Pope Francis: Gender Theory is a Threat to Marriage

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

Getting rid of gender difference is the problem, not the solution …  We must do much more in favor of women if we want to give more strength to the reciprocity between mean and women. It’s necessary, in fact, not only that women be heard more, but that their voices have real weight, an authority recognized in society and in the Church. 

Pope Francis, speaking on Gender Theory.

Pope Francis, spoke to the bishops of the Caribbean, and he did what popes must do. He spoke out against a destructive ideology that attacks the dignity and value of human beings. The ideology in question is the trendiest of them all right now: Gender Theory.

“The sacrament of marriage … must be defended,” the Pope said. He urged the bishops to “emphasize family pastoral ministry.”

The Holy Father encouraged the bishops to avoid “wasting energy in divisions and clashes” … and to also avoid wasting their “real passion for the Kingdom of God” on these things.

He emphasized that “the Church is not tied to any political system so that it may always safeguard the transcendence of the human person.”

This is not the first time Pope Francis has made these points. I doubt that it will be the last.

Just the same, I think it’s important to emphasize these teachings, for the simple reason that they are being so successfully challenged in today’s world.

Pope Francis said that gender theory is a problem because it attacks human dignity and human value.

He also said — and this is something I have written about a lot — that the Church is not (or should not be) tied to any political system. I think that applies to people and their political parties as well. I see the political heresy as a serious problem for Christian witness and authenticity here in America.

In addition, he emphasized the dignity of women and the need for women’s voices to be heard in the Church. All I can say to that is Amen.

There is nothing new in Pope Francis’ statements. He’s made all of them before, and I trust that, given the world in which we live, he will have to make them many times again.

The question for bishops everywhere is how they will lead their priests in teaching, preaching and living out what the Pope is giving them. The work of the Church is to empower the laity so that the laity can convert the world, one person at a time.

There is a rubber meets the road point between parish priests and their parishioners that has to work if the Church is going to be the Church. It is a function of the trickle-down teaching that goes Pope, to bishop, to priest, to us; and from us to the world.

Only the laity lives in the world and intersects with the heart of the world at 2 billion points of light.

The Holy Spirit has sent us a holy Pope for these times. I pray for an army of holy bishops and holy priests to follow through on what he is teaching them by teaching us in turn.

From Vatican News:

The sacrament of marriage is one of the Latin American people’s most important treasures, the Pope says, and it must be defended. He urges them to emphasize family pastoral ministry in order to counter “serious social problems” such as “the difficult economic situation, migration, domestic violence” and  “unemployment, drug trafficking and corruption.”

No to gender ideology, protecting the complementarity between men and women

The complementarity between a man and a woman is being questioned by the so-called gender ideology in the name of a freer and more just society, the Pope observes. In fact, he warns, the differences between men and women are not a question of “opposition or subordination but rather of communion and generation… always in the image and likeness of God.” Without mutual giving- he adds – neither can have an in-depth understanding of the other.

Bishops are united to face the country’s problems

The Pope invites the Church leaders not simply to pray but also to reach out in friendship and “fraternal aid” to address the many serious problems facing Puerto Rico. And, he warns them against “wasting energy in divisions and clashes.” “The more intense the communion…the more it favors the mission,” he says.

Pope Francis encourages the bishops to distance themselves from any ideologies or political trends that can “waste their time and a real passion for the Kingdom of God.” Because of its mission, he points out, the Church is not tied to any political system so that it may always safeguard the transcendence of the human person.

 

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Fr Longenecker’s 12 Reasons Not to Debate Internet Atheists, Plus 6 of Mine

 

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by KAZ Vorpal https://www.flickr.com/photos/kazvorpal/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by KAZ Vorpal https://www.flickr.com/photos/kazvorpal/

Fr Dwight Longenecker published a post today giving 12 of the reasons why he never argues with internet atheists.

I’m not as smart as Fr Longenecker. I’ve been drawn into several arguments with internet atheists, both on this blog and a couple behind the scenes. Those experiences have convinced me that discussions with internet atheists are useless. I’ve give a few reasons why I think this down below.

Here’s a sample of Fr Dwight’s thinking on the subject:

1. Most of the internet atheists I’ve come across are ignorant - I don’t mean they’re stupid necessarily, or that they are bad people. I don’t even mean they are uneducated in their particular field, but most of them are ignorant when it comes to religion. By this I mean they just don’t know stuff. I don’t blame them for that, I’m ignorant about rocket science, how to do a brake job on a car, the rules of cricket and micro biology and a pile of other stuff. However, religion is one of the areas I do know something about so it’s difficult arguing with people who think they know it all about religion, but don’t.

Indeed. I couldn’t have said it better.

Now, here are another 6 quick reasons for limiting arguments with internet atheists.

1. Internet atheist arguers have themselves been propagandized. As Fr Dwight said, (only far more elegantly) when they talk about Christianity, they don’t know what they are talking about. What they do is spout talking points and misinformation that they’ve been taught by other internet atheists. They exhibit the fanatical craziness and circular reasoning of cult followers.

2. Internet atheist arguers are like the Hare Krishnas at airports that people used to joke about, only they are rude and aggressive in a way that the Hare Krishnas were not. They have no sense of boundaries. They are usually — with a few exceptions — rude and even abusive with other commenters.

3. Internet atheists are manipulative and insincere in their online discussions with Christians. They demonstrate this openly when they go back to their own venues.

4. Internet atheists are part of a large and organized socio political movement that has as its goal the destruction of Christianity. That is where they get their incentive to behave the way they do, and it is why they are so aggressive and obnoxious in their dealings with Christians.

5. Internet atheists are — as a group — pushing ideas that are anathema to civilization. While individual atheists vary in these things, the group trope is all in support of any murderous social change being advanced. There appears to be nobody, with the exception of death row inmates, whose life they consider sacred. In addition, they support everything from gay marriage, to polygamy, to group marriage to you name it. They attack religious freedom, and seek to limit the free rights of Christians to practice their religion and engage in religious speech in the public sphere. The Freedom From Religion Foundation is an organized and public group, but the internet atheists are the backers and supporters of this movement. Public Catholic is not a forum for these ideas.

6. Internet atheists run the hate blogs that constantly engage in inflammatory Christian bashing. Most atheist commenters on Public Catholic are followers of and believers in that hate-filled bigotry. They come here from those blogs with an agenda of attacking Christianity and turning Christians away from Christ. This is the opposite of what this blog is intended to do.

Despite all this, I allow a lot of internet atheist commenting on this blog. First, if the commenter seems like a sincere person who is capable of individual thought rather than just repeating atheist talking points, I’m happy to allow them to discuss issues. Second, I do it for teaching purposes. Christians need to learn how to deal with these things and I try to provide a controlled environment, without the abuse, for them to do that.

I would actually welcome intelligent atheist conversation. The problem with this is that real atheism, as opposed to the cult-based socio-political movement that we are actually dealing with, is not much to talk about. You don’t believe in God? Okay. Next topic.

It’s a negative. You can’t prove a negative, and, at the end of the day, a negative is, by definition, narrow and self-limiting. Talking about atheism is really a one-sentence discussion.

A genuine atheist, again as opposed to a cult-follower of a vicious and destructive socio-political movement, would be capable of taking a variety of positions on issues concerning the sanctity of life, religious freedom, and social morality. These people cannot do that. They are lock-step dummies who just purvey the group think of their group.

Public Catholic is not a forum for leading people away from Christ. It is a forum for equipping Christians to withstand the bullying, hazing, bashing and mockery that is heaped on them by internet atheists, among others. It is a forum for encouraging Christians to follow Christ in all areas of their lives without reservation.

As I said, I allow a lot of internet atheist traffic on this blog. But I have no problem limiting it when I think it becomes destructive to the purpose for which I write Public Catholic in the first place.

This enrages many atheist internet commenters. Making comments in the comboxes of Public Catholic is not, as some of them have claimed, a First Amendment right. The free exercise of religion, speaking about faith in public venues, petitioning the government and free assembly are First Amendment rights.

Ironically, they argue vociferously against these actual First Amendment rights. The reason? Their hatred of Christianity has made them so irrational that they are willing to burn down their own house.

 

Christianity Declines Sharply in America. Here’s the One, Two Three of It.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Woodlouse https://www.flickr.com/photos/woodlouse/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Woodlouse https://www.flickr.com/photos/woodlouse/

Recent polls show a seven percent drop in the past eight years in the number of Americans who identify themselves as Christians.

This is due to a number of influences. Here is a short list of things I think have contributed to this situation.

First, and absolutely foremost, the incessant Christian bashing and hazing of Christians has to be at the top of the list. Christianity is attacked from every quarter, every single day. Christians have become the new hate group and Christianity is the new hate faith. This is done by lies, slander, half-truths, mockery and flat-out hate. Being a Christian who stands for Christ means that you will be ridiculed, reviled and attacked.

Second, the political heresy by much of the clergy. These men — and it’s nearly all men — have abandoned Jesus Christ to go off after a political, little g god who — Surprise! — thinks like them. They have drop-kicked the Beatitudes and much of what Christ and the prophets taught to preach and teach the gospel of Ayn Rand and Arthur Laffer. They seriously claim that there is no moral requirement to policies and behavior where economics and moneymaking are concerned.

They have deified corporatism and war and claim a moral imperative for policies that impoverish the people of this country. They have become so identified with the Republican Party that they might as well take the cross down off the altars in their churches and put the elephant up there, instead.

Third, the other side of the political heresy by much of the clergy. These men and women — a good number of these are women — have drop-kicked the calls to justice and personal morality. There is no moral innovation or personal death-dealing philosophy that they do not support. Many of them have gone so far as to align themselves with militant atheists who openly state that they intend to destroy Christianity.

They have attempted to create a moral imperative for murder of the unborn, the elderly, the sick and the helpless. They support the limitation of religious freedom and join in with critics of the Gospels. They are so identified with the Democratic Party that, like their fellow wing-nut brethren on the right, they might as well remove the cross off their altars and replace it with the Democratic donkey.

Fourth, we have far too many preachers who eschew any controversy, including the controversy of the Cross. They are so namby-pamby and feel-good that you can’t tell by listening to them if they really believe in anything or not. This kind of preacher does well in wealthy parishes. All they have to do is mumble a few platitudes over the vicissitudes of life that their parishioners encounter and preach well-written sermons that are like soft pillows of reassurance to people whose problems are always wrapped in the comfort middle-class ease.

These pastors don’t convert anybody. In fact, they’re proud of not proselytizing, as if trying to save people from eternal hell was too gauche for them. You won’t find any mention of the R and D in their churches. And, except for the annual Christmas Eve candlelight service and the gauzy Easter service, you won’t find much mention of Jesus, either. They, and their churches are what Jesus called “neither hot nor cold.”

Item four is a good bit of why item one has been allowed to flourish. Their indifference to Christ makes defending Christ an impolitic overreaction for them.

Items two and three are what created the monster in the first place. It does not matter if they are aligned to the left or the right, clergy who practice the political heresy do not preach Christ. It is easy to caricatureize Christianity when you focus on fallen and false shepherds such as these. The Holy Spirit will not honor the preaching of heretics who preach a false gospel of political redemption and who lead people to political alliances rather than to the cross.

Yes, we need to take a stand against the Christian bashing that is going on in this country. We need to do it, not just as Christians, but as Americans. This vitriolic bigotry is a lethal poison in the body politic. No group of people in America should be subjected to the vicious and destructive hazing that has become normal for Christians.

Yes, those of us who are called to the political world need to stand up for the civil and Constitutional rights of Christians. We certainly should vote for an end to abortion and to save the family. No Christian can vote for murder, which means you cannot vote for abortion, euthanasia, or embryonic stem cell research. You may not kill people.

But by the same token, no Christian should vote for corporatism and corporate welfare that impoverishes the people of this country. Economically, this country has been at war since 1941. That, and not social security, is why we have a deficit. History is replete with the economic meltdowns that occur when wars go on too long.

Too many of our wars are fought for corporate greed rather than to protect the people of this country. Too much of our money is going to build a defense that is not even useful to the defense of this country.

Do you realize what I have just done to you? I have basically told you that you can not support either one of our political parties. That isn’t an accident.

We need to take the elephant and the donkey off the altars of our churches and put the cross back up there.

People need to hear the true Gospel of Christ in all its fullness. This generation needs the saving power of Calvary as much as the pagan world of the first century.

Our priests and preachers need to stop preaching politics and start preaching Christ. They need to preach Christ and Him crucified without shame or dissembling, with the full power of belief. We need to convert this culture, one person at a time.

We will not do that with politics. We will do it by the power of the Holy Spirit. We will change the world when we start trying to change the world for Christ and Him alone.

Our clergy need to preach Christ. You and I need to preach Christ as well; with our lives, with our words, with our daily witness. But none of us — not clergy, not laity — can do this without the power of the Holy Spirit. That begins on our knees.

Pray. Pray every day. Pray for real. Then be a living witness to your salvation.

As for our clergy, stop thinking it’s about you. It’s not. You weren’t called to do well. You were called to do good. Your vocation is meant to make a gift of you to God’s people. All vocations do that. They make us a gift to others.

We need shepherds.

Far too often, we’ve had wolves.

From the USA Today:

WASHINGTON — The United States is a significantly less Christian country than it was seven years ago.

That’s the top finding — one that will ricochet through American faith, culture and politics — in the Pew Research Center’s newest report, “America’s Changing Religious Landscape,” released Tuesday.

This trend “is big, it’s broad and it’s everywhere,” said Alan Cooperman, Pew’s director of religion research.

Christianity still dominates American religious identity (70%), but the survey shows dramatic shifts as more people move out the doors of denominations, shedding spiritual connections along the way.

Atheists and agnostics have nearly doubled their share of the religious marketplace, and overall indifference to religion of any sort is rising as well. Only the historically black Protestant churches have held a steady grip through the years of change.

 

 

The Crusades, Christian Bashing and Our Two-Tier Educational System

NOTE: I noticed a couple of comments on other topics that reflect the popular ignorance about the Crusades. Since this ignorant and inaccurate mis-use of history has routinely been used for Christian bashing, I’m going to re-run the series on the history of the Crusades. I will probably run it many times. It’s just a bit of light, shining in the lies-about-history-Christian-bashing-propaganda darkness. 

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

Our two-tier educational system has become essentially a trade-school education for people who live in most of the zips codes of these United States. Among other things that kids in most of our schools aren’t taught are music, philosophy, the arts and history.

It is entirely possible to graduate from our public school system, go on to college and earn advanced degrees and never learn anything of these subjects at all except a smidgen of anthologized literature and a gloss of textbook history, along with the state-mandated history of the state in which the schools exists.

No one reads original sources in most of our educational system. Except for those who are being fed the royal jelly at our elite schools, students are taught almost entirely from hideously expensive textbooks. That means everything they learn is shallow, predigested, committee-approved and edited to conformity of thought.  The “curriculum” is homogenized multiple-choice-oriented trade school stuff designed to train hirable employees for lower level positions — ranging from middle management on down — at one of our corporate or government bureaucracies.

Our educational system actually works against creating thinkers and decision makers. It works toward developing shallow thinkers who can blast through a multiple choice test. The trouble with that, of course, is that multiple choice tests always give you the answer. There’s no thinking involved.

This universal ignorance leads to a population that is like the proverbial goose, born into a new world every day. It also makes We The People easy pickins for the propagandists who seek to destroy Christianity — along with much of the rest of our societal structure — by lies and obfuscations that a truly educated person would strip clean immediately.

Every day, I delete a steady drip of Christian-bashing comments that are based on the stuff and nonsense of propaganda lies. These comments are not only based on lies, they are usually rancorous, rageful and almost identical with one another. Any politician worth his or her salt would recognize that the commenters have been programmed by misinformation and are speaking from somebody else’s script.

The first question an elected official asks when they get a wave of comments like this is “Who” (meaning which special interest) “is behind this?” That’s survival 101 for elected officials.

It’s also a skill We the People need to learn. In this day of propagandized history that is used to bash Christians and Christianity, coupled with an almost universal ignorance of history, theology, philosophy and the arts, its survival 101 for all of us.

One area in which lies and distortions of fact are used against Christianity is the Crusades. The Crusades are actually a rather small part of the misinformation and distortion used against Christians and Christianity. But, given the blank ignorance about the entire history of the Crusades in the general population, it’s also low-hanging fruit for the Christian basher, including, sadly, our own president.

The Crusades are being used to convict Christians of the beheadings, rapes, kidnappings, immolations, and mass slavery that is occurring right now, today. In an irony that belies any concept of truth or fair play, the Crusades are being used to convict Christians of the sins which are being right now, today, committed against Christians. We are facing a Christian genocide in the Middle East. This is not being done just by ISIS. It is on-going, has been on-going for a long time.

Only a truly ignorant population would “buy” the notion that Christians are somehow guilty of their own genocide because of the Crusades. Not only does that defy logic, it is a misrepresentation of the causes of Crusades themselves.

Here, for those who are interested, is the beginning of a series of videos I’m going to post about the Crusades. The videos are themselves only a brief introduction to the actual history of the Crusades.

When I was in Spain, I was struck by the passion of the people who had fought the fight to repel Islamic invaders. Even today, all these hundreds of years later, the depth of their commitment was right in front of me when I looked at the fortifications they built using their toilet seats, pig troughs and whatever else came to hand. These people had fought a desperate fight for their freedom, and their faith animated that fight.

When I was in Turkey, I encountered the bitterness of the Christians there, much of it still aimed at the Roman Catholic Church. I also encountered the gloss that is applied to the bloody history of Christian persecution in that region. There is so much history that Americans do not know and will never learn so long as they confine their thinking to the gloss and the sham.

I picked up several books about both the Crusades and the Inquisition while I was in Spain. The books were dense, and it took me a while to read them, but they taught me a lot. I also went back and plowed through the papal encyclicals that I could read (some were in French, which I don’t read) of the past 1000 years.

Reading books and original sources is a good way to learn more. It’s important when reading about a subject like this, which is being used as a propaganda tool, to read books written from all viewpoints. That’s an education in itself. If you put on your political eyes, you can often, just by reading the distortions from the angles of opposing distorters, arrive at something that is close to the truth.

Please share these with other Christians and encourage them to learn more. We can’t stop the propagandists from lying. But we can at least inform ourselves.

History of the Crusades.

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Divine Mercy Novena: Praying for Unbelievers

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by brett jordan https://www.flickr.com/photos/x1brett/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by brett jordan https://www.flickr.com/photos/x1brett/

Jesus told us that when a lost soul repents, there is abounding joy in heaven.

I experienced this joy when I found Christ. I was driving to Enid Oklahoma to make a speech. I felt — actually felt — an Other. I felt ecstatic love and joy rushing into me. I’ve tried to describe this joy and love, but I can’t do it.  Our language does not have the words.

Human language is inadequate to describe true encounters with God. The reason for this is simple and obvious, and yet we forget what it means.

God is not us. God is the I Am. The standards by which we measure reality do not apply to Him because He made what we call reality. Without Him, there is nothing. Not a vacuum, not non-existence, not oblivion: Without Him, there is nothing.

The concept of nothing in this eternal and absolute sense defies both our understanding and our imaging. We can not describe it any more than we can describe Him.

God is not an idea or an intellectual construct that we can manipulate and bring down to our understanding. God is a Being, a Personality, with a will and emotions of His own.

I did not convert to an idea. I was not embraced by a concept. I met another Being and this Other, even though He is transcendent, reached into my finiteness and loved me from death to life. The Way by which He did this is Jesus Christ.

Unlike those who lived before Christ, we can see the face of God and live. All we have to do is look at Jesus. He, and He alone, is the Way that leads to eternal life.

The idea that all faiths are equal is nonsense. There is only one empty tomb, only one Way out of the abyss of our sins. No one will ever approach the throne of God and live unless he or she is marked by the shed blood of the Lamb of God.

The Church teaches that it is possible for those of other faiths and those who have not heard His name to be welcomed to heaven, but they must come by way of their works and their sinlessness. They have to earn heaven.

Even then, the only entry, the only Way, is through Jesus. His grace and His mercy are the only hope that any one, anywhere, has. Without Him, we are damned, every one of us, by our own sinful and rebellious natures.

Jesus told St Faustina that unbelievers and those who had never heard His name were in His thoughts as He suffered and died two thousand years ago. He didn’t die only for you and me. He died for everyone, everywhere, for all time. He ransomed lost humanity with His blood — all of humanity.

All anyone has to do is choose Him over the world. Just as He did with the Israelites, God places before us Life and Death and lets us choose between them. Eternal hell is not a punishment. It is a choice that we make as free human beings clothed in radical freedom.

We are called to do more than glory in our salvation. We are called to be the Light in a dark world.

God has set us free, and now we must free others. The universal Christian vocation is the conversion of the world. We must offer Him to those who are perishing right in front of us, even if they rebuff us and shriek with the agony of devils touched by grace when we do it.

We Christians of the laity are conduits of the informal graces of life and love to the larger world. Our lives are the testimony and witness to our faith. We are the ones who go out from the churches, who step away from the altar and enter the fray of bashing and bloodletting that is modern society.

We go into the hospitals, schools, legislative chambers, court houses, construction sites, grocery stores, gyms and on-line com boxes. We go into all the places where ordinary life is lived and we enter them without the confining otherness of the collar. We are part of this larger world and we move inside it with the intimacy of fellow travelers.

Our priesthood is the priesthood of the laity. It is the priesthood that will either convert the world, or leave the world to die in its sins.

We are the People of God. We are the Easter people. We serve a Risen Lord. Our home is in heaven. We are, all of us, wayfaring strangers in this world of woe.

Even though you die, you will live. Jesus told us. Where I go, you will follow, he said.

We are going to die. I don’t write that to upset you, but to free you and comfort you. I want you to understand that there is nothing in this world for a follower of Christ to fear. You and I are just passing through this life. We are going to die. But when we die, we will live. Because of His Mercy.

So what should we do about those unbelievers who attack Christians? What should we do for those who have never heard His name?

Jesus says bring to Me those who do not believe in God and those who do not know Me.

He tells us that He was thinking about them when He suffered and died. His love for them is the unfathomable longing of God Who is love.

I don’t know which ones they are, but I believe that future evangelists for Christ are hiding among today’s Christian-bashing unbelievers. One day, they will say “yes” to Him, and He will fill them with the same love and joy that He poured into my soul and into yours. He will lift them up to testify to Him with all the fervor of someone who understands what it means to be rescued from eternal death.

I also know that among those who have not been told about Him there are people who will one day carry the news of His love to others who have not heard of him. Jesus is the Way, and that way is open to everyone.

But on this Easter Monday, they are still lost. They wander in the acrid bitterness of their unbelief, the noisy silence of their lack of knowledge. They are lost.

Christ’s mercy is the living water that enlivens our souls. Christ’s mercy is beyond our understanding, greater than our ability to reckon. It, like Him, is infinite. His mercy transcends time and place. It is available to everyone.

Please pray the Divine Mercy Novena today. Bring the lost souls of the world to Him and His mercy. He can change hearts that you and I think are beyond reaching.

I know.

I was once such a person myself.

Fourth Day

Today bring to Me those who do not believe in God and those who do not know Me, 

I was thinking also of them during My bitter Passion, and their future zeal comforted My Heart. Immerse them in the ocean of My mercy.”  

Most compassionate Jesus, You are the Light of the whole world. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who do not believe in God and of those who as yet do not know You. Let the rays of Your grace enlighten them that they, too, together with us, may extol Your wonderful mercy; and do not let them escape from the abode which is Your Most Compassionate Heart.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who do not believe in You, and of those who as yet do not know You, but who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Draw them to the light of the Gospel. These souls do not know what great happiness it is to love You. Grant that they, too, may extol the generosity of Your mercy for endless ages. Amen.

*Our Lord’s original words here were “the pagans.” Since the pontificate of Pope John XXIII, the Church has seen fit to replace this term with clearer and more appropriate terminology.

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How the Crusades Saved Europe and America

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Narek https://www.flickr.com/photos/56767781@N00/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Narek https://www.flickr.com/photos/56767781@N00/

I am aware that there are Islamic teachings which lead to a more peaceful application of that faith. I think that the interpretation referenced here is an accurate depiction of of the application of Islamic teachings of a thousand years ago. It also seems that it is still relevant to Islamic extremists today.

I want to emphasize that this video discusses events which happened almost over a thousand years ago. The reason I am posting it here is to correct the inaccurate  history of the Crusades which is being used in the popular media to attack and degrade Christians and Christianity.

 

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/publiccatholic/2015/03/history-of-the-crusades-richard-the-lionheart-genius-and-virtue/#ixzz3Uei7a9Wt

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Go Look in the Mirror. That is the Only God You’ll Ever See.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by EvelynGiggles https://www.flickr.com/photos/evelynishere/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by EvelynGiggles https://www.flickr.com/photos/evelynishere/

Decades ago, not long after my conversion, I had a discussion with an atheist friend of mine.

This friend was from the time when just about all of my friends — including me — evinced a militant disregard for things Christian.

I didn’t know it at first, but that conversion to Christ was going to change everything in my life, including my relationship with people who had been as close to me as family. One by one and despite everything I could do to avoid it, I would lose them all. Worse, the same friends that I loved, truly loved, would become my worst enemies. They would do everything they could to destroy me.

This particular friend didn’t do that. But the friendship, the easy, warm trust between us, was gone almost as soon as I began to follow Christ. I tried my best to keep my new faith low key. I did everything I could to continue to blend in with my old crowd.

But … you’ve changed, this friend said one day.

It was an accusation, and I cringed inside, not understanding this “change” that he saw, even when I was doing my best to hide it. I did not realize in that moment that he had just unwittingly given me the greatest compliment he could.

He saw Christ in me. Despite everything I could do to pretend that nothing had happened and hang onto all my old friendships, I was changed. And this man saw it.

That comment began the slow unraveling of my old life as an unbeliever. I do not mean that it began my conversion. That had already happened. It was the start of the end of previous relationships with people who lived in the world of unbelief.

I fought it. I wanted to keep these people as friends. I wanted to hold onto the good times we’d shared.

But … you’ve changed, he said. And it was true.

This change began to resound in all these relationships with my old crowd. I never preached to them. I didn’t even talk about Christ to them. But I had changed on a fundamental level, and they were like ring wraiths sniffing me out.

This particular friend was the only one to address the change directly and then to lay into me at the root of that change. He knew, without my telling him, that I was now a Christian. And he began a program of reconversion.

Once, in one of our many arguments, he spat out a couple of sentences that I will never forget.

Go look in the mirror, he said. That is the only God you will ever see.

That comment was the apex of his arguing, and the end of our togetherness as people. It wasn’t the comment itself  that did it. It was the unbridgeable gap between us.

We never formally stopped being friends, but we did stop spending time with one another. It was too fraught, too uncomfortable. We had the memory of a friendship, nothing more.

He died of a heart attack a few years later. There were jokes about his vehement unbelief in the many eulogies at his memorial service. This was a man who understood friendship. The memorial service was a crowded event, the building filled to overflowing.

I walked out, gripping my husband’s hand, hoping that in those last extremities my old friend had finally turned to God.

Did he go to hell? 

I said it aloud when we got back to the car. Was he dead, really, eternally dead and gone to hell? My passionate, crazy friend — had he doomed himself to eternal death?

My husband was silent for a moment. Then, he reached out and squeezed my hand.

Probably, he said.

I changed again after that. My friend’s death shook me out of my somnambulance. I realized that being quiet about Jesus was the cruelest thing I could do to the people around me. I called quite a number of my old friends and told them directly that I did not want them to go to hell. I pleaded with them to change.

One of them changed, began following Christ and follows Him to this day. Otherwise, those calls had no effect.

You just don’t worry about me, one of them said, summing up the reaction from all of the rest.

A few years later, someone I knew and had crossed swords with was dying of cancer. This person and I barely spoke and when we did, it was barbed.

I picked up the phone and called him. Are you right with God? I asked him.

My friend’s death has taught me that there is never a wrong time to try to tell someone about Jesus, and there is never a right time to let another person slide into eternal death while you stand politely by and say nothing.

I read a headline before I began writing this post saying that 7.5 million Americans have abandoned their faith in Christ in the last year. I didn’t read the story, but I would assume that it was based on statistics from a survey of some sort.

There are a lot of reasons for the rising apostasy, but I think that the heresy of salvation through politics is one of the primary factors.

Many Christians have become besotted with a political Christianity where voting right and joining the correct political party has replaced following Christ. They have removed Jesus from Lordship of their lives and replaced him with an angry and unthinking devotion to their political party.

The Holy Spirit will not honor this kind of fallen Christianity. This Christless Christianity without a cross will not produce the fruit of the Kingdom because it is not of the Kingdom.

Go look in the mirror. That is the only God you will ever see. 

Seven point five million Americans evidently decided to turn their backs on eternal life and plunge themselves into eternal death while we were barking at one another over whether or not the priest wears a stole when he hears confessions and is the Church too “feminized” and which political party is the right one for Christians.

Let me tell you something. If Jesus Christ is truly the Lord of your life, it does not matter which political party you are in or whether or not the mass or church service you attend is sufficiently to your liking.

It does not matter because wherever you are, you will do His will. If people aren’t looking at you accusingly and saying You’ve changed, then something is wrong with your relationship with Christ.

If you fit comfortably in this world, then you are not going to fit comfortably in heaven. If you sit idly by and watch people trot themselves off to eternal hell and do nothing, say nothing to stop them, then you are the most cruel of people.

Let me turn my friend’s comment around. When you look in the mirror, do you see your God?

Sin is one thing. We all sin. This is why we have confession. But if you are one of those many people who are trying to cut your faith to fit your politics, if you are trying to shear the teachings of Christ down to slip them nicely into the folder where you keep your political handouts, then you are, no matter how often you go to Church or how much you proclaim yourself a Christian, in rebellion against God.

If you do not accept the Lordship of Christ in all matters, then you are not following Christ. If you do accept the Lordship of Christ, then it does not matter where you are or what people you associate with, you will be His witness in that place.

Bearing witness to the Gospel with our lives is the universal Christian vocation.

But it doesn’t end there.

We are also called to bear witness to Christ with our words.

Ask yourself this: Have people abandoned the Church because of you? Have you driven them away with your peculiar and particular insistence on a vengeful reliance on your version of what a Christian should be? Has your unbending self-righteousness made them feel that the Church is the last place on earth they would go for love and forgiveness?

Or …

Have people come to Christ because of you? Have they felt safe to tell you of their failings, to share their doubts, to trust you with their darkest secrets? Have they experienced the love of Christ in you and begun to follow Him because you allowed yourself to be a conduit of His grace in their lives?

What fruit have you born with your followership of Christ?

When you stand before God, will lost souls point at you in accusation and say He or she never told me about Jesus.

Or worse, will they say, He or she was so angry and so self-righteous that I thought their Jesus was the devil?

How many souls will point to you and say He or she was the spark that led me to Christ?

The answer to those questions begins with another one. When you look in the mirror, do you see a beloved child of God who can trust His love to forgive their sins? Do you see a sinner who does not need to be afraid before God; someone who is forgiven and who is grateful for that forgiveness?

Or …

Do you look in the mirror and see the true lord of your life and the only god you will ever know?

 

 

History of the Crusades: Muslim Conquest of Christian Syria-Palestine 633-638

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

I am aware that there are Islamic teachings which lead to a more peaceful application of that faith. I think that the interpretation referenced here is an accurate depiction of of the application of Islamic teachings in 633-638 AD. It also seems that it is still relevant to Islamic extremists today.

I want to emphasize that this video discusses events which happened almost 1400 years ago. The reason I am posting it here is to correct the inaccurate  history of the Crusades which is being used in the popular media to attack and degrade Christians and Christianity.

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Advent: Soul Cleaning in Preparation for the King

Don’t let anticipation of Christmas cheat you out of Advent.

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Does Women’s Rights Equal Abortion?

Me, at ceremony presenting resolution against violence against women.

Me, at ceremony presenting resolution against violence against women.

It seems I’ve run afoul of the atheist portal here at Patheos One. More. Time.

Nobody sticks in these folks’ collective craw more than I do. They love to hate me and they love to trash me. If one of them was slowly slipping away, I think the doc could show them one of my blog posts to get their poor little heart started beating again.

I’m  not sure how I do it, and to be honest, I don’t care, but I do get under their skin. They react to me the way Tribbles react to Klingons.

I’ve studiously ignored this carrying on up to now, and I intend to go back to that same path as soon as I finish here. But I do have a small bone to pick with one of the more outlandish claims against me that has been published on that portal.

Dan Arel, who blogs at Danthropology, has a big case of outrage going over my recent blog post about the Prez. It seems that calling President Obama an idiot is a bridge too far for Mr Arel. That’s his opinion, and he’s welcome to it. Writing blog posts trying to get at me is also his call. It actually would be difficult for me to come up with a description of how little I care.

I’m not even all that exercised about the one point that I’m going to discuss here. I just think it leads into an important point that needs making.

In his outraged defense of the president, Mr Arel — as atheists seem wont to do — veers off into personal attacks against me. As often happens with personal attacks against me, he immediately goes into fantasyland and presents made-up nonsense as fact.

This paragraph is a case in point (emphasis mine):

Rebecca Hamilton is a former politician who spent her career attacking women’s rights. Now it seems in retirement, her life will be no different. She does not think women are able to make the choices that are right for them and instead wants the President to give her and her religion the privilege of making these choices for you.

Oh me. Oh my. Such a big fat lie. 

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Lil ol’ me, speaking at a rally to end domestic violence.

Here’s just a sprinkling of things I’ve done (This is just off the top of my head. I’m sure there’s more.) during my career-long “attack” on women’s rights:

1. One of 6 founders of the first rape crisis center in Oklahoma.

2. Got first funding for statewide domestic violence shelters.

3. Author of the original protective order in Oklahoma. 

4. Creator of the first statewide rape hot line in Oklahoma. 

5. Authored legislation to allow rape victims and victims of domestic violence time off work for counseling, court visits, medical care without losing their employment. 

6. Authored legislation to provide state funding for day care. 

7. Authored legislation to make human trafficking illegal in Oklahoma.

8. Passed a law to keep rape victims’ information private.

9. Host and co-creator of the Oklahoma Day of Prayer for an End to Violence Against Women.

10. Authored bill to stop doctors from paying women to allow their bodies to be harvested for eggs.

11. Authored bill to stop forced abortions.

12. Authored bill making it a felony to beat up a pregnant woman.

13. Authored bill outlawing female genital mutilation in Oklahoma.

14. Authored bill to make rape by instrumentation a crime in Oklahoma. 

Lessee now. What might I have done that could possibly be construed as “attacking women’s rights?????”

Tap, tap, tap …

Could it be the fact that I oppose abortion? 

That’s all I can think of. And it does fit. 

Because in some people’s minds, “women’s rights” is abortion. They think that if you aren’t in favor of abortion on demand, then you must be opposed to “women’s rights.” On the other hand, they think that if you favor abortion on demand, then that’s all there is to women’s rights.

Oddly enough, even in this, Mr Arel’s hateful hyperbole overreaches the facts by a few miles. I opposed abortion in the second half of my career. During the first, pre-conversion half, I was the pro choice poster girl of Oklahoma. I’ve got enough Margaret Sanger awards and other pro choice attagirls from that phase of my life to paper the walls of my house with them. I was the de facto go-to person in the Oklahoma legislature for those who wanted pro life bills killed dead. And I delivered, because I was, as one of my fellow House members told me, “one hell of a legislator.”

Before I was ever elected to office, I was the Oklahoma director for NARAL.

So puhllleeeezzzz Mr Arel, consider who you are tarring with your abortion-is-women’s-rights brush. I know more about this issue — from both sides — than you will ever learn.

One of the things I know, and that I have learned to my horror and grief, is that abortion kills a living child. I can’t tell you how devastated I was when I realized the full horror of what I had done during my anti-God years.

Not only was I shattered by my own crimes against humanity, but as a woman who cares deeply about women’s rights, I felt trapped in a conundrum. How could I work to ensure women’s rights and prevail in my life-long work to speak out for justice for womankind and still protect these unborn children’s lives? That was the question.

I found the answer in the place where we all must look: The abundant mercy and love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Jesus is Lord of every life, whether the person acknowledges this or not. He loves Mr Arel just as much as He loves me, or you. He loves him and wants to offer him forgiveness and the free gift of eternal life just as He loves and cherishes the unborn child.

We are all His brothers and sisters, all God’s children.

Jesus loves women with a special depth of love because He is the author of life and women are the bearers of life. We are His cooperators in the life force. He chose to be born of a woman Himself.

This does not mean that God intends His daughters to be limited to that one single role. We are not walking uteri. We are human beings, made in His image with all the hungers, desires and needs for significance, achievement and the fullness of life that men have. Diminishing us to the role of childbearing as if that was all there is to us is not God’s plan. It is the devil’s curse on humankind.

Misogyny is the human race, at war with itself. And abortion, which strips women of their uniqueness, is an attack on women’s humanity at a profound level. Women should not have to chose between a murdered child and a ruined life. That, and not some nebulous “right” to murder both their own child and their own maternity is what women’s rights should be.

Pregancy and childbirth should never be used as a weapon to terrorize women or limit their lives. Rather than ending this discrimination and misogyny, abortion cooperates with it. Abortion is just the old misogynist double standard, turned sideways. It puts the whole burden of human sexuality back on the woman once again.

I don’t blame Mr Arel for being such a twerp about all this. He is, after all, both a man and an atheist, which is a combination that, based on my reading, seems to struggle with ideas of women’s rights based on women’s humanity. In fact, this group seems to struggle with ideas of intrinsic and universal human rights for any group of people. Based on things he’s said and done, I would guess that he’s also got a special hate going toward me.

All that adds up to a king-sized pair of blinders. When he puts forth the women’s rights = abortion equation, he is repeating the mindless cant he’s been taught around who knows how many intellectual campfires.

What I would like him to do is to take those blinders off, or at least peek around them, and see the love and compassion that Our Lord extends to him. Mr Arel is wrong about abortion, wrong about God and, in a far lesser question, wrong about me.

I wish him the best thing I could wish anyone, that he accepts the love of Christ and begins the journey to heaven. Whether he knows it, or wants to believe it or not, he is my brother; my lost and angry brother.

I pray for you Dan. You are a child of the living God.

Now, I’m back to ignoring the atheist portal.


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