for the site, and monitoring its execution.

For the past several weeks I had been extremely impatient to get the new site off the ground (only our long-suffering web designer knows how impatient), as the inevitable delays piled up.

But on this silent Saturday night, when the goal was in sight, and the thing was almost certainly going to go live the following day – all of a sudden my mind was swept with an overwhelming wave of total indifference. I no longer cared. This new website didn’t matter one whit. I could take it or leave it.

This was very curious indeed.

When I told my wife the following day about the experience, she suggested that perhaps it was a mental defense mechanism – perhaps I was afraid of disappointment, that the site wouldn’t measure up, and so subconsciously I had lowered my expectations.

As reasonable as this sounded, it didn’t quite jive. In truth, I wasn’t afraid that the site wouldn’t meet expectations – it had turned out better than I had ever imagined possible. No, what had happened to me was much more than a psychological trick, a mere mechanism to cushion my ego against disillusionment.

There is a clever poem by the metaphysical poet George Herbert, in which he imagines God creating Man, and bestowing upon him a variety of gifts. Strength, beauty, wisdom, honor, and pleasure – all are bestowed liberally upon this new creature by a beneficent God.

But when God comes to one final blessing, “rest,” he hesitates, and then decides against giving it. While man can keep all the others, God says, “let him keep them with repining restlessness”:

Let him be rich and weary, that, at least,
If goodness lead him not, yet weariness
May toss him to My breast.

My readers will undoubtedly hear in this an echo of that famous quotation from St. Augustine: “My heart is restless until it rests in Thee.”

What had happened on that Saturday night was that I had been given a taste of this divine discontent. For a brief moment I was pulled back from the tiny pinprick of time and space which I occupy and given a panoramic view. In short, I was given the gift of perspective. I saw how little it mattered whether or not Lifesite has the best website or not, and I knew that apart from God, all my strivings were worth naught.

In a sense my wife was right: I was afraid of disappointment. But it was disappointment on a grander scale. I had poured all my energies into this project – it had consumed my every waking hour in recent days. I thought about it as soon as my eyes opened in the morning, and as I drifted off to sleep at night. And yet, even though I was fundamentally pleased with the result, the painful truth remained that it had no power whatsoever to sate the divine thirst that parches the soul of every created rational creature that has been separated from its Maker.

During that brief respite from work that Saturday night, I had made room for this revelation. Such is the power of even a little silence. And so, I finally did what I needed to do, and had not done: I got off the chair, dropped to my knees in the lamplight, and offered up all my work to God, and prayed that He might do something good with it and that it might prove the means by which I would see Him one day, face to face.

And then I experienced peace.

During this Christmas season, why not find a few moments of silence in which to open yourself up to this divine discontent, which the saints have said is nothing else than the desire for God, and which we so often bury beneath a mountain of meaningless thoughts and frenetic tasks? Not only is the experience and acceptance of this divine discontent the foundation of a life of true prayer, but it is also the only route to true peace.

In a discourse on the psalms, St. Augustine explains that when the psalmist writes “In the anguish of my heart I groaned aloud,” he is referring to this divine restlessness, this burning desire. And then Augustine explains Paul’s exhortation to Christians to “pray without ceasing” thus: “The desire of your heart is itself your prayer,” he says. “And if the desire is constant, so is your prayer. … Whatever else you may be doing, if you but fix your desire on God’s Sabbath rest, your prayer will be ceaseless.”

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Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received more than $400 million in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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