A Christian pop quiz

nun20Got this in:

I really love your website and articles. I have a few questions.

I was raised Roman Catholic, and my faith is a very important part of my life. Today there are thousands of Christian denominations, each of which claims to be the one true church. Unfortunately, in my opinion, too many denominations causes too much confusion among christians. So here’s my questions:

1. What is the one true Church that Jesus Christ founded ?

2. What is the origin of praying to the saints, Mary, and angels ?

3. What, according to Scripture—specifically, John 3:1-21—does it mean to be born again?

4. Is salvation by grace or by works ?

Thank you. God bless.

Oh, no! Pop quiz!

Whenever as a kid in school our teacher announced a pop quiz, all the students would sink into complaining despair. But I was always, like, “C’mon, guys. How bad can something be if its name has pop in it? Think about it. Popcorn. Pop Tarts. Sugar Pops. Pop music. Popeye. Soda pop.”

And they’d say, “Soda pop? What are you, forty? Thanks for the advice, granpa.”

“You mean granpop,” I’d say, chuckling heartily.

God, I was an annoying child. It’s really a wonder no one ever just killed me during recess.

Anyway, once I actually had the quiz on my desk, I’d think, “If I didn’t learn this crap before, how I am supposed to know it now? I loathe school. I cannot wait until I never have to take another poop quiz again.”

Angry, yet clever. That’s always been my way.

Then I finally got out of school, grew up, started a blog, and yesterday got in this pop quiz.

But now that I’m a man, I’m ready to take on this bad boy. So let’s do this thing.

Questions repeated, and followed by my answers:

1. What is the one true Church that Jesus Christ founded? Jesus Christ founded no church at all. The nearest he came was in Matthew 16:18, where he says: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.” And then, right after saying that, he “ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.” Not exactly drawing up an organizational chart and making plans for a capital campaign, is it?

2. What is the origin of praying to the saints, Mary, and angels? The fact that it can be difficult to get that immediate, deeply connected feeling praying to an abstract entity.

3. What, according to Scripture—specifically, John 3:1-21—does it mean to be born again? John 3:1-21 is the story of Jesus and a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a Jewish leader. The money quote of that story is at John 3:3, where Jesus says:

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.

The phrase “born again” refers to the feeling of newness that Christians experience when they ask God to remove from them the weight and guilt of their sins. The idea is that they believe that Christ took into his actual, physical body the whole of the sins of mankind—that he pulled into himself every bit of rotten karma that ever was or would be produced by any human being—and then, by allowing that body to be obliterated, obliterated all that negative karma forever. The Christian who believes that that actually happened sinks into the very depths of that phenomenon, and comes back out of it feeling fresh, light, relieved, rejuvenated. They feel born anew.

4. Is salvation by grace or by works? The answer is yes. [Tweet this.]

Now go outside, friend, and play.

(But if you stay in, you might read, The Catholic Church and the “sin so grievous it cries out for vengeance”, and/or Father “No communion for you!” not the whole story.)

Print Friendly

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is co-founder of The NALT Christians Project and founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here). His blog is here. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • http://unfinishedxtian.wordpress.com James

    “4. Is salvation by grace or by works? The answer is yes.”

    ^^ This! John, that’s the awesomesauce right there! ;)

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

      Awesomesauce indeed!!

    • Chris

      John always makes me smile! And I am now happy to know I’m not alone with my use of the word awesomesauce!

    • Lymis

      Which side of the scissors does the work? Which tire holds up the car?

      Of what conceivable value are faithless works? Of what conceivable value is faith that is never put into practice?

      • http://unfinishedxtian.wordpress.com James

        OMG, Lymis. I’m so stealing those analogies!

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

    That photo suggest all sorts of things that the pop quiz could be about…

    • Elizabeth

      So there with you.

  • Valerie Horton

    Right on as always.

  • http://www.jesusandthebible.wordpress.com Lucas Dawn

    Hi John,

    I’m here to grade your pop quiz answers, since it appears the one who gave you the pop quiz has not responded or evaluated the quality of your answers. :)

    On number one, you do well to mention Mt. 16, but then conclude that–since there is no mention of an organizational chart or capital campaign, etc.–Jesus founded no church at all. But 16:18 speaks of “my church,” so Jesus did found some kind of church, just not what many people think of when they hear the word church.

    On number two, people could pray to a not-so-abstract Jesus, but if he was visualized especially as hanging on a cross, subject to God’s wrath, it would make a much more inspirational prayer time if a motherly, compassionate Mary was addressed (or other saints, or angels). Of course this overlooked the great compassion shown by God through the life of Jesus.

    On number three, you do well to quote Jn. 3:3, but then interpret it as a feeling of newness due to one’s sins being removed by Jesus’ death. If you had continued on to 3:5-8, you would have seen Jesus emphasizing being born of the Spirit, becoming a child of God through the gracious work of the Spirit that transforms, empowers, and teaches (as Jesus describes in detail later in Jn. 14-16).

    On number four, salvation does involve grace and works, but the works of the saved one are works of grace, the fruit of the Spirit.

    Okay, now it’s your turn to grade my answers. :)

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      1. I said the nearest he came to it, which this is.

      2. criticism fail

      3. criticism fail

      4. criticism fail

      Dude. Hold out your hands while I get my ruler.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

      1. So, as Matthew was written well after Jesus was here, and quite possibly was not the Matthew who was also one of the twelve apostles. It is quite possible that the word church was never used by Jesus. What Jesus did, was demonstrate what we should be doing on a daily basis, showing compassion, demonstrating love, giving ourselves self examinations to make sure we do the compassion and love thing with more love and compassion…all of which has less to do with religious construct than so many assume.

      2. Who cares what people use to visualize, or focus on when they pray? They are praying, using the mundane, the limited, the finite, to converse with the holy, the unlimited the infinite. Sometimes a focal point or personage helps us get that done.

      3. The removal of a burden, the realization that you don’t have to go through life alone, the freedom felt when you know that your life is a gift, that you’ve been given a great big honking do over. Then to discover that the kingdom of God has been here all along….Oh yeah, you will just about be willing to wear diapers for that.

      4. Salvation is both. If you see someone needing help and they are stuck, completely unable to get out of the bind they find themselves…say like a little old lady who’s found herself and her car stuck in the mud during a rainstorm and the creek is rising. You want to help, have compassion and know exactly what to do…that’s the grace part…the works comes in when you actually go and give aid. God does that for us, and we should want to do that for everyone else.

      That’s how I answered the quiz.

      • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

        sdparris, FTW! :D

  • Mark Robinson

    Define ‘salvation’ John Boy.

    Yup, i know – probably wrong place to ask, and probably a very well worn subject. Nonetheless – !

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

      May I suggest John’s excellent book, Penguins, Pain and the Whole Shebang? He answers the question quite well in it, plus you get more of John’s fantastic humor, story telling skills and views on God. Its short, so you can get through it in an afternoon.

    • Anne

      Mark I realize you didn’t ask me and at the risk of being called “a busy body” :) I will however give you my take on what I think salvation means or in other words “what Jesus was trying to teach us and show us by his teaching, proving it’s reality in healing etc. He came to save us from ourselves, our educated beliefs about everything we held ‘dear’, our belief that we were born in sin, imperfect and separate from God. He taught a God of Love, not a God of the Old Testament of law and ritualistic worship. he was sent to show us that “God saw all that He had made and it was very good”, just as it was, he showed us that we could “see’ this perfect man too if we would only “look”…”you have eyes and you see not”. That is what he meant by the kingdom of God is within you, not some far off place that you have to be saved to be given permission to go to. Anyway that’s just my ‘take’ on it, for what it’s worth.

      Oh and “born again” to me is this step by step process, not of getting there (becoming perfect), but the step by step realization of what we already are (again Jesus’ whole mission, his salvation, his love, to show all mankind that we are Christ like, as when he prayed “that they may be one, Father, as you and I are one”, that their joy may be full. We certainly have a lot to thank him for !

  • https://www.facebook.com/matthew.brown.792 matt

    I love pop quizzes.

    Here goes my attempt.

    1. What is the one true Church that Jesus Christ founded ? I would say a group of people who accept Jesus for what he said he was or at least tried to live their lives by his example. “do unto others..” states it simply and eloquently, and at times, is the hardest thing in the world to do.

    2. What is the origin of praying to the saints, Mary, and angels ?

    The “cult of Mary” came into being when the Church became the official religion of Rome, ie. Constantine. The “cult” started with absorption of the Egyptian goddess Isis into the early Christian church. As for why did people prayer to Mary, and the saints, beats me. After I became “born again” I left the Catholic church for this very reason, and in a discussion with my priest told him “why should I prayer to Mary to ask Jesus for a “favor” when He tells me I can go directly to God myself.” He couldn’t give me a good answer on that one.

    3. What, according to Scripture—specifically, John 3:1-21—does it mean to be born again?

    I understood it to be exactly as stated by my Protestant friends, accepting Christ as my savior, and that without him I was a sinner. II Corinthians 5:17 pretty much nailed it for me, sorry for the pun, “17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!” as a description of what happened when “born again”

    4. Is salvation by grace or by works ?

    For the Catholics, the answer is both. For the Protestant, salvation is by faith alone. Either alone can have theological problems, if you say only “faith” what’s to prevent you from sitting on your ass and doing nothing, or at worst behaving like Adolf Hitler because you claim “faith” saves you. If you go for works alone you get indulgences, and people potentially buying salvation by building a church. So I agree, its a combination of the two.

  • Lymis

    Premise A: Asking live people to pray with you or to pray on their own for something important to you has any meaning in the first place.

    Premise B: Given things like salvation, eternal life, and Heaven, dead people are, for the purpose of being able to pray, not significantly different from live people.

    Corollary to Premise A: When choosing who to go to with your personal problems and who you might ask to pray with or for you, you choose people you assume have a good personal relationship with God.

    Corollary to Premise B: People in Heaven have, demonstrably, a good personal relationship with God.

    Why in the world wouldn’t you pray to Mary, saints or angels? As long as you feel you are asking another person to pray with you, you’re not out of line with Christian principles. If you see it as petitioning some demi-god or semi-divine being, you’re on shakier ground.

  • lindsey holmes

    “The phrase “born again” refers to the feeling of newness that Christians experience when they ask God to remove from them the weight and guilt of their sins. ”

    Says who? After all, why would you interpret something that can be taken in the literal as an abstract without an indication that the speaker intended it. To be born again, it its most direct, means being reincarnated. Now, I wasn’t there, I don’t know what was said, but I find it interesting that people solve the problem of things they don’t understand in scripture (and I am not talking about you, you didn’t come up with the idea) by simply announcing that the word or phrase wasn’t used in the literal. The problem, of course, is there is no consistency. Yes, I am being obnoxious, and a troll. I am not out to convince anyone, just inspire people to think outside the box.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Oh, wow. Thanks! It never occurred to me to “think outside the box” before. I think I’ll try it!

      • Elizabeth

        I’d be more successful if I thought closer to the box.

    • Elizabeth

      You are neither obnoxious nor a troll. This is a legitimate question. Unless you’re Jesus or Hindu, very few people are literally reincarnated. It colloquially means infused with a recognition or knowledge of the Divine.

      Don’t tell anyone, but I tend towards literalism. When I get lost, I hold onto “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself,” and “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” They are literally true. Everything else is elaboration, imho.

      • Hilarie

        Elizabeth, incarnate means “of the body” or alive on the physical plane. The root word is carnal, which means “in the body, of the body”. Therefore, reincarnate means to be in (another)body, re meaning “again, to repeat”. Many of the references attributed to Christ in TNT(the New Testament) make oblique reference to reincarnation, which was one of the concepts introduced to Christ when he spent time in the region now called Tibet during that period of his life of which the NT gives no accounting. Literal interpretation of any part of the Bible seems to me to be foolhardy, as the writings have been edited by so many over the several thousands of years of their existence. IJS, IMHO.

        • Elizabeth

          I’m with you, Hilarie re: a larger context for reincarnation. (Nice etymology, btw.) I was responding specifically to lindsey’s take. I don’t resort to literalism except on the blackest of black nights. Then I can see the appeal to fundamentalists. Those are the verses I cling to. I like to think God knew the most cerebral of us might have nights like that.

    • Lymis

      While we’re walking outside the box, if you posit reincarnation, then why in the world would you assume that everyone you’re speaking to or about is on their first go around?

      If “being born again” means being reincarnated, why would you assume that all the people who experience “the feeling of newness that Christians experience when they ask God to remove from them the weight and guilt of their sins” haven’t been?

      Maybe you need a bigger box. Or a bridge to live under. Or both. That’s lateral thinking, a box under a bridge. Maybe the box the bridge came in?

    • DR

      It’s so odd that you think being obnoxious and a troll would actually inspire people to “think outside the box”.

    • Christy

      You see, the vernix is like the sin…and the maternity nurse is like God wiping us clean…and when the doctor slaps us on the butt to get us to breathe – BAM! – that’s the holy spirit…

      • Soulmentor

        Like a nurse wiping us clean. Well, ummmm….yeah, that IS outside the box!!!

      • Anne

        Christy that would only be a handy analogy if one believes that they are actually born in sin and that God needs to “fix” (wipe clean) His already perfect child.

    • The Tom

      Well said. Of course, John’s thinking is all about “thinking outside the box”, and he’s obviously not alone in this. Thank God!

      For me, most scripture, at least that scripture which informs most dogma, can easily be seen metaphorically.

      “No man cometh to the Father except by me” is a great example.

      What does “cometh to the Father” mean?

      What does “except by me” mean?

      For many, if not most, Christians, these words tell us that only by accepting Christ as savior will you get into heaven.

      Perfectly valid, but not necessarily the ONLY perfectly valid interpretation.

      One could easily say that those words mean, more or less, that no one achieves real spiritual enlightenment except by adopting a mindset lifestyle of love and compassion.

      “Cometh to the Father”, to me at least, refers to spiritual enlightenment, and “by me” refers to adopting a “Christlike” mindset.

      Same with “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

      What is “sin”, and what is “the glory of God”?

      To me, “sin” is doing what you know to be wrong (and yes, we DO know), and “the glory of God” exemplifies a “peace that passes understanding” in knowing that you’ve done the right thing, for the right reasons, whether it felt good or not.

      To most “mainstream” Christians, the above interpretations of the above references are “liberal” Christianity at best, outright heresy at worst.

      But to me, again, the person of Jesus Christ, and what he represents to me, is far more important than the dogma of any particular brand of Christianity.

      • Christy

        Well said. Thank you, The Tom.

      • Matt

        Wow, very well said, The Tim! I’ve honestly never considered the idea that there could be multiple AND equally valid interpretations for a Bible verse. But duh, that makes perfect sense. Look at you guys, making me want to read my study Bible again. Will wonders never cease?

        • Anne

          In my own experience over the years, the understanding that has come to me has been an ever evolving one. When I first began searching I held a very “immature” outlook and as I dug deeper, new and improved ideas were given to consider. This continues to be my experience and the reson why I value the Unfundamentalist Christian Facebook page, as it is indicative of our similarity and how we can all be helpful to each other on this journey of discovery. It shows to me that God’s truth is the “living” word as a growing, moving, enlightening Grace.

  • de la Nae

    Hey John, the first link in the ending paragraph is mis-pasted. Just links back to this.

    Well I assume at least this isn’t some ploy I’m too thick to see through this moment at any rate.

    • Elizabeth

      Bingo, me too. I do appreciate the verses are NRSVCE, under the circumstances.

  • textjunkie

    It seems to me that first question is on a level with “Have you stopped beating your wife yet”…

    • Lymis

      I would have gone with “All of them” sort of like the last answer about faith and works.

      • textjunkie

        Well, I’m not so sure about the Westboro Baptist Church… (And when I couldn’t remember the name and googled on “Hate church” it was the first 5 links to come up. It does seem like that should be a decent test. ;)

        • Lymis

          God still loves them. If they gather in Jesus’s name, then God is there in the midst of them. They are still subject to the saving grace of the Redemption. They are also thoroughly nasty people whose political views don’t need to be honored in the slightest, nor should anyone be required to pretend we like them.

          God loves them and he’s welcome to them.

  • Dave Bowling

    John: since it is so near Father’s Day, I have to laugh and share that your last answer to the multiple answer question is so much like my father. He would always say “yes” to a multiple answer question. Always made me chuckle – and thanks to you, made me chuckle again today. Thanks for reminding me of my father’s humor – I miss him greatly and enjoyed the response you gave that made me think of him.

    • Soulmentor

      Well, this may be off subject but you opened the door. That answer reminds me also….of my grandfather. He and my father and brother would come into the house for breakfast on the farm after milking the cows when we were teens and mom would be preparing breakfast. She would ask my grandfather if he wanted his eggs fried or scrambled and he would respond, “Yes!”

      And thanks John. That was a great response to a much too obvious set of troll questions.

  • http://innervoiceblog.blogspot.com/2012_09_01_archive.html Diane U.

    It’s interesting that Jesus used the word “church”. Did such a thing as a church even exist then? He didn’t say “religion” or “temple” or “synagogue”. Does anyone know what the original word was and how it literally translates?

    • Joe

      Hi Diane!

      Biblical scholars like Crosson and Borg point out that the word which has been translated as “church” might be more accurately translated as “gathering.” It’s focused on people coming together. It lacks any sense of an institution, which is how we tend to think of the word “church” today. Very different times, different cultures. Several of my favorite writers point out that if Jesus wanted to establish an institutional church _ complete with rules and guidelines for how to pick the next leaders, etc. _ he would have done so. He most emphatically did not. The only “rules” he emphasized were unlimited love and compassion and forgiveness and healing for all. In fact, he got into spats with those who represented the institutional religion of his day, who believed in following set rules rather than his own experience of God. Keri Wyatt Kent, in her book “Deeper into the Word,” notes that the Greek word which gets translated as church in our language_ ekklesia _ means the people who were coming together, “a group of which we are a part, a group we serve within.” It has nothing to do with any brand of religion or any religious institution. It’s about the people.

      Hope this helps.

      Peace!

      Joe

      • Lymis

        That would fit with the “Wherever two or more are gathered in my name…” idea.

        • Joe

          Yes, it would. Good connection on your part.

        • Anne

          Jesus also said “that there would come a time when people would no longer worship God in temples but in spirit and in truth”. Maybe that is why church attendance is diminishing and fundamental ideas are becoming out-dated ?

          • Joe

            Hi Anne!

            That’s an interesing thought. Thanks for sharing. I feel the same as you and think that perhaps that’s why so many people describe themselves today as “spiritual” rather than “religious.” They’re tired of the arguing over which theology is right and which is wrong _ all so silly! So many people are turned off by all the bickering over creeds and rules and such. And yet, so many people are touched and inspired by the things Jesus was passionate about _ love, compassion, healing, taking care of those in need, understanding that we are all equal children of the same Creator and need to live in peace as a family. That Spirit is alive today and at work in our world, as always. And so many people are inspired by that Spirit and living in it, even as the “old” ways of approaching religion are dying off. New wineskins for a new era. And we get to be partners with Someone in making them!

            Hope you are well.

            Peace!

            Joe

          • Anne

            Thanks Joe, yep I think we may be on the verge of a “new day”. A hands-on approach in following Christ in spirit and in truth, rather than “going with the flow” of worldly, past ways of thinking and acting may help us to realize our true potential, as in Jesus’ instructions to “do likewise”. Maybe that was what he was getting at when he told us “to let the dead bury their dead”, (move on in life!) ?

  • Hth

    There are indeed thousands of Christian denominations, but many, many of them certainly do *not* claim to be the “one true” church. In fact, I don’t have any data on this, but it seems to be standard among mainline denominations at least that the “true church” is viewed as the gathered body of all believing Christians, distinct from *any* denomination, which are seen as forms belonging to their own distinct cultures and historical periods. Sure, people generally find reasons to prefer the way their denomination does things — or else they’d switch to one they do like better, as is their Perfectly Protestant Prerogative — but that’s vastly different from saying the Methodists across the street attend False Church.

    I realize there are denominations that make such claims, implicitly or explicitly, but it’s far from all of them. And even the ones who often *act* as though all Christians except them are a false flag operation will frequently admit, grudgingly, if pressed, that some of those other folk may be saved, too, as all things are possible through Christ Jesus, even Methodists going to Heaven.

  • Gina Cirelli

    “Is salvation by grace or by works? The answer is yes.” Classic John Shore awesomeness.

  • Gina Gabriel Jaraba

    Great! I would have answered it so.

  • Scott Spencer-Wolff

    Love, love, love the photo….

  • Scott Amundsen

    Amazing as always John!

  • Lucy Miranda

    Luv it

  • Stephen Fratello

    I was/kinda-sorta-still-am a Roman Catholic, so I had to read and see what you came up with. I agreed with most of it, except for the Mary, Saints, Angels question. The Catholic Church has a doctrine called “The Communion of Saints” which states that all people are in communion with each other, living and dead, and that the veil between this world and the next is surprisingly thin. (I am paraphrasing) Also, Jesus said “Behold your mother at the cross…..so Catholics believe that Mary is their adoptive Mother, the Mother of all who choose to be disciples of Christ.The She nurtures us as she nurtured Christ. In regard to saints, they are our spiritual friends, so to speak or companions on the journey. We look to them and ask them to pray for us just as you would ask your friend to pray for you if you were say, going in for surgery. We believe just because someone is dead, that does not mean that they cannot be of help to us, just like a living friend can. I realize some people might think this qualifies us for the loony bin, but nonetheless…lol

    And then, I would say salvation is only by faith, but once “it hits you” you then “work out your salvation”. Once you are born again you will be inspired to do something for God and God’s creation.

    Just my input (that wasn’t asked for)

    • Soulmentor

      *****“Behold your mother at the cross…..so Catholics believe that Mary is their adoptive Mother….******

      Oh please. Jesus was speaking to John and Mary. We have no way to know he meant that to include all humanity. To believe that is to sucker for an extrapolation that may be comforting, but is patently a human interpretive invention and therefore utterly ridiculous to believe, even as a matter of faith.

      • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

        I have to agree…that passage is so clear that Jesus was asking his friend to take care of and responsibility for his mother since her eldest son was about to die. Maybe some people have never read that whole scripture. It was a total, “take care of my mom for me” kind of moment between friends. At least that’s how I see it.

        • Soulmentor

          And it just now occurred to me that if Jesus said something like that to John and particularly for that reason, then it is logical to assume he had no clue that he was going to be resurrected. He really thot he was gonna be GONE!!!

          Isn’t that intriguing!!!

          • Lymis

            Well, that or that he was going to be really, really busy and wanted someone to take care of his Mom. I mean, even if he was supernaturally aware of everything that was to come and that the Bible got it literally right, he was still going to be around for only 40 days.

            I don’t think it’s definitive either way. I think that’s what’s more telling is that if you read the New Testament in the order it was written rather than in the current published order, the physical resurrection develops slowly as a narrative.

  • Matt Algren

    I just love it when christians try to play Gotcha. So disingenuous, so counterproductive, so Pharasitic.

    You gave them more time than I would have.

  • Jerry Taggart

    Those definitely sounded like an attempt at GOTCHA by your reader…loved your repsonses.

  • Mike Huber

    #2 is a trick question. Catholics don’t pray TO anybody but the Big 3/1. Mary and the saints and angels we* just kind of hang out and chat with.

    * I’m not catholic anymore, but… it’s complicated.

    • Lymis

      Maybe you were taught a different kind of prayer than I was in Catholic school. We prayed TO the saints all the time – but what we prayed for was their intercession, asking them through prayer for them to pray to God for us, not for them to do some supernatural act on our behalf under their own power.

      I’ll agree completely that Catholic prayer to saints isn’t at all the same sort of thing that prayer to God is, and that it’s largely gone out of style – it’s pretty rare these days for organized Catholic prayer to anyone but Mary (again, asking her to intercede) or to any of the three Persons of God.

      But it’s still prayer.

  • Natalie Jones

    As usual i forgot to study.

  • Theresa Chedoen

    Asking Mary to intercede was explained to me once (by the ex, of all people) as the kind of deal where you wanted a favor from a guy, but didn’t necessarily want to ask him straight on. So you went around to see his mother, and after she fed you a cup of coffee and some cookies, you brought it up and asked her to put in a good word for you. This always made sense to me–

  • charles

    win…..

  • Rhys

    You’re so fundamentally political – you can’t seem to speak of anyone who disagrees with you without attaching a political label. Jesus wasn’t political at all. If he had been he would have allowed them to make him king and then attempted to change the world through political means. Instead he called people to repent of their sins, by using parables to illustrate what was acceptable or not, by straightforward statement, in whatever way was appropriate to those he happened to be speaking to at the moment. His first recorded statement after his public ministry began was “repent for the kingdom of God is near”.

    Gotta know what one is doing wrong in order to repent of it. The more one repents, the closer to him one becomes. The problem of humankind is sin. He came to help us with that problem

    • Elizabeth

      Huh. I don’t which is more interesting, that you think this piece is political (I reread it twice) or that you think Jesus wasn’t. Pharisees, Pilate, and Herod were political figures.

    • Lymis

      Jesus wasn’t political?

      I’ll agree that his focus wasn’t achieving political power, or changing the world through inherently political means. But the effect he had on people, both his followers and his opponents was highly political.

      Why do you think he was executed? Slow news week?

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        SNERKeth!

    • DR

      This is such a generalization. Do you really believe our world and our culture is so compartmentalized that you can exist in a part of either that is *not* political? Our ‘politics” simply represent formalized ethics, codes of conduct and the ways we (try) to care for ourselves, one another and the environment in a structured way. I’m completely confused by the suggestion that Jesus was someone a-political, He did more to shake the macro-foundations of the world – the macro-foundations that politics create and maintain – than any other figure in history.

    • http://Www.cindymurphythinkingoutloud.blogspot.com Cindy

      Straightforward statements? That what you think the parables were? Seriously???

  • Donald Rappe

    Hail, Mary, blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus! Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death.

    One small pop quiz for a man, one mountain of dogma for mankind!

    I think the underlying question is: What is the purpose of dogma? What is the purpose of theology? Luke. the missionary companion of Paul, wrote a book which contains a sacred story that addresses this question, as well as others. Jesus was asked a theological question, in order to test him. (pop quiz) Check it out it’s in chapter 10. It turns out that the questioner was hoping to create trouble for Jesus. Jesus’ ultimate response is with a story in which the people who know the theological answers fail to help the man who fell among robbers, but mercy and help is given by a person whose way off praying and worshiping is regarded as wrong by the dominant religious institution. The original question was “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” and the ultimate answer is to go and do as the Samaritan did. Clearly, this story has meaning at more than one level. I draw the conclusion that the purpose of dogma is to facilitate us in showing love and mercy to all who are in need.

    Although Jesus founded no religious institution, he participated fully in the rabbinical Judaism of his day and honored the temple culture. He was in fact a Rabbi, who taught in synagogue.

    • Anne

      The word Rabbi means teacher (which of course Jesus was), however he never called himself a Rabbi, it was what others named him (amongst other things). Yes he taught in synagogues, but also on mountain tops, in boats and actually anywhere the people were that were receptive to his word. He didn’t teach dogma, his received and spoke as one having authority, which to me was first hand knowledge of God, not something passed down and adhered to by man, he came to show a better “Way”.

  • Shaun

    My favorite part is the nun. This blog needs alot more nuns.

    I was actually impressed by your explanation for prayer to saints and Mary. If I’m honest I thought you would botch it. But you pretty much encapsulated it all in a single-phrase-nut-shell. Touche my friend, touche.