Saturday, January 11, 2014

Lest We Forget Ourselves

Seriously, check out my new blog. It's awesome. We talk about Cthulu and marriage and stuff.

New Blog

Sunday, January 5, 2014

New Blog!

That's right! I've got a new blog now, folks! Follow me over there and do thou check it out. Just click the link below and let's begin a new page of my walk with Jesus together.

Lest We Forget Ourselves

As Saint Benedict would say, "Always, we begin again."

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Forget silence. We need to talk.

Tyler Smither over at In The Parlor recently wrote a somewhat sensationalistic post about homosexuality entitled, "What You Believe About Homosexuality Doesn’t Matter." He wants everyone to drop the subject and forget all about it like a certain uber-creepy Doctor Who monster. I usually respect Mr. Smither's writing, but his latest article is simply boneheaded and I feel compelled to reply to it. But before I do, let me remind my readers of my stance on the gay rights movement (which I strongly suggest you read before going any further). In particular, I would like to quote the fourth paragraph of my rather lengthy statement:

I only oppose the gay rights movement whenever it attempts to force organizations and individuals who object to homosexual lifestyles to recognize and support them, or else face loss of livelihood or be subject to character assassination. I am not in principle against granting individuals in longterm same-sex relationships greater access to healthcare and certain civil protections and benefits in common with marriage, nor do I think homosexual intercourse should be criminalized; in fact, in line with the Catholic Church, I support the universal decriminalization of homosexual intercourse across the globe as such laws incite nothing but violence. -- Pomeranian Catholic

That being said, I do believe the Church has the responsibility to charitably present the truth about human sexuality to all men and women who inquire about it. We certainly cannot and should not dictate the sex lives of people outside the Church, but we also cannot lie and say that sex outside a lifelong marriage between one man and one woman isn't sinful. We cannot pretend that artificial contraception, masturbation, and pornography are okay either. We have to stay true to all the principles of our Lord Jesus Christ (even the hardest ones), live them, and preach them. There is no room for compromise on that.

However, not everybody agrees with this position. Therefore, a debate exists—a healthy and necessary debate I might add, because few things are as fundamental as human sexuality. Believers who take the Bible seriously can't hand-wave the issue away because our Holy Scriptures, which we base the entirety of our lives upon, contain passages like:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. -- 1 Cor. 6:9-11, ESV

We have to engage with Saint Paul's words. Either homosexual practices are a grave threat to living a good life in the here and hereafter, or Christ's Apostles are not reliable witnesses to God. And if the Apostles are not reliable witnesses to God concerning matters central to our salvation, why should we believe what the Bible has to say at all?

That's why I get really anxious when people try to shut down moral debates by saying "lives are at stake." Because that's precisely why we should have this debate—lives are indeed at stake, and afterlives too. The structure of the family and of society as a whole hinges upon who is right and who is wrong in this debate. Hysterically screaming at each other to shut up won't solve the problem. We who oppose acting out on homosexual attractions genuinely believe that the homosexual lifestyle gravely harms the self. Now, I'm not arguing we're right about that—we could be wrong, we could be misunderstanding the whole issue—I'm merely observing that the rhetorical knife cuts both ways. We can't shut down the debate and we shouldn't, because both sides instinctively understand that what we're fighting over is vitally important.

Perhaps a demonstration of the cheapness of the "lives are at stake" fallacy is in order: We should simply agree to prohibit same-sex couples from adopting children because kids are being abused by some same-sex couples; the time for debate has passed.

Most people can see that the above line of thinking is entirely unfair, because even if abuse rates among same-sex couples were higher than among heterosexual couples, that would not prove that homosexuality itself is a cause of the troubling statistical relationship; in other words, it would not mean that we should bar all same-sex couples from adoption. Mere correlation, in and of itself, is not sufficient to imply causation. Fallacious grandstanding like that serves only to emotionally intimidate and silence opponents. So let's just be honest with each other and talk about homosexuality like grownups.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Why We Shout In Anger

A Hindu saint who was visiting the Ganges River to take bath found a group of family members on the banks, shouting in anger at each other. He turned to his disciples, smiled, and asked:

"Why do people shout in anger at each other?"

His disciples thought for awhile. One of them said, "Because we lose our calm, we shout."

"But, why should you shout when the other person is right next to you? You can as well tell him what you have to say in a soft manner," replied the saint.

His disciples gave some other answers, but none were satisfactory. Finally, the saint explained:

"When two people are angry at each other, their hearts become distant. To cover that distance, they must shout to be able to hear each other. The angrier they are, the stronger they will have to shout to hear each other over that great distance.

"What happens when two people fall in love? They don't shout at each other but talk softly, because their hearts are very close. The distance between them is either nonexistent or very small...

"When they love each other even more, what happens? They do not speak, only whisper, and they get even closer to each other in their love. Finally, they need not even whisper. They only look at each other and that's all. That is how close two people are when they love each other.

"So when you argue do not let your hearts get distant. Do not say words that distance each other more. Or else there will come a day when the distance is so great that you will not be able to find the path to return."

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Fr. Cyprian Consiglio's Homily

Today (July 20, 2013) on the Church's calendar we have the option of celebrating a little known saint, Saint Apollinaris, who was said to have been consecrated a bishop by Saint Peter himself, and then was sent to Ravenna in Italy as a missionary where he was martyred under the reign of Emperor Claudius. What makes that so auspicious for us is that Saint Romuald, the founder of our congregation, entered the monastery of Saint Apollinaris in Classe, just outside of Ravenna after Apollonaris appeared to him, twice. Actually he appeared to him again later urging him to return to San Apollonaris as abbot. (None of those times turned out too well: the first time his brother monks tried to throw him off the second floor balcony; the second time the abbot himself tried to strangle him, but never mind that...) Continue Reading

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Brief Introduction to Mormonism

James is an engineer who served at the Dominican Republic Santo Domingo West Mission. He kindly agreed to answer a few questions to familiarize my readers with the religion practiced by the Latter-Day Saints, commonly referred to as Mormonism.

Me: Good to meet you, James. Thank you for taking the time today to share your beliefs.

James: Any time. What questions do you have for me today?

Me: Well, first of all, it would be great to give my readers a crash course in the LDS (Latter-Day Saints) faith in your own words. What does it mean to be Mormon, what do you believe, and why do you believe it? It doesn't have to be fancy, just an overview, straight from the heart. I'd also be interested in hearing about your perception of Catholics, what you think some of our most common misunderstandings are, and things that we do and say when dealing with Mormons that you wish we wouldn't.

James: To me, Mormonism is the search for, and the pathway back to God. It is the giving up of incorrect notions both secular and religous surounding who He is and what we have to do to find Him. Nothing could be more fundamental, nothing could be more important. This shows itself in many ways. For example, we believe in the Bible as the word of God, but also the Book of Mormon, which we believe, is another record of Christ and his dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the American continent. We believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost but as three separate and distinct beings. And we believe that the days of revelation and miracles are still upon us.

File:0 Place Saint-Pierre - Vatican.JPGAs to how I view members of your religion, I have been impressed with those Catholics I have met who are sincere in their faith and willing to follow the gospel of Christ. They have been considerate and willing to discuss beyond hot button topics. There are of course misunderstandings when it comes to the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, and Eternal Progression. However, more fundamentaly I have noticed some Catholics feel that as a Mormon I am either pushing an agenda in order to deceive others or completely deceived myself and so deserve pity. I think it's hard for some Catholics to understand how a normal person, like myself, with a wife, three beautiful daughters, and a regular job can believe in Mormonism.

Me: You mentioned that Catholics have misunderstandings about the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, and Eternal Progression. Can you please give my readers a little background on these subjects and the correct understanding of them? Also, I noticed that you are an active member of Catholic Answer Forums. What is your overall impression of the Catholic apologetics presented there? What about apologetics elsewhere? Do we Catholics do a good job of giving our message in truth and charity? Where and how can we make improvements?

James: Most of the concerns I have about how Catholic's view the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith have to do with pre-judging them before finding out about them. If someone conscientiously investigates both, asking God about the truth, I have very little concern. They made the effort and reached their own conclusion, but so few have truly done so.

The Book of Mormon claims to be another testament of Jesus Christ like the Bible. Written by prophets in the Americas beginning 600 years before Christ; it tells the story of their civilization, their teachings, and their personal journey's to find Christ. The climax of the book tells of Christ's visit to the people of ancient America. Now, this is an amazing claim. What if it were true?

We claim there is a way to find out. Simply read the book and ask God in sincerity if it is true. Is this not simple and straight forward? One person asking God. However, many would turn to the world. They would ask others who have not read it what to do. They would look on the internet and see what anti-Mormon's say. Typically these people do not even open the book, convinced before they even read a page, that it is false teaching ment to deceive and lead them astray. I marvel that somehow a religious book about Christ could cause such fear that people would not even open the book. I have studied it many times. I have asked God and I testify it is what it claims to be, a book which will teach us the way to Christ, if we allow it to do so.

Now, having not read the Book of Mormon, which Joseph claimed to translate by the power and gift of God, people precede to join the band wagon and call Joseph a fraud. I admit he is polarizing. To my way of thinking there are only two ways to take Joseph. He was either a fraud and liar who set about to deceive his followers to the end of his days, or he was one of the great prophets like Moses, or Abraham. Their is very little room for a rational opinion that settles in between these two extremes.

Why? Because he claims to have seen and spoken to God the Father and Jesus Christ, to have translated the Book of Mormon from gold plates found in a hill, to have received the Aaronic priesthood from the hands of John the Baptist, and to have received the Melchizedek priesthood from the hands of Peter, James, and John. Further, he claims to have been commanded by God to start plural marriage, before finally being killed for his beliefs.

So, was Joseph a conman of extreme proportion? If someone reads about him and comes to that conclusion then so be it, but I have found otherwise.

Probably the biggest problem I see with this issue is how it is presented. It is usually brought up for shock value. As though we LDS believe we are better than others, which is not the case. Or that God was a sinner, which we do not know. Or simply that we are extreemly deceived.

As LDS we believe that men and women are not separated from God by type but by degree. In other words, God is not a different sort of being from man. Instead he is a glorified, exalted, man. The most simple and straight forward statement on the matter comes from Lorenzo Snow who said, “As man now is, God once was; as God is now man may be."

I first joined CAF (Catholic Answers Forums) to share ideas. But I have found I end up doing more explaining and defending of my own faith. I have learned some, but in depth discussion has been difficult. I think this is largely due to former Mormons who are now Catholic and are confrontational and somewhat abrasive. There have been a handful of Catholic posters who I have found sincere and respectful.