Hebrews 13:8-9 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.9 Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching. It is good to have our hearts strengthened by grace and not by foods, which do not benefit those who live by them.
So sit back and enjoy, from Hans Fiene, the creator of Lutheran Satire, via The Federalist.
Batman’s an atheist now, you guys. Well, not exactly. After suffering a bit of an existential crisis, Bruce Wayne is questioning his faith in anything, not just the Triune God.
The Caped Crusader is more of a Doubting Descartes than a Determined Dawkins these days. Or, as Rich Cromwell put it, Batman is not so much an atheist as he is a slightly-more-lapsed-than-your-average Episcopalian.
So if the revelation about Batman’s lack of faith makes you fear that your children can no longer look up to a fornicating, spandex-wearing, deranged vigilante, don’t be afraid. Until Batman trades in the cowl for a fedora, he’s still the perfect role model for your seven-year-old.
Batman’s newfound lack of faith raises an interesting question: what do the rest of the folks in comic book land believe? Aside from pious Catholics like Nightcrawler and Daredevil (to whatever extent vigilantes can be pious Catholics), religious devotion is not a common feature of today’s superheroes, at least in their cinematic and small-screen forms.
If you’re looking for an accurate list of comic book characters’ religious affiliations, check out this website, where we learn that Lois Lane is Catholic and Captain Underpants is Jewish. If, however, you’re looking for completely un-researched, slightly offensive, and wildly inaccurate speculation about the religious beliefs of various characters based on their biographies and personality quirks, I’m here to help.
Here are the religious affiliations of your favorite superheroes and super-villains.
Perhaps it is time for me to say something about the scandal rocking the Catholic church. Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread, I suspect. My perspective is different, being a conservative, liturgical Protestant, a Lutheran, as it were.
First, a few caveats:
- We have only a report from a grand jury, in one state, Pennsylvania. We do not have indictments, let alone convictions. Will they come? That remains to be seen. But there is enough smoke here for all the wildfires in California. Surely the other states, and yes, Europe as well should be looking into this. But it is not yet time to build the gallows.
- However bad it may be, and it appears to be bad, indeed, it remains a small share of the clergy. Do not condemn with a 12″ roller when a trim brush is wide enough.
- But to condemn and punish is not enough, why did this happen, and mind, this is not the first sex scandal in the Church. How to avoid it in the future is the key thing here. In a sense, the past really is prologue.
As I said above, I’m a Lutheran, one of the causes that led Luther to start the Reformation was the sexual conduct of priests in Rome. So it would be easy for me to say, more of the same. That’s a poor attitude, much as it’s a common one these days.
But Rome is the root of Christianity in the west, whether one is Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Baptist, or whatever else. That is where we all started, and but for the Grace of God, it could be (and sometimes has been) any of our churches.
Anybody remember Jimmy Swaggart? Yeah, didn’t do Christianity a lot of good, did he? How about Rev. Tom Bird, a Kansas Lutheran pastor who killed his wife when she became inconvenient to his affair with the church secretary. There are others, big and small. We are all fallen sinners, we can only try. And that’s why we need to weed out these things. And both of those examples, and others, were, they went to prison, as they should.
Matt Walsh, a Catholic, and a columnist for The Daily Wire said with characteristic bluntness…
The Catholic Church in the West is beset by a plague. An infection. A virus that must be rooted out and utterly destroyed. There must be a purge in the Church. And the purge must be ruthless and brutal and uncompromising.
Indeed so, and it must include the hierarchy that covered up the instances. In the examples above, there was little to no cover-up, and no lasting damage was done. As so often, it’s not the crime but the coverup.
Homosexuals have committed over 80 percent of the abuse in the Catholic Church. That is an empirical fact and it is not really up for debate. https://t.co/avWSYFdV7y
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) August 15, 2018
He has a point, I suspect. Kim Hirsch, an LCMS Lutheran writes on Victory Girls Blog,
Many years ago, I read a book entitled, Goodbye, Good Men. Written in 2002 by Michael Rose, a Catholic reporter, it tells how these scandals come from the seminary, where liberals in the church have allowed homosexuality in the name of “tolerance.” There is also prejudice, he maintains, against traditional seminaries.
Here’s what Rose said in an interview with a Catholic publication in 2002:
In bringing the “sexual revolution” into the Church, liberals have welcomed—even preferred—radicalized active homosexuals to orthodox seminarians in the name of “tolerance.” Now that tolerance has been exposed as a toleration of criminal acts.
Mind you, this book is now 16 years old, and we’re seeing yet again another sexual scandal. The crisis will not go away.
Maybe, one of the underlying problems, since this is predominately a Catholic problem, is the celibate priesthood itself, combined with clericalism, of course.
Father Richard McBrien, who was a professor of theology at Notre Dame, believed the church should drop the celibacy requirement for priests. In 2004, he wrote why it’s a problem:
But that requirement of the priesthood will attract a disproportionately high percentage of men who are sexually dysfunctional, sexually immature, or whose orientation will raise the question – are they attracted to the priesthood because of the ministry, or because it is a profession that forbids one to be married?
And there is something else, most of these are young men, and do any of us really think young men do not run on hormones, and those drawn to leadership, more than most?
I don’t know, and as the saying goes, not my church, but some thoughts for you Catholics to mull over, which is my main purpose here. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, but do think why this is so much a specific problem in your church. Part of it is a powerful, traditional hierarchy, as well, I suspect, but the CofE has that as well. It appears to be a distinctive of, and a distinctive problem for, the Catholic Church.
And pray, of course, as we will be praying for your Church as well as our own.
I’ve recently enjoyed a few of Craig Truglia’s post on the debate of purgatory between Catholics and Orthodox on his blog Orthodox Christian Theology. One of the issues that bugs me is when someone attempts to tell me what I actually believe in accords with my faith. For example, when an evangelical attempts to tell me that Catholics worship Mary—what dumbfounds me is that people who worship gods don’t deny worshiping those gods!
As I’ve read Craig’s post on purgatory, I’ve felt at times he’s doing something of the nature of telling me what my faith’s beliefs are in regards to purgatory.
Craig writes, “Augustine’s Purgatory is clearly different. The fire, which he speculates and admits is possibly “doubtful,” burns the dross of our passions that was not worn off by our repentance in our worldly lives “in proportion as they have loved with more or less devotion the goods that perish.” Augustine viewed the process as “quick.” As we shall see in Parts II and III, this has much more in common with the modern Orthodox elucidation of what happens after we die than the dominant Roman Catholic doctrine of Purgatory.”
The strange thing is that my understanding of purgatory is actually very similar to what he presents as Augustine’s viewpoint. Of course, no surprise to the many readers on AATW, I’ve got an Augustinian soft spot, so it’s no surprise I would agree right? However, it doesn’t appear that I’m the only Catholic who has this notion on the topic of purgatory. In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI in a general audience on the topic of purgatory wrote:
“Catherine’s thought on purgatory, for which she is particularly well known, is summed up in the last two parts of the book mentioned above: The Treatise on purgatory and the Dialogues between the body and the soul. It is important to note that Catherine, in her mystical experience, never received specific revelations on purgatory or on the souls being purified there. Yet, in the writings inspired by our Saint, purgatory is a central element and the description of it has characteristics that were original in her time.
The first original passage concerns the “place” of the purification of souls. In her day it was depicted mainly using images linked to space: a certain space was conceived of in which purgatory was supposed to be located.
Catherine, however, did not see purgatory as a scene in the bowels of the earth: for her it is not an exterior but rather an interior fire. This is purgatory: an inner fire.”
It’s interesting that when I look at more traditional Catholic websites about the above quote, they charge the Pope with a development of modernism, but does the history of purgatory hold out? The earliest known debate on the topic of purgatory between East and West took place in 1230 A.D. between a Franciscan friar and a Greek Bishop Bardanes of Corfer. In the debate it appears that the Greek Bishop misunderstood the Franciscan’s explanation on “the fire” point of purgatory and connected it to an irrational fear of universalism from Origenism, not realizing a proper distinction between the two concepts.
In fact, as evidence to indicate that the above statement by Pope Benedict XVI is not a development, in 1267 Pope Clement IV issued a profession of faith which was adopted in 1274 at Lyons II. The formula, as explained by Fr. Aidan Nichols:
So far as Purgatory is concerned, the ‘Clementine formula’ abstains from any reference to fire, though it does use the term “purgatorial”, in its Greek form. Those who die in charity, truly repentant but without as yet making satisfaction for their sins, whether commission or omission, by worthy fruits of repentance, will, so the formula maintains, be purged after death, poenis purgatoriis seu cathartiis, “by purifying or cathartic pains.”
It’s interesting to note that at the start of Craig’s initial post of his series, I asked him whether he knew that if Dante’s work influenced the more physical imagery of purgatory in the middle ages. Now, after examining the papal profession of faith in the 13thcentury, as well as noting that the first use of the word “purgatorium” occurs in the writings of Hildebert of Lavardin dating anywhere from 1056-1135 A.D.; it appears one can reason that either Dante’s work in the 14thcentury either influenced the cultural perception or the cultural perception of that particular time period influenced him.  However, the Augustinian viewpoint was still within the frameworks of Pope Clement IV profession of faith.
Further Reflections on the topic may be needed, such as the development of the sacrament of Confession in regards to the penance preceding absolution to the development of it in the future. However, I believe the topic needed a better examination of the development of theology within a historical timeline.
Aidan Nichols O.P., Rome and the Eastern Churches, (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 293.
242 years ago a mission statement was issued. They didn’t use that fad term of course but, that’s exactly what it was. it was a mission statement for a revolt, indeed it was a mission statement for a Second English Civil War. It carries meanings for us all right down to the present day. Here it is.
In Congress, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
What did it all mean on that long ago 4th of July? Nothing, not a damned thing, it was just a revolt of part of the middle class in an unimportant colony.
But, through heartbreaking efforts and sacrifices they made their high-flown words good, against the greatest empire of the age, plus its hired mercenaries.
Thus was formed the United States of America and even more, the Free World itself.
Because from this mission statement came not only the American Revolution but, the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, and the very quiet revolution in Great Britain itself as the common man took on the roles and responsibility that had belonged to the knights and squires of the country.
Thus was lit the fire of the torch of liberty, never extinguished since.
I’m sure that my readers in the Anglosphere will note that our grievances all were about the traditional rights of English freemen. That is the reason that the revolt was cast against King George III, who was more German than English, rather than the Parliament.
In fact, if British readers read the center section of the Declaration, what Americans call “The Bill of Particulars”, they will find many of the same offenses against liberty that drove Brexit as well.
Nor is it to say that even in that day that the colonists were bereft of friends in England, William Pitt the Elder, and Adam Smith (whose Wealth of Nations was published that year also) come to mind.
Thus was fired the torch of Liberty that has lighted the path for us, the descendants of Rebels, and Rebels still, from that day to this, nor will we willingly see it change in the future, for if the torch is extinguished there will only be the darkness of tyranny.
I have not the words to describe my love of America but, luckily others do. Here is an excerpt from Cassandra of Villainous Company, who phrases it better than I could dream of doing.
We were the First. We are the guardians of the flame. Not perfect beings, but in all the world the only ones, it seems, still naive enough, still brave enough, still daring enough to put our money where our mouths are. We are the only ones who are still willing to defend the dream with our lives, our fortunes, our sacred honor.
Not all the time. Not in every single instance, because that is impossible. And honest liberals will admit that: in a universe with limited resources, choices must be made. But where we can, where it aligns with our interests and with the interests of the rest of the world: yes.
Our own Revolution was not without blemish. Innocent men were tarred and feathered. Families torn asunder. People bled, and suffered and starved. There was even [shudder] terrorism. But it lit a flame that has burned brightly for over 200 years. There are signs that this is happening in the MiddleEast: Arabs are looking at election day in Iraq and Afghanistan and demanding democratic reforms in Egypt and Lebanon and Kuwait. The fire in men’s (and women’s) hearts is spreading.
We would like certainty. We would like painless progress. We would like closure. We will not get any of those things.
On July 4th we must ask ourselves, what do we believe? Our military – brand new immigrants who enlist before the ink is dry on their visas – believe in those words so strongly that they will lay down their lives to spread the fire of democracy. They also believe (as I do) that their purpose is to serve American foreign policy aims, no matter how abstract and long-term they may seem. No matter how difficult to explain to the American people. No matter how frustrating in the short term.
What kind of world will we bequeath to our grandchildren? It may be that long before we know. But our actions today will have an incalculable effect on that far-off tomorrow. And if our policy is not firmly grounded in the spread of those long-ago words:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…
…then I wonder if we shall not be the first Americans who fail to pass the blessings of liberty on to the next generation?
“The only thing necessary for evil to triumph. is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke.
Happy Birthday, America. May you always be great. May you remain a nation of thinkers, of dreamers, of believers, of doers; striving always towards our ideals without despising the imperfect means we use to achieve them.
But most importantly, may you never give in to cynicism and despair. In life as in sports, ninety nine percent of success lies in simply showing up.
Do read her entire article here. It may well be my favorite blog post of all time.
Hey listen, the band is playing our song, this was our first National Anthem during the War of Independence.
The world knows that where that flag flies, there is liberty.
Happy Birthday, America,
Press on, Continue the mission!
As many of you are aware, I have been interested in the history of the Exodus. For some time, I have been putting forth a hypothesis based on a thesis written by Richard Elliot Friedman that the Exodus wasn’t a large event but a smaller event of Levites. Of course, my approach combines other research to include a more plausible event the can coincide with what we know from the Exodus text.
However, after giving a brief example of my hypothesis to a Lutheran pastor who seemed very adapt to historical studies of the scriptures. He informed me of a minority view within Egyptology proposed by a David Rohl that the Egyptian dates for the Exodus are off by several hundreds of years. Many scholars date the Exodus to the reign of Rameses II because of this particular passage in the Exodus 1:11 text:
11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens; and they built for Pharaoh store-cities, Pithom and Ra-am′ses.
After thinking about this for a period of time, I thought to myself, “Well isn’t it ironic that a text that secular scholars say isn’t historical is how they attempt to map out an event against other archaeological evidence?”
David Rohl proposes that the evidence for the Hebrews in Egypt is found in the Middle Kingdom rather than the New Kingdom. He believes that the mention of the city of Raamses is an anachronism from when the text was written rather than what the city is more commonly known as Avaris. An example, in Genesis 47:11 of the use:
11 And Joseph placed his father and his brethren, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded.
Of course, Rameses couldn’t be the Pharaoh of both Joseph and Moses. So, it would be like someone writing a history of the Byzantine empire about the waning years approximately three-hundred years before it’s collapse and the rise of the Ottoman empire. In our Political correct-climate instead of using the name Constantinople, the author decides to play it safe and uses Istanbul. So, imagine 2000 years from this point, several collapses of civilizations and dark ages, new historians find this text and compare it with the few other pieces of evidence and start looking for information of groups of Latin Christians in the Byzantine empire during the time of the Ottomans and conclude, “The Latin massacre never took place because there is no evidence of Western Christianity at this point of time; of course looking well after the massacre and expulsion. ”
Naturally, there is one of the best archaeologists in the world working in the area named Manfred Bietak from Austria. Bietak has found in the area of Avaris large settlement of proto-Caanites during the middle kingdom but asserts because they’re too early for the Exodus event these cannot be the same Semites.
But, if they’re gone a few hundred years after we start looking for Semites, where did they all go?
Is this new dating plausible? Most Egyptologist entire careers are tied up in the old dating system so many would fight it tooth and nail, but historically speaking with the lack of information, it could be plausible. I’m not entirely confident enough to jump across a conventional dating system.
Six years ago, today, a new little blog poked its head up over the parapet of that desert mission above and made its first post. The founder of this blog and all who commented on that post, are rarely seen in the precincts today. But that post, quoted here in full, still motivates us.
This is a blog about Christianity under siege, and sometimes this Christian under attack. That’s not to say I think that in this country we are persecuted, but just that it can be difficult to make one’s voice heard above the clamant voices. This is my voice, for what it is worth. My first two posts appeared on another blog, and I am grateful to Jon for making them available here.
The spirit that Jessica showed in post number one, has been our constant guide here, ever since, as has been the tagline, she chose for us.
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you … John 13:34
Well, we all fall far short of the goal, but we keep trying, and given the troubles we’ve all seen here, I think we’ve done fairly well, with God’s help.
Some of us have been here since almost the beginning, some came here much later, it doesn’t matter. I’m glad you are here, and we will go forward together.
And so, here’s to the next six!
The Rev Karl Hess noticed something from Mundabor’s blog (well, we are in the same business, after all)
[…]Comment Sissy showed up (nickname: “anonymous”; you never know which “anonymous” is “anonymous”) and said the critics of the Novus Ordo were uncharitable, un-this, and un-that. There had been no vitriolic comments, merely a very mild sarcasm.
A good soul, nickname “Templar” (nice one, by the way) intervened with the following words:
I grew up in New York, the Priests from my parish lived exactly 7 doors down from me and our interaction with them was daily and very personal. They were mostly Irish and Italian, most cussed like sailors (refraining only from taking the Lord’s name), used acerbic wit to cut down many a sinner, and wouldn’t back down from a fight if it came to it.
Good Bye good men.
Now we have anonymous posters who wring their hands over bruised feelings, and perceived slights. What you sow is what you reap. We have raised up milquetoast Catholics. Where is the Church Militant? Where are the Warriors? Islam is burying the world through birth rate and butchery, and us Catholics are afraid of some rough language.
The poster hits the bull’s eye in a very pithy way.
We live in times of such unmanliness that by every exchange of opinion that reaches the level of more than mild disapprobation someone – the Comment Sissy; they are everywhere – feels the need to intervene and say how “disparaging” and insensitive other people are.
In former times, such people would have been invited to go play with their dolls; nowadays, the Comment Sissy is socially accepted, and thinks he has firmly taken the moral high ground; it is like a pervert game of political correctness, in which the first one crying “disparaging” has won.
Rev Hess said it reminded him of another Catholic priest about 500 years ago.
I have indeed inveighed sharply against impious doctrines, and I have not been slack to censure my adversaries on account, not of their bad morals, but of their impiety. And for this I am so far from being sorry, that I have brought my mind to despise the judgments of men, and to persevere in this vehement zeal, according to the example of Christ, who, in his zeal, calls his adversaries a generation of vipers, blind, hypocrites, and children of the devil. Paul too charges the sorcerer with being a child of the devil, full of all subtlety and all malice; and defames certain persons as evil workers, dogs, and deceivers. In the opinion of those delicate-‐eared persons, nothing could be more bitter or intemperate than Paul’s language. What can be more bitter than the words of the prophets? The ears of our generation have been made so delicate by the senseless multitude of flatterers, that, so soon as we perceive that anything of ours is not approved of, we cry out that we are being bitterly assailed; and when we can repel the truth by no other pretence, we escape by attributing bitterness, impatience, intemperance, to our adversaries. What would be the use of salt, if it were not pungent? or of the edge of the sword, if it did not slay? Accursed is the man, who does the work of the Lord deceitfully.
From The freedom of a Christian (PDF)
I think we can all sympathize, we’ve all met the commenters, that have no facts, but are so very easily offended, and so make personal attacks. Indeed, we’ve had a few here, over the years, they rarely last long, though.
Several things caught my eye in Philip’s excellent article the other day. I hate writing posts in commboxes (although I do it far too often), so I thought I would discuss it here.
The first comes from the Catholic Herald, always a good source of information.
[O]n 8 April, I made the 2.5-hour drive to the National Shrine of Divine Mercy Shrine in Stockbridge, Massachusetts for Divine Mercy Sunday. And how could I not? Judging by the licence plates in the parking lots, pilgrims travelled from every corner of the United States. According to the programme, many more flew over from Europe. I practically live down the street.
It was a deeply moving occasion, despite Mother Nature’s lack of cooperation: it was finger-numbingly cold, with snow flurries dropping in and out. Yet 15,000 pilgrims descended on the little mountain town, bundled in parkas and blankets. Some charitable souls drifted through the crowd passing out hand warmers.
Aside from the official proceedings, what struck me most was the demographic make-up. There were Hispanics, Filipinos, Africans, and Chinese – but hardly a Caucasian in sight. That’s grossly unrepresentative of the national Catholic population: 59 per cent are white, 34 percent are Hispanic, 3 per cent are Asian, and 3 per cent are black.
Of course, this has nothing to do with race and everything to do with trends in migration. Immigrants, whatever their faith tradition, tend to be more devout than their native-born counterparts. This is true even in countries like Sweden, where predominantly-white immigrants from Poland are contributing to a boom in the Catholic population.
But are these new Catholics a permanent feature of American and Western European countries? That seems doubtful. A new Gallup polldemonstrates that the rate at which Catholics attend Mass continues to fall since 1955, from 75 per cent to 39 per cent. This, despite the fact that the nominal Catholic population has grown considerably thanks to mass immigration from South America. Meanwhile, attendance at Protestant services has remained fairly stable.
The lack of Protestant immigration actually gives them an advantage with this metric. The children or grandchildren of immigrants who stop practising the faith are more likely to identify – if only nominally – with their family’s religion. Because Catholic immigration is so high, there are many “cultural” or “lapsed” Catholics: those who identify with the Faith, but don’t attend Mass. Meanwhile, Protestants who have “un-churched” are more likely to identify as irreligious.
True enough, out here the Catholic Church is made up of probably close to a majority of Hispanics, of all ages, and who are treated quite badly by the established Anglo congregations, to the point of nearly two churches in one building. A good many of the Anglos strike me as mostly CINO’s (Catholics in name only). Given it is Hispanic immigration, I don’t see it as much in the Protestant churches but suspect it is mostly a lack of Hispanics not a difference in attitude.
The funny part is, Islam also has this problem, they too are losing the immigrants’ children.
Here, again, Pew’s study of Islam in America is enlightening. Nine per cent of ex-Muslims converted to a different faith, and one per cent said they were actively searching for a spiritual path. That means only 10 per cent remain open to engaging with organised religion. The other 90 effectively become secular or “spiritual-not-religious”, which usually amounts to the same thing.
Apparently, it is something in the air in America. part of it, of course, is the churches themselves, I’m not a particularly regular attendee myself. My local church is good on liberal platitudes, on real (what some call, muscular) Christianity, not so much. Other choices such as LCMS are quite inconvenient for me, perhaps it will solve itself, or God will show me a way, but for now, that’s how it is.
In a Federalist article, Mathew Cochrane notes that one of the weaknesses of our churches is that we are driving away men. He quotes Ross Douthat’s “God and Men and Jordan Peterson” New York Times column to good effect.
The men fled; the women stayed.
That’s the story of Easter weekend in the New Testament. Most of Jesus’ male disciples vanished when the trouble started, leaving his mother and Mary Magdalene and other women to watch by the cross, prepare his body for his burial, and then (with the men still basically in hiding) find the empty tomb.
Male absence and female energy has also been the story, albeit less starkly and dramatically, of Christian practice in many times and places since.
Except that is not true, all concerned missed the real story, didn’t they? How many times had Jesus told them he would rise from the dead? None of them, not a single one, believed Him – they went to the tomb to properly prepare his corpse and were gently chided by the Angel:
“Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise” (Luke 24:5-7).
There is also this,
As one blogger quickly pointed out, two key issues with Douthat’s presentation of the story highlight a disregard for men. First is the enormous factual error: Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, both men, were actually the ones to prepare and bury Jesus’ body (John 19:38-42) while the women watched (Luke 23:55-56) and returned with additional spices several days later. Unlike Douthat, Mark the Evangelist is quite right to observe that Joseph “took courage” before going to the guy who just had Jesus executed and asking him for the corpse (Mark 15:43).
Yep, that’s how you are going to attract men, NOT.
Last night I had been talking about the good ole’ days with a young mother and some philosophical issues with the troubles our culture ( I like talking about ‘ideas’). A gentleman walked into our discussion group disagreed with my generalized assertion, but the conversation of philosophical ideas turned political as it was started before me that the cause of our problems is because all the immoral people who voted for Trump and the support of clerics who adhere to the law as opposed to the pastoral. Now, the conversation turning political, I had no idea how others in the room felt on the topic, I want the group to be inviting not divisive, as for the most part, we’ve talked about Christianity, I am positioned to argue for the intent of supporters of Trump and Free Market Capitalism, which I’m really neither of those things.
Honestly, I am interested in any practical solutions to reach out to those who are in need. Some state that the Catholic Church, as a whole, donates more wealth than any other organization in the world, although statistics vary from what I can find with a basic google search on the topic. Personally, I think parishes should work more in their local areas. I ‘ve seen poor neighborhoods every day, where I live, I am a witness to their plight. I have spoken to some on the finance committee at my parish, I’ve been agitated with the lack of commitment to these people because I see them every single day and It feels as if it never crosses their minds. I see evangelical churches bringing meals to children in the summer when they’re out of school and one church, maybe the same one, runs a soup kitchen. When pressed about these missions in the community, the committee member said we give a lot of money to the area, but I said we have no presence, there’s no sense of community. Faith is about community, all baptized members of the faith are part of the Body of Christ.
For some reason, the conversation turned toward how the gentleman could argue that Jesus was a socialist with two more people in the group joining in agreement. The conversation had become so disjointed at this time with me not being able to respond because I would continuously be talked over, I have no idea how we arrived at this conclusion. I recall someone saying, “We should have an ‘activist’ church.” Naturally, this made my stomach turn as my mind started to flood with memories of all my college experience and socialist activist I had encountered. I quickly answered, mostly out of a necessity of not being drowned out; “Jesus is absolutely not a socialist because first off; he predates Karl Marx for the same reason I wouldn’t call him a capitalist as he existed before Adam Smith–these are anarchronisms!” Secondly, Jesus’ teachings on sharing one’s wealth freely and charitably are based heavily in the tradition of Ben Sirach’s teachings found in the book bearing his name.
And because of the historical development of Christian charity from the time of the Apostles to now, I certainly do not think that any Bishops should advocate for government intrusion on the matter of charity. At this point, the gentleman interjected, you mean you don’t believe in paying taxes? Sadly, I had been a bit disjointed because of this conversation coming out of left field that I said, “What happens when you don’t pay taxes? Some one comes with a gun and either makes you or takes you to prision. It’s theft!” I should clarify that I do not think that taxes are theft when they are used for public goods, so at this point, we have to define the terms being used.
What is a Public Good: a commodity or service that is provided without profit to all members of a society, either by the government or a private individual or organization.
Next, we have to define theft. So What is theft? A taking of wealth, either monetary or services, through coercive measures. Is taxing for a public good theft? No. A public good that is paid for by taxation does not follow as theft because it provides services for all members of society.
So what is socialism? It’s a form of an economic system used by the government redistribute goods and services by coercive measures to only certain members of society. Therefore, because the taxes taken by the economic system of socialism doesn’t benefit all who are required to pay and If one refuses to pay, they are either fined or taken to prison by force. The taking of these goods and service by force is evil—immoral—which is why Jesus could not a socialist; he advocates for charity. Of course, the seventh commandment ‘Thou shall not steal’ reveals as much on the topic.
Honestly, couldn’t believe this discussion was taking place inside the walls of a Catholic chapel…