Category Archives: Theological Thought

We Are Not to Worry. But What Does That Mean?

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God is in control.    God is my co-pilot.   God is the navigator.   Not my will, but Your will be done.

I was reflecting on the Gospel reading from this last weekend:   Matthew, Chapter 6, verses 24-34.

I won’t quote it all here, but among the text are a couple key quotes:

Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?
Why are you anxious about clothes?

Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?
Why are you anxious about clothes?

Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.

The Bible is an amazing thing, because it is all true and authoritative, but at the same time it is quite easy to take things out of context and in isolation.    The Bible has counterbalancing messages throughout.   One of the classic examples is the admonitions to feed the poor, and then Paul’s statement that says that if a man doesn’t work he doesn’t deserve to eat.   It is easy to pick one side and dig your heels in and apply that to everything, when in fact Jesus is talking about the less fortunate poor who either can’t work or would likely desire to earn a wage if offered, whereas Paul is focused on a community of able-bodied people who all need to do their part.

After Mass this last weekend a friend of mine, who knows I scrutinize finances and try to make sound financial decisions and plan for the future (and he is the same way), smirked a bit when asking me “how’d you like today’s Gospel?”    I could tell he was tweaking me a bit, and we engaged in it.   He was conflating “planning” with “worry”.   I disagreed with him, and I think by the end of our talk he was agreeing with me.

I think to read Jesus’ words here as some instruction to forego any and all planning is not only incorrect, but it’s actually counter to what He’s trying to get people to do here, which is to not worry, as in don’t be anxious.

My friend, as we talked, had the personal revelation that his planning is his way of actually not being anxious.    I agree with that.   Perhaps more important, good planning will help your loved ones not have to worry as much.   If I didn’t plan for the future, and didn’t have my affairs in order, it would cause grave headaches for my loved ones if something happened to me.   Stress, anxiety, and probably a bit of exasperation and anger would follow.

I always remember a personal example from our Homeschool group.   My wife was getting frustrated because they would schedule events and then they wouldn’t plan them.    The leader of the group at one point remarked about how they didn’t need to because the Holy Spirit just made it all come together at the end and somehow, some way, the events turned out fine.    While maybe this was true in its literalness, my wife’s observation was that she and a couple other moms always did 90% of the work because they would have been utterly embarrassed had everyone showed up to nothing.     So these three moms ended up feeling like they had to continue taking on this burden while the others extolled the wonder of the Holy Spirit bringing it all together.    There was finally a push for some structure and reorganization in the group that led to some rifts, unfortunately.   I guess my point is, if you think you’re living the gospel by not worrying, but your lack of attention in the name of not worrying leads to the anxiety of others, then you are not properly disposed to what you’re being called to do – in my opinion.

We Christians have struggled with this balance forever.  We are in constant conflict with the opposing ideas of the necessity of what we do versus what that means about our trust in God.    One can actually take this all the way back to the heart of arguments about predestination.

Here’s how I see it:   You should plan for the future and plan for contingencies.   We should do what we feel we need to do in prudent and responsible ways.   This is not lacking trust in God.   In fact, God is likely calling us to do some of these things.    But planning and taking action should ease your mind, and not burden it.    If you are not able to do everything you would like to do, but you are doing what you can, then you need at that point to not worry and trust in God.    If you are moving past prudence and trying to outsmart God by being ready for everything imaginable under the sun by relying only on your own wisdom, then you are trusting in yourself and not in God.   If you’ve planned for X and the unexpected Y happens, you need to trust that God will help see you through – or that this suffering has a greater purpose.   If you are obsessed with perfection, you need to relax and trust in God.

This covers a lot of areas, from finances, to married life, to health, to raising kids, and so on.   One should try to make good health choices.   That may mean you’ve decided to eat in a certain way, avoiding some foods not because they bother you physically but because you’re trying to stay healthy.  But at the same time if you are traveling or visiting and the food choice is not to your general health standards, and you become obsessed with the idea that eating that burger patty is going to take 2 years off your life, then you are not in balance.   That’s worry and anxiety and something of a lack of trust.

If you feel like a store of food and water is a good idea and you take some measures and you sleep well then that’s a good thing.    If you wake up every morning wondering what you haven’t done in the event that X, Y, or Z happens and you are never comfortable with what you’ve set aside or stockpiled, then you are out of balance.

My wife and I actually were talking on Saturday about the responsibility of raising kids.   The discussion turned to her concerns about them becoming godly persons, their salvation, and everything we may not be doing to make that happen.    I was agreeing that we need to do everything we can, but we’re humans and we will fall short and at some point we need to simply ask God to fill in for our deficiencies, and that He is not going to abandon them to the wolves just because we forgot to do this thing or that thing in the overall formation of their faith.    It was almost as if that Gospel reading on Sunday was for us.

So, you see, I may be a planner, but I’m really not a worrier.   My wife is.   I’m not speaking out of turn here – she’d say the same thing.   In fact, she may well say that I don’t worry enough, and I say she worries too much.   We’re both probably right.

If you do absolutely nothing, then that certainly can be trust in God.   But you should also assess whether or not it’s just simple laziness, and whether your lack of concern is affected others.   It could be argued at times that I am lazy.

Finally, I offer my preferred analogy of our participation in life with God.    It’s fine to recognize that “God is in control” as long as you don’t use it as an excuse to eschew your obligations.   I’m not the biggest fan of that phrase, not because I think it’s false, but I think it’s a bit misapplied to our purpose.   God is ultimately responsible for everything we are – He created us, has granted us our very life, has given us our abilities, and has single-handedly opened the doors of heaven to us.    He has all the power in the Universe to control every aspect of our lives.   But that doesn’t mean he exercises that power over all of our thoughts, words, and actions.   He doesn’t.   It doesn’t mean he moves us like pawns on a chess board, maneuvering us through every situation, while at the same time maneuvering those around us.    He may well intervene on occasion because He loves us, but the very fact that some of us end up sick or injured, or dead, is self-evidence that God allows things both in and out of our control to occur that bring with them certain undesirable outcomes.   I acknowledge that God is ultimately in control to the extent He desires it, and that he has the power of full control to the extent He exercises it.    He is also a navigator, but not necessarily “the” Navigator at all times, since we have a say in the direction we go.

The co-pilot analogy is also lacking a bit, since it sort of relegates God to a secondary back-up position in our lives.   I know that “co” can mean partnership and equality, but that’s usually not how co-pilots are referenced.   There is a pilot and a co-pilot.    It may be a better analogy to say I am God’s co-pilot.

I prefer the Navigator analogy, but with a twist.    If you imagine a ship with two rudders, one large rudder for large-scale directional movements and one rudder that allows quick reactionary movements along the broader path, I see God as the Navigator of the big rudder and we are navigators along the path we’re on.    I think God moves us directionally where we are to go.   I think we need to trust and not be anxious about that direction.    But that doesn’t mean all is clear sailing in a straight line.   We may need to navigate some rough waters or around islands or icebergs and what-not as we follow our path.   We can still crash on the path God sends us if we aren’t doing what we are supposed to be doing.   We have responsibilities to uphold to ensure that we get where we are intended to go.    And even that smaller rudder can ultimately change our direction if we continually push it in opposition to the big rudder.    God makes it difficult for us to move off the direction He has chosen for us, but not impossible.

So, don’t worry about planning.

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Fearing God, not just on Halloween

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So, I delve into the wisdom of Facebook Theology (I think I’ll trademark that.   I like it.)

On my timeline, one of my friends (an extended family member) posted this little bit of wisdom:

Common religious saying: ‘God fearing.’

New Testament of the Bible: ‘God is Unconditional Love.’

LOL.

 

My pithy response was simply “Both are correct.”    I really try to hold my tongue on Facebook for the most part, because you may have noticed that I can be opinionated and this doesn’t always serve me well, particularly when I think the point I’m debating is sheer lunacy.   Compassion and charity can take a sudden vacation at times.

But not to stop there, let’s view some of the other comments.   More Facebook Theological insight from the likes of people not quite at the level of, say, St. Thomas Aquinas.

“#mixedmessage”

“We were not created to fear God.   We were not meant to “fear” anything.   God is love.   We are love.   Therefore we all are one.”

Me:  Beyond the evidently failed logic class this person took in high school that somehow led them to the two-step conclusion that “We are not created to fear God” leads to the conclusion that “we are all one,” there are other issues with this.   If we were not meant to fear anything, God would have not created us with the emotion of fear.   Just like everything else about us, we can cripple ourselves with fear, or we can use fear as it was intended – to protect us, safeguard us, and take appropriate precautions.    To “fear” God is correct and natural in the sense that we recognize He has ultimate power and authority over us.   His benevolence, mercy, and love allows us to have a real loving relationship with Him, to befriend Him even.   But this does not negate His authority, and it does not negate the fact that with this authority comes with law and penalty.

Further, God wants us to come to Him however we can.   We learn that an “imperfect contrition” is going to confession for fear of Hell rather than the sadness in knowing that you have disappointed God, with a desire to repair the damage you’ve done to your relationship with God.    But imperfect or not, the Sacrament is valid.  God gets us.   And He’d rather us make it to heaven out of a fear of Hell than to not get there at all because of an improper sense of what the love of God is all about.     Yes, of course, God prefers that we love Him so much that we do not act out of fear.   This is a much more mature faith.   But to check fear at the door is to risk the sin of presumption.   There is still a proper place in your relationship with God for a properly disposed of sense of “fear.”   Fear may mean awe, respect, a bewilderment that God is impossible to completely understand, or at some level simply fear.

“I think it might be more realistic to assume that when one uses the term ‘God fearing’ it is implying a fear of God at a mass consciousness level in a rather negative way.”

Me:  No, that is not what it means.

“Actually the word ‘fear’ in the Bible is a mistranslation for the word ‘dance.’   So really it’s not supposed to be ‘fear god’ it’s ‘dance with your god.’ ”

Me:  To quote the original post:   “LOL”    Where do people get this crap?   Even if there is some alternate translation where the original Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic word for fear is similar to dance, trying to insert the word “dance” wherever “fear” shows up is insanely ridiculous.

I can see the next biblical translation now:   “And the angel appeared unto Mary, and she danced.   And the angel replied “dance not!”     I guess it changes the visual during my meditation of the Mystery of the Annunciation during Rosary time.

 

I don’t know why people even concerns themselves with these things.   I guess we just want to make God exactly what we want Him to be.    God loves me, therefore I can do no wrong.   No, people.   God loves all of us, but history shows that He also means business.   God is not emotional.   Everything is for a reason that has in its final purpose the salvation off as many people as possible.   We look at chastisements/punishments as anger or wrath because we’re dumb people who can only think in those terms.   It’s an apt enough description for the purpose it serves, but it also means that if we stray from God, and He doesn’t want to see us stray, He may take drastic measures that we don’t like at all.   And, yes, we should fear that.

Beyond that is the obvious analogy of parenting at the human level.   I love my kids and they say they love me.   If they don’t say that, they get no ice cream, but I think it may even be true.   Precisely because I love my kids, I want to see them grow up exhibiting certain behaviors.   I want this for their own salvation, I want it for their own ability to make a living, to be a good citizen, to have a life that is gifted with good decisions.We really do get along well.   We laugh and we play.   But they absolutely fear the consequences to misbehavior.   By extension, then, you could say they fear me.    And you know what?   I’m perfectly fine with that.   Ultimately, I would hope that they act the way they do out of love and respect for me.    But before they intellectually mature, they may just not do something because the fear the consequence of doing it.

Compared to God, we’re all toddlers.   Fear works.  Deal with it.

 

 

 

 

What Does Chastisement Look Like?

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From Romans:

chastisement18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; 21 for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23 and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. 29 They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters,[f] insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.

 

Reading this gives an interesting view of Chastisement.

I think our tendency in reading this is to focus on verses 26-32 and think about these things in terms of the target of God’s unhappiness with us – as the source of God’s wrath.   And certainly, these actions are noted as sinful and depraved so there is some element of truth to that.

Often enough, we see lamentations of the world around us – its immodesty and impurity, the continued degradation of social norms that were previously founded on Christian principles, but are now redefined by secular humanism, relativism, and liberal progressivism.   We view all these things and think that, surely, chastisement cannot be far behind.

What we are missing, I think, is that these things are chastisement.

Reading above, the real sin that brought on chastisement is:

  • those who by their wickedness suppress the truth.
  • for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him
  • they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened.
  • Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23 and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.

 

OK, so the last bullet point is a bit archaic, but the modern equivalence of it is money, self, and power.    It is also anything we spend our time on that detracts us from God and the responsibilities He has given us.   To some extent, we are all likely guilty of that.

A spiritual social decay does not start with sexual perversion or confusion.   It starts with a much more subtle turning from God.   It first starts by moving God out of the public square.   By discouraging prayer.   By being ungrateful.   By considering your own personal needs before the needs of others.   By greed.   By turning Sunday into a day spent on yourself with maybe some little sliver of time for God, or maybe not.

At some point, the relationship with God changes, but this change is a disaffection of the real valid relationship that we should have and becomes something of a fantasy.   When this becomes our own pervasive reality, we’ve lost our way.

Pretty soon, this whole thing morphs into either an unbelief, or some weird belief that what we do doesn’t really matter because God loves us and that’s that.   Our own “wisdom” in assessing our relationship with God is borne of just that – our own wisdom – and is not a reflection of the reality of what Scripture has to say, what the Church teaches is true, or from any study of the wisest of Saints that went before us.   We decide that God is Who we want Him to be.

This is the real sin that separates us and invites chastisement.   The question is, what does chastisement look like?

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

Notice that in Romans 1, we don’t get into the sins of impurity until after the “Therefore.”    The chastisement God sends us is not typically fire and brimstone.   It is ourselves apart from God.   Until this time, Paul seems to be saying that God recognizes that we are weak and protects us against ourselves.   He knows what brings us emptiness, heartbreak, desolation, and loneliness.   He doesn’t want that for us.   So He helps us, blesses us, gives us the grace to deal with many of life’s temptations and disorders.   He loves us.

But when we do not recognize any of this, and we are ungrateful for it, this is a sin against the very goodness of God Himself.   When we decide that God can be secondary in our lives, we are not loving God back.   The more and more we send God the message that we really don’t care that He is an instrumental part of our lives and culture, the more likely He will be to eventually give us what we desire – as stupid as that desire may be.

Paul writes that “God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts.”   Paul does not say that God imposed those lusts.   God basically said – OK, you want to do things without me, then go ahead.

One of the first evidences of this abandonment of God to ourselves is homosexual activity.   We too often fall into the trap of judging those who are imposing the acceptance of the homosexual agenda as a major root of the problem in this country.    In reality, this is a fruit of the problems that led God to removing His blessings from us in the first place.  But accepting sexual impurity outside of marriage became the norm well before homosexuality became the social revolution of our time.   The latter does not happen without the former preceding it, so it’s hardly the case that we can start hurling stones only with the advent of the gay marriage agenda.   No, the sexual revolution led to weaker families, fewer children, abortion on demand, and the beginning of the end of a healthy and functioning society.  Having made that bed, God turned us over and gave us the direct evidence of His handing us over to ourselves with the acceptance and celebration of homosexuality.   To blame gays for chastisement without recognizing the sinfulness that brought is to the point of accepting it is like blaming the sinking of the boat on the last gallon of water that bubbled up through the hole in the side.

But it doesn’t end there.

They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters,[f] insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.

The push for acceptance of the gay lifestyle started in earnest less than two decades ago.   We went from most people believing that marriage should be between a man and a woman to the Supreme Court signing off on it as law of the land.   We put our stamp of approval on this “progress” when we voted for Barack Obama the second time after this agenda became perfectly clear.    Shortly thereafter, the rest of society followed with basically that entire list.

And note the last line:  “they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.”   Think of the way Christians are now considered bigoted for their beliefs, and how “courageous” the practitioners of different sins are.   We openly encourage gay marriage as a good thing, and even a Godly thing.   Those who are against abortion are labeled as haters of women, while those who support abortion are considered to be on the higher moral plane.  Having only one or two children is considered more moral than welcoming a larger family – I’ve actually been called “selfish” for daring to have nine children.

No, I hate to say it, but Chastisement is not on its way.  It’s been unfolding before us for some time.   And the unfortunate result is that God will not step in and save us until we ask Him to do it.    And while it may be true that many among us are asking, if the country as a whole continues to act in defiance of Him by the way we act and the people we elect to serve as the example of what we stand for, then God will continue to allow us to live under our own “wisdom.”  And do any of us see a sudden welcoming of God back into our lives on a collective basis?   We can pray and hope for a miracle, but as of this point there is no such indication.

How bad will things need to get before we come to our collective senses?   Unfortunately, there is every likelihood that we are about to find out.

 

 

Male and Female He Created Them

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It’s one of the most fundamental aspects of creation.   Aside from all the theology of it all, God created us to procreate.   The mechanism by which He did this was to create man and woman.   This is not just true of the human race, but of all living creation, save certain exceptions that are either single-cell organisms or random things God seems to have created just because He can and enjoys messing with us a little bit.

Yes, it’s true that certain elements of creation are either non-gender (bacteria, for example) and propagate through cell division, or are hermaphrodites (both male and female) and reproduce all by themselves through some sort of kinky process I don’t really care to dwell on.   But there is one common characteristic that every aspect of reproducing creation shares:  the way you reproduce is the way you’re designed, and the way it’s meant to be.

Man, of course, is our focus here.   We are made in the image and likeness of God.   It may seem strange that God the Father, a Spirit and neither solely masculine nor feminine, created us as male and female.   But we need to keep in mind that our image and likeness is our spiritual nature.  God has no body, so there can be no physical form at all that would be a perfect reflection of God.    Further, God is not just the Father, but the Son and the Holy Spirit.

It has long been theologically accepted that the family is a reflection of the Trinity.  While the Trinity’s oneness is spiritual and not physical, our humanity requires a way to commune with each other physically in order to physically propagate.  The Holy Spirit is the result of the love between Father and Son, while our children are the result of the love between mother and father.

One thing that has been apparent from the beginning of the first moment of man’s existence is that the devil realizes that the best way to undermine God, to mock God, to pull people away from God, is to attack humanity precisely where we most reflect God’s design for us, and most reflect His very essence.

People have often pointed to “End Times” study – such as in Revelation – and noted that there seems to be a false prophet (mockery of John the Baptist) who precedes the Antichrist (mockery of Christ).   The Family is, of course, attacked continuously throughout all of salvation history.

One thing that has also been easy to see throughout all of history is the attack on the procreative aspect of sexuality.   Whether we are talking about sex outside of marriage, or sex for pure pleasure, or contraception, or homosexuality – when the procreative act takes place without the procreative aspect of it willfully and purposefully in play, then this is an attack and a mockery of the very love between Father and Son that produces the third Person of the Trinity eternally.   It’s a mockery, then, of the Trinity itself.

This has always been a human struggle, and in different times these things ebb and flow and rise and fall.   It is probably worse in our time than it has ever been, but it is not a new attack.   The attack just seems to be more successful in its acceptance and effectiveness in drawing people into error and away from God.

However, we are now seeing an attack that I believe is unprecedented in all of world history.   It is an attack on the very existence of human being being male or female.    It is so absurd on its surface that it is easy to not take it seriously.   And quite frankly, we shouldn’t even be having a debate about it.   It’s is self-evident that we are male and female.   But it shows how easily duped we humans are, particularly among the supposed intellectual elite – that this is even something we are now discussing.

The deception is insanely diabolical.   Homosexuality is problematic, but it does not by its nature deny the gender of the person, whether male or female.    Even someone who feels like they are a man trapped in a woman’s body or vice-versa is recognizing that there is such a distinction – male and female.

I am talking about people who are now believing, and convincing others to believe, that they are neither male nor are they female.   They dismiss gender as “binary.”

This may at first be viewed with a bit of eye-rolling and easy to dismiss.  Quite honestly, I am not sure I even heard of the concept as non-binary genderism until a year or two ago. But we ignore this heresy at our peril.   This is more than an attack on family, it is more than a mockery of the Trinity, it is more than any of the previous confusions in the realm of human sexuality and family.  This is new, and it is an attack on the very nature of humanity itself.   It is the utmost mockery of the human person, and of God’s design, and of God.

It is already the case that Canada is considering the passage of – and very well may pass – a bill that will make it a criminal offense to address a person by the pronouns “he” or “she” in lieu of “they.”    I’m not making this up.     Within the last year or two – really as soon as the Supreme Court OK’d same-sex marriage – the entire issue of transgenderism reached a fever pitch, and transgenderism evolved in meaning from a man feeling like he needs to become a woman and going through some action or process to make that happen, to now being able to just say he’s a woman because he feels that way regardless of his biological design, to being no such thing as a man or a woman.   We are all just non-binary creatures who have no business calling ourselves one thing or another because it offends the sensibilities of those around us who don’t accept that we are one thing or another.

This is such a devious attack on human nature by the devil that I don’t think any one at any time ever saw it coming.    I have read countless accounts – fictional and predictive – of what the world would become as we near the End Times or Chastisement or whatever.    Most of those accounts properly foresaw a world falling away from God, becoming more selfish and violent, increases in sexual perversions, and so on.    I never recall seeing anyone accurately forecast that a good chunk of humanity would devolve to a state where we utterly ignore our physical attributes and refuse to recognize our gender, and further that this group would gain acceptance and relevance to the point where governments would promote this idea, outlaw opposing views, and completely turn the argument around and call all those who oppose it from the very simple arguments of observation, reason, and logic immoral bigots.

It’s quite mad, and it’s the world we live in.

We all know, in the end, that God has His ultimate victory over the Devil.   We may or may not see that in our lifetime, but one wonders how long we can sustain such a path of utter disregard for humanity.   The one remaining step to absolute perdition seems to be laws that criminalize the belief that humans are any different than plants or animals.   We’ve seen people argue this in the past, and they’ve been dismissed as the lunatics that they are.    But we may soon see the day where they are no longer dismissed, but accepted and celebrated, and their ideas legislated in some form or fashion.

If I were God, I likely would have wiped us out long ago.   Thankfully for all of us, I am not God (despite what the Relativists think).   But the only way for Him to gain the ultimate victory here on earth can’t be pretty for anyone.

 

Relativism is Not New

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Someone I love dearly is a friend on Facebook, but I have to admit that I sometimes lose sleep and appetite over the way he lives his life, the choices he’s made, the agenda he proclaims, and what he posts.

In response to a post he made recently, which suggests that unconditional love means “accepting who he is” without question (which in his mind means celebrating his lifestyle, his choices, everything he believes, and so on) I responded accordingly:

“Unconditional love is some things and it is not other things.   By definition it means we are loved regardless of what we do, say, think, and believe.   It means we are loved whether we love God back or we neglect God and focus only on ourselves.   What it does not mean is that love is only love if we accept as true what another says, does, and believes.”

The response was frustrating, but unsurprising.   I’m going to dissect it piece by piece.

“My innate disagreement with your definition of unconditional love is that it is conditional.”

OK.  Got that?   This is why argument is futile.   Take something, turn it upside down, establish that as a premise, and all arguments flow from there.   The issue is that the premise here is poppycock.    It completely renders all subsequent arguments absurd.   And yet, this is his mindset.   How can unconditional love mean anything other than the fact that I (or God, or anyone) will love you no matter what.   You may be right, you may be wrong, you may be wonderful, you may be obnoxious…   but I love you anyway.

“…that stems from our idea of what the idea of “God” means.”

God is not an idea.   God is real.    It is true that we develop our own ideas of what the reality of God is.    So I kinda sorta maybe get what he’s saying here.   But I think he falls short of admitting the reality of an actual God, and I think he has succumbed to the idea of “God” actually being equivalent to “the idea of God.”

“In my eyes, as the very experience of God (which is love) in action, every single one of us are all true in what we say, do, and believe.”

This sounds wonderful.   It’s also nonsense.   It is pure relativism and it is amazing to me that anyone in his or her right mind can actually believe this.   The entire concept of all of us being all true in everything logically collapses on itself the moment I say I disagree with his statement.    If I disagree with him, then it means I don’t believe that we are all true in what we say, do, and believe.   Which either means I’m right about that or I’m wrong.   but according to him, I can’t be wrong, so I might be right.   But then that makes him wrong.   It’s an unwinnable position of paradox that is utterly simple to dismantle using lessons learned on Day One of logic class.

“That is what makes unconditional love – which really is a redundant term, if you break it down, because love cannot be conditional – so important.”

I’m not exactly sure what everyone being all true has to do with love being unconditional, but I will grant that real love is probably redundant with unconditional love.   I still think the term has explanatory merit.

“It allows all things to exist as they are.”

I really don’t get this line.   All things exist as they are regardless of whether I love you or hate you.   But whatever.

“It allows us to recognize the God essence of the perfection in what one another says, does, and believes, understanding that on the level of truth in which that being exists, it is perfect, it is “right,” and it is good.”

So, do you understand that?   Yeah…  me neither.    He does like to get all flowery with the language, and it is a Facebook response, so it probably was just a flowage of thought and words.   But, I think I can boil it down simply to the following:   Everyone has the essence of God, which makes us perfect, which makes us right in everything.   Which, of course, is utter nonsense.   But how do you go about convincing someone that they epitomize the perfection of God that they are wrong?   This is one problem with relativism – it defies all logic, but once embraced, there is no logical offense against it.

“Whether or not what another says, does, and believes rings true for another God essence makes no difference as to its “rightness,” because God does not evaluate itself based on the polarities of “right” and “wrong,” as love automatically transcends both polarities in the act of being expressed to a place where all beings’ choices are beautiful and perfect for them.”

Sigh.   It’s actually amazing to me, but in a sad way.   There is no acknowledgment here of an actual God.   Everything is an idea of God, a God essence.   The statement that “God does not evaluate itself” is actually true, but he is not talking about the being of God judging Himself.   He is talking about us all being God, which means we can’t judge each other, because we are all God and we can’t judge God.    I’ll be honest, this actually makes me a bit queasy when I really think about it.

“By loving unconditionally, we allow all perspectives to exist and evolve into their highest form.   Mandates of “right” and “wrong” pervert this allowance by judging what is good and bad, inducing guilt and fear, which is not God, which is not love.    Judgment, or condition, only indicates a lack of God in the being who is judging, not the one being judged.”

And here we go.   There is no right or wrong.    To judge anything at all induces guilt and fear.   And what does that mean?   It means that if you judge any thing at all – not a judgment of the soul or of a person’s salvation, but even anything they do or say – anything at all – then you are NOT God.

This is insane.

You may wonder how I responded.   I didn’t.   First of all, this person is family.   It’s a peacekeeping response by me to not respond.   Second of all, I know with certainty that he believes my view on things to be archaic.   He will not listen to me.   My job at this point is to pray that someone comes into his life that will help him realize this erroneous and dangerous path that he’s on.    He receives so much support from others when he posts that I am worried it won’t happen, but with God all things are possible.

Now, why did I mention that relativism is nothing new?

It’s because I am pretty sure he thinks that what he believes about God – or the God essence, or idea, or whatever the hell he believes – is a progressive idea.   It’s an evolution of thought.  It’s an evolution into self-divinity.

This is the oldest heresy.   It’s vanity and pride, and it’s the very first sin.   Satan tempted Adam and Eve by appealing to the very idea that by eating the fruit they will have the knowledge of God.   They bought into it and ate the apple, or apricot, or pear, or pomegranate or whatever that forbidden fruit happened to be.

So the flowery language and appearance of deep thought aside, relativism is more ancient and archaic than Catholicism is.

So,all you Relativists, put that in your pipe and smoke it.

The Prophetic – What is a Normal Person (hey… stop laughing!) to Make of it All?

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Anyone who has followed this blog knows that I have always had an interest in prophecy, but also knows that I’ve taken a skeptic-first view towards a lot of it.  You would also know that I place much higher value on sources that are either approved by the Church, or who are somehow recognized by the Church as a holy individual – a Venerable, a Blessed, or a Saint.   I’ve mentioned before that I consider the work “Trial, Tribulation, and Triumph” by Desmond A Birch to be one of the best compilations of reliable prophecy that I’ve seen.   I admit that I haven’t recently searched to see if others may exist.

Along the way, I have read with interest many of the more popular modern day seers.   Through no fault of their own, since… well…  most aren’t dead yet, they are not Venerables, Blesseds, or Saints.   Further, while I may weigh things that are Church Approved, this does not mean that messages being received today are not legitimate.   After all, at the time any and all prophetic messages occurred they weren’t yet approved.   So I do like to see what’s being claimed out there today, though I usually start with the premise that it’s not legitimate or reliable and it needs to be proven otherwise to my satisfaction.   Finally, it should always be noted that even legitimate occurrences are subject to human error – improper understanding of the message, a misstatement or confusing recollection of the message, and so forth.

It is an odd thing, Prophecy.   As a guy who has studied mathematics, computer science, Physics, and Chemistry and who makes his living as an Actuary I am firmly grounded in logic and understanding.    It may seem odd that someone who gravitates to the realms of the tangible and the explainable would be interested in the strange, mystical, and mushy realm of the prophetic.    But I do not see them as incompatible.    What is incompatible is getting emotionally tied to any one person or message, particularly to the point where if the Church would ever rule against them, your allegiance goes to the person you are following rather than the Church.   One should always be prepared to make a hard break if needed, and that needs to be as unemotional and as calculated as possible.   Because that’s where the facts come in, as Augustine so famously pronounced – Rome has spoken, the matter is closed.   That takes humility, as well, at times.   But it is what we are called to do.

Over time, I have remained open, but admittedly skeptical, of the events at Medjugorje.   I am not saying I would ever try to convince anyone that they are not true (unless the Church rules it as such), nor am I saying that I am totally convinced that they are not true.   I just have some concerns that I think are valid to consider, and I find it a bit more “safe” to question rather than blindly accept it.    After all, Public Revelation is complete and must be first and foremost.   Private Revelation may help clarify the state of current times, or be otherwise edifying, but it is not incumbent on us to devote our time and energy to it.

I have also reviewed the messages of Pedro Regis.   I have some major discomfort with those, and I have stopped spending any time keeping up on those.   The same is true of a series of messages from an anonymous seer who had a website, supposedly under spiritual direction, called “Words From Jesus.”   Overall, these messages were somewhat general and it started off interesting enough, but whenever specifics were presented they were hit and miss.   The nature of the messages was extremely repetitive.  I never have fully decided if they have merit, but decided to not focus too much on them.  One of my big stumbling blocks with those who receive continued messages day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year is that I just don’t get it.    Why does Mary or Jesus or anyone else need to say the same basic thing over and over again?    It’s to the point where Spirit Daily will have a headline whenever there is a message at Medjugorje that is slightly different in word or tone from the plethora of other messages.    OK, that’s fine, but we’re basically not paying any attention any more to all the other messages because we’ve heard it all before.   So, what then is the point? Now, a confession before lightning strike me dead and my head lands on the keyboard and a string of random letters is produced ad infinitum…   I humbly submit that I’m a human being who can’t begin to appreciate and understand how God works.   So, despite my rambling paragraph above, I can accept that I’m the one who doesn’t get it, that this all does serve a salvific purpose, and that one day Jesus will say, “Yeah…  you were kind of thick-headed on that whole Medjugorje thing.”   So, take that as my own opinion and nothing more.

So, all of this brings me to a guy named Charlie Johnston.  I have spent a lot of time over the last year reading and studying his blog (which you can go to by clicking his name above), watching available video, and gaining an understanding of where he’s coming from.   I have offered some comments/questions on some of his posts along the way, and was taken enough by the overall concept of The Storm that I composed a song in relation to that.   I originally planned to provide a detailed version of what he is saying, but quite honestly that is not necessary.   His own site, and links to other places that have done this already, are in line with what I would have written on it myself, so I would encourage anyone interested to take a look at his blog and do some digging around.

This isn’t my last word on Charlie.   The entire concept of a Storm that we are in, and heading towards with even greater fury, need not be the product of divine private revelation.   It’s common sense.    I have been noting it for a number of years myself, and I make no claim to any supernatural experience (save one, which I may share someday) that has shown this to me.   It’s apparent for anyone with eyes to see.    Now, having said that, I am in no way saying Charlie is not what he says he is.   I am simply saying that – whatever the source – the words and observations of the world we are in ring true, and thus the song.

I’ll be following up with all my thoughts on Charlie in a later post.   For now, I offer my own musical summary, entitled “When The Storm Comes.”    (More music of mine can be found by clicking on “Links to My Music” on the top of the page.

To Turn or Not to Turn

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His Eminence Robert Cardinal Sarah stirred the pot and excited some people in early June when he announced that he prefers and recommends that Priests celebrate Mass ad orientem.   As Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, it seemed a legitimate thought that he made these statements in an official capacity.  Waves of cheers rocked the traditionalist community and they saw that it was good.  Most of us shrugged, and said, “whatever.”

Cardinal Vincent Nichols chimed in with a different view in July and essentially poured cold water on the idea, at least for his archdiocese.   It seemed that Cardinal Nichols felt like this could lead to a bit of Liturgical anarchy, and perhaps even some sort of competition.    He directed that his priests should not interject preference into the Liturgy.    Cardinal Nichols now became the subject of scrutiny in traditionalist circles – was he even Catholic? – and they feared the tremendous progress made would be sabatoged.   Most of us shrugged and said “whatever.”

Then the Vatican itself went to the replay booth and essentially overturned the play.  It became clear that, despite his official capacity in his role, Robert Cardinal Sarah overstepped a bit and had not run this idea past Pope Francis before springing it on the world.    The traditionalists’ fears were now confirmed, the Pope hates them, and all is still lost.    Most of the rest of us shrugged and said “whatever.”

Personally, I find the entire thing silly on the one hand and troubling on the other.

I love my friends – many of them who strongly prefer a more traditional Liturgy, and would essentially love to see all masses revert back to the traditional Latin Mass.  I respect their preference and would never, ever tell them that their preference is wrong.   Further, even though it’s a little bit longer of a drive, there is an oratory in our area that celebrates the Latin Mass.   They have that option.   I suppose it would be nice to have a few more places celebrate Mass in that way so they didn’t need to work as hard for them to have that experience.

My issue is, as usual, with those who cannot let this go.   Who elevate their preference to a dogmatic level and want to force everyone to accept this as the “correct” Liturgical form – not merely a preference in form – and that anyone who doesn’t see it their way is somehow less serious about the faith than they are.   Unfortunately, this is a very real phenomenon.    It is actually part of what keeps me from adopting a more traditionalist bent, myself.   I see spiritual pride and judgment and I want to avoid that.

Do not misunderstand that I don’t know the arguments that are made for why people really prefer the ad orientem posture.   I do.  There’s a symbolism there I can appreciate.  There’s nice symbolism in all sorts of things, though.   We follow the Church’s guidance on what must be an element of Mass, what should be, what may be, and what cannot be.    We need a certain uniformity among all the faithful, and then there is room for preference as long as it is within the guidance of Liturgical norms.   If you want to go to a church that celebrates in one way, then go ahead, but don’t tell me I need to want or desire that.   The same can be true of more liberal interpretations of the Liturgy, as well.   And I’m not saying there aren’t lines that get crossed – there are.   When things move from a preference that is allowable to something that is actually discouraged or outright impermissible, I don’t shrug.   That is simply wrong, and needs to be called out.   but this is NOT one of those things, as the GIRM currently stands.

The following cartoon has made the rounds:

This is stupid.

I will borrow my arguments from a Facebook exchange I read in discussing this cartoon.    But in general, the cartoon is trying to make the point that the Priest is turning his back to Jesus.    This is just unnecessary divisive.   Which, excuse the tangent here, is my main issue.   Why are we constantly arguing and hating on each other over things like this?    Do we really believe that God wants this to be the issue that leads our heart to determine that the Pope must be the Antichrist?    Seriously…

Anyway – again borrowing arguments from others:  Jesus is actually at the right hand of God the Father.  We don’t praise His image on the crucifix.   We may desire to look at it while we praise Him to help us focus on our image of Him and a reminder of what He went through, but it is not necessary to face the crucifix to pray to God.   Further, God is with us in our midst wherever any number are gathered in His name.    There is no requirement that we all face the same direction to acknowledge that.   Third, the altar is where Christ becomes physically present to us.   When the Priest consecrates the hosts and the wine he is facing Jesus.   So are we.   What difference does it make whether Jesus is between us or at one end of the line?

And yes, I know that there is more to it than that – the Priest is “leading” us.   But that’s not the point of the cartoon, so I’m responding to that whole “what makes more sense” bit.  Probably the only remotely reasonable argument I heard on this from the pro- camp was that it would have been a better representation above if it were the tabernacle instead of the crucifix.   I can buy that to an extent, but it’s not as if the tabernacle is ignored and dismissed during Mass.   Great reverence is paid to it.   Further, again, the altar is more the focus of the Mass itself, anyway, and the physical presence of Jesus that is in the tabernacle until communion became manifest on the altar.

Interestingly, the vast majority of Catholics probably don’t even realize this debate is going on.   If you’d bring it up they’d be all like “Uh…  what?”   Many people would default to the idea that this, in and of itself, is a bad thing.    We all need to be better educated and understand why this is important, and only then can we all be enlightened and think like they do.    I’m being a bit overboard here – I do think it is important to understand, but I also can’t really help but think about all the old ladies throughout the years who never concerned themselves with much other than going to Mass, praying the Rosary, and feeding their families.    The greater debates of the Church throughout the centuries more often than not took place without them having any particular clue about it.

I like that simple faith.    I try to abide by that as much as I can.   If the Church and the Pope says it’s OK, then I’m fine.   If they say it’s not, I’m fine.   If they need to change something, I’m fine.

I guess you need people to push and ask questions and keep things in check.   That’s OK, too.    I think some are called to that, but I think most are not.    Further, those that are called to it have a unique responsibility to do so in a manner befitting a Christian, and not create unnecessary division while they are doing so.   In extreme cases, some division must occur, but in most cases it does not have to.

Until then, I’m firmly in the camp that shrugs and says “whatever.”