I’m jumping a bit ahead in my writing about religion and Catholic faith to touch on something that people find uncomfortable particularly in this modern age.

If one claims to be a Christian in general and a Catholic in particular there are several things that are required beliefs. The defining belief is the divinity of Christ. No less critical is the existence of the Devil and Hell.

People like to think that due to the modern world that such things as Devil’s and Satan can’t be real, that no reasonable person can choose to believe in such a supernatural concept. One doesn’t want to deal with the ridicule of such a belief, particularly publicly expressed. After all its one thing to believe in Christ, there is history that shows his existence but to believe in a fellow with a pitchfork and horns out to novel you, that’s just a story to frighten children.

CS Lewis talked about this very thing in Screwtape #7:

We currently live in an age where people believe in psychics, witchcraft and various unseen forces. I can drive down the street in Leominster or Worcester and see the shingle for psychics advertising their services. I have wiccan friends one who is a wiccan priest. You see all kinds of books on harnessing various forces. Science Fiction fans talk of all kinds of planets that might be inhabited by all sorts of creatures; yet all these same people would look as if you had 4 heads if you suggest that the devil or hell exists. Continue reading “Required Catholic Belief; The Devil and Hell”

As I’ve made clear on this blog, I’m a practicing Roman Catholic. I believe the reason to be a Catholic is because it is true. I’ve also stated that Abortion is the killing of human life and comparable to slavery.

So why no outraged posts concerning the change in abortion funding rules under Obama? Mainly because this was not an outrageous act.

I don’t mean that in the sense that it isn’t a deeply wrong thing that aids and abets a significant evil that will destroy lives, scar people and help cause suffering in this world and damnation in the next to many. It will do all those things. I don’t in the least disagree with The Anchoress, L.A. Catholic, The Curt Jester or Gateway Pundit. I just can’t get work into a lather over it.

Why? Because this is a liberal democrat. To his party Abortion is a sacrament. He stated clearly that he supported Roe v Wade and that he would repeal these things. The time to get outraged was when this was declared and to campaign against the election of people who would support such a thing and a congress that would back him up. Not after his election when he does what we all knew was going to happen.

This is not outrageous behavior for a liberal democrat. It is evil but not outrageous.

Via Hotair it looks like the bus ads have spread to Italy, not:

The city was targeted because it is home to the head of the Italian Catholic Bishops Conference Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, an outspoken opponent of artificial insemination and gay marriage.

Cardinal Bagnasco was said to be ‘furious’ about the plans and had his assistants write to the bus company and the advertising firm in charge of the £13,000 campaign to express their opposition.

At the last minute the campaign was cancelled. A source said the cardinal was ‘delighted’.

I disagree with this move. Christianity is more than strong enough to compete in the marketplace of ideas. It has hundreds of centuries of experience in delivering its message and it has the added advantage of being true. As always speech should be answered by more speech. If the church with the power of Christ behind it can’t compete with this message then you need different people delivering that message.

As a purely free speech move lets cut to the chase:

The Bus company has a perfect right to accept these ads and take the cash.

The Cardinal has a perfect right to object to these ads loudly.

And the customers of the bus company have the perfect right to give or not give their business to them accordingly.

That’s how it should work. In my mind you can’t argue for Churches in Arabia and argue to repress this speech.

In Chapter 1a I talked about God either existing or not, today lets talk about the possibilities concerning God. I’m not going to argue the existence or non existence of God here, plenty of room for that at the raving Theist but I won’t give it as a given.

There are quite a few different religions out there and a lot more denominations as well within them. Monotheistic religions are by their nature mutually exclusive, that is if Islam is correct then Buddhism can’t be. Within the various religions there are also divisions (Reform and Hasidic Judaism for example).

This leads to the possibilities

  1. God doesn’t exist and all religions are wrong.
  2. God exists and all religions are still wrong.
  3. God exists and One Religion in general and denomination within that religion in particular is correct and everyone else is wrong.

If we look at this as a flow chart then if one decides that #1 is correct then their personal quest is over unless other evidence comes in to play. I would also point out that #1 would not preclude some from of “existence” after death. A full understanding of the consciousness doesn’t exist at this time. If consciousness exists as some form of energy what becomes of that energy can be the subject of an interesting debate, but without scientific evidence at this point the logical conclusion of one who does not believe in God is that existence ends period at the moment of death.

If we decide on #2 then we are left with two choices. One can choose to decide that since one doesn’t know the nature of God there is no point in trying to worry about it and simply your life. The second choice to attempt to decipher the nature of God. If one concludes that all religions have it wrong then this would seem to be an insurmountable problem as there is no correct frame of reference to guide one.

If we decide on #3 then logic dictates we try to determine the nature of God as eternity would be more important than a much shorter life.

This gives us a path to go on.

Now all of this is a question of what kind of thing you decide. I have come to the conclusion that #3 is the path with Christianity as the correct religion with Catholicism in particular is correct. I’ll go into details concerning whys and wherefore at a later point.

Took my son to visit Anna Maria college today.

The campus itself is nice, its a small school and a seemingly pleasant place. The young lady giving us the tour was nice and was a good representative of her school.

My problem with the place is one of my pet peeves. The college is a Catholic College There are old crosses on buildings and portraits of older bishops in one or two places, but I saw nothing affirming their Catholic identity. No portrait of the pope, no schedule of Masses (although they do offer daily Mass).

There were pictures celebrating the new president all over the place, banners celebrating diversity, announcements of the woman’s study courses but nothing on the March for Life later this month in Washington. The concert was a “holiday” concert. In the Anna Maria in the news bulletin board at the admissions office there was an article talking about protesting the pope in the US. That was the extent of any recent mention of religion.

The Chapel is downstairs at basement level, its a nice enough place and the corridor leading once one goes downstairs does feel Catholic but it seems to be hidden in order to make sure it doesn’t offend anyone. It’s Gene Robinson all over again:

Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

It’s a real question how many out of 1100 students would know this quote from Luke. Actually the question isn’t that hard, we met with the campus ministry people just before leaving, there are 10 active people in Campus ministry and about that many show up for Mass regularly.

It would be nice if there was at least one picture of the Pope displayed prominently. It would be nicer if Catholic identity actually meant something. I’ve spent much more than I can afford over the last 10 years giving my sons a Catholic education. If I’m going to spend a whole lot more for a Catholic College then I expect a Catholic College.

Then again, I’m also told that there is no restriction on forming one’s own clubs and activities. There is no reason why my son can’t actively work toward changing this since nothing will change without someone changing it. As it says in Romans 10:13-15

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can people preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring (the) good news!”

This was touched on by nufey in this post:

They want us to hear, “don’t tell us about your religion”. This goes right in line with the other phrases which seek to silence Christians, “we must tolerate others’ beliefs”, “we all worship the same god, we just follow different paths”, “it’s not a salvation issue”, “I don’t want to be prosletized”.

These are all designed to keep us quiet, so we don’t preach the gospel. It makes them uncomfortable. To those living without the gospel, they should be uncomfortable when faced with their sin. They don’t like to be reminded, yet we have the only message of hope for them.

One must be willing to be out there, one must be ready to absorb the brickbats that might come:

“If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. And they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me. John 15:18-21

My boy seems anxious to stand up and be counted. A bad neighborhood won’t change unless good people move in and a Catholic college won’t change unless serious Catholics attend and are counted, and the academic side does seem fine. Maybe it is the place for him to be.

They have the inside track for now, lets see what happens next.

Just back from the college tour will expand on that in my next post but lets finish the thought in my previous one that I got up just before we left the house.

If one actually disbelieves in Christianity, disbelieves in the existence of God and in the divinity of Christ, yet attends and goes through the motion, then your Christian actions are just that of the member of a club with some odd tastes. They mean no more that dressing up for Halloween.

If one is a clergyman or woman who doesn’t believe in Christ or God then you are in the wrong profession, you can not do your job and be true to yourself.

If one isn’t sure about God or Christ and wishes to explore that is a fine. The search for truth is not only a vital part of Christianity but of life in general. This is also why scientific inquiry is very consistent with Christian belief. If a Christian tells you differently they he or she doesn’t know their religion.

If one doesn’t believe at all one might study and examine Christian practice in order to understand it, or as a historical or cultural thing. Christopher Hitchens for example has said that one can’t understand the history of western civilization without some knowledge of scripture, but the actual practice of religion is a waste of time.

In the end the bottom line still remains:

If Christianity is not true then no amount of belief will make so. All ones actions in support of Christianity will not matter.

If Christianity is true then no amount of disbelief will make it not so. All ones actions and denials will have a price that will come due.

Or as I like to say either way live your life the way you want.

After that you’re on your own.

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.

You might recall the fuss and a half over Rick Warren at the inaugural.

Well looks like its payback time as Gene Robinson has been chosen for another event:

The selection of New Hampshire Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson for Sunday’s event follows weeks of criticism from gay-rights groups over Obama’s decision to have the Rev. Rick Warren give the invocation at his Jan. 20 inauguration.

Warren backed the ban on same-sex marriage that passed in his home state of California on the November ballot.

Robinson said last month the choice of Warren was like a slap in the face. In an interview with the Concord Monitor, he said he doesn’t believe Obama invited him in response to the Warren criticism but said his inclusion won’t go unnoticed by the gay and lesbian community.

Of course he wasn’t invited for that reason. I don’t think the Christian Right should be upset about this, after all he is a Christian Bishop and the difference is only orientation isn’t it? Isn’t it?

Robinson said he doesn’t yet know what he’ll say, but he knows he won’t use a Bible.

“While that is a holy and sacred text to me, it is not for many Americans,” Robinson said. “I will be careful not to be especially Christian in my prayer.

Well that’s reassuring the Episcopal church sure choose a winner. We can’t be using those nasty biblical quotes. Of course that doesn’t apply to me: Matthew 10:32-33

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.

Or maybe Luke 9:26

Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

Or maybe 2 Timothy 2:12

if we persevere we shall also reign with him. But if we deny him he will deny us.

Yup that’s one first rate secular Christian Bishop the Episcopal church has.

In the end though it’s Obama’s party and he can invite who he wants. That’s the spoils of victory. I don’t think its worth a fuss.

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.