Friday, October 31, 2008

Apology to Atheists

So the last post I wrote about atheists and Mother Teresa put a little burr in my conscience. I felt I was not being completely fair and a bit too dismissive. And I feel like God confirmed that in the book that I am currently reading called There Is a God - How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind.

The book is about Antony Flew, a famous philosopher educated at Oxford at the same time of C.S. Lewis. For 60 years, he was one of the world's leading atheist philosophers.

The book chronicles his journey towards a belief in God and it gently encouraged me to remember that many times it is a high level of intelligence that leads some people away from a belief in God. It seems that many times, the most firmly logical, materially based people with very high IQs are the most likely to fall into the trap of atheism. They are unwilling to dip their toes outside of the realm of human reason and logic and explore other possibilities. The interesting thing about this philosopher is that his change in belief was not due to some miraculous "Damascian" revelation. But rather, Flew began to change his mind due to modern science. He cited the discovery of DNA as one pivotal movement in his structure of belief towards God. He talks quite a bit in the book about probability and give mathematical proofs of just how highly improbable it is that the world would be so ordered and "intelligent."

Anyway, just wanted to qualify my rather snarky post from before :)

Concupiscence

This word was thrown around a lot in the Theology of the Body discussion last Tuesday.

It means, as far as I understood, a desire of the lower appetite contrary to reason.

The most interesting insight the whole night for me was pointed out by one of the Dominican brothers.

He spoke of St. John's concept of concupiscence from John 2:16

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.

The three kinds of concupiscence are related to the three virtues:

Lust of the Flesh - Chastity

Lust of the Eyes - Poverty

Pride of Life - Obedience

This really is fascinating stuff!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Theology of the Body

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world -- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life -- is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever" (1 John 2:15-17)

I went to a wonderful Theology of the Body discussion today. I want to learn more and more about this, it is so clear to me that this theology is exactly what today's society needs.

Often the Truth is battled with exactly the opposite of what is true and that is what I see in the way that today's culture views sex.

Casual sex will make you happy.

Casual sex will cause low self esteem and is damaging physically, emotionally and spiritually

Freedom is the more important than anything else.

We are never free and never completely happy until we conform ourselves to God's will, in our sexual lives and outside. It is in the act of disciplining our bodies and our souls that we are able to feel the real freedom that God calls us to.

As long as you "love" him/her it's ok!

Love between a man and a woman is meant to mirror the love that God has for us, everlasting. This sacred act is meant to take place within the covenant of marriage, within the promise to love someone forever. When we have not made that promise and we have sex with someone else, no matter how much we love them we are still using that person for our own ends which is detrimental to us and to the person we claim to love.

Virginity is something to laugh at and pity.


Virginity is something to praise and encourage. It's the virgins who should be laughing, if their chastity is a conscious choice, they have preserved their self esteem. prevented themselves from experiencing emotional and spiritual damage, and are more ready for the commitment of marriage than anyone else because they understand that love involves sacrifice.

Virgins don't get to experience love and pleasure.

Saving yourself for marriage is an act that will strengthen your future marriage. If you enter marriage after living chastely, and both people approach sex with the attitude of chastity then they will experience sex as God intended it to be experienced: without shame, without pain, and I am assuming, since God invented sex, with a whole lot more pleasure!


And honestly the list goes on and on, I am sure some of you can add to it.

Thank God for John Paul II, he's the Catholic Church's Dr. Ruth, except he uses words like "concupiscence" :)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Conversations with Sarah

“Remember that you have only one soul; that you have only one death to die; that you have only one life. . . . If you do this, there will be many things about which you care nothing.”

- Teresa of Avila

If only we cared more what God thinks of us than what other people think.

Lord help me to care only about how you see me. Help me to care more about my soul and my fellow human beings than about what anyone else thinks.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Atheists and Mother Teresa

I remember watching a video of Mother Teresa when Sarah was obsessed with her. I was in college and had not returned to my faith. But I remember listening to some of her critics speak about her and being in college at the time and in the critical mode, I tried my best to see where they were coming from, but instead I immediately recognized how silly they sounded. They were all quite self righteous and sure that Mother Teresa was in the wrong in several areas. They of course said this as they lounged on fancy chaise chairs and sipped Pinot Grigio.

One of the videos on the bottom right is of two atheists speaking about Mother Teresa. The patronizing way they speak of her faith really makes me giggle. It is as if they think that her faith in God was some sort of sideshow that they can just brush away as they get to the "real stuff" - her work to help the poor. What they fail to recognize is the obvious, that God was the source of her good works.

This reminds me of the Bill Maher movie that just came out, Religulous. A friend asked me to go and I declined, primarily on the basis that I do not want to fund this man's quest to make religion and just about everything else that is not Bill Maher, seem stupid.

There is something I always recognize in atheists, and I can say this because I was one for some time - pomposity. It is interesting that in the very denial of God, humans begin to act more as if they are God.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Do Not Be Afraid

Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.

- JP II


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Two Halves of a Church

Just wanted to share this little unfinished tid-bit I wrote a while back. I read it today and the characters reminded me of the two halves of the Catholic church, "orthodox" and "progressive"

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Clifford looked a little out of place walking slowly down the SF beach in khaki pants , a crisply ironed white shirt and a red and white polka dotted bow tie.

Millie was sitting on a green lawn chair in her houseboat slurping on a sauerkraut sandwich she had made herself for a snack.

"What a strange man," she thought to herself.

Every once in a while Clifford would duck as if dodging a seagull overhead and snatch something from the sand, then bolt upright again and continue on down the beach.

As Clifford came nearer to Millie's boat, she abruptly decided to invite him in. Standing swiftly up, she ran inside and put a bathrobe over her neon pink bikini. Something told her Clifford was not the sort of man to be impressed by a woman in a bikini. She twisted her purple scarf around her wild curly red hair and set about the kitchen preparing for her visitor. Her chihuahua Sally silently observed as Millie set out the tea cups and her best china.

Millie nearly forgot she needed to extend an invitation until she saw Clifford, straight as a pin, bob past her window.

"YOOHOO!" She said loudly. Clifford stopped abruptly, looking a bit scared.

"YOoooHOOooo!" She said again in a slightly more sing song voice, hoping it would make him feel a bit more comfortable.

Apparently, it did not because Clifford seemed to make a decision right then to return to his pristine Cadillac as soon as possible. He looked over at it, gleaming in the parking lot.

"Sir," said Millie, a slight panic crept into her voice at the possibility of losing her visitor.

Clifford turned, and seeing her in a green and pink bathrobe, purple scarf and red hair in disarray, became more determined than ever to return to his car.

"Sir, please join me for a cup of tea," Millie said, her voice unconsciously taking on a slightly British accent.

The British accent seemed to put Clifford more at ease as he surveyed her cautiously.

"Ahem, well I am a bit preoccupied at the moment, perhaps some other time," Clifford said.

"Oh no, I insist. I have scones and tea all ready and I simply would not enjoy it all alone," said Millie.

"Are the scones buttered?" Clifford asked, ever more on guard.

"Of course they are," Millie said dismissively, "What kind of hostess do you think I am?"

Clifford seemed to make up his mind right then and there and in a move that was more against his character than missing daily mass, he made his way up to the table Millie had laid out with tea, some very nice china plates and scones that were indeed buttered, much to Clifford's relief.

He sat down uncomfortably in a green lawn chair, adjusted his bow tie and looked around nervously.

Millie's chihuahua Sally came bounding out to meet the new visitor but stopped abruptly at the sight of Clifford adjusting his bow tie.

"Do you have any pets?" Millie asked happily trying to think of what to talk about with her strange new visitor.

"Erm, well not really. Well I do have a chia pet," Clifford said, squirming in his seat and refolding the napkin at his place.

"Oh that is wonderful!" said Millie with true enthusiasm, "I love chia pets."

Clifford looked at her in surprise and said nothing.

"Well, um, I hope you like my scones," Millie said, "What food do you usually like?"

"Ribs." said Clifford quickly and firmly.

"Oh" said Millie, "I am a vegetarian. I'm a Buddhist you see."

Clifford looked at her with a measure of distrust and looked once again at his Cadillac gleaming in the sun.

"What religion are you?" said Millie nervously, as she had noticed the glance at the parking lot.

"Ahem, well I am Catholic," Clifford said, a note of quiet joy creeping into his voice for the first time.

Dilemma of the Catholic Voter Cont'd.

The fruit of abortion is nuclear war. —Mother Teresa of Calcutta

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I heard this quote at a retreat I attended over the weekend and it suddenly occurred to me - to vote on the issue of abortion is not just voting on a single issue.

Anything that contributes to a culture of death pushes our world closer and closer to violence that cannot be fast forwarded. As life loses its value, as babies and elderly people
are seen as "burdens," our lack of respect very quickly extends to the general population.

War is the visible expression of this culture of death that we live in and abortion is the invisible.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Dilemma of the Catholic Voter

As some of you know, I am one of those mysterious "undecided voters." I used to wonder who the heck those people were and now, I am one of them.

Who I am going to vote for is a question that I ask myself every day.

Can I vote for someone who voted against the Born Alive Act? This act simply allowed for basic medical care for babies who are born alive in induced labor abortions. Nurses testified that they held dying babies as they breathed their last breath in utility rooms. Others testified that breathing babies were thrown in the trash.

We cannot pretend that abortion is not one of the most important issues in our political landscape. We cannot pretend that it is not what it is - the killing of a child.

On the other hand, can I vote for someone who does not represent my views on any other issue but this?

I am not sure. This is the dilemma of many Catholic voters.

The other day I met a man in the grocery store who was having difficulty breathing. He would stop for several minutes and lean against the produce aisles. He told me that Medicare would not cover oxygen for him even though his doctors were virtually begging them to do so. OXYGEN!

Adequate health care is a basic right. This too is an issue of Life.

We are the richest country in the world. We can afford to wage wars that cost 10 billion dollars a month and bail out irresponsible corporations for billions more but we cannot provide our citizens with basic health care?

In 2000, I voted for George Bush solely on the issue of abortion.

In 2004, I voted for John Kerry. I was dismayed at the direction that Bush led our country and the unnecessary war that has caused an estimated 150,000 to as many as 1,000,000 civilian deaths. And more than 4,000 of our own soldiers have died.

War is a Life issue as well.

The environment, promoting peace, universal health care, addressing the roots of poverty - these are Life issues. Does one issue trump everything else?

It just might

For me, the choice is not simple and it is not clear, but I pray for God's guidance not only in my personal vote but in the votes of everyone around the country.