Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Probably my last post

I have endured the ruining of my personal and professional life, and the hindering of my mission from God to comfort and assure people of the accuracy of past and completed revelation, and to testify to God's love and mercy, for decades without any comfort or remediation.

I continued to consider myself God's ambassador regarding explaining his love, his mercy, but also his all knowing and judgment, and worked, often through my tears, to continue to reach out to even those who have so grievously harmed me. I had had nothing but love and fondness for many, many people, even those who had destroyed my life. I was always able to draw upon the Holy Spirit and find a way to continue to teach, even as I was being kicked in the side, stabbed in the back, isolated, mocked and ruined.

However, rather than seeing any daylight, any improvement in my ability to obtain justice and recompense for all that I have suffered for false and cruel reasons, imposing on me of further misery continues. Like others I have received credit limitation letters from banks, such as American Express and Bank of America, but unlike others, since I have been robbed of the ability to support myself, I had relied on credit to continue my teaching mission. Those who control these matters only seek more opportunity to humiliate and ruin me.

Thus I have in prayerful consultation with God come to the decision, with his agreement, that I cannot be his ambassador of love, mercy and charity when I have not received a drop of any of those qualities from anyone living in return.

No matter what I do, and how many people I give the love of God to, and message of his mercy, and how better to know him, I have been mocked and tormented in the small matters of life, and also the large. My health is ruined, I cannot pay my bills, I am not allowed to have any job, my friends all became cultists and destroyed our friendship, and those I loved have demonstrated that they serve Satan, and themselves, and not God. I continued to minister through this blog, and in prayer, even when, for example, I would open the newspaper and see a few days after one of my blogs a satirical reference to that topic, often in a cartoon, or in a crossword puzzle (get it? "cross" word? that is one of their favorite ways to mock me and, much worse, mock God and the work that I try to do on his behalf).

As a result, I can no longer feel any love for any person since all have allowed themselves to be ensnared and enmeshed in my persecution and the much worse implication that God himself is being mocked. I do not bring revelation, I explain the revelation that has been already given. When I am mocked, despised, humiliated, and assaulted (as I am whenever people refer to the photographs of the things that were done to me unconscious in the hospital) these people-you- are doing that to God himself, as I am only here to speak his word as his ambassador. This is why he agrees that I can no longer be expected to suffer through representing his love, mercy and charity when I have received none of it in return.

A day or two before Jett died I knew that someone somewhere will desperately need God's mercy, and I prayed that night that God would extend mercy in the place where because of past deeds, I knew it was not deserved. This is one example of where I see that God does not expect me to love, advocate or pray for those who only afflict me either personally or through their cult or other group support, in "return." Every day I see the signs that God has totally lost patience, but the more I try to help people regain their righteousness, the more I am isolated, ruined and humiliated in return. As I said, I will write of comfort and then see or hear in the media a reflective mocking of that very specific topic in a matter of days or hours.

I have found that all that I can pray for each day is that God will call me home. I know that it is quite possible, as I have a very wounded heart. I truly wish to be gone from life and in the companionship of the saints, who mourn where the world has gone to. Honestly, I will probably be the first person in history who insists on receiving thousands of years of purgatory even when it is not needed, just to be assured that the filth of all that has surrounded my life has been scrubbed off and discarded for all eternity. A thousand years of purgatory would be better than any five minutes I have received from any of you.

And so I obtained release from God that I can no longer be his ambassador of love when I have received nothing but hate, withholding of friendship, and abuse in return, and that it continue unabated so that I even wish to die.

Just so you cultists can have your thrill of victory and little "we won" dance, after I received my release from God I dropped my pants, bowed in the bathroom to the sink near the potty fixtures that you so admire, and washed my feet in the toilet.

I would wish all of you luck and good will, but nothing that you do is done with full truthfulness and clean hearts or hands, which is why my intercessory prayers on your very behalf have not been granted by God, so I won't both to wish you luck when you have "made your own luck" and will seriously pay the price for that "lucky luck luck luck" in return.

In God's name,

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Understanding ESP and "psychic" "ability"

While surfing the net looking for attractive images of the saints, flora and fauna to add to my scrapbook of “favorite things,” I came across a very sad, and all too alarming, memorial site. Thus I realize I need to repeat, with even more clarity of explanation, what I have said before. This should help those who are new to my site, or who are actually paying attention and respect to what I am saying for the first time. Also, as I’ve explained before, I will revisit subjects over and over because I realize humans tend to believe crap the first time, and the truth and quality they only believe after repeated explanation and signs.

The memorial site was constructed by parents and a sibling of a young man who had died suddenly of some heart ailment. That they loved him and are grief stricken is obvious. They are a believing Catholic family (which is how I found their site, by searching for images of a certain saint) and they have wonderful trust in God, commending their son to his care. Well, except for one thing. As I read further through the memorial site, I saw that they believe they have “contacted their son” through “psychics.” Sigh.

I am going to explain now step by step why it does absolutely no good to work with “psychics,” particularly those who claim to communicate with the dead. They most assuredly do not communicate with the dead, not at all, not a single time, ever. So I am going to give you the science and the theology of what is really going on so that you can understand with no excuses. You will have greater faith and comfort once you lose the succubus of belief that psychics “communicate” with the dead.

First of all, it is a scientific fact that humans have to varying degrees ESP, which stands for extra-sensory perception. What that means is that people have the ability, to various degrees, to obtain information using “extra” (which means additional or other than) senses (ones that are not the five senses of vision, hearing, touch, etc) by which they have perception. Perception is a tricky concept. Notice it is not called extra-sensory fact finding, ESFF? Nor is it called extra-sensory intelligence gathering, ESIG? It is called perception because it means that one has the impression of gaining insight or experiencing some stimulation, and that may or may not be valid, or it may or may not lead to genuine additional information. For example, when you meet a person for the first time and he is gruff, you may perceive that you have met someone who does not like you. You may be correct, or you may be wrong, and that the gruff exterior masks a very affectionate interior. That is the problem of perception: one receives an impression of information and it may or may not be true.

So I am here to assure you that ESP does exist and there are some people who have only marginal talent in that regard, and some who are formidable in the extent to which they have use of ESP. There are lots of fakers too, who pretend to be psychics but obtain in advance information about you from stalking and spying. They are around in abundance and I can assure you that many “psychics” know your social security number and blood type before you even contact them, and I can assure you that they did not receive that information as “validation” that they are “communicating” with your dead Aunt Nellie. But I will limit myself to discussing those few with truly genuine ESP capability.

What you must realize is that ESP events take place one hundred percent in the material world of matter, energy and time. They do not and never actually access God’s realm (or Satan’s) of life after death. Thus a person who using ESP legitimately believes he or she is communicating with your dead relative is not actually communicating with them or anyone else at all; that person is not in contact with their soul, nor are they granted access to heaven, purgatory or hell. That honest, though misguided, person is in contact with the spiritual and electromagnetic “residue” that remains on earth of your loved one’s life.

While people do not understand the mechanics of ESP, let me describe it to you this way. Thoughts and actions are electromagnetic, and thus there is a continual and to varying degrees cumulative effect of a person’s life left like fingerprints on earth. Thus not only the consequences of deeds live on after the person but an electromagnetic residue. This is not a living or self aware spiritual entity or force, anymore than one’s fingerprints left on a crime scene is “the fingerprint spirit” LOL. So to make it easiest for your self in understanding ESP in this application, think of this fingerprint analogy.

The only difference is that the fingerprint is not necessarily left in one location, but it can be thought of as floating fingerprints. Thus some few genuine talented people can, using their ESP ability, detect one or more ESP “fingerprints” of your dead relative, loved one or friend. Not to be too blunt, but what that means is that the “psychic” can pick up “happy camper” “messages” from your deceased loved one, even though your loved one’s soul in actuality is not in that happy camper place in heaven, if you know what I mean. They are taking your money or at the very least your self respect and telling you that your loved one is in that “better place,” while they actually have no way of knowing that is true. In fact, I have read books by such people and watched them on TV and have known for a fact that certain people they have claimed to have “contact” with and who are “watching over you from heaven” are, actually, doing no such thing and are burning in hellfire.

Here is where the error comes in (again, I am referring only to those few who legitimately have some ESP ability and who are not willfully scamming). In order to have a dialogue with, well, “fingerprints,” they use a mental device which is to “bring the fingerprints ‘to life.’” Think about the leaving of physical fingerprints to better understand this. If you are a child with small hands you leave correspondingly small fingerprints, if you are a woman with long finger nails, your fingerprints may be demarked accordingly, if you have scars or a “working man’s hands,” your fingerprints may be rough and leave those distinctive marks. CSI people can therefore sometimes form a “mental picture” of a suspect just by looking at their fingerprints. Those few who genuinely use some sort of ESP likewise form a “mental picture” that is in actuality quite limited based on their contact with the loved one’s ESP “fingerprint.” They think they are totally accurate because they think their contact is “heaven sent,” but it is not. Thus they do not understand the boundaries and ultimately the total lack of usefulness of their “service.” It would be as if the CSI people issued an all points bulletin with a description of an entire person, down to their red hair and love of animals, based on one fingerprint left behind. It is one thing to have a mental image based on factual work, such as examining a physical fingerprint. It is another thing to think that one knows what that person was really like AND what they are “doing” “after they are dead” based on an ESP fingerprint that was made and left while they were still alive.

Thus the honest psychics (those few) think they are having conversations and communication from the dead, but they are actually having a conversation with the person’s fingerprint, left while that person was alive, and ‘bringing them to life’ in their mind, supplementing the information with their own living ESP abilities. It’s like putting a doll together where the only accurate part is that you have one fingerprint, and you pick the rest of the information about what the doll would look like by just making stuff up in your own head, and using some legitimate ESP based gathering of information yourself… but all of it confined to the residue on earth. None of this information is at all from the soul of the person who is deceased, nor is the information from any part of heaven, purgatory or hell.

I have continually cited the passage in Luke where Jesus Christ most clearly explains that there is absolutely no communication between the dead and the living, in the story of the rich man in hell.

When the Bible and other sources mention “raising people from the dead” or communicating with the dead, they are referring to exactly what I have explained above, except of course the authors at that time did not understand much about the brain, neurology and so forth. So let us spend some time showing that three types of perceived “communication with the dead.”

God will on very rare occasions send prophets back to earth for a brief message. An example of this is when Jesus is Transfigured, and in the presence of Moses and Elias. Matthew 17:3: And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking together with him. Jesus did not “raise Moses and Elias from the dead” nor did some psychic “get in touch with them in heaven.” God sent them to earth for that particular purpose of his, for the Apostles to witness Jesus Transfigured in their presence. So the first example of communicating with the dead is extremely rare and totally initiated by God, since God sends an image of the dead to earth for a given purpose. Another example of this is when Jesus dies on the cross, as his spirit leaves this opens the door and many of the dead are briefly seen to walk the earth again.

Matthew 27:51-54
And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were rent, and the tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep arose; and coming forth out of the tombs after his resurrection, they came into the holy city and appeared to many. Now when the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, they were very much afraid, and they said, “Truly he was the Son of God.”

Thus on rare occasions and entirely at God’s will and behest the dead who are at rest in heaven will appear in some form when God requires a message or a sign to be given. These are not events that are “summoned” or initiated by human beings.

The second example of “raising from the dead” or communicating with the dead is when a genuine prophet of God restores to life a person who has recently died. The most well known examples are of Jesus raising Lazarus and others from the dead, not in communicating with them as they remain dead, but to give life back to them.

Mark 5:38-42
And they came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue and he saw a tumult, people weeping and wailing greatly. And going in he said to them, “Why do you make this din, and weep? The girl is asleep, not dead.” And they laughed him to scorn. But he, putting them all out, took the father and mother of the girl and those who were with him, and entered in where the girl was lying. And taking the girl by the hand, he said to her, “Talitah cumi,” which is interpreted, “Girl, I say to thee, arise.” And the girl rose up immediately and began to walk; she was twelve years old. And they were utterly amazed.

The Jews were very aware that on extremely rare occasions God will give a prophet the power to raise from the dead and one of the great miracles of Eliseus is recalled:

4 Kings 4:32-37
Eliseus therefore went into the house, and behold the child lay dead on his bed. And going in he shut the door upon him, and upon the child, and prayed to the Lord. And he went up, and lay upon the child; and he put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands; and he bowed himself upon him, and the child’s flesh grew warm. Then he returned and walked in the house, once to and fro; and he went up, and lay upon him, and the child gaped seven times, and opened his eyes. And he called Giezi, and said to him: Call this Sunamitess. And she being called, went in to him, and he said: take up they son. She came and fell at his feet, and worshipped upon the ground, and took up her son, and went out.

Thus all who witnessed the great miracles of Jesus, especially when he raised some from the dead, instantly knew that this was an extraordinarily rare grace that can only come from God himself. This is why the Bible will refer to the ability to “raise from the dead,” but by no means is there the suggestion that humans can do this, for only God can do it and wills it only on the rarest of occasions through the hands of his prophets.

The third example is that which I have already explained in the bulk of this posting, which is the perception that one is in communication with the dead. This is why the Bible is very blunt about such acts which, if they are not of the rare examples given above, considered a work of sorcery. Exodus 22:18 Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. Yes, the Bible states that there is the death penalty for sorcery. Here is why.

As I have cited above, genuine contact with the dead is rare and only initiated by God. In other words, God alone allows a genuine and rare contact with the dead and he sent that ability at the time it occurs to the prophets of old. In other words, it’s not like people walked around with the “talent,” “gift” or “ability” to raise or communicate with the dead. God sends the power, ability and grace to do it at the time of the God willed action by a prophet. Moderns have fallen into the trap, which is why the Law as given by God is so harsh about sorcerers, of believing that communicating with the dead is a legitimate “gift” or “talent,” that can be invoked at will by a human being at his or her behest. That is absolutely and simply not true. Even Jesus did not walk around in a continual “on” state of being able to communicate with the dead and raise people from the dead and restore them to life. Each time that Jesus performed a miracle he was given that ability on the spot from God. We know this because we can read in the Gospel Jesus explain to the disciples that for certain miracles he makes certain preparations of prayer and fasting.

Likewise after Jesus died, resurrected and ascended to heaven, the Holy Spirit descended and gave certain Apostles the ability to perform certain miracles at certain times. It’s not like Peter, for example, was “always” in possession of the “gift” that he has now “developed.” Lord, no. Again, the Bible is clear throughout the centuries that only certain prophets are given on certain occasions the ability to cross the boundary between life and death, and that God and only God is the one who is actually bringing forth that miracle.

So, sorcerers and fortune tellers and others of their ilk have all made the same mistake, which is to believe that it is a “talent” or a “gift” to do certain extrasensory things, one that they possess and can invoke. In actuality what sorcerers do, or perceive that they are doing, is to, as I explained above, use certain earth bound extrasensory perceptions to perform acts that they think span the gap between the living and the dead, but they do not. As I’ve said, many are greedy and power hungry charlatans, while a few are genuinely talented in ESP based activities, and just misunderstand their own abilities, both where it comes from (not God) and what are its limitations (they are projecting their own inner information onto very small remnants of a person’s lingering or active mental and spiritual fingerprints). This is why the Law is so harsh and required the death penalty, since sorcerers promote their ability as a God given gift, which is blasphemous and in error. As I pointed out, even Jesus Christ himself did not walk around “promoting” his “ongoing” “gift” to raise the dead, for example, since that simply would not have been true. Jesus Christ is careful to point out that each and every miracle is at the behest of God and is a singular granting of that gift by God through Jesus, neither a sorcerous “talent” nor an ongoing “divine gift.”

Thus modern psychics, those few who are genuine, imply and often believe that they are in possession of an ongoing “gift” that is divinely approved, and it most assuredly is not. What they have is the same as if they had really good eyesight, or perfect pitch, or really keen hearing. Suppose that a person was born with the extremely subtle ability to smell odors like a bloodhound, or to hear outside of the human range, like all dogs do? Is that channeling a “gift from God” of “direction from heaven?” Um, no; it would be an example of someone through their earth bound genes having particularly keen sensory ability. People with ESP have no reason to thank God for it any more than someone with great vision thanks God for their super eyesight every day. ESP is a biological and electromagnetic capability; it is not miraculous, it is not “spiritual” in the sense of holy, justified or approved, and it does not span the real world of the living and the soul based world of the dead. It is like having really great hearing, really great eyesight, or a really great nose.

In general I dislike all psychics for that reason, since they have an uneducated and invalid vanity regarding the loftiness of their “gift.” The more that they parrot about God the less humility they are actually showing, since they are still linking their ESP ability to divine matters, and that simply is not true. What would be appropriate prayer? Again, think of the CSI example, of the fingerprint specialist, or of the person born with some incredible and bizarre ability to use his or her sense of smell like a bloodhound. They should pray that they are as responsible in the use of their talent and capability as they can be, just as all normal people should pray to God that he guide all that they do in life and that they only perform his will and do only honest good, not self serving “good.” However, it would be a vanity for a CSI fingerprint expert, for example, to think that his talent is miraculous, and that his dead uncle Freddy is “guiding” him from “up above.”

Likewise a man who was born with a bloodhound’s nose might pray for guidance about using his talent (and standing the stench of much of what he would smell, LOL) but it would be lunacy and error to think that he’s “channeling” some saint who had a big nose. Really, I’m almost embarrassed on behalf of modern humans when I type this. As usual I marvel that I have to keep explaining this over and over again. But as Jesus explained, Abraham told the dead man in hell that the people had Moses and didn’t listen to him, so why would his living brothers believe even his testimony of the reality of hell? It seems that every generation is worse and worse at ignoring the centuries of wisdom and truth in the Torah, the Bible and the Koran, and making stuff up to self aggrandize and fool the public as they go.

So when those few genuine psychics do an extraordinary thing, such as have an imaginary “conversation” with the residue of your dead loved one, or manipulate cards in a casino (LOL), or use psycho kinesis to make the other team drop the football, or accurately predict your next pregnancy, they are not using a “divine” “gift.” It is not God approved or God provided, any more than someone with particularly good eyesight or perfect pitch. It is simply an extreme capability of an earthly phenomenon and thus like everything else it is up to the person to either understand and use with morality, or misunderstand and abuse, and thus will answer for when the time comes. In animals we marvel and call it “instinct,” and study the biology of things like how a homing pigeon navigates, or a butterfly migrates thousands of miles. But we do not say, “Wow, God made that homing pigeon psychic” or “that butterfly must be channeling the spirit of the saint who was the best map reader.” I mean, use your common sense people.

I hope and pray that you have found this helpful.

Exodus 25:21-22
And thou shalt put the mercy-seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy-seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.

Identifying vanity, which can be quite subtle

I don't really have a long commentary or case study to provide at the moment, but just a thought that I had while reading some commentary on the Psalms by famed British Baptist Charles Spurgeon. Yes, even though he was a Baptist, John Calvin was, well, Calvinist, and Matthew Henry was Presbyterian, I do enjoy reading their commentaries.

Now, one of the great quarrels that the children of the Reformation, especially the Baptists, have with the Catholic Church is that they object to infant baptism. Spurgeon wrote a treatise condemning it quite soundly.

I have written before (check under the baptism label) explaining that infant baptism is biblical and there is scripture that alludes to its practice among the Israelites, who ceremonially washed infants and birth and wrapped them in new swaddling clothing which, when they are taken to the Temple, indicates their admittance into the faith. This is why the Gospel makes a point of Jesus being wrapped in swaddling clothing (he would have been washed first) and at the right time taken to the Temple.

The Israelites and thus Judaism, from which Christianity springs, had no concept of "waiting" for infants to become adults where they then "declare" for God! Jewish infants were consecrated to God and their faith community upon washing, swaddling, and the Temple presentation with sacrifice. It is from that custom and ritual that John the Baptist obtained the idea to baptize.

That is the greatness of John the Baptist. I often have wondered why more people did not wonder, and ask, "From where did John the Baptist get the idea to baptize people with water?" John the Baptist got the "idea" when the Holy Spirit inspired him to realize that the people needed a new baptism to prepare for the Messiah, the one whose way he knew he was preparing. Thus John the Baptist repeats what people were already doing, but with his strong message of the need to repent and convert. The Jewish people were already dedicating their newborns to God through their washing, swaddling, and infant presentation to the Temple with sacrifice.

It is for this reason that Catholics correctly maintain that the proper Biblical stance is to baptize infants as their entry into the faith community, just as the Israelites had washed, swaddled and brought their infants to the Temple. John the Baptist, through his greatness (remember that Jesus himself called John the Baptist the greatest of men), recognized through the Holy Spirit that the people needed to prepare for a new way, for the Messiah. Thus he "re-washed" believers, baptizing them, just as if they are spiritual and physical infants again. That is why John the Baptist performed "adult" baptism, because he was preparing the way, the new way, the New Covenant, that would come through Jesus Christ. But he used the method that was already firm tradition and the ritual that was part of the Law, which is to wash, swaddle and present at the Temple infants... except now these of necessity were adults who were like infants again, awaiting the Messiah and Savior.

So where does the vanity enter into the point that I am making? With the best of intentions and the most pure of heart, those who are the most critical of the Catholic Church for infant baptism are guilty of vanity. It seems as though no pastors want to give up being "the one" to "lead" and "conduct" an adult to God through adult baptism.

You see, when an infant is baptized one cannot take "credit" for bringing that soul to God, since the infant's parents, and godparents who sponsor the baptism, have made that decision for the child. Thus Catholics are exactly like the people of the Old Covenant, the Chosen People, the Israelites, the Jews of biblical times: they do not "wait" for the child to become an adult and 'choose' God. An infant is washed (baptised), swaddled (the baptismal gown), and presented to the Temple for presentation with sacrifice (brought to the church, blessed, and recorded as a member of the faithful).

My point is not to have dueling scripture or to re-argue the problem and the error of misunderstanding. My point is to help many of you to understand that vanity, personal vanity where one takes "credit" for "bringing a soul to God," is very, very pernicious and subtle, and it hides in even the best and most well intentioned of men and women. The Catholic Church continues what the biblical Temple attending Jews did throughout the centuries and there is no "credit" for doing what is obviously one's parental and faith forming duty, which is to dedicate one's infant to God at the early appropriate time.

Obviously in the early days of the Church, baptism started with adults because it symbolized the break from the Old Covenant and the joining of the New Covenant. But remember this: the New Covenant applies to all, Jesus Christ as Lord brought it for everyone, not just for adults who one day suddenly realize they are "ready." I have observed in people's hearts that one barrier to fruitful dialogue and understanding of the Catholic doctrine-and its origins-results from the unconscious clinging to the vanity of adult baptism, as personal "credit" for "bringing the adult into the fold, "credit" which is pointless and not even part of the Catholic psyche since one is simply doing one's parental duty when one has one's infant baptized.

If you are being honest with me, and yourself, if you imagine and picture the scenario of the truth that I am saying, you will watch your inner screen of emotions carefully and thus detect that qualm of not wanting to give up the adult person being baptized looking at YOU as the one giving them the gift. The fiercely denominational and independent structure of the Protestant faiths is another way to understand this "credit" and baptism "competition" of vanity. Catholic churches don't compete with each other, for example, for being "the one" who "brought that infant to baptism." If anything they have gone too far in the other direction, where it's not as personal a family experience as it used to be in my day. I still remember with horror my godson's baptism was part of something like two dozen families all have a massive baptism event, rather than the personal family experience that it was when my niece was baptized years earlier. Baptism in some parishes have more the whiff of bureaucracy, in other words, than any whiff of vanity. But if one is objective one cannot help but to observe that those who conduct adult baptism and who go out of their way to be intolerant and critical of Catholic infant baptism are, in fact, very strongly tied to the vanity of the taking "credit" for "adding an adult to one's personal flock." Remember, that's God's job and all credit and glory are to him and him alone.

I hope that this has given you something to think about. Vanity, especially in faith, is a very pernicious, subtle, and strong power, one that must be guarded against lest it harm rather than promote humility, sanctity, and giving the true glory to God.

Bible Reading: Psalms 50(51):12

The numbering of the psalms and the verses differs from one Bible to the next and I don't make it easier by using only one Bible, ha. That is why I always type the text in here on the blog rather than just cite a passage and have you look it up, since often the numbering or the translation varies.

This one line from David's famous psalm of repentance is an example of how people can take one line from the Bible and use it as a prayer to God. Those of you who are going through some sort of personal reformation might find this one line to be a very helpful prayer to God as you make progress in your inner work.

Psalm 50 (51): 12

A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me.

A reading from the Qur'an

Surah 11:56

Surely I rely on Allah, my Lord and your Lord; there is no living creature but He holds it by its forelock; surely my Lord is on the right path.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A simple song of worship to God

I like to buy in book stores and also in flea markets and other providers of used books hymnals and other collections of praise and worship songs. I just found a copy of “Singing Worship with Boys and Girls,” edited by Edith Lovell Thomas, Abingdon Press 1935. With so much violent, sleazy and at best world weary lyrics in many popular songs, I like to just read the simple poetry and grace of songs like these. I opened to one song when I first picked up the book and these are the lyrics. They provide such a simple and beautiful reminder of God’s nature.

God’s Signals
(Source unknown, music by U.C. Burnap, 1898)

I hung a pink-cloud ribbon
O’er the mountains free,
To say to you, “Good morning;”
Did you see? Did you see?

I asked a thrush to sing to you
Something glad and clear,
His joyous song at noontime;
Did you hear? Did you hear?

And then I asked the west winds,
So soft and sweet, to blow
To you my “Good night” tender;
Did you know? Did you know?

Sometimes a simple song such as this is an important reminder of the genuine “signs” of God and how they are there throughout the day. The song is structured to start with the morning dawn’s pink colored sky as the first greeting by God, the bird’s song in the midday whose song gladdens the hearts of humans who hear, and thus is a gift from God, and at night when the welcome breeze softly cools away the heat of the day’s labor. People constantly look for great signs and mighty deeds, especially those that might be apocalyptic, and they miss the hundreds of small signs from God about the goodness of life each day.

By the way, one of my fondest memory and emotion triggers is the song of the Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) at dusk. I have lived for many years in places where there would always be a Wood Thrush singing the transition from daytime into dark, and it has such a pure and sweet whistle.

If you go to this link and click on "Song" in the left column you can hear a brief clip of the Wood Thrush's song.

There is a longer sample at this link (click on "Sound"), that gives you not only its song, but at the end the sound of it being disturbed and somewhat peeved! So when you listen to this link you hear what I heard every evening during summer and autumn months, until the thrushes left for migration each year. For me they are like "comfort food" for the ears :-)

When I was still living at home and in school, the woods across the street was not developed for housing as it is now, and it had many thrushes, both Wood Thrushes and the Verry. There are five Hylocichala, all looking very similar, and I'm pleased to say that my birdwatching best friend and I had seen and identified all five. They look very much alike but can be easily distinguished by their distinctive songs.

I hope that you enjoyed reading this and thinking about this reminder.

Fulton Sheen about sin and human nature

While not (yet) declared a saint, few of this past century have led more to God than the late, great Archbishop Fulton Sheen. One can never go wrong reading the writings of Fulton Sheen, or watching those episodes of his television show that one can find. Here is a section of his writing, taken from the Michael Dubruiel book “Praying in the Presence of Our Lord with Fulton J. Sheen” that I’ve wanted to share and point out to you for several days now.

From “Peace of Soul” by Fulton Sheen:

First, man is not an angel, nor is he a devil. He is not intrinsically corrupt (as theologians began claiming four hundred years ago) nor is he intrinsically divine (as philosophers began saying fifty years ago). Rather, man has aspirations to good which he finds it impossible to realize completely by himself; at the same time, he has an inclination toward evil which solicits him away from these ideals. He is like a man who is down in a well through his own stupidity. He knows he ought not to be there, but cannot get out by himself. Or, to change the picture, he is like a clock whose mainspring is broken. He needs to be fixed on the inside, but the repairs must be supplied from without. He is mistaken if he is an optimist, who believes evolution to be the mainspring, or a pessimist who believes that nobody can fix him. He is a creature who can run well again, but only if some watchmaker will have the kindness to repair him.

Second, this conflict has all the appearances of being due to the abuse of human freedom. As the drunkard is what he is, because of an act of choice, so human nature seems to have lost the original goodness with which a Good God endowed it, through an act of choice. As St. Augustine said, “Whatever we are, we are not what we ought to be.” The origin of this conflict has been told by medieval and modern theologians through the analogy of music. Picture an orchestra on stage with a celebrated conductor directing the beautiful symphony he himself composed. Each member of the orchestra is free to follow the conductor and thus to produce harmony. But each member is also free to disobey the conductor. Suppose one of the musicians deliberately plays a false note and then induces a violinist alongside of him to do the same. Having heard the discord, the conductor can do one of two things. He could either strike his baton and order the measure replayed, or he could ignore the discord. It would make no difference which he did, for that discord has already gone out into space at a certain temperature at the rate of about 1100 feet a second. On and on it goes, affecting even the infinitesimally small radiations of the universe. As the stone dropped in a pond causes a ripple which affects the most distant shore, so this discord affects even the stars. As long as time endures, somewhere in God’s universe there is a disharmony, introduced by the free will of man.

Could that discord be stopped? Not by man himself, for man could never reach it; time is irreversible and man is localized in space. It could, however, be stopped by the Eternal coming out of His agelessness into time, laying hold of the false note, arresting it in its flight? But would it still be discord in God’s Hands? No! Not if God wrote a new symphony and made the false note its first note! Then all would be harmony again.

Understanding God: advice and role models

In my previous post in the series “understanding God” I explained how the error of predestination is the result of misunderstanding the attribute of God’s all knowingness. I want to dovetail a related concept here, just to build upon this basis of understanding.

God is impossible to fully understand, not because he keeps part of himself secret, but because his vastness of “perspective” is genuinely unknowable. In fact, the more that the great religious minds have come to know God, the more they are in awe of all that is unknowable by the human mind, which is bounded by limitations of matter, energy and time. Saint Thomas Aquinas is the shining example of the saint who most used intellectual and logic capabilities to explain faith and through the centuries many have revered and studied him for precisely that reason. He is the one who has brought generation after generation to God through “the human mind.” Thomas Aquinas left volumes of writings, all based on faith and logic through reasoning, which are treasures today. Still, what was the thing that enraptured him so much that ultimately he stopped writing? It was the mystery of God in the Holy Mass, specifically in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. The way that God reveals himself, physically and spiritually, in the Holy Mass, in all its mystery and simplicity was what gave Aquinas more understanding, and at the same time more awe of the mystery, than any intellectual progress in understanding God.

Before I continue on my main point, let me make an aside. Many people outside of the Catholic Church misunderstand why Catholics venerate the saints so much. There are two reasons, one of which is related to how we understand being part of their community, the “communion of saints,” even as they are already in heaven and we are still alive here on earth. The other reason that I want to explain to you is that the saints are teachers and role models, not just as examples of holiness and redemption, but also in the many varied ways that each of them grew in their understanding of God. There are many techniques, for lack of a better word, for individuals to better understand God and often one or two saints are role models that a person can relate to in their progress themselves toward understanding God. St. Thomas Aquinas has for centuries been the inspiration for those who desired or needed to approach their understanding of God through a rigorous path of logic and reasoning. He is one of the thirty-three Doctors of the Church. Yet in direct proportion to his logic, reasoning and intellectual approach to God, Aquinas also had an intense and mystical communion directly with God, one that yielded miraculous fruits. Thus one of his titles is “The Common Doctor,” for he leads the average person to reason their way to God, while another of his titles is “The Angelic Doctor,” for his mystical qualities are comparable to how the angels themselves know God. I cannot recommend St Thomas Aquinas highly enough, therefore, to modern generations for veneration and role modeling in emulating his intellectual approach, and being inspired by the divine gifts that he, in parallel, received.

In his prologue to his best known work, The Summa Theologica, he wrote: Since the teacher of Catholic truth must instruct not only the advanced but also the beginners, according to the word of St. Paul (1 Cor. 3:1-2), “as to little ones in Christ, I fed you with milk, not with solid food…” so that the purpose and intent of this work is to treat those things that pertain to the Christian religion in a manner suitable to the instruction of beginners…with confidence in the divine help, try to present the contents of sacred doctrine as briefly and clearly as the matter allows.

Father Rengers in his book “The 33 Doctors of the Church” comments that “St. Thomas, who fought fro and is remembered for his emphasis on the place of reason in theology, relied primarily on the guiding hand of divine love” and quotes St. Thomas, “Ardor precedes illumination, for a knowledge of truth is bestowed by the ardor of charity.”

Just as another aside, Shiite Muslims have a similar understanding of saints with Catholics, where they understand that saints are to be revered, but not worshipped, and that saints are the role models for not only their virtue but also their methods of learning about God and teaching accordingly.

Therefore, St. Thomas Aquinas, who has such an intellectual approach to teaching about God, role models and articulates two important things to bear in mind,. One is to always remember that “baby steps” are needed in understanding and teaching about God, not demonstrations of one’s supposed intellectual prowess and “sophistication” of thought. He critiques previous works as being too difficult and agenda driven for many to learn from, and that is a problem that moderns are especially vulnerable toward. Indeed there is an entire industry of very marginal people writing books about God and faith who have little if any solid factual education, particularly in Christianity, yet peddle to the public books filled with the most bizarre and arcane claptrap, presented as “lofty” and sophisticated “spiritual insight.” In contrast, the greatest “expert” in God in modern times, Thomas Aquinas, always built his writings on solid intellect and baby steps, ensuring that neither his doctrine nor the readership goes even one inch astray. When Aquinas taught he started with the basics, from truly the very beginning, such as why God created humans, and what are the attributes of heaven, not with sweeping declarations of his “personal revelation” and condescending “wisdom.” The true geniuses, especially those on the subject of God and faith, are always remarkably humble and allow only one step at a time on solid factual and theological foundation that is not of their own invention.

The second thing that Aquinas role models and articulates is that when writing about God, one cannot, no matter how intellectual, write from a perspective of no love. No one can accurately discuss or represent God if one does not have or actively aspire to having love of God. At the face of this, moderns might object that loving God presents then “bias” into written works about God, but on examination that is ridiculous. God is love and all of love comes from God. One cannot genuinely write about God, including in a strictly intellectual way, without having love of God, “ardor” as St Thomas calls it or at the very least is seeking to have love of God, acknowledging that as his or her objective in writing and study. To attempt to write about God without loving God as God exists (and not how you wish him to be) is like a chemist trying to write about chemistry but not believing in hydrogen, or a physician writing about the treatment of wounds and refusing to believe that bandages exist, or a home builder who seeks to build a shelter but refuses to believe there is such a thing as walls and a roof. Thus one cannot explain or study God without feeling love of God as he is, since ultimately the sum total of understanding God is understanding and feeling love of God. One can no more understand God without loving God than one can hope for rain in a drought yet not believe in water.

So to understand God one must take baby steps based on sound and factual basis of reasoning, but one must also have love of God in one’s heart as one’s motivation, even if that love is painfully imperfect at first. One other error that moderns make is the excessive focus on God, specifically in Jesus Christ, as some sort of symbol of unconditional “love,” a love that excuses sin, and is not actually directed toward genuine love of God or genuine, rather than self serving, loving charity of neighbor. If one reads the Gospels, yes, Jesus preaches a great deal about love and charity, but he also in equal measure dishes out a great deal of criticism and reminder of the penalty of failure and of a continually sinful and godless life, which will end in being burned as the chaff. Moderns, ever since the so-called hedonistic “Love Generation,” ignore the reality of what Jesus taught about God and instead portray Jesus as some sort of pastel colored ever forgiving and ever accepting love machine. In order to write intellectually honest and correct works about God, one must have genuine love of God as either one’s reality or one’s objective, and not an agenda driven self serving interpretation of the “endless boundaries” of God’s love.

For example, many of the saints loved to read about God and write about God. But there is a remarkable difference between their motivations and the motivations of many today. The saints loved to read about God because they loved God, not because they were trying to analyze, dissect and understand him with the intent of controlling his powers. For example, when one is truly in love one wants to know more about the object of one’s love because love creates the desire to know more and immerse one’s self in the loved one’s milieu. One should not, however, wish to read more and more about one’s loved one as a way to manipulate and control him or her. Thus one who is well balanced seeks to read about God because one loves God, or wishes to love God or love him even more, and not to wrest imaginary “secrets” out of God as a way to accomplish some sort of secondary agenda in one’s life.

Likewise the saints loved to write about God because, again, they loved God and wished to share their love of God with others. Similarly, many moderns also misunderstand and misuse their own motivations for writing about God. Far too many, especially in the so-called New Age arena, write about God in order to show off their supposed enlightenment and cash in on it. I’m not saying that one cannot charge money for a book, to earn a living or to at least break even in the cost of publication. What I am saying is that too many so called “spiritual” writers write about God or their New Age “spirit” as ways to self promote. They often proclaim their “humility” while at the same time puffing up their possession of spiritual “insight” and “gifts.” Thus you have New Age Hindus or Buddhists or whatever actually writing and marketing books about Jesus Christ, and then doing the “talk show circuit” as “spiritual experts.”

Think again about my example of the chemist who wants to write a chemistry book but does not believe in the existence of hydrogen. Would you want to read anything that he or she has to say? Would you want to conduct any of his or her experiments? I mean, go ahead, light up that cigarette since hydrogen does not exist, LOL. That would be irresponsible and crazy enough, to be a chemist who does not believe in the existence of hydrogen and teaches accordingly. However, imagine this. Suppose it is a biologist who writes that chemistry book and the biologist is both is not a chemist, but also does not believe in hydrogen! So that author would not even be an irresponsible expert; he or she would be an irresponsible non-expert, a uneducated intruder into the field of chemistry.

Now imagine that a biologist writes a book about chemistry where not only do they not believe in hydrogen, but they think that neon has been treated “unfairly” and does not get sufficient “attention,” and thus pushes a “neon agenda” throughout their chemistry book. “It’s not fair that neon is an inert gas,” the author thinks, and decides to insert neon into many equations and chemical reactions in the place of the actual element that occurs there. They do not believe in hydrogen, and they think that neo does not get enough attention. Thus they teach that the chemical formula for water, H2O, is actually Ne2O. Need some water? Smash some neon and oxygen together!

To understand God one must understand God the way God actually is, based on the facts of God’s interaction with the faithful and his inspired words on the subject, not on how someone wants God to be in order to enable their own agendas. The saints are the reliable way who show the genuine path to understanding and loving God, and that is why thousands of these role models exist. The saints have all come to God in a myriad of lifestyles and life experiences, so there’s a saint that resonates somewhere for anyone in any station of life. However, they all come together in one commonality, which is orthodox and reliable, faith and reasoning based understanding and love of God. None of them, no matter where they came from in life, “made up” out of their own minds their own theology and their own “interpretation” of God. They found their way on their own paths to the same God; they did not invent different Gods as the result of “going their own way.” I cannot believe how foolish people are today when some of them basically say they are finding the “right” God who “suits their needs.” I’m sorry, but there’s only one God, the powerfully eternally consistent one, who is waiting when your life is over and you are judged, and it’s not the “convenient” God who was “best suited to your lifestyle.” God is God and the same God, no matter what people are doing on earth, or even if this planet is blown to smithereens. God never changes and it does not matter one iota if you think that God is not “suitable to your present needs.”

To summarize, just as one learns how to drive a car from someone who knows how to drive, one can rely on studying one or more of the saints for ideas about how to better understand God and make him real in your life. Do not let “the blind lead the blind.” People used to read about and study the saints so that they would have ideas and role models about how to learn about God, not to follow the saints to the stake, LOL. Many saints were not martyrs and had even ordinary and non-dramatic lives, with the problems and challenges that all average people encounter in life.

Let me give an example of how that works best, and how that might be misunderstood. St. Paul has been through the centuries one of the most frequently role modeled of the saints, but there is a correct way to role model St. Paul and an incorrect way to role model St. Paul. Remember that Paul, when he was still Saul and a violent persecutor of Christians, was an ardent believer in God. Saul was extremely God fearing and very studious in his Jewish faith. It was this love of God that became extremist zealotry which motivated his erroneous persecution of Christians. In a way Saul was like the Pharisees who persecuted Jesus because obviously the Pharisees believed very much in God. So both Saul and the Pharisees were filled to overflowing with belief in God’s existence and in the tenets of their faith. In a way Saul was better than the Pharisees because he was not a hypocrite. Saul did not have the material and prestigious benefits of the wealth of the priesthood, for example; he was a tent maker. However, obviously Saul was worse off than those Pharisees who only argued with Jesus but who personally did not seek his death, leaving that to the other Pharisees. Saul did not argue with Christians; he sought to arrest them and have them killed. Then Saul was thrown from his horse on the way to Damascus by the light and the voice of the resurrected Christ, and he was converted.

Therefore St. Paul has been a role model for many generations of Christians who relate to several aspects of his life: his belief in God but disbelief in Jesus, his dramatic conversion rather than one based on gradual study, his transformation from a destroyer of a faith to a planter of churches, and his suffering for the faith through many trials and pains after his conversion to Christianity. However, I have noticed that St. Paul has been somewhat popular as a modern role model for those who did not believe in God at all. I’m not saying that such moderns are not welcome to use St. Paul as a role model, far from it, I welcome it. But I need to point out that an important aspect of understanding St. Paul is that he always was a God fearing pious believer. The resurrected Christ’s confrontation with him did not prove to Saul that God existed, since Saul always believed that, but was irrefutable proof of the identity of Jesus Christ as specifically the Savior and the Messiah. Moderns who do not believe in God but seek him through St. Paul’s role modeling tend to make one mistake accordingly. Moderns who do not believe in God and role model themselves after St. Paul tend to maintain an inner weakness toward disbelief and pagan practices. This is because St. Paul does not offer in his own life a refuting of total disbelief or of pagan superstitions because he himself had no need of that witness and testimony in his own life, since he always believed in God.

Thus selection of a “role model” saint is very important to proper faith formation. People who have no belief in God or cultist pagan New Age temptations are often better off emulating saints who grew up in pagan households who then converted. They can surely, and should, venerate and honor St. Paul studying, as all aspiring and actual Christians should, his life and his writings. But for moral support and for approaching God through the proven path that is most near one’s own actual situation in life, one should look at the other saints for guidance and both moral and intellectual support. For example St Justin Martyr is one of the best known and helpful of the saints to those who come from a disbelieving, pagan, or excessively secularized pseudo-intellectual background. Justin Martyr lived circa 100-165 and was of a very educated pagan family. As a pagan teacher of philosophy, rhetoric, history and poetry he was inspired by an old man who had met to study Christian Scripture. He became a Christian at the age of thirty, debated with pagan philosophers, and opened a school of philosophy. Justin Martyr was raised as a child, became an intellectual, a teacher and ultimately converted when paganism was by far the majority, and Christianity was the radical, persecuted minority. Thus someone with a very godless background, especially one that was intellectual, can especially relate to Justin Martyr and his existing writings.

For many generations Christian men, whose vocation was to have an average married life with children looked to St. Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and stepfather to Jesus, for their path and inspiration, even though Joseph authored no testimonies or sacred literature. During the generations where many did not read or write, who were poor, and who attempted only to do the best they could for their families, the deeds of St. Joseph, his obedience to God, and his love of Jesus were all the inspiration that they needed. They read about the Apostles, studied the Bible and their catechism, but they simply loved St. Joseph. I still remember the time when millions of men looked to St. Joseph for their support and strength, finding God through St. Joseph’s humble and unique example. Oddly we live in times where people buy St. Joseph statues and bury them in the ground upside down so that they can have “better luck” in selling their real estate properties. Maybe that has not been the right approach to God, no? St. Joseph is often forgotten except as a pagan practice to shill someone’s real estate. How sadly the times have changed. As St. Joseph has fallen away as a role model for the average Christian man, we have a real estate crisis (where his statue was used for pagan purposes, not totally a coincidence) plus we have the epidemic of stepfathers and “boyfriends of the mother” brutalizing and killing infants. A generation of humans is very much like the saints that they emulate, and, to their detriment, the saints that they ignore or defy in role modeling. I can think of no more stark example, except for the degrading of God himself, of the downfall of an entire category of humans (men) and their falling away from the best human role model they ever had, St. Joseph, spouse of Mary and step father to Jesus.

Thus to better understand God it is obvious that hundreds and indeed thousands of saints who have already found their way there can and must provide role modeling and example setting to people from a full diversity of life experience and perspective.

Further, one does not better understand God by omitting one’s God given intellect and believing any baloney that anyone makes up and sells to you, including your own self delusion. Far from abandoning reason and intellect, Christianity, Islam and Judaism are rich in the opportunities to use your brain, not put it in mothballs (or some other chemicals).

Additionally, love of God, even if it is unknown to you or painfully incomplete, must be your motivation for seeking to understand God. Motivations other than love of God all lead to truncated, misleading or dead ends and great error in interpretation. Likewise, however, the love of God must be understood correctly, and not as human labeling of weakness or hedonism as being justified by some open ended sloppy agenda based philosophy of supposed “love.” God’s love is infinitely strong and infinitely pure, and one cannot understand God if one has an unwillingness to understand that. God is both understanding and forgiving, but one must also remember that God’s purity of love is never compromised. Thus that which is stained and full of sin, no matter how much God “loves all his children,” cannot enter heaven.

The many paths to finding the one true God as demonstrated by the thousands of saints, both famous and mostly unknown, demonstrates again that God wishes all to find him, and does not “predestine” anyone to heaven or hell. Like evolution and natural selection has developed many thousands of species of birds in nature, for example, each person finds the same God in their own heart and soul through various paths. What is important to remember is, however, that the paths are all real and grounded on actuality, not self invented delusion. The saints demonstrate that people can and do come to God in various directions at various times in their lives: some were child saints, holy at even a small age, while others became saints late in life after much error and sinfulness. Obviously if people were “predestined” God would not have allowed such many examples of those who individually find sanctity and role model to others. Just to close this topic, here is the statement of the Catholic Church doctrine regarding predestination:

1037. God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers of the faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want “any to perish, but all to come to repentance”:

Father, accept this offering
From your whole family
Grant us your peace in this life,
Save us from final damnation,
And count us among those you have chosen.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Understanding God: all knowing not predestination

Every once in a while I don't mind a dash of Calvinism because they are healthy reminders that there is a real, genuine terrible hell, and that people really do go to an actual hell. Too many moderns do not preach fear of going to hell enough, to be honest. So sometimes I joke that we need some fire and brimstone preaching about hell from Calvinists.

However, there is a very fundamental error in Calvinism (beside the whole Protestant split from Catholicism quarrel) that needs clearing up. Calvin and his followers believe in "predestination," which is the cause of much of the historic antagonism between Calvinism and Catholicism. Catholics assert that there is free will, where people choose whether or not to sin, and thus must bear the consequences of sin. Calvinists believe that all of this is "predetermined" before one is born, and thus one is born to either be saved to heaven or doomed to hell, no matter what that person does.

Predestination is an error and is incorrect. It results from a misunderstanding of God's "all knowing-ness." For those of you new to my blog or new to reading my "understanding God" series, if you follow the label you will be able to read what I have previously written about God's attributes (for lack of a better word), including his knowledge of all that was, all that is, all that will be, and all that could ever be (the answer to every "what if" question), to the minutest level. I discuss how God knows the action, past present and future, of every subatomic particle, no matter how small, every void of space, and all the matter, energy, time and nothingness that ever was, could be (if God had willed it to be), or will be (what he does will). For example, God knows each subatomic particle in one cell of your skin, for example, knowing where each particle came from and where it is going, to the end of time.

Thus God knows the thought of every human being, their intentions, their actions, and also all that they have done and all that they will do. However, there is a great difference between God knowing what one will do throughout life (and thus where one will go after life, when one dies) and predestination. God knows what choices you will make in life, but God still allows you to make those choices, one after the other. If one was genuinely "predestined" to heaven or hell, God would not allow humans to make individual choices about behavior day to day. You would find that you are marching through a script, and that most certainly is not true. So Calvinists believe that a person is going to go to hell, for example, no matter what they do in life, and likewise someone else is destined to heaven. That most assuredly is not true and both God in the Old Testament and Jesus Christ in the New Testament emphasize that one must make continual choices throughout life, to be righteous or to sin. God knows what choices each person will make, but that does not mean that God has made those choices for you.

Each person still has to make individual choices that in sum total are 1) acceptance of the grace of God and 2) are righteous and 3) are genuinely repenting of sin in order to achieve heaven. In other words one has to live life, step by step, decision by decision, and God is not going to make those decisions for you. God knows what you will decide and that is God's "all knowing." However, you still have to live your life and work to make good life affirming decisions, and to shun and regret sin when it does occur.

Think about it with this theoretical. Suppose one felt that he or she was "predestined" for heaven, no matter what he or she did. Would that incline a person to be very mindful of the consequences of their behavior? No, it would not. Likewise a person who thinks they are predestined to hell will not make much of an effort to do what is right. Predestination is such a pernicious and filled with despair attitude that it gave qualms to even some of the most holy of the saints, when they encountered this idea in their youth. What people must remind themselves of is what is in the Bible. From cover to cover, and with plain and loving but stern speech by Jesus Christ himself, the Bible teaches the avoidance of temptation and evil and the choosing of the good. The Bible would not continually teach good choices in life if the fact was that the choices were already made for someone due to "predestination."

So the Calvinists misunderstand the fact that God knows in advance the heart and the deeds of all humans with thus assuming that God has predetermined as in established as a fact where they are going before they are even born. This is simply not true and remember, God created humans in the first place so that they can make choices and be individuals who elect God and love their neighbor. If God wanted robots he would have created really good ones and not have bothered with either humans or angels (who also made their choice whether to serve or to not). God knowing in advance what choices one will make does not mean God requires, forces, or guides one's steps inexorably down that "path" to either heaven or hell. Each human does that all on his or her own, with each step of their life.

Remember too that God would not have given each person guardian angels if the purpose of the angels was just to watch one group march to hell, and the other group to heaven. Angels interact with humans with a continual bias and spirit toward doing the good, doing the best, and resisting temptation. Likewise the Holy Spirit moves constantly among all people, those who are making good choices but especially among those making bad choices, trying to guide them back to the healthy, the good, the loving and the righteous. I hope that you have found this helpful.

Joshua 24:15
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Belgians mourn creche deaths and wounds

I am with the Belgians in spirit and solidarity, praying for those who have had to bear such an unbearable loss.

It is difficult to imagine, but unfortunately, no longer impossible, to contemplate a 20 year old man painting white face with black eyes, telling a child creche minder he "had a question," and then slashing and murdering tiny babies with a 12 inch knife. One victim was six months old. One was nine months old. A 54 year old woman died protecting the infants. The assailant sought out every baby to slash and attempt to kill, though leaving aside some of the "older ones," toddlers. My God in heaven, this is what the world has come to.

And here in the USA the Screen Actors Guild is full of themselves, handing out to each other awards, especially praising the late Heath Ledger's performance as "The Joker" in the Batman movie "The Dark Knight." The Joker had a question too, "Why so serious?" That question was parlayed for months on the Internet as the "promo" for that film, and specifically for that knight of chaos and nihilism performance. When the warning signs were there, when the role began to haunt him, disturbing his sleep, did anyone wonder why people should see this? No and instead, the narcissists praised Ledger's brilliant and intense "commitment" to "acting," until the morning he no longer woke up and they could not praise him, except, of course, in now seemingly endless "tributes." I suspect Mr Ledger's soul has quite a different perspective about how "inspirational" his performance is on the world today. But not Hollywood and not the media. There is no downfall like one that is wilfully in perpetual motion, driven by hubris and greed, and a lack of understanding of simple and good life, not one filled with angst and self inflicted pain.

Who could out joker The Joker? Someone who slashed the throats of babies in a creche, I guess.

People, as Belgians mourn and wonder how their peace of mind could be so ruined by such a deed, I must remind everyone that nihilism, violence, and contempt of children is viral. No country, no culture, no small town like that sad place in Belgium is safe from the viral culture of dark nihilism, one that amplifies and distorts the increasing neutrality if not even disdain that much of the culture has for infants, for innocence, for the helpless, and for the pure.

How can you not all see that, as New Agers like to parrot, "it's all connected," except unlike them I am not speaking of airy-fairy "karma" and "coincidences?"

I am talking about empty people, those who are impoverished of the spirit of life, who then, vampire like, fill that emptiness with imagined or real notoriety, fueled by Internet and media magnification of the freak show who then, with ready access to knives, guns and other forms of mayhem, frighten, wound and kill the most innocent, in order to create the most "shock value" in a society with less and less values and more and more shock.

In the Columbine school massacre one of the shooters asked a teenage girl, as he pointed his gun at her, "Do you still believe in God?" When she said yes, he drilled her with his bullet.

It is all connected. Those who fall into the pit of nihilism, one that is widened, deepened and honored by the media culture, whether they are considered "insane" or merely "depraved criminals," look ever increasingly for innocence, which is harder and harder to find. So they kill those who still believe in God, they kill children, and then, to find those who are the purest of all, they kill the babies.

The youngest of these nihilists grew up in a society where abortion is not only normal and was always legal in their memory's time, but also a "right" to be "fought for." Not a sad and regretful reality, but something to be praised, to be fought for like Lara Crofts wielding a suction equipment and scalpel.

So the nihilists are confused, but certain in one thing. There is no innocence, but for the greatest shock value, one must kill the innocents, so where do you go? To the Internet to kill them visually, to video games to kill them at play, and to the creche to kill them in reality.

"I thought these things only happened in the United States," one mourning Belgian said. This is what I am trying to tell you, what I have been warning about for years. It is a viral horror that has not only been unleashed on the world but is glorified by the media mandarins who actually profit and praise each other's artistry as the world falls into nihilism, one tragedy, like a dripping faucet, at a time.

I am reminded of how Britain is reeling from so many youth knife murders and I recall how years ago, Britain was astonished when a crazed man murdered little school children in Scotland. What did people say then? "I thought these things only happen in America." I remember watching, with horror, the news coverage.

These days the Britons, who are excelling at a whole generation of nihilistic yobs all on their own, know what the Belgians do not yet know. It may have at one time been "only in the United States," but no longer, no longer. The United States may not have Islamic terrorism but it sure enough has its own terror export, cultural nihilism combined with violence.

Some Americans say, "Why do they hate us?" Well, if things do not change, be prepared to wonder that some more, because unless the world has totally lost their basic ability to see and to reason, more and more will start to wonder about America media's unique mixture of nihilism together with violence-much of it targeted toward children, as both victims and consumers-and they will start to connect the dots.

I am praying that everyone will come to their senses and climb out of the dirt soon.

In the meantime, there is the usual infant murders here in the United States. One "father" asked to see his toddler only once, so he could kill him and not have to make child support payments (allegedly). This was a few weeks ago. Every day, however, there are beaten and dead infants reported in the paper, usually by "the boyfriend of the mother." Today we read that the ex girlfriend of a pro basketball player was found shot in her apartment. Oh yeah, and her nine month old infant girl was shot dead too.

Young people in particular, I can only assure you that there was once upon a time, not all that long ago, but it seems a galaxy and a century away, when it was not just "news as usual" that a tiny baby is murdered, at all, for any reason. It was absolutely unthinkable to murder a baby as recently as fifty years ago, with very few exceptions. The worst dirt bag and thug in the world might do something dreadful to an adult (again, nothing like these days though) but would never harm the baby, never touch the child.

Young people, I beg you not to accept this murderous nihilistic culture that you have been fed for the last generation and worse, you actually pay for and enrich those who are perpetuating the downfall of culture and society.

However you feel about a woman's "right to choose," for example, understand one thing. A culture such as that of the United States cannot have three thousand pregnancy terminations A DAY and have a populace that is unscathed emotionally. You are not the same people as those who lived when terminating a pregnancy was an unthinkable agreed cultural prohibition, reflecting the value of the innocent baby's life. You can still believe in a "right to choose," but be intellectually honest enough to recognize the truth of what I am saying that like post traumatic stress disorder, you survive the violence but you are not the same. This society is unrecognizable and you, young people, have been cheated of peace of mind, whether you realize it or not. Worse, you've been taught to applaud those who cheat you of your peace of mind, to honor them, to admire them, and to give them money and your precious attention and time.

When, young people, will you explode not in violence, or a frenzy of attention deficit behavior, but in an explosion of righteousness? When will you all finally bust loose and demand decency and peace of mind based on loving genuine life, not a nihilistic love of artificial existence? When, when, when?

You must stop drinking at the dark water fountain of nihilism and narcissism and say "no" to it, and instead, fill yourself with goodness, no matter what the stresses are in life, again. The cure for the hardship and stresses of life is not nihilistic behavior or "entertainment," as that not only increases stress and alienation, but it is the rapid road to ruin, despair, and ultimately the loss of one's soul for all time.

You must not only stop yourself from going to that dark and dank water of nihilism, but you must take a family member, a friend, or a member of your community by the hand and lead them away from it too. You will not change society if you only take care of yourself; you must also partner and buddy system someone else who is at risk away from the nihilistic side and back to the light of normal life.

Fight to get genuine and uplifting entertainment and shun the darkness of the violence and depraved genres, and wean your friends away from it too.

I was at a mall where there was a display of student computer graphic artwork. I was so saddened to see much of what was on display as kind of half human half cyborg visions of self and society. Young people, you have been so brainwashed and deprived that, as I've written about before, you seem to have such a dark agenda behind all of your scripts, your art work, your creativity, your advertisements, everything that you produce. It is like you no longer can think of just drawing a landscape or a tree, without having a leering robot face or demon in the clouds. Don't expect your art teachers to point out your options, because we all know the older generation, the "teachers" are the problem, because they are the ones who have taught despair and nihilism as "speaking 'one's truth.'" What a lie that is.

I never thought I'd see a time where an entire village in Wales is suffering through youth after youth killing themselves because they think they are achieving some sort of solidarity of Internet immortality! Yet, there you have it. I am in my fifties and I think about the extra cool classes I could have taken in university, but didn't because I was eager to go to work, and here young people who have not even started to work or go to college are killing themselves to be "immortal on the Internet."

I spoke to a young woman who is a college major in advertising and I loved hearing about her classes and her potential thesis topics. The world is so good and so filled with wonderful things that people can enjoy, yet so many do not even try, opting instead for some bizarre quest for supernatural "fame," which simply does not exist. Without sounding like a mother hen, or at least trying not to be obvious, I encouraged her to think of new and more positive and wholesome (and yes, one can still be daring and "edgy" without being depraved) ways that she can contribute to the advertising field. I worry about all of you because like I said, I have seen the changes in your art, your creative production, and your mindsets.

So try to find your way back to a place where you have a peace of mind and a love for the core and potentials of life, even if things are dismal in specific problems. Avoid substance abuse at all cost because "even a little" tarnishes greatly one's ability to ever have genuine peace of mind and fondness for life and fellow human beings. I live next door to a man who often thinks about with great regret of how he raised his children in his previous drug using lifestyle, and how they all paid prices for that. Mend yourselves and take someone by the hand and using buddy system mend them too.

Avoid gangs and cults and help a friend to avoid their temptations too.

If you can't have a baby, help someone out who has one. God knows that today we can't even trust anyone as a babysitter, with sitters doing unspeakable things to infants and the helpless. If you are of honor and integrity, give up some of your dark and bull crap Internet surfing and volunteer to work with infants and children in need. And take along a reliable friend.

If you do these things then in some larger picture the deaths of these innocent people in Belgium, and elsewhere, will not be so in vain.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Audacity of Hope, comment 1

I'm going to jump ahead and correct one of the many things I will have to address since it's such a patent misunderstanding of God, the Bible and faith.

Page 218 "Would we go with Leviticus, which suggests that slavery is all right and eating shellfish is an abomination?"

Um, it helps to know a little human history. Slavery existed among humans before God gave the Law, "the Bible," to the Israelites. God was not saying that "slavery is all right." God was laying down laws for the decent treatment of slaves, a concept which was unheard of previously.

Second, any Jew will explain to you that the foundation for certain food being abomination traces back to health prohibitions. Pork is prohibited not only because pigs are "unclean," but "unclean" means, in part, that in the poor cooking of those days trichinosis was spread. Today with conditions such as mad cow disease (spread by cows being fed infected brain matter of other animals), Chinese shellfish contamination, and the probability that HIV jumped to humans as the result of eating monkeys, one should have a more sophisticated understanding of God's prohibitions about "unclean" and "abomination" consuming of animals. I mean, duh. God in the Bible and later in the Koran was giving food prohibitions that would later be demonstrated by the wonderful "science" to be ahead of its time, not ignorant or behind the time. I wish people thought eating monkeys and other bushmeat was an abomination. Don't you?

I've addressed this before in my blogging. But I can tell I'm going to cringe through this entire chapter because there's a real problem when "lawyers lecture on faith history."

I like reading about someone's faith journey, including those raised with no faith, or happy slappy "new religion per week" cafeteria approaches. But this chapter dives right into lecturing like a school marm on a subject that there is lack of any scholarly foundation. Ugh.


I purchased "The Audacity of Hope"

I want to read Chapter Six: Faith (pages 195-226).

Also, like looking up one's own name in books, I look forward to seeing what if anything he says about Catholics.

I always skim books by Protestants to find mentions of Catholics. Usually it is a quick and fruitless search, all too often disparaging or a mean spirited ignoring of omission. I, therefore, form my opinions in return accordingly!

Hamilton worries about those too fond of power

This paragraph is written by Alexander Hamilton, a Founding Father, in the collected "Federalist Papers." Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay wrote a series of papers that explained and supported the Constitution of the United States in 1787. These papers were published in newspapers and in a separate book. Anyway, here is the paragraph that caught my eye, about the problem of those who have power and are reluctant to surrender it when it is their time:

Would it promote the peace of the community, or the stability of the government, to have half a dozen men who had had credit enough to raise themselves to the seat of the supreme magistracy wandering among the people like discontented ghosts and sighing for a place which they were destined never more to possess?

While Hamilton was writing about a specific aspect of succession it is a very useful image in general to think about people who just will not let go of power when it is past their time.

More about freed slaves burying Union dead

Here is more about the photograph of the freed slaves disinterring and reburying with dignity the remains of the Union soldiers.

First, here is the background of the battle depicted in the picture. This is from the book “A. Lincoln: A Biography” by Ronald C. White, Jr:

Lincoln could see the cost of the battle in the streets of Washington as the wounded arrived throughout the day and night. Attorney General Edward Bates wrote in his diary on May 15, 1864, “For the last 8 or 10 days, the most terrible battles of the war have occurred in Virginia. The carnage has been unexampled.” After so much bloodshed, questions began to rise about the price of victory. Grant and Meade had suffered [my emphasis in bold letters here:] SIXTY THOUSAND CASUALTIES IN ONE MONTH OF FIGHTING, almost the size of Lee’s entire army. [My comment: again, compare that the USA has lost three to four thousand troops in all of Iraq and Afghanistan; the Union army lost sixty thousand in one month in the war against slavery].

The carnage increased as Grant attacked the crossroads called Cold Harbor at the beginning of June. Lee, for whom Grant had increasing respect, was turning this war into a war of attrition, and so Grant decided to mount a massive assault. On the morning of June 3, 1864, hundreds of troops pinned their names and addresses to their uniforms in a premonition of what lay ahead. In the next hours, Union soldiers charged forward and were met by a withering hail of bullets. Grant lost 7,000 men, while Lee, fighting from trenches, suffered 1,500 casualties. At the end of the day Grant stopped the attack, admitting defeat. The Union army learned that day what European armies would learn a half a century later in World War I: the deadly horrors of trench warfare. General George Mead wrote to his wife, “I think Grant has had his eyes opened, and is willing to admit now that Virginia and Lee’s army is not Tennessee and Bragg’s army.”

The public began to turn against Grant, but Lincoln did not. The president told Noah Brooks, “I wish when you write and speak to people you would do all you can to correct the impression that the war in Virginia will end right off victoriously.” He continued, “To me the most trying thing in al this war is that people are too sanguine; they expect too much at once.” Lincoln, who would not make predictions, told Brooks, “As God is my judge, I shall be satisfied if we are over with the fight in Virginia within a year” (p. 632).

So I went back to the bookstore today after lunch and bought the book where I had seen this tremendously moving photograph that I described in the previous day’s blogging. The book is “Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief” by James M. McPherson. Here is the caption to the two photographs that I described:

The grim harvest of war is illustrated by these two photographs. The one on the left was taken at Gettysburg on July 5, 1863, two days after the battle, showing the bloated corpses of Union soldiers killed there. The other photograph depicts freed slaves after the war disinterring the remains of Union soldiers who had been killed at Cold Harbor, Virginia, for the reburial in the national military cemetery established there. Those killed at Gettysburg were also reinterred in one of the first such cemeteries, where on November 19, 1863, Lincoln consecrated “these honored dead” and resolved that they “shall not have died in vain.” Seventy-two national cemeteries were ultimately created as the final resting places for Union soldiers who died in the Civil War-and also for later veterans of the U.S. armed forces. LIBRARY OF CONGRESS (photographs located between pages 174-175).

Thus by cross referencing two books I found a description of the dreadful battle and Union soldiers toll with the photograph of the freed slaves disinterring the Union bodies and taking them to the new national cemeteries for honorable burial.

The photograph shows four freed slaves in the background digging with shovels into the ground to unearth the bodies. In the foreground a freed slave is crouched next to a simple stretcher upon which they have been piling the remains of the Union soldiers. There are five skulls visible among a pile of their bones and uniforms, and a leg with a boot dangles over the side. It is a remarkable and unforgettable photograph, one of the many treasures of the Library of Congress.

So there are two things we can think about. One is that in Washington, as President Obama was inaugurated, we all thought of how Washington was built by slaves. But we should also remember that Abraham Lincoln saw a constant inflow of the dead and wounded Union soldiers on that very same ground, who had fought and died to free the slaves. In one Virginia battle the dead Union soldiers were piled five deep.

I am making much of this point because young Afro-Americans have grown up only knowing one side of the equation, those who considered them less than human, less than objects and chattel. However, I believe that the self esteem of young Afro-Americans would have been raised if they understood the magnitude of the other side, which is that there were 600,000 Union casualties, dead and wounded, as the Union soldiers fought for the freedom of the slaves. To feel that no one but Abraham Lincoln cared about your ancestors is to forget that hundreds of thousands of people cared with their lives.

So my second thing that you can think about is that those who live near or pass by Cold Harbor, Virginia can stop and contemplate a real moment of history and Afro-American pride. That is in knowing that the Union soldiers who died by the thousand were not left to rot on the battlefield, but were disinterred by the freed slaves and buried in places of honor established by Lincoln and the government. That is something I’d want to tell my children about, and I guess I am now.

While researching this item I came across this passage from the book “Tried by War:”

When the news of Richmond’s fall reached the North, wild celebrations broke out. Lincoln felt the same way, but his response was more restrained. He met with Grant in Petersburg on April 3 and discussed the pursuit of Lee, which would bring him to bay at Appomattox six days later. Meanwhile Lincoln returned to Adm. David D. Porter’s flagship USS Malvern, anchored in the James River, and told Porter: “Thank God I have lived to see this! It seems to me that I have been dreaming a horrid dream for four years, and now the nightmare is gone. I want to see Richmond.”

Porter was dubious about taking the president to see the still-burning enemy capital two days after it fell. But Lincoln insisted, so they went. With an escort of just ten sailors, he walked the streets while thousands of freed slaves crowded to see the Moses they believed had led them to freedom. “I know that I am free,” shouted one woman, “for I have seen father Abraham and felt him.” To one black man who fell on his knees before him, an embarrassed Lincoln said: “Don’t kneel to me. That is not right. You must kneel to God only and thank him for the liberty you will hereafter enjoy.” The president was profoundly moved by these encounters (p. 261).

By the way, notice that this reference to who and who is not God is on page 261. I’ve written before about how the media is infested with Antichrist obsessed people with weak mental and moral capabilities, who manipulate significant text in even textbooks to occur on what they consider a mystical number of the Antichrist and the beast, 126, 261 and 621. You can read more about this subliminal pushing of occult Antichrist agenda by following the labels I include on this post. It has ruined my enjoyment of media, such as books, for many years now. If I were Afro-American I would also be embarrassed and enraged to be pawns in these dispensationalist and cultists’ manipulation, by the way. It’s quite an insult to be used that way when Afro-Americans have traditionally been the most faithful to pure Christianity and their God. Lincoln would be mortified that his words and deeds have been exploited by those who manipulate for occult purposes.

I have in front of me the Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, which I have quoted from before. I will close this blogging with the first note that he wrote to Robert E. Lee after the fall of Richmond. In a future blog posting I might group all the correspondence together so you can read and enjoy it as I have. I include it because General Grant was quite stoic about the incredible loss of life, and it is here as he urges Lee to surrender (which Lee rejects) that Grant refers to the carnage.

Headquarters Armies of the U.S., 5 P.M., April 7, 1865

General R. E. Lee, Commanding C.S.A.
The results of the last week must convince you of the hopelessness of further resistance on the part of the Army of Northern Virginia in this struggle. I feel that it is so, and regard it as my duty to shift from myself the responsibility of any further effusion of blood, by asking of you the surrender of that position of the Confederate States army known as the Army of Northern Virginia.