Let There be Light: The Religious Significance of the Big Bang Echo

My eleven-year-old son put it better than anyone I have ever heard.

Homeschoolers socialize with other homeschoolers. We took our kids to movies together, enrolled them in activities that ranged from classes at the local science museum to participation in swim teams, homeschool soccer leagues and even a homeschool chess club.

We also had picnics, went to movies and other recreational activities.

It was after a homeschool picnic that my son gave me the best description of God’s viewpoint of us that I’ve ever heard.

We were full of food and feeling mellow and we got into a discussion of the first chapter of Genesis. We were all, including the kids, just kicking it around, expressing our own views. One of the homeschooling mothers took an absolutely literal, and, to me at least, narrow and inaccurate, view of the first chapters of Genesis. She believed that God had created the earth (and presumably the whole universe) in six twenty-four hour solar days.

I kept raising the buts inherent in her argument … but 24 hour days are based on how long it takes the earth to turn on its axis, and there was no earth and no sun “in the beginning,”

… but God created time, so in the beginning there was no time …

… but …

She would have none of it. She couldn’t wrap her mind around the idea that there was once nothing, absolutely nothing, and God created all creation out of this nothingness.

To her, and a lot of other people on both sides of the existence-of-god arguments, the idea of a beginning in which light, time, atoms, the rules of physics — everything, everywhere — simply did not exist was too incomprehensible to bother considering.

My eleven-year-old piped up, “but God created time,” he said. “God is not part of time. When God looks at creation, He doesn’t see a line, going off into the future. He sees a dot.”

My son’s comment didn’t make a ding in our friend’s thinking. It floated past her without engaging one brain cell.

But I was stunned by the simple understanding of an eleven-year-old.

He had said it all.

When scientists taught that the universe always was, they were dodging the obvious. The metaphysical implications in an existence which began from nothing are enormous.

If everything — everything — had a beginning, and that beginning was a sudden something when nothing exploded into all that is, then the question of “What, or Who, did this?” comes shortly after.

I’ve read comments about the discovery of the Big Bang Echo to the effect that the Big Bang Echo debunks the Biblical story of creation once and for all. I assume that by the Biblical story of creation they were referring, not to the Scriptures themselves, but to interpretations of those Scriptures like that of my fellow homeschooler.

The idea that God created the universe in seven 24-hour solar days has so many holes in it, from simple logic, that it won’t stand. If you read the thing literally, really literally, you’ll see that it doesn’t say any such thing. It says “day” and day, used this way, is poetic. It can mean almost any space of time.

The first chapter of Genesis is a poem. Anyone can see that. It’s what it is.

But it also describes, in poetic rather than scientific terms, a reality. God did create the heavens and the earth. He “spoke” existence into existence.

The discovery of the Big Bang echo doesn’t prove that. It doesn’t even address it.

What it does do is let us see it.

As my eleven-year-old son once said, God created time. He is outside time the same way that Henry Ford was outside and not part of the Model T, that I am outside and not part of this blog post. Mr Ford and I both leave our signatures all over our creations. There is an image of us in what we do. But we are not governed by the realities of what we have created. It is governed by us.

God created time just as He created everything else. He is outside of it. I think that when God looks at creation, he sees all of it, all at once, all the time.

When it comes to time, we, who are in it and of it, are like a grasshopper, standing in the middle of an interstate highway. From our vantage point, the highway of time goes on in both directions forever. It has no beginning and no end. But to God, Who is outside of time, the beginning, and the end, are both constantly in view.

That is what it means to be transcendent.

We, who are made in the image and likeness of God, possess the capacity to slowly and painstakingly unravel this mystery of how God did it. From inside our temporal prison, we can, by use of all our wits and by building on one another’s thinking, figure it out.

I believe that’s because we are made for more than this life. Where else did this drive to touch the face of God with our minds come from? What practical purpose does it serve for us to seek and find the echo of the Big Bang from which we came? We are made for more than what we appear to be. Our craving for transcendence is a hunger that we feed but cannot satisfy with the devices of our minds.

What we are hungering for is not the what of existence, but the Who that is behind it.

This Being Who spoke existence into existence, this Word that was there from the beginning, loves us. He left us clues to how He did it scattered throughout creation like Hansel and Gretel’s bread crumbs.

The Big Bang echo is one such crumb. It allows us, for the first time, to see creation as it was created. That is its significance. And its gift.

Science is not the enemy of faith. Ham-handed fools who try to use science to “prove” their personal prejudices can make it seem to be the enemy of faith. Occasional misapprehensions of the partial discoveries we make as we follow the bread crumbs can yield to this hubris and, again, make science seem like the enemy of faith.

But in truth, science is just us, figuring out the creation we’ve been handed.

Science misapplied can be our undoing, both spiritually, and, as we meddle deeper into the building blocks of our existence, physically. We can blow ourselves up or mutate our genes and end ourselves with science. The threat is right in front of us every day we live.

That’s because science is our creation, and as our creation, it is flawed in the ways that we are flawed. It a tool that our tool-making kind has devised to help us understand How He did it. Nothing more. Nothing less.

If You Want to Disrespect the Pope, You Need to Go to Another Blog

Public Catholic discusses any number of controversial topics.

Sometimes, the conversation gets blunt. There are days when I’m the bluntest of all.

But the purpose of Public Catholic is to equip people so that they can go out into the world and be the light that Jesus called all of us to be.

People who disrespect the Holy Father, are, in my opinion, speaking for the darkness.

I’ve deleted almost all such comments that have shown up here, with the exception of a few that I allowed as an illustration of what not to say.

I understand that Pope Francis has said things that unsettle people, and I have no problem with commenters who express their feelings of being unsettled. I have no problem with honest questions and honest seeking. In fact, I not only encourage them, I often share them. We are all seekers in our walk with Christ.

These are things we need to work through together, in faith.

But Pope Francis is the pope. He is Peter. I will not tolerate spiteful and malicious attacks on his character on this blog.

Tu est petra.

Et portae inferni non praevalebunt.

New Blood Test Allows Better Targeting of Which Babies to Kill

Doctors can now target which babies to kill with even greater accuracy.

A new blood test allow docs to discover which unborn babies might have Down’s Syndrome. The best is touted as being far more accurate than previously used methods. According to a news report, this means that fewer expectant mothers will “be made anxious” by an inaccurate test telling them that their baby has Down’s Syndrome.

The new test is not the final step. If it comes back suspicious, then the woman is sent for either amniocentesis or chorionic villi sampling.

Doctors are recommending that all pregnant women should be “screened for Down’s Syndrome and other trisomies.”

Amniocentesis which involves sticking a needle through the wall of the woman’s abdomen and the wall of the uterus (a procedure which doctors blandly describe as uncomfortable) and extracting amniotic fluid, does have legitimate medical uses. It can be used to detect if the baby’s lungs are developed enough for it to survive. This can be life-saving for both the mother and the baby in certain circumstances.

However, I don’t know of a legitimate medical use for this blood test. It would allow older women to know that their baby does not have Down’s Syndrome. But the blanket move to have every pregnant woman take the test sounds very much like eugenics to me.

Does the test have any use other than targeting which babies to kill?

Why, other than trying to kill unborn children with disabilities, would anyone want every pregnant woman to take the test?

More and more, a medical license is becoming a license to exploit and kill. Everything from euthanasia, to egg harvesting, surrogacy and abortion is being sold to us as for our own good.

How can any of us trust doctors who are so willing to kill their patients?

Future Priests Embrace Celibacy


“The priesthood is too serious a call, not to have guys who are 100% committed to what they are doing.”

Amen.

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Harassing the Elderly: What Would You Do?

If you saw someone harassing an old person, what would you do?

I have to tell you, I am really proud of these people.

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Kentucky’s AG Refuses to Defend Marriage. Governor Forced to Hire Private Law Firm.

This story is a couple of weeks old, but I’ve been too busy to take it on until now.

A few weeks back, a federal judged made the landmark ruling that Kentucky had to honor gay marriages which were contracted in other states. This ruling, if upheld, has the practical effect of legalizing gay marriage in every state of the union. The judge’s ruling was based on last summer’s hydra-headed Windsor ruling by the United States Supreme Court. Windsor overturned the federal Defense of Marriage Act, (DOMA.)

In what has become a predictable dereliction of duty, Kentucky’s Attorney General, Jack Conway, announced that he would not defend the state statute, because “it was discrimination,” and, as he said in his announcement, “that I will not do.”

In other words, he’s appointed himself the legislature, court and will of the people of the entire state. He is also, flatly and obviously refusing to do the job he was elected to do. Pious pronouncements aside, this is a clear failure of integrity on his part. As I said before about other attorney general’s who have done this same thing, they don’t seem to know what their job is.

Attorney’s General are chief law enforcement officers. They are not lawmakers, and even though law enforcement rests in the judicial branch, they are not judges. Attorney General Conway obviously ran for the wrong office.

Now, Kentucky’s Governor, Steve Beshear, has announced that he will hire an independent law firm to defend the state.

Does anyone “get” what a dereliction of duty this attorney general is indulging in? Does anyone understand how wrong it is for the governor to have to spend tax payer money to hire outside attorneys to do the job that the attorney general of Kentucky was elected to do?

I am way past glad that the Governor is taking this step. This court decision is huge. It must be challenged.

In the meantime, I’m wondering if the people of Kentucky are so caught up in the gay marriage bubble that they don’t “get” the full significance of what their AG is going to them. I wonder if any of the people of this country can understand what a breakdown it is for so many attorneys general to refuse to do their jobs.

This isn’t a small thing. It’s a symptom of a very ugly infection of narcissistic dishonesty in the body politic. I am not talking about gay marriage, per se. I am not talking about any issue. I am talking about our system of governance, which depends on people who will govern by the law and by responsible action, not opinion polls.

United States Attorney General Eric Holder has stepped in with a “ruling” of his own, saying that “states attorneys general don’t have to defend gay marriage bans if they view them as discriminatory.”

Isn’t that nice? The nation’s number one cop as decided to publicly indulge in selective law enforcement. He is unilaterally giving anyone who wants to violate their oath in support of the side of an issue that he happens to agree with a free pass from the Justice Department.

If the laws are enforced selectively — which is what the United States Attorney General is doing — then the laws are by definition unjust. Selective enforcement of the law is — dare I say it? — discriminatory on its face.

One interesting side note in this story: Both the governor and the attorney general are Democrats.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said Tuesday that his office would hire outside counsel to appeal a court ruling that the state must recognize same-sex marriages performed outside Kentucky, just moments after the state attorney general, a fellow Democrat, said he would no longer defend the ban.

Jack Conway, Kentucky’s attorney general, said Tuesday that if he appealed the recent ruling, he would be forced to defend discrimination. “That I will not do,” he said in a statement. “As Attorney General of Kentucky, I must draw the line when it comes to discrimination.”

Beshear promptly announced that his office would continue the appeal, the Associated Press reports, saying there would be “legal chaos” if the courts don’t delay any changes until after an appeal. “Employers, health care providers, governmental agencies and others faced with changing rules need a clear and certain roadmap,” Beshear said. “Also, people may take action based on this decision only to be placed at a disadvantage should a higher court reverse the decision.”

The rapid-fire action and reaction underscored how states are struggling to respond to a wave of court decisions striking down same-sex marriage bans of various kinds. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder recently said state attorneys general don’t have to defend gay-marriage bans if they view them as discriminatory.

 

The Big Bang has an Echo … Echo … echo

The Big Bang has an echo, which is what you would expect from a “bang” that, blew creation into existence.

The elusive echo has finally been located in gravitational waves. The waves, which Albert Einstein first predicted in his General Theory of Relativity, were discovered with the use of a telescope at the South Pole.

What this means, among other things, is that the universe had a beginning, and that beginning was 13.7 billion years ago.

For a long time, scientists made the (at least to me) totally illogical assumption that the universe had no beginning. It just, according to them, always was. Even as a young child, I thought this thinking was daft.

It turns out that my young child intuition was, at least in this one instance, more accurate than the thinking of the big brains of earlier eras.

I think one reason why so many learned folk made this assumption was simply that the idea of a universe which had a beginning raised all sorts of questions that their world view didn’t allow.

That’s not science. It’s human nature, and every single one of us, including scientists, is a slave to human nature. We don’t see what we don’t want to see. Unless, of course, we have to.

The “have to” in this instance was the doppler effect, writ large. Just as a train whistle changes tone as it travels past us, so the light from stars changes color as it moves away. This simple bit of logic led to the realization that the universe, which had once been thought static, was moving away from us. It was expanding at great speed.

Computations based on this movement led us backwards to a point where the expansion began: The Big Bang.

The universe that always was became the universe that had a dramatic and sudden beginning. Existence exploded into existence.

Scientists have advanced all sorts of theories to try to explain away the implications of this Big Bang. Some of them have been quite fanciful.

But this discovery leaves those ideas flat. These gravitational waves are an echo of the Big Bang in much the same way that a tsunami is an echo of an earthquake.

The Big Bang happened. It is where everything, everywhere, came from.

The rest is religion.

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Actor Chris O’Dowd Says Religion is a Cult and Obama is Not a Christian

Chris O’Dowd, who evidently stars in one of those cable series I’ve never watched called Girls, has shared his original thinking on the topic of religion.

Mr O’Dowd says in an interview with GQ that he used to be “liberal” about religion, and thought it was ok for other people to have ideas he disagreed with. Then, he got his brain washed and now he knows that “religion is ruining the world.” He says that there will be a “turning point” where religion is “going to be like racism.” Because people will decide “you’re not allowed to say that! It’s mad!”

He also informs us that President Obama lies when he says he’s a Christian, telling us, “I mean, you really think that Barack Obama believes in God? No way!”

It’s a bit difficult to take these deep thoughts seriously, so I don’t think I will. Take them seriously, that is. I mean, (to quote Mr O’Dowd) let’s look at what he said.

Religion is ruining the world. That one’s pretty well been done to death.

People will decide you’re not allowed to say that. How many times, in how many ways, have we seen attacks on religious people’s right to freedom of speech? I doubt if this thoughtful young actor understands that’s what he’s supporting, btw. I think he’s just repeating something he heard someone else say and probably doesn’t understand its implications.

President Obama is not a Christian? Do tell.

All in all, what this interview shows — as if we needed to be shown — is the level of non-thinking that goes into bashing religious people in our society. It also demonstrates why the programming we see on television is so biased against faith.

I wouldn’t take Mr O’Dowd’s thinking too seriously. There’s not an original idea here. If his industry’s opinion changes, he’ll get his brain washed again and say something else that’s just as deep and thoughtful as this.

From The Sydney Morning Herald:

Actor Chris O’Dowd thinks following a religion will eventually become as offensive and unacceptable as racism.

The Irish star of films such as The Sapphires and Bridesmaids says he grew up respecting people of faith despite his atheist views, but has become “less liberal” as he ages.

Now he says religious doctrine is halting human progress and brands it “a weird cult”.

He also thinks US president Barack Obama had to overstate his Christian faith in order to get to the White House.

O’Dowd has told Britain’s GQ magazine: “For most of my life, I’ve been, ‘Hey, I’m not into it, but I respect your right to believe whatever you want’. But as time goes on, weirdly, I’m growing less liberal. I’m more like, ‘No, religion is ruining the world, you need to stop!’.

“There’s going to be a turning point where it’s going to be like racism. You know, ‘You’re not allowed to say that weird s**t! It’s mad! And you’re making everybody crazy!’

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/celebrity/actor-chris-odowd-says-religion-is-unacceptable-20140308-34ded.html#ixzz2wGs3mJfa

God is Not Dead, the Movie

Son of God is still in the theaters. If you haven’t seen it, I encourage you to go.

It seems that there is more than one Christian movie coming out this Lent. God is Not Dead opens this weekend. We need to support movies like this with our time and our dollars.

I’m going. I hope you will, too.

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Stupak: HHS Mandate was a Double Cross

I’ve written several times that President Obama lied to Congressman Bart Stupak in order to get the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) through Congress.

The tactics used against pro life Democrats in order to pass this legislation totally destroyed the nascent pro life movement in the national Democratic Party. According to news reports, the Obama administration threatened to close military bases in Senator Ben Nelson’s state of Nebraska, thus putting tens of thousands of his constituents out of work. These threats were made in order to secure the 60th vote necessary to stop a filibuster in the United States Senate.

The president persuaded Congressman Bart Stupak to abandon his fight to block the bill in the House by giving him an “ironclad” promise that he would issue an executive order guaranteeing religious freedom and no federal monies for abortion under the bill. The president did issue an executive order, which I personally thought was insufficient, even at the time.

First an executive order is not a statute, and this critical issue clearly needed statutory force. Second the executive order itself was insufficient.

However, the president put the lie to his own promise when he followed this executive order by signing, promoting and putting the entire force of his presidency behind the ignominious HHS Mandate. The HHS Mandate is an egregious and direct attack on religious freedom. His administration’s arguments against court challenges to this mandate have sought to restrict First Amendment freedoms to religious practices inside church buildings.

If President Obama wins the court challenges to the HHS Mandate, using these arguments, it will be the death of religious freedom in this country. It will also set off a Constitutional crisis more serious than anything America has faced since the Civil War. That is the outcome of Congressman Stupak’s actions.

Congressman Stupak returned to private life after the session in which Obamacare passed. But he was one of the early opponents of the HHS Mandate. He signed a letter against the Mandate in which he referenced the fact that President Obama had betrayed his promises.

Now, he’s taken it a step further and publicly stated that the HHS Mandate is a double cross.

What does all this amount to?

One thing: The President of the United States is a liar. He’s not a liar on whether or not he caught a minnow that was six feet long. He’s not a liar on whether or not he had an affair with a woman. He’s a calculated, deliberate liar on matters of policy that affect the American people. He lied to a member of the United States Congress on a matter of extreme importance to this country to get the congressman’s vote.

There’s no coming back from that.

I know that a lot of pro life people want to burn Congressman Stupak in effigy. I, for one, never believed the president. I can’t find the exact word for how I felt when I watched the vote on this bill and heard Congressman Stupak’s comments. It was a mixture of pity and sorrow, coupled with grief.

I’ve experienced a bit of the pressure that is put on Democratic elected officials to get them to betray their pro life beliefs. I have a lot of sympathy for Senator Nelson, for the simple reason that he was responsible for his constituents. It’s a terrible thing to tell an elected official that if they don’t do what you want, you will destroy the lives of tens of thousands of the constituents it is their job to protect.

I’ve seen this happen on the state level, for a lot less than the Affordable Health Care Act. I’ve seen Democrats threaten to close colleges in another Democrat’s house district if they didn’t change their vote on a bill. I’ve seen a Republican speaker threaten a Democratic House member with the closure of a major industry in his district if the Democrat didn’t stop asking questions that the Speaker found embarrassing. I’ve seen pro life Republicans kill pro life bills at the behest of corporate interests. I’ve been on the receiving end of pro abortion Democrats’ demands that I kill pro life bills for party loyalty.

I’ve seen things a lot worse than what I just described, that I don’t want to write about.

I don’t doubt for one minute that the Obama administration threatened to put tens of thousands of people out of work, just simply to pass a bill. I also don’t doubt that Congressman Stupak was the object of intense hate, vilification and threats over this vote. President Obama is not only a liar, but he’s a convincing liar, and I don’t doubt that Congressman Stupak believed him.

I have never experienced the pressure that happens at the national level. I imagine it’s the difference between a 1,000-pound bomb and a hydrogen bomb. It is localized annihilation versus national annihilation.

Just the same, I can tell you that what I went through was more than enough for me. I didn’t fail. I passed the pro life bill the Democrats tried to force me to kill. I thank God for that. I mean that literally. I thank God for that.

Unlike Congressman Stupak and Senator Nelson, I had the great help of my own past. I knew what abortion was, and I knew what I had done in the past. There is no certainty quite like looking at the depth of your own depravity. It is absolutely shattering. After that, you stop trying to be smart, because you know that your own smarts have led you to do what you can never undo.

I also had the experience of having seen the lying liars of politics before. I had matriculated through the school of being in office and out of office and then back in office once again. That perspective lets you to see the lies of politics as nothing else can.

I knew that sometimes you just have to do what’s right and put the rest in God’s hands. It’s a matter of stepping out onto what looks like thin air and trusting that He will put solid ground under your foot. “Lean not on your own understanding,” the Scriptures tell us. “Trust and obey,” the hymn teaches. That is exactly what you have to do.

Bart Stupak believed a lying president, and the action he took because he believed let the genie out of the bottle. I know I’m going to get roasted and toasted by the absolutists in Public Catholic’s readership, but I feel sorry for him. I felt sorry for him at the time. He had such a magnificent opportunity to stand for life. And he gave it away for a lie.

Based on the op-ed piece he wrote for USA Today, Congressman Stupak is still trying to parse what he did. I don’t think he can accept that it was a disaster, and not just for him personally. It was a disaster for this nation, allowing as it did the formulation of the HHS Mandate.

It was an unmitigated disaster for the fight for life and for Christian values generally. The resulting purge of pro life Democrats from the Democratic Party has resulted in one of our two national parties going totally over the cliff on moral issues.

This is a terrible thing, for all Americans. Knowing what I know of politics and both of these two national parties, I can tell you that Christians no longer have a choice at the ballot box. I always get rebuffed by hard-core Republicans when I say this, but I will continue to say it, because it is true. Both parties are amoral. Without a balance of push and pull between them to keep one another honest, they will, either one of them, do terrible things. This isn’t something I’m guessing about. I’ve seen it.

By destroying the growing pro life movement within the Democratic Party, Congressman Stupak’s actions also destroyed the single best chance this country had to find legislative resolutions to the social issues that are tearing it apart. We need both parties to change this country. Congressman Stupak’s actions polarized the fight in a horrible way.

I feel sorry for him.

And for all of us.

Missing Airplanes, Deep Water Ports and Russian Union at Gun Point

I haven’t written much about the mess with Ukraine/Crimea/Russia. I haven’t written at all about the missing airliner.

The reasons are simple.

I don’t have a lot of wisdom to share about Ukraine/Crimea/Russia, and I don’t know what’s happened to that airliner.

My guess is that Russia wants a sort of alliance with its former satellites states; something akin to the European Union. I doubt that Russia wants to re-occupy those countries. They’ve already done that. And it didn’t work out.

On the other hand, creating an economic alliance that resembles the European Union would greatly enhance Russia’s economic clout. This is especially true if Russia is the absolute, unchallenged first among equals with the member states of that “union.”

Russia, being Russia, doesn’t seem to have gotten the drift of negotiation in developing this economic union. They’re more into gunpoint diplomacy than the give and take of actual negotiating.

Of course, negotiating with people who were, until a couple of decades ago, Russia’s slaves, would be tough going, even for the most delicate of debaters. Russia has what might be called a bad rep among their former satellites. The brutal police states they ran that impoverished people, destroyed their freedoms and ended many of their lives in gulags make people chary of being their pals now. These folks aren’t too eager to go back under the Russian lash.

It appears that Russia is still the child of its evil past. The response to frustrating displays of disregard for what Russia wants in its satellites seems to bring that evil child to the fore. Russia’s means of conversation is to bring in the tanks and troops.

In addition to economic hegemony, Russia also wants and needs something that Crimea — and only Crimea — has. Americans, who live in one of the other great continental nations, take our plethora of deep water ports for granted. We’ve got so many of them, and they are all ice free year round, that the whole question is not a question to us. We don’t think about what it would be like to be a continental nation without a single ice-free, deep-water port.

But Russia, despite its mammoth coastline, hasn’t got anyplace to park a fleet of big boats. It can’t ship goods by sea because there’s no way to get the goods onto the seas. I won’t discuss the issue of a Russian Navy at this point. I think it’s obvious that you’ve got to have ports to have an effective Nary.

Little Crimea is the proud possessor of a deep water port that is ice free.

Do I need to connect the dots here?

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At the same time that we’ve seen exhaustive and utterly confusing news reports about Russia/Ukraine/Crimea, we have also been partakers of the mystery surrounding a missing airliner. It seems that this airliner abruptly made a hard turn off its course, dropped to below radar level and flew on for several hours. Then, it vanished.

Nobody knows what happened. Nobody knows where it is now. Nobody knows anything except that the airliner, its crew and passengers are missing.

Speculation about hijackings and terrorists raises a hundred nightmare scenarios in all our minds.

We faced with other people’s tragedies as their countries are invaded and annexed for the use of more powerful nations. We imagine what it must have been like on that airliner. We feel for the families of these people. We speculate about whether or not the crew and passengers are still alive, and if they are still alive, what might be happening to them.

All this is laced with fear. Not lie-awake-at-night-and-churn-fear, but the cold frisson of fear that is part of living in an uncertain and dangerous world. There are so many good people. But the relatively few bad ones have the capacity to make a hell of this earth for all of us.

Both these situations seem to have a simple root cause, and that root cause is the assumption by some individuals and countries that other human beings are simple expedients to them getting what they want.

We deal with powers and principalities every day of our lives. We see the results of their control over human beings on the news every evening, and we live out the personal miseries they cause us in the dysfunctions of our relations with those around us.

I haven’t written about missing airliners and Russian tanks parked on the ground of other people’s countries because I’m not sure enough of the facts to say anything definitive. I decided to write about these things today because of the one thing I am sure of.

We will never get to the end of the evil that people do to other people in this life. That is why it is so important for us to remember that our primary citizenship is not in any country of this world. We are citizens of heaven, even now, as we live here.

I am not urging an otherworldly abandonment of our responsibilities in the here and now. We are charged with bringing the Kingdom. We are called directly and explicitly by Our Lord to be the light that shines in this darkness.

As Americans we have unique freedoms with which to do this. We need to use every opportunity we have to fulfill our call, and when we feel that frisson of fear that comes from living in a fallen world, we need to remember that we serve a risen Lord. This world is just the smallest part of our existence.

First Year: The Ten Most Important Things Pope Francis has Said to Us

Pope Francis has taught us a lot of Evangelization in his first year as our Holy Father.

The press has wasted a good bit of their reportage of Pope Francis in misreporting. They mine his every statement for anything they can use to say that the Catholic Church is going to get with it and support gay sex and gay marriage. They’ve taken simple comments about forgiveness and mercy and spun them into off-the-cuff ex cathedra statements which they claim overturn 2,000 years of Christian teaching.

One of the many things we’ve got to learn about living in this post-Christian world is that vast swaths of the media, including some of the most powerful media conglomerates, have been actively supporting the disassembly of our culture for decades. We can and should chide them for their anti-Christian bias and Christian-bashing propaganda. But the most important thing we can do is to stop believing them.

Do let yourself be misled by these attacks on Catholic faith. They can come in the form of deliberate misinterpretations of sentences in the Pope’s statements that are pulled out of context and twisted to say things they never said. They also come by means of the use of enormous talent to produce “entertainment” that glamorizes and normalizes aberrant lifestyles. There is also the subtle factor of media refusal to report stories that matter, but which don’t agree with the worldview of the news outlets.

In all these cases and many more, we are going to have to learn to exercise our prudential judgement and simply recognize these things for what they are. They are lies. Know it, and stop believing them.

Here is a brief list by Rome Reports of the most important things Pope Francis has said in his first year as Pope.

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21% of Americans Say Religion is ‘Not That Important’ in Their Lives

According to a poll by NBC/WSJ, 21% of Americans say that religion is “not that important in their lives.”

This isn’t a big surprise. It’s consistent with other polls. The details are pretty much the same as those in previous polls, as well. An NBC news article says that “Less religious Americans are more likely to be men, have an income over $75,000, to live in the northeast” and be under 35.

The only comment I have to make about this is that it’s something to consider as we contemplate how to approach re-converting this culture. Do we start with these “not that importants,” or do we begin elsewhere?

I don’t claim to have a decisive answer. But my personal opinion, based mainly on years of political campaigning, is that we should begin with our own people. I think the first great need for active conversion is to be found in the pews of our own churches.

There are over 1 billion Catholics on this planet, and almost all of us are laity. We are the Church. The need to educate, inspire and lead this laity to an active evangelistic fervor is so obvious that I’m not going to waste the words to substantiate it in this brief post.

I think the place to begin the great work of conversion that is in front of us is our own laity. The question I have is, does the laity have to do the work of converting itself?

We need leadership.

We Don’t Do It. You Make Us Do It. It’s Our Right to Do It. But We Don’t Do It.

In the circular cobweb of bizarro accusations, obfuscations, dissimulations and dead flat lies that pass for commentary coming from Christian bashers, there is a surprising bottom line.

That bottom line has nothing to do with reason, rationality, right or moral/intellectual integrity. In fact, this particular bottom line is the opposite of those things. It is a claim by these people that they can do whatever they want, say whatever they want, and when they do, it is the fault of those they do it to and and say it about.

You may have encountered this line of reasoning in other parts of life. My most frequent encounter with it is among the perpetrators of violence against women. She asked for it, and Look what you made me do, are the commonplaces of excuse-giving among rapists and batterers.

It is, you see, the fault of those we are raping, battering, bashing that we do these things. We have no responsibility for our own tawdry behavior. The fault, dear horatio, lies in in the victim.

I see a lot of this bullying reasoning in the comments that show up here on Public Catholic. Every time I write something about (1) Christian persecution, (2) Christian bashing, (3) attempts to silence Christians and drive them from the public square, or (4) attempts to use government to coerce Christians to violate their beliefs, I know — know — that all I have to do is sit back and wait a few minutes before the abusive rebuts start pouring in.

Most of these abusive rebuts end up sleeping in the delete file. That leads to more abusive rebuts accusing me of all sorts of unsavory character and moral defects, which in turn, sleep in the delete file. This is followed by a good old fashioned thrashing of my intelligence (or lack thereof) morality, womanhood, professional standing and heritage on various Christian-bashing blogs.

Does any of this idiotic aggression prove that Christians are not subjected to bashing/hazing/attempts to silence them/persecution/and a newfound totalitarianism directed at their freedoms?

Nope.

On the contrary, this name-calling, attempted character assassination, bombast and bullying are all manifestations of precisely and exactly those things.

Aside from the predictability and profanity involved, the paucity of thinking that goes into the attacks from these people who claim that their thinking is “rational” is rather stark.

The lines of argument they use are usually a circular apologetic for two things: Use of government force to coerce Christians to violate their beliefs, and the attempts to drive Christians from the public square. The excuses for this are flat-liner simple.

Here’s how it works.

First, they say they don’t do it.

Gay marriage (as a for instance) will not affect anyone except people who are getting gay married.

If you don’t want an abortion, don’t have an abortion.

Etc.

When they are confronted with the uncomfortable facts that

People are being taken to court all over this country as well as other countries to force them to participate in gay marriages,

Christians have lost their jobs because of it,

Catholic adoption services and Catholic Charities’ ministries have been forced to close because they won’t refer for abortions or provide children for adoptions to same-sex couples,

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has been sued by the ACLU for teaching 2,000-year-old Catholic teachings,

Etc

They don’t back down.

Instead, they go on the attack. “You make us do it,” they claim in an eery echo of the batterer’s look what you made me do!  Christians try to force their beliefs on others, the set-piece story goes, and thus they deserve to be pushed from the public square, called ugly names and hazed, both personally and by a deluge of anti-Christian rhetoric, television programming and other media attacks. As for me and my behavior, everything I do and say is justified because Christians are trying to force people to live by their morality.

This confabulated excuse for tawdry behavior ignores the plain fact that this Christian “force” they claim justifies any and all attacks on Christians and Christianity is the exercise of the same Constitutional rights that are available to all Americans.

They are trying to claim with a straight face that demonizing, hazing and constantly attacking a whole group of people is justified because those people (1) vote according to their own beliefs, (2) speak to their elected officials on behalf of their own beliefs, and (3) seek redress in the courts.

These activities are guaranteed rights of every American. You can find them in the First Amendment. They are, ironically, the same freedoms being used to advance the viewpoints these Christian bashers espouse. What these Christian bashers are objecting to is that all Americans, including Christians, have the same rights as they do. They are trying to use personal attacks, hazing and propaganda to batter Christians into acceding their rights as free Americans.

Raise this point, and the resulting cacophony of personal attacks would drown out a full orchestra playing the 1812 Overture.

The reason for these personal attacks are obvious. There is no just reason why Christians should be deprived of their freedom as American citizens to vote according to their beliefs, participate in the political process on behalf of those beliefs or seek redress through the courts. These are among the basic freedoms of American citizens, guaranteed by the First Amendment. The abusive yelling and screaming is a bullying attempt to avoid admitting that forcing Christians to forfeit their rights is, in fact, tyranny.

The interesting thing is that at the same time that Christian bashers are giving loud and verbally abusive explanations as to why the First Amendment does not apply to Christians, they are denying vociferously that they attack Christians unfairly.

When, as always happens on this blog, their abusive behavior nets them a zero, they move to cloying manipulation. The comments shift to feigned civility and syrupy compliments, based on the totally wrong assumption that nobody has ever tried to flatter or manipulate their way past me before.

There is an element of echo-chamber thinking in these attacks. Going back to the virtual clubhouse and counting coup, then trying to outdo one another in how they insult Christians seems to convince Christian bashers that people of faith really are as stupid as they tell each other. I don’t have any other explanation for the sudden turn to obviously manipulative niceness by the same people who’ve been calling me everything but a nice person otherwise.

We don’t do it, they tell us at the outset.

You make us do it, they reply to direct citations of their behavior.

It’s our right to do it, they say when you shut them down and refuse to give them a platform to attack Christians at will.

But we don’t do it, they circle back and proclaim, after their personal attacks don’t bully you into doing what they are demanding.

This is standard stuff in the Christian-bashing blogosphere. I’m writing about it here so that Public Catholic readers will understand it and not be overawed by it.

The first time a jerk throws a pie in your face, it will leave you stunned and speechless. But when the jerks just keep throwing those pies, you’ve got to learn how to stand up for yourself.

How to Present the Christian Message When the Message is the Medium

 

The media is hard-selling abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage and now polygamy and polyamory. It is also pushing farming women’s bodies for eggs and using women as pregnancy surrogates.

That is the real-world situation. We need to be aware of it. We need to do what we can to make other Christians aware of it, so that they see it for what it is. But what, beyond that, should we do?

We must learn how to communicate our message in today’s world. We can, you know. We’ve just got to stop bemoaning the situation and start thinking about what we can do.

This video gives a brief discussion of how Christianity has historically communicated its message. That’s a good place to start as we move forward to how we will communicate it in today’s world.

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The Media is Selling Anti-Christian Morality

Marshall McLuhan famously said, “The medium is the message.”

Our use of the phrase “the media” as shorthand for all journalistic endeavors reflects the truth of that.

This media/”message” is hard-selling abortion, euthanasia and the destruction of marriage.

This video contains a reflection about this situation.

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Please Pray for Me

Please pray for me. 

That is Pope Francis’ tweet for today.

I think we should certainly pray for our Holy Father.

We should also pray for all priests.

I am part of a prayer group. It began when we were homeschooling mothers with small children and has held together through the years as our children have grown up, gone to college, married and had children of their own. Our daughters have now joined us.

The purpose of this Rosary group is to pray for our priests. This is a prayer we pray at every Rosary. I think it is a prayer we should all pray. I can think of no better practice to begin this Lent.

God our Father, please send us holy priests, all for the sacred and eucharistic heart of Jesus, all for the sorrowful and immaculate heart of Mary, in union with St Joseph. Amen

The Problem with Catechesis Is that It’s Been Found Difficult and Not Tried

Gilbert Chesterton famously said, “The problem with Christianity is not that it’s been tried and found wanting, it’s been found difficult and not tried.”

If you change the word Christianity for Catechesis, you have a description of the problem with the “unfaithful laity” in many parts of this country, if not the world.

As exhibit A, let me point you toward the mess at Eastside High School in Seattle. This school, which is nominally Catholic, appears to cater to rich little kids and provide them with a full blast of self-actualizing claptrap with a layer of do-gooderism and little c catholicism on top to make them feel good.

When their openly-gay vice principal “married” his partner, the school, in what was probably a stunning display of unexpected fidelity to Church teaching, decided to enforce its school contract and employee guidelines and dismiss him. The student body, which had clearly been catechized more by the vice principal and his supporters than anyone imparting Catholic teaching, reacted by staging a walk out.

Instead of expelling the students for walking out of class, the school pretty much caved on a later problem with another teacher.

Now, for all their what’s-happening-now weak-as-water Catholicism, the school is being sued by said vice principal.

Exhibit B would be the Seattle priest who wrote a column for a national magazine, taking a public stand against the teachings of the Church whose collar he wears.

Exhibit C would be the many Catholic politicians I know whose knowledge of what the Church teaches on issues such as the sanctity of human life and the sacrament of marriage is limited to slogans, and most of them come from the media which is openly hostile to their Church. You can place the parish priests who’ve told them it’s ok to vote against pro life legislation and for gay marriage, even while their bishops are begging them to do the opposite, alongside the politicians on the exhibit table.

What’s wrong with catechesis?

1. It stops at the little-kid-in-Sunday-school level.

2. Despite the fact that most priests are faithful to the Church, nobody with authority in the Church says a word to disagree with those who aren’t. Don’t any of these guys answer to superiors in this hierarchical Church of ours? How, exactly, can the bishops expect the laity to respond to their leadership when their own priests are either ignoring the bishop or flat-out telling their parishioners that their personal ideas trump Church teaching in matters of mortal sin?

3. Nobody seems interested or able to answer the onslaught of attacks from the world at large that the laity is facing. We need leadership, and we’re not getting it. At the very least we need an acknowledgement of what the laity must endure in this post Christian America.

4. Too much catechesis in more liberal parishes preaches a little g social gospel that is almost totally silent on Church teaching about justice. On the other hand, too much catechesis in conservative parishes focuses on sanctity of life and marriage to the exclusion of social issues. Worse, they do this in a political, rather than a moral manner.

The American Church has grown soft. It is no longer the Church Militant. It seems more like the church self-indulgent.

I keep wanting to shake people and paraphrase the line from the movie Aliens, “Maybe you haven’t been keeping up with current events, but we’ve been getting our rear ends kicked.”

There is no reason to panic or sink into depression because of the recent losses in the courts and at the polls on social issues. We can turn that around. All it takes is the will and determination to do it on the part of the laity. 

That is the key, you know: The laity.

We’ve got the task of changing the world. The clergy has the task of catechizing/inspiring/leading us so that we are equipped to do that. Unfortunately, before the laity can convert the world, the laity itself needs to be converted. Too many Catholics treat Jesus as their cop-out instead of their Lord.

I know that’s a tall order for our priests. I also know that it most decidedly is not what a good many of our men in collars thought they were signing up for when they took their vows. Most of the priests we have today entered a priesthood rolling in automatic respect and trust for their calling which spilled over onto them personally. They saw themselves giving homilies, administering parishes, providing comfort, healing hurts, taking on an occasional pilgrimage and basically doing predictable and rewarding work throughout the long slide to safe and predictable retirement.

What has changed is that they now have to do all those things, with a call to battle heaped on top of it. They must somehow find a way to deal with demoralized and angry parishioners while they play catch up in preparing their people to be strong in their faith in the face of hostility, and learn how to convert a self-dissembling culture.

They’re not up to it. I know that.

But this is the our time. These are our challenges. And the job in front of us is the one the Holy Spirit has chosen for us.

We’ve got to support our priests who are trying to be faithful while learning how to do a whole new job and add it on top the job they already have. As for Catechesis, the parish and diocese which needs it the most are probably also the ones which will mount aggressive resistance to it. When priests try to teach what the Church teaches, parishioners who are also faithful to the Church need to stand by them absolutely, especially in the face of hostility from parishioners who have grown accustomed to the Church teaching what the world teaches.

Catechesis as we’ve been doing it is failing our children, our families, our Church and Our Lord. The evidence is all around us.

That’s the first fact we have to face. The second, which is that we must change our way of doing Catechesis, follows on its heels. Everything after that is detail.

 

 


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