Monday, August 27, 2012

Truth Balloon

If you ever had a habit of lying, you may have noticed how the truth tends to rise to the surface in time. It almost seems to be a natural law of sorts.  The tangled web we weave when we first practice to deceive ironically helps to catch the truth. A visual metaphor better than a web may be one of those long party balloons clowns make animals out of.

The balloon itself can represent our world or the reality which we can see. Air can be “Truth” which we do not see directly; we see the effects. One can squeeze-out the air in a certain part of the balloon, but it still exists; it pops-up somewhere else in the balloon, although perhaps in another form. We can try to suppress Truth in our individual life or in society, but it still exists and will eventually show up somewhere else.
This metaphor can be applied to Protestants/Evangelicals throughout history that have attempted to "squeeze out" Christian Tradition. The kind of Tradition that ultimately comes from God (not the traditions of men); the kind Catholics might spell with a capital “T”
Ø  Squeeze out the Pope, get “The Bible Answer Man”

Ø  Squeeze out the Magisterium of Catholic Bishops, get the Baptist General Director of Missions
We have a need for human authority; this is why Jesus set up a visible on earth Church with people in charge.  Bible churches do not use the Bible as their sole authority; they are also using whatever biblical interpretation their church leaders interpret. The Bible doesn’t actually “teach”, just as a math book does not teach; people do the teaching. If I handed some students an algebra book, told them to join an algebra study group and pray hard for understanding with no algebra teacher, how well would they do on the final exam? How well would they truly understand?
I once heard a minister say that the only proper interpreter of scripture is scripture itself. This reminded me of when I was a kid asking how to spell a word and being told to look it up in the dictionary. I would say to myself in frustration…”But I can’t spell the word, so how can I look it up”. It also reminded me of Acts 8:30-31 “Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?”
Of course, some Christians will say that the Holy Spirit does the guiding, teaching and interpreting for them individually. This would be somewhat reasonable if there were only two Christian denominations in the world, the misguided (or evil) Catholic Church and one true and holy “Bible Church”. The reality of course, is that there are thousands of Christian denominations that claim “Truth” from the Bible and yet teach different things. So it all begs the question, “Which Bible Answer Man or General Directors should we listen to?”
Ø  Squeeze out the Eucharist, get the altar call.
There is something about going to an altar to receive Jesus publicly that just won’t go away!
Ø  Squeeze out the Rosary, get the Prayer of Jabez
The Prayer of Jabez comes from 1 Chronicles 4:10 “Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!" And God granted him what he requested.”
The prayer is composed of four parts. First, Jabez asks God to bless him. Second, he asks God to enlarge his territory or increase his responsibility. Third, he prays that God will be with him and stay close. Lastly, Jabez asks that God keep him from harm so that he will be free from pain. Like the Rosary, Christians are encouraged to say the Prayer of Jabez on a daily basis so it can become a treasured and lifelong habit.
SIDE NOTE: I do wonder if a Christian who prays this daily could ever accept the spiritual value of suffering that all of us can share with Christ.
Both the Rosary and the Prayer of Jabez are criticized for vain repetition (see Matthew 6:7). Stop and think of repetition for a moment (OK, that’s enough). Did you think of day and night repeating over and over, seasons coming and going, breathing air in and out or your heart beating again and again? What is vain is vain, but repetition with meaning brings life.

All of this is not just about Protestants & Evangelicals reinventing the wheel, it is about the Truth finding its way to the surface!

Inspiration for this post comes from a talk I heard by a fine fellow named Ian Murphy during my recent stay At Catholic Familyland. He has a fascinating conversion story going from Agnostic to Baptist to Catholic.

Fascinating Conversion Story Part I:

Fascinating Conversion Story Part II:

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Logic of Bullying

In today's polarized political climate, I offer some observations on hypocrisy.

It seems that it is okay to engage in spewing poisonous rhetoric regarding the conservative stance on gay "marriage."   Childish personal attacks and  oh-so-witty and hip "arguments" are rampant.

After bullying them with such wit, they cry with shared sympathy for someone who has been bullied saying, "Don't you know it's cruel to belittle and demean someone else?"

They scream with horror that the religious right is imposing their version of morality on them, crying "who are you to tell us how to live?!"

And in the next breath, they will explain how THEY know what to do and that everyone ought to do what they say is right.

They will say "be yourself, who cares how you look to others?"

And then hold up those who do exactly that and proceed to mock them for how silly they look.

They will sneer at conservative believers who respect their own leaders.

Then they will practically worship those who think like they themselves do.

They will tell you that some people have no will in the matter of practicing homosexuality since they are born that way.

Every person looks out at the night sky, or the mountains, or the sea in awe with an innate belief in something more, certain that there is more to the universe than what can be seen.

Yet they are told that there is in fact nothing more; and they should fight this instinct to believe.  You have a choice, just suppress it.  You are not an animal at the mercy of your instincts.

Find purpose despite the fact that your life is a meaningless accident and so there logically can be no purpose.

This one-sided freedom to mock, to return hate with hate is not how Christians are to behave.  We are to bring reason, clarity and kindness to the conversation.  We are to be a light, a light that both lifts the darkness of ignorance and is a beacon to lead all people to the truth.  That truth is, after all, what we all are seeking.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Two Space Aliens and a Sex-Study

The Chick-fil-A fiasco is showing us the rapid de-evolution of society. We are reaching the point where one must agree with same sex marriage OR BE PUNISHED. Even the leaders of major U.S. cities, like Chicago and Boston have publicly hinted at this. Many have used a slow sounding metaphor, like “boil the frog” to describe the intolerance, perhaps it’s more appropriate to say something that invokes speed, like “microwave the frog”.
Those who agree that marriage should only be defined as one man and one woman are said to hold to the Biblical definition of marriage, but which came first, the chicken or the egg? Which came first, opposite sex marriage or the Bible? How many citizens of Japan, China, India, Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome would say their view on opposite sex marriage comes from the Bible?

Traditional and Non-Biblical Chinese Wedding
WWCD - What Would the Chinese Do?

Kang & Kodos From Planet Rigel IV
Since emotions run very high with this issue, we lose objectivity. Let’s consider a most objective scenario outside of ANY human society.

Two space aliens, let’s call them Kang and Kodos, have come to earth to study the sexual behavior of the planet’s most highly evolved species. This is of great interest since this alien species from planet Rigel IV reproduces asexually; they have no detailed knowledge of heterosexual reproduction or any sexual behavior involving more than one member of a species.

Kang and Kodos have never heard of marriage, since there is no need for such an institution on their planet. Additionally, our alien friends know nothing of the Bible or God, although the inhabitants of Rigel IV do wonder about “The FirstCause” and what a curious thing an uncaused cause would be.

Kang & Kodos observing "behaviors"
Don’t worry; these aliens have no intention of harming us, in fact they wish to help us evolve or “progress”. Part of the overall mission is not only to learn about our sexual behavior, but to study how our sexual behavior can help the common good of ALL humans. They objectively observe and report on the following human sexual behaviors with no discussion of right or wrong; good or evil.

  1. Rape
  2. Incest
  3. Prostitution
  4. Masturbation
  5. Random sex between consenting homosexuals
  6. Random sex between consenting heterosexuals
  7. Exclusive, but temporary sexual relationships between consenting homosexuals
  8. Exclusive, but temporary sexual relationships between consenting heterosexuals
  9. Exclusive and permanent sexual relationships between consenting homosexuals
  10. Exclusive and permanent sexual relationships between consenting heterosexuals
Since thinking means connecting things, Kang & Kodos have made some connections:

Connection #1: Sexual coupling between human males & females tends to create human offspring, although not in all cases.

Connection #2: Sexual coupling in context of behavior #10 tends to create stable and productive offspring within the basic cells of human society called “family units”, although not in all cases.

Connection #3: Sexual behaviors #1 – #9 tend not to achieve what has been observed in connection #2 and tend to cause or accentuate problems for humans such as unwanted offspring, disease, addictions and other emotional & physical trauma, although not in all cases.

Kang & Kodos have also drawn a conclusion from the facts and the connections:
It is in the best interest of human society to encourage and support behavior #10 for their continued existence and progressive evolution. Behavior #10 is unique among the other sexual behaviors/relationships in terms of its procreative, unitive, healthy & stabilizing effects on human society.
Kang & Kodos rejoicing after a successful mission

As has been discussed before on this blog, the rational basis for secular marriage laws is rooted in procreation for the establishment & protection of family units (not romantic love). Many relationships, other than marriages, have tremendous personal significance to those involved; the fact that we do not call them marriages is not evidence of bigotry, but recognition of reality.

Marriage should be reinforced, not redefined.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Wheels of Life

This has little to do with Faith or Reason, but then again, we need faith that some "wheels" will be waiting for us in life and a reason to use them. But are we riding toward God or riding toward "self"? If you're a visual learner, click HERE to see the direction of a soul.

I've heard it said that prayer, simply put, is "directing one's life toward God", so our prayer life (or lack of) is indicative of our direction and speed. I believe I'm right smack-dab in the middle of the cartoon below. Where are you, but more importantly, which direction are you going?