The Tokugawa Shogunate

The “Tokugawa Shogunate” ruled in Japan from 1603 until 1868. This feudal regime, established by an individual named Tokugawa Leyasu, was ruled subsequently by the “shoguns” of the Tokugawa family. Now a shogun was a “hereditary” military commander while the Emperor was more of a figurehead during the long rule of the shoguns in Japan (1192-1867). One may remember a TV miniseries called “Shogun” based on the novel by James Clavell. Clavell also wrote “To Sir With Love” that was turned into a wonderful movie starring Sidney Poitier, the first African-American to win an academy award for his role in “Lilies of the Field.”

The Tokugawa Shogunate ruled from Edo Castle which was changed to the name “Tokyo” in 1868 after the abolishment of the Tokugawa shogunate (and thus the rule of all shoguns) during the Meiji Restoration. Shogun rule was based on a strict class hierarchy that was inflexible. It was a military style rule where there were lords, warriors (samurai), farmers, artisans, and traders. The movie, “The Last Samurai” (2003) starring Tom Cruise, is set in 19th-century Japan where after centuries of hiring samurai for the national defense, Emperor Meiji has made it clear he wants to do away with the samurai warriors. Tom Cruise plays a Civil War veteran hired to train an army to wipe out the samurai. However he is captured by the samurai and becomes conflicted once he learns of their history. Before the drama depicted in “The Last Samurai”  and during the early rule of the Tokugawa Shogunate, Christianity was banned or being stomped out because of one man’s two year visit to Japan starting in 1549.

St. Francis Xavier (a Jesuit priest) was the first Christian to go to Japan as a missionary and at first he was met with tremendous resistance, but after working for more than two years he was able to establish, along with help from many others, three congregations within Japan’s feudal society. St. Francis struggled to learn the Japanese language but he was able to use artwork to teach the Christian faith. Christianity began to grow in Japan, albeit slowly, and things came to a head in 1637-38 in the Shimabara Rebellion where 40,000 Christian peasants were confronted and the Christian religion was banned under the penalty of death. Whenever someone was suspected of being a Christian, regime officials from the Tokugawa Shogunate would place pictures of Jesus and Mary before the “suspects” and order them to stomp on them. Refusal to do so, if persisted in, would end in execution.

The President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Cardinal Timothy Dolan said on May 9th, 2012, “In our own country we are seeing the growth of a movement just as antithetical in theory to Catholicism and traditional Christianity as the Tokugawa shogunate, and it finds its home in the Democratic Party. What we have seen over the last few decades is the evolution of the Democratic Party into an overtly anti-Catholic party. The Obama administration is the culmination of this trend. This, of course, is deeply ironic because the Democratic party is a major party in this country with the help of the votes of tens of millions of purported Catholics.” Cardinal Dolan goes on to point out how Democrats, with some notable honorable exceptions, have championed things like abortion rights, the embrace of homosexuality including driving the Catholic Church out of the adoption business because it refuses to embrace adoption for same-sex couples and mandating homosexual indoctrination in public schools that masquerades as education and finally mandating that Catholic Institutions offer “free” contraception coverage for its employees. Now more recently the President has endorsed same-sex marriage which is an attempt to “redefine” marriage.

At the heart of any significant relationship is a desire to belong to another perhaps in friendship or as life-long married partners sharing all of life’s joys and sorrows. So why is a marriage between two people of the “same-sex” not the same as marriage between a man and a woman? Pope Benedict provides us with the most clear voice on this matter when he states that “the Church in the United States is called, in season and out of season, to proclaim a Gospel which not only proposes unchanging moral truths but proposes them precisely as the key to human happiness and social prospering.” The Holy Father connects unchanging moral truths as a key to human happiness and social prospering and neither cultural trends, scientific rationality, suppression through government action or majority rule should deter the truth from being offered to all men. Pope Benedict says that nothing should get in the way of man’s ultimate vocation, a relationship with God. Closing the doors to “transcendent” truth leads to impoverishment and to a reductionist and totalitarian understanding of the human person and the nature of society. “The cosmos is possessed of an inner logic accessible to human reasoning.” The Holy Father goes on to state that, “this moral reasoning, based on the natural law, is grounded on the Church’s conviction that this law is not a threat to human freedom.” The moral message of Christianity is not a message of constraint but one of liberation, of true freedom. Christians cannot be silent on “certain issues.” There is a tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience. “There is no realm of worldly affairs which can be withdrawn from the Creator and His Dominion.” Christians, especially Catholics, have a sacred obligation to be a consistent witness of their deepest convictions and contribute to the renewal of society as a whole.

Homosexuality is not a lifestyle that is conducive to the dignity of the human person. It eats away at true human joy and happiness and it is not a good for society. This is no different from the sexual struggles found by others in pornography, masturbation, and sex outside of the marriage covenant between a man and woman. These (and many other sexual sins) are all outside of God’s plan for all men and women. When I was getting my counseling degree I was privileged to hear a young man speak about his struggle with homosexuality and his eventual “escape” by the Grace of God from that lifestyle. One thing he always said has stuck with me. He said that he wanted to fight this sin in his life much like a recovering alcoholic wants to fight against the addiction of alcohol. Thus he needed a support group, a willingness to surrender, and personal accountability. Just like for all sinners we need each other, we need to surrender our wills to God’s will, and when we fall, to take responsibility for our actions and continue to fight against our individual vices and bad habits by the Grace of God. After all, He wants us all to be joyful and to go to Heaven. Don’t be fearful of the struggle for God is on your side!

“Here the subliminal influence of Marxist philosophy surfaces: the notion that it is not the consciousness of men that determines their being but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness. It is a moral problem, not a problem of morale.”

“Material security and human relationships unconstrained by any kind of necessity does not set mankind free.”

“Only if the veil of self-deception is torn from their eyes can anyone improve the quality of their lives.”

“Experience has taught me that it is wrong and cruel to suspend judgment, that non-judgmentalism is at best indifference to the suffering of others, at worst a disguised form of sadism.”

Dr. Theodore Dalrymple, British Psychiatrist

Are You Looking Back?

People who feel they have been damaged or hurt by how they were treated in the past, either by family or by others, often live in isolation and try to keep other people at an arm’s length distance emotionally. They are reluctant to share their fears, hopes, dreams, wishes, and vulnerabilities with others. In other words, to share that most sacred part of themselves. The opposite can also be quite true by opening up and sharing far too much, far too soon in a relationship. There is a balance between relating and over-relating. If you have been hurt there is a crucial need for emotional and spiritual healing especially if this occurred in your fundamental relationships. If you don’t face the demons from your past, you cannot live in an emotionally healthy way in the present and future. No matter your faith, tradition, or culture there is a higher power and if you believe in the ability of God to intervene in your life, you will experience healing and be comforted. Many people live with the burden of their past and they just don’t know how to let go of it. They literally need someone to come in and cut that rope and say, “Let go of it.” Moving on with God’s help means you can begin to make a big difference in learning to be open to others again. In Scripture the story of Lot is somewhat instructive in dealing with the past. Lot was Abram’s nephew (Abram’s name was not changed to Abraham until God made the second covenant with him regarding becoming the father of a host of nations) and Abram took Lot with him as he set out for the land of Canaan. As they were traveling in stages toward Bethel it became clear that the land they were on could not support both Lot and Abraham’s possessions and there were quarrels between the herdsman of Abram’s livestock and those of Lot’s. Lot then was offered to go either right or left and Abram said he would choose the opposite direction. Lot ultimately settled among the cities on the plain of Jordan, pitching his tents near the city of Sodom. Lot and his family were surrounded by evil and two angels protected him and his daughters from the evil intentions of the townspeople. Lot was urged immediately to take his wife and daughters and leave Sodom. Lot’s son-in-laws thought he was joking. Lot fled but his wife looked back and was turned to a pillar of salt. What is instructive in all of this is that we can spend a lot of energy looking back in life and if we are not careful we will miss what is happening in the moment and miss out on the future. If you need psychological and spiritual healing, the first step is to admit that need and let someone wise into the most sacred part of yourself where you will share your fears, hopes, dreams, wishes, and vulnerabilities. If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at

A New Beginning

Today (Monday, April 9th) is the day after Easter Sunday and thus it is the first day of creation for all Christians (and really even those who are indifferent or struggle with belief). We need to ask ourselves whether we have let things “soil our hearts.” The prophet Ezekiel (36:26) notes, “I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you a natural heart.” Even though we have just passed through a time of spiritual renewal within the Church season typically referred to as Lent, we need to examine our hearts and be aware if we have become too preoccupied with ourselves, filled with concerns and complications. We need to beg God for a new heart because if we give a little, God will give a lot! Matthew 6:21 states, “For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” So we ask for a new heart by imploring, “A clean heart create for me, God; renew in me a steadfast spirit.” Psalm 51:12. Things that typically soil our hearts include resentment, anger, lust, comfort seeking, sluggishness, a critical spirit, and arrogance. This coming Sunday, April 15th is Divine Mercy Sunday and this time of year continues to be a “re-examination” of what holds us back from possessing that “clean heart.” Divine Mercy Sunday is a day for even the most hardened of hearts. The grace of God’s mercy is for all people and since we are all sinners and bear personal responsibility for our faults and failures, what better time to return to Church and ask for God’s unending gift of mercy and forgiveness. Christ’s first words in the gospel of Mark (1:15) are simply, “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at

Where Do You Stand? Part Three

In 1997 a freshman senator from Pennsylvania leveled strong criticism at Catholic Charities because the organization was opposed to welfare-reform legislation. Rick Santorum said welfare hurt rather than helped poor families. So Catholic Charities made a Faustian deal with the U.S. government meaning “we will take your support and turn a blind eye to some of the discrepancies we are noticing in some of your anti-life policies.” And on and on it went until we had a startling statement in 2009 from Sister Carol Keehan the head of the Catholic Health Association, “The Catholic Health Association applauds the US House of Representatives and President Obama for enacting health care legislation that will bring security and health to millions of American families.” The only problem with her boldness in proclaiming this was the fact that the U.S. Catholic Bishops opposed the legislation fearing significant conflict with the church’s beliefs. So we arrive at the point where the government demands that the Catholic Church continue with its limitless acts of virtue while the government expects limitless compliance to policies that crush life in innumerable ways. Pope John Paul II stood on American soil and stated that the West is a “culture of death.” Why didn’t we take him seriously and perhaps with childlike innocence look to that firm hand of correction with a more open and teachable attitude? Selfishness and self-love dominate our culture while charity almost seems an aberration. Why didn’t someone tell Sister Keehan that she does not speak for the Catholic Church? So many well-intentioned people get confused by these types of remarks. If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at

The Conscience

So where does conscience come into play with this issue of whether one complies or not with an unjust law? Conscience is the interior voice of a human being, within whose heart the inner law of God is inscribed. Moral conscience is a judgment of practical reason about the moral quality of a human action. It moves a person at the appropriate moment to do good and avoid evil. Consider these words of John Henry Cardinal Newman, “Conscience is a messenger of Him, who, both in nature and in grace, speaks to us behind a veil, and teaches and rules by his representatives. Conscience is the aboriginal vicar of Christ.” Man has in his heart a law inscribed by God. Our conscience is man’s most secret core and sanctuary. Here are three things to consider: A conscience must be “informed” and moral judgment “enlightened”; the education of conscience is a lifelong task; and in the formation of conscience the “Word of God” is the light for our path. Now for three simple rules that apply in every case: 1) One may never do evil so that good may result from it; 2) Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; and 3) “Thus sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience…you sin against Christ.” (1 COR 8:12) Anyone who is confronted by situations that make moral judgments less assured and decisions difficult must seriously seek what is right and good and discern the will of God expressed in divine law. To force the Catholic Church in the United States to comply with the HHS mandates is to force evil upon people whether they are believers or not because these mandates strike at the heart of the dignity of each and every human being. Catholics are not only fighting for their God-given rights but are also fighting for those who do not have a voice, the unborn and innocent. If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at

The Hard Drive in Our Minds

Albert Camus said, “I shall tell you a secret, my friend. Do not wait for the last judgment. It takes place every day.” Some time ago it was reported that a Dr. Wilder Penfield of Montreal’s Neurological Institute discovered that certain sites in the brain when stimulated electrically led one patient to hear an old melody he thought he had long ago forgotten and another patient to relive the experience of having her baby (oh boy!). His findings convinced some scientists that every action of our life is recorded in our brain and that even our thoughts and feelings about our actions at the time we did them are also recorded. Could there then be solid psychological support for the biblical teaching of judgment after death? A lot of people would rather try to forget certain things but the memory is etched on the hard drive of your brain much like wherever go on the Internet is also recorded on your computer’s internal hard drive. It sure does matter what a person does with the time given him/her by God. The very famous sportswriter Grantland Rice said, “When the One Great Scorer comes to write against your name, He writes-not that you won or lost-but how you played the game.” We should be concerned about God’s judgment when we die because no one escapes it and no one will get the VIP treatment. A way to start with examining your conscience is by spending a few minutes each day replaying your day and picking out a high point and then a low point and recognizing the need for God’s forgiveness and the grace to respond better the next time. Finally look ahead to tomorrow and focus on a critical point like a difficult thing you must do, and talk to the Holy Spirit asking for guidance with that difficult thing. If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at

Today’s Temptation

The word to “tempt” is not always used of an evil person or situation urging a good person to do wrong. When Jesus is tempted by Satan while in the desert he quotes Deuteronomy 6:16 by responding with “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” where the verb “tempt” has some such meaning as “try God’s patience” or almost to “ask for trouble.” However when we say we are tempted, it means that our free will is attracted. In Scripture, to be tempted means that the will is being subjected to a test, not that our free will is attracted. So was Christ tempted in the modern sense of the word? Christ’s temptation in the desert can be seen as one of Satan “thrusting” and Jesus only warding off the thrusts much like in fencing. In the episode of the temptation in the desert, Jesus uses His own words only once (the rest he quotes all from Deuteronomy) as he says, “Begone, Satan.” Satan did go away but only “until the time” when he returns for Jesus’ Passion. If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at

The Healing of Forgiveness – Part Four

“When you come upon your enemy’s ox or ass going astray, see to it that it is returned to him. When you notice the ass of one who hates you lying prostrate under its burden, by no means desert him; help him, rather, to raise it up.” Exodus, Chapter 23, Verse 4.  If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at

The Healing of Forgiveness – Part Three

In the Bible the book of Exodus introduces the 10 commandments but it also introduces a whole slew of laws perhaps serving as a deeper insight into how to live the commandments. Forgiveness is embedded in many religious traditions including Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, and Hindu. The cosmic perspective might ask a client to see an offender in a broad, spiritual context and ask questions like, “Is this person loved by God?” or “Where do you think that person will go when he or she dies?” or even “Do you think that person is capable of being transformed and showing genuine goodness?” In 1991 a Gallup poll found that more than 80% of Americans believe that they cannot forgive “deeply from the heart without God’s help.”  If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at

Christmas Message from Lamar

History is full of men who claim that they came from God, or that they were gods, or that they bore messages from God-Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius, Christ, Lao-tze, and thousands of others, right down to the person who founded a new religion this very day. Each of them does have a right to be heard and considered. But there needs to be some measure by which men and women can decide whether any of these claimants are justified in their claims. There are two kinds of tests which can unveil the truth: reason and history. Reason because everyone possesses it, even those without faith, and history because everyone lives in it and should know something about it.

Reason dictates that if any of these people actually came from God then the least thing that God could do is to pre-announce His coming. If someone was coming with a vitally important message for all men and women, then God would first let people know His messenger was coming, where He would be born, where He would live, the doctrine He would teach, the enemies He would make, the program He would adopt for the future, and the manner of His death. One could judge the validity of a person’s claim by the extent to which the messenger confirmed these announcements. From time to time each one of us must prove our identity whether via a driver’s license, passport, or a birth certificate. There were no predictions about Buddha, Confucius, Lao-tze, Mohammed, or for that matter anyone else but Jesus Christ.

The prophecies of the Old Testament can be best understood in the light of their fulfillment and can anyone doubt that the ancient predictions point to Jesus Christ and the kingdom which he established? In the Septuagint (the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible) one finds a clear prediction of the virgin birth of the Messiah; in Isaiah chapter 53 there is a prophecy about the patient sufferer, the Servant of the Lord, who will lay down his life as a guilt-offering for his people’s offenses; and the perspectives of the glorious, everlasting kingdom of the House of David. Whom but Christ has these prophecies found in their fulfillment?

In pagan testimony (another historical source to consider) Tacitus, a Roman historian (AD 56-117) mentions that “from Judea was to come the Master and Ruler of the world” and he mentions Christ and the Christians explicitly in his Annals  (AD 116). The Greeks expected Him and how did the Magi from the East know of His coming except through prophecy? Plato and Socrates spoke of the Logos and the Universal Wise Man “yet to come.” Even Confucius spoke of the “Saint.” In the Fourth Eclogue of Virgil (70 BC- 19 BC) there is mention of a “chaste woman, smiling on her infant boy, with whom this iron age would pass away.” So what separates Christ from all men is that first He was expected and even the Gentiles (the non-Jews) had a longing for a deliverer, or redeemer. This fact alone distinguishes Jesus Christ from all other religious leaders.

Jesus Christ struck history with such an impact that He split it in two, dividing it into two periods: one before His coming, the other after it. Even those who deny God must date their attacks upon Christ, A.D. so and so, or so many years after His coming.  Jesus came into the world to die because that was the goal and fulfillment of His life, the gold He was seeking. Very few of His words or actions are intelligible without reference to His Cross. He was not merely a teacher but a Savior. One can “teach” men to be good but He “gave” men the power to be good, after rescuing mankind from the frustration of guilt.

For Christians worldwide the next four Sundays mark Advent, a time of waiting for the birth of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. For those who do not believe, or perhaps do not understand, it is a time of waiting to turn the page on a new year. A very wise man said that all psychological problems have spiritual solutions. Consider looking into the life of Jesus Christ using your reason and the evidence of history. Good men do not lie and if Christ is all that He said he was, namely “the Son of the Living God and the Word of God in the flesh,” then He is either telling the truth or He is the greatest deceiver who ever lived. In this time of Advent (waiting) whether for the birth of Christ or the page to turn on another New Year, please give consideration of who you want to follow. Christ stepped into the breach of death for us, he crushed sin, and he lifted our gloom and despair. He is the only leader worth following in these unpredictable times. God Bless during this season of Advent and no matter where you are on your spiritual journey love goodness and reject evil.

Oremus, Lamar Hunt, Jr.

PS. I am indebted to the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen for much of the above…