Thursday, July 31, 2008

Borrow some Billy Joel lyrics: Allentown

Well we're living here in Allentown
And they're closing all the factories down
Out in Bethlehem they're killing time
Filling out forms
Standing in line.


So the graduations hang on the wall
But they never really helped us at all
No they never taught us what was real
Iron and coke,
Chromium steel.

And we're waiting here in Allentown.
But they've taken all the coal from the ground
And the union people crawled awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah

aaaaaaaaaaah aaaaaah.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Taking a break from blogging

God's love but reality of hell not contradictions

Understanding God: his love and hell not contradictions

There is a false logic among many today. Part of it is understandable because it involves understanding the infinite capacity and mystery of God. But part of the false logic is not excusable, because generations before these modern ones have been able to figure it out just fine.

There is no contradiction between God’s love for each and every one of his children, and God’s capability to have the existence of hell and to cast some, or even many if must be, into it. Those who promote this supposed “contradiction” do so to try to weaken faith in God’s dogma and exhortations, so that they can decide what acts are sins and what are not. People today are honestly so delusional that they think they can “argue against the existence of hell” because “the Bible says God loves everyone.” They totally ignore both scripture about the penalty for continuing sin AND they ignore even common sense about human love, and so forget that common sense applies to God too, who is the originator of both love and common sense, among all else.

The Bible explains that in the beginning, God created humankind in his image. That does not mean that literally God looks like some super huge human floating in space. What it means (and remember, the information in Genesis was given to Moses directly by God, who was present with God “in person” on many occasions) is that humans were created in an image that is pleasing to God. God created an image (the structure and biology) of humans the way that he did because they reflect his goodness. By goodness I do not mean perfection, but goodness means it maximizes the potential for life, love and worthiness. That is why God said his creation is “good,” because it is the maximized structure for promoting life, growth, thriving, joy and love. So the human body was “designed,” if you will use that word, by God because it is, along with the rest of creation, it is “good,” but also because it is in God’s image, in that it reflects the gifts that he bestows on humans in harmony with his intentions for them.

Using that same understanding of scripture regarding the body, you must recognize that each person’s soul is also God’s creation. Each person’s soul is created by God and sent to that body before its birth. I’ve cited that Biblical passage in previous posts, and it appears on a lot of pro-life bumper stickers. Therefore, whatever God creates in heaven is “good” too. So every single soul that God creates is good and equal in his eyes. There are no “genetic defect souls” created by God in heaven. Every soul leaves heaven to enter the body (the temple of the soul during its one life on earth, or anywhere else, since there is no reincarnation). Every soul is created by God in heaven, which is the place where only goodness and God’s will is manifest and in existence. Therefore God loves every one of his children and they are all truly “his children,” as he personally creates each soul the moment that a human embryo is created and is “quickened” (alive and growing in the womb).

From that point on human weakness and sin are able to have some degree of control over the soul, because the soul is housed in the temple of the body. Don’t forget that each soul has a guardian angel as the sign of God’s love for that soul upon its birth. However, the soul is now housed in a temporal body, one that has physical, mental, emotional and spiritual weaknesses throughout its life. So, for example, the beloved soul could be in the body of an infant with a genetic defect. The soul does not have a “genetic defect” or “a past,” but the soul is housed in a body that by definition has a lifespan and physical and environmental limitations. So the soul is vulnerable to the body within which it is born and also its surrounding family, society and environment. This is one reason that Jesus demonstrated God’s love in the most dramatic way possible, by healing those who were ill, including those with genetic or other defects. He was demonstrating by action that such defects are not “the fault” (as was commonly believed by the people of that time) of the sufferer and also Jesus was demonstrating God’s continuing love for those crippled, with mental defects, and other illnesses that today’s humans understand are often genetic defects (crippled from birth rather than from a workplace accident, for example). Jesus demonstrated repeatedly that the soul of each person is known to God, loved by God, and even if the body is defective in some way, it is not the “fault” of the soul of that person. That is one reason that the public ministry of Jesus involved healing hundreds of people in a village at a time. It’s not that he had to make the point that he had “the power from God” to perform miracles. That became obvious with “just a few miracles,” else why did so many come when they received word of just one healing? No, the fullness of reason for Jesus healing thousands during his public ministry was that he was refuting in the faces of those who viewed defect in illness or body and hardship (such as poverty) as being “punishment for sin” (and hence God “withholding favor, i.e. love).

God further provided commandments and laws, reinforced by the Prophets, to give guidance to each of those souls that he loves. God certainly knows the weaknesses of humans, some understandable (fear of death and the tendency to covet and seek to dominate others) and other weaknesses that are, while no mystery to God, less “understandable.” This includes the tendency toward lack of gratitude toward God when one had been abundantly blessed in life, the desire to “replace God” by elevating one’s self, the desire to destroy other people’s happiness and lead them astray, fascination with the morbid and the culture of death, and the exploitation of children. So it’s not like God creates humans, each with a soul that is good and that he loves, and then throws them into the earthly pit to sort things out themselves, knowing full well that in their weakness they can’t. Therefore God gave clear instructions about how to worship and obey him and how to treat each other. Obviously that is further evidence of God’s love. A drug addict may not think that commandments and laws about how to have a good life is a good idea, but consider the source. People who want to enable unhealthy behavior are those who refuse to believe that structure and boundaries are the ongoing signs of God’s love.

And so, this is where it is possible to fully understand that God can love each person, but also be able to cast them upon their death into hell. People who go to hell do so because they reject God’s love as it truly is, and not as they imagine it to be (so they can do as they please to themselves and to others). I know that it is easier to understand using human type of examples, so I will use two analogies here.

Suppose that a set of parents have a child that goes on to be a terrible mass murderer or other notorious criminal (beating a baby to death, for example). And suppose in our analogy that the parents have no guilt in their child’s outcome (they weren’t abusers themselves and gave the child a normal and loving life). How do they “continue to love” their child? Many do while many don’t. We read about it in the papers. Some parents refute their criminal child, while others say they still love him or her. God is actually like both of them. The ones who refute their child do so because they cannot reconcile in their own morality the actions of the child that he or she chose to take (remember, I’m not using examples where the child is insane, or was abused, etc). This is a simple analogy where it is an invitation for the reader to “try on” the scenario that I offer in order to better understand. So if you raised a child who had everything normal and good, and then for no reason other than criminality the child does something incredibly horrible, it is possible and understandable that the parents could stop loving that child. Think of them as having to emotionally disconnect and while not doing anything to harm the child, they “let justice take its course.” Hell, therefore, is the justice system. People who reject God find themselves in the place where “justice has to take its course” and that is how God “feels.”

Now, you must also understand the parents who continue to love their child, the one in this analogy who does something incredibly horrible so that society suffers and must put him in prison and perhaps even the death penalty in those countries. How do parents continue to love their child when the child has willfully (again, not for reasons of mental illness or previous abuse) has done something inexplicably horrible? The answer in interviews is almost always, "He (or she) is still my child.” While the parent could not explain it if you asked them, what they are doing is preserving the image of the child “before the crime” and referencing that, both consciously and subconsciously. In other words, they “bring the love to the present based on the past.” They look at the child and do not see the criminal, but see the child he or she was “before the crime.” A mom, for example, will look at the adult child in prison and see, unconsciously, in her mind, the child that sat on her lap when he or she was young. The mom would swear that she loves the current depraved criminal child, but she really loves the child that he was “before” and is able to maintain the strength of that feeling in the face of reality. And that is how God is too. This is why God is able to forgive even the worse sins right up until the person dies. That is the real meaning of God “hates the sin but loves the sinner.” God is not having a loving relationship with the person who is on the path to hell of his or her own choosing. But God can immediately reference the “original love” of that person if they only mend their ways and take themselves off the path to hell. God gives repeated chances but remember, just to finish our analogy that he feels equal love for the persons who were harmed by the criminal. So people who try to twist God’s love into an argument against hell forget that God loves everyone, and it’s not “all about the sinner.” God can forgive if it is totally sincere right up to the last moment even the worst of crimes and sins, but if his forgiveness is not sought, then God will not forget the love of those that the criminal and sinner have harmed. And that is when hell in the form of “justice” takes its course. God feels sadness right up to the death of the unrepentant sinner, and the “original love” that God felt for that person before he or she willfully took the wrong path is there at hand to be restored if they repent. But the love “expires” when the unrepentant person expires. So God does not mourn or miss the person who is cast into hell.

I need to make one thing very clear. God does not “love” the criminal and sinner as they are performing the thoughts and deeds that are putting them on the path to hell. So the idea that God’s “loving the sinner” as he or she is sinning (and I mean the egregious and/or continuing “hell earning” types of sin) is totally false. People who think that obviously never read or understood the furious God who thunders his rage either directly or through the Prophets throughout the Old Testament. Folks, when people are idol worshipping, sacrificing infants to false gods, and living terrible lives of defiance to God, God’s “really not that into you.” God does not love the egregious and continuing sinners as they are doing their misdeeds. But God has access to the “original love” that he had for that person, which is why God is able to forgive even the worst at the moment the sinner genuinely repents (and is not cynically manipulating sin with the timing of his confession). God “loves the sinner but hates the sin” is a shorthand that previous pious generations really understood, since they were well versed in the events in the Old Testament that “loves the sinner” means “keeps giving them another chance to repent,” rather than feelings of paternal affection, which God most assuredly does not feel. It is just these unbelieving and sinful recent generations that willfully misunderstand that maxim.

This is why the Prophets warned frequently that God will “harden his heart.” What that means is that God will “let the chips fall as they may” and will no longer send the Holy Spirit to soften the heart of the sinner to try to get him or her to see the error of their ways. In an extreme example God will withhold intervening on the side of the sinner when he or she is in peril or illness. In other words, while God might have answered prayers to prolong the life of even a terrible sinner (and thus give him or her unmerited extra years to come to their senses and repent), God will stand aside and let the calamity or illness take the person before they repent (if they ever would). The Prophets understood this very well and tried to get to understand and dread that point of no return those that they preached to. You see reference to the hardening of the heart over and over in the Bible and it is there not as a warning against saturated fats but to correctly strike dread that God’s love of people who continually sin is not unending and without limits. God will AND DOES “write continual sinners off.” God does this in a number of ways 1) he may raise up an actual enemy or mishap to strike down the person rather than continue to “wait” for the person to repent before death (and it is too late to repent after death), 2) God may withhold a miraculous or blessed intervention that the unrepentant sinner might have otherwise received, 3) God might smite some of the enablers of the sinner, hoping that the message comes across (but that means he hardened his heart toward those enablers, obviously) or 4) God will stop sending the Holy Spirit to soften the heart of the sinner and just “wait the sinner out” until he or she dies, and then ends up in hell.

That is why the pious religious scholars have always understood that “fearing the Lord” does not mean living in fear of him doing a “bad thing,” but living in fear that you will lose his love. People who continually sin do indeed as they live and sin lose God’s love. The difference between humans and God in this regard, though, is that God can instantly restore the love if the sinner genuinely repents. But God certainly does not love the sinner WHILE he or she is sinning (and again, I mean the hell earning really egregious stuff, though that also includes a continuous pattern of what people might think are “minor” sins). Here is the second human example in order to better understand.

Judas was born with a good and loved soul just as everyone else has. Judas also lived his life loved by God. We know that because when Jesus called him as one of the Twelve Apostles Judas was not mentioned as a reformed sinner, so we know he had a good and pious life, and therefore was loved by God. I hope what I’ve explained above now gives readers an “Ah ha” moment. Many today wonder “why would Jesus select as an Apostle the one who would betray him?” Well, trust me, if God withheld his love from everyone who, if put in the position to betray, would do so, there’s a whole lot of people who God would not love, and the world’s existence would be dubious. Rather than think of Judas as the only guy in Israel who was “meant” to betray Jesus, think of him as fulfilling the odds. Remember, many disciples abandoned Jesus when he first explained the forthcoming sacrament of the Holy Eucharist as the “eating of his flesh.” Scriptures record that many disciples left him right then and there. So as a human, you, my readers, and I all know that anytime you put together an organization of any kind, someone in it is going to stab you in the back. There were plenty of “potential Judas’s” who obviously did not get called by Jesus. Human nature being as it is, the odds (and I don’t mean this mystically, but just in the sense of “high likelihood”) are that one of the Apostles would have sold out Jesus.

I mean, please. How holy and faithful do you think the population was as a whole? You think that Judas was literally the only guy in the whole Mediterranean region who was “meant” to betray Jesus? See, this is the difference between God knowing all, and God “setting things up like it’s a game of robots.” God knows humans better than anyone, obviously. I mean, think about it. The Israelites could not wait for Moses to go up the mountain to meet with God so they could create a gold calf and worship idols. I mean, God was RIGHT THERE WITH THEM, and they sinned as offensively as they could. Obviously that when the Messiah was sent, someone was going to betray him. In the fullness of God’s knowledge obviously God know “who that was going to be.” But that’s vastly different than thinking that everyone else was just lovely and wonderful, and so God had to put bad old Judas in there to fulfill the prophecies! Whew, don’t worry about prophecies about back stabbers being fulfilled, there are LOTS of humans who are eager to fill that role, and that’s always been true. And in fairness, look at how many disciples abandoned Jesus just because they could not understand hard concepts and words from him. How much more easy is it to understand that someone would bail out and have “Satan enter them” when the path took them to Jerusalem, to Jesus throwing money changers out of the temple, with Jesus defying the corrupt authorities, and with the path going to the foot of the cross? If not Judas than somebody who filled that “slot” in the Apostles would have betrayed Jesus. That is what the prophecies foresaw. The same humans who create a golden calf right while Moses is meeting with God “on the next floor” (up the mountain) are obviously going to always produce a betrayer. God does not have to “set that up.”

So Judas had the same good soul as everyone else has, and Judas was loved by God, and Jesus, the same as everyone else. We get the impression that he might have been a bit of a cranky person and that this would have been a cross to bear to be his friend, don’t we? We all have friends and relatives like that. Being cranky and ornery about money and charity is hardly a reason for Jesus, or God, to not love someone. Like I said, if so, that would narrow the potential love of humanity quite a bit. Most of my previous friends have not been pleasant or nice to be around, but I accommodated them. And so it was with Judas, who might have been prickly and difficult, but who was still loved by Jesus and by God right up until the moment he stepped onto that path of betrayal.

So, to continue using Judas as the example of how love and hell are not incompatible concepts regarding God, Judas lost the love of God the moment he decided to betray Jesus. When one stops loving and obeying God, “Satan enters.” In other words, other things become more important than God. When that happens God is not in a state of loving that person, who has now taken actions as a result of him defying God and denying love and obedience to God. However, like every other human being, knowledge of their “original love” remains preserved in God. If Judas had repented at any point before his death he would have had God’s love restored and had been saved. Priests often sermonize on this point because it is a crucial one to understand. Judas’ ultimate sin of damnation was not the betrayal, but the despair. If Judas in his remorse had not despaired, but had trusted in God to restore his love and his mercy, Judas would have lived and been saved. I’ve written about this point before and as I said, Catholic priests frequently try to explain it. This is why one of the unforgivable sins against the Holy Spirit is despair. When one despairs, one labels God as being too weak or unable to fix one of your problems. That’s just as bad, if not worse, than not believing in God at all.

If you study the entire Bible with faith and reasoning as I demonstrate in this example, you are empowered to see right through a lot of the New Age garbage about “destiny” and revisionist attempts to dilute God and Jesus, such as making it like Judas was some sort of special guy with a “wink, wink” partnership with Jesus to betray him. Nothing could be further from the truth. Someone was going to betray Jesus because that is human nature. Judas was the one who actually did it. I’m not saying that if Judas had not done it then one of the other Twelve would have, no, far from it. I’m saying that if Judas was not selected, whoever else was selected for that position of the Twelve would have done it. That was all foreshadowed through the continuing crisis of faith throughout the Israelites faith history AND in the followers of Jesus when many disciples left him rather than understand one difficult aspect of his teaching (what would develop into the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist). It’s worth it to think about that a bit more. The Gospels report that many left Jesus, thinking he was referring to cannibalism. It is not at all implausible that faith history could have gone as follows. They run off and tell everyone they meet that this Jesus prophet is advocating cannibalism. Self righteous zealots seek him out and stone him to death (remember, even the people of his own town tried to kill him). Jesus is buried, after being stoned to death, and on the third day he arises from the dead. The people who called him a cannibal go down in Gospel history as the betrayer, the “Judas,” while actual Judas remains an Apostle in good standing and, along with the rest of them, witness to the resurrection of Jesus. We actually would have gotten to nearly the same place if that had occurred, because it is not the method of death (or the betrayer) who defined Jesus as Messiah, but him resurrecting and ascending into heaven.

Now, the reason I put that scenario forward is to try to help people to understand the difference between prophecy and game board walking talking robots. David and Isaiah both prophesied about Jesus, correctly seeing that he would escape all death threats and danger until the actual confrontation with the high powers of the day and his crucifixion. That is the real meaning of Judas, the betrayal, Jesus, the crucifixion and the resurrection. “It all would have worked out to God’s will” “even if” people had stoned Jesus to death for supposedly preaching cannibalism, so long as Jesus died, resurrected and ascended into heaven. God does not have to “micromanage” who does what to whom. Like I said, trust me, a whole lot of people are potential cowards and betrayers; it did not have to be Judas. But the prophets foresaw that Jesus would be able to “take it to the very end” or “take it to the top,” and thus the confrontation with the high priests, the judgment by Herod and by Pontius Pilate and the crucifixion. The prophets foresaw how far Jesus would be able to take it, and of course God and Jesus knew that Judas would be the person who betrayed him. But it would have unfolded anyway in similar fashion because as I point out, that is the continuing weakness of humans, that there is always someone who through weakness, inflation or evil will step into that role. I hope this also helps you understand freedom of will and choice, as God sees it. God does not have to move people like chess pieces and that is actually anathema to him. God “spends a lot of his time” trying to get people on their own to do the right thing. How else can I illustrate to you such an opposite as the New Age garbage of “destiny” and “doom?” God, through the Holy Spirit, tries to get everyone, whose souls he equally created and loved, to do the right thing. God will do that until the very end. He doesn’t have to manipulate bad behavior from humans, goodness, far from it, he is constantly trying to win human’s love and obedience. So “if not Judas then it would have been someone else” and “if only Judas had repented instead of despaired he could have been saved.”

If Judas had believed in the power of God to fix and forgive anything, he would have been saved and have been a mighty witness to God’s mercy. God kept that image of his “original love” for Judas right up to the end. But in the end Judas is the one who, despairing of his sin, still rejected God’s power to fix. It is especially ironic because committing suicide of despair was such a pagan thing to do, and Judas was by all accounts if anything an overly zealous Jewish believer. But it would not be fair to leave it with making him look like the complete fool. Because of those times, where people really did not understand the fullness of God’s love, it is more understandable that even a pious Jew would take a pagan stance of despair. Why? Because remember, as I said, during those times, even the weak, the crippled and the poor were viewed as being unloved by God and being “punished for their sins or their families’ sins.” When Jesus defied that and taught how God loves all equally, and cured these “sinners,” he shocked the haughty and misguided establishment. So it is not surprising that Judas would not have fully absorbed what Jesus had been teaching right in front of him and applied it to himself. That is the “wiggle room for mercy” in the story of Judas and his fate when God judged him. Pious scholarship of those times actually taught that the downtrodden were there on the bottom and suffering due to God punishing them for individual or family sin and faults. Judas would have had that kind of programming in his morality and religious internal compass. Jesus explained to the Apostles that what he brought with the New Covenant was so radical that they would hear first and then believe and understand later. The concept that suffering was not punishment for sin was radical and new not just for the Israelites but for most of the world view at that time (hence the pagans’ insistence on sacrificing to gods, out of fear of losing their positions and being punished). So it would not be entirely fair to say that Judas should have known better than to despair of God’s mercy to forgive because Judas was a product of times that had a very warped view.

In a way it was Saul who became St. Paul who demonstrated what Judas could have demonstrated: the power of God’s love and forgiveness, and the ability of God to fix anything, if humans only cooperate, obey and repent. That’s what I mean by understanding the difference between true prophecy and pagan garbage about “destiny” and “doom.” Some persons some place some where is certain to be really, really, really wicked and then see the light and turn really, really, really good and really, really, really saved. Judas in theory “could have been that first example” had he repented and not despaired and taken his own life without giving God the chance to forgive and heal him. Imagine if he had done so, if he had repented and sought God’s forgiveness and protection. Even if he had been forever shunned he would have evangelized somewhere and had been powerful witness to the greater glory and merciful forgiveness of God. And then Saul who became St. Paul would likewise have had his road to Damascus, being the second example of the ability of God to forgive and transform even the greatest evils, if the humans repent, obey and cooperate in their salvation.

But it unfolded without manipulation, without God having to move the chess pieces, because that was the whole point. God sent Jesus to an imperfect people and as the Prophets before Jesus all knew from personal experience, and from divine gift, reformation of the corrupted religious structure was going to be rejected. See, Jesus did not only redeem people but he reformed them too. Jesus did this by putting a human face and understandable words to God’s love. Jesus reformed, for example, the view that the poor, the crippled, the ill and the downtrodden were there because of their own sinfulness. In one generation Jesus sent out into the world people who understood first hand that God loves everyone, views all as God's own children, and that their individual misfortunes were not due to some rejection by God due to some mythological sin. (I cannot get over how that crap, this time in the form of “destiny,” “past lives” and “karma” has erupted again in these times and ruined so many lives as a result). Two thousand years ago Jesus, speaking explicitly on behalf of God, refuted such cruel beliefs and reformed entire pieces of societal values at the same time. But then again, like I said, remember that the people of the Exodus could not wait for Moses to go up the mountain and talk to God so they could make themselves some golden calf to dance around and worship. There is that tragic flaw in human nature that makes them want to believe in supernatural powers to diminish God and to inflate their own powers (and provide convenient excuses for bad behavior). Neglect of the poor and downtrodden is much easier if you think they are there due to their own fault or, to put in “modern” terms, “karma.”

There is this strange perversity in humans that ebbs and flows over various eras, but is persistent and very strong in today’s sad and warped world. In the world of perversity one claims that God loves you while doing the worst sins, and then boo hoo’s that God does not love people when something doesn’t go their way. Today in a nearby city the news broke that an itinerant and “much loved” pastor was preaching for years while having his wife stored in a freezer and sexually molesting his oldest daughter (and no, this is not a Catholic, but a non denominational itinerant preacher). This guy is actually preaching God’s love while sexually abusing his oldest daughter and possibly having murdered his wife. Incredibly, this guy was giving a sermon on “forgiveness” as the police arrived to arrest him. I’m not sure there is a more cynical example of someone the least suited to ascribe or describe God’s love than this guy, and yet, is anyone really shocked anymore? It is like a perverse insanity has taken over much of modern society when it comes to their understanding of God’s love. They actually trot out “God’s love and forgiveness” when doing the most heinous depraved acts, and then cry for God’s love when they don’t get something profane and material that they want. And THEN atheists use the contrarian perversity of these sinners as “evidence that ‘your’ God does not exist, or is a cruel and mean one.” Huh? The worse that humans behave and the more they twist what God says, THAT’S evidence God “does not exist?” Nope, sorry, what it should make you realize is that people have certainly misunderstood, often willfully, the adage that God “loves you no matter what.” No, he doesn’t, and that’s why there is a hell for those who put themselves on the path. God, however, is able to forgive and save those genuinely repentant but that does not mean they will not be punished. I really am speechless when I read about things like this pastor, who is already “preaching forgiveness” even as his wife’s body is being found in the freezer and his daughter is at the police station describing her abuse. Who is he kidding? Not God.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Another example to help analysis/clear thinking

What can you tell about the type of book a person owns? Here is another quick lesson in faith and reason and ability to think through a problem or question accurately. The answer to this question is not as easy and obvious as it seems. Again, I present this example in good faith open dialogue, not as hidden message/anagram or words that perverts who have porn, for example, can derive comfort from. The reason I am raising this as our next intellectual and reasoning skills question is that the shooter in the UU church had certain conservative books that made the headlines as people looked for reasons as to why he committed his horrible acts. I realized right away this is a great case study topic in general, and from this point on I am no longer referring to the UU church shooter and his books. I just got the idea for this topic from that subject. OK? OK.

Let’s start by understanding that there is never an obvious reason why someone has a book because by definition there are two equally plausible totally opposite scenarios. One is that a person owns a book because they want to learn about the topic and they know nothing about it. The opposite equally plausible explanation is that the person is an expert in that subject and collects books on that subject.

Think about it. Use even the example of the Bible. A person visits another person’s home and notices a Bible. They immediately jump to a conclusion based on their own narrow mindedness and prejudices. They assume the person is a “Bible thumper.” But what if the person grew up with no religion at all, and in some forum, such as an AA meeting, decided to get one and see what it is all about, in case it helps them with recovery? So there are two equally plausible opposite end of the spectrum reasons about why someone might have a Bible. And if those are the two ends of the spectrum (expert on book subject and wants more vs. knows nothing about the subject and may be having first look which may or may not develop into liking it at all), obviously logical indicates there are a multitude of reasons in between. What if the person is a rare book collector, but not a believer? What if the person is a believer and does collect various editions? What if one denomination is checking out the Bible of another denomination? What if it is just a sentimental family artifact, inherited from the grandparents, for example. What if it doesn’t belong to the person but was left there by someone else? What if the child in the family is going through religious instructions but the parents are not? What if someone is taking a literature course and the Bible is being studied as originator of much of Western literature during certain eras? What if the person is an artist and wanted the art work in the Bible for aesthetic reasons? What if the person is an editor, scholar or book reviewer, and planning to do a review of that Bible edition? What if it was a gift and an opinion has not yet been formed? What if it is going to be a gift to someone, or a donation? What if the person had it because they stole it from a hotel because they are anti-Christian, and they had not yet disposed of it yet? What if the person had bought a garage sale grab bag and the Bible was in it? What if, what if, what if? How do you ever know the answer?

Well, duh, jumping to an unspoken conclusion based on a negative agenda is never enlightening. So the first way to find out is to ask the person about the Bible. Nothing like opening one’s mouth to actually ask a question rather than jump to a conclusion. So never jump to a conclusion about why someone has a book, especially before you even have a dialogue.

The second consideration is the age and stage of life of a person. Do you buy or read the same types of books that you did ten years ago or twenty years ago? Usually the answer to that is yes and no. For example, a person may be a lifelong fan of certain types of fiction, such as fantasy, science fiction, westerns, murder mysteries, romance novels etc. So while not always true, since tastes change, it is not unusual that a person who is a steady reader of books will have a certain type of literature or “escapist” novels that they will gravitate toward for long periods in their life. But often people change their taste as they just become sick of a type of book, the quality goes down, or a more interesting alternative arises. Self help books are an example of a genre of “nonfiction” (though most of them are fiction if people were being honest and ethical about it) that people tend to read during a phase in their life. An obvious example is that contently retired people tend not to read self help books, while younger people who are churning in some part of life tend to read self help books.

But when it comes to nonfiction books, tastes really do change with age. First of all, there are fads, such as the ever popular cookbooks, where a personality stimulates an interest in some topic, or new interest in food, or a type of nutrition or diet plan, develops. Second, though, there is a shift that takes place in many people as they age, though much less than it used to be (since so much of the population tries to stay juvenile in their self interest). But a very common phenomenon used to be that young people would be very interested in adventurous, counter cultural topics, only to find as they aged, had families, and were further in their careers, they did a flip and started exploring more conservative topics. The psychoanalyst Jung wrote quite a bit about that, likening it to developing an interest in the parts of your life you had to suppress before, so it's kind of your "B side," to use a record term (since I don't want to get into a whole psych discussion here). People who are counter cultural as young people often become interested in more conservative topics later in life, while the reverse is also true (though less so if conservative activities, such as raising a family, predominate). Again, this is not a value judgment, but explaining that all humans tend to have one or more shifts in interest conforming to their stages and circumstances in their life's cycle.

And here is the other problem with jumping to a conclusion. What if the person is reading those books not for their own needs or benefits, but to learn what works and does not work in helping others? Ah ha. Is the person who reads a book about a particular political stance, religious belief, or self help technique reading it because they are “searching” (yuck to that term, but that’s how the bloated new age squishy mindset views any intellectual or social query) or is the person reading that book because they have to relate to and get along with people who have those beliefs? Much of the library I used to have belonged to that category. I owned MANY books that had nothing to do with my personal beliefs, but were informative in understanding people who had those beliefs. I often had to hold my nose and I rarely actually read those books; they usually occupied space as reference. For example, I had a collection of books about ancient Egypt. Why? Not because I considered the belief of the pharaohs to be anything other than a steaming pile of crap. But one reason I had them is because there’s such a manic interest in pharaoh occult as part of the New Age disease. Even that would not have been enough of a reason for me to actually buy the books (and for many years I had only one book about Egypt in my collection at all) but I had second aesthetic reasons. I was very interested in their art color palette (especially for certain images such as the lotus, palm and so forth) and I also was going through a phase of being very interested in linguistics, and they plugged a gap in my survey of that topic. So the cultists morons who snooped in my house regularly jumped to an orgasm of conclusions about my having a lot of Egyptology books, without once ever asking me a single question about a single book.

So remember, it’s not like I’m really more mysterious and complicated than other folks. If I have a book for a reason that has to do with others rather than myself, then many other people have nuanced reasons for having certain reading books too, and they deserve to be understood honestly and openly.

Here is another thing that is kind of an old fashioned era thing that many cultists did not understand. I grew up poor and only had a few hardcover books as a teenager. The wealthy and elite belonged to “book clubs.” So when I earned a good salary I really enjoyed being able to buy hardcover books and build a library. I enjoyed belonging to book clubs. And more important, I liked patronizing certain book dealers, especially if they were individuals trying to stay in business. I bought from one of the finest traditional shops of antiquarian books in London, but I also bought from struggling artist sorts who sold books on the side and hand produced their catalogues. I deliberately placed regular orders with them in order to provide my support for their business, making myself choose from the books they had. Sometimes the books were “my cup of tea” and sometimes they weren’t. I often bought books just because I liked the cover, or enjoyed the illustrations, especially if it were wood block engravings of some skill. I cannot tell you how much it has hurt that I spent my money on people I thought were amiable colleagues who shared an interest in books (often spending way too much and going into debt) only to find out that they were part of the cultist spying and demonizing me based on “what books I selected.” I will never regain the trust that has been destroyed.

So this is an example of how one must be especially careful about drawing conclusions about another person’s mindset and stance based on very thin evidence such as taste in reading books. Of course that’s not so much a problem when one is going along with the crowd on pure mass media entertainment, such as reading the “Harry Potter” books. No one would jump to a conclusion that the person believed in magic just because he, she or their children were reading the Harry Potter books. The same with the phenomenal sales some years ago of the inspirational nonfiction book “The Purpose Driven Life.” That is an example where you will find the entire spectrum of readers and cannot jump to conclusions based on if, for example, you saw that book in a person’s home. The person may or may not be Christian, or active or believing in any way. They may or may not be looking for a “self help inspirational book,” or they may or may not want to read it so they can help others, or understand what others who struggle are saying or experiencing. They may read it for any of the reasons I listed above about the Bible (except I guess the grandparents would not have an antique edition, it’s too new for that!) It’s ironic that in an age when everyone is “seeking,” the owning of a book is immediately seen as “agreement with the topic of that book.” I mean, if a person already feels that way, do they need to read the book? One of the big conflicts in logic of modern thinking is to assume that everyone is 1) looking for “the answer” while at the same time believing the opposite which is 2) the person “agrees with” whatever they are reading at the time and must have a sympathy for the stance of the author, because otherwise, why buy the book? That’s an example of an inherent conflict in logic.

That’s all I really want to say for now on this topic. I hope you found this helpful, especially you young people who are reading (and who worry more about the cost of textbooks than some of these topics, but I use the topics as way to help you preserve and develop your best reasoning facilities!)

Read about this standoff in Wisconsin

Fortunately it did not go the way the Knoxville attack did, and this guy seems more disturbed and less violent. Yet, if this summary is to be believed, he thought that angelic beings were telling him to kill congress people on behalf of humanitarian, liberal and constitutional values?

All I can say is that insanity and mental defect has become a very complex and shady situation in this modern society. I hope the "angelic beings" aren't samples of the "aliens" that a former astronaut is jabbering about. That ain't so helpful if so, no?


UPDATE: 'Angelic beings' drove standoff

The man who claimed to have a bomb inside a public restroom in the City of Pewaukee Police Department told police that "angelic beings" told him to start a war against his own government.


Richards, whose standoff with police Monday lasted 2 1/2 hours, is accused of demanding a squad car and a gun so he could go to Madison and then Washington D.C. to shoot congressmen and senators, according to the criminal complaint.


According to the criminal complaint, at 9:20 a.m. City of Pewaukee Police Officer Kristen Bast found a piece of paper on the floor outside the unisex restroom door.
The computer-generated note stated he had a bomb strapped to him, he demanded a weapon, a police vehicle and to be brought to the vehicle. The note states that he did not want to hurt police officers but his intent was to arrest the government for failing to protect children, war vets, the helpless, for failing to fight greed and corruption, and for violating all constitutional amendments.

The man had been in the bathroom for five hours before the note was discovered, the complaint says. Police checked a video surveillance camera in the lobby and saw a man dressed in camouflage enter the bathroom at 4:15 a.m. While officers were investigating the first note, a second note, identical to the first was slipped out from under the door, the complaint says.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Spiritual direction: Catholics and birth control

This subject always comes up as probably the most difficult of the Catholic Church's teachings to accept. I've mentioned this before, but since there's a lot of blogging of the anniversary of Pope Paul VI's HV, here is a quick reminder.

If you read and study either the Bible or the Qur'an, you will not find any orientation toward individual salvation. That's right... salvation is always described on a societal and community basis. SIN most certainly is discussed on an individual basis, as are the Gospels that relate the events and teachings in Jesus' life. Just to be clear, I am not saying that souls are not saved one at a time. But God's laws are not written with individual salvation in mind. God's laws are written so that the human species can survive and thrive as his children.

Therefore, God's "bar is raised higher" than the individual salvation, or sin, of any one person. God did not sit down and go, "Hmm, what is the list of things that all good individuals must do to be saved." God gave prohibitions and teachings to the "community of the faithful," starting with the chosen people, the Israelites. God's first words to Adam and Eve after they sinned regarded how humans as a whole would live, not just the sinners, or the obedient.

Birth control and homosexual behavior therefore fall under the category of God's admonitions for the survival and thriving as people as a whole. I described in a previous post that Biblical "gays" would never have dreamed of wanting a "gay lifestyle," for the most part, because individual sex acts and desires were by choice subordinated by the predominant desire of all men to have a wife and children. That's why there is condemnation of homosexuality in the Bible, but not a lot of stories or parables about individual sexual acts. God's not as concerned about individual sexual preferences but God is very concerned about how humanity and its society as a whole will, and there's no nice way to put it, will be allowed to continue.

So the Catholic Church continues to uphold the standard that God himself established for the community of the faithful (and humanity as a whole) to continue its well being. Those dogmas are the hardest to follow and God knows that, obviously. Therefore the Church cannot and should not "soften" or "modernize" its interpretation of the expectations by God of humans. However, when giving spiritual direction I advise that on an individual basis, these are the areas where one is most likely to be able to "take one's chances" with God.

God certainly understands family planning and spacing of births. Also, society has changed so that people are irresponsible toward supporting babies and single parents. So it is understandable, but not allowable dogma, that individuals make decisions about birth control and sex acts that are prohibited by God and his Church. If a person is leading a modest and virtuous life, but makes individual choices about birth control or individual sex acts, "I like your odds," if you know what I mean. Someone who "takes a chance" and is otherwise very pious and observant but practices artificial birth control in a family setting sure has "better odds" of being forgiven than someone who repeatedly aborts in order to be sexually promiscuous.

I have a headache from the terrible mood and violence of the times, and also the living conditions I've had to endure for years now, so I'm not going to go into detail on this subject. I mostly wanted to get it out there so you can start to think about how the Church is not supposed to "lower the bar" because it has a responsibility toward humanity as a whole to keep it right where God set it. However, there are certain sins that one can see that Jesus, for example, had a merciful view of, and thus one can understand being pious and yet "chancing it with God's mercy" in those areas. I think you get my point. Part of being judicious is keeping one's mouth shut and not high profiling those areas where you are "taking a chance with God's mercy." That way you do not tempt others to follow you in sin, when they may not be so well positioned in their internal virtue and morality. That's why I repeatedly admonish my gay friends to not "promote the lifestyle." Likewise I do not think that those on birth control should rub the priest's nose in it, or their parish, touting themselves as enlightened and modern. I think it should be confessed, obviously, but not advertised as an area where debate is valid, because it is not. God knows all and sets standards for humans for a reason. It is not a "report card" for one by one salvation, as many seem to think today. It is the conditions under which God will offer his protection for the continuation of humanity. Period.

Shooting debate: quick discernment lesson

Hi. As usual I'm thinking very much of the young people who are living through these times and learning how to weigh the facts and form opinions, exactly when electronic media allows and promotes snap judgments, accusations and conclusions.

I have to make a quick example using the UU church because they themselves are actually raising the subject and of course learning about them is part of everyone's interest in reading this story. I've known about them since college when many of my peers left their church and went to UU because they felt that UU "OK's" whatever imbibing, drug use, sexuality and abortions. This was in the early 1970's and I'm not making a values statement: I'm telling you what my friends told me as they trundled off to the local UU, feeling they could be "spiritual" but still "do their own thing" (to use the popular expression). So I mention this just so people don't say, "Oh, what does MM know about UU?" I know that it was the safe house in my university town for those of my friends who most liked weed, LOL.

Having said that, here is part of the deplorable "dialogue" that is taking place that I must address as an example for my readers to see another challenge in faith and reason discernment. I want to teach you to notice intellectual contradictions. An intellectual, aka logical, contradiction is when someone says one thing, if you believe it, then you can't believe the second thing that they say, because they disagree in some real fundamental way.

So I've noticed that some UU members explain their faith by saying that it pretty much is "bring your own," and they cite that all sorts of believers go there, Christian, Buddhist, pagan, etc. So they present it as everyone is equal and all they care about is goodness and social justice. OK, if one wants a refuge from one's own religion and go to a place of a kind of spiritual social gathering, that's great. But here is the contradiction. They present a kind of "anything is possible" logic in the universe, there may or may not be a creator, that everyone is rewarded in their "journey" "toward" eternal life, etc. But in the same breath I read comments by UU's that state that they "know" that Christianity is incorrect, that Judaism is incorrect, that Islam is incorrect, and so on down the list. So which is it? How do they "know" that every organized religion is wrong? Who told them? How do they know? I mean, OK, say that everyone is welcome, and that it's all a open door groovy love fest of good works and eternal joy. How do you know?

If your head hurts now, so does mine. That's one of the things I least like about humans. They act on one hand like the universe is a great mysterious and all good "unknown," yet on the other hand they somehow "Know" that all organized religion is "wrong." How do they know? How do they know? How do they know?

If they reply to you that it's because flawed humans "wrote" the sacred books, then why would they believe that flawed humans merit eternal bliss in some engine free groovy "everyone is equal" world?

That, dear friends, especially my young friends, is a logical contradiction. They have an open ended faith, except they will tell you that all other faiths are known to be wrong. How do they know? How do they know?

I wish them well, but want to prevent those of you who are reading about them for the first time from falling into a logical error. Many who post on their behalf seem poorly educated in history. For example they will mention Hitler as an example of being 'right wing' (implying in Christian religion) without knowing that he was a pagan (I mean, look at the flags he designed, dummies). So if you dialogue with UU's be aware that they claim on the one hand to be all open ended to the infinite "good" and "equal" possibilities of the "eternal," but they are not open to believing that ANY institutional religion might actually be exactly as it is presented to be. Somehow they have a mysterious knowledge that all religions are "wrong." Hmm? Hmm.

Church shooting information emerging

The early spin and folklore, as I expected, was that the shooter "picked out this church to shoot up" because it has "welcome gays signs" and is "fighting for social justice." I have read endless comments based on that assumption.

Well, and here is an article with interviews with attendees who explain that actually the shooter's abused ex-wife did attend that very UU church years ago. Soooooo.... while he obviously was a disturbed hater, it's not like he picked out these poor people at random because they were the shining castle on the hill of tolerance. It's all the more terrible to me, actually, that he planned to kill every person in the assembly that his ex wife attended.

This article is just the beginning of the examination of the life of a lost and disturbed, violent person who spun out of control for decades.

I think all churches need to resist covering themselves in the glory of martyrdom when these events happen, because it usually is more complex, and more about the shooter than being about "you" or your faith.

I am so dismayed by what happened. But no one is really in a position to draw conclusions about their own faith and those of others (I don't mean the shooter, but the general "discourse" that has swirled around this event). If that were true then everyone would have to give the "win" based on number of martyrs to Christians.

So, as I said after OK City, and after September 11, 2001, while we are all eager for the facts, it's far too soon to demonize-or cover one's self with glory (except for of course the innocent victims and heroes in the shooting)-based on some theological or spiritual interpretation.

I hope that all the surviving victims pull through and that somehow the children and innocents who witnessed this and suffered so much will recover.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

All I can do is watch

Many terrible things have happened today, this weekend, this week, this month, this year, and growing worse and worse through the past decades. All I can do is watch in frustration, and grieve. My warnings about how humanity is losing its very soul has gone unheeded, and I myself have had to duck from the ricochet, as danger has been brought to my very doorstep too many times, instead of humility, love and friendship. When will it become too much for all of you? When will you listen and take action, instead of acting out? Shunning me and keeping me in the dark has got to start not looking so funny or clever, it has got to, for your very sanity and survival. I literally cannot recognize what people have become in fifty years, even the "good ones" have become so plastic and unrecognizable. When the mask is torn off by horror of accident or crime, I grieve with you, but why have I had to talk to myself alone about the many impending dangers for so many years? Nihilism and rage, and plasticity. And even many of the pious cannot help take swipes at each other. You don't even know the motivations of the church shooter, but people could not wait to imply that it must be "anti" social justice. You look for agenda driven reasons and cannot even see the plastic nihilistic rage swirling through society building in its "no reason-ness" for decades now.

What will you do now?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A fourth prayer I have written

Dear God.
You are our refuge and our strength, even though the earth be shaken and our worldly possessions burn. My faith is my palace and my prayers are its gold and silver. I know that You will help me at the break of dawn, and through all the hours of every day. When I hold Your words and precepts close in my heart, I can call myself a true attendant to the Prince of Peace. My ear is intent on a parable; my music is only of praise and joy. Through the tears of personal sorrow and loss, my soul can still smile in the presence of You. Grant me the strength to always follow the path of redemption to You, in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Written today July 27, 2008. My words with special phrases from King David. I have in mind those who are suffering a material loss, or are fearful of the events of the world, and with this prayer they can remember and organize their internal sense of perspective and ongoing faith in God. It also reminds where one's true treasure is, and also that redemption is a continuing walk. Again, I think most especially of the young people as they grapple with understanding the challenges of their material and spiritual heritage as the world is today.

A third prayer I have written.

In the beginning was the Word. And the Word does not die out. The Lord gives bread to us from his own table, the most pure Holy Eucharist, body of Our Savior Jesus Christ. The people gather together to celebrate the Sacrifice, and witness the Consecration. The Holy Presence comforts the lone adorer in the chapel, in silence. Those who believe may count themselves blessed, for the Savior is with them. Though nations are in turmoil, in the Holy Presence we have peace and grace from God. We kneel before the Holy Presence and give thanks. Amen.

Written by me July 27, 2008, my own words with a little help from King David. This prayer is intended for those who are pondering the mystery of the Holy Eucharist. It's a type of creed prayer rather than a petitioner prayer. It is meant for strength of faith and serenity. As always I especially have the young people in mind who are so very devoted to the Holy Eucharist and its adoration.

Question for engineers, landscapers, whoever

I'm reading about all the drownings around the NYC coastline. I'm one of those who can't swim in the ocean because I can't swim well enough to handle waves or even mild current. So I can relate to how people get pulled out and go under. So I just had a thought, which may be totally impractical technically, but since it's on my mind, here it is. Is there any way that technically a net could be installed for a section of beach at about the five foot depth? In this section people, especially kids, could still enjoy the surf and ocean water, but not be in danger of being swept out because they'd reach the net first. So a small area of the ocean front could be set aside for weak swimmers and kids where this net would run along to catch anyone being swept with their feet out under them, knocked over by surf but not then pulled out, or in any current they can't handle that might pull them out, since the water would flow through the net but not the person. This might not be practical (I dunno) as far as installing it, but why not? If one can drive pilings for docks into sand, then why not a piling every ten yard with net across it? I get that with the tide it has to be strong netting but that's not a new invention. And this is probably not practical at packed urban beaches, but then again, why not if the viewpoint is that this is kind of a virtual contained spot for weak swimmers and kids? Hmm. I just thought I'd put that idea out there. I'm only the idea lady, not the nut and bolt person. And before insurance companies start to hate on me, I read one of the moms of a drowned person questioning the training and number of lifeguards. So I think the likelihood of someone getting stuck in one of the nets is small (especially as a lifeguard would be dedicated to that section) and actually that would help insurance issues because weak swimmers would be advised to stick to that area. It would be guaranteed and checked daily that there are no drop offs and so forth, so it's extra safe. I'd want any little kid of mine to be in that area. Hmm. So that's the idea. Resorts may want to think about it; parents might find that a real attraction. Maybe it's already done, or the surge is not the problem it is on Coney Island and so forth. Just a thought.

Spiritual direction: God and his given religions

Understanding God and his religions

One of humanity’s greatest misunderstanding about belief in the one God and obeying the religion he has founded is that people think religion is an individual event and responsibility. It is not; God’s religion is a community event. This has always been a weakness in logic in humans, to think it is “up to each person,” but it has become distorted beyond recognition in modern times. Before modern times, strong love and allegiance toward one’s family, community, tribe, clan or other social organization ensured the glue that kept the seeking of God and obedience to his religious tenets in a community setting. The first breaking away of realization that God expects and delivers “salvation” (to use an evangelical term) on a community basis came with the Reformation. Not only did the Reformation give birth to the notion that one can break away from the Church institution founded by Jesus Christ and in the true Apostolic lineage, but hundreds of years later the notion arose that people can construct their own denominations. Communal worship became incorrectly transformed into “virtual communities” as people collect together according to what pastor or church “they select.” So this is one example of the splintering of true human communities of worship into artificial cohesions of people who “shop at the same faith store.” I don’t mean this to disparage individual faith or goodness of intention. But clarity of vision is sometimes unpleasant feeling, and so you have to be a bit uncomfortable in order to see the truth. Just to point out a further extension of the Reformation children’s breakdown of natural collective worshiping communities and their replacement with “choice” based virtual communities, within this devolution was the notion that the individual is responsible for finding “the right church” and that salvation is “individual based.” This is the exact opposite of God’s intention regarding how he gave religion to humans and how they should view it. Religion is not “one person’s search for making themselves “OK” with God, and doing so with like minded individuals who find each other shopping at the same faith store.” And so you find post Reformation children sneering at traditional Catholics who “let the Church ‘tell them what to do’ when it ought to be ‘between the individual and God.’” Um, no, if you read the Bible you see that the religion that God gave the children of Abraham is never “just between the individual and his or her conscience and God.” There is absolutely no Biblical justification for the “individual searching for the ‘right’ religion and ‘truth’” delusion that many live under today.

In the Jewish faith you see the same problem, only this time instead of the Reformation it was the destruction of the Temple, the Diaspora and secular pressures that resulted of division of worship from one community to roughly three: Reform, Conservative and Orthodox. Again, because of social pressures and the belief that “it’s up to the individual” the community worship disintegrated. Some reform rabbis have gone so far as to even meddle in Catholic dogma by “hosting” profane “ordinations” outside of the Church. I mention this because I guess Reform rabbis don’t find enough to do to worship God in their own faith that they have to muck about in someone else’s. This is why I’ve always had an affinity for the Orthodox. Even if I disagree with their politics they have never once forgotten that faith as mandated by God is a community event that is focused on God and his expectations, not “what each individual feels ‘called’ to do.” So you see in the unrecognizable extremes of the three broad parts of Jewish faith that one end clings correctly to understanding that communal values as dictated by God comes first, while the opposite end is “do your own thing.” Again, I do not question individuals’ theoretical love of God. But as in any love relationship, its trueness and purity is ascertained by asking the question, “Do you put the beloved first in importance?” Individuals and congregations that do not put God first, putting him behind social pressures and individual “conscience” cannot really say that they love God as much as the person who puts their worship of God and obedience to his will, even when they don’t understand it, first and foremost.

Islam too had to deal with a fragmentation crisis, but this is much different from the rejection of the community embodiment of faith as God has dictated. Islam’s fragmentation did not come from the secular influences of “do your own thing within your ‘conscience,’” but rather from legitimate cultural confusion regarding the successors to the Prophet (PBUH). Unlike the post Reformation Christians and the liberal wing of the Jewish faith, it never has and it never will occur to Muslims to start thinking of their faith as “individual and conscience based” and to abandon the community embodiment. Instead Islam split into legitimate community bodies based on tribal, familial and ancestral interpretation of how to be part of the lineage of the Prophet’s successors. Islam maintains the community worship cohesiveness that God has demanded of all the faiths, but it does so along several separate lineages. These were not resulting from “secular” pressures or the “rational rise of the individual,” but from understandable difference in interpretation of how to maintain consistent lineage from the familial and spiritual descendents of the Prophet and his companions. So you would never see a mosque being built that is a “non denominational mosque” or a “mega-mosque” or a “liberal mosque,” in either branch of Islam. This is not because Islam is “stuck in the past and won’t modernize” but because they are correctly faithful to the understanding that worship of God must be communal in the tradition sense of community, not artificial or “virtual” communities based on “shopping preference.”

And so that brings us to “cafeteria Catholics.” We have the traditional and true Catholics and we have a huge dose of “cafeteria” or “liberal” “Catholics.” Now, I want to exclude from this discussion Catholics who are earnest with the Church but struggle in good faith within themselves regarding a teaching such as birth control. I am not speaking about them at all in this explanation and critique. Rather, I am speaking about those who want to break apart the faith from within for exactly the same reasons as the Reformation children did, although they may deny it. Gosh, I wish that nuns and others who feel that way would just leave. I really do. Their continued presence within the Church is just not worth their “good deeds” and “devotion.” The moment that they took off their habits for their own “comfort,” they put God aside in second place. We don’t need them and I wish they would go to the nearest “non denominational” church and become their cross to bear! Boy, would the non-denominationals earn brownie points with God if they took liberal “Catholics,” especially those from the religious orders off us Catholics’ hands. So the busy bee nuns who ruin the faith and still claim they “want to be priests,” do God a big fat favor and leave the Church and go worship him with a non-denominational. I mean, they are all “equal” and “fair,” right? I am not joking. Do us all a favor and leave. You ruin the community of the Church that is already challenged by societal and geographic pressures. But be smart and do not keep adding that sin of pride and sabotage to your hands: do the right thing and LEAVE.

The Catholic Church with the traditionalists in her body, remain faithful to the concept of God’s worship as community, even as it struggles with secular pressures and deliberate attack by those who feel they represent either “fairness” or the Enemy (and they are hard to tell apart since the outcome of their deeds is so similar). But the traditionalists demonstrate over and over that the Catholic Church maintains its communal aspirations of faith just as God has demanded, and as articulated by Jesus Christ. For example, Churches do close down in urban areas, and it grieves me to see this even more than it grieves all of you, trust me. Remember, those are buildings that held the sacred Presence of Jesus Christ, they weren’t just Christian after school activity buildings with a basketball hoop. Whenever a Catholic Church closes, you know what it feels like to me? That a cemetery full of loved ones is bulldozer over to “make way for ‘progress.’” But my consolation is that the community of Catholics has moved, whether it be to the suburbs, or to the Southern USA, for example, and a new Church will arise there. But do not forget that every Church closing to me is the shuttering of the place that once held the sacred Presence of Jesus. However, I will not accept it staying open if the price is that people who undermine the faith from within continue to use it. I don’t want guitar playing “womyn priests” dancing around their “sacred cauldron” because “hey, you need us because you are low on vocations.” No, I don’t need you. Shut down the Church and go to your local non-denomination and lord it over them. Don't tell me "it's your church too." It's not. If you reject it and sabotage it from within, obviously it's not "your" church. So find one that is and beat it, and do everyone else a genuine favor.

So whenever a Catholic Church closes down, as painful as it is, it is still a legitimate consequence of reality of community faith. If there is not enough of the traditional community left in the area, then the Church must close down and resources be pooled at the next highest and dispersed level of community worship. And if the traditional faithful must leave, due to migration, job pressures and societal relocation, then they will open a new Church within their community. And wherever they are they can look to Rome, to the heir of St. Peter, for the true global Church community. You see examples of this in Muslim countries, where they have come to recognize that with immigrant workers comes a mobile, dislocated Catholic, and other Christians, community that must have places to worship. It is the Islamic faithfulness to God in their understanding that worship of God is communal that has helped them to be generous to recognize that Christians need facilities even in Muslim countries, for they cannot, as the Muslims themselves do not do, worship individually in back rooms of their apartments. So here you will see migrant workers, such as Pilipinoes and Indians, come together in formation of a local Christian community. These migrant workers are not “picking and choosing” to “select the place of worship” that “best suits their individual ‘needs’ and ‘conscience.’” They are creating new communities by virtue of their being Christian, and needing new churches to satisfy that need. They aren’t flipping through the yellow pages in order to go to the place that they are “most comfortable with” because it’s a “fair place” and “matches my needs.” They are pilgrims who bring the need for their church with them upon their backs. They are the ones who understand God’s gift to them of community based worship, not cafeteria or non-denominational personality based and demand free “individual choice.”

And now I must say something that I do not enjoy, but I do not want to be accused of neglecting the validity of the faith of others. I have always been fond of the Dali Lama as a person, and as a spiritual personage. But I cannot relate to a religious leader who left his one and only faith community behind. It’s not like Tibetan Buddhists are misnamed Global Buddhists. When Tibet was claimed by China, the body of the faithful who in my Abrahamic view of religion needed their leader to stay. It is not like during the capture of Israel by the Babylonians that the Jewish priests cut and run. The Jewish priests went along into captivity with their people. I mention this example because there you have one body, one community of faithful, with one leadership, exactly as the situation was in Tibet. It’s not like he moved “his flag from one command ship to the other.” Now, I read his books and I understand that he was a young man and pressured to flee. But once one is older, and one sees that one’s people are left behind, why does one not return to them, if one truly believes their faith and destiny? Celebrities and the secular politics latched onto him, and I mourned that, for that demarked the end of the legitimate community of worship. And of course, in the Catholic faith, the cardinals wear red for a reason.

I hope that you all, especially the young people, who, like Pope John Paul II, are always on my mind, find this useful, although perhaps a cross to bear in understanding. God never intended his word, his instructions and his institutions to be reduced to what one individual “evaluates” that he or she is “most comfortable with” or finds the “fairest.” To help, here is an analogy.
Suppose that God gave humans a set of blueprints for their individual homes that were absolutely fail proof. If one followed the instructions and built the three bedrooms, two bath all mod con home exactly according to instructions it would last a lifetime, be safe, affordable and easy to maintain, withstanding even harsh weather. So for several thousand years family after family built their houses and passed the blueprint from God on to their children.

Now, we have the “Do your own thing” generation that thinks it is demonstrated its wisdom by rejecting what the old folks say (and having a few puffs on weed while they are at it). They say, “Why should we believe that these blueprints are ‘the best?’” Should we not shop for “options?” So many of them do not use the blueprints at all. Others make “modifications” that “correct stupid mistakes.” For example, they take out the cellar because “Who needs a cellar?” And then they do not understand when the old folks tell them that in a tornado, to go into the storm shelter in the cellar. Huh? Others decide that “aliens” are “filled with wisdom” and are “channeling advanced and spiritual blueprints” and they either build houses based on that, or they endlessly doodle what they think they are hearing from “aliens,” or they live in traditional houses paid for by gulliable people who buy their books containing “alien blueprints.”

Eventually an entirely obsessive compulsive generation of home builders arises. They follow the blueprints given by God to their parents but with one exception. They spend a day building a wall, and the next day they knock down that wall. The day after that they raise the wall again, and then the day after that they knock that wall down again. And the next day they build a second wall, because it’s “the right time” to build that particular wall, and then the day after that they tear down that wall again.

That is what happens when a generation does not understand that true wisdom is accumulated and handed down, and that the body of information is not meant to be “reinvented” over and over again. That’s almost as stupid as if someone declared that it is passé to breathe oxygen, and from now on the truly enlightened will only breathe hydrogen. I mean, belief in breathing oxygen is so old fashioned and oppressive. Who is God or our ancestors to tell us to breathe oxygen? That is what it is like to deny fundamental truths and fundamental healthy community of worship as given to humans by God and God alone. These people will tell you that the “blueprint drawers” were “oppressed” and that is why they have “three bedrooms” because in the “patriarchal bourgeois society of the past the women were forced to be demeaned” and that this shows that God and the blueprints from him are “mistranslated” or the “rest of societal oppression.”

I may seem that I’ve strayed from the original point but I have not at all. There is an arrogant affectation that will result in the end of humanity that arises from the modern notion that “individuals decide what is best for them” and that only old pagan beliefs are good, while old truths that God has taught are “bad or at least questionable.” They ignore saints who were pagans, who were intellectuals, like St. Justin, who looked at pagan and Christian dogma side by side and chose Christianity, recognizing the truth of it. But today, many of the middle aged and older people grew up with a belief that “if it is old it is good, unless it is Christianity.” I’m hopeful and very prayerful that the younger people are beginning to see the error in logic of their parents. Why are “runes” so enlightening while the Bible is not? Who cares what the Pharaohs thought, because they are dead now aren’t they? I mean, if they were such geniuses and so holy and smart, where are they now? Hmm. Who is there instead? The children of the true Abrahamic faiths: Muslims and Christians. But your parents’ generation, dear children, because they wanted to be self proclaimed priests and priestesses, glommed onto anything old and rotten so that they could have libertine lifestyles and call themselves “special” and “enlightened.” And as a result, young people, they are teaching you out of textbooks of rotten skulls and cat box dung.

No one knows humans better than God, obviously, because he knows everything, he created humans, and he knows everything they do and what they will choose to do in the future. Yet God did two things because he loves humans. He gave them free will to make their own decisions, and he gave them the safest and most joyous blueprints possible, knowing what they need to live, thrive, and hopefully, choose to find Him and be saved. What have your parents given you? Have they passed on to you the blueprints that they received from God through their parents? Or have they passed onto you something else? Think about it.

God bless those who seek and find.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Personal story re innocent hobby ruined by cultists

I used to be very fond of studying certain eras in English history. My first ex-husband was the one who got me interested in the first place, since he was a history major at university. He got me interested in reading about Elizabethan England because of the Armada battle and the very interesting economic and social implications. Eventually I collected books and artifacts from several interesting periods of English history.

One day I made a joke that I realized only years later probably contributed to my being assaulted by cultists. It was when I was interested in the period of history called "The Steven and Matilda Wars." I found it a very interesting era because 1) it was pre-medieval and hence a fascinating time for human cultural development and 2) it involved two heirs, one being a woman, fighting for the throne of England. So I was well immersed in reading for pleasure about this period in English history when one day I had to give a talk at work, introducing a new project and the new consultant who would be hired to do the project. As I stood in front of the approximately twenty bank manager colleagues of mine, my boss whispered in my ear, "The consultant is not coming; he decided to take another job." So here were all these managers looking at me. I decided to bring some humor into the situation, since I liked them (not realizing many were cultist snakes) and wanted to make a friendly gesture of humor as a bonding. My boss was a great guy and very fun loving and funny himself, so I took a page from his playbook of clowning around a bit. So I said something like:

"The consultant has decided to take another job, so he is not showing up. Therefore we can't really launch this project right now. So instead I will lecture you on the Steven and Matilda wars." I then spent a few minutes telling them adventure stories (there's a famous escape that is much like St. Paul's escape down a wall) that I especially enjoyed, while they looked at me stunned. My boss thought it was hilarious. It was not a waste of time since the meeting hour had been divided into three parts, and so I just joked for a few minutes in lieu of my twenty minutes. Then I gave the floor to the next person. This was in the mid to latter 1980's, sometime after 1985.

I did not realize that ferocious and anti-Christian cultists were actively stalking me at the time and were looking for "clues" of me "remembering" my so called "past lives." Yep, you guessed it. It was a joke that ended up being on me in a horrible way, as they viewed this as further "justification" that the mean s*** otherwise known as "reincarnation" "exists" (it most assuredly does not). And of course with the "military" and "war" nature of what I was relating in the stories of Ye Olde Merry England, they viewed this as more reason to beef me in the most hurtful backstabbing (and I mean that in a few ways, not just one) methods possible.

Anyway, while I have your attention, did you know that King Egbert of England was viewed as the first real "King" of England because he was able to unify four counties (and for a while, through conquest, a fifth) under him? Each county had it's own king during that time, so he was the first to be recognized as King over all 4/5 of the counties.

Have a nice day and thank you for your attention.

People might forgive too soon

Two nights ago just before my evening prayers I had an ominous feeling that people who had wronged me, grievously wronged me, around thirty years ago were going to be severely chastised by God. While these people have done nothing to indicate atonement and certainly have done nothing spiritually or materially generous in recompense in my direction, I was moved to pray to God for him to have mercy on them.

Even I, who knows God very, very well, was surprised at the rebuke that I received. I don't mean like I was yelled at or something went wrong to me, but I viewed a very swift chastisement of people who have benefited materially by my being wronged. I was given to understand quite clearly by God that I am not to forgive people who do not repent, atone, and ask for forgiveness. God describes it with this kind of image, that a person being beaten and tortured cannot have the torturers scream at her "forgive us" while they assault her further.

I thought I would share this communication because I wrote recently on this very topic, and there has been a pressure put upon pious people to "forgive," even before the sinner or criminal has made even nominal admission of guilt and regret.

So, sorry a-holes, but I'm not to forgive anyone for anything, even though I reluctantly, but sincerely, tried (half knowing the answer in advance but still surprised at how swiftly God responded to demonstrate that his chastisement, even decades later, will come to those who refuse to repent). Additionally, do remember that God promises that his vengence for wrongs to him and against the innocent will fall on multiple generations (since those who benefit, especially materially, from their parents' trangressions will also have to pay for the injustice). Therefore, a delay in chastisement often only means that God will chastise multiple generations, and I've seen some examples of that recently. It's not like the Bible hasn't made that abundantly clear. "Experts" ought to be more thorough in their Bible study and not cherry pick.

Very fine article re St Louis diocese adoration

This is one of the nicest articles I've seen about the 24 hour a day 7 day a week adoration of the physical presence of Jesus Christ, in the Holy Eucharist, known as perpetual adoration. If you read this even non Christians will understand much more about this devotion, just by reading about the people who do it, rather than the theology. You'll all find this very enlightening. And to those everywhere in the world who contribute, it makes a great difference, it really does.


ST. PAUL — Stepping into the chapel with Bible in hand, Debbie Mueller touches her fingertips to a tiny basin of Holy Water and gets ready to pray. It's nearly 3 a.m.

She signs her name into a log book, and turns to say hello to Don Ziegemeier, who is kneeling in one of the pews nearby. He's been there since 2 a.m.

In front of them on a white altar, two candles glow inside red glass holders on each side of a cross. In the center is the monstrance, a special vessel containing the consecrated host that Catholics believe is the body of Christ.

This is the perpetual adoration chapel at St. Paul Catholic Church, where Mueller, Ziegemeier and other volunteers pray 24 hours a day, seven days a week, nearly 365 days a year. (The chapel is dark for 50 hours leading up to Easter.)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Important study about harmful chemicals

Do read this.

Here's a quick historic/science/economics lesson that everyone needs to understand because globally we are getting into a horrible situation and people don't even realize it is happening, or why.

Up until the industrial revolution humans had to use natural materials in everything. Let me use the example of dye to color fabric. Everyone had to collect bugs, bark, plants, flowers, minerals and other materials (such as a certain sea shell to provide purple, which due to its rareness became "the color of royalty") in order to give fabric or anything else any color. During the industrial revolution people discovered how to use chemicals, man made chemicals, to do the same thing. When you collect something that is rare to do something everyone needs to do (color fabric) it is very expensive and limiting. When you invent a chemical that can be cheaply made and used, it becomes available and affordable worldwide. So, for example, one of the first things traders provided American Indians was fabric colored with chemicals, the same way the settlers used on their own clothes. Everyone thought it was a great idea, and it was. Now, think of everything else that is like dyes going from natural to chemical. Fragrance is another area where it is no longer made from the actual flowers, but a synthetic chemical. Food additives for taste and freshness used to be natural (sugar, salt, vinegar) but are now all chemicals. Again, this is a "good thing" in the sense of making a commodity more widely available and affordable to everyone. Now think about cleansers. They used to be based on natural substances such as fat, oil, lye, and ashes. Even the cleansers are now all chemicals.

So now do the math. Everything we use is saturated and enabled with chemicals that take the place of what were natural substances. And it's not just a "natural vs artificial chemical" problem, but it is dosage related, and THAT is the real problem. In the 1800's if everything else you did was based on low dosages of natural materials, but now you started wearing cotton that is colored with a chemical dye, no problem. The people got low dosages of chemicals in limited areas. But gradually chemicals have become the basis of every substance, increasing the dosage within that object AND multiplying a person's exposure by one hundred fold. Here is what I mean. Natural dyes tend not to be as intense as chemical dyes. So when you use a natural compound you are somewhat limited in your exposure because it's a weaker substance. When a chemist invents a substitute though, there is no built in dosage control. So a dull red piece of naturally colored fabric is forced to have a much lower amount of the natural dye in it than a chemically treated fabric, which becomes saturated with the chemical. So that is one way to understand that chemicals, even if they "mimic" the natural are genuinely different and more risky because they are not dosage controlled.

Here's a food example just to help with the concept. People used to never drink fruit juice (except wine), they would eat the fruit. So a person was lucky and well off if they had say an apple or an orange a day. But how many oranges do you think must be squeezed in order to make a small, to say nothing of a large, glass of orange juice? (This is why it's so fattening to drink juice and not so good for your kids. It is MUCH better to have your kid eat an apple than always drink the apple juice, for example). That's another subject but I know it helps you to understand what I mean by dosage of intensity. So just like an orange can be eaten, or three or four oranges can be "drank" in one sitting, natural substances are by their nature more dilute than chemical imitations or replacements.

So now do the math. If in a period of one hundred years humans have gone from replacing virtually every everyday substance in their lives with chemical based ones instead of natural, you have increased your exposure to each chemical on a per unit basis and you cannot escape chemical use because it is in everything. This is terrible and trust me, it is behind many of the ailments people complain about today. It's no one's "fault" so don't be dumb and run for lawyers because it was a "necessary" step in progress. Remember, people didn't live much beyond their fifties or sixties one hundred years ago, in general, and so improving, even chemically, the health and cleanliness of their lives in one or two areas meant prosperity and a longer life could be achieved. The problem is that 1) now people live longer and are exposed to chemicals even in the womb and through their whole lives 2) there are a hundred fold more types of chemical exposures because it's in everything everywhere and 3) humans do not have the time to "evolve" and "natural select" a bodily response (if it would be even possible), so many more sensitivities and reactions are to be expected since the human race can't evolve "tolerance" to say some cancer causing additive since that would take like ten thousand years or so to do it.

So instead of worrying about climate change you better worry about this problem. We need to get people who are not extreme on either side of the issue to inventory every chemical and examine the full range of implications and options for its usage. SAFETY STUDIES MEAN NOTHING in this regard. Safety studies only test one chemical on one person or animal. I'm talking about the fact that humans now live within and pee out of them hundreds of chemicals coming at them from every direction constantly so that basically humans are getting hundreds of doses of chemicals (each of which, like the fabric to the early settlers) may be harmless if that were the only thing, but now it combines with hundreds of others in daily exposure AND it continues to circulate in the environment both during their manufacture, their disposal in garbage AND through human bodily functions. It is a global crisis and it has been building for decades now. Universities and researchers ought to develop the "chemical additive profile" that the vast majority of humans are exposed to and divide up among themselves studying the implications and where the dosage and intensity can be mitigated. Pollution specialists need to also focus more on the every day chemicals instead of only the famous toxic dump and waste remedial processes. Consumers need to just be aware that there are no longer real rose petals in even "rose scented," and there are no pine needles in "pine fresh"... it is all chemicals that mimic the fragrance but are not the same chemical composition and even if they were, they are exponentially intensive AND they are contained and transported (like in an aerosol) by other chemicals.

I could write much more but I think everyone gets the point. It's a mess, I'm not going to lie to you and say this is a minor problem or that it will be easy to fix (and if people will even be able to stand to focus on more 'bad news' and get consensus that it must be remedied). But you can start to do things in your own household now that I've filled you in on what is going on. That's one reason I'm such a glass fan. But even that would need looking into because we can no longer be sure what enters into the manufacturing process. But you manage your odds because, for example, if there's no color decoration on the glass I know I'm not dealing with a color dye substance, nor a plastic issue, etc. So you can minimize your exposures. I've written about this before, how I use old fashion soap where I can, and not chemical laden cleansers, even using tea bags in water for cleaning surface. But someone somewhere has got to get on top of this problem. Hmm.