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

Thursday, May 26, 2011

If Animals Do It, It Must Be Ok 2

I have need of this title again:
Oakland School's Lessons in Gender Diversity
Before I get to substance, may I ask where was the editor who allowed this title to get through without some capital letters? Oh, well, people who read news online probably write like that and wouldn't even notice. Actually, I didn't even notice until I wrote the title here. Anyway, on to something that actually matters...

Yes, fish can change gender (but not by will, there has to be a lack of the other sex before one changes).
I've never heard of  geckos before, but there are apparently some species that are asexual. I guess to be a hermaphrodite (like an earthworm) you still have to find a mate, unlike aforesaid gecko. I'm an engineer, not a biologist. But I am a human and can definitely say that a human is not a bird, or a fish, or a fly, or a spider, or a gecko. A human is not of the same level of creation as the animals. And I'll believe that until a family of ducks moves to a new county to put their ducklings in a better school, or until an elephant writes to a publishing company to get printed the latest in his bestselling mystery novel series. Or until some reptiles get together hammers and brushes to dig up the bones of their ancestors. As human as we treat our dogs and cats (and though they've picked up human actions from us), no dog or cat is going to discuss with you their views on religion or politics. You can try to say that animals have souls, but it has just as much real world evidence as the Flat Earth Society.

What is a human, then? Why has marriage between one man and one woman been held up as the norm, and why has it been the only type of relationship that has survived for millenia? A human is made in God's image, and "God inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the vocation, and thus the capacity and responsibility of love and communion" (CCC 2331). It is the norm because that's how God made us. "Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female; for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'"? (Mt 19:4f). CCC Article 6 (or 2331-2400) is a very complete explanation of human sexuality. I will end with 2393: "By creating the human being man and woman, God gives personal dignity equally to the one and the other. Each of them, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity."

Thursday, May 19, 2011

If Animals Do It, It Must Be Ok

Last post from today, I promise...

Just that on the news, there was a story I couldn't help wanting to comment on. Here are some links:
The Caligula Effect: Why Poweful Men Compulsively Cheat
Sex and Politics: Are Men Really More Likely To Cheat?
The Case for Letting Your Partner's Eye Wander

Sensational titles, but with some pretty sad content. Maybe I'm naive, or just have wishful thinking, but I think it's a big generalization to say that all men who have powerful positions are bad. And just because some people fail at being moral doesn't mean we should just throw out morals. I'm sure I can make a list of men who are good role models that's a longer list than the Caligula one...
St Joseph
St Peter
Sts James and John
Sts Phillip and Andrew
St. Stephen
St. Francis of Assisi

St Francis de Sales
St Maximilian Kolbe
St Thomas More
St Stephen, King of Hungary
St Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor
St Edward the Confessor, King of England
And, you probably know, the list of saints goes on and on.

Our culture is breaking us apart, but the Catholic Church is still on the rock where it was before, while everything on sand is being more and more obviously washed away.
They Say Marriage is a Dying Institution: What's Really Dying is Love
Does Marriage Even Work Anymore?
Marriage can't work without God... heck, any attempt at a moral life is impossible without God. We shouldn't look to animals for what is "natural" because they don't have souls. They can't tell us what is "natural" for a soul. They can't give us morality. We have to look up for that.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus 2

I had an idea for an interesting analogy for how we can  only be saved through Jesus. Imagine you're in a race, but before it starts, you get blindfolded. This is like original sin... you didn't choose it, but it will affect how you act. But it keeps you from seeing how to get to the finish line. The finish line is heaven, and the racetrack was laid out by Jesus (Jesus is "the way"). But you're blindfolded! A friend can come up to you and say, hey! you've got a blindfold on! If you see the way (Jesus) you'll be able to get to the finish line (heaven). Or you could stubbornly say that you don't see a racetrack, and unless you can provide proof of a racetrack or a finish line, you're not going to take your blindfold off. In fact, you could convince yourself that having a blindfold on is the way you're supposed to be! The other possibility is that you never take your blindfold off, but you do your best to follow the racetrack anyway. It is physically possible to finish the race with the blindfold on, but isn't it kinder to be a missionary and help take people's blindfolds off?

Luke 24:13-35

 This passage was the Gospel reading on Mother's Day this year, so it got kinda pushed aside, but I think it's a really important passage both for the Eucharist and for the idea of Sola Scriptura.
Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. He asked them, "What are you discussing as you walk along?" They stopped, looking downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?"
And he replied to them, "What sort of things?"
Jesus knows. But He doesn't want them to know He knows. The fact that Jesus doesn't immediately say "Hey, it's me!" makes the circumstances of the later self-revelation significant. In fact, all through the Gospels, Jesus tells people to keep His miracles secret, and does not allow the demons removed from people to spread the knowledge that Jesus is God. This seems like the opposite of a good marketing strategy. How will anyone know you've just risen from the dead if you wait forever to tell them?
They said to him, "The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see."  I think this is the most succinct description of Jesus. It's only missing the fact that Jesus was more than just another prophet. Maybe the "we were hoping" means that they had all given up on Jesus being the Messiah. Maybe that's why they couldn't recognize him when he walked with them; they were not mentally able to. Are we always able to see Jesus when He walks with us?
And he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures. What the Bible refers to as "the scriptures" is what we as Christians hold as the Old Testament. The old writings that testify to Jesus. The Gospels and New Testament letters are the new writings that testify to Jesus. I don't think there's any other religion that tries so hard to provide evidence/testimony/witness to its truth. There's no other religion where God lowered Himself to become human and know what it's like. There's no other religion where God is loving enough to sacrifice Himself. If you have to make Pascal's wager, wouldn't you want to be in a religion with a God who is as loving and merciful as our God is? So many people ask for proof, for reason. But they don't realize that God revealed Himself over and over and even came to live with us. And that's not enough. Jesus takes the time to interpret everything too! We don't even have to interpret the scriptures ourselves! In fact, we probably shouldn't, so that we don't come up with something contradictory to what Jesus said. Just one problem: this doesn't say what God's interpretation is.
As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. I think it is significant that Jesus spent all day finding Jesus in the scriptures, but their eyes were not opened. Cleopas wasn't with Jesus at the Last Supper, and his unnamed companion was probably not an Apostle either as he's not named. Jesus could have opened their eyes any time during the explanation of the scriptures. Is it a coincidence that Jesus wanted them to recognize Him in the bread? Do we always recognize Jesus in the Eucharist as if "our eyes were opened"? How can we lessen the importance of the Eucharist to "only a symbol" when it is the primary way to recognize Jesus?
Then they said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning (within us) while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?" They realize that they found Jesus in the scriptures after they found Jesus in the meal. That is the order Jesus wants us to find Him. If Jesus intended us to have Sola Scriptura, wouldn't He have their eyes opened during the opening of the scriptures? The scriptures are important (it make their hearts burn within them) but it is has secondary importance to the breaking of the bread, in this passage.
So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, "The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!" Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. As as addition to whether or not we see Jesus when He walks with us, do we see Jesus when He walks with others? Are we willing to put our own interpretation of the Bible aside if we are told Jesus gave us God's interpretation? Do we recognize Jesus in the "breaking of the bread" today?

Catching Up

When I first made this blog I promised myself I wouldn't waste words apologizing for not posting in a while.

      So, I caught up on reading from a while ago. I'm now in Samuel, still in the Psalms, reading the Gospel of Mark, and am in the middle of the Nicene Creed in the Catechism.
      It's interesting to note the stories of Joshua, Gideon, and Samson in the Bible are not kid-friendly stories. It's around this time that there are a lot of statements attributed to God that involve mass killing of the people who lived in the Promised Land. Stories of Joshua usually end at around the fall of Jericho. That was only the beginning. The land is split up between the different tribes who are told "go and conquer it" (except for the tribe of Levi, which by God's command gets none as it is set apart for service to God, and except for the tribe of Joseph which is never called the tribe of Joseph, it is really the two tribes of his sons, the Ephraimites and Manessahites).
      The Benjaminites are all but wiped out by the other tribes due to a rather...sexually corrupt... town. In fact the other tribes went "oops we killed all the Benjaminite women... and we swore a curse on anyone who willingly gives a wife to the remaining men... what do we do now?" FYI their solution was daughter-stealing. But it makes the rise of Saul the Benjaminite to king significant. Saul is of the least important family of the least important clan, of the smallest tribe (because it got all but wiped out). And Samuel is telling him that he will be king. The pattern follows when David, the youngest and least important of his brothers, is anointed king. Neither Saul nor David make the best kings, though David is the one who gets God's promise that his family will have the kingship forever (as Jesus is of the line of David). As Jesus said, "the first shall be last, and the last shall be first."
     Gideon is not really called Gideon in the Bible. Well, he is, but he gets renamed Jerubabaal, because he was told by God's angel to take down his family's (and town's) stuff they used to worship Baal. BTW he did it in the dead of night when no one would see him. On the topic of Baal, (skipping ahead to when Saul is king) the ark of the covenant gets brought to the battlefield because Saul left God's way and has gone mad. The battle is lost and the ark of the covenant is captured. They think it's a good idea to put it in their temple next to their statue (Baal or and equivalent). In the morning the statue has fallen on its face in front of the ark. They think, hey, coincidence, and prop the thing back up. The next morning, not only is the statue fallen over, it's head and hands are cut off. And everyone in the town is getting horribly sick. They think, hey, let's give this over to our neighbor kingdom. But they all get sick, so they have no solution left than "give it back!!! please!!!" And so it gets sent back. But, yeah, the book of Judges is full of idolatry. There's even a point where they make an image of God, and the Bible calls it an "idol"...though God forbade them to make images of Him (remember the golden calf made while Moses was up getting the commandments? At least the New American Bible says that they were trying to worship God through the calf... I guess at that point they didn't really have any concept of using images to think of God vs worshiping the image instead of God.) Oh, back to Gideon. Yeah, apparently before an angel got to him, his family worshiped Baal... not really part of his popular image. (oh and he's also the least significant in family and tribe... ) I didn't even go into the fact that the book of Judges is a cycle of idolatry, being conquered, crying to God for help, a Judge being raised up to fight back, then idolatry again repeated over and over.
     And you'll just have to go read about Samson yourself... I'll just say Delilah was just the most famous of a line of Philistine women in his life...