There are not over a 100 people in the U.S. that hate the Catholic Church, there are millions however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church, which is, of course, quite a different thing.- Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Monday, February 28, 2011

From Palestine With Love

Have you ever heard of "The Naked Archaeologist?" It's a TV show on the History Channel that tries to "expose" the truth of scripture through (guess what!) archaeology. It's not from a Catholic perspective (by a long shot) but I think if done well and honestly, no Catholic could oppose what archaeology says.

However, in the episode I saw latest (it was at our campus's Protestant Campus Ministry Bible study: my attempt at ecumenism... if all the episodes are like this one, the effort will fail), "Spies and Apostles," the show made the claims that
  1. James the Just was appointed by Jesus to be the leader of the early Christians, and that Paul and Peter were plotting to try to wrest control of the early Church from him. 
  2. Paul was a spy for the Roman Empire and only joined the Christians to try to subvert whatever "anti-Roman" tendencies there were
  3. Peter was a spy for...the Jewish Rabbis! Yep, the denials of Jesus on Good Friday are now not out of fear of the Jewish leaders, but a proof that he was chummy with them.
Their response to there being not much in Acts about James is that "it was inter-Christian politics. Paul won and so his version of history is what was recorded."
Their only Bible verses cited were that Jesus declared Peter the rock on which He will build His church (Mt. 16:18) and that Paul was obsessed with "winning" and would give up all morals to win when he said "Run so as to win" (1 Cor 9:19-27).  I don't know what this does to prove the "spies" thing, though.

My response to all of this was a very big "This is ridiculous. What the heck are you thinking? Where in the world would you think you could get this from? How does any of this make sense to you?" For people who believe Sola Scriptura, they've definitely walked off the plantation of what the Bible says.

To discuss them in order:
  1. Who was James? Is he the literal brother of Jesus? Outside of the few mentions of him in Scripture (Acts 12:17, ch 15 and 21 as well) (Gal 1:19, 2:9), most of what we know about him comes from Eusebius.In tradition, James, called the Just due to his righteousness, is the first Bishop of Jerusalem. I guess the TV show takes that to mean he was the leader of the whole early Church. But Acts gives James no leading role until chapter 12! Before that, everything clearly centered on Peter, with the help of John. When Herod kills James (brother of John, son of Zebedee), he doesn't go after James (the brother of the Lord, son of Alphaeus, son of Mary wife of Clephas) next, he arrests Peter. When Peter is released by the angel, he specifically mentions telling James specifically before Peter leaves. It is only after this that James is mentioned a lot, so this is Peter giving the authority of Jerusalem over to James. There was no competition. 
  2. Their entire body of evidence for Paul's spy-ness is a) Paul was a Roman citizen, b) Paul acts differently before and after his conversion and c) Paul mostly hangs out with Gentiles. Does this seem shaky to you? It seems shaky to me. Do I really need to go through all of these? a) Yes Paul was a Roman citizen, but he was a citizen due to where he was born, not through any work of allegiance to the Roman Empire. He was a trained Pharisee!b) well, duh, he acts differently after his conversion! That's what a conversion is! Paul was a very passionate person, Jesus just hit him between the eyes with the knowledge that he was just going 100 miles an hour in the wrong direction. Paul changes course and we should be grateful because otherwise we wouldn't have half of the (non-Gospel) New Testament!  Besides, it wouldn't be worth having in the New Testament if Paul had ulterior motives for being a Christian. There are a lot of worthy books from that time that didn't make it into the Bible, because the Bible is centered around Christ's words, not Paul's or anyone else's. c) (oops I forgot and posted before I got to c... must edit!) Paul mostly hangs out with Gentiles after he is sent to go preach to them. Say this slowly with me. Paul. Got Sent. By God. To The Gentiles. If he isn't the Apostle to the Gentiles, he is nothing! That is his calling. God told Peter to send him (Gal 2:9)! Interestingly, while reading a little bit above this verse, Paul does mention "false brothers" who "slipped in to spy on our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus" in order to influence the early Church's teaching on observing the Mosaic Law. Could Paul justly accuse others of being "false brothers" if he was one himself? Why would you accept a hypocrite as a saint? And why would you accept what he wrote as the Word of God?
  3. Do I really have to say anything to refute Peter being a spy for the Jewish leaders? Even if you don't believe all of the countless passages where Peter was mentioned first or given primacy in speaking mean that he was the first Pope, you should be able to figure out that saying one of the 12 Apostles (other than Judas who is roundly condemned every time his name is mentioned) is in league with the Jewish leaders is ridiculous. Acts 4:5-22, Peter very clearly says he will do what God tells him, not what the Sanhedrin tells him. Acts 12 (again):2-4 "(King Herod) had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword, and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews he proceeded to arrest Peter also. If Peter had ulterior motives, would he really be able to do all of the miracles in the name of Jesus? Acts 5:15, there were so many miracles happening around him, that people hoped that even his shadow might be a cause for God to see their faith and heal them. In fact, in 5:27-32, Peter and the Apostles get chewed out by the Sanhedrin, and they have to repeat again that they will serve God first. And the Apostles "left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.(Acts 5:41)"

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Truth or Tolerance?

After a quick google search of the title, this seems like a question that is predominantly asked by Catholics about religion and by Christians in general about homosexuality. I would like to discuss the former.

So, this began with curiosity over whether there was any... historical... logical... proof that Buddha reached Nirvana. The point of Nirvana is that you never come back. This is on top of the fact that reincarnation through "karmic energy" at con. I wonder how abortion works in karma? If you die before you're born, then get reincarnated in someone else's womb, get aborted again...

Anyway, just searching for 'Buddhism' led me to an interesting site:
So naturally, it would be fair to see what they believe truth to be:
"Absolute Truth"
"One True Religion?"

The main points being:
  • Unless God were to take the initiative, it appears that there is no way for humans to determine which religion is "true."
  • If one set of theological beliefs is absolutely, objectively, universally true, then its corresponding set of moral truths would also be absolute. But there is no way in which we can currently know which set, if any, is true...Until we can all reach a consensus on a common set of theological beliefs, we will never achieve agreement on moral questions.
It then goes on into a  discussion over how if people lessened their grip on truth, they could increase their tolerance of other religions.

I personally don't want truth and tolerance to be mutually exclusive like this. We need to hold to the absolute truth, otherwise we are living in a fantasy we created, not the world as it is, or I could say, not the world God created. But it is impractical to completely reject other faiths because they only agree with the truth for X%, and not 100%. Catholics are not either-or people, we are both-and people.

There's also the problems of imperfect people and demonic influence. People grow up in a particular religion and just accept the practices without much questioning of the doctrine, sometimes. Thus, even if their religion held the truth, they are not able to defend it. For the second, should Satanism and Voodoo really be tolerated, even if its proponents aren't killing people en masse? Religions come from three sources: worship of God, worship of Satan or demons, or worship of yourself. Only God is worthy of worship. Does it jeopardize tolerance to tell someone they're worshiping a creature rather than the creator? If you force them to accept God, then you hurt their dignity and free will, then that is the real intolerance. 

Should tolerance be viewed from and Enlightenment perspective (which is the foundation of most of the secular, atheist culture we live in). Is democracy really the way to solve religious law, and thus, moral issues? What about "gender equality" or "sexual orientation equality?" To the Enlightenment, (after reading a lot of Buddhist explanations, the name 'enlightenment' now sounds anti-Christian to me, interestingly) the physical differences between women and men are superficial and do not indicate an underlying complementarity. Sadly, I believe feminism in this country has stopped being about doing what's best for women, as God made them, and has become more about promoting abortions and making men feel bad.

Is being tolerant really tolerant? In our country we've had a epidemic of vocal "tolerant" people who do nothing other than attack the "intolerant" people. Nobody can be "tolerant" of everything: no human society could hold together if we were (along the same line, if atheism really practiced what it preached, no moral law would hold and thus no human society could hold together). Thus to be tolerant, you must be tolerant of intolerance. If you tell both a Buddhist and a Catholic "you're right" then both will be insulted  at your misuse of tolerance and truth. If you stand on the ground of a Catholic and say to a Buddhist "you have some things right", then the neither is insulted, and the truth is not jeopardized, it is applauded. 

Besides, who controls truth? God. To try to deny truth in the name of tolerance is a injustice to tolerance, and it holds the arrogance and pride of saying you know better than God.

2104  "All men are bound to seek the truth, especially in what concerns God and his Church, and to embrace it and hold on to it as they come to know it."26 This duty derives from "the very dignity of the human person."27 It does not contradict a "sincere respect" for different religions which frequently "reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men,"28 nor the requirement of charity, which urges Christians "to treat with love, prudence and patience those who are in error or ignorance with regard to the faith."29
2105 The duty of offering God genuine worship concerns man both individually and socially. This is "the traditional Catholic teaching on the moral duty of individuals and societies toward the true religion and the one Church of Christ."30 By constantly evangelizing men, the Church works toward enabling them "to infuse the Christian spirit into the mentality and mores, laws and structures of the communities in which [they] live."31 The social duty of Christians is to respect and awaken in each man the love of the true and the good. It requires them to make known the worship of the one true religion which subsists in the Catholic and apostolic Church.32 Christians are called to be the light of the world. Thus, the Church shows forth the kingship of Christ over all creation and in particular over human societies.33
2106 "Nobody may be forced to act against his convictions, nor is anyone to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience in religious matters in private or in public, alone or in association with others, within due limits."34 This right is based on the very nature of the human person, whose dignity enables him freely to assent to the divine truth which transcends the temporal order. For this reason it "continues to exist even in those who do not live up to their obligation of seeking the truth and adhering to it."35
2107 "If because of the circumstances of a particular people special civil recognition is given to one religious community in the constitutional organization of a state, the right of all citizens and religious communities to religious freedom must be recognized and respected as well."36
2108 The right to religious liberty is neither a moral license to adhere to error, nor a supposed right to error,37 but rather a natural right of the human person to civil liberty, i.e., immunity, within just limits, from external constraint in religious matters by political authorities. This natural right ought to be acknowledged in the juridical order of society in such a way that it constitutes a civil right.38
2109 The right to religious liberty can of itself be neither unlimited nor limited only by a "public order" conceived in a positivist or naturalist manner.39 The "due limits" which are inherent in it must be determined for each social situation by political prudence, according to the requirements of the common good, and ratified by the civil authority in accordance with "legal principles which are in conformity with the objective moral order."40 
(Emphasis is mine: if the CCC had emphasized parts it would ALL be bolded... each word and sentence were selected with that much care and meaning)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Lies We'd Best Unlearn

So, on the way to and from confession, I was listening to shuffled CCM (contemporary christian music, in this sense... not Catholic campus ministry, of course) and a couple of Newsboys songs came up and the first one I just enjoy... and the second one really hit me, especially the "lies we'd best unlearn" that I need to unlearn.

Joy -- Newsboys
If life is water, I was dry as Tuscon dirt
If it's a gamble, I'd already lost my shirt
If it's a journey, I was dazed without a clue
I flipped a 'U' back to the first love I ever knew

If life's a battle, the invasion is complete
If it's a rhythm, I have found the perfect beat
If it's a renaissance, I've got a new birthday
The world don't give it
And the world can't take it away

The Full Song 

Truth and Consequences -- Newsboys

I would just pull excerpts from this one too... but the chorus is vague and depends on the scenario in the verses for the correct meaning.

Poster child for the Christian single.
Dumped on more than a birdhouse shingle.
Tired of the same old crowd, she starts to
Mingle where she don't belong.
All God's bachelors hanging in a bunch.
Wolves in Wool-ite beat 'em to the punch.
Score another knockout, barely bought her lunch.
What went wrong?

Let's talk about real life,
Truth and consequences,
And coming to our senses,
And lies we'd best unlearn.

Let's talk about real love,
Truth and propaganda.
Are you really gonna stand for
Love that waits its turn?

I am the voice of the male agenda.
Sensitive, strong, or shy, I tend to
Act anyway that would possibly send you
Somewhere we can be alone.

You're so sure I'm a would-be Christian.
Suckered by the "Untamed Heart" condition.
Love that feminine intuition.
Seen that movie, too

Let's talk about real life,
Truth and consequences,
And coming to our senses,
And lies we'd best unlearn.

Let's talk about real love,
Truth and propaganda.
Are you really gonna stand for
Love that waits its turn?

Okay, okay, okay - you've got me figured out. I'm a sham.
I never actually studied for the priesthood.
I've had lost of destructive relationships,
and I know I don't deserve someone like you anyway.
It's just, there's this strange purity about you...almost a radiance.
Maybe it comes from your religious beliefs. I don't know.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, you're unlike any woman I've ever met...
Is it getting hot in here? Can I help you with that jacket?

Oh, let's talk about real life,
Truth and consequences,
And coming to our senses,
And lies we'd best unlearn.

Let's talk about real love,
Truth and propaganda.
Are you really gonna stand for
Love that waits its turn?

Real love, let's talk about real love,
Let's talk about real love,
Let's talk about real love.
Let's talk about real life,
Let's talk about real life,
Let's talk about real life,
Let's talk about real, real, real

Let's talk about real life,
Truth and consequences,
And coming to our senses,
And lies we'd best unlearn.

Let's talk about real love,
Truth and propaganda.
Are you really gonna stand for
Love that waits its turn?

Let's talk about real life,
Truth and consequences,
And coming to our senses,
And lies we'd best unlearn.

Let's talk about real love,
Truth and propaganda.
Are you really gonna stand for
Love that waits its turn?

No, no. I know you've got to go...oh oh! No, it's nothing.
I've just got this really back pain in my neck
You don't suppose you could just massage it a little, could you?

By Steve Taylor

Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God,
Holy Virgin of virgins,
Saint Mary Magdalene,
Saint Agatha,
Saint Lucy,
Saint Agnes,
Saint Cecilia,
Saint Catherine,
Saint Anastasia,
Saint Clare,
All ye holy virgins and widows, pray for us.
All ye holy men and women, saints of God, make intercession for us. (Excerpt from "Litany of the Saints")

And this has nothing to do with the topic of this post but I love it:
In the Belly of the Whale--Veggietales Jonah/Newsboys.... some parts are a little... not-Jonah-ish... but the synchronization between lyrics and video is done well

Happy the Sinner Whose Fault is Removed

How do you tell your Lutheran friend that you are delaying doing homework together in order to go to confession? It probably felt more awkward for me than for him. Oh well.

What I wished I had:
Prayer before examination of conscience:

"Come Holy Spirit into my soul. Enlighten my mind that I may know the sins I ought to confess, and grant me Your grace to confess them fully, humbly and with contrite heart. Help me to firmly resolve not to commit them again.O Blessed Virgin, Mother of my Redeemer, mirror of innocence and sanctity, and refuge of penitent sinners, intercede for me through the Passion of Your Son, that I may obtain the grace to make a good confession.
All you blessed Angels and Saints of God, pray for me, a most miserable sinner, that I may repent from my evil ways, that my heart may henceforth be forever united with yours in eternal love.

Psalm for after Confession (which I would only have known about because of my goal to read the Bible and CCC in a year):
Psalm 32

Happy the sinner whose fault is removed,
whose sin is forgiven.
Happy those to whom the LORD imputes no guilt,
in whose spirit is no deceit.
As long as I kept silent, my bones wasted away;
I groaned all the day.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength withered as in dry summer heat.
Then I declared my sin to you;
my guilt I did not hide.
I said, "I confess my faults to the LORD,"
and you took away the guilt of my sin.
Thus should all your faithful pray in time of distress.
Though flood waters threaten,
they will never reach them.
You are my shelter;
from distress you keep me;
with safety you ring me round.
I will instruct you and show you the way you should walk,
give you counsel and watch over you.
Do not be senseless like horses or mules;
with bit and bridle their temper is curbed,
else they will not come to you.
Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
but love surrounds those who trust in the LORD.
Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you just;
exult, all you upright of heart.