Friday, July 25, 2014

What Can Christians Do To Help Persecuted Christians In The Middle East


Q - "What we can do (beyond prayer) to help the Christians being persecuted in Iraq. Is there a reputable organization you know of that we could donate to that is currently aiding them?"

A - Thanks for the question. I believe a number of people want to know the answer, so I hope I can help.

If others don't know what is happening in Iraq (and parts of Syria), there are areas, especially in Mosul and the surrounding area, where Christians have been threatened by Muslim extremists (and some have been killed, beaten, and raped). They have been told they need to convert, move, or die. These are the only three options they have been given. Sadly, it is thought that the entire Christian population has had to flee from the persecution and the international community and the Iraqi government have done very little to support the Christians who are now refugees from persecution and threats. Many others have been killed, raped, and abducted. A new religious cleansing is now taking place. A genocide.

Of course, since we are not the decision makers in this area, we have to rely on others. The first one we always rely on is God. So, please do not stop praying. I know sometimes we Christians can sometimes downplay the power of prayer too much. God being all-powerful and loving isn't just philosophical truisms. They are facts.

With that being said, because the situation is dire for Christians in Iraq (esp. Mosul), we must not sit by and allow the persecution of innocents happen, to the extent we can do more. So, here are some things we can do.
  1. Give to organizations that are providing direct assistance to the Christians who are fleeing. They include Catholic Relief Services and Aid To The Church In Need.
  2. Write and call your U.S. Senators, Representative, and the White House. It is important the USA leads the way in helping Christians, just as they did when the Kurdish Muslims were threatened.
  3. Inform others about what is going on and ask them to join in with helping by doing all three things mentioned here. One way to raise awareness is to post the image above on Facebook and other websites. It is an image of the Arabic letter nun (the English equivalent is the letter N), which is the first letter of the word Nasara (Nazarenes), the word Muslims use to refer to Christians. Extremists have marked Christian homes with this image to intimidate them. It is also being used, in turn, by Christians as a show of support for those being persecuted. 
  4. Pray more and ask others to pray with you.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

I Want To Be Happy!

All of us want the same thing.  Happiness.

In fact, most of the decisions we make are in seeking out our own happiness or the happiness of others. But, we seek it in ways that sometimes don't really help.
  • Some of us seek it out in pleasure, yet find that pleasure alone cannot equal happiness and we are then left unfulfilled. We can find examples of this in how people seek it in drugs or alcohol.
  • Some of us seek it in other people, and find they will always be unable to fulfill our deepest longings. Thus, we feel that we haven't found the right person or that we need to change them. This leads to many broken marriages and relationships.
  • Some seek it in a combination of pleasure and people.  An example is when people seek to use others sexually. Pre-marital sex, contraception, affairs, etc. This will always lead to unhappiness.
  • Some people seek it in power or glory.  They mistake human admiration for happiness, which will always be shown as a sham ultimately.
  • Some seek it in money and attaining earthly treasures. They obtain things in place of having real happiness.
So, what will bring true happiness?  Let JPII tell us about it,
"Creating man and woman in his own image and likeness, God wills for them the fullness of good, or supernatural happiness, which flows from sharing in his own life." 
Pope Francis put it this way:
"In our day we pass in front of so many doors that invite us to come in, promising a happiness which later we realize lasts only an instant, exhausts itself with no future. But I ask you: by which door do we want to enter? And who do we want to let in through the door of our life? I would like to say forcefully: let’s not be afraid to cross the threshold of faith in Jesus, to let him enter our life more and more, to step out of our selfishness, our closure, our indifference to others so that Jesus may illuminate our life with a light that never goes out. It is not a firework, not a flash of light! No, it is a peaceful light that lasts for ever and gives us peace. Consequently it is the light we encounter if we enter through Jesus’ door."
We can only be truly happy when we stop trying to create our own happiness and share in the only thing that can truly grant us the gift of happiness - God. Thus, we have to receive the gift of love that God gives us. He made us to want happiness and He will fulfill that longing in a relationship with Him!

But, it isn't merely our choosing God. He chose us first. Thus, we merely need to respond with a "yes" to his invitation.

Do you want to be happy?  Of course.
So, choose God.
Receive His grace today.
Live your life for Him.
Love Him and His children.
Be happy...

How do you do this? Start with this prayer from Pope Francis:
“Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace.”
Another prayer of Francis:
"In silence, let us all look into our hearts and each one of us tell Jesus that we want to receive the seed of his Word. Say to him: Jesus, look upon the stones, the thorns, and the weeds that I have, but look also upon this small piece of ground that I offer to you so that the seed may enter my heart. In silence, let us allow the seed of Jesus to enter our hearts. Remember this moment. Everyone knows the seed that has been received. Allow it to grow, and God will nurture it."


"God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing."
- C.S. Lewis

"Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by the accidents of time, or place, or circumstances, are brought into closer connection with you."
-St. Augustine

Catholics Navigating Homosexuality

From the description of the movie:
Here are three intimate and candid portraits of Catholics who try to navigate the waters of self-understanding, faith, and homosexuality:

Dan, a gregarious artist who spent his life hiding a deep sense of isolation from those who loved him;

Rilene, a successful businesswoman who realized that twenty-five years with her partner did not provide the fulfillment she had hoped for;

and Paul, an international model who, after a life of self-indulgence, found grace in the last place he expected.

Desire of the Everlasting Hills from Everlasting Hills on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Is Smoking Marijuana a Victim-less Crime?

Some say that smoking marijuana or doing other drugs is a victim-less crime. Yet, there are millions of direct and indirect victims of the drug-trade. Issues include addiction, broken families, billions spent every year, slavery, abuse, sex-trade, human trafficking, environmental damage, kidnappings, thefts, etc.
  • In the Korean War the US deaths were 36,516
  • In the Vietnam War the US deaths were 58,206
  • In Iraq + Afghanistan the US deaths are 8,200+
  • Estimated deaths in Cartel violence in Mexico the last ten years = 120,000 killed by 2013, not including 27,000 missing.
To top it all off, intentionally getting high is gravely immoral, for the same reasons getting drunk is.

Mexico = 6 hours from College Station. The next time you think about smoking a bowl, think of who you are supporting when you do so.

WARNING: The video below is blunt in the data provided about violence and how the cartels work.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Fr. Barron on Intentional Discipleship


I got to spend several days with Sherry Weddell, author of Forming Intentional Disciples, this past week, at the St. John Bosco Conference. Her book has really been stoking a conversation throughout the Church in the USA, about how The Catholic Church operates. It was a great week of being able to teach some others about evangelization, discipleship, and catechetics, but even more so, I get to learn from others, including Sherry.

Only disciples make disciples and to be a disciple, one has to choose to follow Jesus intentionally. Grace isn't magic and can't save us without our saying "yes" to it.

Fr. Barron talks about Sherry's book in the video below. He gives us the bad & good news about the state of the Catholic Church and Intentional Discipleship.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

15 Phrases and Sayings NOT In The Bible

These quotes are either frequently misquoted from the Bible or not there at all. I also have some things that are frequently thought to be in the Bible, but are not. I have tried to provide a origin of each, if I could find one. I have avoided doctrinal items (both valid and invalid ones) not found in the Bible, because that list would be never-ending.

15 Phrases & Sayings Not Found in the Bible

15 - The Three Wisemen
They Bible calls them "Magi", not "Wisemen", though the two are synonymous in common parlance. The Magi are found only in Matthew 2 and no number is given to them (three comes from the number of gifts given).

14 - "Moderation in all things"
This idea behind this phrase originates from Aristotle's ethics and the direct quote comes from Rome, several hundred years before Christ. Two different Romans are generally given credit - one named Terence and the other Petronius.

13 - "The Lord (or God) works in mysterious ways"
Comes from a Hymn ("God Moves in a Mysterious Way") by William Cowper, who lived in the 18th century.

12 - "The eye is a window to the soul"
Matthew 6:22 says "The lamp of the body is the eye", but there is no reference saying it is a window to the soul. There is no consensus as to the origin of this phrase. Some attribute it to a proverb of varying origin and others to several writers including Shakespeare and Milton.

11 - The Apple in the Garden of Eden.
There was fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2, 3), but we do not know what kind of fruit is was. The apple grew out of Christian tradition and may have been a result of artists trying to depict The Fall. It might also have come from the Latin word for evil ("malum" = evil / "malus" = apple). Some say it was likely a pomegranate. But, we do not know.

10 - "The lion will lay down with the lamb"
A very common misquote of Scripture. Isaiah 11:6 reads "Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them."

9 - "A fool and his money are soon parted"
Not even close to a Biblical reference - this comes from Thomas Tusser who wrote it in 1573 in in Five Hundreth Pointes of Good Husbandrie.

8 - "This too shall pass"
The origin of this phrase isn't even Christian. It comes from a Persian Sufi (Muslim) poets some time in the middle ages.

7 - The Seven Deadly Sins
The list of the 7 deadly sins = wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. The first evidence of the list is from a monk in the 4th century. The list was then altered slightly by Pope Gregory I in 590. It was then popularized by Dante in his Divine Comedy.

6 - "Money is the root of all evil"
1 Timothy 6:10 says "For the love of money is the root of all evils". It is the love of money that causes the problem, not the money itself. Money doesn't have a moral value all to itself, it is what we do with it that makes the action good, neutral, or evil.

5 - "Pride comes before the fall"
Proverbs 16:18 says "Pride goes before disaster, and a haughty spirit before a fall."
The origin of the misquote is unknown, but The Beatles' song "I'm a Loser" has the line in it.

4 - "Charity begins at home"
Generally credited to Terence, the Roman comic writer. It is sometimes also attributed to Sir Thomas Browne who wrote the phrase in 1642.

3 - "To thine ownself be true"
Comes from Hamlet by Shakespeare. In a bit of context the quote reads, ”This above all: to thine ownself be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” Not bad advice, but not from the Bible.

2 - "Cleanliness is next to godliness"
While there are many references in the Mosaic law to cleanliness (esp. in Leviticus), there is none that we can ascribe to this quote. Some say it comes from a 2nd century Rabbi. We know the first English version comes from Francis Bacon. He wrote the following in Advancement of Learning, "Cleanness of body was ever deemed to proceed from a due reverence to God." John Wesley then changed it to the phrase we use today.

1 - "God helps those who help themselves"
This very common phrase comes from Algernon Sydney, who wrote it in an article titled Discourses Concerning Government. It was then popularized by Ben Franklin in 1757 in Poor Richard's Almanac. In many ways this phrase is wrong, because God helps (saves) those who can NOT help themselves (sinners). Though we must agree to allow Him to help us. An earlier form of the phrase may have come from "God loves to help him who strives to help himself" by Aeschylus (6th C BC).

Do you have any others?

Monday, July 14, 2014

9 Biblical Ways to Overcome Temptation

We can overcome temptation by learning what Scripture tells us about it and following the advice laid out for us.

9 Ways to Overcome Temptation:

1. Avoid and/or flee from it. Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor.
“She caught him by his cloak and said, "Come to bed with me!" But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.” -Gen 39:12
2. Submit your thoughts to God. He knows better than we do what is good.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” -Phil 4:8
3. Overcome your selfishness. True Love doesn’t know selfishness. Because, if you love Jesus you don’t belong to yourself
“and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.” -1 Cor 3:23
4. Expect and be ready for temptation. We need to be prepared for Spiritual battle.
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” -Eph 6:13
5. Remind yourself of the consequences of sin.
“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” -Gal5:19-21

6. Memorize God’s Word. Filling our minds with the thoughts of God and having them readily available to us is very wise.
“He replied, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” -Luke 11:28
7. Cultivate a sense of God’s presence But don’t just listen – obey.
“Go near and listen to all that the LORD our God says. Then tell us whatever the LORD our God tells you. We will listen and obey.” -Deut 5:27
8. Frequent confession heals us and we start over spiritually healthy.
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” -James 5:16
9. Accountability helps us avoid sin. When we are accountable to both man and God it helps us overcome temptation.
"Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" "I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's keeper?" The LORD said, "What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground.” -Genesis 4:9

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Myth That Women Are To Blame For a Man's Lust


A while back, another blog posted a metaphor for how men struggle with lust - due to women who dress immodestly. I think there is some merit to it. I am paraphrasing, but the metaphor goes something like this...
Women who are concerned with good health and exercise have to really struggle not to eat the chocolate (or other tempting food they like) which is sitting out on the counter. It takes all the will power a woman has to say no, stick to healthy habits, and put the chocolate aside. Now, imagine if someone followed you around every day, with chocolate, and offered it to you. Over time, your will power might break down, unless you were constantly vigilant. This is what it is like for a man struggling with lust due to women who dress immodestly.
While there is some merit to the analogy, I want to point out that if someone is following you around and tempting you there is always the St. Paul option (see Acts 16:18).

Second, it is always a choice to say "yes" to the chocolate and allow the temptation to fester. The desire, itself, for chocolate is not the problem. It is what you choose to do with that desire that is the problem.

Finally, women aren't generally following men around and tempting them. Rather, the man's eyes are wandering and the man needs to have more custody of them.

I have heard many excuses for the men who can't control their lust:
  • "If she didn't dress that way, then she wouldn't be seen as an object."
  • "Men can't control themselves when women dress so provocatively" 
  • "Just boys being boys"
  • Etc
This mentality is a lie. It is an easy way out which we men sometimes wish we had so we didn't have to control ourselves. Yet, the fact is - LUST IS A CHOICE!

In order to be clear, let us define lust. Some think it is any sexual thought about someone else. It is not. Rather, lust is the entertainment of sexual desires for a selfish satisfaction.  Here is how JPII put it:
"Reducing the riches of the perennial call to communion of persons...to mere satisfaction of the sexual 'need' of the body."
In other words, lust is using another person sexually (whether they know it or not).
The Catechism says:
"2351 Lust is disordered desire for or inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes."
So, lust isn't just a thought that pops into your brain without you choosing it. Rather, you take that thought, entertain it, and use it as your own. This makes the thought an act of your will - you choose it. If you don't take ownership of it, then you can't be forgiven nor can you start to work on real chastity.

So, regardless of a woman's ignorance, imprudence, lack of modesty, and bad choices - it is NEVER A WOMAN'S FAULT YOU CHOSE TO LUST AFTER HER!

Let me say it again - despite a woman's reckless behavior, lack of concern for your chastity, failure to show charity to her brother - the man who lusts is the one who is to blame for the lust.

This is not to say that women should wear immodest clothes (see this post for the argument against immodesty). In fact, immodesty can be sinful, just as lust is.

Rather, it is an argument that shifting the blame of a man's lust to women who dress in a certain manner is a lie. The truth is if we love our sisters, we men will step up and take responsibility for our choices and our need to work on self-control.

RELATED POSTS:
**Internet + Bathing Suits = Bad Idea
**Top 10 Reasons Men Should Practice Custody of the Eyes
**Top 10 Reasons Women Should Dress Modestly
**The Impact of Porn Through Stats
**Reflections on the Question of Modesty

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Jesus Uses Sarcasm? Yes He Does.


It might come as a surprise that Jesus was very sarcastic, but he was. First, let us look at what sarcasm is:
1. harsh or bitter derision or irony.
2. a sharply ironical taunt; sneering or cutting remark
The origin of the word gives us a better understanding - it comes from the Greek "sarkasmos" and that comes from another word which means "to tear flesh, bite the lip in rage".

Sometimes sarcasm can be used to make a joke (but be careful of your audience). Sometimes it can be used to make a strong and biting point. This is how Jesus uses it more often than not.

So, was Jesus harsh, bitter, sharp, sneering, cutting, and ironic? Yes.

But, first I will give you my favorite Old Testament usage of sarcasm (there are a lot) - it comes out of 1 Kings 18. Here the prophet Elijah puts the priests of Baal that they should accept a challenge from him to see which God is best - Baal or Yahweh. So, they have a challenge to see which God would show up to burn up the sacrifice made by Elijah vs the priests of Baal.
Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made. At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.
What you don't see in the majority of most English translations is how much Elijah was really taunting them. Here is a better translation:
"About noontime, Elijah began mocking them. ‘You’ll have to shout louder than that,’ he scoffed, ‘to catch the attention of your god! Perhaps he is talking to someone, or is out sitting on the toilet, or maybe he is away on a trip, or is asleep and needs to be wakened.’"
Baal might be asleep? Might be on the toilet? HA HA! I love it!!!

5 Times Jesus is Sarcastic

So what about Jesus?
  • Matthew 15:21-28 - Calls the Canaanite woman a "dog", which was a terribly insulting and would prick the Canaanite woman directly - she was not a Jew, the first group Jesus is sent to.
  • Matthew 23 (the entire chapter) - first he says the Jewish leaders are hypocrites and the Jesus should do what they say, but not what they do. Then Jesus gives the 7 woes (full of sarcasm), then he calls the leaders "snakes, you brood of vipers"
  • Mark 12:24 - Jesus asks the Sadducees "are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures of the power of God?" These were leaders who prided themselves on knowing Scriptures, so this was a terribly sarcastic and insulting statement.
  • John 9 - the story of the blind man is FULL of sarcasm, but most from the blind man (and his family). Jesus last statement to the Pharisees is very sarcastic too - calling them blind.
  • Luke 13:31 - Jesus calls Herod a fox, but he uses the feminine of the Greek word, which means he is calling him a vixen. Now that is an insult!
Now, with that all being said, we are not Jesus! We have to be VERY careful with sarcasm. As anyone who knows me knows - I can be way too harsh with my sarcasm. Jesus was the only one who could always use sarcasm without sinning.

You and I are not Jesus. So, if you use sarcasm, be careful. Of course, this is coming from a sarcastic hypocrite...

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Underage Drinking

Q - What does the church say about underage drinking--not necessarily in regards to drunkenness?


A - Thanks for the question.  I would like to point other readers to my answer to a previous question on whether getting drunk is a mortal sin.  While you ask a question that takes that out of the picture, it is all too common a question and very relevant to most college students.

Now, as to your specific question.  It depends (don't you love that answer).

Alcohol is not, in and of itself, an evil thing.  So, having a beer is not, by itself, wrong.  That being said, there are other circumstances that can make a neutral thing (alcohol) be used for an immoral purpose.

It is not a sin, if you are not breaking the law and drink moderately.  Now, the Texas state law allows a minor to under the supervision of their parents or guardian.  So, this would not be a sin, if you drink a beer or a glass of wine with your parents.

But, I am guessing you mean drinking as a minor without your parents or guardian around.  If this is the case, then you are breaking the law. While some believe drinking-age laws are arbitrary, we must still follow them, because they are not unjust laws. Breaking the law is a sin, if it is a just law, therefore underage drinking without your parents around is a sin.  What level of sin (mortal or venial) depends on other circumstances.  Here are some examples.

Example #1 - Your know that your parents do not approve of underage drinking, but you drink anyway.  Therefore you are also breaking commandment #4 - to honor your father and mother.  By the way, even if your parents encouraged you to drink before you turn 21, you are still bound to follow the law.

Example #2 - Others you are drinking with are drinking too much or participate in unhealthy or immoral behaviors because of drinking.  This is scandalous, because you are giving tacit approval to their actions (even if you don't approve or or participate in their actions) by your presence.

Example #3 - You have a history of not being able to control yourself around alcohol and thus you are putting yourself in a near occasion of sin.

Example #4 - You drink and drive.  Not only is this very stupid / sinful, but it is also breaking another TX law, because a minor cannot drive with ANY trace of alcohol in their system.

There are other examples, but this will do for our purposes here.  Is underage drinking a sin?  The simple answer is yes, it is (most likely) a venial sin when you break the law but do not drink to excess.  But, other issues can increase the gravity of the sin to make it a mortal one.

But, we shouldn't always see such situations from the negative side. There is a positive side as well. Every time you choose to follow the law you say yes to justice and the wise course of action. When you choose to drink legally and responsibly, you choose sobriety, temperance, prudence, and wisdom as well. The right choice is the one you will never regret, the one that follows your conscience, and the one that is in accord with God's will. Choose that and you won't miss out on anything anyway.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) & The Better Option


The Millenial generation is REALLY good at keeping their options open and waiting for the better option, but it is spilling into other generations as well, and I don't think it is good for any of us.

Think about theses scenes you see frequently (maybe do yourself):
  1. A young couple on a date at a restaurant, who don't engage each other much in conversation, who rarely make eye contact, and stare at their phones for most of the dinner.
  2. You ask someone if they want to watch a movie or go play pool on Friday night and they get wishy-washy about giving you an answer. They might say something akin to, "text me before you go and I will see if I can go later."
  3. A relative who has been dating their significant other for 10 years and has no plans to get married, because they want to "keep their options open."
All of these situations, and many more like them, repeat themselves daily in our culture. Some believe it is the FOMO mentality - the "Fear Of Missing Out". In other words, there might be a better option out there, so I shouldn't commit myself to anything right away. 

Those that are culture-watchers know this is happening and they play on our vulnerability. Examples:
  • 168,894 different drink combos at Sonic
  • Dating sites that offer hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of different "options" to date others.
  • How many different options are there on a phone now? Not to mention the kinds of phones one might choose.
  • etc.
We have even brought this attitude into faith issues - church shopping, being spiritual but not religious, and wanting to choose our own way over God's way (the universal FOMO).

The problems that come from this attitude are legion and I believe the Devil is highly entertained by this culture of the better option. If we don't commit to something and stick to it, we don't commit to anything. If we don't commit to anything, we live our lives without meaning.

Too often today, we stand paralyzed in making a choice, because there are too many options. We leave our options open, waiting for the better one, but we end up not committing to anything and then the moment passes us by and we seem unsatisfied - afraid we "missed out" on something better. Sometimes it is a consequence of being afraid to make the wrong choice, in the face of so many options being presented. So, the only decision made is to not make a decision, and therefore not have to live with the consequences of missing out or making the wrong choice.

This is not a good way to live a good life!

Life is meant for us to make a choice, stick with it, and the result is living a better life because of it.

The vows of matrimony include choosing one spouse and only one spouse, until death do us part:
I, ____, take you, ____, to be my (husband/wife). I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.
Notice there is no backdoor to find a better option down the line. Whatever may happen, this is the choice I make and I stick to it. If we don't, we are treating others as an thing which we can use as we wish to make us happy = utilitarianism. This mentality is dangerous and unchristian!

Utilitarianism is the philosophy that the best way to live my life is to maximize my happiness and minimize my suffering and this is primarily done by using other people and things to attain my happiness. In other words, it makes people into objects. By constantly keeping your options open with others, by waiting for a better option, by having the fear of missing out - we treat others as objects, not people!

Think about how God chooses to love us. He chooses you and sticks to His choice! It is how He wants us to live our lives too! Make a choice for God and stick to it!

There are a multitude of gods out there we can worship - money, sex, power, fame, etc. One that too many are worshiping today is the god of better options. It promises you won't miss out. But, it lies.

Choose God. Choose others. Stick to your choice. This is the way of the one true God who chooses you. Faithfulness is never without sacrifice, but it does not leave us unsatisfied.

Even psychology backs this up - Psychologist Barry Schwartz teaches this (WARNING - there are some parts of this video that are somewhat crass, but are used to make a good point):




"Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."-Joshua 24:15

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Kale?

Jim Gaffigan lets us know about Kale.
Have fun and happy 4th of July (don't forget to pray for our country).

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Polygamy: Why Not?

Q - I am studying polygamy in one of my classes, and I have surprisingly learned that those marriages are highly successful with high reports of happiness. So it got me to wondering, why is it considered to be wrong by the church? God is in love with everyone at once, and in heaven we will all be unified to each other equally; so why would God create humans to be monogamous?

A - Thanks for the question. In our modern culture, marriage is constantly being  redefined. Not long ago, marriage between one man and one woman (until death do they part) was the cultural norm. Now, marriage is defined by whatever makes someone happy or whomever someone is attracted to. This is how we get the high acceptance of same-sex marriage, not to mention growing acceptance of polyamory, polygamy, etc.

So, before we dive into a direct answer, we must first understand what the Church teaches about marriage itself.

WHAT MARRIAGE IS
Marriage is the basic cultural building block of society. One man, one woman, and their children unite as a family - every bit of evidence shows that families thrive in monogamous and stable homes with two biological parents of opposite sexes who remain married.

This means that there is less poverty, crime, strife, etc. in homes where marriages do well. This is because the mother and father of children cannot be replaced. Two fathers or two mothers (or any other combination of differing numbers) cannot provide what one mother and one father can. The role of the father can't be replaced by a woman and the role of the mother can't be replaced by a man. Neither can multiple mothers or fathers help a confused child understand stability and love in a family.

What we can know for sure is when families suffer the rest of our culture suffers.

NOT ABOUT "LOVE"
True love is to choose what is best for the other regardless of the cost to myself. This means polygamous relationships can never have loving sexual relationships. This is because the true act of sex is about giving yourself away completely, but if a man has multiple wives (or a woman has multiple husbands) he or she can't do this fully, because the body isn't made to be given to multiple partners and it certainly doesn't proclaim faithfulness to one other person.

A married couple can say, with their bodies, I want to create life and bond with you only - until one of us dies. I want to be one with you. This is impossible with polygamous "marriages", because while the body might still be saying this, the act itself is ordered toward selfish pleasure. True unity can never be created when we give ourselves to multiple partners.

NOT ABOUT SAMENESS. 
Throughout history, pro-marriage laws are by definition discriminatory. They discriminate FOR traditional families (not against others) in order to build up what is good for society. Where do children thrive? In the traditional family. If we tear the family down, society suffers. One of the purposes of the government is to help support this building up of what is good for society. Therefore, marriage is about more than people who have good feelings for one another. It is about the common good of society - which is why the government got involved in it in the first place.

Just because people can live together, have sex together, and have strong emotions (and possibly a strong bond of intimacy and friendship) does not mean they need to have that relationship endorsed by our government by granting them a marriage license and the rights of married couples. Similar situations does not equate to equal situations, when the good of children and society comes into play.

I am not a woman. Because I can't bear a child in a womb, am I being discriminated against when a woman gets pregnant and is granted maternity leave I can never take advantage of? No. Equality isn't sameness.

Another thought brought to the absurd logical end. I love my sister. Should I be able to marry her? Who are you to say I can't marry someone I love?

The point being - not all relationships are the same and shouldn't be treated as such.

WHAT ABOUT OLD TESTAMENT POLYGAMY?
In the times of the Old Testament, the people were being led by God toward the truth, but He didn't give them the fullness of the truth, because they were not ready for it. If the Father had sent the Son during the times of Noah, the people would not have been prepared to accept Him. Therefore, we ought to view the Old Testament as a school for humanity. It is training and education in the basics so that we would be ready to accept the advance education and training of Christ. When Jesus came, He revealed the fullness of the law of God. So, the moral law - the 10 commandments - was never taken away. Rather, our understanding of it was deepened (see Matthew 5-7).

What was changed were those things that were not part of the moral law. For instance - Christ says this about divorce and why God allowed it in the Old Covenants:
"Some Pharisees approached him, and tested him, saying, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?" He said in reply, "Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female' and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate." They said to him, "Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss (her)?" He said to them, "Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery." [His] disciples said to him, "If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry." He answered, "Not all can accept [this] word, but only those to whom that is granted. Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it." - Matt 19:4-12 
His answer to the question of why divorce is allowed gives us insight into the training that God was giving His people. But, God wants more of us. He wants us to live life out fully and with all truth, therefore He gave us the grace to be able to do so through Christ - both in His teachings and in each of our souls. The same kind of situation happened when the law allowed for multiple wives.

The Bible doesn't answer the question of polygamy directly, but we can infer much from this situation. This was because the tribes and kingdoms which surrounded Israel allowed for the same, and the Israelites were not ready to accept the fullness of the law. Therefore men were allowed, for a time, to have multiple wives. Why?

Well, maybe because there are more women than men (due to war, lifestyles, etc. of ancient times). Also, an ancient near middle-eastern woman would not be able to provide for herself and would need the support of a relative or husband. In the new covenant of love that Christ reveals to us, we see that marriage is to be between only one man and one woman - who are equal in dignity, because this relationship mirrors the relationship between Jesus and the Church (Ephesians 5) and that the two become one. The new law is one of love and faith, not just rules.
"I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." -John 13:34-35 
Finally, the Catechism says the following:
2387 The predicament of a man who, desiring to convert to the Gospel, is obliged to repudiate one or more wives with whom he has shared years of conjugal life, is understandable. However polygamy is not in accord with the moral law." [Conjugal] communion is radically contradicted by polygamy; this, in fact, directly negates the plan of God which was revealed from the beginning, because it is contrary to the equal personal dignity of men and women who in matrimony give themselves with a love that is total and therefore unique and exclusive." The Christian who has previously lived in polygamy has a grave duty in justice to honor the obligations contracted in regard to his former wives and his children.
Ultimately, the answer lies in this fact - we were made for one other person. That relationship will ultimately be with God in heaven, but in this present life, we are made to be a sign (Sacrament) of that relationship with God in our marriages between one man and one woman, until death.

But, putting faith aside for a moment, the state has a legitimate role in giving incentives to marriage between one man and one woman - it is good for all of us.

Finally - there are other studies that show polygamy is bad for many.  Studies have shown that it discriminates against woman, by some being treated as less equal to men, and it discriminates against poor men who cannot afford multiple wives.

Polygamy is the next frontier in the battle for marriage, so get ready, you will be given much evidence it is a good thing. This is why polygamy studies showing everyone is hunky-dory is merely an effort to normalize such relationships.

I hope this helps.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Fr. Barron on Bill Maher & Biblical Interpretation

Is religion anti-intellectual? Does The Bible present us with a God who is mean, superstitious, or without logic?

No. But, Bill Maher really isn't interested in learning about Christian faith. Rather, he just wants to make Christians look like fools. Fr. Barron examines this kind of thinking.