I’ve been promising a series of posts concerning religion and belief so lets get the first one started.

Dealing with Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular, people tend to give various reasons for belief, for example the raving atheist seems to have come after long exposure to pro life issues.

As CS Lewis notes in his classic The Screwtape Letters number 25 Christianity AND is not the way to go:

Substitute for the faith itself some Fashion with a Christian colouring.

Since according to Christianity Christ is the Way the truth and the light one must assume truth is the friend of God and falsehood is the foe. Many people give many different reasons why they are Christian in general and or Catholic in particular. I maintain there is only one valid reason, and that reason should trump any and all others:

Because it’s true.

This should and must be the primary reason for being a Christian. No other trumps it. Christianity and the Church is either true or false, there is no middle ground here. If it is true then non belief doesn’t matter. The penalties and benefits are real and will have to be dealt with at some time in the future. Its like not believing in the wind. It doesn’t matter if you believe it it or not it is a reality to deal with.

This means that as a Christian this should be the basis for all belief. I will expand on this in my next post.

This article concerning the God probably doesn’t exist ads is interesting but there is one line that hits one of my pet peeves.

Sherine says she conceived the ads after visiting the fundamentalist website of Christians who sponsored the pro-God bus ads last year.

She was shocked to hear that in their interpretation of the Bible, unbelievers would “burn in a lake of fire.” Sherine rejected such an outcome for her Parsi grandmother,

This is silly silly silly. If she is convinced that God doesn’t exist then why be worried about what somebody else thinks? Someone’s opinion can’t make someone burn.

I think it is actually telling. I think it isn’t a question of trying to convince others, I think it is a question of trying to convince oneself. I think that one of the reasons why you see atheists so adamant concerning beliefs that they consider fantasy is the gut fear of the alternative, yet it is only the Christian alternative that produces this fear, and not other religious traditions. I think that is telling and will be touching on that in later posts.

Lets bottom line it. If God doesn’t exist, no exultation, no pronouncement and no statement of belief will make him exist. So no series of actions following creeds will make a difference after death.

If God exists in general and Christianity in particular is correct no amount of billboards or talk shows will change it. Nor will the consequences of belief, actions or non-belief be avoided. Those consequences may not be what some denominations believe but given the above they will exist.

That is reason.

Via Hot air.

My oldest has arranged for a tour of Anna Maria College in Paxton Mass. tomorrow.

With employment still not in place, no takers on the eBay support, Fafsa saying I need to put in 25k in cash a year and a college fund that has lost 33% of its value in the last 12 months. The options are very limited grades not withstanding.

Anna Maria has the best aid offer of the 6 or so colleges that have already accepted him so far. Short of Fitchburg State that gives them the inside track. I’m partial to any college that offers daily mass.

That will likely mean not a lot of blogging tomorrow.

The Curt Jester links to Fr. Powell’s excellent post on the differences between a parish priest and a priest of a religious order. I actually didn’t know there was a difference in vows:

In the Catholic Church there are two kinds of priests: religious and diocesan. The primary canonical difference between the two is based on who serves as an immediate ecclesial superior. For RP’s the immediate ecclesial superior is the local prior, abbot, or major superior; that is, a member of that priest’s order/monastery who exercises canonical authority in virtue of holding an office within the order/monastery. My immediate ecclesial superior is the prior of this convent. For DP’s, the immediate ecclesial superior is always the bishop of the priest’s diocese.

Very informative and worth reading.

Via the Curt Jester we get the story of Fr. Roger Haight S.J. Apparently his license to teach Theology at any university has been removed because the Congregation on the Doctrine of the Faith because he denies the divinity of Christ. This belief is espoused is the book: Jesus Symbol of God. Fr. Phillip Neri Powell OP. PHD talks of the joy of the dissenters at his blog Domine, da mihi hanc aquam:

Critics of the CDF will whine and moan that the congregation is acting to suppress creative thinking and legitimate theological research. They will rend garments and gnash teeth over the cosmic injustice of asking a Catholic theologian to actually teach the Catholic faith. They will use Haight’s sanctions as evidence that they being persecuted by a medieval Church who hates any and all difference of opinion. Let’s be quick to note the ratio of publishing, teaching dissident theologians to those investigated and sanctioned by the CDF. What, maybe one in every 10,000 theologians merit the CDF’s attention? Hardly a worldwide “crackdown” on dissent. But maybe that’s the problem. The CDF isn’t paying these whiners any attention and their reputations among the heretical inner-circle are suffering.

So, ignore the mewling academics and leftist pundits and focus on the fact that Haight himself chose to write against well-established, infallible Christian doctrine. He will not go hungry. He will have a place to live. God still loves him. He’s still a priest, a Jesuit, and a member of the Church. He can still write on questions in spirituality, and he will no doubt become a conference/lecture circuit star among the thousands of professionally aggrieved institutions and individuals the Church allows to flourish despite its apparent bloodthirsty, inquistional ways. If anything, the CDF sanctions have guaranteed Haight’s books a spot on most theology syllabi well into this century.

The question becomes will he choose to peruse this father in terms of dissent until he chooses to permanently separate himself from the church. The priesthood is not a democracy. If one wants to be a priest he is obliged to follow the teachings of the church.

There is nothing of course preventing him from renouncing his vows and leaving the church or even Christianity as a whole, with his denial of the divinity of Christ he would fit right into some churches. I ofter wonder why people who don’t believe stay, in comments Fr. Powell gives the answer:

Someone once asked a famous dissenting theologian why she remained in the Church if she found so much of its doctrine and practice so detestable.

She answered, “It’s where the Xerox machine is.” In other words, she remains b/c the Church butters her bread and pays her rent. The Church provides her with the resources she needs to undermine the Church.

There is a much bigger gravy train trashing the church from within rather than doing what one believes or following the rules. Just remember although you may not like what they are doing you are required to pray for them, that’s the rules too.

I’ve posted quite a bit criticizing the Arabs in general and the Palestinians in particular concerning the war that is currently going on.

That criticism not withstanding as Christians in general and as Catholics in particular we are obliged to pray for both the Israeli’s and the Palestinians.

War on any level is a horrible thing, it may sometimes be necessary, it may sometimes be just, it may stop or prevent something that is even worse but it should never be a cause for celebration.

We are obliged to pray for the quick end of the war and peace in the region. One may of course pray for victory for the right but Christians are obliged to pray for their enemies:

“But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic. Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same. If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit (is) that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, and get back the same amount. But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.

This is not optional! If you claim to be Christian and believe the Gospel to be true it must be done. All souls have equal value in the eyes of God. Even if you don’t agree with it those are the rules. You are not required to agree with the rules but you are required to obey them.

Update: I call upon my fellow Christian bloggers to echo this message. For my fellow Catholics I think the sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary would be a good choice here.

Well I mentioned one of my pet peeves in my Happy New Year post, its caused a bit of a debate between me and commentator Galapagos Pete. Since it is getting long I figured I’d copy my latest answer as a new post. To follow the debate thus far go here:

I will first post reply to me and answer in a fisking format for easier reading:

“First are you just as angered concerning non-christian religions? If not then why should Christianity get one dander up when other religions do not?”…the former Soviet Union, China and North Korea are or were officially atheist and that didn’t stop them from slaughtering millions upon millions.””

Here’s a sentiment you may have come across in your life:

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” Matthew 7:3

Let me explain what that means: Your bad behavior is in no slightest degree excused by the bad behavior of others, even if theirs is worse. If you lose your temper and punch someone in the mouth, no one is going to let you off the hook because someone else who lost their temper killed 9 people. And you shouldn’t let yourself off the hook, either.

But you would only agree with this if you subscribed to a moral code, particularly if it was one you believed was handed down by the supreme being of the universe. (Though, as an atheist who believes that the bible was simply written by men but has some very good thoughts mixed in with mythology, it happens to be a position with which I agree.)

Still didn’t get an answer to the first question concerning all religions vs Christianity. I ask this because this will be (once today’s party is done, tomorrow’s cleanup and a day to recover from both) will lead to a series of re-occurring posts on religion.

Nice dodge using scripture to duck the question however.

And although your explanation of the meaning of the passage is correct your application is wrong. Sin is by definition committed by men (in the traditional sense of the word) not by an organization. I of course use sin in the Catholic Christian definition.

The atrocities committed by the leaders of those countries were not committed in the name of atheism, they were done, in general, to suppress dissent. Religious atrocities are committed by people specifically to please their gods. The bible is full of examples, often done at god’s specific command.

The problem with your argument concerning communism is that the in it the state becomes the moral code and the practice of religion becomes anathema because it produces a moral code based on something other that the state.

This is why atheism can’t produce an effective moral code since it can only be by the standards of those producing it. Since those standards can change quite rapidly the code can then mean whatever people want it to mean at any time. Its great for building straw men but is not way to live a life.

A great example of this is an old column of Richard Cohen that I blogged on a bit ago. He was very free to call people bigots but had no history on the same standard.

I will concede without reservation that there have been things done in the name of religion or in the perversion religion that are contrary to their own moral code. There are also corrupt police who have bent the rules because they either wanted to take a dangerous person off the streets or to frame other for their own ends. Should we then decide that the police are a bad thing and the world would be better without them?

I will also state that religious people have used religion for their own ends, Oral Roberts “send me money or god takes me home bit comes instantly to mind. In current news a certain Governer in Illinois apparently has used elected office for his own ends, should we then eliminate elected office and democratic government?

Bottom line anything can be perverted and used wrongly, that is human nature. Why religion in general or as I would argue Christianity in particular get the majority of your animosity?

You say based on a culture rather than a religion but go on to say “Christian culture” and “Jewish culture.” Which comes first: is the culture founded on the religion or the religion on the culture?

If the former, the religion is very much responsible for the laws of the society. Indeed, this is the very point religionists keep trying to make, that all morality comes from their god in the first place. So religion must be blamed for much unnecessary human suffering.

Your question on which came first is a fascinating one and is the best part of your reply, that is a question for anthropology and would be a great subject for study. Your blame of religion for much human suffering because of its origin also must imply that religion should also get a lot of credit for human good since those same laws would have been in place as mankind advanced.

It is a fun argument because human suffering can be defined under this argument as “something I like that religion says is bad.” If only religion didn’t say stealing is bad, I could take what I wanted I can’t so I suffer. If only religion didn’t say that I could sleep around on my wife, because it says I can’t I suffer, et-al. This frankly is a lot of what the argument comes down to. Religion forbids something I like so it cramps my style. Thus I suffer. That is much of the modern objection to it.

If the latter, then religion is simply something made up by people to justify their petty but dangerous hatreds of those who differ from them, and to use as a club to enforce their will.

The justify my piety statement is fun because without religion you can’t have piety, but you can substitute the word habits since semantics are not the topic. I would again ask my primary question; do you refer to all religion or just Christianity?

As a Christian I believe or rather state that there is only one religious path that is correct, it led through Judaism to Christianity. Since I would state that other religions are “false” they would by definition be made up to some degree, either out of the whole cloth, or by a misinterpretation of events or by deception, but it would seem wrong to impute people’s motives without evidence. There are many Christians who would likely disagree with me on this due to the difference between how the Catholic faith sees other religions as opposed to most protestant denominations. The club bit I would refer to my police reference above.

Anyways that’s all I have time for I have to squeeze in one other post before the wife kills me for sitting on my butt with last minute cleaning to be done and guests due in 6 hours, so any replies to this post and approval to comments will be slow.

Woke up with a headache this morning which wouldn’t be so bad except I didn’t have a drop last night and fell asleep around 10.

So I’m starting the year with a bit of a headache, some low dose asprin, no job, a new mortgage, my kids college fund down half its value 5 months before he graduates, a house that needs cleaning before Saturday, and a house full of people due in 54 hours (which means my wife will be in panic mode for the next two days).

Of course things are not so bad, I have my health, the family is well, her sauce is in the fridge, the oldest has been accepted to one college and looks like his hard work will pay off with some serious financial help.

One nice thing about thing starting the year in a bit of a hole is that you are bound to climb out of it.

So welcome to the year 2009 AD and a happy new year to all.

And Yes I typed AD not “Common Era” or “Before Common Era”, common era refers to the common time scale used and what marks the use of that “common era”? Why the birth of Christ!

It’s another cheap trick to deny history, I don’t seem anyone in a rush to call Thursday day 5 because they don’t want to say “Thor’s” day.

You know there are a lot of what I like to call “indirect proofs” of Christianity. Little things that indicate something funny. The obsession some people have with removing Christianity from sight is rather amazing particularly when they don’t have that same obsession with Islam or Buddhism or Hinduism or even Judaism.

Why such venom at only one target? Why even be bothered by something that one believes is a myth?

And even within the Christian community is a protestant goes from one denomination to another there is hardly an eyelash blinked, but if one converts to Catholicism its a big fuss.

Why be so angry when an atheist converts?

Interesting questions over the year I’ll talk about it more.

Anyways a happy new year to all.

The Curt Jester reports that the Raving Atheist has changed the name of his blog to the Raving Theist and this post contains the following announcement:

Three years ago, I promoted and appeared in the atheist documentary “The God Who Wasn’t There,” dedicated to the proposition that Jesus never existed.

TODAY I DEDICATE THIS SITE AND MY LIFE TO THE WORSHIP AND SERVICE OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST.

The rest of the post is the creed which suggests he has become a Catholic. Good for him! The comments however are full of rather abusive and insulting comments from other Athiests.

Presuming this isn’t a Christmas joke it will be very interesting to see if he explains the conversion in detail. The Jester has some experience in this matter so his blog will be a good thing to check out over the next few days as this goes on.

If you are a Christian in general or a Catholic in particular I suggest praying for him as there are some tough times ahead. If you are a disappointed atheist will I guess you just have to deal with it and hope for the best.

Can someone explain the wisdom of this:

Oddly enough, the FAQ page at the Saddleback Church that contained their policy statements on dinosaurs, evolution, and homosexuality (among other subjects) has suddenly been wiped clean: Saddleback Church: Small Group Information.

As a Catholic my belief set doesn’t match Pastor Warren’s but c’mon. You either believe what you preach or you don’t. The bible is rather clear that being attacked is part of the job description to wit:

“Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father. Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s enemies will be those of his household.’ Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me and whoever does not take up his cross 15 and follow after me is not worthy of me.

This passage from Matthew 10:32-38 is very clear, take the hits and the jibes, stand up and be counted. No waffling allowed.