Thursday, December 25, 2008

They Actually Believe That!?!

Being a few hundred miles away from my family, my wife, daughter and I went to a friend's parents' house for Christmas dinner. The people were really friendly and the food was great. After dinner, while I was playing Wii Sports Bowling, my friend's father was talking to one of his relatives about Mary. It wasn't my turn to bowl, so I listened in. I heard him say something about Mary being without sin, and "ascending into heaven." This being a conservative Protestant family, I figured he was talking about Catholics, but I was unsure. My suspicions were more-or-less confirmed when he said, "they actually believe that."

Now, I know that we Catholics don't actually believe that Mary "ascended," so I passed on my Wii remote, and tried to work my way over to the conversation. But by the time I made it over there they were talking about a sick family member. Not something I wanted to interrupt for a possible argument. So, I haven't yet been able to correct the misunderstandings (though I plan to find a way).

The thing that really got me, though, was the, "They actually believe that." I do understand this unhealthy attitude of superiority. I've made the same mistake myself, to a small extent with Protestants, and to a more major extent with Mormons.

But, as far as the Assumption, the Immaculate Conception, and a few other Marian doctrines are concerned, I'm not quite sure why they are so incredulous that we might believe such things. They are not without precedence: Elijah being assumed, Adam and Eve not having original sin, etc. The Bible never says, "Mary sinned," or, "Mary died, was buried, and rotted in the ground." And early Church history doesn't show evidence that these things weren't true. Even Luther, Calvin, and (sometimes) Zwingli believed most of the Marian doctrines. Apparently the Bible doesn't clearly deny them.

Because these Protestants believe the Bible is the only real source for history of the early Church, I can see how these beliefs might appear to be manmade, since they are certainly not explicit in the scriptures. But there is nothing so strange or unbiblical about any of them (properly understood) that warrants a, "They actually believe that."

But then, thinking that Mary ascended under her own power (as Christ did), rather than being assumed by God (as Elijah was assumed in 2 Kings 2:11), would make it fairly absurd. This would go along with the belief some Protestants have, that Catholics worship Mary as a Goddess. Considering this horrible misunderstanding, I suppose I'd have to have the same reaction.

"Do they actually believe that?!?"

Thankfully, the answer is, "No, we don't."

I'll probably give a quick defense of the Catholic Marian doctrines at some point in the future, but for now, here's some good links on the subject:

Mother of God

Sunday, December 21, 2008

"He was born of the Virgin Mary..."

By the power of the Holy Spirit, (BOW)
He was born of the Virgin Mary
And became man

Every missal I've seen includes an italicized "BOW" at this part of the Creed, yet few people do it. I see nearly everyone genuflect before entering a pew (which isn't in the missal), but hardly anyone make a bow during the Creed. I can only assume that few people have used a missal. I'll further assume that even fewer know why to bow.

For years, I've bowed at that point because the missal told me to do so, but I didn't know why. I realized during mass today why we bow, so I thought I'd share.

The readings about ''Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant'' were a good primer for this train of thought, as well as the priest reading an excerpt from Cardinal Ratzinger's "Blessings of Christmas". Here's the quote that finished my train of thought:

What can we offer you, O Christ, for having been born for us on earth as a Man? Each creature, the work of your hands, offers you a sign of gratitude: the angels, their hymn; the heavens, the star; the Magi, their gifts; the shepherds, their admiration; the earth, the cave; the desert, the manger; and all mankind, we offer you a virgin mother. --Blessings of Christmas
King David's "Who am I that the Ark of the Lord should come to me?", the angel's "Hail Mary" greeting, along with the signs of gratitude from the quote (hymn, star, gifts, etc) all painted a picture in my head of the joy on Earth as everything bowed at Jesus's birth.

And at that point I remembered the words from the Creed: "By the power of the Holy Spirit, He was born of the Virgin Mary and became man..." This may sound obvious, but I hadn't connected the two until today: that line of the Creed is describing Christmas. And that is why we bow. We weren't around at the first Christmas, so we missed our chance to join the angels and the heavens and the shepherds as they bowed before the newborn King. But we do have a chance to join everyone from our generation in bowing every Sunday as we recite the Creed.

There. Now don't you feel better about bowing now that you know why we bow? And FYI, at Christmas, instead of bowing, we genuflect.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Becoming Catholic Part 3

[continued from Part 2]

6. In the end, the major objection to Catholicism, during the Reformation and now, seems to be, "If the Catholic Church were the 'one true Church,' why have Catholics, even Catholic Bishops and Popes, done so many terrible things?" Of course this objection is an understandable emotional reaction. How could such terrible things as the Spanish Inquisition, the sacking of Constantinople, the burning of heretics, the vengeance of Queen Mary, and today's child abuse scandal happen in Christ's Church?

If I might answer this with a question, "If Christianity were the 'one true religion' why have Christians done so many terrible things?" What about things Protestants have done: slavery, witch trials, John Calvin's police state, King Henry XIII (let's not even start on him), crooked televangelists?

We could even ask, "Why do we remain Americans, after the terrible things America has done?"

When it's your group being addressed, the answer should become obvious: Our group should be understood more by its teachings and its ideals than by the failure of its members, or even its leaders, to live up to those teachings and ideals. Sometimes people sin blatantly. Sometimes people weigh their options, trying to do what's best, and they make the wrong choice. Sometimes it's a lack of information rather than a lack of good will.

What do we do when our religious leaders fail? Do we decide for ourselves to replace them with a completely different authority structure? Throughout the Old Testament the Jews were always falling into disobedience, but God did not choose a new people. The Jews carried forth the lineage to Christ. The Jews carried forth their priesthood. The Jews carried forth the scriptures. They always remained God's people despite their many failures. Even in the lives of specific Jewish leaders: Abraham, David, Solomon, and others all sinned, but most of them retained their authority, and even for those who lost their authority, their office remained, and was passed on to another.

And what is Christ's answer? The Bible tells us, "Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 'The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach (Matt 23:1-3).'"

He then goes on to harshly criticize the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, but despite the sinfulness of the leaders, he still affirms their authority (while also saying it is subject to God's supreme authority).

Later, the Apostles themselves were clearly given authority by Christ, some authority before his death, and more after his resurrection. They had many failings, but their authority remained. The betrayal by Judas did not strip the others of their authority. Peter's denial of Christ was forgiven, and he went on to receive special revelations from the Holy Spirit.

It seems clear from the Biblical evidence, that sinfulness and hypocrisy do not automatically strip a leader of their authority, or prove that the leader was not chosen by God. The Bible shows clearly that even God's chosen people can fail.

I suppose that should give you some idea of the major underlying reasons why I would begin to believe the claims of the Catholic Church. Sadly, it doesn't even begin to touch on the beauty, wisdom, and unity of Catholic teachings, the beauty of the Sacraments, and the wonder and awe of being connected more deeply with so many people who have gone before us and so many people around the world today. I feel that my writing is not really capable of doing justice to these things.

I really do love this Church, but I think there is a lot of work to be done in it (there always will be). Not work to change the teachings, but work to spread the Church's teachings (especially to the many Catholics who have been poorly taught), and to help the faithful to live according to those teachings. My only regret in joining the Church is that I have left some of my family behind. This seems to happen in most conversion stories. My greatest desire is to have my family (and everyone else, for that matter) join me in this Church. I believe anyone who makes themselves open to the possibility will love the Catholic Church once they begin to truly understand her teachings.

Nathan Cushman

Becoming Catholic Part 2

[continued from Part 1]

2. Protestants believe that the Bible clearly teaches Protestant doctrines, and that it clearly disproves Catholic doctrines. They believe that only by filtering the scriptures through the distorting lens of Tradition, does one come up with Catholic doctrine. I believe that this is not the case. I do not think the Bible ever teaches a clear contradiction of Catholic belief. Further, I believe the Bible is often far more in line with Catholic teaching than with Protestant belief. This, I believe, shows the truth of Catholic claims that the Church and Sacred Tradition are actually safe-guards to Biblical truth.

3. The writings of the early Church Fathers (many within the first 100-200 years of the Church), such as Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Ignatius, Irenaeus, Clement, and others, seem to portray a Church that, while not fully developed, agrees much more with Catholicism (and Eastern Orthodoxy) than with Protestantism.

4. As far as specific doctrines, the Bible does not teach the most basic premise of Protestantism, without which there could be no Reformation: Sola Scriptura (Bible alone). The Bible clearly teaches that the scriptures are useful for instruction in the faith. The Catholic Church agrees. But the Bible never teaches that the entire faith is in writing, nor does it say that oral tradition has no value, nor does it even teach which books are in the Bible. The Bible does in fact teach us to "stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15)." If God wished Christians to believe a doctrine, relying only on the Bible for information, and it was as fundamental as Sola Scriptura, he would have made sure that doctrine was clearly taught within the Bible. The Catholic Church, on the other hand, doesn't even have to rely on scripture alone to make its case, because it isn't teaching Sola Scriptura, yet the Bible still lends more support to the Catholic view (which is that the faith is passed on through Scripture and Sacred Tradition, both being expounded and guarded by the Church).

There is much more to say about this issue: Why did Martin Luther add notes (and change phrases) in the copy of the Bible he published if it speaks clearly for itself? Why did all the reformers disagree on so much, if the Bible is so clear (Luther hated Zwinglians more than he hated Catholics)? Why is it that Bible-minded Protestant denominations today have more major differences in doctrine with other Protestants than they do with the Catholic Church (e.g. if you really want to find a church that teaches "salvation by works," don't look at the Catholic Church, look among the Protestant churches)?

And there are many more doctrinal issues, and I will be happy to discuss them if you e-mail me, but I think that recognizing the possibility of such a key flaw in Protestant thought is what helped me to open my mind to the idea that the Catholic Church could be teaching the truth.

5. Instead of the un-Biblical doctrine of sola scriptura, making Protestant churches organizationally Bible-centered, the Catholic Church is an organizationally Church-centered-Church (though both would ultimately be Christ-centered, since Christ is the center of the scriptures, and Christ established and sustains the Church). The Catholic Church does not view itself as a product of the Bible (though it does view itself as subject to the Bible), because it views itself as producer of the Bible (of course not just on its own, but inspired by God). If the original Church of the Apostles was the infant Catholic Church, and the Apostles wrote the Bible, and then the Church later collected and arranged the Bible, then the Bible was written, compiled, and published by the Church (as guided by God). This is how someone who has the Catholic understanding of history can claim, "the Bible is a Catholic book."

This idea, that Christ left us a Church, and not just a new set of scriptures, is not only more logical, but also more Biblical. The New Testament clearly shows the Apostles building a church, which is meant to pass on their teachings (2 Tim. 2:2), to solve disputes (Matt. 18:17), and be the "church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15)." As a side note, this church must be a visible church if one is to know clearly where to find it, and was clearly a visible church, with visible authorities, in New Testament times.

The logic of this can be seen in the fact that early Christians had not yet assembled the New Testament, so they would have had to rely on the Church (first the Apostles, then their successors) to teach them. Later, the Church would be needed to assemble the scriptures correctly. After that, when Bibles were rare, and most people were illiterate, they would still have to be taught by the Church, and could not just read the Bible for themselves.

This is why the idea of Sola Scriptura was only truly advanced after the invention of the printing press. It is, in fact (though it's hard for us to recognize today) a kind of modern elitist idea that requires things we take for granted now, but would have been unthinkable in past centuries. And even today it isn't so simple. We must trust Bible translators to properly convey the meanings of the Greek and Hebrew texts (and/or we must learn Greek and Hebrew), we must understand the culture of the time when it was written, we must try to disregard our cultural prejudices, etc. in order to read the Bible properly. Even then, if everyone ended up with the same conclusions when they took all these steps, this still wouldn't be reasonable for the average Christian.

[continued in Part 3]

Becoming Catholic Part 1

I recently sent out an e-mail to most of my relatives which explains some of the key ideas that led me to believe the claims of the Catholic Church. It's too long, even by this blog's standards, to publish as one entry, so I'll break it into parts.

Part 1:

Dear Family,

As you may have heard, after seven years of attending Catholic Mass, I have entered the Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church is probably one of the most hated, misunderstood, and lied about organizations in the world, and Catholics have a long history of failings which justify some of the anger. Despite the failings of its members, I have truly come to love the Catholic Church and her teachings, so I would like to give a brief explanation for my conversion (though conversion is not the right word, since I was Christian, and am still Christian).

Obviously, my initial interaction with the Catholic Church was linked to the fact that I married a Catholic woman. But, while that may have opened the door, I am not one of those cases of, "I was going to the Catholic Church every week anyway, so I thought, what the heck, I might as well join," nor did I see all the robes and incense, and say, "Ooh, fancy, I'm gonna join this church." Frankly, I was usually more bored at Catholic Mass than I had been at Protestant services (I get bored too easy, just like most folks these days. I suspect it's too much TV), and I didn't really begin to appreciate the robes and incense until I began to appreciate the Church and its connection to Christians of antiquity.

My journey felt long, and sometimes painful. But it was always filled with prayer, and sometimes I ran into strange coincidences, which probably don't mean much to anyone else, but seemed to show me God's hand pulling strings.

Really, there were hundreds of questions that needed answering before I could believe in the claims of the Catholic Church, but I will try to give a brief explanation of the most important factors.

First, as obvious as this sounds, I don't think many people take it seriously: I believe that if there is One True Visible Church, founded by Jesus Christ, One Church given the authority to teach, then I should belong to that Church. It does not matter if I like their music. It doesn't matter if the local pastor is a good speaker. It doesn't matter if the pews are filled with unfriendly people who spend more time drinking than reading the Bible. And, though it pains me, it doesn't matter if it causes a separation in belief with your family (of course for me the move was between separation from my wife to separation from my parents). What matters is the truth. I should follow the truth. And if I don't like the music, the preaching, or the congregation, I must step forward to help make things better within this true Church.

Of course that says nothing to show that the Catholic Church may be this "One True Visible Church," but unless someone is willing to accept that they must follow God to the Truth, even if it isn't fun, then no amount of explaining will matter. I once read a story of an atheist who said, "I will not believe in God unless I see a miracle with my own eyes." He later saw a miracle, but then he said, "I will not believe in God, even if I see a miracle with my own eyes."

I will not discuss, at this time, my reasons for believing in Christianity and in the scriptures in the first place, so the discussion will only be about the decision between Catholicism and Protestantism. (I will note, though, that I tend to have a skeptical nature, so I went through a period of strong uncertainty during college. Luckily, I am not so one-sided in my skepticism as most, so I was even more skeptical of the claims of the irreligious).

In brief, my core thinking on the matter can be summed up in these points:

1. Without even looking at specific theological issues, the Catholic Church has certain advantages on its side: it out-dates all Protestant denominations, it is still the world's largest denomination, it is in agreement with the (also ancient, and for some reason, less hated) Eastern Orthodox Churches on most doctrines (including the belief that the Bishop of Rome has a degree of primacy), and the Catholic Church is responsible for passing down the Bible upon which Protestants rest everything.

Thus, I believe Catholicism is worthy of serious investigation, and I also tend to think it should be given a degree of "benefit-of-the-doubt." It seems that the one who shows up first should get to speak first, so we should try to consider the validity of Catholic interpretations of scripture without letting our Protestant traditions cause us to deny them outright. Yet, as Protestants, most of us never really learn what we are protesting against. Of course it can be painful to confront the possibility that you were wrong in a fully open and honest way. It is not something that will likely be done overnight, because our prejudices interfere even when we do not recognize them (I think I'm still prejudiced against certain Catholic practices and ways-of-talking). We must try to remember that we were raised in a society that has a strong history of Protestantism and a current culture of secularism, both of which are often hostile toward Catholicism, so if Catholicism was in fact true, then to a degree, everything we know is wrong.

[continuted in Part 2]

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Condemned for Translating The Bible?

John Wycliff and William Tyndale are commonly looked upon as Protestant heroes, bravely translating the Bible into English, despite sinister Catholic anti-Bible laws.

The thing is, translating the Bible wasn't against the law. The law just said that Bible translations had to be approved, and there already were approved English translations. Sadly, there wasn't enough demand at the time to make booksellers produce more of the approved versions.

Tyndale translated the Bible without permission in 1525. His translation was condemned, but this was because the Bible had been translated with an agenda. The Tyndale Bible, like the Wycliff Bible before it, had been translated, not to be faithful to the original texts, but to be an argument against Catholicism. The Tyndale Bible, like Luther's (also condemned) German Bible, contained notes denouncing the Catholic Church and her teachings, as well as modifications to the text itself. This is hardly what you would expect if the Bible clearly speaks a Protestant message, refuting Catholicism on its own. Apparently the Bible must be changed if we want it to disagree with the Church.

Not only Catholic loyalists saw fault in the translation. The founder of Anglicanism, King Henry VIII, opposed the Tyndale translation, even after his break with the Catholic Church.

Under civil law of the time, heretics were seen as being leaders of civil unrest, somewhat akin to terrorist leaders today, and they did cause great amounts of destruction and warfare throughout European history (not that the Church didn't share some of the blame). Thus Tyndale was put to death under Habsburg Emperor Charles V in 1536.

The Catholic Church released its official English translation, the Douay-Rheims version, not too much later, in 1582 (New Testament) and 1609 (Old Testament).


More on Tyndale.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Do Muslims Worship Our God?

I was recently reading an online argument that went something like this:

Catholic A: Muslims worship the same God as Christians.
Catholic B: No, they don't, they worship a false God.
A: Yes, they do. The Catechism says, "The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day.[841]"
B: Yeah, I know, but that's not an infallible pronouncement, it's just "official teaching."
A: Thanks, but I'll trust the Catechism before I trust "Catholic B" from some online forum.

And so on, and so on...

I think there's a little room for a middle ground on this one. Let me explain:

Let's say you and your friend both were hired by this guy named Bob. Then you were sent to different parts of the country to do work for Bob's company. You both were to send letters each day, to the same address, to let him know how you were doing and if there was anything you needed. Bob himself would read the letters, and then you would receive letters in response from Dave, and your friend would receive letters from Fred, both supposedly being dictated to by Bob.

After some time, you compared the letters you were receiving with those your friend received, and it turned out that you were receiving some of the same information, but sometimes the information would be contradictory, as if you were being instructed by two different Bobs. Apparently, either Fred or Dave was not sending true correspondence from Bob.

The point I'm trying to make is that there is only one God, and we both know him to a degree, because we both have history with him at some point. But the teachings of Mohammad contradict the Catholic faith in many areas, so they must not be true in their entirety. What Islam has preserved intact from Christianity and Judaism is, however, true.

As I see it, this means that we do both pray to the same God, because if we address our prayers to "the one God," then he receives them. Also, to the extent that they recognize true attributes of God, they adore the same God. And finally, to the extent that they recognize the teachings and commands of God, they serve the same God.

So, to sum it up: Do they pray to the same God? Yes. Do they adore the same God? Partly. Do they serve the same God? To an extent. Do Muslims believe all we believe about God? No.

I think the Catechism attests to the idea that Muslims may love [adore] the same God as we do, but often serve a false god, when it says:
"In their religious behavior, however, men also display the limits and errors that disfigure the image of God in them: Very often, deceived by the Evil One, men have become vain in their reasonings, and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and served the creature rather than the Creator.[844]"
Another point, somewhere in there, is that God, being an actual being, and not just a philosophical concept, can be addressed or even loved without being understood. Thus, Muslims can love God and pray to God while not actually knowing him as well as Christians.

This is similar to how a child can pray to God without understanding him like an adult, or how an adult can love him without understanding him as well as the apostles understood him.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Children Are Born Believers

Recent research shows, "Children have an innate belief in God, and do not acquire their faith through religious indoctrination, according to a leading academic."

Dr. Justin Barrett said, “The preponderance of scientific evidence for the past 10 years or so has shown that a lot more seems to be built into the natural development of children's minds than we once thought, including a disposition to see the world as designed and purposeful and that some kind of intelligent being is behind that purpose.”

See the full story here.

The story doesn't give a lot of details, so I don't know how well-conducted the studies were. But it is still quite interesting, and it goes along with some other stories I've heard.

I wonder if people begin to doubt God because of their doubts in other people? I've heard people say that they stopped believing in God when they stopped believing in Santa Claus. But this seems to be more of a problem with trust between a child and his parent than a problem of natural disbelief.

Children seem generally more in tune with the supernatural, likely because they haven't grown so defensive and shut themselves off to input that seems unfamiliar. Doesn't sin make us blind to the truth?

TV Makes People Go Crazy

A new survey of 173 research efforts, spanning 30 years, shows more evidence than ever that TV (as well as music, movies, and other media) contributes to obesity, drug use, tobacco use, sexual behavior, alcohol use, low academic performance, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

That's a long list, and this article doesn't mention the studies that link TV to depression and anxiety.

I've read that there is a connection between TV watching and depression in adults too, but I can't find that info right now. If anyone has a good link, leave a comment.

I imagine that all these things that are harmful to children are also harmful to adults, but since adults are not learning so many things for the first time, and are more set in their ways, the effects would not be as sudden or pronounced.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Craziest Complaints About Catholicism Vol.1

Sometimes it's funny, sometimes it's exhausting, but either way it happens too much: Someone makes a complaint about Catholicism that is so easily refuted that you wonder how they could have come up with such a complaint in the first place (and you wonder even more why so many people seem to have the same complaint).

Still, since people have the questions, let's give some answers:

Q: Why do Catholics leave Jesus on the cross? Don't you know that Christ is risen?

A: Yes, I think I heard something about that resurrection thing... Maybe several times each Sunday in church (and that's without including the parts of Mass that change every week).

This is mostly a stylistic difference, and if anything, the Catholic crucifix is more expressive. It tells more of a story, and it is more specific as to which cross we're talking about (since Jesus was not the only person ever crucified, and the Christian cross isn't the only cross used as a symbol).

Further, the Apostle Paul wrote, "Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles." [1 Cor 1:22-23]

Why didn't he say, "We preach Christ resurrected;" doesn't he know Christ is Risen? Obviously, just like St. Paul, the Church preaches Christ crucified, and Christ resurrected.

We could also ask, "Why is your cross empty? Don't you believe Jesus died for your sins?"

Q: Why do Catholics call their priests "Father?" Jesus said, "And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven." [Matt 23:9]

A: He also said, "Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ" [Matt 23:10], yet Protestants still have Sunday school teachers (and we are told throughout the New Testament that "teacher" is a calling for some Christians).

Also, if this weren't hyperbole used to express how God is the ultimate father, teacher, etc., then we would be unable to use those words in reference to earthly things, and they would end up losing all meaning. We understand what it means for God to be "father," because we use the word to refer to our male parent.

Then there's the argument that this means God is our only "spiritual father," but this is pretty silly since St. Paul makes it clear that he was a spiritual father to the Corinthians: "Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel." [1 Cor 4:15] This is along with the countless times the apostles refer to their flock as "child" or "son," and the times they refer to Abraham and Isaac as "fathers."

Catholics Come Home

This is a really cool website that was mentioned in Columbia (the Knights of Columbus magazine):

Its main purpose is obviously to bring home Catholics who have drifted away from the Church, but it seems to evangelize in other directions as well. In the Columbia article it said that the site brought 3,000 people back to the church in its first 2 weeks.

The commercials are especially good, so make sure to watch those.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Once Saved, Always Saved

As I prepare to enter the Catholic Church tomorrow, I am once again being questioned about the Biblical basis for Catholic teachings. My father, a wonderful Christian, and a beloved pastor to the groups he teaches, is more-or-less an Evangelical. Needless to say, we disagree on some issues. Since this has come up again, I'll probably be shifting my focus a bit from politics to apologetics.

My father says the Bible teaches that, "Once we are saved, we cannot lose our salvation." I think the Bible says the opposite (to an extent).

The Bible does clearly state in some places that Salvation is something that has already been accomplished:
Ephesians 2:8-9: "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God—not because of works, lest any man should boast."

Romans 5:1
: "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith..."
These verses, and I'm sure many more, point to the idea that salvation is an event in the past. So if we're already saved, we don't need to worry about losing salvation, especially when the scriptures also say:
Romans 8:38-39: "neither death nor life[...], neither the present nor the future[...], nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God..."
So we "have been justified" and nothing can "separate us... from God," so it seems obvious that once we are saved, we remain saved. But what if things are more complex? First, the list in Romans 8 is a list of external factors, so that seems to leave it open as to whether we can separate ourselves from God. In fact, the idea that you can indeed separate yourself from God is clearly present in the scriptures:
Galatians 5:4: You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

Romans 11:22
: "Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off."
Now, what if there were other verses that suggested that we had to do something to remain in God's family?
1 Corinthians 9:27: "I pummel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified."

Hebrews 10:36: "You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised."

James 1:12:
"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him."

Revelation 2:5
: "Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place."

Philippians 2:11-13: "Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling."
So, it seems there is strong scriptural support for the idea that we can lose our salvation. Let's also look at this verse from the story of the Prodigal Son:
Luke 15:24: "For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found."
In this story the father represents God. His son leaves his family, and is "dead" to his father. Then he returns to his father, and is once again "alive." Though the primary purpose of this parable is to show the love and forgiveness God offers, it also implies that one can be in God's family, but then leave it, and once again return.

We can see similar issues presented in our own lives. Most Christians believe that children who die before the age of reason are likely to be given the grace to go to heaven, since they have committed no personal sin. But then these same children, once they reach the age of reason, and commit sin by their own fault, have "alienated" themselves from God, unless they seek the forgiveness offered by Jesus Christ.

Further, we can find verses that point to the salvation of believers as being a future event:
Matthew 10:22: "And you will be hated of all men for my name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved."

Romans 13:11
: "For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed."

Romans 2:13-16
: "For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified … on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Jesus Christ."
So there is an apparent contradiction. We "have been justified," but we are waiting for the time when we "will be justified." Of course, as Christians who believe the Bible is the inspired word of God, we recognize that these must just appear contradictory. It seems that we have been saved in a certain sense, yet we continue to work out our salvation, and we also await our coming salvation. This is all consistent with Catholic theology, but is not consistent with a view that salvation is only a past event for believers.

Let's also take a brief look at what some early Church Fathers said on the matter:
Justin Martyr, Against Heresies 5:26 [A.D. 156] "Eternal fire was prepared for him who voluntarily departed from God and for all who, without repentance, persevere in apostasy."

Didache 16 [A.D. 70] "Watch for your life’s sake. Let not your lamps be quenched, nor your loins unloosed; but be ready, for you know not the hour in which our Lord comes. But you shall assemble together often, seeking the things that are befitting to your souls: For the whole time of your faith will not profit you if you be not made complete in the last time."
Biblical evidence for "Once Saved, Always Saved" is not very strong, and the evidence against it seems quite a bit stronger. This is probably why even many Protestant groups disagree on the matter. And this certainly does not provide a strong case against the early Church Fathers, and the Catholic Church, which has always taught that salvation could be lost.

Some great articles on this topic:
Once Saved, Always Saved
It's Not Over 'til It's Over

And related topics:
"Assurance" isn't Assuring (by a Protestant seminarian)
The Church Fathers on Mortal Sin

Friday, November 21, 2008

Gay Mob Pursues Christians

Did anyone hear about the gay mob that chased the Christians out of a San Fransisco neighborhood? How about this question...did you hear about it from a blog, or from a news outlet (5).

The MSM didn't report it. In fact, do an Internet search right now for it, and most of what you'll find are blog posts about it, not news articles. I did a search on Yahoo! news and came up with one hit (1); Google news found 95 (2). For reference, the 11-10 Steelers-Chargers game shows up 948 times on Yahoo! (3) and 2002 on Google (4).

I won't go into the media bias, however; I'd be beating a dead horse if I pointed it out. Instead, I'll dwell on this article some more. Or, rather, on the columns, since there are so few articles.

Most have quickly pointed out the numerous demonstrations by the ''No on 8'' campaign at churches. They point out an irony: the Christians and mormons haven't chased away from the steps of their churches any demonstrators exercising their right to assemble; yet, a group of Christians, also exercising their right to assemble, is chased out of the neighborhood...followed by howls of, ''And don't ever come back!'' The irony, of course, is the answer to the question, ''Which group is more tolerant of others?''

Some pointed out that, had it been the other way around with Christians chasing out gays, it would've been front page news. Bleakly, they opined, ''Hate crimes only occur when homosexuals are attacked, not Christians.'' (6)

Blogs from the other side condemned the mob's action as counter-productive to their goals. The individuals making up the mob were simply that...individuals, and not representative of the whole.

I'd like to point out the hypocrisy of the whole situation. The gay lobby constantly is trying to convince me not to vote to limit marriage because it won't affect me. "Live and let live" they say; "you live your life and I'll live mine." The reactions to the Christians in the video, however, make me doubt the gay lobby believes at all what they're preaching. They're such steadfast adherents to "live and let live" that they'll chase out everyone who disagrees with them, all the while hootin' and hollerin'.

''Hate'' was a common theme during the campaign. In fact, the ''No on 8'' campaign's slogan was ''8 is Hate.'' Well, I definitely see hate in the video.

(1) Yahoo! search 1
(2) Google search 1
(3) Yahoo! search 2
(4) Google search 2
(5) Blog with video
(6) Bleak Blog
Random XXX Church link

Is it Possible to Teach Abstinence?

Secular and liberal groups of various sorts like to claim that high school and college students are "going to do it anyway," so we shouldn't "waste" time and money on abstinence education, when what the kids "really need" is contraceptives. They back this reasoning up with studies showing the lack of success seen in areas with abstinence education.

My reaction has always been to just groan in annoyance at such ignorance. Of course we won't see great results from the mere fact that we put money into abstinence education. It would take years of research to find effective forms of abstinence education. Psychologists have been studying depression and anxiety since psychology (and psychiatry) began. They are better at influencing unhealthy minds today, but they still don't have a simple cure. Why should we expect it to be so much easier to influence minds in other difficult but helpful directions? It should be obvious that a teacher rolling his eyes as he says, "The state requires that I tell you not to have sex until you're married," is as likely to hurt as it is to help. So it should also be obvious that the quality of the programs is as important as the existence of the programs.

And even more obvious, is that neither abstinence education nor contraception education happen in a vacuum. How can we expect adolescents to listen to their teacher who says "no" when all their friends, their favorite celebrities, their magazines, and sometimes even their parents are shouting "YES!" If we want success, we need a comprehensive form of "wait until you're married" education that would entail sweeping changes of education, media, and who knows what else.

There is clear evidence that watching sex on TV can double teen pregnancy rates. There is also evidence that college professors promoting use of contraception makes college students 10% more likely to engage in premarital sex during their last year in school. How many other factors might be contributing to this problem?

We live in a society that is overflowing with sex. We can't just protect our kids (and ourselves) from one angle; they will just absorb what comes at them from every other angle. For now it takes a multi-pronged approach from individual parents to protect their own children. For the future we need to work toward a multi-pronged approach to protect everyone's children.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Was Luther Right?

Yesterday, during Pope Benedict XVI's general audience, he said that Martin Luther was correct in saying that we are saved "'by faith alone'[...] if faith is not opposed to charity, to love." See the full story here.

I'm not quite sure how I first came to understand this idea, but at one point I realized that Catholics and Protestants are partly talking past each other when they talk about "faith and works" versus "faith alone." In reality, they are using the word "faith" in a different manner. The Catholic is using the word "faith" to mean mostly "belief in Christ." Meanwhile, the Protestant is using "faith" in a more all-consuming sense which includes works.

Faith is actually used both ways in scripture. In Ephesians we are told, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God." But in 1 Corinthians we are told, "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." This second quote suggests that love (which bears the fruit of works) is more important to our salvation than faith. But faith is so often described as the thing that saves us, that it seems there can be two meanings for the word, based on context. It also seems that the reality is more complicated than any simple statement such as "faith alone," and that such a statement should not be used to attack those who have simplified the complexities in a different way.

For more information on the contrast between the common Protestant and Catholic understandings of the word "faith," I recommend Peter Kreeft & Ronald K. Tacelli's Handbook of Christian Apologetics: Hundreds of Answers to Crucial Questions.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Anti-Christ?

I wrote this post to respond to the frequent comment I've been hearing: that it is "crazy" to think that Obama might be the anti-Christ.

I could say that I feel almost certain that Obama is not the anti-Christ, if only because I'm sure there have been many leaders who have been suspected of this role. But I could not say that he is definitely not the anti-Christ. Even his supporters should be wary of such a stance, and of ridiculing those who believe it is a possibility.

The gut reaction that, "He can't be the anti-Christ!" is based on feelings more than reason. It's the same reaction we might have if the police tell us that our son was caught stealing a car: "He couldn't have stolen a car, he's a good boy." It's fine to have trust, and to try to believe the best of someone, but we need to be open to the fact that we may have misjudged someone.

Of course most people do not think he is the anti-Christ (myself included), but who will really recognize the true anti-Christ? If the true anti-Christ were widely recognized as such, he could not be very successful. Indeed, just as Satan relies on deception, so will the anti-Christ. He will be a great deceiver, and most will not recognize what he is. He would probably seem like a nice guy, but eventually take darker and darker turns.

Even this turn toward darkness would probably be disguised as "the right thing" in one way or another. He would probably use scapegoats, just as Hitler used the Jews or Nero used the Christians, to distract people from his dark purposes.

But if man always has choices, perhaps the anti-Christ must choose his role, or else his role will be given to another. So then the question wouldn't be, "Is Obama the anti-Christ?" Instead it will be, "Could Obama choose the role of the anti-Christ, and will he?"

I believe that the answer to this is no. I believe the man has enough love (even if it is misguided), that he would not be capable of making such an unloving decision.

Still, it is a remote possibility, not one I'm expecting, that he has deceived me into believing he is a loving man. Unless there are those among us who can truly see the future, or see into hearts, I do not think we can make an absolute final judgment in either direction. And along those lines, it also seems absurd to claim he is the anti-Christ, or that he probably is the anti-Christ.

Really though, I think this is a moot point. If the man promotes evil policies we must oppose them, and if he promotes good policies we should support them. Whether or not he is the anti-Christ, our duties remain the same.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gays "Bash Back"

In a little publicized story, a group of gay/anarchist activists stormed Mount Hope Church in Lansing Michigan during a service on Sunday Nov. 9.

Of course, they accused the evangelical church of “transphobia and homophobia.” Yet, somehow the "bigoted" churchgoers did not react violently. This was certainly a disappointment to the activist who were hoping to videotape violent reactions to justify themselves.

The Rev. John Elieff said (in another article) that the church is not "anti-homosexual," and though it does teach that homosexual behavior is sinful, "Mt. Hope Church struggles to follow Christ’s example of loving the sinner and not the sin."

The activists might be surprised to learn that almost all Christian churches teach something similar. Most churches that teach homosexuality is a sin understand that same-sex attraction is a difficult burden, and desire that we try to view homosexual actions as a counterpart to the kind of inappropriate sexual behaviors that heterosexuals engage in, such as promiscuity, lust, pornography, and affairs.

I really believe that true "gay-bashing" has less of a correlation to church participation than it does to beer-drinking and football watching. In other words, most churches teach people to love everyone, including unrepentant sinners, and even our enemies. It is the popular machismo found in bars and locker rooms that teaches such un-Christian ideas as "women exist for men's entertainment" or "it's manly to pick on gays."

So next time angry activists want to attack someone, they might want to pick a more appropriate target.

As a side note, it seems to violate a church's right to free speech if you disrupt their main weekly meeting like that. How can a group have free speech if the primary meetings where they share their views are disrupted? So the activists should try for more constitutional timing too.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Respecting Enemies?

Lately I've been reading articles, such as this article at InsideCatholic, which say we should show respect for President-elect Obama, even though we might be fighting him on some serious issues (pretty much the same kind of respect conservatives wish liberals had given President Bush). Without fail, someone responds with a comment like, "We can't show respect to that no-good baby-killer!"

I've heard similar back-and-forth about Bishops who are perceived by some as failing the Church.

I agree with the writers who say we should show some respect, but I personally have a hard time staying respectful when I want to try to be strong in my stand against whatever evil my opponent is promoting. So I understand, to an extent, both sides of the argument. What I think I need is an exercise in how this respectful opposition would play out in specific circumstances.

1. Let's say we ran into Mr. Obama, and he asked us, "What do you think we can do to make America better." What should we say?
A) "You should just keep telling everyone to have hope."
B) "We need to recognize that women are truly helped by offering them loving support when they face an unplanned pregnancy, rather than lying to them about the nature of their unborn child, and convincing them to kill it. Which means that the government should support crisis pregnancy centers instead of supporting Planned Parenthood."
C) "We could kick you out of office, you baby-killing slime ball."

Oh... I think I'm already able to detect a trend. The long, well thought out answers are the best ones.

2. We prepare to send a letter to our Bishop, because we believe he is being too resistant to the Pope's call for more traditional Latin Masses. What should we write?
A) "Dear Bishop, I respect you too much to complain. Keep up the good work!"
B) "Dear Bishop, I truly love the old Mass. I feel so much more connected to God during that form of the Mass than I do in the modern form. I like the respectfulness, the music, and even the Latin. When I heard that Pope Benedict was trying to make this Mass more widely available, I was overjoyed. I hope you will work to make it available soon in my area. I can't think of any better way to connect with the Saints who have gone before us."
C) "You old heretic! Why do you hate the Pope? People who think the Latin Mass isn't any good don't think the Church is any good, so why don't you just leave? You'd do a much better job as manager for a rock band."

Anyway, I hope you get my point. I think I'm starting to get it, but we'll see.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Department of Propaganda

As the election drew near, and now, after its close, there has been a proliferation of political news. Often getting my news from the Yahoo! homepage, there's something I've noticed. Some of the stories are traditional Associated Press news, with its mild left-leaning bias (calling pro-lifers "abortion opponents" etc.), but many of the stories are flat-out commentary. Now, Yahoo! may have never claimed that its featured stories were news stories, but I feel much better when opinion pieces are clearly relegated to opinion pages, and not mixed in with the traditional news. I also might be less disturbed if I had read a single column from the conservative perspective during this period.

Take, for example, these quotes from a featured story by John Cloud on Yahoo:

"And then there was California. Gay strategists working for marriage equality in this election cycle had focused most of their attention on that state. Losing there dims hopes that shimmered brightly just a few weeks ago - hopes that in an Obama America, straight people would be willing to let gay people have the basic right to equality in their personal relationships. It appears not."

"In Florida, where the law requires constitutional amendments to win by 60%, a marriage amendment passed with disturbing ease, 62.1% to 37.9%."
Apparently it is "disturbing" that people would vote to deny homosexuals a "basic right to equality." The problem here is that equality presumes that things are equal. But there is little equivalence between recognizing same-sex marriage, and recognizing traditional marriage. One is based on fairy tale romanticism, the other is based on both tradition and on practical concerns.

In fact, I don't even believe that I have a "basic right" to have my marriage recognized. And that's really the key. The government doesn't recognize my marriage because it's my right, the government recognizes my marriage because pretty much every American thinks my marriage is valid (more or less). So then, that's the major problem with recognizing same-sex marriage. Most people don't really view the unions as valid, so if the government recognizes them, then the government imposes this view on the people, which is akin to establishment of religion.

See the difference there? The government imposes nothing (or very little) when it recognizes traditional marriage, because most Americans already recognize such marriages, but the government imposes a great deal when it legally recognizes marriages that are not recognized by most Americans.

If the government stopped recognizing marriage as an institution altogether I might be upset, and I might want to change it, but I don't think I could argue that it was my "basic right."

But you won't find that argument in the mainstream media. Yahoo! isn't going to slide that kind of opinion piece in with the regular news, so they shouldn't be throwing in the liberal propaganda they do run. Of course we can't expect much from these companies. Google and Apple did contribute money to fight Prop 8.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Dangers of Obama

I've been a bit easy on Obama. Maybe I've just decided to be hopeful, since I only started writing about him here after he won the election. I suppose that now we need to move forward, hoping things will turn around, and remembering that it's what we do as individuals and as a church that will advance the culture of life more than any laws or any political candidate. See Fr. Frank Pavone discuss this here.

But we still have to be wary of our new President. Canadian author, Michael O'Brien wrote in his Nov 1st newsletter:

What are we to make of a man who has appeared out of semi-obscurity and become, nearly overnight, so very much an idol of the popular imagination? That he intends to become the most effective advocate of murder of the unborn ever seen in America should give us pause. Murder and lies are as old as the lands east of Eden, of course, but when they are charmingly packaged, proposed as reasonable and just policies (with a smile, a resonant voice, and an appealing flash of the eyes), one begins to wonder just what is afoot in the modern age. It brings to mind a passage from the first Act of Shakespeare's Hamlet:

"That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain..."
Click here for the full text of O'Brien's newsletter.

For a more hopeful look at the upcoming Presidency of Obama, and a reminder about the power of our democracy, try this story by Tom Hoopes at the National Catholic Register.

We Win Some, We Lose Some... Heads

So, looks like we've done poorly on life issues this election. The highly pro-abortion candidate, Obama, won the presidency, along with his party winning several seats in the Senate and the House. Prop 4 in California failed to pass, meaning kids can still get abortions without parental permission (even if they can't bring aspirin to school without a note). And Initiative 1000 passed in Washington state, legalizing euthanasia.

Happily, we did manage to pass Prop 8 in California, and similar measures in other states (like 102 in AZ), preventing activist judges from redefining marriage. This should preserve our freedom to disagree on the issue of homosexuality for a little longer. As I've said before, the biggest danger of legally recognized same-sex marriage is that the government will then begin to enforce the positions of gay-rights activists, interfering with freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

For me, Obama's win wasn't a surprise. I was, however, pleasantly surprised that Prop 8 passed. As for Prop 4, I was a bit shocked that people still think parents shouldn't be informed when their child is going to be given serious and destructive surgery.

Lastly, let me just say I'm glad I don't live in Washington. I really don't know why the risk of legalized euthanasia is worth it to people. If I was able to completely trust everyone, and especially every doctor, then it might not be so scary, even though it would still be wrong. But as it is, doctors can be incompetent and sometimes even malicious. Why should we give them the kind of power over life and death that legalized euthanasia gives them? Also, do we really want the government making decisions about which innocent people it's okay to kill?

Our First Black President

I don't know if I'm just oblivious, but I'm surprised at how much attention is being given to the fact that Obama is our first African American president. I was really focused on the positions of the candidates and didn't really give the matter much thought. I suppose we haven't all moved as far past race as I'd have hoped.

Being that race does still seem to be an issue, I hope that Obama manages to be a good role model for his fellow African Americans. Whatever we think of his political positions, Obama does have a strong American story; the story of a lower class minority working hard to reach the highest office in the country. I hope that this helps those who feel oppressed or have an overactive victim complex to move out of the past. Perhaps if this allows some people to abandon their suspicion of whites the races might become less divided.

Sadly, the racism on the white side might only be strengthened (at least in the short term). I hope that this group can at least show some respect to the president of our country (even if liberals were unable to do so for Bush).

Despite the fact that I do not want a president with such a liberal agenda, my great fear is that Obama might be assassinated by white supremacists. Not only would this be an evil action which would devastate Obama's family, but it would be an offense against democracy. Further it would ruin the progress that might be made toward uniting the races in our country, likely sparking destructive riots. And perhaps most dangerous for conservatives, this would give liberals a powerful martyr, and could possibly usher in a new era of restrictions on freedom. "Hate crime" laws will gain more momentum, threatening freedom of speech. Guns will be taken away. Everywhere, freedom will be traded for security.

So let's pray for the safety of our president-elect. And let's hope that the next time Americans face a decision like this, voters, both black and white, will vote based on the candidate's positions instead of the candidate's race.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Strange Dress

As much as I don't plan on making fashion something I address with any regularity, I can't help but point out how strange Michelle Obama's dress was tonight.

First, the red is in a kind of hourglass shape. On a black background this looks like a black widow's markings to me. But then they probably don't have many black widow spiders up there in Chicago.

Second, the red resembles a stylized spray of blood originating from her belly. Does this somehow reflect the unborn lives that will be lost during the Obama administration?

Of course I don't really think this dress says anything about Mrs. Obama. I doubt she meant her dress to express anything, and I wouldn't hold her fashion sense against her... Especially since she's married to the (soon-to-be) most powerful man in the world.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Same-Sex Sympathy

Before talking any more about my opposition to same-sex marriage, I must let it be known that I have a great deal of sympathy for those with same-sex attraction, especially those who are "in love" with someone. I'm sure their feelings of "love" are just as real as the feelings that heterosexual couples feel when they first meet someone new and exciting. Of course, even for heterosexuals these feelings can be misleading, causing them to enter harmful relationships.

I myself used to believe we should just let them marry. I believed it would make them happy, and cut down on homosexual promiscuity.

But, after studying the matter further, I changed my mind. While it is possible that some individuals might be happier if they had legally recognized marriages, the general trend for society, for people with same-sex attraction, and especially for children, will be toward unhappiness.

Further, it is apparent that redefining marriage so that it has nothing to do with tradition or children will just lead to other people asking for their own ideas of marriage to be recognized (as it, in fact, already is).

Most important, same-sex marriage will not guarantee free speech and religious freedom as its supporters claim. It will, in fact, undermine the free speech and religious freedom of everyone who doesn't "get with the program." Gay rights activists are already emboldened, asking for the Bible to be considered hate speech, trying to force independent citizens to accept their relationships, and teaching kindergartners that homosexual behavior is normal.

Homosexuals already have the right to live in committed relationships. What they don't have is the right to force everyone else to accept those relationships as healthy and equal to traditional marriages.

Intolerance and Same-Sex Marriage

According to Jenifer DeLemont, in the October 26 East Valley Tribune:
Discrimination should be judged[...] by rewriting the statement with a different group's name. [A statement by supporters of Proposition 102] says; “Marriage is between one man and one woman. To allow marriages to be confused by allowing a man and a man to wed will destroy the meaning of marriage.”

But let’s try that same statement with a slight change: “Marriage is between one Christian and one Christian. To allow marriages to be confused by allowing a Christian to wed a Jew will destroy the meaning of marriage.” If that’s not bad enough for you, then try it with race. “Marriage is between one white person and one white person. To allow marriage to be confused by allowing a white person to marry a black person will destroy the meaning of marriage.”

So you see, discrimination all depends on the group we are talking about.
I found this argument quite humorous. If only she wasn't serious. The problem is that she arbitrarily decides what would be a "slight change." Apparently she thinks that a person's sex is roughly as important as their skin color. I may have missed whatever biology class she took, but I'm pretty sure a black man's body functions pretty much the same as a white man's body, even being able to produce children with a white woman. While I don't recall the lesson where two men could make a child.

In fact, using her formula, I'm sure we can find all kinds of intolerance. We'll just take a statement she would agree with, "Not allowing a man to marry a man is intolerant." then see if we can make it sound bad by using a different group's name: "Not allowing a 9-year old to marry a 49-year old is intolerant." Ooh let's do that again: "Not allowing a live man to marry a dead man is intolerant." Hmm... weird how different groups of people evoke different feelings. If that's not bad enough for you, let's take it a step further, "Not allowing a man to marry a herd of wildebeests is intolerant."

What's a Catholic Cataclysm?

Let me take a moment to explain our name: "Catholic Cataclysm." First, it is a play on words, sounding like "Catholic Catechism." Of course saying as much ruins some of the fun, but it's a useful tidbit for those who didn't get it.

One could interpret the name to mean that we think the Catholic Church is a source of destruction, that we want a massive upheaval within the Church, or that we want to destroy the world somehow. None of those interpretations would be correct. We are, in fact, using the term rather loosely.

What we do then mean by our name is that we think the world needs a sort of "Catholic Cataclysm," a destruction, not of people or objects, but of harmful ideas. Not that we want thought police monitoring ideas or anything. We just want culture to change in a healthy direction, toward faith, life, and true love. This move toward the beautiful teachings of the Catholic Church would make a better world for everyone, but would give infinitely more to those individuals who truly entered a relationship with Christ and the Church.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

All Saints Day

Happy All Saints Day!

On All Saints Day I like to remember the Saint whose name I took at confirmation: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. A widow who converted to Catholicism, she raised her five children, started a parish school and an orphanage, and founded a religious order.

On the topic of Saints, here's a nifty website:

This website has a Saint or Blessed listed for each day of the month. When you click on the link, it gives you a brief glimpse into their life.